World of Omphalos

Fire, Blood and Ears Part II
Group 2's adventures continue

The wolf-like howls of worgs signaling each other over long distances grew closer and the team abandoned any thought of destroying their log-bridge over the river ravine.

Seeking to re-unite with their companions below, the team tied off another rope to a tree and tried to climb down the 50 foot drop to the moderate water below.

Unfortunately, in their rush, and exhaustion from the fighting, the most of the team failed to properly grip the rope whilst descending and fell part of the way to the ground.

Elgeiros fell badly and a rocky blow to the head knocked him out cold.

The banged up adventurers did their best to float downstream, having managed to locate both the still-breathing Grum and Boots the mule that had managed to survive the fall as well.

Minutes passed as they tried to gain distance from their pursuers.

Then a great howl blasted through the ravine. The worgs and their goblin companions had caught up to their trail. As doglike screech of pain followed as their still-distant enemies climbed or jumped down to the river from above.

The companions scrambled down stream, towing their unconscious colleagues. The sounds of the approaching enemies indicated they were nearly upon them. The group split in half by the river let arrows fly at a bloodied worg and its uninjured companion. They four-legged canines quickly closed the gap. Surprising the group, the new comer stood in the front line on the north side of the river and let loose a bone snapping punch into the nose of one of the beasts. As it blinked the tears from its eyes and blood gushed from its nose, it continued to snap and attempt to tear at that group. A similar struggle on the south side of the river ensued with the injured beast.

The battle lasted only seconds, and the group was successful in defeating the monstrous wolves, but not without fresh injuries.

A fresh peal of angry howls in the distance shattered any thought of being able to rest. As the group began moving westward down stream again, the human woman urged them to climb the north side and escape the funnel they were trapped in.

Reluctantly, the group went along with the woman’s words and they used ropes to scale the cliff wall to the north side. Struggling to lift the massive orc, their mule and an unconscious elf, the team was able to do so before sighting any more worg and goblin scouting teams.

Fleeing from the hunting parties of the orcs and goblins though the trees and fog was neither easy, not pleasant. Injuries and unconscious companions slowing the team, they spotted an iridescent wall of fog in the distance.

As they approached, the team realized they were looking at a ley line, a natural mystic phenomena, a vein of magical energy. As they stepped into the ley line, a hair-raising tingle was felt on each party member’s skin. And for the druid, the surge of power poured into her, filling her drained reservoir or magic. She quickly began to use the re-invigoration, seemingly limitless to bring her healing magic to bear on the group. As Mula’s cure spells fixed their bodies, Mardis noticed that the ley energy, like a road through the forest, weaved downward into a high-walled grotto.

Deciding to investigate, and appreciating a chance for cover from hunting parties, the group descended a curving path between rocky walls to a circular clearing. At the far end of the clearing was an enormous stone carved to resemble a massive toad.

Toad.jpg

Before the great statue was an ancient slab of stone with holes in it. To one side of that was a pile of skulls, and on the other was a large pit. Several ancient pillars would have once added a temple like semblance had age and the elements not reduced them broken remnants. A second ley line flowed down one canyon wall and up and out the other forming a ley line nexus right above the frog statue and the altar.

The group looked around at the ancient scene, going as far as to touch the statue and Grum even lay down on the altar to see if something would happen. Peering into the hole, but deciding not to descend toward the bone littered bottom, the group pondered their next move.

The human woman approached Xylia and introduced herself as Galina Relgurd.

She spoke briefly about her experience before running into their group. She described being part of a caravan taking wagons of spirits and ales from Crux, her home city to Kalis for their annual Festival of the Light. They had camped for the night, when suddenly their camp was assaulted by orcs, goblins and worgs. Their wizard was able to cast a firey explosive spell, before being taken down by a squad of axe wielding orcs.

She’d had no choice in the face of the ambush but to dash for the trees and try to hide from the foul creatures as they cut down those fighting or fleeing.

It was then that she witnessed a strange scene. A figure in a hooded cloak was speaking to a very large orc clad in plate. The figure did not seem to be an orc, an elf or a human perhaps. The figured was carrying a glaive and gestured with it pointing toward the wood. She could not quite make out what the figure said. The figure climbed to the back of the stone horse statue. As motes of golden light seemed to appear around the horse surrounding the figure, the figure suddenly turned to look right at her. It barked an order at the orcs, pointing the glaive directly at her just before the figure disappeared along with the horse statue.

The orcs however growled in anger, or glee, she could not say, but the started running directly toward her hiding spot. She took off running as fast as she could. Shortly after she ran into the your group Galina explained.

The group seemed largely preoccupied with examining the ruin and did not ask her any questions.

After a few minutes, the more alert members of the team spotted another goblin on worg-back. The blood thirsty beast howeled, then foolishly charged into the clearing with the now refreshed adventurers. They were rapidly cut down by the group. More distant howls echoed the now slain beast and the team knew it was time to resume their flight.

Leaving behind the grotto, they could not help but feel they had missed something, however they put it behind them for the time being. As they left the ley line behind, they lost the replenishment of energy into their bodies and they wondered if they were making a mistake leaving behind the defensible position, but Galina urged them onward. She had seen the force that assaulted her caravan and if they were hunting them, the mystic energy would be unlikely to save them from that force.

Hours passed as the group pressed on, fleeing the ever-present hunting barks of more worgs. Suddenly Mula held up a hand and the group slowed their pace. She looked at a low-hanging tree branch where spider webbing had captured a particular set of leaves from some herbal plants.

“There is a grove near-by, a big one,” she muttered. Gesturing for the group to follow her, she began to follow signs obvious only to one who has followed the path of the druid for years.

Soon the group saw a peculiar sight, a tree with a face on its trunk. The eyes of the face opened and watched the group approach. In fact the whole tree seemed to shudder and shift. Mula spoke to it in a secret tongue, her voice some how sounding like wind, then rain, and a bird eating seeds. The great tree responded in kind. A path between trees opened from no where as the branches of the tree and dozens, if not hundreds of other trees parted to allow the party passage into the sacred natural grove ahead.

The path lead to a lightly forested meadow where a small water fall fed a bubbling brook and a serene pond. What grabbed the group’s immediate attention however were the two giant elk drinking from the pond in the moonlight. First one, then the other lifted its head to regard the visitors. The first had a great, many-pointed rack of horns that was simply put, awesome. It walked around the edge of the pool curious about the party.

The group was some what awed by the scene. Mula lead the team to follow the great sacred elk toward a lone standing tree. The tree was huge, and a face seemed to be appearing on it’s trunk. Mula recognized this as different from the earlier guardian awakened tree earlier however. With the greatest of respect and awe, she realized she was looking at a Treant in the process of being born. The time line for such a birthing was in the decades or even hundreds of years, but it was one of the most sacred events in nature to a druid.

The elk, they came to realize were guardians of this grove and this sacred birthing. The group also came to realize that the elk seemed to be able to understand elven, but could not speak themselves.

The group spent the night in the grove. As they fumbled about trying to ask for words to communicated with the elk, they eventually convinced it that it should help them escape their pursuing orcs.

Base voices, shouting in anger an surprise confirmed that the orcs had found their trail that lead them to the grove. As they were suddenly being battered by the defending trees, they started to bring fire as a weapon.

The entire, group mounted on the male Elk’s great back strode out of the grove and then charged through a near by group of orcs, including a particularly large beast wearing plate mail. As they trampled though, it appeared the recent damp weather was preventing them from torching the trees effectively and their large group was spread out in an effort to surround the grove. The group easily galloped on elk back out of the trap, the awakened trees bending branches out of their path.

The beast lead them away from their pursuers. With unbelievable endurance, it galloped to the edge of the north wood in hours, letting the group down within sight of the road to Kalis.

Nodding its head with respect toward Mula and the group, the beast turned back into the wood to return to its charge.

The group, jostled but feeling refreshed began their journey down the road to Kalis.

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Fire, Blood and Ears - Part I
The FIRST Group-2 Adventure

It is late evening and a light fog settles down over the Northwood forest. A group of adventurous folk had settled down for the evening at an oft used camp site a short distance from the forest-bisecting road. The warm coals were all that remained of their camp fire and all but two of the group were a sleep in their bed rolls.

The newly formed team had been hoping to run across some goblins and collect the bounty bounty on their ears set in the City of Kalis. Having had no luck in the past three days of hunting they had eaten their dried meat and travel bread whilst discussing heading back to the town of east bridge or possibly following the road the rest of the way to Kalis.

A firely explosion, maybe half a mile distant woke the adventurers not on watch. Gathering their gear and deciding quickly what to do they sent their stealth specialists, Xylia Fae and Mardis Riverfin ahead of the group to scout in the foggy darkness. Grum Heckstream hefted his great axe with familiarity leading Aiza Haan with her twin long swords at the read, Mula Bandah hands gripping her gnomish quarterstaff, and Elgeiros Aleviir in the rear as he mentally prepared to unleash his arcane power at a moment’s notice.

Walking stealthily ahead, Xylia and Mardis were the first to spot a squad of four goblins walking down the road. Barely able to signal each other with the fog enshrouded road separating them, they stopped and watched as the patrol passed them heading toward the main group. Following from behind they let the goblins come up to their less than stealthy comrades. The goblins, scimitars already at hand muttered in their raspy native tongue as they prepared to rush the team ahead.

The goblins where quickly outmatched, half their number cut down before they could act. The other two ran away from the road in opposite directions. The team was able slay one through the fog with an arrow, but the final goblin provide surprisingly quick and was able to escape into the trees.

Barely pausing the group immediately started harvesting the ears of their prey. They stuffed all the disgusting, but valuable ears into a saddle bag on their mule Boots. They resumed travel down the road in a tighter formation, approaching the earlier explosion. Then they heard the sound of heavy boots on the hard packed road ahead.

A squad of thick-armed, broad-headed orcs wielding large two-handed axes approached. Neither the party, nor the orcs had bothered with stealth and the orcs yelled war cries as battle ensued.

The orcs proved much tougher than the goblins, as the entire team was forced to bring their best effort. As the rogues sought to strike from sneaky angles, Grum charged to the fore front to take on the lead orcs.

The team fought hard, but the orcs were relentless accepting grievous wounds in an effort to spill the group’s blood. During the battle, one orc was placed under a sleep spell at the outset to achieve a strong tactical advantage. The fight was over quickly however with Mula healing Grum’s well earned wounds.

They bent over to loot the bodies and take their ears which they tossed into Boots’ saddle bags. A scant minute passed for them to catch their breath before a dark haired woman dashed toward the group and through them yelling, “Run! They’re coming.”

Deep voiced orcan voices shouted in the darkness ahead as the group turned to follow the fleeing woman. They dashed into the Northwood side of the road seeking the cover of the fog enshrouded trees. As they ran, a haunting howling sound could be heard as something not-quite-wolf started the pursuit as well.

The group came up to the edge of a deep gorge. Scrambling to find someway across, they spotted a large dead tree leaning out partially over the babbling water below. As they reclaimed their breath, Grum looked down at Mula the gnome and Mardis the halfling. With a grunt from Mardis and a hesitant nod from Mula, Grum picked them up each in turn and hurled them across the narrowest near-by part of the ravine.

Clearing the 20 ft. gap, the smallest members of the team were thrown a rope coil, Grum having forgotten to hold onto one end. A sense of panic was settling over the group as the wolf-like howls grew closer. Another rope was thrown across to the group, this time with a hold on both sides, but they realized they didn’t have time to get across using the rope.

The small folk switched gears and started bashing at the foot of the leaning deadwood. The tree crashed to the ground forming an impromptu bridge as hoped. The team scrambled across the slippery mossy wood as they could hear a dual growling menace approaching.

Aiza urging Boots across the gap behind her found that the beast of burden’s hooves were simply not up to the task and it lost purchase, tubling over the side.

In a near suicidal last ditch effort Xylia grabbed a branch and caught the rear hoof of the mule. For a moment she held onto Boots, feeling like her arms were going to tear out of their sockets.

Aiza watched in horror as her long time friend fell from Xylia’s grasp, Xylia herself nearly losing her grip as well until Grum hauled her back up onto the log. Then two Goblins riding huge wolf-like mounts arrived.

goblin_worg_rider.jpg

Grum, not yet recovered from his earlier exertions could not summon his barbarian rage and fought the first beast and goblin as it lept onto the log behind him. Summoning magical fire, Elgeiros and Mula both hurled flames at the beast as the rogues fired arrows at its thick hide.

The team defeated both powerful beasts and their riders, but just barely with an exhausted Grum attempting to complete the crossing, but slipping on some blood soaked moss and plummeting from the log into the water below.

Aiza steeled her self against physical and emotional pain, she climbed down the ravine, ignoring scratches and a bite wound, she found Grum’s body pushed up against that of one of the worgs.

Sighing about the loss of an ally, but ever pragmatic, she took out a dagger and grab his half-orcan ear. A quick slice added an ear to their collection, or at least it would have if the bags of ears had not disappeared with Boots.

Unexpectedly, Grum groaned and some water gurgled out of his lungs. Aiza dragged grum’s heavy body out of the water onto the shore, yelling up to her companions, “He’s alive!”

[End of Part One]

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Once Upon a Sewer - Part II
Goblins again...

Hugh G. Peter’s Staff headed once more into the putrid tunnels. Following their new map, it lead unerringly toward the goblin’s territory.

Making no pretense at stealth, Black Nate belted out some sea shanties as they approached.

They entered a large chamber littered with rubble, and bisected by a wide and deep channel of water. The other side of the water had a defensive barriers set up. The arrived in time to spot two goblins jumping into the water to be carried along by the current. They leaped the smelly stream to find a small camp with the left overs of a cooked fish, and a sleeping goblin which they were able to slay without difficulty.

The party proceeded from here deeper into the goblin den avoiding several traps, eventually reaching a very long chamber with a ladder consisting of chiseled indentations descending from their tunnel the the floor 50 feet below.

Upon reaching the bottom floor, and continuing with their stealth-free procedure, the group was set upon by hundreds and hundreds of swarming rats.

The group fought hard wiping out the rats with steel and offensive magic. As they did so they found a couple of goblin guards firing arrows at them from the corresponding top passageway on the other side of the chamber.

Blaine closed the distance on the goblins and cast forth one of his people’s dark gifts, surrounding the goblins with harmless purple flames. The goblins lost all courage at this and fled deeper into their lair.

Suddenly the team found themselves surrounded by a magical field of silence blocking all sound. A goblins shaman was spotted in the corridor they had descended from. As the team fought on against the swarms of rats, now bereft of spells, Cain attempted to ascend to deal with the new threat. Unfortunately he could not resist the Shaman’s hold spell as he was paralyzed.

The Shaman had dropped the spell of silence however and this freed up Cade’rin to blast magic up into the corridor, killing the goblins and forcing the Shaman to retreat.

The team battled deeper into the goblin’s sewer lair. Entering into a fairly disgustingly decorated goblin shrine, they were faced with a wave of goblins and their giant rat pets trying to over come them with sheer numbers.

After defeating the initial wave of combatants, they prepared to face the next wave. When suddenly a goblin leader called out for a parlay in the goblin tongue. Estelia treated with them and the goblin leader trotted out the remaining goblin shaman. Killing him in front of them as an apology, he was able to explain that they thought that the party was with the “takers”.

It became apparent that the goblins were having members of their own tribe kidnapped by these “takers” and even offered “lots” of money if the party can return their stolen tribes-folk.

In return the goblins would harass then no further and show them to the area of the sewer apparently inhabited by these “takers”. Coincidentally this was the area on their map marked by a large skull.

The team proceeded back into the unclaimed sewer tunnels. On their way they passed through a tunnel with a broken ceiling, open to an alley way in the city above. Debris from an earth quake from a year ago had not even been cleared away. They passed over the rubble and eventually arrived at a large door.

The portal around the door was carved into a frightening demonic skull. The party pulled a chain hanging from the ceiling and the doors opened into a corridor.

With some trepidation, the team advanced into that corridor only to find the door closing behind them and the left hand wall moving forward to crush them. With no choice but to move forward they dashed ahead and around a corner into a small chamber.

As soon as they entered the chamber runes on the floor flooded the room with an eldritch blue light. Fighting a sudden wave of nausea, the group found themselves suddenly relocated into a larger room but contained within a large cage-like cell.

As they paused to come to terms with the situation, they also suddenly realized that all their gear that was metal had left them as well. No armor, no weapons and feeling desperate, Cain called upon Valador’s blessing to Misty Step passed the iron bars. As he did that Cade’rin whispered arcane syllables summoning a sphere of burning acid, managing to burn through the lock on the cage door.

It swung open as a heavy door into the chamber opened and a surprised pair of human guards with spears as well as a young man in clerical robes were surprised by Cain shoving them backward.

A struggled ensued as the rest of the team tried to get into the fray but were prevented due to the tight confines. The arms-men retreated to the adjacent chamber as the young priest called for help.

The group managed to finish off the guards, harvesting their weapons and moving through a guard room, entered a tall chamber, filled with pews, pillars and statuary.

As they took in their surroundings, an authoritative voice called out from the far side of the chamber. An older man with a stern visage, accompanied by an acolyte called out, “Put down your weapons, or face the consequences!”

[To be continued…]

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Once Upon a Sewer - Part I
Beneath the streets of Balmal

Time passes in Balmal as Estellia and Cane remain there. Neither can shake the feeling that there is something that needs to be done or found.

With their funds dwindling in the expensive city, they both agree to consider a job. Thus they found themselves in the back room of the Black Rose.

A human man by the name of Hugh G Peter introduced them to the 3 others in his employ. Estellia eyed a grinning, heavily armored human casually leaning against a large glaive with suspicion. Her gaze traveled to a tall tiefling man with a blood-tinted complexion, then a much shorter figure. She blinked twice when she recognized the third black clad, white haired person as a dark elf. Cane’s glare took them all in as Hugh named the three, “Meet your team-mates…” He introduced Black Nate, Cade’rin Torment, and Blaine Sovari.

Hugh moved on to the mission he had for the new team. “Alan Sawyer has gone missing,” he began. He proceeded to outline how witnesses described a very drunk young master Sawyer, and his companion, one David Brand, being kidnapped by sewer goblins.

“The city guard for all their power cannot easily take their golems into the sewers, and have already written the pair off as dead. I however believe there is a short window of opportunity to rescue them no matter how small the chance, and I’m willing to pay.”

The team quickly negotiated for their services, Black Nate demanding half up front. The group agreed to take on the task: 80 platinum coins for returning Alan Sawyer and another 20 for the safe return of his friend David.

Hugh lead the new group to a man hole entrance into the sewer system below the city. “This tunnel will lead you straight into the Shadow-lands, a literal black market and refuge from the law. Seek out a halfling named Crisp. He can help you find a way to the goblin territory.”

Proceeding with hesitation only for the smell, the intrepid band made their way into the sewers. After a half hour walk, they entered a large under-ground, domed chamber. The hum and buzz of any surface market place also occupied this chamber.

The_Shadowlands.jpg

After intimidating an older woman, she directed them toward a tented stall at the other end of the chamber. It was there that they found a pipe smoking halfling and a pair of thuggish half-orc guards.

Crisp barely acknowledged their approach as he lit a fresh pipe. “So, you’re Hugh G. Peter’s new Staff huh?” He chuckled humorlessly at the joke. “Yeah, I’m Crisp, and you need my map.”

He offered to sell his sewer map in exchange for 50 platinum. The group, taken aback that the cost would be as steep as all the money they had taken up front for the job were relieved when Crisp suggested an alternative.

“A favor gents, just a favor. I’ll call on you in the future to do something worth no more than 50 platinum. And you can have my map now.” After a brief deliberation the party agreed and were given a map.

He pointed at some locations on the map, identifying goblin territory and telling them not to go to an area marked with a skull.

It was at about this time that some kind of skirmish was forming up a short distance away.
Two lines of seedy men were squaring off against each other, hurling insults.

The party moved in to intercede and one of the two groups decided to retreat. It was then however that the confident row of humans revealed their true nature. Their forms shifted into a blend of rat and man, confirming their lycanthropic nature.

They attacked expecting a short fight, but Hugh’s Staff put up a fight. With no clue they were fighting a team armed with silvered or magic blades and magic to back it up, they were quickly crushed, but not before Blaine received a painful bite on his arm. The last rat fled, discarding his fallen companions without a thought.

Armed with the map and an eagerness to complete the job and leave the stink plagued sewers, the group left the Shadow-lands seeking the goblin kid nappers.

To be continued…

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Delve into Shadow - Unconclusion
The first campaign foray concludes

While still in the midst of Jonas’ tea-bagging the slain were-wolf, howls erupt in the distance.

As if the rest of the pack sensed the death of its fallen member, the team quickly concluded it was time to move on.

A minor healing spell and a potion restored some of Jonas’ vigor, though he was still suffering from his injuries greatly, and the party was running off through the trees at Illium’s insistence.

The party climbed a ridge just as their four-footed pursuers caught up to them.

As the beasts watched from the cover of brush as the last of the team climbed a 10 foot cliff, Jaxx took the opportunity to urinate off from the top of the cliff, expressing his complete disdain for them.

A battle erupted then as the team spread through the forested area, some fighting at the ridge line, others seeking deeper cover, fled into the trees toward the sounds of running water.

Jonas, in the lead of those fleeing the woods was the first to encounter a black were-wolf that had gotten ahead of the team to cut off their retreat.

A quick exchange of blows combined with Jonas’ previous injuries, not yet fully healed saw him go down with the wolf on top of him.

What followed was an uncoordinated fight in the trees. The team proved victorious despite the lack of organization and fire magics had set off a blossoming forest fire.

The remaining wolves retreated to regroup and the group moved deeper into the forest.

As darkness and the rain compelled them to seek shelter, they spotted firelight light reflecting outward from a cave.

The team proceeded cautiously into the cave, spotting a single individual. A human-seeming, white-haired woman in dirty peasant clothing.

The Witch

She looked up as the they entered with a neutral expression on her face as she poked a campfire with a stick.

“So, my brother has finally found someone competent to track me down and kill me.”

============
Epilogue
============

That is the last thing that Estelia, Illium and Cain can recall.

They woke up with a splitting headache in the alley of a very large city.

After realizing they have no idea what happened or where their other companions are now, they take stock of their situation.

Finding themselves flush with apparently new treasure that they must have come from the Shadow-fell excursion, but no memory of what happened they rent a room at the Happy Halfling Inn for some time.

Illium has a break down, she sells her adventuring gear and treasures and setups an alchemy shop in the city of Balmal where the characters now find them selves.

Estellia and Cain are more driven and begin to investigate the local scenery in more detail. Cain seeking to make a mark and name for knights of his order, Estellia, searching for something….

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Delve into Shadow - Part 1
A detour into the shadowfell

The camera shifts to events and places not that far away from the characters. Unbeknownst to them, a strange scene emerges.

Toad.jpg

Two shadowy figures walking through a forest, arrive at their destination, an enormous Toad statue with water cascading down it in a stream.

Whispers too faint to hear followed by the robed figure lifting up a small glass vial, shaped like a unicorn, filled with blood red liquid.

AGREED” comes a deep voice, sourced from the un-moving statue. The robed figure dashes the blood filled vial against the stone Toad. The blood sprays across it, then seems to become absorbed by it.

The scene fades back to the group.

=======

The team rested beneath the ground then gathered their gear and loot and moved to the Portal to the Shadowfell.

Illium, carrying her large bowl, of acidic goop, Lady Bururu put on the enchanted cap that caused her own body to become comatose, but allowed her to take control of the flesh golem in the near by room. She had the golem carry her own body to the circle of runes on the floor.

The rest of the team met them at the portal. Saying the activating word, “Shadow” the team opened the portal, a curtain of green light began to shimmer in a circular shape above the runes on the floor.

The team stepped into the circle, and out of it, into the shadowfell.

As the team took stock of their surroundings, another large dark chamber, with several corpses in it, several things happened in rapid succession.

The enchanted sword taken from above the bar by the intelligent undead in Loch, explodes into black flames, glowing blue runes suddenly visible along its length. Jaxx dumps his back pack and quickly detaches the sword that was beginning to burn it.

Upon holding the sword, he found the flames could be extinguished simply by willing it.

An armored warrior burst from the portal suddenly, and halted his sprint before the group.

“Who are you?” the Jaxx questioned the man.

“I am Paladin in service to Valador, God of Justice. Who are you?” Began a somewhat odd and awkward conversation.

The Barbarian challenged the new arrival to strike him with his sword which the Paladin was not disinclined to attempt.

After swinging his blade at the huge man’s face but not anticipating how quickly he could move that big body, the Paladin caught only air and Jaxx seemed some how satisfied that the new-comer’s violent tenancies would be sufficient to his liking.

“You can come with us then.”

A round of questions and answers and demands to destroy the abomination that was the stitched together corpse parts (still controlled by Lady Bururu), Estellia mentioned she had read in one of the looted Tomes that the thing was an early weapon in the First Necromancer war called a flesh golem. She calmed Paladin’s fury by assuring him that it was a fight fire with fire attempt by wizards of the day to create weapons to fight in those trying times against the tide of the undead.

“These Flesh Golems were created as weapons against that which you hate,” she proclaimed. The warrior, finally taking stalk for a moment, introduced himself as Cain Stormgard.

Whilst the commotion about of the room was going on, the adventurers noted with some alarm that the portal had closed and no similar runic circle existed on the floor on this side of it. There was no way back to their home plane.

Looking about the room, they found several bodies, apparently undead humans that had been “killed”, perhaps by spell and sword.

Walking up a set of stairs they found themselves, once more in a tower, though a much bigger one than the ruin in Loch.

The tower was essentially hollow walls with an open ceiling. A damaged, spiral stair, twisted up toward the top, and a single large door way granted access to the outside. Outside the tower was a grey cloudy sky that well masked a pale Sun. Their best guess was that it was morning here just as in the world they had just left.
Looking about the outside, nothing moving was immediately visible, however mounds of stones, ancient cairns dotted the hill side.

Deciding to try to gain a better vantage of the surrounding terrain, Jonas and Jaxx volunteered to climb the tall crumbling stairway. The stair was quite treacherous, but nothing they could not handle until they reached a portion of it that had fallen away.
Taking a running start, Jaxx was able to leap across and haul himself up on the other side. Jonas was not able to jump across quite as easily, however Jaxx was able to help catch his arms and get him hauled up on the other side.

Scaling stairs to the top, the sighted a large forest to the north and west. A road lead to a bridge and beyond toward a possible lake where dark smoggy clouds seem to have gathered. They also spotted what looked like a mine or a cave with structures outside on a distant hill.

They noted clusters of undead seemed to be roaming the nest of hills they found them selves in the middle of and a particularly large cluster of them gathered on the aforementioned bridge. A dry stream bed, one in the north and the south within the hilly area seemed to hold some promise of cover, especially as they seemed to get deeper as they proceeded to the east, but they would be stuck in those natural trenches if they chose that direction.

Mulling over their options, Jaxx just said to Jonas, “the Mine – lets go there.”

They descended the stair once more. This time as they approached the gap, Jonas leaped first, it seemed a lot easier to leap down than up. Jaxx followed but some stones broke away on his landing and he started to fall. Jonas grabbed at his arms as he tried to keep him from falling forty feet to the tower floor. Unfortunately he just did not have the right combination of strength and balance at that moment to keep the barbarian from falling and fell over as well!

Jonas landed atop the huge man, both of them grunting as the wind was knocked out of them and their body smacked into the hard floor with terrific force.

Jaxx was made of stern stuff and sat up. A pool of blood was spreading out from Jonas however as he coughed and sucked in air. With a grim look, Cain came over to Jonas and placed his gauntlet-ed hand upon his chest. A white glow emanated from his hand taking away Jonas’ pain allowing him to sit up and rest for a moment.

Estellia, Lady Bururu and Illium had been looking around while the climbers were busy. They noticed a group of dwarven undead – skeletons carrying rusted weapons walking among the hills. They also noted that behind the tower, toward the west there seemed to be a trail of foot prints and a number of slain undead skeletons.

The group quickly decided to follow the trail left behind what seemed to be a pair of travelers in the direction of the Forest. Jonas, still rubbing his injuries did not even notice that they were not heading toward the mine. He and Jaxx explained little of the other terrain features they noted from the tower top aside from the road, the forest and the undead that seemed to be wandering the hills.

As the team progressed through the hills, relaying on Illium’s tracking skills to follow the trail, they encountered several more clusters of skeleton “corpses” where battles had obviously taken place at some point in the past. They could not tell for certain when, maybe a couple days.

At the edge of the hills, they found themselves at the edge of a flat grassy expanse. The tracks they were following had mysteriously disappeared, and they could see to the south west there was some kind of tall monolith at the forest edge where a road ran into the forest.

As they progressed toward the road, a band of dwarven skeletons saw them.

Skeleton.jpg

The team battled the skeleton’s with good tactics, first attacking the approaching enemies with ranged weapons and spells, and finishing them off as they closed in. Lady Bururu was directing her golem whilst her body remained mostly unprotected in the grass.

As the last of the first band was defeated, a second group of undead, more skeletons, had been attracted by the sounds of combat and approached. A second battle ensued but with similar results. The team seemed to be working very well, even their recent addition Cain.

Before more undead could come upon, them the group proceeded as stealthily as they could to ward the tree line and roadway as they could (which was not very stealthy as they gloem carrying its new owner’s jangly armored body, and the clinking sounds produced by Cain’s armor proved).

Fortunately they did not run into any more undead and made it to the cover of the forest.

After walking around for a couple hours they heard growls and barking, then a sudden silence. Stealthily approaching a clearing, they sighted a naked, harry man standing in a field full of broken and smashed undead. Obviously not surprising the man, they approached him.

“What are you doing in my wood?” he barked the question at them.

A short conversation ensued where the naked man demanded the leave, but mentioned a witch wondering if they were looking for her. He left them in the clearing not staying around to see if they would be leaving or not.

The party started to follow the man into the forest, not wanting to leave it there, and readying their weapons.

A short distance into the brush, their quarry detected they were following them. Some snapping and disgusting popping sounds were heard by the team, who found themselves suddenly confronted by a large black furred wolf.

werewolf.jpg

With an angry growl, the beast charged toward the leading hunter, Jonas. What followed was a flurry of blades and blood. Jonas’s quick reflexes saved him from being gored in the werewolf’s initial assault. Cain channeled his god’s hole energy into his silvered two-handed sword and slammed home some very powerful hits. Jonas fought with his rapier and scimitar, the rapier didn’t seem to arm the beast at all, but the scimitar cut into the beast’s tough hide rather well.

Jaxx’s two-handed sword was like wise ineffective, but the attacks raining down on the tough beast were too much for it to bear. Vindictively it made a final attempt to gore Jonas and was rewarded with ripping of his tender flesh and the taste of his blood. Injured, but not out, Jonas sliced home with his enchanted scimitar, just as the were-beast turned to flee.

He struck the beast in the side ripping open its guts. Intestines spewing onto the ground, the dying beast’s body convulsed as it twitched, popped and twisted back into the form of a man, blood and gore stretched across the ten feet he had managed to move before collapsing.

Jonas, barely alive himself from the bites and claws, could not resist taunting the beast in death. He stood over the beast and bobbed up and down, a gleeful smile on his face as he tea bagged the fallen foe.

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Delve into the Shadow - Prelude
As the team prepared to invade the shadowfell...

A lone, grim warrior tossed and turned in his sleep.

In his dreams a ghoul the size of a mountain stalked him, destroying everything in its path. The warrior tried to turn to face the creature time and again, but each time he could not. In the way of dreams there was no explanation, and on it went as the warrior tried over and over.

The dream shifted away from this struggle, into pursuit of a distant goal, some place he needed to be. The urgency to get there, the feeling that he was not going fast enough to make it ever became greater.

Finally the end came into sight, a broken tower atop a cemetery hill. Suddenly below the tower, in the earth itself, in darkness was a doorway, a portal. It was wide open, but closing fast.

All the Paladin knew was that he MUST get through portal. A warm feeling suffused his body as he neared it, still running. Suddenly the portal winked shut and a coldness filled him, like despair itself eating away from the inside.

The Paladin knelt… and fell over…and died.

And woke up.

Cain climbed to his feet, sweat streaming from his forehead. The sense of urgency from the dream had not left him even slightly. He’d experienced the same dream night after night for the past ten-day. The pull to travel west was always at the back of his mind. The images from the dream would not leave him, even as he woke his sleeping horse and saddled it once more in darkness.

Cloak pulled tightly around his shoulders, satisfying weight of his two handed sword strapped to his back, he lead the beast back onto the shadowy road in near silence. The clank of his armor and the foot steps of his mount the only accompaniment to his breathing.

Weary but no less determined to get to whatever it was that he needed to find, Cain pressed on.

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Second Adventure (Part 3) The Conclusion
A lesson in Tactics

[With no emailed written dialogue to go with the Intermission entry]

With the villiager’s questions in the air, the group pauses, seemingly hesitant to answer.

“I’m sorry where are my manners, my name is Garth Durnman,” he says, holding out his hand to shake.

The group steps forward skirting the portal to the shadowfell. Garth and his fellows take in the group as they shake off their surprise at meeting something alive that doesn’t try to kill them down in the dungeon.

Garth begins to talk about the disaster and necromancer magic, he is clearly very distraught with so many family, friends or people he just knew well being dead. Lady Bururu grills him for information. He reveals that the villiage was founded long ago by a group of adventurers lead by a wizard named Loch who built the tower here.

As the group begins to greet the farmers and allay their fears, Jaxx eyes the potentially dangerous portal on the floor. He looks back at the young blacksmith, he suddenly grapples the man and shoves him into the circle, the intention to test out this magic written across his face with a sly grin. Boldly, Illium steps to the handsome lad’s defense into the circle with him.

The rest of the group is stunned into inaction momentarily and as they begin to express their dismay to Jaxx, Garth makes his escape from the circle, moving away from his long reach and circling behind the other members of the group to run out the entrance.

The entire group of villagers escapes back up the stair.

Somewhat satisfied Illium glares briefly at Jaxx before pausing to looking almost longingly after the young smith.

The team quickly shook off any further disagreement eager to explore the halls beyond.

Proceeding in a close formation, assassin in the lead, but not taking point this time, they move slowly down through the open double doors.

A bright light spell on Jaxx’s sword illuminates three passages from a cross-hallway just past the doors.

To the left was a chamber with a large wood table and some ancient cots. To the right was a similarly sized room consisting of two sarcophagi memorialized by a pair of statues as well as a small table and a large shelf of books.

Ahead was a small antechamber to a huge pair of doors twice the size of the portal they had just passed through.

Deciding to check out the left side room, the group moved slowly forward, Jonas in the lead still. Some of the group noticed there was a silver and red Dagger jammed point down into the massive wooden table. The old beds were all in a very decayed state, a rack holding seven swords at the back of the room held some promise.

As Jonas stepped past the threshold of the door way, a magical trap was sprung.

Swords.jpg

The seven racked swords quivered for a moment then sprang to life, launching them selves across the room. The two closest to Jonas struck him down, spraying his blood over his comrades’ faces.

The rest of the team with better positioning in the hallway faced off against not invisible swordsmen but swords that moved as if wielded by skilled warriors.

Illium and Jaxx held the font line having just watched their friend crumple in a heap and his blood begin to form a pool beneath him.

The Sorceress and Cleric called for a retreat as they blasted the animated swords with magic missile and radiance of the dawn, then moved back for tactical advantage to the hallway intersection.

Neither Illium or Jaxx gave up an inch however as they exchanged further blows with the animated weaponry.

Another barrage from Bururu and Estelia followed by more blade work and the lifeless foes were finally defeated.

Near death, Jonas lay on the ground. The dragonborn cleric chanted one of her most powerful healing spells to restore vitality to the entire group and save young Jonas from spending his last breath.

Before taking any time to rest with the near deadly encounter, the team fell to ransacking the room.

Nothing stood between Illium and the shiny red dagger and she yanked it out of the table to admire the polished blade and red lacquered handle.

The rest of the group lost interest in the room after going over the bedding and finding nothing of use or value.

Spending an hour to rest up they moved VERY cautiously into the other large chamber down the opposing corridor.

Finding nothing attempting to kill them they gleafully examined the room and it’s contents.

As the elves and dragonborn perused the book shelves, making happy sounds as they found things of interest, Jaxx wandered over to an object in the corner with a dirty grey tarp tossed over it.

Yanking the tarp off with little affair he found himself faced with not a statue but some kind of large un-moving man-like creature. It appeared to be stitched together with pieces of different corpses, and smelling somewhat musty.

Jaxx with his usual subtlety and caution unsheathed his great blade and swung at it as hard as he could. His sword bounced off the ensorcelled flesh like a club off a large stump with no perceivable damage.

He pounded away at the thing before growing bored and disinterested and moving on to examine the sarcophagi that Jonas seemed to inspecting closely.

The ladies were pulling magic scrolls wedged between the books as well as come choice volumes they thought might be of interest.

Jonas, inspecting the memorial noted that the statue next to what seemed to be a lanky human armed with many small blades had a plaque labeled simply “Tallin Halewood.”

The other statue portrayed a muscular sword-wielding human apparently named Marcus Black.

On close inspection, the lid of Tallin’s sarcophagus was slightly askew. Jonas heaved at it with all his might, but could not budge it. Interest peaked, Jaxx and the rest of the party began to help and they were able to apprehensively slide the lid off. Suddenly it fell to the floor and cracked in half.

The sarcophagus was empty but for cobwebs and dust.

Checking the second encasement, they found it did indeed contain human remains. Nothing that tried to eat them however.

Done with the room, the party moved down the final corridor to the gigantic double doors.

The doors were inscribed with more warding runes, but these no one in the group could decipher these or divine their nature.

Growing bored again as the more learned members of the group puzzled over the meaning of the runes, Jaxx once more grasped the metal bar that was the door’s handle and heaved mightily to try and open it.

The door barely moved then with great suddenness it sprang open. A gust of wind rushed down the hallway pushing the team toward the room and sending more than one character tumbling, some into the room beyond.

It was as if the room was taking its first breath in a kings age.

Holding glowing weaponry aloft to take in the room, they found another large chamber, this one mostly empty. The only thing of interest was a sphere of utter darkness in the center of the room.

Sphere.jpg

Taking little caution, the barbarian hurled one of his javelins at it. It was right on target and disappeared silently into the blackness.

Moving a little more cautiously this time, Jaxx poked just the tip of a javelin into it, then pulled it back. The Javelin was missing its the portion he pushed into the sphere.

The group pausing to consider the ramifications could hear a slight hissing sound that seemed to be air coming in contact with the surface of the sphere.

Jonas who had been hanging back ever since his most recent near death experience, was keeping an eye on the rear without getting too far away from the team.

As he stood poised for anything outside the sphere chamber, he could not shake a tingle at the back of his head that there was something he should be noticing. Inspecting the room, he attracted the notice of others in his team and they looked closely at the walls and ceiling.

Finally they spotted an odd stone on one of the walls and pressed in on it. It moved and as it was pressed more, there was a loud click and a section of the wall opened. Beyond the secret door they followed a short passage to a secret chamber.

Inside they found a chest filled with counted stacks of coin, a table topped by 8 potion bottles, and a shelf that held several items of interest.

As the rest of the the team experimented with their find, Lady Bururu picked up a curious hat. It was smooth leather that fit tightly over the skull with flaps that covered the ears.

A pair of blacked out goggles were attached. As she drew it over her scaly head, and slid the glasses over her eyes, the rest of the team was shocked to see her fall to the floor.

From the dragonborn’s perspective, she was no longer aware of her body. In fact she seemed to be somewhere else, in a dark room with distant lighting reflecting down a corridor and into the chamber in which she stood. She moved forward toward the light through the room before the cap was yanked off her head by her companions.

She related her experience to the team, and tried again. She moved in the other place even more and found her self walking down the hallway behind which the team had moved up earlier.

The mystery was revealed as she came upon the party and herself. She was piloting the necormantic construct they had discovered earlier. The group argued over what to do with it, especially Jaxx who advocated walking it into the black sphere to see what would happen.

The team finished sorting through their new treasures, another especially note worthy device was a rod with two buttons on it. One button lengthened it into a quarterstaff. The other caused it become immobile. Even Jaxx could not budge it.

The team discussed their next step and it seemed unanimous that they wanted to try the portal to the Shadowfell they had found early on.

Goal in mind, they distributed their new wealth and magic.

[END of Part 3, Adventure 2 Conclusion]

Experience Points:
Animated Swords (50) x 7
Total: 350
Adventure Goal Award (Explore the dungeon of Loch): 1000

Break down Per Character (1300 / 5): 260

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Intermission
Clean Up Crew

With a loud triple clack sound the double doors open revealing more hallway. As the team peers into the space, they see wide flat corridor leading to a four way Intersection.

The sound of approaching foot steps from behind alerts Jonas first. Spinning around, blades instantly at the ready and followed shortly by the rest of the group, they see torchlight spilling into the entry corridor from the stairs above.

Hesitantly and grasping farm implements like weapons, half a dozen village folk descend the stairs and stared in shock at the characters.

“Uh…. Hi… we thought you were dead!” the strapping young villager wielding a blacksmith’s hammer stammered.

He looked around at the pile of zombie corpses in the room, wincing as he recognized the dead faces of those he knew from the village.

“Wow it looks like you uh…. took care of the problem, I don’t suppose you know what happened to them? Why did they become undead? Did you find a necromancer down here? How did you find this place? I’ve been in the tower many times but never have I seen this hidden underground place….” his rush of questions trails off as he stares at the glowing circle of runes on the floor.

The look on his face suggests that he is really worried about some fell magic slaying the village folk and bringing them back as zombies.

3e5e8e0eaab74c2e1f3d16e9e0cc62b8.jpg

[OK folks, this is your change to do some creative writing and fire back what your characters would like to do or say. Post in the Forum or send me email or even use facebook to post your response and I’ll add it into this post.]

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Second Adventure (Part 2)
My First Pit Trap

After a brief rest from their battle ordeal, the team got to their feet and decided to explore the strange underground dungeon.

While Jaxx scratched his thick skull trying to decipher the glowing circle of runes (he cannot read), the rest of the team also took a look at it. Lady Bururu’s training allowed her to not only identify the circle of runes as a portal to the Shadowfell (a dark, grim dimension with parallels to the mortal world), but she picked the command word to activate it from the inscribed runes. The keyword turned out to be “Shadow” which she shared with the group.

Inspecting the rest of the room found heavy, iron double doors exiting the north. They were decorated with spell sigils from a powerful abjuration against undead and outsiders (angels, demons etc) and a skull in the center of each door where a key hole was in the middle of each skull.

Retrieving his specialist tools from his gear, Jonas tried to pick the locks on the magically warded doors, but they proved to be more complicated than anything he had ever seen before despite the obvious age of the chamber. Gnomish make he thought, silently cursing.

The double doors in the east and west seemed to be far plainer, stout but simple unlocked wooden doors. Behind each door was a short hall and a turn toward a long descending stair.

Jaxx also took a minute to look for anything useful. He decided to try out the Shield and Long sword that the smarter undead (Illium had identified it as a wight) was using earlier and stowed his two-handed sword.

Travelling carefully downward on the west stair, weapons drawn and ready for anything, the party found another corner into a hall way at the bottom.

Despite light spells on various equipment, a wall of blackness blocked their view beyond a short hall.

Corridor.JPG

Jaxx prepared to walk into the darkness to see what he might find, but Lady Bururu stayed him with a hand. She moved up to the darkness and making no issue of it held out her Holy Symbol of Pelor the Sun god which flashed bright light. The light banished the darkness and they group peered into the room he had concealed.

The corridor met a small chamber about 20’ by 20’ off center. Jaxx had almost stepped right into a large 10 foot deep gaping pit filled with evil looking metal spikes that filled half the square room.

A sparkle entered Jaxx’s eyes at the sight of a chest in the far corner of the room.

Taking a couple steps to run up Jaxx leaped gracefully across the pit, his long legs easily vaulting him over the pit to the flat floor on the other side.

He walked over and lifted the lid of the unlocked chest and was surprised by a disgusting grey ooze that immediately lashed out at his face with a hungry tendril.

OozeG.jpg

As the barbarian swung with his looted long sword and guarded with his shield, the rest of the team attempted to join in.

First to react was the young rogue Jonus. Eager for some action, he took a running start to repeat Jaxx’s earlier leap. Unfortunately his timing was just off, jumping too soon and not clearing the space. He collided with the far wall and bounced off it down into the spike filled pit. He was pierced and impaled by three iron spikes that gave him pain like he’d never known. He passed out, while precious blood seaped across the dirty floor.

Jaxx continued to exchange blows with the goop as Lady Bururu clumsily dropped a curtain of radiant energy, almost burning the ooze, and almost burning Jaxx.

The elf ranger Illium likewise strode forward and repeated Jonas’ feat, joining him at the bottom of the pit. Her body must have been somewhat cushioned by Jonas, or perhaps she was more used to pain. She managed to remain conscious and stand up though her fresh wounds pained her.

Estelia, seeking to finish off the strange creature quickly blasted three blue bolts of energy into the bowl of goop. The bolts moved swiftly and unerringly around Jaxx to strike home, splattering grey goop about the room.

Jaxx struck the ooze again with the new sword noticed that it seemed to be reacting with the metal of the sword slightly, causing it to hiss as he plunged it into the bowl, fortunately the blade did not seem worse for wear.

Whether it was that or a more accurately placed spell by the cleric, it wasn’t clear – but the ooze was finally splattered sufficiently to remove all cohesion of its form, killing it.

A brief inspection of Jaxx’s blade suggested some magic it was imbued with perhaps protected it against the metal eating slime and it seemed in good shape.

Jaxx searched the chest for anything of actual value as Illium climbed up out of the pit using a rope lowered down to her. Jonas’ blood continued to expand a growing puddle upon the floor as Estelia, and Illium debated how to get Lady Bururu close enough to cast her healing spells upon him. Finally, Estelia slid down into the pit and tied a rope underneath Jonas’s arms. Some how they tugged him off the spikes and pulled him up and Lady Bururu was able to cast Spare the Dying on him to stabilize him.

Jaxx searched the chest but found nothing of value, just a chipped porcelain bowl filled with now lifeless grey ooze. A strange twinkle in Illium’s eye, she asked Jaxx to toss the bowl across the pit back to her. Jaxx carefully double-hand tossed the full bowl to her, and Illium’s elven reflexes allowed her to not only catch the bowl but avoid spilling it’s contents.

From there the group retreated back up the stairs to the main room (Jaxx once again clearing the pit with a graceful leap). They rested for 8 hours to recover their spells an heal their injuries.

Jonas feeling recovered, took the lead once more as they descended the set of stairs via the east exit from the main chamber. Halfway down the Jonas’ forte came in play and he spotted a very difficult to notice trap. One of the steps was not as squarely set as the others, it was slightly off. Jonas recognized it as a pressure activated trap and immediately showed the rest of the team.

Taking care to step gingerly over the step, the team proceeded down to the bottom. Turning a sharp corner, they found the passage ended somewhat abruptly. I stone lion head protruded from the dead end. On inspection, it seemed that a hole in the lion’s “throat” was dark and deep enough to thrust an arm down.

LionHead.jpg

Barely hesitating and always eager for treasure it seemed, Jaxx thrust his arm down the leonine passage. Feeling around he discovered a cold hard metal lever. He pulled on it causing a stone block to press down upon his arm trapping it in place. The action also seemed to trigger a spell.

A ghostly voice uttered a riddle in the tongue of the dragonborn.

Yawns never sleeps
Goes never moves
Takes never gives
What is my name?

Taking no chances after seeing what her impulsive companions are prone to doing, Illium climbed back up the steps to just above the suspicious trap stair and remained there.

The group struggled mightily to come up with an answer. An incorrect guess completed the trap, a sharp needle lanced into the barbarian’s arm. Thankfully any poison on the needle had long since dried up and become inert.

His arm released, he mentally thanked the gods for not taking off his hand as he rubbed the small stab wound. Not willing to let it go the team thought long and hard about it throwing around suggestions.

Finally feeling like the answer was in sight, the priestess inserted her scaly arm into the lions maw. Turning back to her comrades, she saw the doubt on their faces and realized she actually was not quite sure of the answer still.

Redoubling their efforts with yet another companion’s arm trapped, they plead to the gods for some inpiration. Finally, nearly at wits end, Lady Bururu stumbled upon the correct answer.

“Portal” she whispered.

The Lion’s maw released its death grip, and the lever they reached for came free. Attached to the lever was a small silvery key.

Grateful to be done with the tricky stair well, the crew proceeded back up into the chamber above.

Illium however just had to know, she wanted badly to know what would happen when the stair trap was activated. Perhaps there was a souvenir to be had here as well? With the rest of the crew safely back in the central chamber, she gingerly placed some weight on the pressure triggered step.

The step was incredibly sensitive, after just the lightest touch of her elven boot, the trap sprung. All the steps in the corridor moved on a secret hinge, instantly turning the entire stair into a smooth ramp. At the bottom of the stair the floor dropped away revealing a dark pit.

Fortunately Illium’s finely honed reflexes and her expectation that something was about to happen allowed her to catch her fall with catlike grace, her arms and legs caught against the floor and ceiling instantly, saving her a short if painful journey to the bottom of the second pit.

After struggling to hold her self in that position for a few moments, the rest of the team dropped a rope down the ramp to her allowing her to easily scale back up to safety. After about a minute, the trap self reset via hidden springs. Again likely more gnomish work Jonas surmised silently. Such a mechanism would be quite complex.

The team gathered in the central chamber once more and confirmed their suspicion. The recovered key allowed them to open the warded doors revealing yet more corridor….

[To be continued next game…..]

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