DM When last we left our heroes, they were sorting out the treasure taken from Balsag. With Shael and Julian busy with Durgeddin’s sword, Kyrss takes it upon himself to look around.
Kryss “I suppose there’s no trouble with me checking this door over here?” Kryss says to his companions as he tries the western door.
DM Two rows of dragon-carved marble columns march the length of the hall, though most are completely smothered in luminescent fungus. The cobbled floor is cracked and stained with much use, and it holds many small wooden tables. Table contents include mortars and pestles, bowls filled with crushed leaves, chopped fungus stalks, and other plant specimens. The many doors leading off this hall are all partly open, and sounds are audible from beyond them.
Kryss Kryss sniffs at the cacophony of smells assaulting his nose. Alchemy has never been his strong suit. He checks the first door looking for someone to beat up.
DM Snores are audible from this rough goblin barracks. Sixteen small pallets woven of matted hair and fur cover the floor. Two pallets currently hold sleeping goblins.
Kryss Kryss ducks into the room and closes the door silently behind him.
Kryss He lifts a hand axe from his belt and he does what he is good at.
DM The goblin dies without a sound.
Kryss Kryss moves to the next one in order to repeat the performance.
DM His loud stomping awakens the sleeping scum.
DM The goblin shrieks and dives for his weapons.
DM Too late, because Kryss’s axe separates its head from its body.
Kryss Large boots make large noises. As does a handaxe whistling towards ones face when they first wake up.
DM The goblin doesn’t stand a chance.
Kryss He surveys to room, pats down the bodies, and covers them with blankets.
Kryss Having looted this room he cracks door and moves across the hall to the next
DM A crude mashing, straining and cask facility here allows the goblins to create goblin liqueur. Two goblins currently stand barefood in the mashing tun, squashing potatolike roots into pulp. A dirty straining bin stands nearby, as well as ten 2-gallon casks of the end product.
Kryss This time Kryss uses his battle axe and throws a shoulder into the mashing tub, attempting to knock both goblins prone.
DM Goblin liqueur splashes in his eyes, burning horribly.
Kryss Kryss staggers to regain his footing and slashes across at one of the goblins.
DM His wild strike goes wide, even on the unarmored creatures. They rush for their arms.
Kryss Kryss dashes after them and attacks again.
DM His one mighty swing kills them both.
DM For some reason he batters their corpses with his shield.
Kryss Kryss eases the door closed and searches this room as well.
DM Other than goblin arms, armor and silver, there are also the ten casks of liqueur in this room.
Kryss Kryss ignores the booze and pockets the silver before checking the hallway again.
DM Two goblins monitor the health of a dire rat, which is strapped spread-eagle onto a wooden bench. The dire rat suffers from horrible tumors that look vaguely woody and fruitlike. An elixir is in the corner of the room on a stand in a fancy crystal vial.
DM The goblins are clearly tormenting the beast.
Kryss Kryss turns the torment upon them.
DM Another cleaving strike leaves two dead goblins in its wake.
Kryss Kryss puts the dire rat out of its misery and searches the room
DM Goblin arms, armor, silver are all he finds in addition to the aforementioned elixir.
Kryss Mortal spirits do not interest him. He moves across the hall to the next room.
DM Two goblins currently repair dirty goblin armor with cord, iron needles, leather patches and other crude implements of tailoring.
Kryss Kryss stumbles as he enters and swings wildly.
DM His shield rings off the lead goblin’s skull, and the creatures shriek in alarm.
DM The warm acrid scent of goblin piss fills the air.
Kryss “Shut up!” the man-dragon whispers and he swings his axe again.
DM His axe and shield leave no living creature save himself.
Kryss Kryss shuts the door and listens carefully for anyone answering the alarm.
DM He hears no one. These goblins have all been intent on their own work, and likely remain so.
DM Within the room, goblin arms, armor and repair materials, in addition to their silver.
Kryss Kryss eases the door open and moves on to the next room.
DM Extra weapon stores include five battered shortswords and thirty javelins. A door leads out to the east of the room.
Kryss Kryss leaves the weapons for his companions to inspect and moves to the last hallway door.
DM This area stands empty, with a caved in back wall leading off into the dark.
Kryss Curious as a dragon, Kryss steps into the dark, a torch held in his left hand.
DM The tunnel is interrupted here by some past geologic violence that rent the earth. The tunnel continues past the rift, though it has shifted ten feet to the west.
Kryss Kryss eyes the chasm and considers.
Kryss Cursing his missing wings he turns back to the north.
Kryss reconsidering, Kryss turns back to the south and explores the hall.
Kryss He turns right at the tunnel, hoping to rejoin his companions. Surely they are done searching one room by now.
Kryss Kryss reenters the original chamber from the south door
DM “Ok, these findings are very exciting,” Shael informs them. “I’m going to keep studying them…if you don’t mind the Dragonpriest watching over me while you guys explore?”
Kryss “Miraak, I charge you with this man’s safety. Please protect him as you would me.” Kryss says to the ancient one.
Julian Julian catches up after collecting a few javelins. “South next?”
Kryss “Friend,” Kryss says to Julian, “Would you help me search these halls to our south?”
DM This is suspicious. Kryss doesn’t call anyone friend.
Kryss Kryss leads the way to where his search left off
Julian Julian quashes his suspicions and agrees, advancing with Lightbringer at the ready.
DM The stone door at the end of the severed tunnel is shut and stuck.
Kryss Kryss attempts to persuade it open
DM He is remarkably persassive.
Julian Julian sees if some muscle will unstick it.
DM The door is unstuck like a motherfucker.
DM Faded mosaic tiles still cover parts of the wall, but most have fallen and shattered. Situated at the center of the chamber stands a slim pedestal of obsidian shaped like an upright dragon. In the dragon’s mouth rests an empty tray.
Kryss “I really enjoy the decor here.” Kryss mentions as he searches through the rubble.
Julian “I don’t know. It doesn’t really speak to me…” Julian shrugs after glancing over his shoulder to make sure Miraak is not listening.
DM Miraak is back with Shael, watching over him.
DM Not even visible from where Julian now speaks with Kryss.
DM “Sen….gir…” the call comes as the room fills with mist.
Kryss “Aw hells…” Kryss recognizes the mist.
DM “Help us…we lie…trapped…by Sengir….”
Kryss Kryss looks at Julian, weighing his response.
Julian Julian glances sidelong between Kryss and the mist as he grips his sword.
Julian “So… you saw mist like this before too?”
Kryss “Before I was sent to the past.” Kryss confirms.
DM “We were…deceived…by the serpent.”
Julian “What do you know about it?” Julian mutters, half concentrating on the ghostly voices and half on Kryss’s response.
Kryss “Nothing.” he replies, “We were there, and then we werent. Next thing I know Azario is gone.”
DM “…Hector…Forgemaster…staked our Master…with a cursed spear…”
DM “…poisons the land…around us.”
DM “…free us…”
Julian “Azario and I both saw it up above. It was…” Julian considers, “not nearly this loud.”
Julian “Who are you?” Julian decides to try talking to the mist directly.
Julian Maybe it can hear.
Julian “And… free you? What happens if we do?”
DM “..we go…to our…judgement…free from…this purgatory.”
Julian “Hm.” Julian frowns. “To your judgment. Words that might move a paladin above all else.”
Julian “What is a dragonsworn?”
DM “We…pledged our souls…to Ashardalon the Mighty.”
Julian “Who is your master?”
DM “The First Champion of Lady Tiamat. We worship him…in this…his church. Founded by his saint.”
Julian “A man cannot serve two masters.” Julian mutters.
Julian “Begone, bound spirit, and let us consider your words in peace.”
DM The mist clears.
Kryss “Spirits speaking in riddles. We should move on.”
Julian Julian nods. “Up above, it showed me the image of… something I have dreamt of.”
Kryss “I expect this entire ruin is a chapel to this Ashardalon. The dragon I saw in my vision of the past.”
Julian “If it knows to do that, it knows to use words that would appeal to my heart. And so its words cannot be trusted.”
Kryss "In my vision I met a dragon and a vampire lord. They ruled this ruin in their time.
Julian “Ashardalon and Gulthias Sengir.”
Kryss “Indeed. We are seeing imprints of their power.”
Julian “Well. Let us press on. If we cannot trust the words of the dead, still, we can trust our own judgment.”
Julian Julian goes to see if the rift they crossed leads anywhere.
Kryss And so the pair continued on. Kryss leads Julian through the rift and back to the room with the unexplored door.
DM The rift leads on further west, or back to the goblin baracks.
Kryss “…and in that room there were goblins making spirits. I slaughtered them as well.” He narrates for his companion.
Julian “Hang on, I want to see if this goes anywhere in the other direction. It’s pretty wide…”
DM The rift eventually deadends far to the west, although there is a southern tunnel that leads to a small cavern.
Kryss “I thought the rift dead ended down here.” Kryss mentions.
Julian “It looks like it, but look, there’s a southern tunnel!” Julian investigates.
DM The rift widens here, creating a stone antechamber. Small, foot long diameter holes riddle the node. A fiery light shines out of one such hole.
Kryss Where a mortal may be cautious around firey holes, Kryss trusts his dragon blood to protect him and looks in the hole to determine the source.
DM A blast of flame erupts from the hole, as a twisting fire worm emerges.
DM The creature lunges against Kryss’s armor, but fails to harm him.
Kryss Kryss lashes out at the worm.
DM The creature’s segmented body shudders as Kryss strikes it, but the orange-white heat from its body causes Kryss’s axe and shield to light up with fiery heat.
Julian Julian comes around the other side. “Ha! It carries the sun’s light even far beneath the earth! What a wondrous creature.”
Julian He winces as he sees the creature’s heat leap out at Kryss. “I suppose that means there’s no way of keeping it…”
Kryss Kryss’s massive hands clench his weapons tight, ignoring the pain.
Julian He strikes out ruefully with Lightbringer.
DM The weapon cleaves open the worm, unleashing its fire upon Julian as well.
DM It lashes out in anger and fear at the men, but fails to harm them due to their stout armor.
Kryss Kryss swings his massive axe again.
DM He cuts the creature in half.
DM Again, he takes to pounding the corpse with his shield.
DM Cracking open its shell, this reveals two fire polished sapphires.
Kryss “Wonderous or no, it was worth killing,” Kryss says.
DM Seriously, this dragon is likely a sociopath.
Julian “Well, there is a fine blessing in it. One for you, one for me.” Julian tosses a sapphire to Kryss.
Julian He wrings his fingers as the gem is still fairly hot.
Kryss Kryss catches the sapphire and drops it in his pouch. “Whats in the other holes?” He asks.
Julian Julian shrugs and investigates.
DM The entire room appears riddled with these holes, but they are merely from the passage of the worm.
DM No items of value other than those within the beast are located.
Kryss “Lets continue,” kryss suggests.
Julian Julian nods, and heads back towards the finished rooms with unexplored doors.
Kryss When they arrive Kryss listens carefully at the door.
DM He hears a very muffled sound, perhaps some large individual walking back and forth many feet away from the door.
Kryss “Something big is behind this door. Should we talk or fight?” he asks.
Julian “We’ll see what it is. We can talk if it will.” Julian murmurs, and opens the door quietly. Maybe they will get the drop on this pacing foe.
DM Opening the door leads to a tiny chamber, not even ten by ten. Another door leads east.
Julian Julian tries this next door.
Kryss Kryss waits for Julian to open it.
DM Luminescent mists blur the edges of this octagonal chamber. Nodules of glowing fungus dot both the stone walls and ceiling, as well as the caps of toadstools and mushrooms, small polyps, puffballs, lichens, and less identifiable growths. The humid air reeks with rot. A massive goblin swings a scythe, clearing out burnt vegetation like that from the previous room.
DM When it sees them, it raises the scythe and charges.
Julian Julian shakes his head. Goblin means likely foe. He piles into the room.
Kryss Kryss follows, ready to fight shoulder to shoulder.
Kryss The dragon man sees his chance and charges to meet the goblin.
DM The goblin is obviously of the bugbear variety, although it does not seem to shrink from battle like Balsag did. Instead, it brings its savage scythe down on Kryss like the grim reaper.
DM Unable to secure a strike with the business end, he drives the butt into Kryss’s stomach.
Julian Once again, Julian slides around the flank.
Julian His blade gleams opposite Kryss’s axe.
DM Roaring in pain, the bugbear shakes his scythe at the vicious warriors.
Kryss Kryss hacks at the bugbears knees.
DM “Why? Why would you kill an innocent gardner? I just…wanted…to grow…the nicest…radishes…” the bugbear collapses. Kryss again smashes his shield into the corpse. Seriously, what the hell is up with this guy?
Julian “A likely story.” Julian shakes his head and looks for signs of platinum plate mail.
Kryss Kryss doesnt wipe the grime off his shield as he hangs it from his back. “Vegetables are not food.” he says.
Kryss He rolls the bugbear over and searches the body roughly.
Julian “Also, kiiiind of need the sun, right?”
Julian “At least for radishes. I don’t know about this, uh… stuff.”
Julian Julian expands his horizons from the bugbear’s platinum plate mail to encompass the room they find themselves in.
DM Besides his arms and armor, they find gold, silver and a packet of special herbs on the bugbear’s corpse.
Julian That is to say, he looks around.
Kryss “I have no use for plants. Lets save this for Shael.” he suggests.
Kryss “Shall we try north?”
Julian Julian nods. “He’d… probably? like it?”
DM Like the previous hallway, modules of luminescent fungus hang from the ceiling and walls, and grow in clumps upon the flagged floor. The vaguely nauseous light illuminates portions of grand bas-relief carvings on the stone walls that are not covered with the self-same fungus. The carvings from the previous room extend here as well, consisting of dragons in various stages of raining fire down upon terrified men, elves, dwarves and other people. Soil and compost cover half of the chamber’s floor, which allows a variety of wan grasses to grow. More simple gardening implements rest along the west wall, carved from kobold skeletal systems.
Kryss “I really like the decor,” Kryss says again as he admires the murals.
Julian Julian wrinkles his nose. “Okay moving on… east?” he mutters.
Kryss “No one to kill here, im happy moving on.”
Julian “I think it’s east. Kind of lose track down here.” Anyway, Julian opens the “eastern” door.
DM Luminescent mists blur the edges of this octagonal chamber. Nodules of glowing fungus dot both the stone walls and ceiling, as well as the caps of toadstools and mushrooms, small polyps, puffballs, lichens, and less identifiable growths. The humid air reeks with rot. Three skeletons spread compost throughout the room.
DM They swivel around as the door is open.
DM Jerkily they raise the gardening implements and lurch towards the intruders in a stop-motion like gait.
Julian Kryss rushes to meet the nearest foe.
DM His axe bites deep into the ribs.
DM The skeletons surround him, slashing mercilessly.
DM Most of the attacks bounce off his armor, but one hoe sticks deep in his neck.
Julian Julian holds his holy blade high. “Back!”
Julian Kryss takes advantage of the distraction.
DM The skeleton rocks back from the blow even as the three of them submit to Tal’s might and flee his holy presence.
Julian no withdraw
DM A terrible rumbling shakes the complex.
Julian Julian gives chase, his eyes shining. “See, Kryss!”
DM The skeleton explodes as Julian strikes it.
Julian The dragonman seems nonplussed, but he does take advantage of the opportunity to crush the final skeletal warrior.
DM Only the one who fled out of the room remains.
Julian Julian pursues it.
Kryss Kryss chases after.
DM It has fled to the south, where a room full of goblins is readying their weapons. They fire as the heroes approach.
DM It’s rather pathetic.
DM Seriously, the arrows go all over the place.
Kryss “I hate arrows!” Kryss roars.
Julian The roar echoes, and echoes… bouncing of each wall and growing louder as it does.
DM One goblin falls to his knees, bleeding from his eardrums. The others fall dead. Ribs and pieces of skull fall off the fleeing skeleton.
Julian Julian skids to a halt. “Wow, Kryss. I’m impressed.”
Kryss Kryss charges on, hitting the final skeleton at full speed. His axe flashes in the pale light.
DM The skeleton flees, and the axe splits the goblin before him in half. He contines on, smashing into the skeleton with his shield, reducing it to powdered bone upon the wall.
Kryss “We are impressive.” Kryss agrees.
DM Luminescent mists blur the edges of this octagonal chamber. Nodules of glowing fungus dot both the stone walls and ceiling, as well as the caps of toadstools and mushrooms, small polyps, puffballs, lichens, and less identifiable growths. The humid air reeks with rot. Several of the growths in this chamber appear scorched and dead.
Julian Julian scowls at the foul surroundings, but ventures in to search the defeated foes.
Kryss “It appears they all harvest for the druids research.” Kryss offers.
Kryss “He wont be pleased we’ve ruined his business.”
Julian “No, I don’t think he will.”
Kryss “As long as he tells us the fate of the final Hurcrule I dont care what his opinion to be honest.” Kryss answers.
Julian Julian pokes around a bit more before settling down for a rest.
Kryss Kryss settles in too and opens a ration. He throws the crackers and candy to the side and forces down the dried meat. “Do you suppose my Protector has finished searching around?” he asks.
Julian “I can’t imagine there’s that much to look at back there.”
Kryss “If theres anything of note, the Protector will find it.” Kryss assures.
Julian “I wonder if this druid knows we’re coming by now.”
Julian “None of the goblins you fought earlier got away, right?”
Kryss “Not with their heads.”
Julian “Maybe we’ll catch him by surprise, then.”
Julian Julian pauses, head tilted.
Julian No distant sound of gods roaring with laughter. That’s a promising sign…
DM No one hears any laughter.
Kryss After the rest Kryss decides they should go back and check on the rest of their companions.
Kryss And so they do.
Shael Shael awaits the others in one of the previous junctures. “Did you eat Durnn’s body, Kryss?” he asks queitly, looking at the next door.
Julian “Uh, hi to you too, Shael…”
Kryss “I did not, Protector,” Kryss replies. “I was looking for it myself actually. Do you suppose Balsaq ate him?”
Shael Shael blinks languidly and observes Julian curiously, “I do not.” he replies to Kryss.
Kryss The dragon man reaches into a pocket and tosses a packet of herbs to Shael. “We found this. Thought you might be interested in it.”
Shael With a smile he remarks, “Hello.” catching the herbs out of the air and inspecting them.
Shael He tucks the packet into his satchel to inspect more closely later. With a yawn he asks, “Any trouble so far?”
Kryss “Youve likely noticed that we’ve made something of a mess of the druids agriculture operation here.”
Shael “Yes, excellently done. You were a bit loud earlier — arrows, niether am I a fan.” he assures Kryss.
Julian Julian nods. “I counted seventeen down overall from the druid’s forces.”
Kryss “I hate arrows.” Kryss replies. “Anyhow, we havent checked this door yet.”
Kryss “Theres also another to the north.”
Shael Shael mouths the words eighty, eighty-one, eighty-two, eighty-three, eighty-four, “Okay, now is fine.”
Kryss “So… which door? North or east?”
Shael Shael opens the eastern door and rushes through it.
Julian Julian shrugs. "Lead on, Lord Kryss.
DM “What is your goal?” Miraak rumbles.
Kryss “We are looking for the cretin who has claimed this hall. We will kill him and reclaim it for a dragon.” Kryss answers.
DM “…” Miraak does not respond.
Kryss Kryss turns and follows Shael.
DM Meanwhile, Shael has discovered…
DM Several of the growths in this chamber are scorched and dead. A glowing hole nearby appears to hold the reason for this.
Kryss “Fire worm.” Kryss warns, readying his axe.
DM That reason being another fire worm! It leaps out to consume Shael while Kryss and Miraak are yet talking.
Shael Reflexively, Shael throws out his arm while incanting a spell and sending a lancing beam of cold towards the creature.
DM It appears less robust than the one Kryss and Julian defeated earlier.
DM The creature does not like the cold at all and hisses as it lunges at him.
DM It’s jaws close around his fucking head, and then..it’s a miracle, because he stumbles, falling out of its grasp. It snaps at him again, but he gets his shield spell up in the way and it bites on nothing but eldritch force.
DM *Its, because we’re not on fucking facebook here.
Shael Caught in the throws of his shield spell, Shael takes the opportunity to pepper it with another lance of frigid cold.
DM *throes, because we’re not on fucking facebook here.
DM This time, the lance bounces off the creature’s exoskeleton.
Julian Julian moves in and interposes himself between the beast and Shael.
Julian Lightbringer flashes.
DM The magical blade takes a clean bite out of the creature, and flaming blood pours onto the paladin.
Kryss Kryss races to give the worm a choice of targets. His axe hacks at the worm.
DM His shield does, anyways, that badge of sociopathy he carries around. It doesn’t quite kill the beast, although flames pour over Kryss as well.
DM The creature flails ineffectually at the heroes.
Shael Shael carefully sets himself before incanting this next spell, aiming with more intent at the creature before sending another lance of cold towards it.
DM The creature freezes solid.
Julian Julian smashes it apart with Lightbringer.
DM A fire polished agnate falls to the floor with the rest of the creature’s frozen corpse.
Shael “You two all right?” he inquires.
Julian “Yes, thanks.”
Kryss “Another stone. I already have one.” Kryss says.
Julian “Yeah, this one’s yours, Shael.”
DM “If you mortals are done playing around with thoqquas?” Miraak asks.
Julian Julian nods. “Let’s get moving.”
Kryss “You know where the druid’s lair is?” Krys challenges him.
Julian “O Lord Kryss.” he adds.
DM “This way,” Miraak gestures north.
DM It is of course, the only unexplored direction.
Julian North Julian goes.
Kryss “Lead on,” Kryss replies.
Julian A door bars his way, but not for long.
DM Luminescent mists blur the edges of this octagonal chamber. Nodules of glowing fungus dot both the stone walls and ceiling, as well as the caps of toadstools and mushrooms, small polyps, puffballs, lichens, and less identifiable growths. The humid air reeks with rot. A massive goblin swings a scythe, clearing out burnt vegetation like that from the previous room.
DM It does not appear to notice their entrance.
Kryss “Hold,” Kryss states, “This one might have information.”
Julian “We’ll spare its life, then, my lord.” Julian breaks left.
Kryss “If you could introduce us?”" Kryss says to Shael.
Shael Shael charges straight at the goblin and raises his shield in a defensive stance – “Surrender or be destroyed.” he demands.
DM The goblinoid responds by swinging his scythe at Shael’s neck.
DM It arcs over his head.
Kryss “Destroy the floor then.” Kryss demands.
DM The backswing misses too.
DM “Why won’t anyone let me grow cabbages?!?!?” the bugbear roars.
Julian Julian’s backswing doesn’t.
DM The creature howls in pain.
Shael Shael spins around, lashing out acrobatically with his spear.
DM The spear takes the bugbear through the shoulder. It gasps this time, agony slowing it.
Kryss Kryss enters the room, dodging past Shaels acrobatics, and takes his turn hurting the bugbear.
DM His blows shear most of the creature’s face off. It drops its scythe, crying. “I surrender! I surrender!”
Kryss “Hold!” Krys raises his shield.
DM Miraak enters the room, lifts the creature up and snaps its neck. A sickly green glow passes from the bugbear to the dragonpriest. “We do not have time for this.”
Julian “Aye, we are in a great… rush…” Julian trails off.
Shael Shael recovers his spear from the bugbear, “Huh… yeah, that’s a thing that happened.” he eyes the dragonpreist expectently.
Kryss Kryss assesses the dragonpriest. “I am in charge. Are we agreed?”
Julian Julian collects what there is to be looted and looks around. Door to the… east? West?
Julian He’s lost track. But there’s only one.
DM “Do you mortals care for goblin fodder in this era?” the dragonpriest asks, confused.
DM Julian finds that other than the creature’s arms, armor, silver and gold, there is a strangely shaped key in the pouch of the goblinoid.
Kryss “We care for information. Knowledge is power. We also care for loyalty and obedience.”
Julian The key from his dreams. Julian pockets it.
Julian He’ll look at it more closely tonight.
Kryss “I appreciate your service, but we will do this my way.”
Shael “If we’re in a hurry, let’s be in a hurry.” Shael asserts.
Kryss “My thanks. Are we ready to continue?” Kryss asks the others.
Julian Julian opens the door. If someone is not, they’ll soon learn to be quicker on the draw.
DM Dragon-carved granite blocks tile this chamber’s walls and ceiling, though many are crumbled and broken, creating stony debris on the floor. A huge marble statue of a rearing dragon still stands in the curve of the western wall. The eye sockets of the dragon are empty, but a red glow lingers there, providing reddish light throughout the chamber. The effulgence casts an inky shadow behind the statue’s wide wings. A crumbling five foot diameter circular redstone tile is inset in the floor in front of the rearing dragon carving. Runes are carved around the circular tile’s inner edge.
Kryss “I really love this place.” Kryss says.
Shael While looking around, Shael notices a loose stone and begins to try and pry it open.
Kryss Kryss takes his sapphire from his pouch and considers the statue.
Julian Julian tries to read the runes.
DM The statue’s shadow does not shift, even in the torchlight.
DM “Fallen, fallen is Ashardalon the Great! He has become a dwelling place of demons and a prison of every unclean spirit, and a prison of every unclean and hateful bird.”
DM “For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the passion of his immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed acts of immorality for him, and the merchants of the earth have become rich by the wealth of his power.”
DM The dragon shadow reaches out for Shael, about to consume him…and a torch light inexplicably cuts across it, causing it to lose its power and surprise.
Julian “Shadow demons!” Julian raises his magic light high, along with his sword.
DM His blade banishes the shadow.
Shael Shael glances back, rather oblivious to his near death experience, and wonders, “What are you doing, Julian?” as he continues to try and pry free the loose stone behind the dragon statue.
Julian “Ha!… what?”
DM Within the stone hole Shael found are 34 gp and two flasks stoppered with clay in the shape of a dragon’s head.
Julian “There was a shadow demon. It tried to eat you.”
DM “I saw no demon,” Miraak rumbles, entering the room.
Julian “Or maybe possess you. I guess it could have been possession.”
Julian “Didn’t you hear it?”
Shael “Oh.” he glances at Kryss curiously, wondering about their companion suddenly. “Well… thank you for saving me?”
Kryss “Are you quite alright?” Kryss asks.
Julian “Yes, Lord Kryss, I am not hurt.”
Shael “I hear a lot of things.” Shael asserts blandly, shrugging his shoulders and recovering the gold and flasks, “I wonder what these are?”
Kryss Kryss stands to his full height, stretching to see if he can tell what is creating the light from the dragons eyes.
Julian "Magic words… “Ea serpenta rau kaluva nyawisti…”
Shael Shael shrugs and sets them aside, “I guess I can figure it out later…” he buddies up with Julian and points towards the floor, “Ea serpenta rau kaluva nyawisti…” he says in sync with the paladin.
Kryss “Indeed.” Kryss replies quietly.
Kryss “Are we ready to move on?” He asks.
DM But before he can impatiently interrupt, something happens.
DM Something requiring deep power.
DM “What are you three up t…” Miraak is cut off as a blinding light envelops the heroes, charging them with power.
DM The heroes emerge from the power with light in their eyes, and the dragonpriest does not dare gainsay them. They move on.
DM Leaning and completely fallen stone bookshelves fill this chamber, though a clear path connects wooden doors on opposite walls. The litter of torn and burnt pages, bindings, and scrolls form disordered piles in the corners. They find a tome of draconic lore that can be read later, and two scrolls.
DM Moving on, damp and crumbled steps descend sharply.
DM A ten foot wide, eight foot high stone corridor passes below the chamber above, the steps descending nearly fifteen feet. Upon the other side, more steps lead up. A vein of moisture leaves the passageway in a perpetual state of disrepair.
DM They continue through.
DM A layer of soil covers the floor here. Rough wooden shelves, filled with a scattering of tomes and scrolls, line the north and east walls, while a rough-hewn desk stands in the center of the chamber. Fungus on the ceiling provides light, apparently in sufficient quantity to nourish several small bushes and pale saplings that grow in the soil.
DM Most of the written material here contains seasonal records of growth, precipitation, harvests and similarly less than useful records of the surrounding upper lands for the last dozen years. One interesting tome is titled ‘Treasures of the Fire Lords’. There are also two scrolls and a tome written in Druidic.
DM Four goblins sort twig and root piles on the floor of this sagging chamber. The collapsed southern wall opens on a vast cavern. Pustules of luminescent fungus on the rough walls and high roof loom over a twilight grove of sickly briars, bushes, saplings, and other woody plants. Ruined walls and hollow towers protrude from the briars like islands in the sea.
DM The goblins are quickly defeated by the heroes.
Kryss Kryss bashes their bodies with his shield.
DM Pale, spindly briars coated with tiny barbs press close. The violet light above casts nauseating shadows on the earthen floor, creating the illusion of movement among the branches, though no wind blows here.
DM The party, bolstered by Erky and Pug, make their way through this dismal place.
DM A courtyard wall of heavy stones creates a half-walled clearing among the briars. Several varieties of plants grow around the perimeter, including a few suspicious-looking saplings, but their importance pales before that which stands at the courtyard’s center. Beneath the venomous fungal light grows a singular tree of evil. Its blackened, twisted limbs reach upward, like a skeletal hand clawing its way from the earth. Human figures stand near the tree: a woman and two men. A 3-foot-long tree frog squats next to one of the men. And finally, a familiar face in battered armor. Durnn. He snarls as he sees the party approach.
DM The druid cries out, “Hold a moment! You know not what you do!” In his hands appears to be a staff carved from the same evil wood as the tree.
Kryss “Speak quickly, Druid. You harbor a fugitive.”
DM “She is of the Tree now.”
Shael Shael advances several steps forward while motioning to his companions to fan out to either side, “She better get un-part of the tree… now.” he says dangerously.
Kryss “Or pass us her signet ring.” Kryss adds.
Shael Shael hisses at Kryss.
Shael “We require her whole.”
DM “The Tree has accepted them. They were the first supplicants.”
DM “They now answer to the Tree, you…cannot save them.”
Shael With a growl, Shael answers, “You better figure out how, then. What is that thing? What do you mean they are a part of it?”
DM “It’s beautiful, no? It lives, yet it looks dead. It drinks the blood of the earth. Many years ago, a vampire was staked to the earth upon this very spot.”
DM “The spear was of green wood and took root. So grew the Gulthias Tree, reverberating with dark power to those who can tap it.”
DM “But I am being rude. I am Belek, also called the Outcast. The druidic circle expelled me, the fools. And why?”
DM “Because I dared to expand nature’s mighty reach in ways their puny minds could not fathom!”
DM “I care not for their censure. I have found what I sought, here in the Gulthias Tree.”
Shael Shael taps his fingers against the seam of his trousers impatiently. His gaze follows the outskirts of their enclosure, “You have ten seconds to assert that you will free her, and then a minute to comply.”
Kryss Kryss growls deeply. “We need the girl alive.” he says gutterally, more for the dragonpriest than anyone.
DM “A pity. While your remains will enrich the compost here, I had hoped to have you as supplicants.”
Julian Behind Shael, Julian starts in on a bolstering charm.
DM “Very well. You will behold the power of the Gulthias Tree.”
Shael “Seven.” he begins walking towards those who have decided to become his enemies.
Julian The three companions feel themselves filled with might.
Kryss Kryss maintains a protective position beside Shael.
DM Erky and Pug ready themselves.
Kryss “Count faster.” he whispers.
Shael “Six.” he continues walking forward without a hint of fear, full of wrath and purpose.
DM “Take their champion,” Belek sighs, not to the warriors before him, but to the tree…
Shael “From womb of nothingness sprang this place of beauty, purity, and hope realized.” Shael intones, mystic power wrapping him in a cocoon of divine protection.
Julian Kryss is wrapped in protective auras as Erky works a spell of his own.
DM Miraak stiffens as the tree’s veins glow red.
Kryss Kryss charges forward, faster than a man that large should be able to move, and unleashes fire upon his foes.
DM The flames roll over the druid who grits his teeth, and his frog. The man before Kryss merely hefts his axe and stares, no indication of the pain.
Kryss Kryss smashes him with his sheild and the flat of his axe.
DM The paladin does not flinch in the slightest.
Julian “Spare him if he falls, Lord Kryss, in hope they can be saved.” Julian asks.
DM The blows clearly bite deep, but he shows no pain.
DM Black and red vines crawl forth around the heroes from the ground.
Julian Julian’s magic flares as the vines attempt to drag the party’s dragonlord down.
Kryss Kryss seems to succumb to the vines but flexes and breaks free.
DM Sharwyn stares at Kryss without any comprehension in her eyes and blast him with a bolt of fire. It splatters off his armor.
Julian Julian moves in, hurling a javelin directly at Belek’s black heart.
DM It hits. Perhaps not directly in his black heart, but it certainly hits. He grimaces.
Belek “You…you are the one my goblins captured?” he calls to Julian. “I showed you a mercy then…I will not show it again.”
Shael Carefully picking his way between the lashing vines, Shael makes his way around the flank and casts another spell of protection.
Julian “You will not have the chance.”
Kryss Pug seems confused and wanders around looking for a hiding place
DM “Traitor. I’ll have your hide,” Durnn growls at Pug.
Julian Erky calls forth the sacred flame against the nearest blight while he concentrates on warding the reckless Kryss.
Shael “You must still feel my curse upon you, such brave words when your failure is inevitable.”
DM The blight collapses in flames.
DM Sir Braford lifts his axe and chops, emotionlessly at Kryss. In a flat voice, he calls out guidance to the villians. “Hit at his weak armor, in the joints. Cut at his ankles and he will fall.”
Kryss Kryss spins from the blow and swings the top of his axe up into Sir Bradfords chin.
DM The paladin accepts the blow and brings his axe down hard upon Kryss’s armor, cutting through the chain easily.
DM “You. Priest. Why are you fighting me? We are both apostates, you and I, hated for what we are.” Belek advances upon Julian, Kulket bounding into position behind him.
DM Kulket snatches Julian up with his tongue, grappling him while Belek stabs his gnarled staff into Julian’s chest. Julian groans as his lifeforce is sucked out of him and into Belek, restoring the man’s health.
DM The blight charges at Shael, only to pull up short and blankly look at him. Miraak moves in on Erky and savagely attacks the gnomish priest’s back, draining the very life from the small hero. And Durnn snarls at Kyrss. “You cost me everything. Goblinville. Calcryx. I’ll have my revenge!”
DM He moves in, slashing exactly as the paladin instructed.
DM Roots arise from the ground where Kryss falls, seeking to drain his blood for the Gulthias Tree. They fail to find purchase.
DM Sharwyn looks at Shael with dead empty eyes. She lifts her arm to blast him with magical power, and…pauses.
Shael Shael winks at Sharwyn, “C’mon, love. You don’t want to do that, eh?”
DM She swivels to Julian and unleashes the blast at him.
Shael Glancing at Julian, Shael winces and mouths, ‘Sorry!’
Julian “Pug, Plan Rat! Shael, get Kryss!” Julian trusts that Shael is capable of this, grabs Erky, and retreats.
Shael Shael wanders around the outskirts of the battle and comes up next to the small melee surrounding his friend. With a ‘tsk’ he kneels beside him and intones, “Your enemies will pound upon the door of your defenses, but only you shall have the key, and it is the key of life.”
DM Julian is horrifically dragged back by Kulket and pounded by Belek’s vile staff.
DM “Get their wizard, you imbeciles! He’s undoing our work!” Belek screams.
Shael Shael growses at Durnn while Kryss groggilly comes to, “You afraid you fall down another hole if you attack me?” he snickers and glances at the zombie paladin hoping he’ll laugh at the joke.
DM The paladin does not laugh.
DM Shael notes that his appearance is actually closer to…wood, than undead flesh.
Shael “Wizard, what, where?! All I see is a dead man and a sourpuss.”
Kryss Pug fires an arrow at his former masters back.
Shael Shael points at Braford, “That’s you… you’re the sourpuss. Lighten up, it’s just a fight to the death.”
Kryss Pug ducks back behind a boulder, hoping Durnn didnt see him.
DM Durnn saw him.
Julian “Pug… get out of here. You did all right by us.” Julian gasps.
Julian “Get out while you still can. Plan Rat!”
Kryss Pug shivers and stares at Julian.
Julian Erky makes a dash for it.
DM Sir Braford swivels and advances on Shael.
DM He kicks Kryss in the teeth as Shael’s magic prevents his action.
Shael Shael smiles vaguely at him, “Do me a favor, just stand there for a minute…” he starts rummaging in his pack, “…like, don’t move. Please?”
DM “Fool!” Belek advances on Shael himself.
Shael Shael looks up as Belek advances, grinning wickedly, “Ah, yes… the plant food wants to play? Come to me, I will show you the world you love… I will feed you to your darling child.”
DM He thrusts his staff at Shael’s face.
DM It twists in his grasp.
Shael Shael chortles darkly.
DM The twig advances on Shael and does nothing.
DM Miraak breaks free of the control and attacks Kulket. The frog’s life is drained away before Julian’s eyes.
DM “What!?! NOOOO!” Belek screams.
DM Durnn charges after Pug.
Shael Glancing over, Shael does his best not to let his bravado slip to express his extreme releif at Miraak’s reassertion of control.
DM Durnn leaps over Kryss’s half hearted axe attack and drives his curved blade through Pug’s heart.
DM “That is the fate of traitors.”
Kryss His eyes widen as they lock with Julian’s.
Kryss His mouth works open and closed as though trying to talk. A huge bubble of blood wells up in his throat and pops.
Kryss Kryss scrambles for cover, confused.
Kryss He staggers to his feet and takes a deep breath, surveying the battle.
DM The tree attempts to reassert its control over Miraak.
DM She stares at Shael and then aims at the fleeing dragon knight.
DM A scorching ray hits him in the ass.
Julian Finding himself free, Julian takes a deep breath. “…”
Julian He staggers away.
Shael Shael uncovers the shackles he was looking for triumphantly, they clink and clatter as he attempts to affix them to Braford. “Stop fussing.” he murmers as the paladin’s movements just make it easier for the diviner to bind him.
DM The paladin looks confusedly at Shael, uncertain how the chains ended up on his forearms.
Julian Erky too calls on healing powers, mending his wounds.
Shael “Tada!” Shael elates. He turns on the druid and wonders aloud, “So, how will I deal with you…” he puts his thumb and forefinger to his chin, pondering.
DM The paladin looks blankly at Shael, moving to attack and then…nothing.
DM The druid rages, his staff swinging over Shael’s head.
DM Miraak lunges at Durnn and the two engage in a vicious battle.
DM The twig blight sways back and forth.
Shael “So, how do you talk with the tree?” Shael inquires of Belek, ducking the blow fluidly, “Don’t you think it would find you a tasty treat? All fat and gristly with succulent langoir?”
Kryss Kryss looks at Julian, then at Shael, and makes a Bad Decision.
DM “You clumsy wizards, imagining you know the secrets behind the multiverse…the power lies below you, in leylines throbbing with pent up energy!”
DM “But you’re too much the fools to see!”
Kryss He races around the tree and unloads more fire breath on it.
DM The flames crackle over the dead bark as it shudders.
DM The tree attempts to dominate the undead warrior again.
DM Shael aims a blast of fire at Kryss, unable to follow the command to strike Shael.
DM Ah eh.
DM Sharwyn aims the blast.
DM Not Shael.
Julian Julian leans on a twisted piece of wood, looking back over his shoulder. Smoke rises as the tree looms above the battlefield where his friends, refusing to retreat, struggle for their lives. Another deep breath.
Julian The tree…
DM The rumbling sound flings Sharwyn to the ground like a rag doll, she does not get up.
DM Belek covers his ears as they start to bleed, but does not otherwise flinch.
DM The tree however…weakened by flame, it cracks, first along the roots, then racing upwards along its skull like contours. Belek looks at it and screams as it explodes into jagged shards.
DM The twig blights immediately collapse.
DM The staff in Belek’s hands writhes horrifically.
DM Sir Braford turns, his eyes still dull, but now he stares at Belek.
Shael With blood trickling down his face from the shards that raked his skin, Shael turns away from Belek contemptuously and begins walking towards Durrn. “
I took your tribe, I am your bane… you had best know the truth of it. But, I haven’t taken everything… I’ll have your pride, now. Run, child… run away and know that you could not defeat me again. Know the fear of my curse, know that you will never rest, know that your life is as good as over… but, I grant you one more day.”
Durnn “I will cut your heart out, Witchman.”
Shael “What heart?” Shael asks calmly.
DM Durnn’s knees go weak for a second, and he sags.
Julian Julian gasps painfully. “Erky… a paladin can retreat, when he must. But not when his friends fight on. Help me with my wounds – please.”
Braford Braford swings, his strike impeded by his shackles, at Belek.
Belek “NO! This will not happen! I call upon the ancient spirits!” Belek swells into a monstrous creature with huge fangs and claws.
DM Meanwhile, Durnn’s fight has been stolen from him by Shael’s threats, but Miraak does not care. He grabs the hobgoblin by the throat, and begins draining the life from him.
Kryss Kryss draws his hand axes and throws one at Belek.
DM It catches him in the back of the neck, and the monster roars.
Julian Julian turns back to the battle, looking for his friends. But his eyes are no longer a man’s eyes.
Julian Instead they burn with the molten fires of the sun.
Julian Under their gaze, Durnn begins to burn too.
DM He screams as the solar flare begins to bake him.
Shael “Ah, it appears your time is up… you were a great man… but not greater than me.” Shael’s gaze falls past Durnn to the limp form on the ground and he sighs before turning back to the remaining foe.
Shael Walking calmly behind the beastman, Shael gathers his power – lightning crackles through the room and gathers upon him – before lashing out against the druid.
DM The lightning scores the writhing pustuled flesh of the creature.
Julian Erky’s next spell fills the companions once again with the blessings of the divine.
Shael “You’ve lost, Belek… such a sad creature, I wonder if any in the world will even remember you when you’re gone?”
DM Braford’s axe cleaves deep into the creature, and Belek can no longer maintain the form. He reverts to normal. Furious, he strikes at Shael.
DM Held in check by the magic, his eyes could murder…if Shael’s spell would allow it…he breaks through, shattering its safety, and brings his staff down on…the floor. The godsdamned floor.
DM This really isn’t a villainous druid’s day.
Shael “You missed again… have you ever done this before?” Shael looks concerned.
DM Durnn and Miraak continue to battle it out, though the hobgoblin’s fear has stolen his skill.
Kryss “He relied on the tree for power. The fool thought he could count on magic that wasnt his own.” Kryss says.
Kryss He tosses another hand axe.
Shael “Yes, I was going to sever him from it…” he glances at the tree, “…but, that worked just as well.”
Kryss kryss moves towards Julian.
DM Kryss’s axe hits Belek in the back spinal cord and he jerks. “No! Gulthias! You must still be there! Answer me, my lord!”
Julian Julian strides across the battlefield, tiny flames dancing in his footsteps after he passes. He reaches Kryss and extends a burning hand.
Kryss “We destroyed your tree, Belek. True power comes from within. Fool.”
Julian Durnn’s armor begins to glow.
DM Belek stretches out a hand towards the shattered remains of the Gulthias tree, but the black mist pouring out of its ruined shell avails him naught.
Shael Closing his eyes, Shael’s power surges into Belek again as the lightning surrounds the two of them dancing along the floor and sparking towards the ceiling. “Above them all is Truth, and Truth must be set free. If the wings of Truth are clipped, the voices will fall silent.”
DM The lightning leaves behind a charred and blackened corpse, that collapses over the ruins of the Gulthias Tree.
DM Sir Braford stands blankly as Miraak lifts Durnn up bodily. “Your soul…is mine!” Again, the energy drains from the goblinoid to the dragonpriest, who casts aside the withered corpse.
Kryss “Well fought.” Kryss says.
Julian Julian exhales, one more deep breath. The air shimmers with the heat that is leaving his eyes.
Shael Lightning withers away slowly from Shael’s body and he moves quickly to Sharwyn’s side, checking for signs of life and then gathering her into his arms.
Julian He blinks, and they are dark again.
Kryss “I am tired from battle. Lets rest here.” The huge man is asleep almost before he finishes laying down.
DM A plate mail boot lifts him in the ribs. “No. You will leave here now.” Miraak’s gaze is cold.
Julian As the last spark leaves him, Julian’s eyes roll, and the exhausted paladin pitches to the ground.
DM “Take your wounded, and leave me.”
Kryss Kryss looks up. “So our contract is no longer valid?” Kryss asks.
DM “You have what you came for…do not return here.”
Shael Shael narrows his gaze at the deathless creature.
Kryss “You are mistaken. I came to restore this ruin to its former glory. You swore to aid me in that.”
DM “You sought to deceive me. Leave now.”
Kryss “Keep your ruins then, Oathbreaker. Rot here for eternity.” Kryss replies.
Shael “Fine.” Shael asserts on behalf of his companions, “But if I hear of you causing mischeif here, I will return.”
Kryss The party collects what they can find and leaves.
DM And so ends their foray into the Sunless Citadel! What adventures await our heroes in the future? Only time (and Shael) know for sure!