Eberron: Echoes of the Past

The Legend of Khundrukar
Zol, Aryth 10th 998 YK (morning) to Wir, Aryth 11th 998 YK (early afternoon)

Last time, the party had reached the outskirts of the mining town of Irontown on the northeastern edge of Karrnath, having arrived there on the Centennial Raptor, captained by their new friend, Cahl Zephyr. As the Raptor disappears back into the skies above, they head in to the town. They find a well-kept inn called the Griffon’s Nest, and enter, looking to find a meal and a room for the evening. The Nest is owned and operated by Sarel Bankdown, a friendly half-elf woman who relates how she came to own the inn after her husband ran off and then left her a widow. When asked about Galrus Ironfist, she tells them that the dwarf runs a general goods store a short ways up the road, but that the store would be closed at this hour. Instead, Sarel provides them a home-cooked meal and a couple of rooms for the night.

The following morning, the party meets in the common room for a hearty breakfast. Garl, as usual, sleeps in, and a daring Fenora volunteers to go wake up the sleeping dragonborn. Once breakfast is completed, they settle their bill with Sarel, then head over to Galrus’s shop. Though the store is not yet opened, they knock on the door, and are greeted by a dark, suspicious eye. When Gremkyl is mentioned, Galrus throws open the door, and orders the party to enter the shop, with an admonishment not to touch anything.

As they enter, Galrus quickly pokes his head out the door, looking up and down the street. Satisfied, he closes the door and throws a series of three locks in place before he finally turns back to fix them all with an appraising eye. Without a word, the dwarf limps his way past them, a metal brace that covers most of his leg keeping the limb from bending with his gait. He makes his way behind the long counter and settles himself onto a stool with a pained sigh.

Galrus Ironfist: So now’s the part where you lot tell me how it was that ye came t’find that there scroll that Gremkyl is so sure leads to Khundrukar. (sits back in his stool, fixing them all with a steely gaze as he strokes his beard, waiting for a response)
Quinton Greymane: Well, not to make too long of tale of it, we went into this dungeon called the Sunless Citadel near the Mournland. Well, there were these two missing kids and a knight that went in to stop what turned out to be one them evil druid types. And we went in to find them.
Galrus Ironfist: I’m fallin’ asleep here, laddie. Get to the point.
Quinton Greymane (nods as he continues): Well, inside there was this young white dragon, and in it’s horde was this scroll type thing with dwarven runes on it. I think Civic’s got it.
Civic (holds out the scroll): I didn’t know what it says, but when Gremkyl saw it, he became very excited and told us it was a significant step toward finding Khundrukar.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, so what does it say?
Galrus Ironfist (leans forward and takes the scroll): Hmmph. Gremkyl always sees signs of Khundrukar where there are none. I’m sure this is just another wild goose chase. You’ve probably come all this way for noth… (his voice trails off as he opens the scroll and glances down at the parchment) Onatar’s forge, could it be? After all this time…
Garl Auraspeaker: Ha, sounds pretty real to me!
Galrus Ironfist (begins reading aloud from the page): “…the remaining few. By the order of Durgeddin the Black” (pauses) Ye got t’be shittin’ me, Durgeddin?! (continues reading) “…we have created a secret dwarven redoubt. None shall find us; however…” (looks up from the parchment, a look of astonishment covering his face) I never thought… we never thought… that we’d EVER find even the smallest scrap of proof that Khundrukar even existed, and yet… (holds up the parchment in a shaking hand) Here is that proof! By the gods, this is… this is… I’m sorry, words fail me right now.
Quinton Greymane: If you want to find it, just point us in the right direction.
Galrus Ironfist (snorts in laughter): Eh, laddie, it’s not gonna be as easy as that. Hints is all we have, all we have ever had. Gremkyl and I spent nearly half our lives searching for Khundrukar, or rather, proof that it existed at all as anything but myth and legend. Truth be told, I’d given up hope of ever finding anything. (looks back down at the parchment)
Garl Auraspeaker: Now who’s not getting to the point?
Galrus Ironfist (makes a rude gesture at the dragonborn, but continues.): This.. this gets us that much closer to reclaiming a part of our history. Speaking of which., how much of the history of the continent are ye familiar with? Particularly in regards to the dwarves of the Mror Holds? More to the point, do any of ye lot know the name of Durgeddin the Black?
Quinton Greymane: I can’t say that I know much about it. Been all over but never been to a dwarven ruin.
Garl Auraspeaker: Nope. Civic?
Civic (shakes his head): A mysterious people.
Galrus Ironfist (chuckles): Can’t say I’m surprised. Dwarves tend to keep their secrets close, and what is shared is usually shared for a reason. And there’s almost never a good enough reason. (sits back a bit) Well, as the stories go, Durgeddin was a master smith who forged blades of unsurpassed quality and power. He and his people made their home in the mountains when the continent was still young, carving a living by mining ore and waging a nigh on never-ending battle with the neighboring orc tribes.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, those orc tribes tend to be a bother. Fought a couple of those along the way.
Galrus Ironfist (ignoring the interruption): Centuries ago, so it is said, his home was finally overrun by the orcs. Durgeddin led the remnants of his clan to the northern Ironroot Mountains, and it is said that they established a small, secret stronghold somewhere in the trackless wilderness. From this hidden redoubt, he waged a decades-long vendetta against all orc-kind, until his enemies discovered his fortress and attacked it after a long siege. Durgeddin and his followers perished, and much wealth was carried away by the conquering hordes. According to the legends, the deepest and best-hidden vaults and armories escaped the looting, and that some of Durgeddin’s extraordinary blades still wait in the darkness for a hand bold enough to claim them.
Garl Auraspeaker (gives a toothy grin): I don’t know, I’d be fine with a legendary blade
Galrus Ironfist (ignoring Garl): Of course, that’s the legend… but not the truth.
Quinton Greymane: Well, what you reckon actually happened then?
Galrus Ironfist (smiles mirthlessly): Well, as they say, the victorious write the history books. My research has turned up some interesting bits that would seem to indicate that while Durgeddin did war with the orcs, they were not his ultimate undoing. As it would turn out, his end came at the end of a sword wielded by humans, when they first came to Khorvaire in search of lands to conquer. They laid siege to Khundrukar, rolling over the land like a swarm of locusts, leaving nothing in their wake. Then the bastards just kept on pushing west, not even bothering to hold onto the land they killed so many to take. It is no wonder ye’ve not heard of Durgeddin, or, I am sure, of your people’s war against mine.
Garl Auraspeaker: So how does that lead to us finding them? If they got killed. they probably just looted the place too?
Galrus Ironfist: Well, that part of the legend is likely true. They did loot the stronghold. I mean, who wouldn’t? Durgeddin’s work was the stuff of myth and legend.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I’m sure. Taking what they want with no regard for others is what they do best… (realizes what she says and looks at Quinton) Umm, not all of them of course… (quietly mumbles) Sorry.
Galrus Ironfist (nods at Gishkaa in acknowledgment): But Durgeddin was no fool. He knew if the orcs did not get them, then someone else would, and it would turn out he was right. So the clan dug deep into that mountain, so deep, it’s said, that they nearly reached the depths of Kyber. Down there in the deep, it is said that his greatest treasures remain unclaimed.
Civic: Something about this story smells wrong to me. But I can’t quite tell what.
Galrus Ironfist (grumpily): Which part? Your history… or mine?
Quinton Greymane: Hey, there are some bad people around. Folks just don’t know how to think about others. Doing the right thing is tough.
Galrus Ironfist (sighs as he nods in agreement): Aye, ye’re not wrong, laddie. But as they say, “Everyone’s the hero in their own story.” I am sure the orcs have their own stories regarding the brutality of Durgeddin’s vendetta, same as we dwarves have our own about the kingdoms of men. That is the way of the world.
Civic: It’s hard to believe they’d be able to successfully hide away weapons of great power from the war hungry humans of the past.
Garl Auraspeaker (hopeful): So can I still get a legendary blade?
Quinton Greymane (looks over to Garl): Do you even know how to wield a sword?
Garl Auraspeaker (waves his hand is dismissal): Details, my good man, details!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Given enough time I think Garl can do it… <mutters> If dragonborn are immortal anyway
Garl Auraspeaker (obliviously): Damn straight I can!

As they banter, Galrus looks back at the parchment, carefully running a finger across it’s surface.

Galrus Ironfist: Huh? What’s this??
Civic: What did you find?!
Quinton Greymane: I don’t know, but it looks important.

Galrus wets the tip of his finger, then rubs at a spot near the top right edge where most of the water damage was previously noticed. He pulls a magnifying glass from the shelf behind him and peers through the glass, his nose a fraction of an inch from the page. With a shout of excitement, he jumps from his stool and limps quickly to a nearby table stacked high with what looks to be maps of the area. Grabbing one from the middle of the stack, he returns to the counter and spreads the map out.

Galrus Ironfist: I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! (looks up from the map, a wide grin across his face)
Civic: What, man?! What?! (moves over excitedly to try to get a look at what Galrus found)

Galrus Ironfist holds out the parchment, pointing at the area in the corner where he’s removed some of the water damage and grime. Very faintly along the edge, tiny runes can be seen, almost completed obscured by the damage.

Galrus Ironfist: This… this is what takes us to Khundrukar! These runes spell out the word “tooth.” I almost didn’t see it, but some of this muck flaked away when I touched it.
Civic: Tooth…hmm that’s a pretty common word used to describe or name various mountains. Is this a reference to a particular feature in the Ironroot Mountains?
Galrus Ironfist (nods): It seemed like a strange word to include in this missive about Khundrukar. But then I remembered, there is a mountain high in the Ironroots that has been called the Stone Tooth for millennia. (points at the map he’d brought over) The Stone Tooth is 100 miles, give or take, from Krona Peak. I can’t believe Khundrukar hasn’t been found already.
Garl Auraspeaker: Ah ha! So the legendary blades are there??
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Looks like we know where we’re going next!
Quinton Greymane (thoughtfully): Hmm, I wonder if it might not be so easy.
Galrus Ironfist: You might not be wrong about that, laddie. Durgeddin and his clan may have warred with the orcs, but he never defeated them, not completely. The orc tribes have grown in numbers over the centuries, and while they seem to steer clear of Krona Peak for the most part, the dwarves have no desire to poke that particular hornet’s nest, either. For all we know, the orcs could very well have invaded the Stone Peak.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, that might complicate things a little.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, but that’s good right? That means that Kundrakar might still be in good shape.
Civic: The lower levels likely are. Whether at the hands of orcs or humans, I’m sure the siege that ended them left the area on top in ruins.
Galrus Ironfist: You’re not wrong. And as the orcs are a wild people, preferring to range the wilderness rather than hold up in the deeps of caves, if they have in fact entered Khundrukar, they likely have not gone too deep. Those vaults are still there, I am sure of it!
Quinton Greymane: So it sounds like we have our new mission.
Galrus Ironfist: I’d say you do, laddie!
Quinton Greymane: What’s the best way to get to Krona Peak?
Galrus Ironfist: Quickest would be the rail. Trip to the Peak is maybe a bit over 5 hours. Takes longer by foot or horseback, of course. All depends how anxious ye are to get there. (chuckles) Very anxious, would be my bet.
Civic: What’s the closest city to the peak that the rails stop at? (peaks over Galrus’ shoulder at the map)
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, that’d probably be our base of operations for the trip out there. Though we’ll probably have to stock up on supplies before we head out.
Galrus Ironfist: You’re out in the wilds, laddie. Ain’t nothin’ between Irontown and Krona Peak but wilderness. (to Quinton) You could stock up here, but might be smarter to stock up in Krona Peak. It’s a damned big city, after all.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm a good point.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, but since we’re helping you maybe we could get a discount??? (gives Galrus a smile and an expectant look)
Galrus Ironfist (bursts out laughing): If’n ye can find something that ya think’ll help ya, sure I’ll give ya a discount. Considering I sell mostly mining equipment and obviously maps of the area… (points at the map on the counter) …I dunno what I have that ya think’ll help ya. But have a look around.
Garl Auraspeaker: Rations, rope, armor if you got it.
Quinton Greymane: Oil flasks would be good
Galrus Ironfist: Armor, that’s a negative for sure. Think I have some rope on the back wall there… (points at the rear wall) Rations… got some down that aisle over there. (points down the nearest row of shelves)
Quinton Greymane: Spare flint and steel, now that I think about it.
Galrus Ironfist: Only one I got is the one I light me pipe with, laddie, so you can forget about that right now.
Quinton Greymane: You know a pipe sounds mighty nice too now that you mention it. (smiles at Galrus)
Galrus Ironfist: It does, don’t it?

They find three coils of rope on the wall Galrus indicated, and on a low shelf, six dusty wrapped packages of trail rations. Galrus offers to sell the ropes for 7 silver pieces each, and the rations for 3 silver each. The party opts to take all the rations and two of the rope coils, paying Galrus a total of 3 gold and 4 silver.

Garl Auraspeaker: Though we do need new armor. Anyone in town got any?
Galrus Ironfist: Well, there’s not an armorer, per se, but Miral at the Unbreakable Anvil makes most of the gear used by the Watch. Might want to go there.
Garl Auraspeaker: Sounds good, we’ll stop by there.
Galrus Ironfist: I wish I could come with yas. I used to be an adventurer myself you know. But then I took an arrow in the knee…
Quinton Greymane: Anything else we should know about Kundrakar before we head out?
Galrus Ironfist: Aside from what I already told ye?
Quinton Greymane: Yes, anything that you might know but haven’t mentioned yet. Maybe it’s just a small detail, but from experience a small detail can save a life.
Galrus Ironfist (shrugs): You gotta understand, just this morning I was going through life believing it was only myth and legend. I never once actually thought it might actually be real, no matter how much I spent my youth searching for the damned place.

With their path ahead now set, they say goodbye to Galrus, and head off in search of the Unbreakable Anvil. They are given directions to a stone and wood building with wide open windows and a great plume of smoke billowing from its chimneys. They enter to find a hulking female half-orc busily swinging a hammer against a red hot piece of metal. On their arrival, she plunges the metal into a pail of water, steam rising into the air with a loud hissing noise.

They ask for Miral, and the half-orc smiles widely around her tusks, introducing herself as Miral. The adventurers request new armor, which she fortunately seems to have in stock. Miral makes quick work adjusting her smallest chain shirt to make it even smaller to fit Fenora, but a short while later, they all walk out with new gear, ready to head off on their adventure.

At the lightning rail station, they ask when the next train to Krona Peak would be leaving, and are told that one would be leaving at eight o’clock the following morning. They each pay the 28 gold pieces for their fares now and take the tickets, then head back to the Griffon’s Nest. They spend the rest of the day relaxing, enjoying the company of Sarel and chatting with her other patrons, before heading up to bed around 10 PM, knowing they need to be up early to catch the lightning rail. The night passes quickly, and they wake up shortly after dawn, leaving enough time to have a final breakfast before they leave Irontown.

Heading head over to the lightning rail station, they board and find their seats in the second to last car of the train. At 8 AM sharp, the train pulls out from the station, the cars gliding smoothly above the magical stones lining the track heading toward Krona Peak. The journey is long and fairly boring as, true to Galrus’ word, the landscape is wilderness broken only by the occasional hillock or boulder. The Ironroot Mountains loom larger as the lightning rail begins to rise in an incline the closer the train get to the foothills of the mountains. The ascent seems to take forever before the dwarven architecture of Krona Peak, the capital city of the Mror Holds, comes into view. A short while later, the train pulls into the station, and the adventurers disembark.

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The Griffon's Nest
Zol, Aryth 10th 998 YK (morning)

Last time, having successfully aided Cahl Zephyr liberate the Centennial Raptor from impound in Sigilstar, Cahl guides the airship to the north toward the Thranish city of Shadukar. There, they stop to retrieve the rest of Cahl’s crew. Once aboard, Cahl begins the voyage toward Irontown in Karrnath, a trip he states will take a couple days or so. With the remainder of his crew back aboard, he requests that the party stay out of the way and leave the ship’s maintenance to the crew. With the downtime, they are able to attend to various personal tasks, though mostly they take the time to rest and heal.

The travel is uneventful, and a couple days later, they arrive on the outskirts of Irontown. Cahl explains that given his experience back in Sigilstar, he prefers to avoid entering the town proper, and brings the ships closer to the ground so the party can disembark. As they leave, he hands Quinton a small stone, which he explains is a sending stone that will allow them to contact him— and him alone— when their tasks in Ironstone are completed. He does, however, warn Quinton that depending on where the Raptor and her crew are when they call for him, it could take some time to arrive. He advises against getting into trouble with the locals.

They have been dropped off a few miles outside of the town, and after watching the Raptor ascend back into the sky to disappear among the clouds, the adventurers begin walking toward the town.

Quinton Greymane: Well, guess there’s nothing left to do but find Galrus.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, can’t be that hard right?

They arrive at the city’s wooden gates shortly after the sun sets, and after a cursory inspection of their travel papers, they are waved through. The city streets still bustle with activity, and the few shops seen so far are warmly lit and inviting. Off the main road worn paths branch off haphazardly, and they can see a swinging placard painted a murky yellow color, the imaginative name of “The Yellow Tavern” painted in black block letters across its face.

Civic: It doesn’t seem very yellow.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, maybe the inside is yellow?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Seems like just as good a place as any to go in get some food and ask questions.
Fenora Finnley: Ughhh….no food…..
Quinton Greymane: Still feeling a bit airsick? Maybe it’d be good to sit down a for a few minutes then anyway.

Further up the main street, a large town hall can be seen. A smaller building stands beside it, several armored figures arranged in loose formation outside it, marking the building as the town watch’s barracks. A pair of the armored figures walk down the street in their direction, making their patrol of the city. To the party’s right, another path branches off, leading to another tavern building, this one a bit less dubious in nature. A wooden board is nailed to the side of the building, with a matching placard hanging outside the door. Both feature a painted griffon shielding an egg with its wings. The name “The Griffon’s Nest” is painted in gold letters beneath the figures.

Quinton Greymane: That place down the road looks a might bit more inviting.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Looks fancier than the yellow-not-yellow tavern.
Fenora Finnley (whines): Can we please just find someplace to sit down?
Garl Auraspeaker: Alright sounds good, let’s go.

They enter the Griffon’s Nest to find the interior to be warm and inviting, the aromas of warm bread, roasted meat, and ale filling the air. The common room is busy with patrons of all races, all eating and sharing friendly conversations. As they enter, a half-elf woman looks up from where she is wiping down a table, brushes a lock of hair from her brow, and calls out.

Half-elf Woman: Just grab a table anywhere you like. I’ll be right with you.
Quinton Greymane: Thanks, Ma’am. Just glad to find somewhere to sit for a few minutes and maybe find out ’bout the goings on in town.

The woman hefts a tray loaded with dirty plates and mugs to her shoulder, and carries it behind the bar and through a swinging door to the back room. A few minutes later, she reappears and hurries over to where the party has seated.

Half-elf Woman: Well, now. I don’t reckon I’ve you see your faces here before. You passing through?
Civic (nods): We’re passing through and looking for someone we were told lives here somewhere. There is some exciting news we need to share with him regarding his past field of study. Once long ago there was… (trails off at a warning look from Gishkaa)
Half-elf Woman: Oh really? Who you looking for? I know most everyone in Irontown, since most of them come through the Nest at some point or other. Can point you in the right direction, I think.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: We’re looking for Galrus Ironfist. Ever heard of him?
Half-elf Woman: Galrus? Of course. He runs the general store up the road. Nice enough sort, for a dwarf. Most of the dwarven folk that live in Irontown are surly old bastards, but Galrus has always been kind to me. Oh, Host help me, where are my manners? I’m Sarel Bankdown, proprietor of this fine establishment. Very nice to meet you.
Quinton Greymane: No worries, Sarel, we’re new in town, we should have introduced ourselves. I’m Quinton, this here is Garl, the little lady over there is Fenora, that’s Gishkaa, and the warforged is Civic. (points out each as he names them)
Sarel (bobs her head in greeting): A pleasure. So did you want to order some food, or did you need a room as well? Have a couple vacancies right now, if you don’t mind doubling up. For dinner, we have some roasted pork with vegetables and bread, if that strikes your fancy. How about it?
Quinton Greymane: That sounds mighty nice, Sarel.
Garl Auraspeaker: Nice to meet ya. It’s probably a bit late to go finding Galrus, we should probably turn in for the night.
Sarel (looks at Garl, puzzled): Turn in? It’s barely past the eighth bell.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (rolls her eyes): He’s gotta get his 20 hours of beauty sleep. Dinner sounds good to me.
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): Can’t blame a dragonborn for trying.
Civic: We’ll need rooms as well.
Sarel (nods): Okay, I’ll get some food for you all. Although… (looks at Civic) I don’t think you’ll be needing anything… Civic, was it? We get so few warforged this far out, but I believe I was told that warforged do not require food?
Civic: No. I won’t need any food
Sarel (nods): Very well. I’ll have Gaile bring you over some ale, and I’ll fetch you some dinner. Enjoy your stay. (smiles warmly as she dashes off, gesturing to a young woman cleaning glasses behind the bar)
Garl Auraspeaker: I don’t know why but I somehow expected finding Galrus to be harder.
Quinton Greymane: Well we ain’t to him yet, but I guess I kind of thought he’d be a bit harder to find, too.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Me, too. I figured he’d be some weird recluse everyone avoided because he went on and on about the lost fort all day long. (glances at an oblivious Civic)

The young barmaid, Gaile, hurries over with five large mugs of ale, placing them on the table in front of each of them as Sarel returns with a heavily laden tray of food. Their mouths water in anticipation as the aroma of home-cooked food fills their nostrils. They begin eating, and find the food to be excellent. Sarel stands nearby, waiting to see if they need anything further.

Sarel: Well? How is it?
Quinton Greymane: It’s fantastic, Sarel.
Garl Auraspeaker (stuffing his face): Yeeer…
Civic: It all looks very delightful.
Sarel (beams happily): I’m so glad you like it. Tried a new recipe tonight, and so far it’s been a hit.
Garl Auraspeaker: Haven’t had a decent meal since… (munch munch) …I don’t remember.
Sarel: Well, I have other tables, so I will leave you to it. If you need anything else, just flag down one of the girls and they’ll get you whatever you need. When you’re ready to get a room, come find me. Enjoy!
Quinton Greymane: Will do. Thanks.

The party spends a contented hour chatting among themselves as eat and finish off a couple of mugs of ale each. The ale seems to quickly go to the head, or perhaps it’s the weariness of their long walk into the town, but by the time the ninth bell rings out in the street outside, it is difficult to stay awake. They decide to find Sarel and rent rooms for the evening. The half-elf woman is busy looking over a large ledger behind the bar, a pair of delicate glasses perched on her nose. She looks up as they approach.

Quinton Greymane: Alright, well that was a fine meal, but I think we’re ready to turn in for the night.
Gishkaa sleepily nods her head in agreement.
Sarel: Of course. Like I said, have a couple of empty rooms right now, if you don’t mind doubling up. It’ll be 8 silver a piece for the night, but if you’d like to book the room for longer, there’s a weekly rate of 5 gold.
Quinton Greymane: I’m not sure how long we’ll be staying just yet, so let’s try for the night for now.
Sarel: Very good. Did you wish to add the meals to the tab, or pay that now?
Quinton Greymane: We’ll pay for it now, thanks.
Sarel: The meal is 5 silver, so if you wish to pay up front, it’ll be a total of 13 silver each. Well, except for Civic, as he did not partake. (smiles warmly at the warforged)

The party each remove coins from their purse to pay for their share of the meal and rooms for the night, passing them to Sarel, who takes the offered silver pieces and drops the coins into a small chest behind the bar. She then reaches behind her and pulls two small keys off a board on the wall.

Sarel: Here you go. Your rooms are up the stairs, and all the way to the end of the hall, numbers 8 and 9. I hope you enjoy your stay. Breakfast is served at 6, if you’re interested. Good night, friends, sleep well.
Quinton Greymane: Thanks Sarel, much appreciated.

The party find the rooms to be modestly but comfortably decorated. A large single bed in each room occupies much of the space, with plenty of room for two adults to sleep comfortably. The beds are clean and comfortable, and the adventurers fall asleep almost as soon as their heads hit the pillow. The night passes uneventfully, and they wake to the aromas of cooking bacon and coffee, feeling well rested and refreshed.

Everyone but Garl Auraspeaker, who continues to snore loudly in his bed, meet back up in the common room and order breakfast. Sarel has Gaile bring out platters loaded with scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, as well as a plate of toasted bread, fruit, and cheese. A carafe of black coffee is left on the table for them to serve themselves, and they happily tuck into the hearty fare.

Fenora Finnley (eyes widen at all the food): I’m still so empty from the ship. (reaches hungrily at each plate)
Quinton Greymane: Well I imagine you’re feeling better after a good night’s sleep. Best eat up because who knows what the day is going to bring. Galrus could be sending us off to a dungeon or dark cave or worse by night fall.
Fenora Finnley nods while stuffing multiple grapes into her mouth at once, smiling happily
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (packing away some choice bits of bacon AND sausage): Probably aboard an airship.
Sarel (comes over, greeting them c heerfully): Good morning, my friends. I trust you slept well?
Civic: I logged a lot of interesting sleep behaviors.
Sarel: Oh really? That sounds…er… fascinating. (looks around, noticing Garl’s absence) Where is your dragonborn friend?
Quinton Greymane: Hehe, you just get used to some fella’s quirks I guess. He’ll be up in about another 3 hours. (smirks evilly as he glances at Fenora) Or 15 minutes if some people have a mind to do something about it, hehe.
Fenora Finnley (jumps up from the table): I’ll wake Garl! (dashing cheerfully up the stairs) OHHHH GAAAARRRLLLLLL!!!
Sarel: Oh, a late sleeper, eh? My ex-husband was like that. Lazy bastard. Can’t tell you how many times we nearly lost this place because he would sleep half the day away. Of course, he was also drinking most of our profits, too, which was leading to the sleeping the day away. Ah, well… that’s old news.

Upstairs, Garl starts turning in his sleep, a sense of impending doom intruding into his dreams. Fenora knocks loudly on the door to Garl’s room

Garl Auraspeaker (growls): Go away! No room service!
Fenora Finnley: GAAAAAAAAARRRRRLLLLLLLLL!!! (wiggles the knob) Oh it’s open. (bursts through the door) GARL! TIME TO GET UP!!!!
Garl Auraspeaker (puts a pillow over his head): If someone was here, I wouldn’t be hearing them, so they should just go away.
Fenora Finnley (climbs on the foot of the bed): Oh really?? Do you not have ears?
Garl Auraspeaker (from under the pillow): Nope, sleeeeeeepppping…
Fenora Finnley: Guess you won’t hear all the fun I’m having jumping on this bed then. (begins to jump up and down on the bed all around Garl singing a song loudly in her native tongue)
Garl Auraspeaker (growls as he sits up): Fine! You win!
Fenora Finnley (stops jumping, grinning widely) Awww… you don’t want to hear my song??
Garl Auraspeaker: By the black abyss of Khyber, I will never figure out what I did to you to make you hate me so much. I want to go to sleep.
Fenora Finnley: There’s plenty of time for sleep later tonight. Now it’s time for breakfasts!
Garl Auraspeaker (glares at Fenora with bleary eyes): So you say. (rubs his eyes as he gets up from the bed, standing there in the buff)
Fenora Finnley (covers her eyes): You could have waited until I left. I…..I didn’t know you had a….tail….
Garl Auraspeaker: Everyone knows that dragonborn have tails. It’s just racists and idiots who spread rumors that we don’t have tails.
Fenora Finnley: Well…I never met a dragonborn before you sooo…
Garl Auraspeaker: And if you keep waking me up like this I might be the last one you meet. Food for thought.
Fenora Finnley (shrugs and runs out of the room ): I’ll save you some bacoooon!

Garl eventually makes his way downstairs to join the others for breakfast.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (stuffing a bulging package of bacon into her pack): All the bacon’s gone.
Sarel: Oh there you are! I wondered what became of you. Did you sleep well?
Garl Auraspeaker (to sarel): Yes, the bed was very pleasant. (glares at Fenora) That is until a bloody demon invaded my room. And don’t think I don’t know that you all didn’t even try to stop her.
Sarel: A demon?! Surely not!
Quinton Greymane tries to hold back a snicker.
Garl Auraspeaker: Oh yes, one of the most evil creatures you’ll ever meet! With a bright sunny attitude, it races into your room and rips you from the pleasant wisps of sleep!
Fenora Finnley smirks to herself.
Sarel: Oh, I see. Okaaaay… coffee?
Garl Auraspeaker: Coffee, yes, coffee good… and bacon.

Sarel pours some coffee into a large mug and hands it to Garl, then looks at the empty plates on the table.

Sarel: Oh it looks like everything’s already gone. I’ll just go see if there’s anything left in the back for you.(looks at Quinton and gives him a sly wink and she heads toward the kitchen)
Garl Auraspeaker (turns to his companions): Oh by the Host, you seriously couldn’t leave one rasher of bacon?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (grudgingly pulls out her saved bacon.): Here you go.
Garl Auraspeaker: Thank you, Gishkaa. I’m glad at least one of you is civilized enough to treat their companion with respect.
Sarel (returns with a plate loaded with scrambled eggs and bacon): Here you go.
Garl Auraspeaker: Thanks, smells good
Sarel: My pleasure. So am I correct to assume that you’ll be looking to meet with Galrus this morning, eh?
Quinton Greymane: That’s the plan.
Sarel: Well, the shop’s don’t open until 8, but I know Galrus gets in early most days. You can check and see if he’s in, if you want. His shop is up the road, place called Ironfist Superior Outfitting and Dry Goods. I told him it was too wordy… (shrugs)
Quinton Greymane: A bit, I’d say.
Civic: Are there any interesting sites to see here?
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, good point. Anything happening lately or any weird stuff?
Sarel: Nothing weird going on in town, not that I have heard tell about. And not much interesting to see really, either. This is a mining town, after all. Other than digging in one of the local mines, not much interesting goes on around here. This far out from the major settlements and cities… you’re more likely to die of boredom than a rampaging owlbear.
Quinton Greymane: Sounds pleasant.
Sarel: Perhaps… if you’re easily impressed, I suppose. If it wasn’t for this place, I likely would have moved on after my husband up and left me, then died in a ditch. But we get plenty of travelers through these parts, mostly by lightning rail on the way toward Krona Peak and parts north. Keeps me busy and brings me some fair amount of coin. So I stay on. You know how it goes.
Quinton Greymane: Well it’s just sometimes I think it would be nice to back to the farm life. So not having rampaging owlbears trying to kill you sounds like a pleasant change of pace.
Civic: So a typical hub town. Probably lots of good people watching here.
Garl Auraspeaker shakes his head at Civic
Sarel: Well, as the saying goes, “The grass is always greener in someone else’s yard.”
Quinton Greymane: Yep, one of my pappy’s favorite sayings
Sarel (looks up as a customer enters the tavern and takes a seat): I need to get back to work. Can I get anyone some more coffee on my way back?
Garl Auraspeaker: I’m good and awake now, thanks, Sarel.
Quinton Greymane: Besides I think we should be heading over to Galrus’ to see if he’s in yet.
Sarel: Very well. If you’re all set here, you can pay Gaile for your breakfast. Four silver. If you need to keep the rooms longer, let me know before noon, else might have to let them to someone else. I’ll talk with you later! (waves as she hurries off to wait on the new arrival)

The party pays for the meal, then heads out into the city to find the sun rising over the distant Ironroot Mountains. Breath fogs in the chilled morning air as they walk up the road, looking carefully at the shops to find their destination. The streets begins to fill with people, some heading off to work in the mines, other beginning to hawk their wares from carts set up along the road. About 500 or so feet up the road from the Griffon’s Nest, they spot a shop with a hanging sign mounted above its door. The sign bears no text, but rather a single armored glove formed into a fist and nailed to the wood. It can safely be assumed that this is Ironfist’s Superior Outfitting and Dry Goods.

Quinton Greymane: Guess this is the place. (knocks on the door, then tries to open it, finding it to be locked)
Civic: Certainly looks like someplace you could find some superior outfitting and dry goods.
Quinton Greymane (calls though the door): Hey, sorry to bother you so early in the morning but are you there Galrus?
Galrus Ironfist (shouts from within): We don’t open for another hour! Come back later!
Civic (calls out): Khundrukar exists and we’ll find it! We brought proof.

A moment passes, then they can hear the sound of a lock being unlocked. The door opens a couple inches and a dark eye stares out at them.

Galrus Ironfist: Who… who are you?
Civic: Gremkyl Silverhelm sent us after he saw what we’d found.
Galrus Ironfist (eye grows wide): You! You’re the ones that damned fool messaged me about! Said you found something about Khundrukar or some such nonsense. But that is… just…a my….

Galrus’s voices trails off as his gaze falls on the scroll that Civic has fished out from his pack and unrolled, holding it out in front of him to show the dwarf.

Garl Auraspeaker: Not anymore, it isn’t.

The door opens fully, revealing a rather portly dwarf with a wild mane of silver-gray hair, and a matching neatly braided beard. His eyes stare at the scroll unblinking, and he absentmindedly gestures for them to enter.

Galrus Ironfist: Get in here, all of you! And don’t touch nuthin!

View
Heading to Irontown
Sar, Aryth 7th, 998 YK to Mol, Aryth 9th, 998 YK (traveling)

Last time, the party helps Cahl Zephyr and Ash infiltrate the airship tower in order to help them liberate Cahl’s impounded airship, the Centennial Raptor. Finding the way blocked by a set of locked iron gates, Quinton uses his newly acquired blade, Shatterspike, to shatter the lock on the gate. The guard on that level is a low level lacky of questionable intelligence, as he accepts their claim to be the cleaning crew without question.
As they continue up the stairs to the higher levels, they run into resistance in the form of stationed guards who attempt to bar the way to the docking platform. With Cahl’s and Ash’s added strength and skills, they party easily cuts a (non-lethal) path through the stationed guards. On the final level, they face off against their strongest opponent, a knight of Thrane, but ultimately prevail to make it onto the Raptor. With Cahl at the controls, the airship is launched, and quickly begins making their way out of the city, traveling high above the clouds to avoid detection. The heist was a success!

Cahl Zephyr: That, I must admit, was fun! (throws back his head and laughs heartily)
Fenora stays to the middle of the deck, looking a little green.
Garl Auraspeaker: It was a little fun.
Quinton Greymane raises an eyebrow at Garl
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): What, it was fun!
Cahl Zephyr: So, my friends. What now?
Civic: I don’t know where you plan to go next, but we had planned to go on a bit of dive into history. We found some information that could lead to an ancient dwarven stronghold long thought lost to time, or maybe just a myth.
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, might be a wild goose chase. But well, we’re gonna check it out all the same.
Cahl Zephyr: You don’t say. Sounds like fun. And where might that be? As promised, I’ll take you anywhere you want to go on the continent… within reason, of course.
Fenora shuts her eyes and moans quietly as the Raptor is buffeted by a strong gust of wind.
Civic: We have a map right here, but we need to visit Galrus Ironfist in Irontown found in the Ironroot Mountains before we take the next step. He’s a scholar familiar with the topic.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, need to figure out whether we have anything or not.
Cahl Zephyr: Can’t say that I know him, but yah, I can get you to Irontown.
Civic: He could give some valuable insights of what we could expect there.
Garl Auraspeaker: Probably something that wants to kill us. What were those dwarves good at making again?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Dragonborn devouring machines.
Garl Auraspeaker: Har har Gishkaa, you’re a real riot.
Cahl Zephyr (chuckles): It’ll take a couple days to get there with some decent weather, not much more than that if it’s shitty. Before we head that way, though, need to pick up the rest of my crew. When the Raptor was impounded, I sent them on ahead to Shadukar, which is on the way. Be there in a couple hours, grab them, and then we can head on toward your final destination.
Civic: So much quicker than walking. I could get used to this airship life.
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, this air ship is right impressive.
Cahl Zephyr (smirks at Gishkaa) Yah, not bad for a pile of junk, eh?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: It’ll probably be better once I get used to the smell.

Ash snarls angrily as he passes by, but Cahl chuckle softly in amusement. He makes an adjustment in their heading as he looks over at Fenora with some concern.

Cahl Zephyr: Your friend doesn’t look to be doing well. Might want to take her below, get her something to drink, maybe. Be a bit before we make it to Shadukar, so y’all can get some rest. I’ll let you know when we’re there.
Garl Auraspeaker (sarcastic): Nahhhhhh (looks over at Fenora), she’s fine, I think.
Fenora vomits as Civic hurries to her side.
Civic: How you holding up? Want to find some crackers and lay down for a bit?
Fenora Finnley (moans softly as she wipes her mouth with the back of her hand, then nods at Civic): I don’t like this, Civic. We’re too high….
Civic: Maybe if you lay down, you can just pretend you’re in a rocking chair.
Garl Auraspeaker (greatly amused by Fenora’s discomfort): Aww c’mon, buck up! We’re adventuring right now!

Fenora lets Civic guide her to the stairs leading below deck. As she passes by Garl, another wave of nausea hits her, and she vomits onto the dragonborn’s boots. Cahl snorts as he unsuccessfully stifles a burst of laughter. Ash sighs in irritation as he begins mopping up the mess. The rest of the party takes Cahl’s advise and head below decks to rest as the Raptor continues on toward Shadukar to retrieve the remainder of the Raptor’s crew. They raid the airship’s food stores, helping themselves to some wine and meager foodstuffs, as Civic helps to make Fenora more comfortable.

An hour or so later, the airship begins to descend. Rejoining Cahl and Ash on deck, the party can see a moderately-sized city in the distance, dimly lit by lanterns and other light sources. The airship continues to descend, but strangely doesn’t seem to get any closer to the city. Looking over the rail, the reason for that is apparent: below the ship, a pair of torches sheds light on a small group of people. The airship descends until it hovers about 50 feet or so above the ground, where Ash throws a rope ladder over the side. One by one, the remaining crew climb aboard the deck of the Centennial Raptor, favoring the party with curious stares as they clap Ash on the back once aboard. Once the fourth figured has boarded, Cahl guides the ship back up into the sky, disappearing into the clouds once again. Cahl greets his returned crew members, telling them the story of liberating the Raptor from impound with the help of the adventurers.

Impressed and intrigued by the story, the newcomers introduce themselves: A dwarf cleric named Artu. A female human ranger named Leah. A weathered-copper colored warforged wizard named Thripio. A human psion named Lucah.

Cahl Zephyr: Glad to have you lot back aboard. Sorry it took so long to come get you, but finding folks that could handle themselves in a fight… in Thrane, no less… was no easy feat.
Artu: Bah, we knew ye’d come fer us soon enough. Ye always do.
Thripio: Artu is correct. Our trust in you has never wavered.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Always? Is this kind of thing normal around here?
Cahl Zephyr: Uh, did you miss the part when I told you that I was a smuggler?
Garl Auraspeaker: I did actually forget.
Cahl Zephyr (grins widely): Well, it HAS been a busy day, so you’re forgiven.
Quinton Greymane: Mighty kind of you
Cahl Zephyr: Alright, lads! You’re back aboard, and the Raptor has a full crew again. Let’s get to it! You know your duties, get on it! We’re heading east through Karnaath to deliver my new friends to their destination. Assuming the gods don’t choose to fuck with us, we should be able to get there in a couple days. (addresses the party) You lot would do well to keep out of the way for the trip. If we need you to help defend the ship from anything that doesn’t like sharing the air, I hope we can count on you to help. Aside from that, enjoy the trip.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, we’re good at smashy-smashy… sometimes.
Cahl Zephyr: I’m sure it won’t come to that, but you never know.
Civic: Excellent. I need to catch up on my journal. (walks off to find an out of the way spot on deck to work)
Garl Auraspeaker (chuckles): Typical Civic.
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, guess you just gotta take what comes.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I’ve got a lot of dragonborn harassing to catch up on myself. (moves over to stand by Garl)
Garl Auraspeaker (sighs): It never ends.

The next couple of days pass quickly, and thankfully, uneventfully as well. The temperature has grown considerably cooler as they head further to the northeast of Karnaath, and they are surprised to see that the crop fields below are already dusted with light snow. It is approaching sunset on the second day of travel when Cahl points out a small city in the distance, which he confirms is Irontown. As he’d done before outside of Shadukar, he guides the airship to descend well outside of the city limits.

Cahl Zephyr: I hope you’ll understand and forgive me that I don’t bring you into the city proper. After the bullshit we went through in Thrane, I don’t want to chance it happening again. I think you can empathize with that.
Quinton Greymane: That’s fine by us, I think.
Garl Auraspeaker (gives Quinton a look): No, it’s not, I don’t want to walk.
Fenora Finnley: Shock.
Quinton Greymane (repeats emphatically): It’s really fine.
Garl Auraspeaker (gives a toothy smile at Fenora): Oh look who’s returned to us. Feeling better, Fenora?
Fenora Finnley: A bit. I’ll feel better still once we’re on solid ground again. And don’t get cocky. Some of my breakfast is still on your boot.
Garl Auraspeaker (lifts up his foot to look): Khyber take it all! Blasted halflings.
Cahl Zephyr (chuckles as he reaches into a pocket and pulls out a small round stone): Listen, I want to thank you again for your help liberating the Raptor. Couldn’t have done it without you. You have my gratitude. Do you have any idea how long you plan to be here in Irontown?
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, not sure precisely.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, when we get involved with something it tends to get… involved.
Quinton Greymane (arches an eyebrow at Garl): Something like that, I suppose.
Cahl Zephyr: I get you. With that in mind, here… (hands Quinton the stone)
Quinton Greymane: What’s this?
Cahl Zephyr: This is a little something that a friend of mine from Zilargo cooked up. It’s a sending stone, but don’t get too excited. It’s a single use type of thing, and you can only use it to contact me. When you’re ready to leave, just tap it three time, say my name, then leave a short message letting me know when and where to meet you. Keep in mind, though. Depending on where our travels take us, it could be a while before we can make it back to get you, so do try not to run afoul of the locals so that you need to leave immediately.
Quinton Greymane (smiles): We’ll try our best.
Cahl Zephyr (grins as he extends a hand): I’m sure you will. Until we meet again, my friend.
Quinton Greymane (shakes Cahl’s hand): Likewise.
Ash lowers the rope ladder over the side of the ship.
Garl Auraspeaker: Welp, no time like the present. See you all later!

One at a time, the adventurers all make their way down the rope ladder, as the crew of the Raptor calls out their farewells. When the last of them has reached the ground, Ash deftly hauls the hanging ladder back aboard the ship. A moment later, the ship’s elemental ring flares brighter as the Raptor begins to ascend higher and higher, until soon it is just a bright spark against the darkening sky. The lights of Irontown begin to glow as the sun dips below the horizon. Thankfully, Cahl has deposited them only about three or four miles outside of the city. The party gathers their gear, and begin making their way toward Irontown.

View
Good Night for a Heist
Sar, Aryth 7th, 998 YK (early evening)

Last time, Cahl shows the party his impounded airship docked at the Sigilstar docking tower. After a brief discussion, the party agrees to help Cahl liberate the airship in exchange for passage to Karrnath. They are then joined by the large man from the tavern, who Cahl introduces as his first mate, Ash. Cahl indicates that the best time to attempt the job is after sundown. They agree to meet at a designated location, and then they split up; Ash and Cahl to perform some further recon, and the adventures to see about finding a Silver Flame temple.

Following directions provided, the party make their way through the rainy streets of Sigilstar to the city’s moderately sized temple to the Silver Flame. Within, they are greeted by the kindly Cardinal Renzi, who gratefully accepts the return of Sir Braford’s holy symbol. With some kind words of gratitude from the Cardinal, and a request for them to join him in worship, the party leaves to find an armorer so Civic can acquire some gear, Purchases made, they return to the tavern, resting and playing cards until the sky grows dark.

The party makes their way to the rendezvous spot, finding an impatient Cahl waiting. Cahl delivers some bad news: his House has been informed of the Raptor’s capture, and a representative of the House is to arrive the following morning. Additionally, more guards have been posted, as if in anticipation of a potential infiltration. They make their way inside, finding the way blocked by a locked gate. Quinton, however, doesn’t let that stop them, as he smashes the lock with his new sword, Shatterspike. The posted guard is half-asleep, and easily accepts their claim to be the cleaning crew, allowing them to continue to the next level.

At the stairs, they get into a heated, though whispered argument, thinking to press their luck by just attempting to continue the ruse of being the cleaning crew. Cahl has just finished explaining the folly in that action as one of the guards round the corner, immediately spotting them and raising the alarm!

They party dash out of the stairwell, Fenora letting an arrow fly at the leg of the guard, who yells out in pain. Gishkaa dashes forward, her psionic blades manifesting as she moves. She slashes out at the guard, but misses him as he dodges aside. Another guard launches a javelin at Ash, cutting a narrow furrow through the shifter’s bicep. Garl take a small cut from another guard’s dagger, as Civic uses a cantrip to daze another guard. Quinton takes a nasty hit from another guard’s pike weapon, as other guards attack Ash and Garl. Ash swings his sword wildly, missing with one blow, but scoring a hit with his back swing. Garl uses his spiritual weapon to knock one guard unconscious as he swings his mace at another, but misses. Cahl slashes at the guard he is engaged with, missing but driving the man back several steps. Quinton slams Shatterspike down on a guard with an overhead blow, knocking the guard out cold.

The battle is long, and it almost seem as though they might have bitten off more than they can handle. Cahl especially seems to be taking a great many hits, his anger growing with each wound. He steps back for a moment, anger etched across his face as he looks around at the remaining guards.

Cahl Zephyr (snarls in anger): I’ve changed my mind. Let’s kill these fuckers.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Calm your tits, Zoolander. No need for that.

The battle continues, and slowly but surely, they manage to turn the tide in their favor. Fenora looses an arrow at the last remaining guard, and gasps in horror as the arrow slams into the man’s chest, dropping him to the floor.

Fenora Finnley: Oh… shit….

Gishkaa runs over and digs in her pack for a potion and pours it down the guards throat.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (as he comes to, coughing): Are you okay?
Guard (shakily): I feel okay, a bit out of… (falls unconscious as Gishkaa bashes him over the head)
Cahl Zephyr: Good work. They were a bit more organized than I anticipated, though.
Quinton Greymane: Well, this is basically the guard barracks. We’re probably lucky it wasn’t worse.
Ash snarls as he quickly wraps up one of his wounds.
Garl Auraspeaker (healing the wounded): Nicely done. Now let’s head up before more of these doofuses come up.
Cahl Zephyr: Well, we still have a couple floors to the docking level. I worry that the closer we get, the harder this is going to get. And with the amount of noise we’ve just made, I think we can assume they know we’re coming.
Quinton Greymane: Well my pappy always used to say, no use crying over spilled milk. Let’s go.
Cahl Zephyr: Follow me…

Cahl leads the way to the narrow stairway to the next level, carefully creeping up. As the party reaches the top of the stairs, they look out into the room and see several more guards in position. They seem alert and ready for danger. The party dashes in the room, engaging with the nearest fighters, then dashing onto the next and then the next as the enemies are defeated. There are not as many guards on this level, but as Cahl feared, they do seem to be stronger and more skilled. Ultimately, they defeat their opponents and make it to the stairs to the next level. Ash pops the cork from a vial of healing potion and swallows it down, as Cahl smiles at the group.

Cahl Zephyr: That went better than I thought it would. You lot are skilled, I must say. I thank the Host for letting me find you.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yeah, the Host got our back.
Cahl Zephyr: But let’s not get cocky. We still need to get to the Raptor and get her out of here. I also have to be honest… I have no idea what we’ll be facing up ahead.
Quinton Greymane (panting): I don’t know, hopefully we don’t run into too many more guards, but I feel that we might have crossed that bridge.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Or if it can actually fly.
Cahl Zephyr (glowers at Gishkaa): SHE can fly, don’t you worry your… pretty… little head about that. Let’s just get to her without getting ourselves killed, and I will make you a believer.
Quinton Greymane: Well, to be fair, we ain’t seen the ship that closely yet. Can’t blame her for being skeptical. Though again, I think we’ve crossed that bridge.
Cahl Zephyr (rolls his eyes, annoyed): You all ready?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: After you, princess. (motions to the stairs)
Cahl Zephyr (ignores Gishkaa): Let’s split up as we ascend, hit them with a two pronged attack.

They dash up the stairs, splitting off into two groups as they reach the top of the stairs. They clash into the enemy and fight with reckless abandon, taking their hits, but offering severe blows of their own. The battle seems to be going their way until the fray is join by their strongest enemy yet: a heavily armored knight. They continue battling their way through the guards, until only the knight remains. As they focus their attacks on the knight, Garl is knocked unconscious. Enraged, Ash swings his sword in an arcing blow, slamming into the knight’s head, finally knocking the man unconscious. The way forward is clear!

Cahl Zephyr: Quickly! Grab your friend and get to the ship before any more guards arrive! We need to get the hells out of here NOW!
Quinton Greymane (pours a healing potion into Garl’s open mouth): Get up, buddy! We have to get out of here!
Garl Auraspeaker (groaning in pain): Graaarrr? Did someone get the number of that knight that hit me?

Helping Garl to his feet, the party then quickly runs through the doors leading to the docking platform. The fiery ring of the ship glows brightly against the darkened sky, nearly blinding in its intensity. They quickly dash across the platform and board the ship. Once aboard, Cahl begins barking orders, calling for the ropes binding the ship to the dock to be released and prepared for departure. Cahl himself moves to the raised stern, where he approaches the ship’s control. He places a hand to the ship’s wheel.

Cahl Zephyr: Hello there, darlin’, did you miss me?
Garl Auraspeaker: Yes it did, now let’s get out of here!

As he grips the wheel, a grin crosses Cahl’s face as the elemental ring glows brighter still. With practiced ease, he begins to ease the ship away from the dock. Quinton sighs as he sags against the rail.

Quinton Greymane: Phew! Well, I hope we don’t have to do that again. Guess we’re not coming back to that town again.
Garl Auraspeaker: Reminds me of the time we got kicked out of Sharn.
Quinton Greymane (coughs): Well, now that was a slight misunderstanding.
Garl Auraspeaker: Mmm hmm. You keep using that line, buddy.
Civic: What happened?
Quinton Greymane: Well, you know it wasn’t that bad.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, the captain of the guard in that section of town said something about Quint’s mother, and well, one thing led to another and we had to fight our way out of the bar.
Quinton Greymane: Well it’s just not proper to talk about someone’s mother like that.
Garl Auraspeaker (chuckles): And maybe you were a little drunk?

As the ships begins to move away from the dock, from the tower behind them comes the clattering of armored men, as a group of heavily armored men appear on the platform. Two of the men let javelins fly, one of which comes perilously close to striking the Raptor’s side, but misses by inches. Cahl throws back his head and laughs in jubilation as he pushes against the wheel, causing the Centennial Raptor to dash forward. The sudden burst of speed catches Civic and Fenora by surprise, sending them sprawling to the deck.

Fenora Finnley: Shit! That hurt!
Garl Auraspeaker (yelling to Cahl): Yer, hold it steady up there! I almost went over the side!
Civic (stands): I assumed our pilot friend would be more skilled at this. Have we made a mistake? This is clearly unsafe.
Quinton Greymane (shrugs): Guess we survived.

The Raptor speeds through the night sky, gaining altitude as she flies, before eventually rising above the low storm clouds that hover above the city below. Looking down over the side of the ship, the party is relieved to discover that there does not seem to be any sign of pursuit. Cahl calls down from the control deck.

Cahl Zephyr: Gotta say, lads, you lot have some impressive skills. I couldn’t have gotten the Raptor out of there without your help. I appreciate it!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: It was fun. I didn’t think it would go so smooth, to be honest.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well yer, we’ve been around the block once or twice, so you know we’re good for it.
Cahl Zephyr: Ha, ha! I thought so, too. Now, just need to pick up the rest of my crew, and then… I do believe I promised to take you wherever it was you needed to go.
Quinton Greymane: That would be appreciated
Cahl Zephyr: It would be my pleasure. It’s the least I can do for what you have done for me. I hafta say tho… (gets a gleam in his eye) I wish I could be there when my House finds out they lost the Raptor… again! HA!!!

Cahl Zephyr roars with laughter.

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A Promise Kept
Sar, Aryth 7th, 998 YK (late morning to early evening)

Last time, the party was consulting with Gremkyl Silverhelm, the dwarven librarian of Oakhurst, to see about a translation of the dwarven runes on the scroll case they’d found in the Sunless Citadel. The surly dwarf’s attitude changed immediately when it turned out that the scroll case and the enclosed scroll indicated the possible location of a long lost dwarven stronghold. Disappointed that he himself cannot follow the clues, as he’d lost a leg to a mourngator five years earlier, he suggests that the party travel to Irontown to meet with a colleague of his and gather more information.

With their next adventure laid before them, the party travels to New Cyre, where they join a caravan bound for the city of Starilaskur. Once there, they book passage aboard the lightning rail to Sigilstar, where they plan to return the fallen Sir Braford’s holy symbol to the Church of the Silver Flame, then see about making their way on toward Irontown. They arrived in Sigilstar in the early hours of morning, and rent a couple of rooms in the nearest inn, where they rest till late morning. Meeting in the common room for a late breakfast, they are approached by a half elf gentleman who introduces himself as Cahl Zephyr. He reveals that he is an excoriate of House Lyrandar, and that he needs their help to liberate his airship, which was impounded by the Thranish authorities. If they aid him in doing so, he promises to bring them wherever they need to go.

Their curiosity piqued, they ask to see the airship, which Cahl eagerly agrees to. As they begin to leave the tavern, a large, burly man attempts to follow, but Cahl waves him off. Cahl leads them down the street, stopping to point out the docking tower a short distance away, where a rather worn-looking airship is tethered, its elemental ring glowing against the stormy sky.

Cahl Zephyr (flashing a roguish grin): So my friends, can I count on you to lend me your skills in liberating my ship? It’s win-win, as I see it.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm. Still doesn’t seem like we should be stealing something.
Garl Auraspeaker: By the Host, you’re such a stick in the mud! (rubs his hands together eagerly) We’re doing it. It’ll be fun
Quinton Greymane (unconvinced): Hmmm…
Cahl Zephyr: It’s only stealing if it isn’t yours, my friend. The Raptor belongs to me, and I want her back.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: If Garl’s in, I’m in.
Quinton Greymane (wavering): Well, I suppose you did get wronged in this whole situation.
Fenora Finnley (shrugs): He did say if we help him, he’ll take us where we need to go. Do you guys know of a faster way to get to Irontown?
Quinton Greymane: That’s true. Alright, I know when I’m beat. I guess we’ll be recovering a ship.
Garl Auraspeaker (claps Quinton on the back): That’s the spirit, buddy!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Stealing. It sounds more fun that way.
Cahl Zephyr: Bah, don’t look at it that way, look at is as helping a fella in need. And I am most definitely in need.

Behind them, the tavern door opens, and the tall, hairy man they’d seen earlier exits. Cahl waves at the man, gesturing for him to join them.

Cahl Zephyr: Perfect timing. Allow me to introduce my first mate, Ash. He’ll be a bit of extra muscle, should we need it, though we probably will not.
Quinton Greymane: I hope not, indeed

Ash walks up to the group, taking a position behind Cahl, glaring down at the party without a word.

Fenora Finnley (looks way up at Ash):: Whoa…. he’s tall.
Garl Auraspeaker: You can say that again. So what’s the story with your friend?

At that moment, the door to the tavern opens again, and Civic emerges, looks around, then hurries over to join the others. As he walks, he juggles hands full of papers with drawings and diagrams. He stops short when he reaches the group and notices the newcomer.

Civic: Oh hello. My name is Civic. (puts his hand out in greeting. Ash looks at the warforged, and shakes his hand warily.)
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (muttering in Goblin): Looks like his height is inversely proportional to his intelligence.
Ash (looks over at Gishkaa, responding in Goblin): Don’t be so sure.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (eyes Ash warily, replies in Goblin]: We’ll see. Fun to have someone else around who speaks Goblin, though. I don’t get to use it much.
Garl Auraspeaker (watches the exchange, then shrugs): Not really sure what’s happening.
Quinton Greymane: Beats me.
Cahl Zephyr: Ignore him. I do.
Garl Auraspeaker: Seems easier in theory than practice.
Cahl Zephyr: So listen, this isn’t something we can do now. Ash and I have done some recon over the last few days, trying to get a sense of how heavily guarded the tower is, shift changes, details like that. By my figuring, we’d have the best chance of getting in and onto the Raptor if we were to hit the tower shortly after sunset. (looks up at the stormy sky) Though not likely to see sun at all today. At any rate, figure some time about nightfall will be best. Will be shortly after shift changes, so shouldn’t be too heavily guarded, and we might just be able to get through with no casualties. And that is paramount in this caper, lads. No killing. Any of the guards dies, and you’ll have Thrane after you for life. Non-lethal methods only.
Quinton Greymane: You can be sure there wont be any of that here.
Civic: I definitely wouldn’t want anyone to die
Cahl Zephyr: Good that you’re on board. Ash and I will head over to the tower, do a bit more scouting about. If you lot can lay low, or tend to any errands you have in the meantime, would keep suspicions low. We can rendezvous a block east of the tower after sundown, and head into the tower together. Agreed?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Sounds like a plan.
Garl Auraspeaker: Agreed. We got some business before we piss off half of the town, so works out for us.
Cahl Zephyr (grins widely): Excellent. Looking forward to this. It’s gonna be fun!
Garl Auraspeaker: Agreed.
Civic: We should head to the temple to return our slain ally’s holy symbol.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yep, best get to it. Thing wont return itself.
Cahl Zephyr: Till this evening, then.

Cahl nods at Ash, and the pair turn and head toward the tower, disappearing into the thick fog that has been gathering. A light rain begins to fall.

Quinton Greymane: I’ve got a bad feeling about this.
Civic: The odds of coming away from their temple without them deciding one of us needs to be smote is 758 to 1.
Garl Auraspeaker: Don’t tell me the odds, Civic.
Quinton Greymane: Those Silver Flame types do love to smite people.They could use a day off to relax. Do ‘em some good to work on a farm and really help someone.
Civic (abruptly changing the subject): I’d like to find a weapon and armor shop before we leave here, too. I felt too exposed in the Citadel. Maybe I can do something about that.
Quinton Greymane: That’s smart thinking. You can’t underestimate what some good steel at your side can do.

Heading back into the inn, they ask the innkeeper for directions to the nearest Silver Flame facility. The innkeeper directs them to a moderately sized temple that is a short ten minute walk from the inn. The adventurers had heard descriptions of the devoutness of Thranes to their deity, and while the Church of the Silver Flame further north in Flamekeep is the true seat of the faith, the local temple is impressive in its own right. The facade is covered in white marble, with bas relief flames carved into its surface, the carvings then covered in shining silver leaf. The temple is impressive and opulent, if not a tad ostentatious. The front doors are open, warm light glowing within. The faint scent of incense wafts on the breeze, its scent welcoming.

Garl Auraspeaker: Well, looks like we’re here. Guess we’ll just head in and find someone. I don’t think they’d exactly have a lost and found.

Garl confidently leads the way through the temple doors, where the party finds the interior warm and inviting, a welcome change from the cold and damp they’d just been walking through. At the far end of the large space, a large flame-like effigy painted silver sits atop a raised platform. A handful of worshipers occupy the pews that face the flame, their heads bowed in worship as they pray silently. In front of the flame stands a priest in red robes, tending to his duties. He looks up as they enter, smiles warmly, gesturing them forward as he moves to meet them in the aisle.

Priest: The Flame keep you, travelers. Welcome to our humble temple. I am Cardinal Renzi. Have you come to join us in worship?
Civic: No. We met a member of your flock in our travels. He fought against a foul evil and with our aid overcame it, but in the end he succumbed to a type of magical sickness. With his dying breath he asked that we return his holy symbol to the temple here.
Cardinal Renzi: This is dire news, indeed. We all sadden when one is lost, but the Flame always burns brighter when it calls one of its faithful home. Who was this lost soul, and how did they come to meet such a sad ending?
Garl Auraspeaker: He went to fight a dark druid who was planning to release a horde of corrupted tree monsters on the town and possibly the whole region. He didn’t beat em, but you can’t win ‘em all. You still gotta fight the good fight.
Quinton Greymane: Yep, you have to give him respect for fighting and dying for his ideals.
Cardinal Renzi (nods in agreement): We must always be ready to fight the evils of this world, and strive to overcome them. Only in our weakness will such evils prevail. It sounds like this man— or woman, I dare not be presumptuous— was a brave sort, who gave their life in noble cause. We will honor their sacrifice in our prayers this night. You say you have their holy symbol?
Garl Auraspeaker (removes the holy symbol from his pack): Yep, right here. So what are you all going to do with it?
Cardinal Renzi: All holy symbols issued to servants of the Silver Flame come directly from the Cathedral in Flamekeep. It will be sent there, where it will be interred in the catacombs beneath the Cathedral. I’m sorry, did you tell me the name of the fallen? My advancing years make me sometimes forgetful…
Civic: Sir Braford.

Cardinal Renzi ’s eyes widen slightly, as sadness clouds his face.

Civic: I take it you knew him. I’m sorry for your loss.
Cardinal Renzi: That… that is distressing news. I met Sir Braford a few times when he passed through the area. Kind young man, though a bit brash. I always feared he might find himself to a bad end, and it saddens me to have my fears realized. (holds out his hand for the holy symbol)
Garl Auraspeaker (hands symbol to the cardinal): Bit brash indeed.
Quinton Greymane: Well, nothing we can do but look at his mistakes and his courage and pick the good parts from the bad and do our best.

Cardinal Renzi turns and heads back to the front of the church, continuing to speak as he does so.

Cardinal Renzi: You have done a great service in returning this to the Church. Sadly, there are many in this world that would not have made the effort. That you have done so shows that you are men and women of good virtue. The Silver Flame would welcome such as you into its ranks of the faithful. (carefully wraps the holy symbol in a large square of red velvet, then carefully places it into a small rosewood box)
Civic: My service is to history. I would be a poor disciple, but thank you for the offer and the kind words.
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, that’s a mighty kind offer, but we’re just folks doing the best we can.
Cardinal Renzi (nods as if expecting that answer): I understand. Still, the offer is always open to you, should you choose to join the Church. The Silver Flame will always have a place for capable warriors in its ranks.
Garl Auraspeaker: Fair enough.
Cardinal Renzi: I will see that this is taken by courier to Flamekeep immediately. On behalf of the Church, I extend our most heartfelt gratitude for the service you have rendered to the Silver Flame this day. Was there anything else I could assist you with?
Garl Auraspeaker: I think that’s enough for one day. (yawns) I’m ready to head back to the inn and get out of this rain.
Quinton Greymane: Yep, I could do with a warm fire myself. Especially since we’re going to have a long night, I think.
Cardinal Renzi: Very well. If that is all, I will bid you a good day. I must return to my duties. We have services in an hour, and I must prepare.
Quinton Greymane: Best of luck to you, friend, have a good day.
Cardinal Renzi (bows slightly): Gentlemen… ladies.

Cardinal Renzi returns to his task as the party exits the temple to find that the rain has gotten heavier. They wrap their cloaks tighter around themselves as they discuss what they should do next. Civic again mentions his desire to find armor and a weapon, siting how vulnerable he’d felt fighting the denizens of the Sunless Citadel. The party make their way through the rain drenched streets of the bustling city, eventually finding a merchant that sells the items Civic requires. Purchases made, the party returns to the inn to rest and to wait for the hour to rendezvous with Cahl and Ash. They pass the time playing cards by the fire, and before too long, the sky outside has grown darker.

They gather up their gear and head out into the rapidly increasing darkness. Thankfully, the rain has slowed some, though a few flashes of lightning can be seen illuminating the sky in the distance. The everbright lanterns have begun to light up, which makes it easy enough to find the way through the labyrinthine streets towards the designated rendezvous location. As they approach, the adventurers can see the hulking figure of Ash leaning against a lamp post, Cahl pacing impatiently nearby.

Cahl Zephyr (notices their approach): There you are. Was beginning to worry you’d changed your minds.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well, the weather was so nice so we took the scenic route.

Cahl looks at Garl incredulously. Fenora giggles at Garl’s comment as Quinton just shakes his head.

Cahl Zephyr: I see. Hopefully the delay won’t throw off the schedule we have here. It’s gonna be tight as it is. Let’s just say it was a lucky thing Ash and I did some further recon.
Quinton Greymane: Well, we’re here now at least. I hope you’ve found out something useful. I don’t think fighting the whole way to the ship is a great plan.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (grumpily): Did something change from your previous reconnaissance?
Cahl Zephyr (nods): Apparently my House has been informed of the Raptor’s capture, and a representative has been dispatched to collect her in the morning. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they have added more guards to the tower, as if they anticipate me trying to liberate my ship. They aren’t wrong, obviously, but it does make our job a bit more difficult.
Civic: This does complicate things. All my plans will have to be scrapped now and I don’t have time to craft new ones. Do you have any ideas how to get this done?
Cahl Zephyr (grins): I said it got tougher, not impossible. We’re gonna hafta fight our way to the top. But the rule still stands: no killing. Knock ‘em out any way you can, but leave ’em breathing.
Quinton Greymane (sighs): I have a bad feeling about this.
Garl Auraspeaker: Nah, it’ll be fine.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (to Quinton): I find your lack of faithing disturbing.
Cahl Zephyr: Near as I can tell, the strongest forces will be guarding the ship directly, so you lot with magical affinity, you might want to conserve where you can. And we’re going to have to charge headlong through. There won’t be time to stop and catch a breath without them getting reinforcements.
Garl Auraspeaker: Sounds like a party
Civic: The brashness of this plan just might work.
Ash snickers, flexing his fingers as he cracks his knuckles loudly.
Cahl Zephyr: Any questions, or you ready to get this shit show started? We don’t have much time to stall.
Quinton Greymane (shakes his head): I guess we might as well get on with it.
Cahl Zephyr (claps Quinton on the shoulder): Good man! Let’s get my ship back!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (cracking her own knuckles): Doesn’t sound like there is anything else we need to know.

Civic mentally runs through his catalog of spells, trying to run through their cast in his head. He stops and looks at his new shield.

Civic: I’m going to have to put this away for now. I don’t think I can manage spells and this thing right now. (straps the shield to his back) Okay, I’m ready.

Cahl leads the way toward the airship docking tower. High above, the glow from the Raptor’s elemental ring bathes the area in warm light. The fog still hangs heavy in the streets, and the group arrives at the base of the tower without incident. They enter the doors on the first level of the tower and take a quick look around. The space is vacant for the most part, the only occupant a guard sitting behind a desk in the vestibule on the far side of the room. The guard’s head sits on his chest, and even from this distance is is quite clear that he is sound asleep. Before them is a wide stairway that leads up to the next floor. However, a heavy iron gate blocks the way.

Cahl Zephyr: Shit! That wasn’t locked before. Any of you good with a lock?
Quinton Greymane: Yes.

Gishkaa begins to pull out her thieves’ tools as she starts to approach the gate. However, Quinton draws his newly acquired sword called Shatterspike, swings the blade over his head, slamming it into the lock. . The lock shatters as if it was glass, the cacophonous noise echoing through the chamber. The guard awakens with a snort of surprise.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (grins): Subtle…
Quinton Greymane (shrugs): Sorry Gishkaa, we don’t got time to be fancy.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: It was pretty bad ass
Guard: Wha…? Hey! You! What are yoiu doing!?
Garl Auraspeaker (convincingly): Uhhhhhhhh, cleaning crew?
Guard: Oh. Well, get on with it. Just stop making so much noise. You disrupted my prayers.
Garl Auraspeaker: Uh, so sorry. We’ll be whisper quiet from now on.
Guard: See that you are. Get on with it.
Quinton Greymane: Right away, sir.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Well, we should probably head up. Start cleaning at the top and work our way down right?

The guard returns to his seat, glancing at the party once more before returning to his “prayers.”

Garl Auraspeaker (whispers): how in the name of Khyber did that work?
Cahl Zephyr (looking at Garl, his mouth forming the words): What. the. Fuuuuu…
Quinton Greymane: I think he might just be the stupidest guard ever.

Not wanting to press their luck with the lazy guard, they quickly dash up the stairs to the second floor, arriving at what looks to be some sort of customs office. Guards are in positions around the room, but so far, they have not noticed their arrival.

Cahl Zephyr (whispers): This is it, lads. Let’s do this. On three. One… two…
Quinton Greymane (whispers): Wait.
Cahl stops counting and glares at Quinton.
Quinton Greymane (whispers): Maybe we can just like, walk up?
Garl Auraspeaker (whispers): Yer, I mean, it sort of worked before?
Cahl Zephyr (annoyed whisper): Yeah, it worked cuz they have the dumbest guard on duty down there. Need I remind you that we are on stairs that were blocked by a gate… a locked gate. I don’t think any of them are going to think we’re the cleaning crew.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shrugs as she whispers): Maybe they’re all inept.

As they quietly argue in the stairwell, a shuffling is heard from the other side of the southern wall. As they fall silent, the adventurers watch in horror as a guard walks into view to glance down the stairwell…. staring right at them

City Guard: Alarm! Alarm! We’re under attack!

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Friends in Low Places
Sul, Aryth 1st, 998 YK to Sar Aryth 7th, 998 YK (traveling)

Last time, the party returns to the town of Oakhurst shortly after sundown, and make their way to the Hecrule General Store to reunite Sharwyn with her mother, Kerowyn. They find Kerowyn still busy in the store, and the two woman share a grateful embrace. Kerowyn quickly realizes her son has not returned with them, and the party relates the sad news of Talgen’s death at the hands of the goblins. The party explains the influence of Belak on the goblin residents of the Citadel, and reassure Kerowyn that the threat has been dealt with. Planning to return home to her ailing father, Kerowyn give’s Fenora the sad news that her father had passed. As the distraught halfling considers her future, the party receives the promised coin from Kerowyn for saving her daughter.

The party takes the opportunity to sell their acquired loot, and while most if mundane, basic gear, a couple items of note are not purchased by Kerowyn. Of particular interest is the scroll case they found on Calcry’s lair, which Karowyn explains is written in the dwarven language, and directs them to visit Gremkyl Silverhelm, the dwarven librarian. Their business with Kerowyn concluded, the party leaves to rejoin Erky at the tavern, where they share some drinks before turning in for the night.

The following morning, Civic heads out to do a little shopping, before rejoining the rest of the party to head over to the library. Though initially surly and irritated at being interrupted to translate, the dwarf’s demeanor changes when he realizes that the scroll indicates the possible location of a long-lost dwarven stronghold. Gremkyl suggests they travel to Irontown in Karrnath to consult with an old colleague, to gather further information and possibly locate the legendary stronghold.

Gremkyl Silverhelm (looks wistful): I do wish I could join ye on this grand adventure. The historical significance alone is immeasurable. But if the old stories are true, then Khundrukar’s halls be filled with riches beyond your wildest dreams,
Garl Auraspeaker: I’m sold, let’s go find this place!
Quinton Greymane: Well hold on a minute there Garl. If there’s riches, there’s sure to be some dangers.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Of course there’s dangers, laddie. Where’d be the fun if there weren’t?
Garl Auraspeaker: See, he’s got the right idea!
Quinton Greymane (chuckles) Well, in my defense, he’s not going to be the one to have to deal with those dangers. I don’t suppose you’d have any idea what we might expect there? Any chance you could tell us what the dwarves of Khundrukar were known for? Great builders? Trap makers?
Garl Auraspeaker (looking worried): Giant death machines?
Gremkyl Silverhelm: They were known to make some of the best weapons in all of Eberron. There like hasn’t been seen in as millenia. On occasion, someone will turn up something that bears a crest that most experts think could be from Khnudrukar, but nothing has been verified in countless generations.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, so whatever might still be there might be armed to the teeth. Though if the weapons really survived for thousands of years their craftsmanship must be fine indeed.
Civic: This is so exciting! We should go there. We’ll be the first to set eyes on it in centuries! Such a grand historical experience. I never imagined…
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Are we going to have time to take care of some things, or are we planning on heading straight into another adventure?
Gremkyl Silverhelm (to Gishkaa): Well, the fortress hasn’t been heard of or seen in forever, so it’s not like t’be going nowhere. But if I can give Galrus a rough idea when ye might be heading that way, he can be better prepared for your arrival. Granted, getting out to Irontown gonna take close to a month, less ye got the coin to travel by rail or airship.
Civic: (looks to Quinton) You’re an experienced explorer. How long do you think it would take us to get there?
Quinton Greymane: Well Civic, that’s a bit of a pickle. We’re still not even sure exactly where this place is yet.
Gremkyl Silverhelm (nods): Well, Galrus can help you out. Between the scroll you found, and the amount of data he’s collected over the last fifty or so years, he should be able to give you a good place to start. But getting to Galrus will take some time. The Mror Holds from here is give or take about 1500 miles. If you got the stones, you could cut some time if you shortcut through the Mournland, but you’d have to be a damned fool or insane to do so.
Quinton Greymane: Ha, that’s for sure. You don’t mess with the Mournland if you’ve got any sense about you.
Civic: I definitely don’t want to see the Mournlands. It was such a lovely place the last time I was there. I dread to see it again as it is now.
Gremkyl Silverhelm (looks thoughtful): You know, you might be able to hitch up with an Orien caravan out of New Cyre, and head north toward Thrane. If you can stomach all them pious types, one of the bigger cities up that way should have some mode of travel that could expedite your journey.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yeah we can return Sir Bradford’s equipment to the church as well.
Gremkyl Silverhelm (wrinkles his nose in distaste): Oh, you’re gonna purposely deal with the Church, eh? Good luck with that.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (twisting her bracelet): We should probably get moving as soon as possible.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, I’m good to go. No point in waiting around. (to Gremkyl) Hur, well it can’t be avoided. We promised someone as their dying wish to return some of their things to their Church.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I don’t think the church likes my kind a whole lot. Of course I probably don’t have to mention I’m a follower of the Path of Light and they’d leave me be.
Gremkyl Silverhelm (nods in approval): Well, then, it’s good on ye that ye’ll keep your promise. Makes me glad that it was you lot that found the first worthwhile clue to Khundrukar I’ve seen. When d’ye plan on headin’ out? I’ll be needing to get to a Sivis station and send Galrus a message.
Civic: I still need to get some proper inks to transcribe the scrolls I found, then I’ll be good to leave.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Okay, I can tell him yer leaving, say, tomorrow?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Looks like Garl is going to get one last night of 14 hours of sleep.
Garl Auraspeaker (excited): What? That sounds like a perfectly reasonable idea!
Fenora Finnley (smirks): …not if i have anything to say about it.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Excellent! I wish you the best of luck, and I hope you’ll bring me some of the fruits of your adventures. I’m off to get that message sent!
Quinton Greymane: Farewell, Gremkyl!

Gremkyl grabs the nearby crutch, and makes his way out the door as quickly as a one legged dwarf can as the party follows him out of the library building. With nothing much else to do, they spend the remainder of the day tending to various errands, one of which is to check in on the Hucrele women. Kerowyn looks worried when they tell her about their next adventure, but wishes them a safe journey as she bids them farewell.

The adventurers meet up with Erky at the tavern and share a drink or two. Fenora laments the fact that her family farm will remain vacant, so Erky offers to remain behind for a while and tend to the livestock as needed. Relieved, Fenora gives the gnome a fierce hug.

The following morning, the adventurers set out on foot from Oakhurst to the west, heading for the town of New Cyre, a journey which takes almost two full days. Fortunately, the weather is fair for the journey, and they make the trip unmolested. Once they arrive in New Cyre, just as Gremkyl suggested, an Orien caravan is preparing to leave, heading north to the city of Starilaskur. The journey will take a day and a half, and the adventurers are offered a total of 50 gp each to help guard the caravan. They eagerly agree, and head out with the caravan the following morning.

The trip is again uneventful, though a storm moves in as they begin the second day of the journey. The storm slows the travel down a bit, and it nearing nightfall as the caravan arrives in Starilaskur. The party has a choice to make from here: they can leave with another Orien caravan in a couple days, which will head north to Thrane and arrive in Sigilstar in about six days; or they can board the lightning rail in the morning bound for Sigilstar, the journey taking about a day, but the fare will be 80 gold Galifars per person. They make a decision, and the following morning they board the lightning rail 80 gold lighter, and settle in. The trip is exciting, as most of them have never ridden the lightning rail before, or haven’t in some time. They pass the time playing games or sleeping, and it’s close to dawn the following morning when the lightning rail pulls into the station in the Thranish city of Sigilstar.

The party disembarks from the train, and upon request, they are directed to the nearest inn, a modest establishment with a large placard mounted to the front naming it The Silent Lute. They sleepily make t way in and ask for some rooms. The innkeeper has two rooms avaialble for 5 silver for the night, which the party eagerly hand over. Fenora and Gishkaa take one of the rooms, with Garl and Quinton taking the other, as Civic takes up post outside the rooms in the hall. It is close to noon before the party regroups in the common room for a meal and to decide on their next move. Gishkaa waits until Fenora goes down to breakfast, then begins her daily meditative kata and ritual scarring routine.

Garl Auraspeaker (yawns): Ah, that was a good night’s sleep.
Quinton Greymane: Yes, but I guess the next thing to do is figure out what we’ll be doing next.
Garl Auraspeaker (leans forward, whispering): Oi, looks like we have a fan. (nods subtly towards the other side of the room where a man is showing an interest in the party)
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, not usually a good sign.

They all cautiously and discreetly look over to the man Garl indicated. He seems to be average height and build, with shoulder length brown hair. His pale blue eyes are directed in their direction, but they don’t seem to be malicious, merely curious and interested. He sits back in his chair, his eyes not leaving theirs, as he rubs his chin thoughtfully.

Civic (with a shrug): I don’t know. That’s how a lot of great adventures in books start off.
Garl Auraspeaker: Doesn’t seem like anyone special. Maybe we just ignore him.
waves at the stranger
Civic: (waves at the stranger) Wait… ignore him…Ummmm… (puts his hand down and turns away as Garl sighs)

The man looks startled by this, but after a moment, a wide grin crosses his handsome face. He stands, gulps down the last of his tankard’s contents, and walks over to the table.

The Man: I hafta say, you lot don’t look much like Thranes. Let me guess… came in on the rail overnight?
Quinton Greymane: Maybe we did…
The Man chuckles.
Civic (excitedly): We did! Have you ever ridden one? Much quieter than I expected. I’m really curious how they keep it so silent. Maybe a spell to let it glide smoothly over the rails….hmm perhaps <not> a continual grease spell, but that would probably get too messy. It could be… <trails>
Garl Auraspeaker (ignoring Civic’s exuberance): Yer, what’s it to you?
The Man: Not tryin’ to pry, friend. Just, like I said, you don’t look much like the local folk here, and by the Host, that IS a relief. (looks around conspiratorially as Gishkaa comes down stairs and joins her companions, eying the newcomer with suspicion) These Thranes are waaaay too into their Flame, you know what I mean? I can handle religious types normally, but these people can be a bit much. (holds a hand out to Garl) Name’s Cahl, nice to meecha. Where y’all from?
Garl Auraspeaker (reaches out his hand cautiously): Garl Auraspeaker, friend.
Cahl: Well met, Garl.
Quinton Greymane: New Cyre. but most recently from Oakhurst
Civic: Nice to meet you. I go by Civic.
Cahl (nods with interest): My, you have come a long way. What brings you to Sigilstar?
Garl Auraspeaker: We’re returning some stuff from a Silver Flame cleric, as part of his last request. (sighs in resignation) So I guess we’ll be having to meet some of those stuffed up clerics.
Cahl: Well, that’s mighty kind of you. Hell of a good deed, that is. Sounds like you lot are all about the helpin’ out folks, amiright?
Quinton Greymane: I suppose that’s how it is. Just good folk doing good deeds.
Civic: Always better to help than to hurt others. As the Dal Ai Llama, founder of the Path of Light once said, “If we remember that others are feeling beings like us, we can extend a sense of kindness even twoards those we think of as enemies.”
Cahl (nods enthusiastically): That sounds just… perfect. Say, do you mind if I join you? <indicates> Wondering if I could float an idea by y’all.
Quinton Greymane (hesitantly): Don’t suppose we’d mind.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (slams her plate on the table and breathes deeply): I smell a grifter….(looks at Cahl) Nice to meet you.
Cahl (to Gishkaa): I dunno about grifter, but I AM a man in the need for a bit of help. And you are the first folks I have seen in days that have the look of someone who may have the skills needed.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (wraps up some bacon for later): Oh, we have skills. Why should we bite the hook yer danglin’?
Garl Auraspeaker (nods with suspicion): Good question… (glares at Cahl)

Cahl takes a seat at the table, looks around the room, then leans forward and begins speaking softly.

Cahl: So here’s the deal. I’ve been in this cursed city for the last week, and after a bit of a misunderstanding with the locals, my travel plans have been nixed. (absently brushes his hair back from his face, looking around the room again)
Quinton Greymane: Hmmm… you don’t say.
Fenora Finnley (points to the back of Cahl’s neck): Is that a tattoo???

Cahl looks startled at Fenora’s outburst, his hand quickly moving to smooth his hair back into place, staring around the room to see if anyone heard her.

Cahl: Shh! No, it’s not a tattoo, it’s my mark, and if anyone figures out I have one, they will want to know who I am, and that will not go well. (sighs heavily)
Quinton Greymane: Well, now I think we need to know who you are.
Cahl: I s’pose you do, seeing as it’s a big part of that “misunderstanding” anyway. As I said, the name is Cahl… Cahl Zephyr, and I’m a bit of a smuggler. Nothing too crazy, but sometimes I take goods from one place to another place where those goods may not exactly be legal. I know it’s not the most noble of callings, but it’s pretty much the only path open to me right now.
Quinton Greymane: Can’t say you’re endearing yourself to us so far.
Garl Auraspeaker (nods in agreement): Yer…
Civic (obliviously): That sounds exciting!
Cahl Zephyr: You see, Zephyr is not my real name. I am… or was… Cahl d’Lyrandar III, of the House Lyrandar. My family lives in Breland, Sharn to be specific, since just before the Last War began. I, um… I am excoriated from the House. So I have neither the funds nor the position to make my way with more honest labors. Ergo, a smuggler I have become.
Garl Auraspeaker: There’s always being an adventurer…
Civic (astonished whisper) Excoriated… But you’re still alive and have your skin.
Cahl Zephyr (smiles at the warforged): The flaying of the dragonmark from the skin of the excoriated is a practice that has long since been discontinued. Excoriation in the old sense would mean almost certain death. Now, though, it’s just the death of one’s honor and reputation, which in some ways, can be almost worse. (grows silent as his brows creases in a frown)
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Or freeing…
Cahl Zephyr (nods): In a way, friend, you are not wrong. I was fortunate in that I was able to acquire the means to my new life just as the old way was taken from me.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: What’d you do? Snag the wrong courtier with those blue eyes?
Cahl Zephyr: In a way, you’re not far off. (pulls back his hair s bit, exposing the ears pointed almost like those of an elf) As you can see, I am Khoravar, or half elven, if you are not familiar with the old term. It is tradition that Khoravar be with Khoravar. Some racist bullshit from way back in the day that believed that the Khoravar race was somehow superior, and thus should not mix with other races. The irony being that we descend from just that sort of racial mixing, but I digress. I had the fortune, whether good or bad, to meet and fall in love with a human woman name Lora. We were going to elope, leave our past behind and start a new life together. Only we were discovered, and promptly arrested.
Quinton Greymane: Well that sounds downright rude
Civic: Oh no…
Cahl Zephyr: I was able to bribe our jailer with a substantial sum, and Lora and I fled for the airship docks. We almost escaped, but just as we boarded the airship, Lora was killed by an arrow fired by my best friend, Liam.
Civic: That’s horrible! I’m so sorry!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Ugh, sounds like something a Liam would do. Sounds like a right bastard with that name.
Quinton Greymane: Indeed, you have my condolences.
Civic (begins to ramble): There was once a small coastal town named Flint that was destroyed after a Liam there, who was supposed to protect the city, went against his superior, Delft’s, orders. It led to a catastrophe and that bay is now larger by the size of the town that once stood there. Don’t know why anyone would name their child after someone so notorious. Delft did courageously save many women and children once he realized Liam intended to do the unthinkable. He was truly a great man.
Cahl Zephyr (bemused at Civic’s history lesson): Er, thanks. So that’s my story. I have been on the run ever since. Having been disowned by my House, I am all but dead in reality. Door after door has been closed in my face, with no one willing to help me for fear it would put them at odds with House Lyrandar. Getting an actual job was impossible, so I became a smuggler and a pilot. One of the best, I might add. (puffs up his chest with pride) I once flew the width of the Mournland, from Karrnath to Thrane in one day. One day! I’d like to see any of these other Lyrandar hotshots do the same! Never happen. Ha!
Garl Auraspeaker: That does sound pretty impressive.
Civic: I don’t know how long it takes to fly places, but that certainly sounds impressive.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (mutters in Goblin): Impressive, but probably not true.
Cahl Zephyr: Anyway, my ship got impounded about a day after I got here. The misunderstanding I mentioned? Yah, they said I was Cahl d’Lyrandar, and I told them they were wrong. Needless to say, they didn’t believe me. Fortunately, I was able to get away, but they got the Raptor. (leans forward) That’s where you lot come in.
Quinton Greymane: I think I can see where this is going. It sounds like you’re in a bit of a pickle.
Cahl Zephyr (grins widely): I knew I chose well.
Civic (solemnly puts his hands on the table): Are we about to pull a heist?
Cahl Zephyr: Let’s not call it a heist. How about we call it a rescue mission? I need you to help me liberate the Centennial Raptor.
Garl Auraspeaker: Seems like a heist to me.
Cahl Zephyr: Once you help me get my ship back, and the rest of my crew, I will take you wherever you want to go on the continent. Within reason, mind. No overnight stays in the Mournland, see.
Civic: A rescue heist! I’ve read about so many! We need a smooth talker (looks at Cahl), check. A sleuth (looks at Gishka), check. A sniper (looks at Fenora), check. Muscle (nods to Quinton and Garl). That just leaves the master mind. (starts nodding excitedly and pulls out some parchment to start brainstorming)
Garl Auraspeaker (chuckles as he watches Civic): I think you’ve created a monster, Cahl.
Cahl Zephyr (shrugs, amused): I’m just asking for help. I have nothing to do with THAT.
Civic (ignoring everyone): We’re going to need three sacks of grain. (scribbles some more) Wait! Make that four…yes perfect. (goes back to writing again)
Quinton Greymane: Well I’m inclined to help you, as you’ve had a bad run of things there.
Cahl Zephyr: To be honest, it shouldn’t be too difficult. The docking tower the Raptor is currently docked at is guarded, but not by a sizable unit by any means. I have been staking things out for the last few days, and looks like a fairly regular rotation. Just need to slip in unnoticed, get to the ship, and take off. Just know, if there’s any resistance, we need to do everything we can to avoid killing anyone. You think bumping off a rando is bad, just try knocking off one of these holy rollers. You’ll have the entire lot on your ass before you could say “Kyber’s hanging ballsack!”
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Where is the ship? We should probably go fetch it while Civic is busy planning. He’ll probably be at it for a few days.
Civic (distracted): Hmm yes, obviously I need a good week to plan all the details.
Cahl Zephyr: The ship’s not far. Follow me.
Quinton Greymane: You better believe we’re not killing anyone
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Of course not… (nodding her head)

Cahl stands up from the table and begins to head toward the door to the tavern. As he does so, a tall man emerges from a shadowy corner. He wears a loose fitting tunic under a leather vest, and his muscular arms are covered in course hair. Cahl lifts a hand as he looks at him, and the man returns to his seat in the shadows.

Cahl leads the party out of the tavern and a short distance down the street. About half a mile away, a tall tower rises above the city., where a small airship is docked at its side, it’s fiery ring glowing brightly against the storm-threatening gray sky. Cahl points up at the airship.

Cahl Zephyr: There she is, the Centennial Raptor. Not the biggest or best of the Lyrandar fleet, not by any means. In fact, she was one of the last of the models used in the war, and was slated for recycling. But damn if she ain’t one of the fastest ships around. My enhancements, of course. (puffs up his chest proudly)
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: It looks like it’s about to fall apart!
Cahl Zephyr (scowls): Don’t let her appearance fool ya. She’s the fastest ship on the continent by a mile. That Mournland crossing I told you about? It would take most pilots nearly 4 days to make that trip, and we made it in one. She’ll get you wherever you need to go. She just don’t need to look super pretty to do it.
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): It flies. That sounds pretty good to me.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (unimpressed): Well, it floats anyway. We’ll see if it flies soon enough.

View
One Quest Ends, Another Begins
Sar, Sypheros 28th, 998 YK to Sul, Aryth 1st, 998 YK

Having defeated Belak the Outcast, the party turns their attention to Sharwyn Hucrele and Sir Braford, who are in rough shape following the destruction of the Gulthias Tree. The bark-like growths on their skin seems to be flaking away, exposing swaths of rotting necrotic skin. Realizing that healing potions will not cure the affliction, the adventurers quickly gather up the injured and begin making their way toward the exit.

Before leaving, however, Fenora frantically searches for one of the fruits of the Gulthias Tree, knowing of its regenerative properties. She admits to Gishkaa that the reason she’d accompanied the party into the Citadel was with the intent of finding one of the fruits to cure her ailing father. Gishkaa manages to find a single fruit, which she hands over to Fenora, who is grateful but dismayed to find the fruit has already begun to rot.

Reaching the shaft to the Citadel above, the party realizes that Sharwyn and Sir Braford are in to no shape to climb the vines to the chamber above. Unable to bear watching their pain any longer, Fenora produces the fruit and offers it to the injured humans. However, the rot has taken over a full half of the fruit, leaving only enough to heal one of them. Sir Braford refuses to partake of the fruit, insisting that Sharwyn have it all, and requests only that his holy symbol be returned to his family in Thrane. Sharwyn eats the fruit and the rotting flesh on her body becomes whole, while Sir Braford finally succumbs to the affliction and dies.

Reaching the main floor of the Citadel, the party has little trouble reaching the entrance, though it does take some time as they work to avoid alerting the kobolds to their passage. The effort is all for naught, however, as they encounter Yusdrayl and her guards blocking the way out. She demands to know what has happened with Calcryx the dragon. The encounter grows tense, but before it can erupt into conflict, a timely sleep spell from Civic quells the potential fight. Angrily, the kobold leader allows them to pass.

Reaching the surface and walking into the mid-afternoon sunlight, the party begins making their way back to Oakhurst. A feeling of relief settles over each of the adventurers as shortly after the sun has dipped below the horizon, they at last arrive on the outskirts of the small town.

Erky Timbers: I dunno about you lot, but I think this old gnome is going to find the nearest inn, rent a room, and sleep for a week.
Garl Auraspeaker: Damn straight, Erky, I’m tired as hell! Let’s go get a drink.
Civic: I’ll never understand why so many seem to like losing hours of their day to do nothing. It seems so wasteful. I’m glad I’m not afflicted with that need.
Garl Auraspeaker: Civic, one day we will have to teach you about the joy of sleep.
Erky Timbers (grins up at Civic): Afraid that is one of the many frailties of the flesh and blood set, my warforged friend. Count yourself fortunate that it is not one ye share.
Civic: According to King Cyre ir’Wynarn, "Sleepiness and laziness in a man are the beginning of his misfortune.”
Garl Auraspeaker: Psh, that’s a ridiculous statement! Can’t get a lick of work done without a good night’s rest.
Fenora Finnley (snickering): Or in your case, a good 14 hours rest, Garl…
Garl Auraspeaker: That’s true. Some days I have to get up early like that.
Erky Timbers (sighs heavily, ignoring the banter): So where will the Host guide you lot after this?
Fenora Finnley: I should go home to check on my father.
Sharwyn Hucrele: I for one need to find my mother and let her know I am alright.
Quinton Greymane: Yes, I think Sharwyn is right. Before we head out to our revelry, we should finish what we came to do.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Agreed
Sharwyn Hucrele (wiping away tears): I also need to let her know of Talgen’s fate. I only wish we’d had something of him to lay to rest.
Erky Timbers: I think I will let you tend to your errand. I myself will head on to the inn, and save a table for you, should ye care to join me later.
Garl Auraspeaker: You bet, Erky!
Sharwyn Hucrele: Thank you, Erky, for all your help in getting me home. You were a comfort in that cell for a time.
Erky Timbers (blushes): Think nothing of it, m’dear. I only wish I could have done more… and that we’d been able to save your brother.
Civic: I don’t think we would have been successful without you. We were fortunate to find you in there.
Erky Timbers: I was glad to help, Civic. You lot seem to have a knack of getting in a bit over your heads, and the extra assistance certainly did not seem unneeded. It would seem the Host meant for our paths to cross.
Quinton Greymane: It may just be that they did. Well, I think we’re all grateful for your help.
Erky Timbers: My pleasure. I’m going to head on to the inn. Come find me when you’re through and we’ll toast our good fortune in survival!

With that, Erky waves cheerily at the adventurers as he begins heading toward the center of town and the inn. As the gnome disappears into the darkness, Civic turns and places a gentle hand onto Sharwyn’s shoulder.

Civic: Let’s get you home.
Sharwyn Hucrele (nods gratefully): Please.
Fenora Finnley: I have to go through town on my way home. I’ll join you until then.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yeah, that’ll be good, though this next conversation is going to be a toughie.
Sharwyn begins to cry softly.
Quinton Greymane: It’ll be alright, Sharwyn, you made it home at least.

They make their way through the streets of Oakhurst, heading toward the northern end of town where Hucrele’s General Goods is located. As they approach the building, a warm light glows in the windows.

Sharwyn Hucrele (takes a deep breath): It looks like Mother is still working. I dread facing her.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Dread? You have a mother who actually cares about you and went to great lengths to try to get you back. Not everyone is so lucky.
Quinton Greymane: Well as my pappy used to say, “Harvesting the field don’t get easier the longer you wait to do it.” So we might as well get moving.
Sharwyn Hucrele (nods sadly): You’re right.

Sharwyn steels herself, walking up to the storefront and enters. The bell chimes cheerfully as the door opens. At the far end of the room, Kerowyn Hucrele has her back turned to the door, busily tending to some merchandise set behind the counter. She turns as the party enters, her eyes growing wide as she sees Sharwyn.

Kerowyn Hucrele: Oh my gods… Sharwyn?!
Sharwyn Hucrele: Yes, Mother, it’s me.
Kerowyn Hucrele dashes around the counter and crosses the floor, gathering her daughter into her arms for a tight embrace.
Quinton Greymane: Yep we’re back
Kerowyn Hucrele: I scarcely allowed myself to hope for your safe return. Thank the Host you’re alright!

Sharwyn surrenders to the embrace, tears flowing freely from her eyes. Kerowyn releases Sharwyn and steps back, a smile lighting up her face. She looks around at the rest of the party, quickly realizing that her son is not with them. Her smile falters as she looks to Quinton.

Kerowyn Hucrele: Talgen??
Quinton Greymane: I’m sorry, we were too late. I’m so sorry, Kerowyn.

Sharwyn bursts into heavy sobs as Kerowyn closes her eyes upon hearing the news of her son’s death. She takes a deep breath before opening them again, steeling herself with resolve.

Kerowyn Hucrele: I feared those words since the day you left, my friend, and though I prepared myself for their coming, my heart breaks to hear them spoken. I can not believe my son… is dead. How did it happen? Did he suffer?
Sharwyn Hucrele: It was the goblins, Mother. The goblins from the Citadel… they killed him! I wanted to save him, but I couldn’t! They killed him in front of me!
Garl Auraspeaker: Well it’s probably cold comfort, but there’s plenty of them that went to the afterlife with him.
Quinton Greymane: They shouldn’t be causing anyone else any trouble anytime soon.
Kerowyn Hucrele (looks at Garl coldly): I hope you sent them all to Kyber. Every last one of those vermin. (glances at Gishkaa, realizing what she’s said) My apologies, Gishkaa. I hope you do not take offense.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shakes her head somberly): No… no, I understand. There are a lot of good people among my race, but they are usually in the shadows and overlooked. The rotten bits come to the surface and that’s what the world experiences. The goblins there were definitely the rotten variety.
Garl Auraspeaker: You can say that again.
Kerowyn Hucrele: Curious, though, that the goblins of the Citadel should do this. They’ve been known to us for more than a decade, usually visiting a couple times a year with those strange fruits.
Fenora Finnley (sadly): I don’t think there will be any more of the healing fruits coming from the Citadel…
Kerowyn Hucrele: No? Oh, well you did say that you dealt with the goblins, so I suppose that makes sense. Though I suppose someone could always find the source of the fruit, right?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I’m glad they weren’t always like that. Maybe that druid twisted them to his purposes, or the hobgoblins did
Quinton Greymane: It seems like the druid was the leader of their operation.
Fenora Finnley: The tree looked dead. The only fruit I could find started to rot before we made it to the surface.
Civic: Kerowyn, do you know of any skilled healers, or other mystical means of healing? Fenora may have sacrificed her father to keep Sharwyn alive. I want to try to find something else to help her if I can.
Kerowyn Hucrele (pales): Oh… oh, no, my dear. I am so sorry to be the one to tell you this, but your father passed last night. I only just heard the news a couple hours ago. I am so sorry for your loss. He was a good man.
Garl Auraspeaker (awkwardly consoles Fenora): I’m so sorry Fenora
Fenora Finnley (crying): What am i going to do??? I can’t take care of the farm all on my own! Without him, I’ll never be able to make deliveries!
Kerowyn Hucrele: I am so sorry, Fenora. I wish I didn’t have to be the one to gives you this sad news.
Fenora Finnley: No, Kerowyn, thank you for telling me. I’m glad I didn’t go home to an empty house.
Quinton Greymane: Well, you can always stick with us.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, being an adventurer is great.
Fenora Finnley: You would really take little ol’ me with you, Quinton?
Quinton Greymane: Of course! We’d be happy to have you. Not sure what our little group will be up to now. We kind of took care of everything we came together to accomplish.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Maybe we could help you until something else pulls us away. I miss the farm life.
Fenora Finnley: Thank you, Gishkaa. I’ll need help to take care of things around the farm while I tend to my father’s services.
Quinton Greymane: Of course, we’ll help!
Garl Auraspeaker (sighs): Well… I guess we could do that, too.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (annoyed, mutters in Goblin): Why would we leave when there is a perfectly good farm to work here? Dummies!

Kerowyn looks at Sharwyn worriedly as the girl yawns sleepily, the stress of her ordeal finally catching up with her.

Kerowyn Hucrele: I think I need to get Sharwyn home to bed. Poor thing looks like she’s about the fall asleep on her feet. But first, I do believe you are owed a boon for your deeds, my friends. Come with me.

Kerowyn Hucrele leads the way back to the counter, pulling a small casket from beneath it and placing it on the tabletop with a heavy thud.

Civic: I think I asked about it last time I was here, but any chance you have a pearl about this large (indicates the size with his fingers) in stock?
Kerowyn Hucrele: I actually do not deal in gems and the like. However, on the road heading out of town toward Starilaskur, there is a jeweler who may have what you need.
Civic: Thank you. I’ll check there.
Kerowyn Hucrele: So I believe we agreed on 125 gold piece for each of you should you return with my children’s rings. I see Sharwyn’s still wearing hers, did you find my son’s?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Oh! (digs through her pack) Here’s his ring.
Kerowyn Hucrele: Ah, thank you, excellent. So that’s 250 each. Plus you have returned my daughter to me unharmed, for which I am truly and eternally grateful. I shall double our agreed upon fee, so 500 gold Galifars for each of you, and everlasting thanks. (pushes forward a heavy satchel filled with gold coins)
Quinton Greymane: If only we could have done more…
Civic: That is extremely generous, Kerowyn. Thank you. I’m going to be able to pay for so much library access time now!
Kerowyn Hucrele: You have already done so much for me, Quinton. I dared not hope for the best, but you have spared me the worst. That is no small thing.
Quinton Greymane: I’m glad to hear you say that. If you ever need us we’ll be there.
Kerowyn Hucrele: I am so glad I can still count on you, even after all these years. Is there anything else I can do for you this evening, before I take my daughter home?

The party begin taking out the various items they’d found during their adventures within the Sunless Citadel, arraying them on the counter before Kerowyn, who looks over everything with an experienced and appraising eye. Most of the loot is basic items, some minor goods that she can resell, and even some small gemstones that she personally finds appealing. Other items she holds to the side. As she calculates the value of the loot, Civic decides to seek out the jeweler on his own, promising to meet up with the rest of the party at the tavern later. The warforged summons his owl familiar, and leaves.

Kerowyn Hucrele: These items, while interesting, are a bit beyond me, and I think you might have better luck placing them with with someone more familiar with their like. I believe Ianren Leoxidor might be able to help you, if you’re looking to sell them. He runs the Draconic Wonders Emporium across the road from the Apothecary.
Quinton Greymane: I think we just might do that… tomorrow morning.
Kerowyn Hucrele: Now this one… (holds up the scroll case, pulling out the scroll within) …this one is interesting. It’s badly damaged, as you can see, and unless I am mistaken, these markings are dwarven runes. You’ll need to find someone who can understand dwarven to ascertain if the case or its contents are of any value. For that, you’d want to speak with Gremkyl Silverhelm at the library across from the village hall.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm. I guess we’ll be stopping by his place tomorrow, as well.
Kerowyn Hucrele (glances at Sharwyn): I’m afraid that’s about all the help I can give you this evening. I need to get Sharwyn home. Please, come by tomorrow if you can. If not, just please stop by before you leave Oakhurst.
Quinton Greymane: Of course, we’d not leave town without saying a proper goodbye.

Kerowyn sees them to the door, bidding them a good night before closing the door behind them. Through the glass, the party watches as the two women embrace tightly, sharing their grief over the loss of Talgen, and relief at Sharwyn’s return. Satisfied that they have done well, the party make their way to the Ol’ Boar Inn & Tavern, where their adventure began just a few short days ago. True to his promise, Erky sits at a table in the corner of the common room, already well into his cups. As the party enters, he cheerfully waves them over to join him.

Erky Timbers: That didn’t take hic long. All sorted out, eh? (notices Fenora’s tear-stained face) What’s wrong, Fenora?
Garl Auraspeaker: We got a spot of bad news.
Erky Timbers (looks up at Garl): Oh no?
Fenora Finnley: My father didn’t make it, Erky. He passed before we even got back to town.
Erky Timbers: Oh, my dear, I am so hic sorry for your loss. How awful. Is there anything I can do?
Fenora Finnley: Thank you, Erky. Everyone has already been so kind. They are going to help me with the farm until I can take care of everything.

Fenora looks around at her friends and smiles, as Gishkaa sneaks off to order everyone a round of whiskey.

Quinton Greymane: Yep! Be like being back on my father’s farm. Good times!
Fenora Finnley (smiles brightly): Quinton even said I can join them on future adventures!
Erky Timbers: Well now, it sounds like you’ll be well looked after, then. Speaking of further adventures, was there some where special you were planning to go?

Gishkaa returns with a tray of of shots, which she passes out to everyone as she snorts in annoyance.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: I hope not. I’m looking forward to spending some time on Fenora’s farm. I don’t know if she has goats, but we’re going to get some goats.
Erky Timbers: I’m thinkin’ t’be heading to Thrane, m’self. Never been, and thinking it might be an interesting change of pace. If you like, I could even return the recently departed Sir Braford’s holy Flame to the church there.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm. Well, not really sure at the moment.

Just then, Civic walks through the door, having returned from his errand. He spots his companions, and joins them at the table.

Civic: The jeweler wasn’t open. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.
Garl Auraspeaker: We do have to go to Thrane to deliver Sir Bradford’s medallion to the Silver Flame.
Quinton Greymane: We should probably get to that next.
Erky Timbers (taking a whiskey shot): Well tomorrow is another day, as they say, and decisions are easier to make on a night’s rest.
Garl Auraspeaker (points at Erky): Now that’s some wisdom right there.
Quinton Greymane: Normally I’d say you’re just talking out of the wrong end of ya, but it’s true. We really should get a good night’s rest.
Erky Timbers: I raise my glass to you all, my friends, who saved me from what sure to be a painful death, and brought me out of the pit. You have my gratitude and my friendship, always.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Cheers!

They all down the shots, then proceed to have a few more drinks with Erky before the gnome eventually falls asleep in his chair. It’s nearing 2 AM before they finally leave the tavern, with Fenora leading the group to stagger toward her family’s farm on the western fringes of the town. It IS a halfling farm, however, so there are no accommodations that will suit the rest of the party, save for Gishkaa, so the rest of the party are shown to the barn. They drunkenly make themselves as comfortable as possible, and fall into the deepest sleep they’ve been able to enjoy in days. Civic, however, bids them all goodnight, as he heads back to the jeweler’s shop to stand in front of the door reading a book to pass the time till the shop opens.

The following morning, the proprietor of the jewelry store is surprised to find Civic waiting for him when he arrives to open the store at 10 AM, but happily aids the excited warforged in acquiring what he seeks… a single flawless pearl. Civic quickly returns to Fenora’s family farm, where he sets up at he tiny dining table and begins working to identify the magical items they’d found. The wand is revealed to be a Wand of Entangle, while the whistle appears to have necrotic energies attached to it.

Civic (holding up the whistle): Oh my! This is interesting, and makes perfect sense considering it’s guardians. If blown in darkness or at night it allows you to cast Animate Dead.
Quinton Greymane: Sounds a might bit dangerous…
Garl Auraspeaker (furrows his brown in concern): And evil…

Civic shrugs unconcerned as he returns the wand to his pack and slides the whistle on to the silver chain around his neck. He convinces the rest fo the party to join him as he heads over to the Draconic Wonder Emporium, where they are greeted by the store’s elf owner, Ianren Leoxidar. The elf is kind, though somewhat aloof, as he helps Civic acquire the goods needed to add spells to his spellbook. With the shopping completed, they make their way over to the library Kerowyn had mentioned, intending to look into the strange scroll with the possibly dwarven writing on it. Inside the small building, bookcases heavily laden with books and scroll of all kindsline the walls. Behind a long desk piled high with books both opened and closed, a red-haired dwarf looks up as they enter.

Gremkyl Silverhelm: Aye, can I help you?
Quinton Greymane: Why yes good sir, we have this here scroll case. It has some dwarven writing on it and Kerowyn recommended we take it to you to have it deciphered.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Oh, did she now? Didnae realize I was t’be the translator of every and any dwarven rune that came about. Bah! Well.. let’s see it!

The dwarf holds out his hand impatiently, as Civic pulls the scroll case from his pack and hands it over. Gremkyl takes the scroll case from Civic with a heavy sigh. He glances down at the scroll case and seems startled, his breath catching in a small gasp. With a slightly shaking hand, he opens the case and gingerly removes its contents. His eyes grow wide.

Garl Auraspeaker: That doesn’t look good…
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Onatar’s Forge, where did you find this?
Civic: This must be good.
Quinton Greymane: Definitely not good
Civic: In the ruins of the citadel. What does it say? (mutters to himself) I really need to learn Dwarven..
Gremkyl Silverhelm (wipes a hand across a suddenly sweating forehead): I can’t believe that this came to your possession, and that by the grace of the gods, you bring it to me. I have been looking for just such a piece of proof for nearly a century. How much, if any, do you know of the history of the ancient dwarven tribes that first settled the Mror holds?
Civic: Nothing, unfortunately. (muttering to himself again) I really need to learn Dwarven…
Garl Auraspeaker: Nada.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: What you have brought to me is likely the single greatest historical find of all time. One of the original clans, led by Durgeddin the Black, settled in the mountains of the Mror Holds nearly a millennium ago, establishing a fortress they called Khundrukar. They disappeared, never to be heard from again. It’s been theorized that they’d been routed by the warring orc tribes that populated the mountains then, but no one knows for sure. In fact, details about the fortress and the clan are so scarce, that they are considered myth to all. Until now…

Gremkyl looks down at the scroll in awe. Civic stands there stunned to silence for a moment.

Gremkyl Silverhelm: This case (holds it up) is inscribed with dwarven runes that spell out “Kundrukar.” And the scroll within… it’s damaged, yes, but what remains verifies Kundrukar’s existence!
Civic (rambling): This is huge. It isn’t what I was searching for but truly this is fascinating! I must follow up on this. Oh my! This will also make my name known. I never dreamed my name would be read about by the great scholars, but even if for nothing other than having brought this here, my name, and all of yours will be part of history now. This is overwhelming.
Garl Auraspeaker (ignoring Civic’s chatter): So… this is like their secret map to treasure or something?
Gremkyl Silverhelm (stares at Garl): That is an understatement, laddie. If’n this scroll be the real thing, the treasures in Kundrukar would be immeasurable. (begins scrambling around for a piece of parchment and a quill) I say, are you the adventuring sort?
Quinton Greymane: Well now, that we can help you with.
Civic (nods): By necessity it has been a recent occupation I’ve taken up.
Quinton Greymane: I’m still not quite sure what we have gotten ourselves into here
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (sighs sadly): But the farm… goats…
Garl Auraspeaker: The farm will be fiiiiine. I mean, we could hire like a hundred people for all the gold we got from the citadel.
Quinton Greymane: Well Civic seems on board, at least.
Gremkyl Silverhelm (writing on parchement): Not me, no, though I truly wish I could join you on this historical quest. If you are interested, and don’t mind the travel, I wonder if you might wish to bring this scroll to an old colleague of mine. Kundrukar lore was something of a hobby we shared in our adolescence, and we always said that we’d find the fortress if we ever found a solid lead. Today you have brought me that lead. (finishes writing, folds the parchment, and hands it to Quinton) Alas, I am in no shape for this sort of adventure.

Gremkyl pushes his chair back from the desk, its wheels squeaking loudly with the motion. They can immediately see that the dwarf is missing the lower half of his right leg. He then scoots his chair back into position with the aid of a wooden crutch leaning against the desk.

Civic: We will take your note to your friend, and I will take meticulous notes of what I find at the fortress if I manage to make my way there. It won’t be the same as experiencing it yourself, but hopefully reading the notes will allow you some pleasure of this find.
Gremkyl Silverhelm: Excellent! His name is Gulrus… Gulrus Ironfist, and he lives in Irontown, in the foothills of the Ironroot Mountains in Karrnath. I will send him a Sivis message to let him know to expect you. He will be able to give you more details.
Quinton Greymane: Well this does sound mighty interesting.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, it’s a job right up our alley. Why, we haven’t uncovered a lost civilization in over a decade or so!
Gremkyl Silverhelm: I wish I could go with ye! Feckin’ mourngator took me leg five years ago, which done cut my adventuring short. I do hope you’ll tell me all about it when you return.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well, I’m sympathetic there, we should do this for ya.

View
A Sacrifice
Sar, Sypheros 28th, 998 YK, mid- to late-afternoon

Last time, the party wakes on a new day, having retreated to a secure location to sleep off the effects of Garl’s curiosity. Heading back to the furthest they’d reached, they search some of the rooms they overlooked on the way, finding only more chambers filled with the strange luminescent fungus the goblins seem to be farming here. Passing the study, they unlock the next door and enter a massive chamber, filled with a monstrous field of fungus, currently tended by a handful of goblins, who immediately attack.
The adventurers cut through the goblins easily, but are immediately confronted by wave after wave of the strange twig blights, which emerge from the field of briers that fill the area. Pushing forward as they hack through the twig blights, they ultimately reach the edge of a series of ruined buildings, which surround a monstrous, evil-looking tree. Standing at the base of the tree is The Outcast, a druid named Belak, who is shielded by several twig blights, as well as the missing Sharwyn Hucrele and Sir Braford.
The druid confronts the party, monologuing about his plans to spread the “seed of the Gulthias Tree” on the surface. Belak explains that Sharwyn and Sir Braford are supplicants to the tree, and that they can not be saved. Enraged, the party attack. Realizing that destroying the tree may release Sharwyn and Sir Braford from its sway, they focus their attacks on the tree itself, ultimately killing it. Sharwyn and Braford are knocked unconscious while the furious druid attempts to flee. However, Belak is ultimately cornered along the ruined wall, and slain.
As Gishkaa moves to check on Sharwyn and Sir Braford, Fenora runs to the tree and begins searching the foliage debris at its base. Quinton looks around the area, a look of deep concern clouding his face.

Quinton Greymane: Hmm, I don’t see Talgen around here.
Erky Timbers: (to Garl as he tends to Sir Braford):You might want to tend to the girl, Garl. This one doesn’t look good, and I fear her condition will be none better.
Garl Auraspeaker: Good point.

As Erky and Garl tend to the wounded, Gishkaaa notices Fenora’s frantic search.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: What are you looking for, Fenora?
Fenora Finnley (continues searching): Do you see any fruit from the tree??
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Let me look around.

Gishkaa begins to help Fenora search through the detritus piled up against the tree, and after a minute or two, finds a small apple-like fruit hidden by a pile of leaves and small twigs. She hides the fruit behind her back as she moves over to Fenora.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Fenora, what’s this behind your ear?

Gishkaa attempts to “magically” produce the fruit from behind the halfling’s ear, but the fruit slips from her fingers. She fumbles the fruit but manages to keep from dropping it. With a shrug and a grin, she hold out the small fruit to Fenora, who gasps in excitement.

Fenora Finnley: Is there only the one? Are you sure I can have this one?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: It’s the only one I saw, and yeah. It’s yours.
Fenora Finnley: Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Fenora grabs Gishkaa and squeezes the goblin in a tight hug. Gishkaa stands there like a stunned deer, hands frozen at her sides, then slowly lifts them and gives Fenora’s back a gentle, awkward pat. Releasing her embrace, Fenora steps back to inspect her prize: a shiny red, delicious looking fruit. She turns it in her hand, her eyes widening as she notices a spot near the bottom about the size of a copper piece.

Quinton Greymane (joining Gishkaa and Fenora): What’s this fruit you’re talking about?
Fenora Finnley: Oh no! I think it’s starting to rot. (lifts her head with tears in her eyes) Gishkaa, I came all this way with you guys just for a chance to get a piece of this fruit. My father isn’t well, and its healing powers could bring him back to full health. I can’t keep the farm going all on my own. I need him.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Then I’m glad we found a piece and I hope it helps.
Fenora Finnley: But if it’s starting to rot… what if it doesn’t make the journey back??
Quinton Greymane: That’s a tough road to hoe for sure.

Meanwhile, Civic, Erky, and Garl tend to the wounds of Sharwyn and Sir Braford.

Civic: The bleeding is stopped. I don’t know what lasting effect that tree’s magic will have, though.
Erky Timbers: This one’s as stable as I can make him here, as well. These marks on his skin trouble me, though.
Garl Auraspeaker: Probably not good that’s, for sure. (looks back at the tree with concern) That tree looks evil as Khyber.

Sharwyn moans as she begins to turn her head weakly. Seeing the girl in pain, Garl places a hand on her head, closes his eyes, and utters a silent prayer. A soft glow of divine magic appears as Garl casts a healing spell.

Civic: Personally I think bark skin is fetching.
Garl Auraspeaker (gruffly): Hah, you would. Maybe you could make a new part for yourself out of the tree.

Civic examines the bark-like skin on Sharwyn’s face, gently touching the affected area. He realizes that the girl’s affliction greatly resembles the results of the barkskin spell he’s been studying, but he has never heard of the spell resulting in only patches of the skin being affected. As he continues to examine Sharwyn’s prone form, her eyes slowly open, locking on Civic’s face in fear.

Sharwyn: Who… who… are you?

Civic looks at Garl, waiting for the dragonborn to answer.

Garl Auraspeaker: Friends of yer mom.
Sharwyn (looking closer at Garl, a spark of recognition in her eyes): Are you… Garl? Mom told me that she knew a dragonborn once… one that traveled with my father long ago.
Garl Auraspeaker (puffs up at being recognized): Yep, that’s me! You’re dad and I went way back. I saved his bacon plenty of times. We came down here to rescue you and your brother and the idiot that led you down here. Though yer brother ain’t no where to be found.

At the mention of her brother, Sharwyn closes her eyes tightly. Tears spill from the corners of her eyes.

Sharwyn: He’s dead. The goblin leader in the citadel above killed him in front of me when Talgen refused to submit to Belak.
Garl Auraspeaker: Dammit! We were too late!
Civic: I’m so sorry for your loss.
Sharwyn: It is not your fault. It is our own, for being so foolish as to come to this cursed place. Even as children, we’d heard the stories of this place, and we warned to stay away. We should have listened.
Quinton Greymane: A hard lesson to learn. But people will go where you tell them not to. That’s just natural.

As Garl and Civic speak with Sharwyn, Erky has been busily attending to Sir Braford. The gnome has just finished casting a healing spell when the knight’s eyes suddenly open. Erky lets a squeak of alarm as he scuttles several feet back from the prone knight.

Erky Timbers: Oy! This one’s awake, lads!

Gishkaa and Fenora quickly move to join Erky as Sir Braford struggles weakly to sit up. Gishkaa looks carefully at the knight’s eyes, searching for traces of the evil tree’s continued influence.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: How you feeling?
Sir Braford (startled at being addressed by a goblin): I… I do not… know for sure. My mind is my own again, but I do not feel… right. Who are you?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: My name is Gishkaa. This is Erky and Fenora. (points at each in turn)
Sir Braford (nods weakly in answer): I am Sir Braford, paladin of the Silver Flame.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (looks back to the others attending to Sharwyn): A few others are off that way helping out the girl you led down here.
Sir Braford: Sharwyn? Is she okay? What of Talgen?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: She’s fine. (glances back again) Or seems to be. (turns back with a shrug) I don’t know what happened with her brother.
Sir Braford (looks relieved): I can not remember the last time we saw him. I can’t seem to shake this haze from my mind. I feel somehow we have been here some time, but I remember nothing after we arrived to the Citadel.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Maybe she remembers something.
Sir Braford (looks around): Where ARE we?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: You’re in the Sunless Citadel.
Sir Braford: In.. the Citadel? Surely not.

Meanwhile, Civic continues to examine Sharwyn, and notices that one of the patches on her face has begun to flake away. The exposed skin beneath it is black and rotted looking. With her permission, Civic reaches out to touch the flaking barkskin to examine it more closely. More of the barkskin flakes off under his fingers, and an increasing odor of rot begins to fill the air. Sharwyn winces in pain.

Civic (alarmed): Does anyone have a healing potion?
Garl Auraspeaker (handing a small vial to Civic): Yes, right here.
Civic: This doesn’t look good. I don’t know if a potion will help, but it may…
Garl Auraspeaker: It definitely doesn’t look good

As Civic helps Sharwyn drink the contents of the vial, Garl take a closer look at the rotting flesh, but doesn’t recognize anything about the affliction. Sharwyn swallows the healing potion, eyes closed as she lays back. Civic watches her carefully, but her condition does not seem to have improved any. Behind him, Sir Braford begins to cough heavily, his breath wheezing as he struggles to get the cough under control.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Umm, Sir Bradford isn’t looking too hot over here.
Quinton Greymane: It’s probably something to do with whatever Belak and the tree did.
Civic: Yes, maybe if we can get them away from the tree.
Erky Timbers: Host help us, that don’t sound good at all. I think we need to get them out of here quickly.
Quinton Greymane: Good idea, we’ve been standing about long enough. Civic and Garl, take Sharwyn. Gishkaa and Fenora, help me move Sir Bradford. Let’s get ‘em moving, quick now!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Erky can grab the feet. I’ll be right back.

As Erky grabs Sir Braford’s feet, Gishkaa quickly dashes over to the lifeless body of Belak, and begins rifling through the dead druid’s pockets. She quickly finds several interesting items: a key, three potions with the symbol of House Jorasco emblazoned on the side, two small vials with a pale green liquid, a wand, and a gold signet ring. She quickly gathers up everything and runs to catch up with the group.

Together, the adventurers begin moving Sharwyn and Sir Braford through the tunnels of the lower Citadel. The travel is slow going, as the movement causes more of the barkskin to flake away, exposing the rotting skin beneath. Alarmingly, it seems almost as if the exposed rotting skin has begun to spread as the air comes in contact with the wounds. The stench of decay is cloying in the tunnel, though they do their best to ignore the smell. It takes close to an hour and a half to reach the main chamber they’d descended into from the citadel above, as they slow to almost a crawl to avoid causing the wounded further pain. Standing beneath the shaft, they rest Sharwyn and Sir Braford on the ground as they ponder their next moves.

Erky Timbers (looking up the shaft): They are in no shape to climb. How are we going to get them up there?
Fenora Finnley: I can’t do this anymore…

Fenora pulls the piece of fruit from her bag, and with a sad but determined look on her face, holds the fruit out. It can be easily seen that the spot they’d noticed before has spread to encompass a full half of the fruit.

Erky Timbers: What are you doing, Fenora?
Fenora Finnley: Have them eat this. Maybe it will save them…
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (looks stricken): But what about your dad?
Quinton Greymane: You sure you want to give that up, Fenora?
Fenora Finnley: My father is old and frail… (looks at Sharwyn and Sir Braford) They have so much life in front of them, and this is such a horrible state to be in. Besides, it’s started to rot. It won’t make it back to my father. Maybe it has enough power left to save them.
Garl Auraspeaker (nods, then shrugs): Could do.
Civic: The girl first.

Fenora Finnley hands the fruit to Civic, as she tries to hide a sniffle before she walks away.

Sir Braford (weakly): Give it to Sharwyn. If the Silver Flame has chosen to claim me now, I will not refuse.

Civic helps hold Sharwyn up in a sitting position as he hands her the fruit. Sharwyn takes the fruit from Civic’s hand, looking at Sir Braford with something akin to guilt in her eyes.

Sharwyn: Sir Braford… no… you should have some, too.
Civic: You eat half first. If that is enough, he gets the rest.
Sir Braford (shakes his head as another coughing fit wracks his body): Don’t be foolish, girl. It is my fault you are in this state, and my fault that your bother has fallen. I will not let you follow him if I can prevent it.

Sharwyn nods sadly, and begins to eat the fruit. Sir Braford smiles weakly.

Sir Braford: Eat it all, Sharwyn. May the Silver Flame shine upon you.

As Sharwyn finishes the remainder of the fruit, they watch with some relief as the patches of bark-like skin begin to fall away, revealing clean, uninfected skin beneath it. The skin that had begun to rot earlier begins to turn grey, then yellow, then finally the pink of healthy skin. Sir Braford smiles. Garl, saddened by Sir Braford’s deteriorating condition, attempts a final prayer, casting a restoration spell on the paladin, to no avail.

Civic: Fenora, take us to your father when we get out of here. Maybe we can find another way for him. Garl’s healing may be enough for him.
Fenora Finnley nods at Civic.
Garl Auraspeaker: Maybe, though it doesn’t look like it is helping this guy. (looks at Sir Braford) Sorry, buddy.
Civic: I think our only options for you, Sir Bradford, are palliative, unfortunately.
Sir Braford: The Silver Flame calls me home. I can not, nor would I, refuse. I only regret that in my reckless foolishness, I have caused so much pain. Could I ask a small favor of you?
Civic (nods): Ask.

Sir Braford reaches under his tabard and pulls a silver amulet in the shape of a flame attached to a chain from around his neck and hands it to Garl.

Sir Braford: Please see that this reaches the Cathedral of the Flame in Thrane. They will see that it gets to my family, and inform them that I have returned to the Flame.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, we’ll see that it gets home. It’s the least we can do.
Sir Braford (weakly struggles to unbuckle the scabbard attached to his hip): As I will no longer require this, I offer my sword to you. May it help keep you safe on your journeys.
Garl Auraspeaker (takes the sword): We’ll use it for good.

Sir Braford smiles gratefully, then his eyes widen suddenly as another fit of violent coughing seizes him. The knight doubles over in pain as he struggles to gain control, but the party watches in horror as with each cough, a globule of coagulating blood splatters on the floor at his feet. He collapses to his knees, hands to his throat as wheezing gasps are the only sounds he is able to make . Large patches of the bark-like skin fall away, the rotting skin sloughing away to expose the bone and sinew beneath it. The knight finally collapses forward, a last weak breath escaping his lips as his eyes cloud over in death. The adventurers are unable to look away as the remaining flesh quickly decays and falls away, leaving behind his bloody bones. Sharwyn shrieks and collapses in helpless sobs as the knight rots away before her eyes. In stunned silence, Quinton awkwardly pats Sharwyn on the shoulder.

Erky Timbers: That… that was horrifying!
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, not a good way to go for sure. We should probably get out of here now. Who knows if there are any more goblins about.
Erky Timbers: Aye, we need to get the girl home.
Quinton Greymane: Sharwyn, it’s time to go.
Erky Timbers: Sharwyn, are you well enough to climb on your own, or are you still ill?
Sharwyn (calms herself as she turns a tear-stained face to Erky): I… I think I can manage. Whatever was wrong with me, the fruit you found seems to have helped.
Civic: We should send some folks up first and tie the rope around her to help. She’s likely still weak from whatever that curse was.
Sharwyn (looks at Civic): Thank you. I would appreciate the assistance.

Fenora and Gishkaa quickly dash up the vine-covered walls of the shaft to emerge in the chamber above. They pull up the rope they’d tied around the stone throne before, quickly knot another length of rope onto it before dropping it back down the hole where it lands in a messy pile below.

Erky Timbers: One of you big folk should go up next to help pull the girl up.
Civic: Don’t look at me. I’m good for carrying the flame of knowledge, not for carrying anything with mass.
Garl Auraspeaker (chuckles): Sure.

Garl makes his way up the shaft with little difficulty, looking down on the rest from above.

Garl Auraspeaker: Alright, let me know when you’re ready and I’ll pull her up.
Erky Timbers (smiles kindly at Sharwyn as he helps her get ready to ascend): Okay, let’s get you up there, now.
Sharwyn (holds on to the rope as she looks up at Garl): I’m ready.

Garl, with a little help from the ladies, begins pulling Sharwyn up the shaft. In short order, she reaches the top and sits on the stone throne, holding her head in her hands in grief. With Sharwyn safely up to the floor above, the rest of the party quickly make their way back up to the Citadel with the aid of Garl. As the last of the party reaches the room, a gasp from Sharwyn catches their attention.

Sharwyn: That bastard!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: What happened?
Garl Auraspeaker: What? Where?

They look up to see Sharwyn standing in the doorway of the chamber, staring down at the body of the fallen hobgoblin they’d fought just the day before.

Civic: Ah… He won’t hurt anyone else now.
Sharwyn: That hobgoblin is the one that killed my brother! And the bastard is wearing Talgen’s armor!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Do you want to remove it and take it home? I can help get it off him.
Sharwyn: Please… help me remove it from this filth. I must return it to Mother.

Together, Gishkaa and Sharwyn remove the armor from the dead body of the hobgoblin chieftain, carefully wiping the worst of the dried blood from its surface.

Sharwyn (wipes at her eyes): Thank you.
Quinton Greymane: Of course.
Sharwyn: I do not know what they did with Talgen’s body when they killed him, though I fear I have a good idea. At the least I can bring his armor home to be laid to rest in his stead.
Sharwyn closes her eyes as she takes a deep steeling breath.
Sharwyn: I am ready to go home, now.
Quinton Greymane: I think we could all do with going home.

They gather their gear and begin to make their way toward the Citadel’s exit. Knowing that the path will take them dangerously close to the kobolds’ territory, and wanting to avoid encountering the feral creatures, they stealthily move through the halls, taking care not to kick loose stones or make any noises. Fortunately, they do not encounter any kobolds on their way, and after 30 minutes of travel, they arrive at the abandoned chamber where they’d first met the ill-fated Meepo.

Slipping through Meepo’s room, they at last reach the hallway leading to the entry chamber of the Citadel. With a sigh of relief, the adventurers dash down the hallway toward the exit and quickly discover why they have not encountered any of the kobolds.

As they enter the chamber, they discover a large group of kobolds have gathered, blocking their way out.. They immediately recognize the form of the kobold leader, Yusdrayl, who stands in the middle of the gathering. The kobolds all look at the party in unison as they enter, their hissing snarls echoing through the chamber.

Yusdrayl: You gone a long time, intruders, and still no dragon. Where is Calcryx?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Ticklecorn
Quinton Greymane: Well, see about that.. Turns out you all had been enslaving that dragon.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (grumbles to herself,): I said the password. They’re supposed to let us through. Them’s the rules.
Yusdrayl: Enslaving? Calcryx was pride of tribe. We hatch from egg, care for dragon like one of us. Calcryx was not a slave.
Quinton Greymane: Calcryx did not seem to agree.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, that dragon hated you all, and especially Meepo!
Yusdrayl: Calcryx was a baby dragon, fools. Do you let your youngling do whatever it wishes after it learns to walk?
Civic: Yes…?
Yusdrayl looks at Civic.
Civic: But I can see how some others differ from us warforged.
Yusdrayl: I not talk to metal man. I talk to the pink skin humans and halfling. And speaking of Meepo, where is he? He was to help you return our dragon, yet we see neither dragon nor Meepo. What have you done?
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Go on pink skins, tell her.
Garl Auraspeaker: Hate to break it to you, short stuff, but Meepo is dead.
Yusdrayl (shrugs as if unconcerned): No great loss, I suppose. Useless, he was anyway.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shakes her head in disbelief: Wow… That’s all Meepo gets? A shrug?
Quinton Greymane: Though, I suppose it’s not surprising…
Yusdrayl: The People still wait to hear why you have returned without Calcryx. Why have you left him with the goblin filth? (looks right at Gishkaa with that last)
Garl Auraspeaker: What goblin filth?
Yusdrayl (snarls in disgust): The goblin filth that stole Calcryx from the people!
Garl Auraspeaker: Oh. I’m pretty sure they’re all but wiped out.
Quinton Greymane (nods): We did kill quite a few of them.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (annoyed): The Goblin, (makes air quotes) “filth” has been cleansed. You’re welcome. I still have my spring cleaning clothes on too, so again, Tinklecorn…
Yusdrayl (eyes widen in surprise).: Truly? You have dealt with the goblin vermin that invaded our home? What of their leader? This “Outcast” we heard tell about.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: He’s dead.
Yusdrayl (looks relieved): You have done The People a service.

As Yusdrayl absorbs the news of the goblins’ defeat, Quinton and Civic exchange a look. Quinton gives just the slightest nod of his head, which Civic interprets as a request to do something about the kobolds. Standing just behind Garl, Civic begins to weave his hands in a series of arcane gestures before stepping fully into view.

Civic: She said Tinklecorn.

Civic thrusts his hands out before him, sending a wave of arcane energy into the gathered kobolds. One by one, the group of kobolds begin dropping to the floor to begin snoring, until only Yusdrayl and two of the strongest-looking kobolds remain standing. Yusdrayl stares around at the fallen kobolds, then spins to hiss in fury. Gishkaa grins and gives Civic a thumbs up.

Yusdrayl: What have you done? Why do you dare to attack us?!
Garl Auraspeaker: Probably bored. I know I’m getting bored of your yipping.
Quinton Greymane: Well, not how I would have handled it necessarily. But we have had a long couple of days, and we’d really like to just head on out of here. And seeing as how most of your friends have hit the hay, I’d reckon you should just let us mosey on out of here.
Yusdrayl (snarls in anger): You agreed to find our dragon for us, and return empty handed, then when we ask where dragon is, you use magic against us. Pink skins are tricksy! (looks at the party, then at her sleeping kin. She sighs in defeat and irritation) Leave. Get out of dragon home, never come back. The People will remember this insult. Now go! (stands to the side, pointing a scaly finger that shakes with anger at the exit)
Quinton Greymane (tips his hat): That’s mighty kind of you. Y’all have a nice day.

The party makes their way toward the exit, carefully picking their way through the prone forms of the sleeping kobolds. Yusdrayl and her guards step aside, their weapons at the ready should the party attempt to attack them as they pass. The adventurers manage to make it to the outside without incident, though the door to the Citadel violently slams shut as they cross over the threshold.

Erky Timbers: That… could have gone better, I think?
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): I don’t know about you, but I’m never planning on coming back here.
Quinton Greymane: I don’t know, Erky’s got a fair point.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Meh, they’ve been jerks since the beginning. I don’t think it mattered what happened. They would have complained and threatened.
Civic: I just want to get away from this place and get Sharwyn home. The way they seemed to want to block us in was making me nervous.
Erky Timbers: Perhaps, but it seems you had an accord, which you failed to honor fully.
Garl Auraspeaker: They’re still assholes.
Erky Timbers: They may have been in the way of the exit, but they had offered no actual threat to us. I think you may have made an enemy here today. (holds up a hand as if to ward off an incoming rebuttal) And yes, it may not matter for you in the long run, as you will likely move on to bigger and better things. But you are not the only “pink skins” in the area. Kobolds breed like rats, and have long memories. I only hope that your actions do not have repercussions that affect the surrounding populous.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (imitating Yusdrayl): Silence, short spiky-haired round one, I’m speaking to the dragonborn! See, not nice, is it? Yursdrayl needs to learn some manners, is all I’m saying.
Garl Auraspeaker: Exactly, they sound just like that!

Erky Timbers shrugs, then begins heading toward the stairs leading up to the surface. The party follows after Erky, making their way up the steep stairway to emerge on the edge of the gorge that swallowed the Sunless Citadel. The autumn air blows gently over them as they blink in the mid-afternoon sun, the brightest light they’ve seen in almost four days. With a final look down into the gorge, the weary adventurers gather their gear and begin their journey back to Oakhurst.

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The Outcast's Reckoning
Sar, Sypheros 28th, 998 YK

Last time, the party was preparing to leave the room with the large dragon statue when a lucky brush of the wall by Fenora uncovered a hidden cache in the wall behind the statue. They head through the door to the north where they find what looks to have been some sort of library, though the shelves have long since crumbled away, leaving behind the tattered and crumbling remains of books. A thorough examination does uncover a couple of intact scrolls, which they add to their inventory before continuing on.

They find a stairway leading down an to the east, and as they take that path, the party realizes that the tunnel passes below the fungus room above, as they see some of the room’s luminous fungi growing from the ceiling. Emerging on the other side, a long hall leads to two doors. The first of the two doors opens onto a study, its walls lined with shelves of books and handwritten ledgers recording agricultural norms for the surrounding area going back several years.

Bored, Garl picks up a book that he notices is written in Draconic, opens the book and flips a couple pages. A glyph begins to glow brightly before bursting forth with freezing cold energy, severely wounding everyone. Realizing the extent of their injuries, they decide to camp for the night, backtracking all the way to the dragon shrine. Their rest is interrupted as some goblins attempt to break into their hiding spot. After a short tussle, the party returns to their rest and spends the rest of the night undisturbed.
The next day, you awake refreshed and ready to continue on.

Erky Timbers: I feel we are getting close to the end of this cursed place.
Quinton Greymane (stretching his back): Okay, even my back is beginning to get tired of these stone floors.
Garl Auraspeaker: Haha! Exactly! It’s not just me.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Everything hurts. My back, my neck, my p…
Garl Auraspeaker: Ha, I think she’s making fun of you, Quint.
Quinton Greymane: Well, that’s just not neighborly.
Erky Timbers: Whatever we are to face today, I would advise caution. Between Garl and I, our heals are finite, and I worry that our adversary may be more than we can handle.
Quinton Greymane: Well regardless, I think it’s about time we get moving.
Civic: Morning everyone! I feel stronger today. Like I have renewed energy and I’m ready to take on the world. Also, I think I figured out a couple of spells I’ve been toying with for a while now.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: We ready to head out?
Fenora Finnley (stands up spryly): I’m ready.
Erky Timbers: I am ready.
Quinton Greymane: Let’s get moving then.

Moving the dragon statue out of the way, they begin making their way back through the tunnels, returning to the large room where it seemed the bugbear was farming the local fauna. Realizing three doors leading away from the area remain unopened, Gishkaa begins working on one of the doors.

Quinton Greymane: Good idea, let’s check out some of these doors while we’re here.

Gishkaa unlocks the door in short order, and finds the room beyond to be filled with similar growths to that which lines the walls of the main room, only what grows within the chamber appears to be scorched and dead. The odor of burning wood and scorched earth hangs thick in the air.

Garl Auraspeaker: Smells charming. Like a burnt toilet.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (gagging at the smell): Gross. I’m going to go check the other door.

The next door is open slightly. Gishkaa opens the door to reveal a large room that is filled with similar growths and fungi found in the main room. Buckets half filled with picked fungi sit in a small group in the middle of the chamber, as if they’d been hurriedly abandoned.

Quinton Greymane: Hmm, not sure we would want to rummage around here.
Civic (eagerly): Guess we head back to the reading room.
Erky Timbers: It would appear that these goblins have been growing their own food here for quite some time. Interesting.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well doubt they’ll need quite so much of it since we’ve killed so many of them.
Erky Timbers (shrugs): True.
Quinton Greymane: Guess it’s back to the library. <glaring> And don’t touch anymore books!
Garl Auraspeaker (puts his hands up): Hey, I learned my lesson. I’m leaving the reading to smart people now.
Fenora Finnley: Anyone else hear that noise?
Quinton Greymane: What noise?
Fenora Finnley (peeks inside the burned room): There’s a hissing coming from in here.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm. Usually when we find something odd about this place it tries to kill us.
Erky Timbers: Such is the adventurer’s life, eh?
Fenora Finnley: Sounds like a big snake or something.
Civic: Interesting. It definitely sounds serpentine. The glottis of the snake carries a certain vibrato quality to it that seems to transcend specific species and is to date completely unique to serpentine creatures.
Erky Timbers: Simply saying “sounds like a snake” doesn’t work for you, does it?
Quinton Greymane (dryly): I feel smarter everyday we’re together.
Garl Auraspeaker: Maybe so, but if we’re so smart maybe we should just close the door and walk away?
Civic: When you give invocation to your god does it suffice to say, “thanks divine thing for whatever?”

As they discuss the strange hissing noise, in the center of the room, a small hole in the ground, about 2 feet across, has begun to glow with increasing intensity, as if something was approaching. The hissing also seems to be getting louder.

Quinton Greymane (points): Well, whatever it is it looks like it’s about to pop out of the hole over there.
Fenora Finnley: I think we should leave it in there.

Fenora pulls the door closed slowly until it clicks. The hissing noise cuts off as the door closes on its lair.

Quinton Greymane: Good decision.
Erky Timbers: Probably a wise move, leaving that creature alone. If it was another of those fire snakes we encountered before…
Erky Timbers shudders at the memory.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, I’m glad that we left it alone.

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Satisfied that nothing of further note or usefulness can be found in this area, they make their way back to the study where Garl’s boredom was almost the end of the party the previous evening. They continue onto the other door, finding it to be locked, though with a few twists of her tools, Gishkaa quickly unlocks and opens the door.

Twigs and roots are piled on the floor of this sagging chamber. The collapsed southern wall opens into a vast cavern. Luminescent fungus on the rough walls and the high roof loom over a twilight grove of sickly briars, bushes, saplings, and other woody plants. Ruined walls and hollow towers protrude from the briars.

Four goblins that seem to be sorting the fungus into baskets all look up as the door opens. With a shout, they grab their weapons and prepare to attack!

Gishkaa and Erky wade into the combat with blade and spell, but their attacks miss their targets. However, Civic and Quinton get off their own attacks, wounding a couple of their opponents. Fenora fires and arrow into one of the goblins, sinking the arrow into its eye and killing the goblin instantly. A pair of the goblins gang up on Quinton, slashing at the fighter with their weapons, but Quinton easily dodges their attacks. A third goblin fires a crossbow at Quinton, and pierces his shoulder with a bolt. Garl breathes a line of electrical energy, catching two goblins in the line, severely wounding one and incinerating the other. Civic’s weaves his hands in complicated arcane motion, his spells slamming into the chest of another goblin, blasting it backwards to fall to the ground dead. Seeing its companions fallen, the remaining goblin yells out, “Aid us, Protector of the Twilight Grove!” just as Quinton’s blade and Fenora’s arrow find their targets simultaneously. As the last goblin falls, the snound of snapping twigs and branches echoes through the area as from the south four twig blights emerge.

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The party surges forward, cutting and slashing through the twig blight in their path as the head south. They destroy one group of the creatures only to encounter more the further on they travel. But still they continue on, and before too long, they reach the edge of the briar-filled area to find a walled clearing. The walls are about twenty feet high, which is less than half the height of the cavern’s ceiling. Several varieties of plants grow around the perimeter of the clearing, including a few suspicious-looking saplings, but their importance pales before that which stands at the courtyard’s center.

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Beneath the fungal light grows an evil tree. Its blackened, twisted limbs reach upward, like a skeletal hand clawing its way out of the earth. Before it stand a few twig blights; a heavily armored, young human male with a shield and sword; a blonde, young human woman in a robe fit for a noble; and a middle-aged, bearded human male wearing a hooded brown robe and armed with a staff and sickle.
The younger humans have black eyes and gray skin with the texture of bark.

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Garl Auraspeaker: Well, I think we found the kids…
Belak: Hold a moment, you know not what you do!
Quinton Greymane: Well, friend, what do you suppose it is we’re doing?
Belak: I am Belak, called the Outcast. My circle expelled me, the fools. Why? Because I dared to expand nature’s reach in ways they couldn’t grasp. I have found what I sought in the Gulthias Tree.
Civic: What did you seek?
Garl Auraspeaker: I’ve heard that line before. I’m sure everything you’ve done has been totally “innocent”.
Belak: I seek to spread the seeds of the fruit of the Gulthias Tree, of course.
Civic: What makes this tree special?
Belak (looks up at the gnarled tree): It’s beautiful, no? It lives, though it looks dead. In an age long past, someone staked a vampire on this very spot. The stake took root. And so grew the Gulthias Tree, reverberating with primal power for those who can tap it.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well, regardless if it’s true or not, it looks suspicious as Khyber.
Belak: Under my care, the Gulthias Tree has born much fruit, the seeds of which have been spread across the lands above. And in time, they will return.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: What did you do to these people? What’s wrong with their eyes?
Belak looks at Gishkaa, narrowing his eyes at seeing her goblin form, before answering.
Belak: They were the first supplicants. The Gulthias Tree has accepted them, and they are mine to control, just like the twig blights. You can’t save them.
Erky Timbers: You said the seeds will return. How so?
Belak (to Erky): Have you not guessed, little one?
Erky glances at the nearby twig blights in horror.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (whispers to Quinton): Are they the kids?
Quinton Greymane (whispers): Yeah, it looks like them.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (to Belak): We’re going to need those two back, so the tree is going to have to find some other people to be weird with.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yeah we can’t save them? We’ve heard that one before.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: You can keep the twig things though. We don’t need any kindling.
Belak: They belong to me. As soon, so shall you all.
Garl Auraspeaker: The only person that needs saving around here is you. Can we toast this guy already? He’s starting to annoy me
Belak: Though your remains would enrich the compost, you’ll serve my needs better as supplicants. You shall retain your lives, after a fashion. Surrender and submit peacefully, or perish!
Quinton Greymane: Well, that sounds like a threat to me. I agree, Garl, I think it’s time we took care of this guy.

endgame_battlefield.jpg

Belak moves back to stand closer to the tree, as the others move forward, placing themselves between Belak and the party. As the party prepares to attack, Civic speaks quietly to the group.

Civic (whispers): Based on what he said, it sounds like he loses control of the ‘supplicants’ and the twiglings if the tree is destroyed.
Garl Auraspeaker (whispers): Yer? Well, well…

As they discuss their plan of attack, the twig bligths have begun to move in closer. Seeing their approach, Fenora nocks an arrow to her bow and fires, reducing the closest creature to splinters. Belak begins to move his hands in an elaborate pattern, the motions of casting a spell. His skin appears to turn brown and rough as the spell finishes. The armored male, presumably Sir Braford, moves in to attack Quinton, but misses. Erky begins to mjutter a prayer, calling down a blessing from the Host onto Garl, Quinton, and Gishkaa, before moving behind a wall.

Garl, meanwhile, takes out another of the twig blights with his spiritual weapon as the blond female, Sharwyn Hycrule, blasts the dragonborn with a spell, wounding him. Gishkaa moves quickly along the outer edges of the battle to come closer to the evil-looking tree, hiding behind a large boulder. Sensing the armored human to be a bit of a threat, Civic casts a sleep spell, knocking him unconscious. The twig blights continue into melee, one of them scratching at Quinton to no avail, exploding into splinters as fenora’s arrows again finds its target. Belak attempts to use magical vines and weeds to hold Garl and Civic in place, but the two easily pulls themselves from the grasp of the clutching vegetation.

A giant from emerges from the tree’s branches, leaping into the fight, where Erky slams into it with a blast of holy fire. Garl attacks Sharwyn with his spiritual weapon as he simultaneously send a blast of holy fire to explode against the trunk of the tree. The wounded Sharwyn casts a spell, sending a blast of icy energy rocketing toward the unconscious Sir Braford, but the pain in her wound hand causes the spell to fizzle. Lepaoing form her hiding spot, Gishkaa dashes forward and tries to sink her knives into the trunk of the Gulthias Tree. She looks up in dismay as her attack has no affect, he blades seeming unable to pierce its bark. Quinton and Fenora focus on the strange giant frog, finally killing it before moving in closer to the melee.

Having seen Garl and Gishkaa both attack the tree, Belak himself wades into battle, swinging down with his staff in an overhead blow at Gishkaa, but his aim is off and misses entirely. Erky blasts Sharwyn with another burst of holy fire as Garl attacks the tree with his spiritual weapon, followed by a blast of holy fire. Sharwyn fires a magical missile at the prone Sir Braford, waking him back up for the fight.

Gishkaa attempts to attack the tree again, this time with her rapier, but trying to dodge away from Belak’s attack knocks her off balance, and she misses by inches. Civic weaves his hands in arcane movements, and a trio of illusory Civics appear behind him. Quintn joins Garl and Gishkaa at the tree, leaping into the air to slash his sword through its bark, scoring a nasty wound on the trunk. A shudder seems to go through the tree, its branches shaking as if in a silent scream of agony before falling still, then begin to crumble into dust.

Belak: NOOOOO!!!!! You’ve ruined everything!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Your tree isn’t looking too good.
Garl Auraspeaker: Awww, so sad…

Fenora fires an arrow at Belak, sinking an arrow into the druid’s shoulder, and he casts a fireball near Civic and Garl before dashing across the floor to the northern wall. Meanwhile, Sir Braford slashes down at Erky, hitting the gnome and knocking hm to the gorund. The dazed gnome tries to send a blast of holy fire at the man, but the spell fizzles. Garl slams his spiritual weapon into Sharwyn, using restraint to knock the girl unconscious instead of killing her outright. Dashing after the fleeing druid, Civic and Quinton attempt to slow his pace with their attacks, but fail to hit. Fenora, however, finds her target again with her arrows, catching him in the shoulder and making him stumble against the wall. Desperately, Belak uses a healing spell on himself to stave off the inevitable for a little longer, as Sir Braford brings down his sword on the prone gnome, knocking Erky unconscious. Seeing Erky’s dire situation, Garl quickly mutters a soft prayer, returning some of Erky’s healthy vigor and mending the worst of his wounds.

With a face filled with righteous anger, Gishkaa advances on Belak, who cowers against the wall. She slashes out at the man’s throat with her rapier, the movement so quick it seems as if she may have missed her target. But a heartbeat later, a thin red line begin to form across Belak’s neck. Blood begins to pour freely from the wound across his throat, his hands pressing to his neck in a futile attempt to staunch the flow. Gishkaa watches in satisfaction as the man dies before her, as behind her, the others finish off Sir Braford.

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The Book Was Better
Far, Sypheros 27th, 998 YK into Sar, Sypheros 28th, 998 YK

Last time, the party continues deeper into the sub levels of the Sunless Citadel. Having disposed of some of the goblin residents, the party searches the area, coming upon a strange sight: a diseased giant rat is strapped down to a table. With the aid of a ritual, Civic determines that the concoction in a nearby vial is likely the source of the rat’s condition. Civic collects a sample from one of the rat’s many tumors before putting the creature out of its misery, as the rest of the party collects anything else of use in the area before continuing on into the next area.

They find themselves in a large area that seems to be used as some sort of farm. Luminous fungi clings to the ceilings and grows along the walls and floors. Their presence does no go unnoticed, and they are attacked by a furious female bugbear. They quickly dispatch the creature before moving into the northern-most room, finding it to be filled with a wide array of flora common to the Underdark, or Kyber. Finding nothing useful here, they move through the door to the southwest.

In the next room, they find a carved statue of a red dragon, with glowing eye sockets. It’s unfurled wings cast a large swath of darkness behind it, which they soon discover hides a shadow creature, which attacks the party recklessly. Unperturbed, the adventures quickly dispatch the shadow, turning their attentions to the statue and the strange circle of draconic glyphs in front of it. Reminded of the fountains they’d encountered before, Garl utters the draconic phrase aloud while standing within the circle and is bathed in spectral flame. The flame leaves him unharmed, but Garl does feel himself to be more eloquent as a result. When the same result fails to happen for Gishkaa, the bewildered party moves on.

Erky Timbers: So now what?
Quinton Greymane: Let’s just open doors until we find the boss around here.
Erky Timbers (shrugs): Sounds a bit reckless, but okay.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well, we could sit on our hands and wait for them to come to us.
Quinton Greymane: Well, let’s just be careful and watch out for anymore surprises. Seems like the further in we go, the more dangerous it gets.
Garl Auraspeaker: Yer, getting a bit tired of this nonsense.

As Gishkaa sets to working on the locked door to the north, Fenora stares up at the dragon statue, awesome by the size of the thing. She walks around the statue, taking in the scope of its size, and accidentally knocks loose a stone as she bumps against the wall in the tight area. Looking closer, she finds that the stone covered a small niche, in which she finds a couple of flasks and a small pouch of coins.

Fenora Finnley: Hey! Found some goodies!
Quinton Greymane: Oh, nice find!
Fenora Finnley (emerges from behind the statue, tossing one of the flasks to Garl): What do you think it is?
Fenora Finnley opens the pouch to count the loot, not waiting for an answer.
Garl Auraspeaker (shrugs): Seems like Civic’s department. <passes> What you think?
Fenora Finnley: 32…33…34! Not great, but not awful. Got a total of 34 gold pieces here.
Civic (looking at the flask’s contents closely): Looks like alchemist fire to me. It looks old. You can see the phosphorescence from the fungus used as an ignition source has lost some of its photonic qualities, but based on my reading that sparkle isn’t actually the quality needed for ignition and it is still viable for quite a long time.
Garl Auraspeaker: So it’ll still burn stuff. Got it.
Fenora Finnley (chuckles as she hands the other flask to Garl): I’ll let you hold onto this, then.
Garl Auraspeaker: Okay, sounds good.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (gesturing to the now unlocked door): You all done playing with fire? Can we move on?
Fenora Finnley (sheepishly): Sorry, Gishkaa.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: You’re fine, Fenora. That was directed at these two.
Gishkaa sighs and goes through the door, muttering in goblin under her breath, “Men are useless.”

Leaning and fallen stone bookshelves fill the next chamber, though a clear path connects wooden doors on opposite walls. Torn and burnt pages, bindings, and scrolls form disordered piles in the corners. Civic sees the crumbling bookshelves and runs in.

Quinton Greymane: Hmm. Looks like some sort of library?
Civic: Oh no. What’s happened to these poor things? Are any salvageable?
Fenora rolls her eyes.
Quinton Greymane: Hmm, well we can take a look around.

The adventurers all enter the small chamber, making it even more cramped with the addition of so many bodies. They search the shelves carefully, moving debris out of the way where needed, trying to find anything worth saving. While much of the shelves’ contents crumbles at the slightest touch, they do find some things of value: a pair of spell scrolls, and a worn tome bound in what looks to be dragon scale. The text on the tome’s pages is in draconic.

Civic: Hmm a book on dragon sexual positions. Not the most useful knowledge, but it will be valuable to some collector’s I imagine.
Garl Auraspeaker: Well, well, well… Let’s not be hasty there..
Erky Timbers stifles a snort of laughter.
Quinton Greymane (shakes his head): You’ll never grow up, will you?
Fenora Finnley: Maybe we should keep moving before Garl decides to get freaky.
Quinton Greymane: Agreed. Let’s keep moving.

The other door leading from the room is not locked, and opened onto a musty and moldy smelling hallway. Damp and crumbled steps descend sharply. With Quinton in the lead, they descend the stairs to enter a long hallway. The scent of mold and damp is cloying here, and the way is dimly lit by some luminous fungi on the ceiling… the same fungi they’d discovered in the northernmost chamber above. They quickly realize they must be passing directly below that chamber before they at last emerge on the other side. Another set of stairs leads up to a hallway that continues another 30 or so feet before turning sharply to the south.

Garl Auraspeaker (sighs as he tries to work the kink out of his back): Bloody tunnel to nowhere!
Quinton Greymane: Hah, stairs getting to you then? You should have kept up your daily exercises.
Garl Auraspeaker rolls his eyes.

Continuing down the hall, two doors on the eastern wall emerge from the darkness before the tunnel ends. Gishkaa stops to inspect the first door, which she finds to be locked. However, a fine wire attached to the upper hinge gives her pause.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: The door is locked. Looks like it’s trapped, too.
Quinton Greymane: Let’s step a ways away.

As the rest of the party moves back to give her room, Gishkaa gets to work with her tools, carefully snipping the wire and rendering whatever trap it was connected to inert. With the trap dealt with, she begins to work on the lock, but has trouble getting the tumblers to line up. She breaths out a sigh of frustration.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: This is a good lock.
Fenora Finnley: Want me to try?

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Gishkaasticks ignores her as she sticks her tongue out for the extra concentration power that gives her. A minute later, an audible CLICK! can be heard. Fenora looks crestfallen as Gishkaa opens the door. Inside the room, a layer of soil covers the floor. Rough wooden shelves, filled with a scattering of tomes and scrolls, line the north and east walls, and a rough-hewn desk stands in the center of the chamber. Fungus on the ceiling provides light, apparently in sufficient quantity to nourish several small bushes and pale saplings that grow in the soil.

Civic: I need to collect some of this glowing fungus before we leave. It’s light output is very impressive.
Fenora Finnley: I don’t know if we have any more jars, Civic.
Garl Auraspeaker: Could just pour out the alchemists fire,I guess.
Erky Timbers (looks aghast at the notion): Um… I do hope you are in jest, my friend. That would not be wise.
Garl Auraspeaker (smiles an odd toothy smile): What? I’m always serious.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shrugs): Seems like a good plan to me.
Erky Timbers: Very well. Just give me enough warning before you do.

Civic moves into the room and starts examining the books on the shelves. Crowding the shelves are several ledgers tracking records of growth, precipitation, harvest, and similar notes for the surrounding lands for the last dozen years.

Civic (turning pages): Hmm these records are meticulously kept.
Quinton Greymane: From what you’re saying, that sounds a bit odd. Why would someone have these records at the bottom of a dungeon?
Erky Timbers: It is odd, but I do recall my captors talking about some sort of harvest, but I did not know to what they referred. Obviously it was something of some important for there to be scuh extensive records being kept here.
Quinton Greymane: It seems so. Must be some sort of evil plot, then.
Garl Auraspeaker (picks up a book randomly): Hmm…Looks like it’s in draconic.

book.jpg

Garl opens the cover the the book and flips the first couple of pages. A large glyph fills the entirety one of the pages, and as Garl looks down at the page, the glyph begins to burn with an alarming intensity. Before he can slam the book shut, an explosion of light bursts from the page, blasting them all back off their feet with icy energy. As the dust settles, the party pick themselves up off the floor, brushing dust off their battered and bruised bodies.

Fenora Finnley: Dammit, Garl!
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (shivers and wraps her arms around herself): Fucking hell, Garl!
Garl Auraspeaker (a wisp of smoke floats up above his brow): …whoops.
Quinton Greymane: Well, we should probably take a rest now.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat (still shivering): I’m okay with that.
Erky Timbers: I think that would be for the best. We might wish to find some place to secure and hold up for the night, that way I can recover some of my healing abilities. Especially if we can expect accidental surprises like that one again.
Erky Timbers glares at Garl as Fenora mutters, “Doppleganger,” under her breath.
Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat: Where do you think we should hole up at?
Fenora Finnley (shrugs): Here, maybe? Though I worry we may be closer to the source of dangers here then we would want to be while resting.
Quinton Greymane: Probably by the dusty dragon statue. Seems like no one goes that way.
Erky Timbers (nods): I agree. And if I recall correctly, it did not seem like there were many access points to the room, so we might be able to lock it down suitably to get some rest.

The party backtracks through the halls, making their way to the small shrine chamber far to the south. Once there, they secure the door and bed down for the night with Civic standing watch over those sleeping. A couple of hours pass as most of the party sleeps, while Civic sits on the floor near the dragon statue, reading though a book he pulled from his pack. Suddenly, he is startled to alertness by the sound of the doorknob being turned.

Civic (looks up): Ope, umm, door’s on the other side… Quinton…<nudges> Quinton, I think we have company.
Quinton Greymane (grumbling): Grrr. Never a moments peace here.

As Civic moves to wake the others, a heavy SLAM! shakes the door in its frame.

Garl Auraspeaker (whining sleepily): Nooooooo! One more minute…
Fenora Finnley (leaps to her feet, slapping Garl with her bow as she does): Oh shit…

SLAM! The hinges on the door start to give way.

Erky Timbers: They’re coming in, whether we like it or not! Best prepare!
Garl Auraspeaker (grumbles):: Fine, dammit!

The surly dragonborn stomps over to the door, mace in hand, roaring in anger as he throws it open wide.

Garl Auraspeaker: Okay, who wants to die?!

Three goblins stare up at Garl in surprise, before in unison they yell and attack! Gishkaa leaps forward in a flash, sinking her blades into the throat of the lead goblin, killing it instantly before it has a chance to act.

Gishkaa Khesh’Shaarat [in Goblin]: You knocked on the wrong fucking door today!

One of the other goblins slashes at Gishkaa, slicing a nasty wound across her chest. Reeling back in surprise, the pain overwhelms her and she falls down unconscious. Quinton slashes down at the goblin with his sword, slicing the little creature in half from the force of the blow. Fenora fires an arrow into the chest of the remaining goblin, the arrow sinking to the feathers, but the goblin still weakly stumbles forward, sword raised to attack. Civic steps forward, stomping a foot to the ground, sending out a wave of thunderous force, blasting the goblin against the wall, where it finally falls down dead. With the last enemy defeated, Erky dashes to Gishkaa’s side and begins attending to her wounds.

Erky Timbers: She’ll be okay, but that was a close call. Maybe we should move that statue in front of the door?
Fenora Finnley: Couldn’t hurt… assuming it can even be moved.

With a little effort, they move the statue in front of the door, effectively securing the only way into the room. Satisfied that not further incursions to the room are forthcoming, the party returns to their rest.

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