Schemes of the Lich King

Episode 20: Ironwall
An adventure, north of Ironwall

Prior to setting out from Forge, the members of the Half-Shadows had some final business to conduct. The long standing invitation from the mysterious dwarven organization, the Guild of Hammers awaited. Since it had been months since the invitation had been extended and since the members of the company had not yet approached the Guild, they felt that now was the best time to approach. Suspecting that Saerid Turquoise and Denralla would be most helpful in this discussion, they were recruited to do most of the talking, at least initially.

After some initial buzz by the Guild, the members of the company were taken to an audience with the Seer of the Guild, an ancient, blind dwarf with the ability to retell prophetic dreams. He spoke to the heroes of the role they had to play, speaking to Glaedwin Longclef as the man who ‘could see the undead.’ Aside from other vaguely worded prophecies, he provided them with the Fire Opal of Forge, an artifact with abilities to detect magic artifacts, hoping it would aid them in their quest to find Darkveil as he stated this was of extreme importance but filled with dangers.

Further, he explained perhaps one of the most troubling statements. He said that the Diamond of Destiny which protected the city of Dragonmeet from the ravages of the Lich King would be under attack soon and if it were destroyed by the Lich King’s agents, this would spell doom for the city. However, he went on to tell Tomorachian that if it were destroyed, this would reveal secrets for Araponda, something that all followers of the goddess would benefit from. Tomorachian would have to make a choice.

After leaving the Seer, the group returned to the dwarven council who asked the heroes to take a chest of jewels back to Princess Argenta. Since they were still filled with grief over what had happened with the Eye of Arik, they were hoping to regain her favor with some dwarven crafts and jewels. This was an important package that Saerid and the Half-Shadows were taking. After replenishing their provisions and one last stop at the Last Chance Tavern, they were on their way. There was a brief discussion of whether or not to go over land or go through the dwarven tunnels underneath the earth but in the end, it was determined that over land was the safest way to go.

Their stop in Haven three days later was brief but well received. The Princess was gracious and honored over the gifts the dwarves had sent and had a feast in honor of the Half-Shadows, continuing to thank them over their service in freeing the land from the evil that had cast a shadow over it.

Upon leaving Haven, their path was to take them northwest as they would travel beyond Ironwall into the northern wastes. It would be there that they would find a way to take Blackrazor from Una Helta, the Winter Witch. Dtermining Ironwall would be a good stop for a few nights, they made their way there with minimal encounters.

Once in Ironwall, the group spent a day or two shopping for more provisions and relaxing. Glaedwin tried to find some connections or others traveling north, in hopes that larger numbers would be a safer journey. Eventually he heard of Sir Corliss Waybore, a knight in the service of the Crusader who was going the same direction with some troops. After meeting Sir Corliss and determining that he was an honest, if not zealous follow of the Crusader, Glaedwin arranged for the two groups to travel together. Sir Corliss wanted to meet the rest of the group that evening as he had rented out the entire tavern for his men for a grand feast. Suriveth Varune managed to get in early to perform at the event but keeping a watchful eye over the soldiers and any interesting conversation that had transpired.

The following day, the group met up at the northern gates of Ironwall. They were surprised to see Sir Corliss not only with his men but also a large cart with a cage, holding a single prisoner. Claiming that the woman inside, Ohrana, was a witch being transported, it was something the heroes had not yet considered. They felt it was best to not speak to her even when she made a weak attempt to speak to Saerid.

Traveling for just two days, the destination would be the adventuring attraction, the Northern Colossus where the group would then part company. However, the group was beset upon by a group comprised of Ice Trolls and Frost Giants. Whereas it was shocking to see such icy creatures so far south, it was not something that they had time to truly ponder was all of Sir Corliss’ men were wiped out in the altercation except for a few scant survivors. It was at this point that Sir Corliss proposed a new plan: he would pay for the Half-Shadows to accompany him to the final destination which was about two days north of the Northern Colossus and four days out of their way. When pressed, he claimed that the witch, Ohrana, would be put to death and her soul would open a new Hellhole that the Crusader and his agents could use to invade the underworld and attack forces of the Diabolist.

This was an offer that the group would have to consider as it was not entire certain Ohrana was someone who should be subjected to the fate Sir Corliss had in mind for her.

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Episode 19: Under Forge
Secrets of the Dark Tapestry are discovered

The dwarven scouts that led members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company to the gates of Forge were stern but polite (for dwarves). Upon arriving at the main gates of the massive dwarven city, those who had never been there before marveled at the majestic and ornate detail in the mountain carvings. Upon entering the tunnels to the underground city, it was evident that many traders, dwarven and non-dwarven, used these roads to conduct business and exploration.

Going past the numerous dwarven taverns and shops that lined the road to the city, proper, Saerid Turquoise reminded the group of the importance of finding the loremaster, Frockmeg, as he not only was to whom they had to deliver important treasures, but was also who they were told would have information on the Dark Tapestry.

Upon arriving in the true city of Forge, several of the adventurers decided this was a good opportunity to sell some rare items and attempt to find some better equipment for their adventures. As Suriveth Varune and Glaedwin Longclef were interested, in particular, Saerid showed them to a place he was familiar with, a knicknacker named Algrin who ran an establishment aptly titled ‘Algrin’s Store.’

Upon concluding their business there but before seeking out Frockmeg, Saerid decided there was another stop they needed to make. The mysterious and sinister item in their possession known as Bludhammer needed to be dealt with and Saerid decided that there was one group that would be best to leave it with – the Brotherhood of the Silent Voice. Since Saerid had a connection with these ancient warrior monks, they approached their monastery and after a brief negotiation, left the hammer with them but managed to eek out a few treasures from the monks as a sign of appreciation. It was here that the rest of the Half-Moon Exploring Company received their first education on the mysterious Mezzilen, the dwarven traitor now in the service of the Lich King. It was then that they went to meet Frockmeg.

Frockmeg was an eccentric and academic dwarf who worked in the vast libraries in Forge. Frockmeg seemed amicable even if his attendant, Helgrin did not. After presenting Frockmeg with the chest of treasures given to them by the dwarves of Haven, they then got down to business, explaining that agents of the Archmage sent them to ask about the Dark Tapestry. Frockmeg, alarmed that they would broach a topic in such a public location, dismissed all of his assistants except Helgrin and began to explain the dangers involved with the Dark Tapestry.

The Dark Tapestry, he explained, was something of a mystery. It was not an actual tapestry but would manifest like a constellation from time to time. There were numerous forces in the service of the Diabolist as well as the Lich King who were interested in uncovering its secrets, likely so they, too, could find the city of Darkveil. Agents of these dark powers, including the vile Black Lodge would stop at nothing to find it and had agents everywhere, as told by the prophecies, suggesting that allies would become enemies and traitors, thus few people could be trusted with such knowledge that had a habit of twisting and perverting those who came to understand such dark information.

Frockmeg did recognize that Saerid, with his unusual runes across his body and crackling energy, was someone with a special attunement and further recognized that he had gone through a ritual, readying him for understanding and interpreting the Dark Tapestry. Therefore, stated that he would have a guide ready for them in the morning who would take them into the ruins of a Duergar stronghold, a place called the Blood Ruins. There they would know the Dark Tapestry when they saw it and with Saerid, they could interpret the meanings that few others could. The guide, Frockmeg’s niece, Denralla, would meet them near the south gates of the city in the morning.

The following day the group gathered and did, indeed, meet Denralla. She was a proud scout, who had great familiarity with the ancient subterranean networks that connected Forge with the ruined under city that once belonged to the Duergar. Whereas she seemed to have little understanding of the Dark Tapestry, she was more than familiar with the Blood Ruins, the location they sought. Glaedwin Longclef, in an effort to get fresh with her, got more then he bargained for when she simply cut through the flirtatious talk and simply grabbed his manhood to judge for herself if the conversation was ‘worth pursuing.’

After these pleasantries were set aside, Denralla led them through the tunnels towards to Blood Ruins. After facing several challenges, including some wild umber hulks, the group came to the Blood Ruins, a former council chamber of a Duergar war council. On the ceiling above them was a black void that eventually began to come onto view for Saerid. Once the full vision came into view it was a constellation style map of the Dragon Empire. But before it could be fully studied, a Duergar warband came onto the scene, led by Helgrin, Frockmeg’s trusted lieutenant. Clearly Frockmeg’s reference to traitors was an eerie foreshadowing.

Fierce as the battle was, the members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company came out victorious with the Duergar dead and Helgrin dealt with permanently. As they caught their breath, the company knew it would not be long before more Duergar would arrive so they studied the map carefully. The constellation seemed to reveal the location of Darkveil as well as the items needed to get there. The full Path to Darkveil was revealed. At this point they made their way back to Forge.

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Episode 18: The City of Cloud
Living in a floating city among the clouds

Knowing little of what to expect, the adventures associated with the Half-Moon Exploring Company, we boarded on a skiff and taken to the one of the floating cities of the Archmage, Cloud. Hosted by Javast, the second-in-command of the city, they were told little and explained that there was something of great importance they were needed for, with particular importance being given to Saerid Turquoise.

Once brought into the city, the group was taken to the Grand Palace which seemed to act as a place of not only administration but also learning as evidenced by the massive libraries as well as the numerous acolytes and attendants that seemed to roam through the halls. They were taken to a vast room which seemed to serve as a repository of books, scrolls, papers and items, all seemingly associated with the lost city of Darkveil. It soon became apparent as to why they were here as Darkveil seemed to again be at the forefront of people’s minds. It was here they were introduced to Lord Mayor Grayvon, the political and arcane administrator of Cloud who seemed cordial yet mysterious in his motives.

Grayvon immediately explained that he was aware of the quest the characters were on. Both Suriveth Varune and Glaedwin Longclef had been involved with this quest from the start and it seemed that Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse were players, as well. The gathered papers, texts and documents were the culmination of centuries of research into the mysterious Darkveil, something the Archmage was interested in, as well. It seemed that the Archmage had reasons for wanting this city found as numerous prophecies were coming to fruition. Whether these were good omens or ill omens were not entirely clear. But it was evident that the Archmage wanted to be at the forefront of it. So through Grayvon, he was proposing that since the Half-Moon Exploring Company was already looking for it, perhaps they would be able to continue on, aided by the Archmage’s benevolent aid. However, there was a bit of a price. Further, since the Lich King as well as the Diabolist seemed to also be looking for the lost city, there was something of a time element involved.

As it turned out, Grayvon commented on the strange runes of energy that adorned Saerid’s body that he received during a surge of electricity. Grayvon mentioned that he believed this was yet another sign, beneficial to the discovery of Darkveil. The ceremony that he was suggesting was one that would give Saerid the ability to read and understand important clues. Specifically, there was discussion of the Dark Tapestry. Whereas the Dark Tapestry, an artifact associated with Darkveil, was theorized to be lost or not even a tapestry in a physical sense, Garyvon mentioned that he believed it was a real thing in the possession of Frockmeg, a dwarven leader in Forge. For the Dark Tapestry no doubt had many secrets to reveal. What followed was a discussion about the Alcarast, the sword Blackrazor as well as more esoteric concepts like the Caves of Chaos and places and things both possible and absurd. Further, Gravon mentioned Koldrag, who has been imprisoned by the Archmage several centuries ago for his role in the theft of the Shadow Prophecy, Book IV. Koldrag, an associate of the group and someone who Suriveth seemed smitten with (for an inexplicable reason) was also helping the group find Darkveil. It seemed agents of the Archmage had found Koldrag but not the book and whereas Grayvon seemed to have a dim view of Koldrag, he did agree to reunite Koldrag with the group.

But as to the matter of the ceremony, Grayvon mentioned that there was a traveling priest that had come to Cloud, someone who could assist with the ceremony, as this individual was also interested in finding out more about Darkveil. While Grayvon would summon this traveler, he needed Dracovel as there were matters they needed to discuss. Grayvon left the rest of the group to look at the materials while he mentioned that Cloud would be moving towards Anvil, somewhere that he suspected the heroes needed passage towards.

While Grayvon was away Saerid, Glaedwin, Suriveth and Wolfram began wading through the mountain of papers and research, realizing much of it was erroneous, foolish and downright wrong. When it seemed like hours had passed, Glaedwin had convinced Wolfram to explore the palace with him. Realizing the palace was massive – perhaps more so on the inside than it appeared on the outside – they did find numerous empty rooms but the most interesting discovery was a door in the basement covered in fantastic magical runes. Whereas they were not able to find any sign of Dracovel, they did discover that they were not prisoners in the palace as they thought they could have been.

Meanwhile when Suriveth looked through the various documents, she found a poem to ‘Little Leaf’ which was odd as it was a name that her grandfather had called her years ago. In the poem there was a mention of a ‘Jeweled Door,’ a name that had no real meaning for her but one she would commit to memory.

Upon Grayvon’s return, he had with him a new guest, someone he introduced as Tomorachian, the previously mentioned priest. It was revealed that Tomorachian (or ‘Tom’) was a priest in the Cult of Araponda, a faith dedicated to technology and change. Tom was friendly and amicable and explained he would like to aid them on the quest for Darkveil. Whereas he did not have a great deal of information to share, he did say he was dedicated and that his faith had sent him on the quest as they had been reading the signs and omens as well. When Grayvon was asked about Dracovel, he mentioned that Draco was no longer even on Cloud – which came to a surprise to Suriveth and Glaedwin who immediately suspected something was afoot. Grayvon assured them however, that Draco was on a special quest of his own, specific to the desires of the Archmage.

Tom suggested walking into the city and getting some fresh air as well as a drink, as the ceremony Saerid would go through would be an unpleasant one and perhaps a few drinks would be well received, especially as a way to get to know one another. When Tom mentioned that the place he found most accommodating in the flying city was a placed called the ‘Jeweled Door,’ Suriveth was immediately curious. While there, the group had a good time getting to know one another but more importantly, Suriveth found another clue from the Prince of Shadows.

Upon arriving back at the palace, the group was introduced to Koldrag, a seemingly gruff scholar who was immediately greeted passionately by Suriveth. Koldrag did reveal to the newcomers, Saerid and Tom that the form he was in was not his true form and that he was an ogre magi, which naturally raised some concerns. The fact that he was an enemy of the people of Anvil made Saerid even more concerned, quite understandably.

The ceremony was a dour affair as Grayvon and Tom cast an elaborate ritual that made Saerid’s tattoos and runes seemingly come alive with energy. The result was that Saerid would be able to read the Dark Tapestry and interpret some of its meaning. But for a month he would not be able to handle anything powered by Soul Gems as he would render them inert.

That night the group was shown to their suites in the palace where they needed some much needed recuperation and rest after the trials of the ceremony Saerid was put through. However, was Suriveth worked on some alchemical concoctions, the entire area exploded with an evil energy. The windows shattered and undead creatures swarmed through the walls, forming out of the very evil rocks that had crashed through the windows. This was clear work of the Lich King. He was evidently showing his bony hand by trying to stop them in his attacks. Whereas the battle was fierce, the heroes were triumphant in their efforts.

The following day, after dealing with the aftermath of the attacks, they were upon Anvil. Grayvon saw to it that the group was deposited on firm ground where they were intercepted by a dwarven patrol and marched a short distance to the gates of Forge.

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Episode 17: Saving the Princess
In which the Palace of the Silver Princess is liberated

Continuing through the Palace of Princess Argenta, the heroes were in need of rest after expending all their martial and arcane energies on foul creatures and demonic entities. They rested in the bedroom of the court alchemist and laid low while they regained their energy. However, right as they were ready to pack up and continue, they were beset upon by not just one Hungry Star but a trio of them. Whereas the creatures were dispatched easily, they were now aware that powerful fell magic was in use somewhere in the palace.

Moving on, they encountered the palace garden. In a large, open air room, there was an indoor forest as well as overgrown gardens. But something more sinister had taken over as evil plants and sentient fungi had taken root as well as an Otyugh which proved to be a creature capable of great lethal prowess.

Moving on, and somewhat with the aid of Candella and Duchess, the group was pointed in the general direction of the throne room and they progressed, despite the protests of Glaedwin Longcleff who did not fully trust the pair of so called ‘ladies-in-waiting.’

The heroes eventually stumbled upon Princess Argenta’s bedchamber and found a variety of valuables that had not yet been pillages by the hobgoblins and other fell creatures that had taken over the castle. When Suriveth Varune peered from the bedchamber and looked across the scarred and dreadful land she spotted a sole rider on a horse that was slowly making their way away from the castle. hen the rider looked back, Suriveth and Glaedwin recognized the rider even at a distance. It was Marshalla, the mysterious alchemist in league with Elorg. It was evident that she was in some way involved with the fall of the palace.

Shortly after leaving the bedchamber of the Princess, the heroes came across a large iron door that had been covered in black, inky webs and a slightly sticky residue. It seemed as if it was a portent of great evil for whatever lie beyond the door. When the door was swung open, the heroes saw a wizard, later identified as Carthus, as well as a cambion assassin that identified himself as Davon the Reckoner, sent by the Diabolist to destroy Sir Bellivin. They were in the middle of a summoning ceremony and had the ruby bladed sword that Rowena the bard had counseled them on finding. As they tried to put a stop to whatever foul magic Carthus was using, their efforts were further impeded when Carthus summoned a Piscodaemon, perhaps one of the most fearsome creatures that they had yet encountered. Fortunately, once Carthus and Davon were dealt with, the Piscodaemon was also dispatched. It was greatly aided by the powerful arcane forces of Saerid Turquoise and his effective control over lightning.

Shortly after this harrowing battle, the heroes roamed further, encountering a few small battles with hobgoblins and other lesser dangerous creatures. But eventually the throne room was found and it was filled with statues of the court members. Sitting on the throne was My Lady’s Heart. Taking the advice from Rowena, Sir Bellivin used the ruby sword and destroyed the gem, releasing a cloud that seemed to free the court members from their stone-like state but also released Princess Argenta as well as Sir Ellis Remmy, her betrothed.

Once thanks were given and explanations were provided as well as the last of the evil creatures run off from the palace, Suriveth explained that they were members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company and the Princess not only rewarded them but took them to the treasury where they discovered what they were looking for in their quest to find out more about Darkveil: the Darkveil Amulet.

Saerid then accompanied the dwarves to an important meeting where they discovered their shame in what they had allowed to befall the Princess. Saerid was tasked with taking some important treasures to Anvil to hand over to Underlord Frockmeg. He agreed and since the heroes had discussed going to Anvil, anyway, this would be a good trip.

Meanwhile, Suriveth had gone to meet with one of the elven minsiters in Princess Argenta’s court, so that he could identify some of their unusual items they had found. He gladly explained what each did for them including identifying all the Soul Gems that were found. He also pulled her aside and explained that the Prince of Shadows was very pleased with her success and gave her a key to a secret location in Frostforge, a city in the northern wastes to the northwest of Ironwall. He suggested it would be a good place for she and her friends to go.

Not long after the great celebrations that were taking place in Haven, a darkness seemed to fall over the land. It was a floating city of the Archmage, Cloud. When envoys from the city came down, they wished to speak with Saerid and invited him, somewhat coldly, to accompany them back to the flying city to discuss matters of grave importance. Saerid and the rest of the group cut their merriment short and agreed to go with High Chamberlain Javast as his guests to the flying city..

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Episode 16: A Demonic Presence

Continuing the exploration of the castle, looking for clues as to the fate of Princess Argenta, the adventurers ascended the secret passage into the upper levels, into the living areas. One of the first areas discovered was the alchemist’s lab. While rummaging around through the lab was fruitful in that it yielded some treasures as well as some Soul Gems, it also was the home to a rather lethal golem that attacked once the treasures were disturbed. Glaedwin Longclef got the worst of it but the rest of the heroes managed to defeat it and move on.

Progressing through the castle, a variety of more statues of residents were discovered but in the outer chamber of the court wizard, two unlikely people were encountered – a pair of women calling themselves Candella and Duchess. The pair claimed to be ladies-in-waiting to Princess Argenta but there was something about their stories which simply did not add up, such as their dress, their ability to handle themselves in a fight, as well as their lack of hard data about the rest of the castle. However, before they two could be deeply questioned, they checked in on the wizard’s bedroom, discovering that there was, in fact, a demon present, or more specifically, a Hezrou, posing as the sleeping wizard. The demon was a formidable enemy, as they soon discovered, as the creature quickly took out several party members, including the group’s wizard, Dracovel Kilvesh. However, the quick thinking of Suriveth Varune and Saerid Turquise (not to mention their powerful magic) dispatched the disgusting creature.

After dealing with the demon and dispatching it back to whatever abyss it came from, they did find some unique treasures (a Twilight Amulet, Gloves of the Rogue, and a Mark of Pestilence), including some Soul Gems. However, they decided to investigate the treasures more deeply later.

Continuing with the northern section of the castle, they found the chapel that was currently being desecrated by a unit of hobgoblins and bugbears. The battle was fierce but under Sir Bellivin’s leadership, they manged to defeat the foul creatures, even though several of the heroes were rendered unconscious. Shortly after this, they again asked Candella and Duchess the best way to get to the audience chamber and again the two women seemed to balk. Nevertheless, they continued with their investigation.

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Episode 15: The Secrets of the Ice Harp
The castle reveals new horrors but also new allies.

Not long after facing the horrific demonic entity in the caverns near the castle spas, the adventurers decided to double back to the spa and rest there for a few hours, regaining their strength. Whatever foul creatures seemed to inhabit the castle, seemed to keep away from the spas and bath area.

While taking one of the watches for the night, Glaedwin Longclef and Saerid Turquoise began hearing some unusual noises on the other side of the door and noticed a strange, paranormal mist that began to permeate from underneath the frame. Waking the others, they asked their resident wizard, Dracovel Kilvesh what he could determine and all he was able to provide was that it was supernatural.

Opening the door, Glaedwin was confronted by the spirit of Nonnette, his deceased fiance. Looking pale and ghostly, as well as more haunting than his past visions of her had been, she was clearly trying to speak but it was if she was prevented by some force. When she finally used the energy to break whatever enchantment had been holding her back, she began to provide the group with extremely distressing news. She explained that the Lich King had uncovered the secrets of something called the Soul Forge and was using it to siphon off spirits and souls, destined to the afterlife, and using them to power some horrible plan. Whereas he still needed certain parts to fully power this evil artifact, the horrors he would be able to unleash if he were to make it operational would be unimaginable. Sadly, she admitted that she, herself, was in danger of being brought into his dominion. Shortly after revealing this, she was pulled back into whatever realm she was in.

Packing up and continuing the quest, the adventurers pushed forward, trying to address the situation at hand. Glaedwin, however, did his best to send along a note, using the Prince’s Pouch to the Prince of Shadows, informing him of the Lich King’s plans.

Finding a former schoolroom and library, the characters were attacked by a small demon as well as a gang of vile Tooth Fairies. Whereas the demon was not overly powerful, his Tooth Fairy followers did enough damage by attacking teeth and fingers with rusty and grotesque pliers. Dispatching them, the adventurers moved on until they came to a chamber being guarded by powerful undead, seemingly guarding a statue. Upon ridding themselves of the zombies, the statue was revealed as a statue of Flyght, a dragon. The inscription on the small statue read that Flyght was a ‘smiter of evil.’ This was, at least, some good news in that most everything they had come across was tragic as of late. If only this Flyght were somewhere nearby . . .

Pressing on, more rooms underneath the castle were explored but little was discovered until they came to a lounge. This lounge, based upon all the evidence discovered by Suriveth Varune, likely once belonged to the famed minstrel, Rowena, as evidenced by her Ice Harp that was left on a display wheel in the room. Later, when confronted by a mysterious dead end that likely contained a magical secret door, the adventures determined that perhaps the Ice Harp was needed to open it. When they doubled back, grabbed the Ice Harp and had Suriveth play a few notes, the secret door did not open but something else happened. The bard Rowena appeared!

When Rowena appeared, she explained how she was living a new life with the beings known as the Protectors a race of eternal elves that provided magic to make the region of Moonwreck and Haven the pristine and beautiful place that it was. The evil that had corrupted the region was due to the Eye of Arik which had been accidentally brought in as an engagement gift to Princes Argenta for her upcoming wedding to Sir Ellis, the man who was seen riding the white dragon known as ‘Flyght.’ Further, she explained that a follower of the Diabolist, known as Carthus, was upstairs orchestrating this evil. Perhaps through an alliance with the entity known as ‘Arik,’ The Diabolist was trying to bring about the return of some sinister race.

Rowena could offer no more other than starting how the Eye of Arik could be destroyed. Either by bringing about Flyght (who was currently banished) or finding Ellis’ sword or summoning her back by playing a few notes on the Ice Harp, these ways would destroy the Eye of Arik. With that, she returned to whatever realm she had come from and showed them the secret entrance to the top level of the castle.

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Episode 14: Exploring the Castle

The members of the Half-Moon Exploring Company slowly approached the palace of Princess Argenta. The palace reflected the same state of decay and desolation that the rest of the Moonwreck area had previously shown. A red light seemed to bathe the entire area with much of it seemingly originating with the inner sanctum of the palace. Sir Bellivin, their newest ally, was more than willing to assist as he seemed to have some knowledge of the palace, having been present recently..

As they approached, a mysterious figure was seen near the palace gatehouse. The figure was short and squat which immediately made Glaedwin Longclef think of the dreaded derro they had previously encountered. Glaedwin, understandably on edge, called out, aiming his bow at the stranger. However, as it turned out, the stranger was not a foe, but in fact a local dwarf named Saerid Turquoise, who immediately showed his proficiency with lightning magic. Once they had discovered that this was an ally and once it was revealed that Saerid also had some exposure to the palace, they were more at ease. Asking him what he was doing here, he admitted that he was trying to determine what had gone wrong at the palace. Whereas he was not an eye witness to what had transpired, he certainly saw the skies to turn black and the lands begin to rot. Princess Argenta, long a beloved figure to the dwarves, needed to be saved if possible. Therefore, he agreed to come with the company. More importantly, Saerid did reveal that he, too, was a member of the Half-Moon Exploring Company, having been inducted when it was first founded, over 75 years ago, prior to Lucien Autumntide purchase of the organization. With this out of the way, the group proceeded towards the palace.

Suriveth Varune tried to ask Saerid and Sir Bellivin whether there was another way into the palace, other than the gatehouse. However, when Sir Bellivin looked to see whether or not the entries he remembered were available, they appeared to be sealed with rubble, leaving only one way into the palace.

Exploring the palace, it was clear that there were various troops of orcs that had been present, using the gatehouse as their headquarters. However, Glaedwin determined they were out on patrol. The group used this as an opportunity to sneak in and steal some of the provisions that the orcs had marshaled. The gate which was currently closed was no match for Glaedwin who was able to slip through and throw the switch that raised the gate, allowing the rest of the adventurers to gain access.

From this point, the company began exploring what was in the palace. Using Wolfram Delmanse to listen at the various doors and carefully opening those very doors, they began to carefully creep through the hallways. Whereas they were not overly surprised to discover evil creatures roaming through the palace, such as hobgblins and kobolds, they were surprised to come across a dining hall where all of those present were statutes. Whereas it was not certain whether they were people turned to stone or whether they were actual statutes, the evidence seemed to suggest the former. People seated at the table, in mid bite and with goblets in their hands as well as servants offering food, seemed to suggest that they were somehow doomed when the tragedy struck. Also present throughout the hallways and rooms was an ever present red light. The red light, while stationary, seemed to give off an eerie glow which was thought to be best handled by trying to avoid it.

After the first hallway had been investigated, they found a passage that led to a cavernous area beneath the palace. This area was roughly designed with the rocks not truly carved. However, they did encounter a large white ape that was chained to the wall, clearly starving. Whereas it was aggressive when it saw the adventurers, it calmed once Suriveth fed the animal.

Eventually, they came across an underground spa that had some dangerous mutated bats which, upon further examination, seemed to be demonic in nature. But the two most interesting rooms where one in which there was a series of painted frescoes on the walls and floor, but also a strange keyhole in the floor. The next room had a pedestal containing a silver amulet which seemed out of place for this spa. When approached, a green mist formed into a face and gave a stern warning. For now, it was thought that it was best left alone.

Finally, as they left the spa area and continued down the cavern, they came across an area that appeared to be some kind of shrine to elven spirit ancestors. However, the statutes and icons had been smashed, replaced by a simple clay statue with an eye that seemed to slowly blink. When Glaedwin attempted to destroy this seemingly evil shrine, the eye seemed to summon a horrific demonic creature. This creature, arguably the most most deadly and potent creature they had ever come across, had several arms and a giant mouth atop its head. The heroes were barely able to defeat the thing without losing their lives. As it died, it fell back on the eye, crushing it.

At this point they found another set of stairs that seemed to take them back to the main floor of the palace.

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Episode 13: The Grip of Evil
Evidence of evil shows itself

As the heroes progressed into the area known as Moonwreck, it was evident that a great cataclysm had come to the area, as they feared. They looked around and saw scorched earth everywhere, seeing nothing but destruction wherever they looked. The quest to save Princess Argenta would not be easy.

Progressing into the countryside, they came across the town of Veldens which once had been a small human community but was left with no life, everyone either having fled or been killed. A small group of unidentified bodies were still smoldering in a pyre, and it appeared as if they were dwarven, adding to the confusion as it was unlikely that dwarves would have attacked humans in such a way.

Kouro Marmari decided to investigate the local temple of Primus while Suriveth Varune searched the local burgermeister’s home for clues. Glaedwin Longclef along with Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse, watched outside, vigilant for any further attacks.

The clues they had pieced together was that something at the palace of Princess Argenta must have taken place, resulting in the terrible evil that had befallen the area. Unfortunately, there were few other clues. The adventurers pressed on on the road towards Veldens and the palace.

Halfway along the road an ambush set up by derro, evil Underdark dwarves, took them by surprised. It was only when a knight in the service of the Crusader sprung forth from the burnt forest that they were able to repel these forces of evil. The knight, Sir Bellivin, was also able to reveal a little more of what had happened.

While tending to their words Sir Bellivin explained the following:

  • The Protectors are a magical race of elves that live in the area and have protected the area from evil for centuries, allowing for the normally lush and beautiful land to thrive and be a home for fantastic and mystical good creatures.
  • Recently a ruby the size of an apple was found by dwarven subjects of Princess Argenta. They polished it so bright and gave it to the Princess as a gift, calling it My Lady’s Heart.
  • A grand feast was planned to honor the dwarves. Around this time a mysterious stranger rode in riding a white dragon and wearing black armor.
  • At midnight, disaster struck with crops dying overnight, foul winds coming through the land and evil creatures flocking to the land, killing everything they could find. An explosion erupted from the castle and a red glow enveloped the area.
  • Soldiers from Ironwall are bogged down in a massive fight against gnolls, orcs, and trolls, preventing them from mounting an expedition to the castle to see what had become of Princess Argenta.
  • The creature that caused the flame and scorched earth is a red dragon that is trying to make a home somewhere nearby.

Upon reaching Gulluvia, a town of mushroom homes and a settlement for gnomes and faeries, they found that this area, too, was overrun by evil, perhaps the trolls they had seen earlier by the bridge they had crossed.

Staying overnight and hiding in the town’s pavilion, they would likely make it to the palace in the morning. While looking through his items, Glaedwin noticed that he had gotten a response from the Prince of Shadows. Apparently, agents of the Prince had recovered the Chest of Secrets and taken it to Dresda in Foothold. The chest of Una Helta was available to picked up later or abandoned.

However, upon leaving town in the morning they were attacked by redcaps, the most deranged and evil of fey. They were able to fend off the attackers but the savagery and insanity of the creatures reminded them of the dangers that lay ahead.

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Episode 12: Hidden Evil
Monsters hide the darkness

Deciding to enter the long-forgotten hunting lodge, Suriveth Varune, Glaedwin Longclef, Kouro Marmari, Dracovel Kilvesh and Wolfram Delmanse decided to descend the hidden stairway they found underneath. Ellyna Dirkane, however, went back to the encampment to watch over the merchants in the Gold Unicorn Collective. The darkness below was haunting but the sense of adventure was stronger than the fears they felt.

Immediately upon arriving in the subterrainian cavern, they noticed several chests and crates nearby. These were determined to be relatively new and contained a variety of equipment such as glass beakers and warming pots. While not exactly the kinds of items used by an alchemist, it was certainly something similar. However, they were immediately beset upon by some stitched together creature that was comprised of various lizard parts, turned into hulking monster. However, the combined efforts of the heroes led to the abomination being dispatched.

Continuing through the dark, underground lair, the heroes came to a room with a gate in the floor which contained some unknown creatures skittering and chittering. These creatures were best left alone, all things considered.

While investigating a small room across the hall it was not long before Glaedwin noticed a sinister creature floating through the halls. Later identified as a decapus, this floating monstrosity clearly had sinister intentions as it went into the room with the caged floor and began releasing the horrible creatures held within. A swarm of creatures later discovered to be sinspawn poured forth to attack. This massive battle between the adventurers and the corrupted forces resulted in Wolfram and Glaedwin being badly hurt but the heroes managed to prevail.

Collecting themselves and tending to their wounds, the heroes pressed on, realizing there was something truly evil underneath the lodge. They came to an underground stream and stone bridge to cross. Unfortunately they discovered it was trapped after it was too late, with a powerful ward triggering an arcane attack. But they did come across a hidden chest in the brush, to the side of the bridge. Identified by Glaedwin as a chest with the symbol of the Prince of Shadows the group looked inside and found some minor treasures within, long forgotten by whomever placed them there.

Finally, the group found a stone slab with a hidden passage behind it. It was a tunnel leading to he surface world, several hundred yards away from the lodge. However, Kouro used the power of the High Druid to receive a vision. He saw a serpantfolk sorcerer, known as Sstratha, who had been creating the horrific sinspawn in this underground chamber. Further, the vision led him to a hidden cache of treasures near the stone slab. The warhammer known as Bludhammer as well as the Chest of Secrets. Both items were once in the possession of Una Helta, the Winter Witch and were dangerous to even possess. Somehow Sstratha must have come across these items and since the Chest of Secrets was so difficult to move, he abandoned it once he realized the heroes were approaching. He, along with a small army of sinspawn, escaped through the tunnels, heading to some unknown location.

Dragging the items out, the heroes discovered that the chest was best left buried and come back for once their quest in Haven was complete. They met back up with the Gold Unicorn Collective and pressed on to the area surrounding Haven. But as they arrived to the surrounding area, they found an apocalyptic wasteland. The members of the Gold Unicorn felt it was best to for them to turn back, leaving the heroes to deal with the madness and tragedy that had befallen the area. Leaving the heroes with some supplies, they turned back, and the heroes remained to press on, hoping to rescue Princess Argenta from whatever horrible fate had befallen her.

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Episode 11: The Longclefs of Foothold
Suspicious Dealings from a Familiar Trading Company

The arrival from Witchburn to Foothold was without incident. However, upon arriving in Foothold it was clear the city watch was collecting a steep entry fee into the city. Quick thinking from Ellyna Dirkane suspected that flashing her House Graystone Signet Ring would prevent them from having to pay. She was correct as the city watch ushered them through.

Glaedwin Longclef, who was very familiar with Foothold as he had spent several years coming through its gates. was instantly at home in the city, remembering fondly, the vast amount of halfling families that made their homes here. More importantly, his halfling nature of partaking in the food and drink had come back to him and he set out to get his fill. He also knew exactly where they could stay, The Scattering Rams, an inn and tavern where he was well known as a good customer.

While rumormongering in the inn, the adventurers discovered that there was a sizeable amount of attacks outside the city, attributed to bugbears, gnolls and other creatures. They were given the name of one of the local scouts if they needed more details; a trollkin ranger named Dresda would have far more details if they wanted to seek her out. They also discovered that the Longclef Trading Company was seemingly alive and well in Foothold, much to the shock of Glaedwin who seemed understandably upset that someone was trading on the good name of his family business, since he was the last remaining member of the family after their tragic end. Getting to the bottom of this was something he intended to do first thing in the morning. Of course, another piece of business the group had was delivering a box to Quanto Shortcoin, a favor they were doing for Alcide Throckmotten, which, in turn, was a favor he took on for Brit Shortcoin, back in Dragonmeet.

The group sought out Dresda late in the evening, and when they interviewed her at her favorite tavern, the Wee Lass, she commented that the bugbears and gnolls she had been encountering were bearing the same symbol that adventurers had come across in Witchburn, held by the bugbears they dealt with there. The tattered symbol of a single eye on a red background seemed to indicate that these creatures were in league with one another, united under the same banner. She also mentioned that there were other creatures that seemed to sometimes accompany them – she never got a good look at them but presumed they were undead, based upon the way in which they shuffled. But she had yet to kill one and bring it back for examination.

One piece of information she provided was especially helpful for the adventurers; the fact that the Gold Unicorn Collective, a trading group from Haven, would be arriving in town soon. The adventurers quickly decided that traveling back with them would be a good way to get to Haven. Since Glaedwin was on good terms with several of the members, including one of their caravan masters, Aerto Clearspeak, this would be a grand opportunity, indeed.

Prior to delivering the box to Quanto, it became apparent that Foothold was slightly different than what Glaedwin could remember. Minister Herne, the assistant to the regent, Duke Vellian Graystone was the de factor ruler of the city. Minister Herne’s numerous taxes and tax officers seemed to hold sway over the city, striking fear into citizens who seemed to be behind in payments. However, despite the dark rumors surrounding Minister Herne, he managed to bring Foothold and House Graystone out of the crippling debt they were under. Upon delivering the box to Quanto, it seemed as if he, Quanto, was a member of the tax guard as he was dressed in their traditional garb. Whereas the meeting went well, there was slight unease in the way Quanto acted. But he asked the adventurers to take something back to Brit when they next returned to Dragonmeet – a black pouch, sealed with a wax symbol. It was clear that Quanto was in some way associated with the Greenleaf Branch, a halfling family with close ties to one another and who was involved in a variety of Foothold business interests, both legitimate and otherwise.

The following day, Glaedwin went to the offices of the Longclef Trading Company with Ellyna. Suriveth Varune having little interest in business affairs instead went to the market area to play her songs and raise some spending money. When Ellyna and Gaedwin arrived at the docks where they quickly found the offices they were looking for, they encountered Podwick Longclef, a gruff and rude halfling who seemed more threatening than welcoming. He made it very clear that the Longclef Trading Company was his, that he was a true Longclef (despite Glaedwin never hearing about him) and that Podwick wanted nothing to do with Glaedwin. Vowing to get to the bottom of it, Glaedwin left but gave Podwick a dour scowl as he did.

While Glaedwin went off to drown his sorrows in the chocolate pastries of Foothold, Ellyna found herself buying needed provisions for their four day trek to Haven. On her way back, she encountered a crow that dropped an old rusty key at her feet. Knowing a portent from the High Druid when she saw one, she pocketed he key and knew it would be put to use later.

That evening the group met up with the Gold Unicorns and they agreed on a price for the adventurers to guard the caravan back to Haven. Aerto, who had a high opinion of Glaedwin, graciously accepted the help.

Later the adventurers found themselves exploring the under ruins of Foothold after hearing from Dresda that there were some interesting things to see. Their guide explained that the ruins went on for miles and eventually connected up with the dwarven cities and even an abandoned dwarven city. They decided this was definitely something they would investigate further, later.

That evening, through a series of chance meetings, they managed to get an invitation to an auction at the Duke’s residence. Sponsored by Minister Herne, the auction was established to sell off many f the Duke’s possessions, mostly art, small treasures and other items he clearly had no further use of. Getting a glimpse of the Duke, it was clear that he was mentally deranged and unable to speak for himself, even relying on others to assist him in eating and walking. Suriveth, however, was able to purchase an elven bow at a steal of a price, with others simply not aware of the item’s true value. The runes along the bow were unusual and not ones she could translate but Dracovel Kilvesh explained that they likely unlocked some kind of special power or ability.

The following day the group set out for Haven with the Golden Unicorns. The travel went without incident except for the third day when Glaedwin discovered a hunting lodge in a valley, not far from where they made camp. The lodge seemed abandoned but was also locked. When he explained what he found to the others, Ellyna came along and by chance decided to try the key that the crow had given her back in Foothold. To her excitement, the key worked, opening the mysterious door . . .

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