Shades of Shadora

The Road to the Earth Temple

Captain Ward and the party surveyed the freshly captured Avenger. A staff with water runes was located near Sarma, and he was wearing a ring with water runes. The staff was given to Brine, and the ring was placed with the stash of loot that Prospero kept for party use. The only thing that was found to be carried in the hold were curious containers in the fore and aft of the vessel. They had water and arcane runes inscribed on them, but no one could discern their purpose. Susi flew Prospero over to the Avenger, and when they grew close to the ship, each received a shock as they passed through the field that surrounded it. “I would say that whatever is causing that field is within these containers,” said Prospero, scratching his chin, “but beyond that I can’t say for sure what might happen if we tamper with the seals”.

“Well, I hate to just leave the ship here to founder,” said Captain Ward, “It’s bigger and better armed than the Fallen Oranna, and sure to draw a pretty penny in dock, if only for the cannons and the gunpowder. I’ll offer a position on my crew and a share of our trip earnings to the sailors that survived the fight. With them, we should be able to tow the Fallen Oranna behind the larger ship and get them both in safely. Once we arrive in a port, we can decide whether to sell her or not”.

A short while later, the ships made landfall, and as the crew anchored in a sheltered cove off the coast, Simon, Trish, Susi, Colby, and the trolls prepared to depart. “Hopefully you’ll still be here when we get back,” joked Simon to Captain Ward, as they boarded the boat to be rowed to shore. Captain Ward laughed appreciatively.

A short time later, the party watched as the boat rowed through the water back to where the ship was anchored. At length, Simon shrugged and said, “Susi, could you scout ahead on our path and make sure we aren’t walking into danger?”

“Sure,” said Susi as he launched himself into the air. The next few hours consisted of the party hacking their way through the thick jungle. Finally they came to a trail and after taking a short break, they began to follow the trail with Susi scouting ahead from the air. After about an hour of travel, Susi heard the clash of a battle coming from a clearing up ahead. He changed altitude to better see and have less chance of being seen. As he swept past the clearing, he saw a lion headed Fel standing in the clearing, katana drawn, and surrounded by a pile of bodies. “Cowards! Come out and fight!” roared the defiant Fel.

Susi banked around and glided to where the rest of the party was coming up the path. “There’s a young Fel in some sort of fight ahead,” he said as he lightly touched down.

“A Fel,” said Simon, “Let’s go help him! Which direction?”

Susi looked at Simon unblinking, “Straight up the path. There are plenty of bodies around, but I couldn’t see anyone as I flew by”.

Without another word, Simon leapt forward up the path towards the battle. Susi took to the air, and the rest of the party came running behind. Minutes later, the party burst into the clearing just in time to see a group of human brigands rush the Fel warrior as arrows rained around him from the surrounding forest. Susi landed on a thick branch on the outskirts of the clearing, casting a spell as he drew his bow. Moments later, two arrows quivered from the chest of one of the attacking brigands. Simon ran forward, taking out another of the humans as another rain of arrows came in, wounding him slightly. The Fel warrior spun and gutted the attacker nearest him with a vicious roar, as Trish ran into the hail of arrows killing another with a slash of her runeblades. Arrows continued to fall around them, and Susi launched into the air in an effort to locate the hidden archers.

Simon rolled backwards and cast a spell, turning himself intangible. With arrows passing through his body harmlessly, he cast heal wounds on himself and moved to a better position on the outskirts of the clearing. As he touched down on the top of a small hillock, two men leapt out of hiding at him, but their swords passed through him as harmlessly as the arrows had. The Fel warrior, having dispatched the bandits closest to him sheathed his katana and ran on all fours towards where Simon was being attacked. Leaping into the air, he tore at the throat of the nearest bandit, killing him before he hit the ground, and staining his muzzle red with blood. A second bandit stepped forward to attack, but the Fel’s claws tore through his midsection, spilling his guts on the ground before he could swing his sword. The man’s hands went to his broken stomach, his face going pale as he dropped to the ground.

As Trish advanced on the remaining bandit in the middle of the clearing, a centaur charged out of the woods towards her with his lance lowered. Trish sidestepped the lance, but the centaur wheeled around before she could turn and attack and drove the lance through a gap in her armor and into her side. Trish dropped to her knees as the centaur yanked the lance free and another hail of arrows fell all around her. The centaur scored another hit as Trish tried to stand, casting a heal wound spell as she struggled to her feet. She swung Oblivion in a wide arc, trying to catch the centaur, but the superior reach of the lance won out, and he drove it home once again. Trish dropped to the ground, her blood mingling with that of her fallen enemies as her consciousness faded.

The bandit that Trish had engaged before she fell rushed the Fel warrior, surprising him and wounding him with a slash across his furry back. He unsheathed his katana, drawing it and cutting the man in half with the same motion then turning his back on him like the dying man was inconsequential to him now. Simon, seeing Trish fall, rushed the centaur, executing a flip and summersault that took him over the head of the centaur, and saw him landing on the creature’s back. Simon cut at him with both his blades, scoring small cuts, then bounced off his back, landing next to Trish and scooping her into his arms. As his allied spirit cast a heal spell on her, Simon teleported away to one of the nearby hillocks, where he left Trish to recover. He then ran towards the centaur again, flipping onto his back like a rodeo rider, but this time his blades sank home into the heart of the creature, which dropped to the ground. Another teleport took Simon to one of the archers that had stepped from behind cover, and as his dead body hit the ground, Simon’s allied spirit cast invisibility on Simon.

Susi killed an archer that had sprinted to where Trish was recovering from her brush with death, and handed her a health potion before leaping back into the air to rejoin the fight. Trish quaffed the potion, and rolled into a position of cover to see where she might lend a hand. Before she could do anything, a booming voice called out, “Fall back! Fall Back! The centaur has fallen!”

The party caught fleeting images of the archers as they retreated from the battlefield, but it was quite obvious that they were very skilled at woodcraft and also were familiar with the area. The Fel walked over to where the centaur lay dying, grabbed the creature’s shoulders and looked at him. “You are not the one I’m looking for,” said the warrior.

“You are right, Fel,” said the centaur, laughing weakly, “’tis my cousin you seek. Don’t worry, though, because he’s looking for you too!”

The Fel stood and with a swift motion freed the centaur’s head from his body. Cleaning his blade, he turned to see Simon approaching and offering a traditional Fel warrior greeting. “Why did you join the fight, stranger?” asked the warrior in the Fel language, “I was winning!”

“We were unsure of the outcome, and as a Wayfarer of the M’Yow Lin, I am always eager to assist my brethren,” replied Simon in Fel.

“I see. I am Takono,” said the warrior, sheathing his weapon and giving Simon a slight bow, “I had been following the centaur for some time; his clan has been marauding against my village for a number of months, and I would stop them if I may. This one is not the leader that I seek my revenge on. I was not aware of the bandits before they attacked. however. Why are you in this area?”

“We are headed to the Dagaral Temple,” replied Simon.

Takono looked at Simon through narrowed eyes, “It’s easy to get lost if you don’t know the way”.

“Do you know the way? Would you lead us there?” asked Simon.

“I know where it is, and I can lead you there in light of your assistance, but I won’t go in. I have no business with the humans there,” said Takono.

Simon switched to slavetongue so that everyone could understand, “Is the centaur you are tracking anywhere near?”

“That is unknown at this time, as we have killed the centaur I was tracking. I have as much chance of running into him taking you to the temple as I do any other way, so I would discharge my duty to you and be back on the hunt,” said Takono.

After the trolls took care of healing the remaining injuries and Trish had conducted appropriate rights to prevent any of the dead from rising, the party followed Takono down the path into the jungle. A few hours travel brought them to a small clearing, with a small stream flowing through it. A bridge spanned the stream, and led to stone steps that formed an old watchtower. Just outside the clearing, large spider webs clung to the trees of the forest like torn drapes. Takono headed over the bridge and up the stairs, “There are many of these structures in the forest. They fell long ago, but sometimes they have items of interest for seekers.”

As Takono made his way up the stairs, Susi flew to the top of the structure and began looking around. On the second landing, Takono saw a small pool with a white mist swirling around it. He thrust his hand into the mist and felt a stinging bite. The mist turned pink and began to spill out of the basin, expanding as it came. At the same moment, sticky globs of webbing shot from the woods, entangling the trolls and Simon. Trish, who was standing on the bridge over the stream, saw skeletons begin to rise out of the loamy earth on the hill where the watchtower loomed.

Simon cast fireblade, and sliced his way out of the webs that entangled him. As he stepped free of the sticky strands, he caught sight of where the webs had originated. “Spider goblins!” he cried as he rushed to the treetops to engage them.

Susi, from his perch on the top of the tower, saw the skeletons rise from either side of the structure. He quickly flung his battle ball to the left, where it expanded and rolled over the skeletons on that side, crushing them and sending them back to the Halls of Silence. He recalled the ball and watched as Takono and Trish charged the skeletons on the other side. As they engaged the skeletons, the now red mist moved over and bit both of them. As Trish shattered a skeleton, a voice came in her head and told her, “They are attacking your children! You must stop them!”

Trish turned and saw Simon kill two of the spider goblins at once. Rage filled her and she charged down the slope, even as the remaining skeletons opened fire with their arrows at Takono. Takono was so surprised by Trish’s reversal that he didn’t mount a defense against the arrows, and all four hammered home into his stomach. He dropped to the ground, bleeding from the arrows which had penetrated straight through his body. As Takono fell, Simon looked down to see Trish rapidly climbing the tree below him, quite an impressive feat for being in full armor, and carrying two swords! He jumped into the air just in time as Trish leapt onto a branch below him, her face full of fury, and swung her blades at him. A well timed cut from his katana severed the branch, dropping her in a heap on the ground, and he used his Waymaster abilities to run along to the treetops to kill another spider goblin with a powerful kick. As the body of that creature hit the ground, the remaining spider goblin fled the scene, chittering horribly.

Susi dropped the ball on the remaining skeletons, and as it crushed the unlife from them, landed near Takono, who was bleeding from all over, to include from his eyes and face. The red mist appeared to be drawing the blood from him and growing more powerful by the second. A burst of imploding air caused Susi to jump to the side, as Simon suddenly appeared in front of him. Simon slashed wildly at the red mist, both weapons trailing fire. As the weapons touched the mist, there was a wild, wailing scream, and then it burst out of existence. The remaining skeletons dropped to the ground, no longer animated by the evil power that had brought them to life. Trish collapsed in a heap at the bottom of the steps, where she had been trying to catch up to Simon.

The trolls and Simon’s allied spirit healed the party, to include the grievous wounds that Takono had received. They cautioned Takono, “There is permanent damage there that we can’t fix. You will need to find a more skilled healer than either of us to heal it. Perhaps there will be one at the Temple”. A search of the area revealed a sarcophagus that held a skeleton with a stake through the chest area, and a skeleton nearby that Trish tentatively identified as an Elf. The Elf’s equipment had decayed beyond usefulness, with the exception of a cloak and his boots, which were both determined to be magical. Simon took the cloak, with Takono taking the boots, while Trish set about making sure that none of the undead could ever walk the surface of Shadora again.

“Thank you for saving me from my own curiosity,” said Takono to Simon, “If not for you, I would be dead now. You have my loyalty.”

“You are more than welcome, Takono,” said Simon, “Welcome to the family!”

Three hours travel saw the party standing before the gates to the Earth Temple.

Finishing Captain Adair
The whooshing sound in the hold of the Fallen Oranna was heard and felt by everyone on the ship. “Arm yourselves and follow me!” cried Captain Ward as he rushed below deck to find out what new horror was attacking his ship.

Flinging the door open, he found Trish, Ellisandra, and Walac lying on the deck breathing hard. “How the hell did you come to be here? We left you at Port Labor!” asked Capt Ward incredulously.

Trish got to her feet slowly, while Ellisandra and Walac didn’t move, only groaning occasionally. Trish ran her gauntleted hand through her red hair, revealing more clearly the white streak placed there by her brush with Chaos. “I will never get used to travelling that way,” she said, looking a little unsteady.

She noticed Captain Ward at the door, standing slackjawed. “Sorry to scare you, Captain, we got word that you were in trouble, and the wizards at Port Labor teleported us here to help,” said Trish. “I’d have to say though, that they were probably ready to be rid of us. We had cleaned up the pockets of Lazuri that were left and were mostly sitting around waiting for something to happen or a way to try and catch up with you. When we got the message from the soothsayers that Captain Adair was following you, they decided to send us on our way. I hate teleportation!”

Captain Ward came into the hold and checked on Ellisandra and Walac. The beautiful young sorceress and the Lir scout still hadn’t done more than groan. He said, “Lads, take these two to my cabin and let them sleep off the effects of the teleportation. Lady Trish, would you like to join them?”

“No, thank you, captain,” replied Trish as members of the crew carried Ellisandra and Walac out. “I think I’ll be fine if I can just get to the deck and get some fresh air. I can give you more news on what the soothsayers told us at Port Labor.”

Trish walked past Captain Ward to the upper deck and settled near the bow. After about fifteen minutes, she stood, stretched and came back to where Captain Ward had been joined by Simon, Prospero, Brine, and Colbin Jackart. Prospero introduced Colbin to Trish, and she smiled at the resemblance he bore to her own companion Walac. She looked at Simon and said with a slight bow in his direction, “I see you are now a Runelord. Congratulations on your achievement.”

“The soothsayers in Port Labor told us this before we were sent,” Trish began, “Captain Adair has a grudge against Simon, even going so far as to name his ship ‘Avenger’. He is currently about a half day’s travel behind you, and his ship will likely overtake you within the day. His ship is not much larger than yours, but it has much more armament, they estimated eight cannon.”

Captain Ward paled. “Eight cannon? We can’t outrun them, and we’re certainly outgunned. Our best bet will be to engage her on our terms. Maybe our boarding party and Captain Adair’s anger will work to our advantage.”

Captain Ward left and came back with charts that he laid out on the deck. He studied them for a moment, then stabbed at the map with his finger. “There,” he said, “I’ve anchored here before, and if we run it properly, it will keep him from maneuvering around us, because the reefs are dangerous. Even as mad as he is, Captain Adair won’t scuttle his own ship in the middle of nowhere, because he won’t be able to repair the kind of damage he’ll get with running aground.”

He did some quick calculations, then shouted, “Half sail, and be quick about it!”

Rolling his charts up, he said to the party, “If we cut back to half sail, he should come on us at about the same time that we arrive where I mean to ambush him. If not, we’ll drop anchor and wait. It’s time to end this!”

As Captain Ward predicted, the call indicating a ship behind them came from the crow’s nest at about the same time that the ship arrived in the area he had indicated on the map. The crew went about their business professionally, but the tension in the air was thick.

“Quarter sail, lads, and prepare for a fight!” shouted Captain Ward as the crew crawled over the ship readying for the battle to come.

Trish emerged from below decks and crossed to where the party was standing. “Walac and Ellisandra still have teleportation sickness, so they won’t be any use during this battle,” she said flatly.

The tension on deck continued to grow as the following ship came closer with every minute. When it had gotten close enough that the crew and passengers of the Fallen Oranna could make out people on the decks, Brine rushed to the side of the ship and jumped over the railing, transforming to his shark form before he hit the water with an enormous splash. Simon shook his head, “We’re never going to get that boy home in one piece.”

There were now three shapes that seemed to detach themselves from the Avenger and started towards the Fallen Oranna. “Undines,” said Simon.

“Come about boys, and full sail!” shouted Captain Ward, as he hauled on the wheel as sharply as he could to turn the ship on its pursuer.

The sails snapped and billowed as they filled fully with wind. A shot rang out from the Avenger as the Fallen Oranna turned, and the fore cannon shot burst through the bow, creating a hole well above the waterline. There was a silvery flash as Brine leapt from the water, biting one of the undines in half with his mighty jaws. The undine fell apart, the body becoming indistinguishable from the surrounding ocean, even as Brine sank into the depths to prepare his next attack.

As the ships drew close, Captain Ward gave the order to fire. The cannon ball bounced off of the side of the Avenger, and the ballista arrow stood quivering from the side, having inflicted minimal damage to the ship. When the ships were side by side, the boarding crew threw grappling lines across the gap between the ships, and began drawing them closer. Colbin came on deck, rubbing his eyes, “What’s all the noise?”

With the ships briefly secured to each other, Simon leapt across the gap, followed quickly by a now wide awake Colbin and one of the trolls from the Fallen Oranna. Trish hesitated, and with a quick prayer to Lord Artol jumped across, almost losing her balance. Trish felt an almost electric tingle, as if she had passed through a magical wall, but since there was no ill effect from it, shrugged it off. There were enemies to send to Lord Artol!

Prospero cast a spell, and moments later, two stone sentinels appeared on the deck of the Avenger, sweeping away the sailors nearest to them as the deck groaned under their ponderous weight. The first person that Simon encountered was Mr. Waite, who had escaped his wrath previously. “I’ll take care of this right now,” said Simon through clenched teeth, even as his katana drove home through Mr. Waite’s sternum and out through his back, with a kick killing a sailor behind him even as he drew the blade free from the now dead body. Brine leapt through another undine dismissing it from this plane of existence, even as Trish lashed out, killing a pirate with each of her blades. One pirate sent a hasty shot that dented Trish’s armor, and she lashed out with her backslash, catching the sailor in the head with the flat of her blade.

Three sailors rushed up to Colbin, all discharging their pistols in his direction. One of the musket balls tore through the Lir’s side, causing him to grunt in pain. Gnorl the troll was targeted by the sailors due to his large size, and was briefly stunned by a strike from behind by a belaying pin. One of the sentinels crumbled to dust under the determined attacks of a group of sailors, even as Simon was briefly stunned by a stray bullet that grazed his skull. As he reoriented himself, Captain Adair stepped into his field of view and sprang at him. One of the sword thrusts caught him across the ribs, and Simon collapsed to the deck, his strength sapped by the arcane magic used by his opponent. “Ah, the great runelord, brought down by a humble captain he wronged,” laughed Captain Adair as he leered down at Simon, “Your death will not be as slow as it should be, but it will suffice!”

Colbin ducked behind Gnorl, popping out and driving his rapier into the ribcage of one of the sailors before rolling around the troll and stabbing another with his dagger. The remaining sentinel swung its sword in a large arc in front of it, killing one crewman, but just missing Captain Adair. The sailors of the Avenger had managed to cut the grapples from the Fallen Oranna, and the ships began drifting apart. Prospero had watched Simon topple to the deck and cast a dispel magic spell on him. Simon began to feel the power returning to his legs. “It’s not over yet, Adair,” he growled as he began to stand. Captain Adair backed up, drawing a second pistol from behind his back, missing Simon with a hasty shot, and slashed at Simon with his sword. Simon parried the attacks easily and moved forward.

In the middle of the chaos on deck, a mysterious blue hooded figure moved across the surface, going to sailors who had been taken out of the fight but not killed, and healing them to go back to the fray. Prospero took note of him as a possible priest, but decided Captain Adair was the bigger threat, casting nerves of fire on the crazed man, who cried out in pain when the spell hit. He then looked again at the hooded figure, and recognition flooded his brain. “Sarma!” cried Prospero, suddenly realizing that this was the water priest who had tried to sacrifice Simon after his resurrection.

Sarma stood, and his hood fell backwards when he heard his name called. With a horrible grimace, he healed another fallen sailor. “I will also have my revenge on you, sorcerer!” he shouted with a laugh. Without another word, Prospero cast a bolt spell, which hit Sarma squarely in the chest, driving him to his knees.

Trish heard Prospero’s shout and after dispatching the last of the sailors near her, charged to where the water priest was regaining his feet. She wounded him with a swipe of her sword, but it wasn’t a killing blow. Prospero cast dispel magic on Captain Adair, but could see no immediate effect from the spell. Simon grabbed a rope and swung around behind Captain Adair, and dropped to the deck with a flip, attacking as he landed. Captain Adair spun around, landing a lucky hit on Simon with the flat of his blade.

Sarma cast a healing spell on himself, then stabbed out at Trish with a wand. When the wand made contact with her armor, the warrior dropped to the ground, paralyzed. Brine, having dispatched the last of the undines jumped on deck just in time to see Trish fall. “Nooooo!” he screamed and launched his trident into the air, hitting the priest, and stunning him briefly. He then ran across the deck grabbing his trident on the way and attacked the priest again, missing him. Prospero cast a dispel magic on Trish, who leapt to her feet in a rage, and executed a scissor chop with her blades that separated the priest’s head from his body. She paused briefly and looked at where Simon was fighting with Captain Adair. Simon leapt into the air, catching the rope he had swung on earlier, and flipped over his opponent, cutting Captain Adair with his katana and catching him with a kick one the way down as well. Trish ran across the deck and slashed at Captain Adair, who ducked right into the sweep of her sword. The force from the blow dropped him clean over the side of the ship and into the water.

After the last of the sailors had been subdued, the party had a meeting with Captain Ward about their next move. After much discussion, it was decided that the group would go to Dagaral Temple. It would provide everyone a chance to replenish their rune spells and Captain Ward would be able to sell one of the ships and outfit the one he decided to keep. Simon said, “I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a bad feeling about the fact that we haven’t been able to find Captain Adair’s body”.

Discovering the ritual

The party pushed on deeper into the cave. Not much further they stumbled upon another guard post of the goblins. They spread there number on both sides of a canyon, among their number were some dwarves with muskets.

When Simon leapt over the canyon a tentacled creature reached from the depths to entangle him. Susi put a few arrows in the beast and it released Simon.

Just as the goblins were being driven back reinforcements came charging in from one of the side passages crying vengeance for their slain prince. Prospero’s magic blasted them as they emerged en masse from the tunnel.

Simon began to explore deeper into the cave while the rest of the party finished off the remaining enemies. He came across a solitary goblin banging a gong as it quickly ran down a set of spiral stairs down a dark hole. Simon used a spell to knock it from the steps and send it tumbling down the hole into the darkness.

The party climbs down the stairs. At the bottom is a tunnel with flickering light at the end. It leads to a massive chamber where a large group of wizards is performing a ritual. They are grouped around an altar inside of a intricately drawn circle. Among then are the missing sailors chained to stone pillars.

Prospero says this is something he read about in the hexilexicon. That chaos book described a series of rituals that will create a new element. The vile chaos sorcerers intend for this new element be chaos. This looks to be one of those ceremonies.

The group hastily forms a plans and sets it into action. Susi flies over and drops the battle ball onto them, while Simon grabs Colby and teleports near to the sailors. The party tries to make quick work of the wizards while distracting their apprentices and familiars, while the sailors can be freed.

Deeper into the cave

At the end of the large underground cavern was a dark cave with narrow openings. Colby went ahead to scout the area, intending to mark targets for Susi’s bow. He quickly came upon wolves guarding where the cave forked. He dropped a glowing coin and waited while arrows pelted the wolves.

While the wolves were distracted Colby went deeper into the tunnels and was soon greeted by goblin archers. Prospero and Simon quickly followed Colby’s advance and using the jutting rocks for cover quickly reached the archers and cut them down.

Susi and Brine became pinned down at the entrance to the tunnels when more of the winged ghouls swooped in from behind. They held their own and soon managed to drive off the ghouls and make their way into the tunnels following the others.

Simon, Prospero, and Colby had already made their way through several chambers of goblins and were chasing down the goblin prince shouting orders to the others. Simon had gone off alone to the rimward, while Colby and Prospero chose the coreward passages.

Suddenly all of them were set upon by new cave denizens, who lurked in the shadowy ceilings and dropped down in ambushes. These lurkers were easily frightened off, clearly unused to prey that would fight back.

Once this challenge was overcome Colby and Prospero finally engaged the goblin prince. After an exchange of blows he fled deeper underground. Colby ran after him and caught him just as he reached more reinforcements. Prospero brought up his golems pinning down the prince and quickly finishing him off.

Just as the prince was brought down Simon entered the chamber from another passage and finished off the remainder of the goblins. Once the fight is over Simon summons up Telpur to heal wounds, while Prospero searches the prince’s corpse. He finds a runed shield which Susi makes use of.

Setting out from Sword Village

After the celebration the party sets sail on the Fallen Oranna toward the Horne Cove. As the pass through the Sea of Steam the crew is amazed to find a snow storm centered on some island. Captain Ward had never seen such weather here, nor had an island existed here before.

The fresh snow was an appealing source of water, so Captain Ward stopped to fill up. The crew went ashore to collect water, but spent a good amount of time goofing around in the snow drifts.

As the effort finished it was noticed that some of the crew were missing, the headcount was short by 4 men. The party had all the crew return to the ship and set out to find the missing men.

Susi spots some bipedal animal tracks leading away from where the men were working. Following the trail brings the party to a small wooden bridge spanning a frigid stream. As they are about the cross a pack of four armed apes leap out of the snow drifts and attack.

Once these creatures were subdued the party continued down the trail the tracks made. At the end they come to a icy bridge crossing a ravine. At the far side was a cave into the stone face of a mountain. Colby urged the group on to find the missing men.

Susi spotted some chains hang down from the far side and reaching beneath the bridge. He flew down to investigate. The chains lead into another cave concealed below the bridge. When he looked inside he heard a roar and a blast of fire drove him out again.

Despite this Colby began across the bridge. He hadn’t gone far when a team of goblins rushed out of the cave to defend the entrance. As the party rushed forward the goblins released the chimeras chained in the lower cave. The party battled through all of this and gained entrance to the cave.

As the walked through the cave a pair of giants and several winged ghouls ambushed them. After another dangerous fight the party continued on through the cave that stinks of goblin.

Sword Village Epilogue
the sword quest ends and a new adventure begins

The Traitor in Sword Village

You get the nod from Swardu just as Vallas lands a vicious kick on Tarmis’ knee. You hear a sickening snap and he cries out as you draw the silver sashi. You lunge forward with a fast convincing feignt to Vallas’ head and you can’t help but grin as he falls for the maneuver leaving his abdomen exposed. You step in close and slash viciously at his stomach while spinning with your whole torso. You know it will take you out of position, but you don’t care. This ends now, one way or the other. Your clever strategy pays off and you feel the sashi sink deep into Vallas abdomen stopping only when it contacts his spine. Your spin causes the sashi to scrape across his backbone and it lodges there wedged between his vertibra.

You finish your spin and stand ready to fend off a counter strike but instead you see look of relief in Vallas’ face.

“I am free.” he says in a strangely calm voice. “Tell Ashook I will see him soon.” he purrs in a decidedly evil voice. The man that was Vallas shifts his form into the hairless, featureless grey of a malamorph as a greasy grey smoke bubbles forth and settles across the corpse.

You expected a cheer of some sort to go up from the crowd. But instead they have all taken a step back in horror at the scene before them. Master Swardu is at your side taking your katana from your hands as other monks tend to your wounds.

“It is over my son. You have done it. You have saved the sword temple from the grip of chaos. The monks also tell me that your friends have saved the village from a similar fate. It seem all our eyes have been clouded by false heroes and treacherous gifts.” He looks down and shakes his head sadly. “All of which has cost us master Telpurr, the greatest and wisest among us.”

You are saddened at the news but not surprised. You thought you recognized the spirit that turned Vallas’ blade. So many questions remain for the master and now he is lost to you.
Suddenly the crowd of wellwishers and monks parts as Prospero, Susi and Colby arrive. Grimclaw is dragging a body in his jaws which lays at your feet.

“This is the wizard Ashook. He is a petty Invoker of sorts and the master of Vallas.” Says Prospero. He looks down at the featureless form in the greasy puddle and says, “I assume you made this mess?”

You smile as the wizard Ashook raises his head to look at you. You see he wears a slave collar covered with runes.

“You are Ashook?” you ask.

“I am.” He says sullenly.

“I know someone who is looking for you.” You say with a smirk

The blood drains from his face as he realizes that Vallas is now free if his hold and looking for revenge. “You must protect me.” he pleads. “I will tell you everything I know.”

“I’m sure we can accommodate that request. The monks have a lot of chores that need doing. Hauling water to the temple. Cleaning latrines and such…”

You see his face twist in rage as he rises up. “I am Ashook the Binder, master of the Third Circle and a Lord in the City of Lost Hope. You will address me with the respect …”

His rage fades as Grimclaw moves into his field of view and crouches to pounce.

“This is my friend Grimclaw. He likes to play with his food and has a fondness of the taste of wizard. The last one took days to die didn’t be Prospero?”

“Three days to be exact. And the mess was tremendous.”

Ashook falls to his knees trembling humbled and broken once more. “It will be as you say.”

“Simon, Ashook and his friends have desecrated the graves of many of the ancestors in this village.” squaws Susi. “I think these fair folk are deserving of recompense.”

“Oh? What would you recommend?”

“I saw some fine stocks on the other end of the market square.” squeaks Colby. “Very well made, and terribly uncomfortable looking.”

“Sounds like just the thing. People of sword village! Ashook is yours for the next tendy. All I ask is that you leave some life in him for me!”

Now the shout goes up and Simon smiles. No small victory this. “Come my friends. I would have you bear witness to what happens next.”

Prospero looks upward at the 10000 steps and mumbles. “Why didn’t I learn that fly spell?”

Rune Master at Last

You and Susi race up the mountain with Colby hitching a ride in your pouch. Grimclaw wanted to run ahead with you but Prospero would not allow it saying it would be undignified for a wizard to arrive without his familiar. Grimclaw had his doubts but kept them to himself.

The temple doors are thrown open wide at your approach and you all march directly in. You take your leave of Colby and Susi and head towards the main altar where Father Thury already awaits among what must be hundreds of lit candles. Munder and Jaymar go forward to light the braziers and incense. Swardu stands beside Simon as his sponsor and sniffs the air.

“You stink of demon Simon. Normally we would take our time and clean you up a bit first,” he says smiling. “But Thury and I think that you need to be placed under the Bandar’s protection as quickly as possible. Such things happen in times of war. Consider it a battlefield promotion.”

You chuckle nervously at that and reflect on the road that has lead to this moment as the priests make the altar ready. Growing up with the Fel after your village was destroyed by the Lazuri. Learning to walk the way of the M’Yow Lin as a boy and dreaming of being a Way-master some day. Fighting with the Fel against the Lazuri as a teenager and seeing you name on wanted posters in the villages near your jungle home. Leaving home to keep from bringing trouble to your pride. Traveling to the Realm of Earth, fighting in the army of the Kingdom of Broad Shoulders, honing your skills, biding your time and building your strength in order to destroy your sworn enemies, the Lazuri.

Prospero, the other candidates of the challenge, and few village dignitaries from the crafters and merchant’s guilds enter the temple as the doors are drawn closed and barred from within. Only the candles illuminate the temple with a flickering glow. Father Thury comes forward and addresses those assembled.

“My friends, this day brings us great joy. A new champion and master of the Way has emerged and will be brought under the watchful eye of Bandar the Lord of Light!”

At his cry, the walls and ceiling of the temple glow with the with what appears to be sunlight and the altar becomes too bright to stare at directly. “Behold, Bandar has banished the darkness and filled the world with his light. Bask in his greatness my friends, may it lighten your load and feed your soul. I would ask our newest champion to step forward at this time to take his oath of service and fealty.”

You stride up to the altar, resisting the urge to raise your hand to block out the blinding light. You long ago learned to fight without your eyes, a short walk to the altar with your eyes closed is trivial. You stand before the altar and notice that the top glows with a more bearable light. Upon the altar lay the last works of Swardu and Telpur. The shining katana and sashi engraved with Telpur’s sword kata as well as newly added fire and air runes. Their ornate scabbards lay above them. Arrayed in a sweeping arc around them are a six silver shurikens inlaid with runes of gold. A new leather pouch fastened with gold clasps lays to the right of the weapons.

“Telpurr knew that a great champion would soon walk among us. He foresaw it in a a vision.” continues Father Thury. “He worked tirelessly with master Swardu laboring for an entire season to create a masterpiece that will shine with Bandar’s light and last the ages. As with all our great works, we scoured the spirit world looking for a great champion of Bandar that would reside in the blades and guide it’s wielder with their wisdom. We found many candidates but judged them unworthy of the work of masters Swardu and Telpurr.”

At this moment, a spirit begins to materialize above the altar. After a bit, it takes on the familiar form of master Telpurr himself.

“The untimely death of master Telpurr has solved the problem for us. At his passing he specifically asked to become your ally Simon. It is a great honor worthy of such a great champion as yourself.”

You bow you head to master Telpurr’s ghost, humbled nearly beyond words. “I am truly unworthy of such a wondrous gift and can only pray that Bandar will guide my actions and grant me the grace to accept such a prize with the honor and humility it deserves.”

Swardu smiles and Father Thury nods in appreciation for your words. “Bandar has chose his champion well. Discipline and humility are the greatest tools of a way master. Far greater than strength or steel. Place your hands upon the altar Simon and speak the oath of fealty so that Bandar can shower his gifts down upon you.”

You lay you hands on the altar and Father Thury positions your right on the katana and the left on the sashi. A quick mind speech spell is cast and you hear the words of the oath in your mind. You speak them out in a load clear voice for all to hear.

“I promise on my soul and the souls of my ancestors, that I will be ever faithful to the lord Bandar, his priests and his temples. I will never cause harm to those friendly to his teachings and will observe my homage to him completely in good faith and without deceit. I will be an instrument of Bandar’s will when called, a holy commander in times of war, and avenging avatar in times of treachery, and a stalwart guardian of his people and his way. I make this oath freely and without duress and swear my complete fealty until I am released, or permanent death takes me, or the world shall end.”

With the closing of the oath you are bathed in the light of bandar and find yourself transformed. You are clean, wearing a new tunic of white linen and new trousers. Your scars are gone and your body feels years younger. Your new pouch appears on your shoulder and you feel the weight of the shurikens inside. The katana and sashi are sheathed and jammed into the belt around your waist. Thury turns you towards those assembled and shouts, “Behold Simon! Rune Lord of Bandar and Master of the Way!”

A great cry goes up as the onlookers rush forward to congratulate you and thank you for all you have done. Prospero, Susi and Colby also enjoy many backslaps and heart felt thanks for their role in saving the village. A procession is formed and you are led down from the high temple to the village below. The temples musicians play a variety of hymns to Bandar and you find yourself dancing down the stairs with the other monks. You will look back on this parade with great fondness for all of your years.

In the city below, a great feast has been prepared and you notice that Ashook is already in the stocks at the far end of the market covered with dung, rotten produce and many, many fresh bruises. You take your place at the head of the table and feast begins immediately. You finally get to hear of the great mystery that your friends solved while you were in the trials. You are amazed at the scope of the deceit that was arrayed out in a fine net to ensnare you and your friends. Things could have gone much worse here.

The feasting, dancing and singing go on late into the night and at one point the crafters guild pulls the party aside and offers to reward the group for saving the village and the guild. Susi asks for some lightweight flexible armor that will not impede his flight. Colby asks for some size appropriate armor and a new sling. Prospero asks for some silver armor for him and Grimclaw if it’s not too dear. The guild masters are excited about the challenges of filling such a wide variety of offers. They smile conspiratorially and say, “We have just the thing. We’ll start tomorrow and within the tendy you will have your wishes with our thanks.”

You also note that Helmund has no shortage of offers for apprenticeships and he has all or you to thank for that.

The party finally winds down and you stumble off to the common house to find your bed. The next day finds Simon in communion with Telpur to learn the ways of his new weapons and skills.
The rest of the party is called to the Street of Hammers and measured and fitted for hours. The evening finds more more parties and celebrations and the ceremony is held at the low temple to allow everyone in the village to meet the new rune lord. The third day you assemble in front of the stocks to extract what you can from Ashook. You find that he holds a wealth of information and shares it willingly. His former arrogance is gone replaced with a keen desire to do anything to improve is current situation. In exchange for his information, you decide to free him from the stocks and turn him over to the monks of the temple.

From Ashook you learn the following:

  • Igmar is a lazuri rune lord that is a sown foe of Simon. He last post was Mount Labor and Ashook has heard that he is leading an expedition into the WedgeIron mountains. For what is not known.
  • Volmag is a lazuri general who rose to power by driving the fel to the verge of extinction. He is known to both Simon and Telpurr. It is thought that he burned Simon’s village and killed his parents.
  • The lazuri wanted to seize the awakened weapons in the Hall of Blades to force the Fel to surrender and end their guerrilla warfare campaign against the lazuri empire. It was thought that the Fel would do anything to protect their fallen ancestors bound into those swords.
  • Vallas was a chaotic horror bound into a malamorph. The morph took on an appealing shape to woo the villagers and temple folks. He had to be rebound every day as he was most powerful. Ashook shudders when he speaks of this. The god of morphs also leant his magic to Vallas to disguise his aura and hide his true nature.
  • The agents of the lazuri are everywhere in the earth fire realm so it is not unlikely that they have been in Nyca sowing deceit and villainy.
  • If you take the Fire Temple from the Kingdom of Broad Shoulders it will hurt the lazuri badly. They are marshaling a great force there.
  • Volmag is preparing for the siege on Thenga Velu – the great city of earth. It is said that the he is in possession of some great Journeyman relic, a iron sarcophagus of some sort. Finding him and destroying his source of power would keep Thenga Velu out of the hands of the Lazuri for good.

Exodus Plans

Over the past tendy five ships have approached or docked within the harbor of sword village. The first is the Fallen Oranna. Captain Ward was in a hurry to leave after the trial was complete but decided to stay on once he learned the true nature of the schemes surrounding the village just in case Susi, Colby, and Prospero needed a few more men at arms. He reluctantly agrees to stay the full tendy after the trials once the smiths say they are willing to trade the bulk of Ashooks ore for a very low price. Ward is eager to return to his home port of Ard and is willing to drop the party off anywhere along the spinward coast of the Sea of Steam. He will not venture further out to sea as he has learned from the other captains in port that Black Jack Adair is hunting his ship.

The second ship was a lazuri slave ship that sailed to the harbor but did not enter. It stayed at sea circling for two hours and then departed. When questioned Ashook explains that the villagers were all to be sold into slavery once the plan was complete. The ship was waiting for the all clear signal which never came. At this point the lazuri are aware that the plot has failed and that Simon has prevailed. Simon flies into a rage that this part of Ashooks plan was not divulged and throws Ashook back into the stocks. Ashook seems sincere in his denial of any treachery saying that his mind was addled earlier in the tendy from the battle and the beatings of the villagers. Simon begins to doubt the wisdom of keeping Ashook alive.

Simon and Telpurr decide that the safest place for the blade of the Sword that Must not be Drawn is in the tiger temple. He and Swardu enter into the caves beside the temple and hide the blade in a deep corner after which Swardu places powerful illusions over the hiding place.

“No one that does not know where to look will ever find that blade.”

The third ship is a sleek yacht called Thorne’s Pride. It’s captain is an elven noble named Waltin Thorne. He is a big game trophy hunter on safari trying to round out his collection. He is in Sword Village to pick up a weapon order of masterwork harpoons, balistae with giant killer bolts, masterwork battle axes and fine armor. Only the best will do. He chats up the party in the common room while his cargo is being loaded by his men. Thorne seeks to add a roc, a sea serpent, a cyclops, and a tyrannosaur to his collection on this trip. He looks capable enough but his plans are sheer madness. Who would seek such things on purpose? When he lays out his maps showing you the islands where he plans to hunt, you note that his dinosaur hunt is in the Shran jungle Rimward of the Wedgeirons. He is indifferent about taking you on but he insists that you help with all four hunts as payment for your passage.

The fourth ship is of an odd design you have not seen before. Her captain calls it a modified blockade runner named the Wind Dancer and she is bound for Orrana, the Sargasso Sea and the forest home of the Storm Elves. Her captain is Jetta the Red a gorgeous outspoken woman with a firey spirit to match her flaming red hair. She is a storm caller, a powerful air wizard and she takes an immediate liking to Prospero. She has a fondness for spouting sexual innuendos at Prospero in public just to watch him blush. Through your conversations in the common room you learn that she is an exile of Thenga Oranna like captain Ward. Unlike Ward however, she is a key figure in the resistance that still thrives within the shadows of the great city of spires and spans. She has heard of Simon’s work in the thicket and of the party’s deeds in the sea of steam. She is here picking up whatever arms the village can spare to deliver to the resistance. She seems well informed about the latest movements of the lazuri and she confirms Ashooks tale about the massing of troops and a secret lazuri weapon. You gather that her spy network must be vast indeed. She is eager to take you all on board and bring you to the front lines of the fight against the empire.

The fifth ship is a sturdy vessel called the Silver Manatee and it is on a voyage of exploration. It’s captain is a bookish looking dwarf named Farin Aghar. He is heading Rimward as far as he can in hopes of finding a route between the Stonerims and the Ringrange. He also hopes to detour from his quest Inge enough to gaze spin the celestial stairway. He is taking on supplies and his crew consists of guides, surveyors, geologists and musketeers. He could use a few more scouts and hired swords and is willing to give each of you a full share in the party’s fortunes, whatever they may be. He speaks of the potential of mineral deposits, trade routes, forts, and holy wonders. The ring range remains largely unexplored to this day, a true frontier.

The eighth day of feasting finds the party alone in their suite of rooms taking a late lunch on the balcony. Prospero pulls a scroll from his sleeve and lays it on the table.

“We have some choices to make my friends. Where to next and possibly who’s going where? I have listed our options on this scroll. Let’s have an honest discussion about our next steps.”

  1. Sail with Captain Ward back to Ard and the Kingdom of Broad Shoulders perhaps to attack the fire temple
  2. Sail with Captain Thorne to make our way to Igmar and the direction the silver compass is pointing
  3. Sail with Captain Jetta to fight against the Lazuri empire on the front lines perhaps to destroy Volmogs secret weapon
  4. Sail with Captain Farin to explore the Ring Range
  5. Find Father Vargas and investigate the problems with the Earth temple and solve the riddle of Colby’s Book of Birds
  6. Travel to Horn Cove and seek out the Necromancer that kept Dora enslaved
  7. Explore the Crypts of Xaar and help Trisha make Runelady
  8. Travel with Prospero and Elisandra to Emancia to walk the Conundrum once again
  9. Add something more to the list to discuss…
Sword village is saved!

While Simon is stretching and preparing for the final trial, one of the town guards approaches Swardu. He says a few words and Swardu a wakizashi. Another guard does the same with master Jaymar.

Swardu exchanges the wakizashi the guard gave him with Simon’s blade and says, “The guards need time to get in position. You’ll need to toy with him a bit; you and Tarnis should work together against Vallas.” Then the gong sounds and Simon is thrust into the melee.

As Brine, Colby, Prospero, and Susi are headed to the trial Helmund and a guardsman run up begging for assistance. They claim zombies are attacking the village and will soon overrun the barricade.

The town guard used an over turned wagon as a crude blockade to hold the undead horde back. They tell the party to slip around down a side alley and find the source of the undead.

Susi takes to the air and sees Ashook in the distance driving the zombie’s onward. He immediately begins to fire arrows at him. Brine and Colby start cutting a path through the zombies. Brine loops around to flank the zombies that are beginning the overwhelm the guards, while Colby presses on and attacks Ashook.

While this is going on Simon evades Vallas’ attacks until Swardu gives him a sign that all is ready. Then Simon launches a flurry of attacks which break down Vallas’ blocks and slice him open. The scars on Vallas’ body begin to glow and then peel open revealing some sort of demon beneath the skin. This vision lasts only a moment before dissipating.

Not long after, pierced by Susi’s arrows and Colby’s blades, Ashook slumps to the ground incapacitated. Once their mast is dead the undead are quickly finished off by Prospero and Brine.

Once all the battles are done the village celebrates and lauds the party as heroes and saviors. Ashook is questioned while a celebratory feast is prepared.

Ashook reveals that his main goal was the hall of swords in the high temple. The collection of awakened weapons was a treasure with immense value. He also wanted to gain control of the smiths as well. Ashook says he was under the command of a Lazuri named Volmag, who also commanded Igmar, and also gave orders to stop Simon from becoming a Rune Lord.

The assault's end

Susi hits Ashook with a few arrows before he manages to duck around a building and get out of sight. Susi returns to the warehouse to help the rest of the party. Susi’s first shots knock Tilda into Cobly, who is reeling from guard attacks. Colby is sent sprawling through a doorway. In this room was summoning circle,through which step two tigers. Colby stands ready to fight the tigers, but in short order they have knocked him unconscious.

The rest of the party manages to take down everyone else that was in the warehouse, aside from Ashook no one escapes. As Prospero enters the room Colby fell into he sees two giant cats tossing around Colby’s limp form.

The cats manage to take down one of his earth elementals before they are destroyed. A quick search of the warehouse turns up a few doses of healing potion which they use to revive Colby.

In addition they find scrolls of Nerves of Fire and Damage Field. Tilda’s staff has a divine matrix for fire weapon on it. Noss had a small key tied around his neck.

When the party moves through the rest of the warehouse they discover a large ritual circle that has been cut into the stone floor. The circle is covered in blood and surrounded by headless corpses. Chained in this room is Enger the missing herbalist. Noss’ key let them free Enger who quickly casts spells to heal himself and the party. He frantically tells the party that Vallas is a blood drinking demon, Ashook feeds Vallas nightly to maintain his hold. Enger also insists that the ritual circle be destroyed.

Brine drags a keg of gunpowder to the circle, then uses another keg to create a fuse leading outside which he lights. The explosion destroys the circle. Once the fiery roar dies down, they can hear a gong coming from the village square.

Assaulting the warehouse

Colby holds still in the tree for a moment, and the guard wanders off. Seizing the opportunity Colby makes his way to the door they were guarding. Inside he can hear voices and a dog growling. A guard pokes his head out and asks what is out there getting the dogs riled. He’s told that a stray cat is around, then retorts that it should be run off before the dogs break loose. As this door closes behind the retreating guard Colby slips into the warehouse.

All the dogs are dragged off to another room to quiet their barking as Colby slips into a hiding spot.

As Simon is waiting for the second trial to start a bobcat runs up the stairs and over to Swardu and begins to growl. When he finally notices it Swardu says “Hello Leeka, where’s Thury?”, after which he and the bobcat appear to have some conversation. Looking concerned Swardu gathers some of the other masters together for a private conference.

When this group breaks Swardu pulls Simon aside. As he says hands Simon silver masterwork shurikens Swardu says “Things are not what they seem here. Save these for Vallas.” Before Simon can respond the gong sounds and he must begin climbing one of the poles.

Using the Mindspeech spell Colby relays all that he see’s to Prospero and the rest of the party. They come up with a plan where Susi will drop a dwarven grenade near the door of the warehouse as a distraction. Prospero will enter the front door with Brine, while Colby will continue searching the end of the warehouse he is in.

Prospero approaches the guards at the main door and demands to be let inside, saying that he is here to meet with Noss and Ashook. While they are being escorted through the storeroom Brine notices that it’s been stocked with torches, lamp oil, and kegs of gunpowder.

Among their possessions was a flask that emitted smoke when opened. Prospero used this when inside the warehouse, hoping that it would add to the distraction. Instead it converted one of the doors to a solid wall, which blocked the guards in the same room as Colby.

Susi also drops his grenade, and the loud explosion gets everyone;s attention. Coming from an adjacent room Colby sees both Noss, Tilda, Captain Serge, and Ashook joining the search for him and his companions.

Chaos ensues as the party try to put down the town and caravan guards, but are greatly outnumbered. Ashook attempts to flee the battle after Prospero badly injures him with a spell, but Susi chases after him.

During the trial Simon manages to wound Vallas with a silver shuriken. For a moment he sees greasy gray smoke coming from the wound, which Vallas quickly covers.

Not long after Simon is knocked from his pole, but manages to get into the final round when another competitor ho fell at the same time hit the ground first. Unfortunately Simon sustained a second wound as he takes the last spot in the final trail.

Learning the truth

Simon’s lessons to prepare him for the coming trials progress well. Along with honing his skills, the masters tell Simon a bit about his most difficult opponent, Vallas. Vallas is incredibly strong and fast, he’s also proficient with all weapons but is best with unarmed combat. Vallas’ largest weakness is his pride and arrogance.

Simon inquired about the rules for the competition. The main rule is that no spells beyond rune magic are allowed. The masters did admit that the candidates aren’at thoroughly searched, so some magic items could slip through. Getting caught with any such items is grounds for immediate disqualification.

The first test will be stealth. The candidates are placed in a series of caves and tunnels in the mountains. When they find another candidate they are to disable them, which means non-lethal damage. When this is done the half the candidates will leave the competition, going from 12 contestants to 6.

After breakfast Susi, Propero, Brine, and Colby go to see Enger the healer. The town guard are already there waiting for them, however Enger is not there. They go find the temple groundskeeper, Gare, to get a key to Enger’s room.

Enger’s room has been completely turned upside down. All of his drawers were emptied and dumped on the floor. All of the guards save one leave to inform captain Serge. Susi and Prospero sift through the scattered papers trying to find anything explaining the ingredients Brine saw Ham purchase. They come across many recipes, most are for antitoxins of one sort or another.

Once they finish the search they go to see Gare again. Gare says the temple was locked tight before he went to bed, and he had no idea Enger was missing. Gare then takes the group too see something he intended to report before the guards dragged him to Enger’s room.

Several of the graves have been opened, as if something inside forced its way out. Colby notices odd scratched marks on the head stones. These are identified as runes for death, chaos, and man. An examination makes the runes look to be seven or ten days old. Prospero declares these runes to be necromantic, and a major component to raising the undead.

At Colby’s suggestion they party goes through the graveyard and removes similar runes from another dozen headstones. The guards didn’t patrol the graveyard, but after this discovery it will become part of their routes.

The party then heads to visit Helmund at Malo’s blacksmith shop. Helmund claims that the dagger Colby wanted has been lost, but if properly motivated he can search for it. After a brief discussion Colby agrees to the price of 1,200 silver for the blade and the exchange is made. The blade was appraised at a full price of 4,000 silver.

They ask Helmund to show them the supplies Malo received just prior to his death. Brine confirms the water is from the sundered sea. Prospero cant tell the origin of the ore, but all seems well with it.

Helmund suggests that Malo’s journal might have some notes on it. Reading the last entries reveals that Malo thought the ore to be from the Firewall mountains, instead of Stone Rim mountains. This was a vastly inferior ore, and comes from deep in the Lazuri empire.

Helmund then says that he doesn’t wish to remain here hoping for a new apprenticeship, and goes off to see Captain Ward about signing on with the party’s ship.

The last place the party wanted to stop was the Low Temple. Before arriving there they spot a dwarf that Prospero recognizes as a fire sorcerer. The dwarf says his name is Noss and he arrived with the caravan. Noss is merely an apprentice to the caravan leader, Ashook the Finder from the College of Perception. Noss says the ore came from a mine his cousins run in the Stone Rim mountains.

After Noss departs, Colby heads back to Helmund to get a sample of the ore as evidence. With all the conspiracies and deaths from this Caravan he fear’s for Helmund’s safety, and offers to walk with him to Captain Ward.

Susi goes into the low temple and speaks with Tilda. He tells her of the zombie attack and asks if he might peruse the books to discover some source behind it. She agrees and helps locate books for his research. She helps for a while before beggin off to make preparations for a ceremony. As she departs Susi sees her slip some papers into her pocket.

Prospero goes to find Father Thury. The two speak for a while before Prospero reveals all that the group discovered. The ore, zombie attacks, Lazuri in the caravan, the missing healer, Vallas’ rune tattoos, and runes on the gravestones. Thury is in shock, he can only think that Prospero is paranoid and demands some proof of all these allegations. Prospero says that Susi saw the tattoos on Vallas and he could draw them.

When they find Susi they interrupt his reading to have him draw the runes he saw. Thury is very surprised, and agrees that they are binding runes. Not just binding runes, but other very obscure ones are masking runes. Then Tilda appears at the top of the stairs, saying it’s unfortunate that they discovered so much. She then closes and locks the door.

Elsewhere, Colby and Helmund never make it to the docks. They spot Noss talking with the town guard and pointing in their direction. Colby turns down the shortest path to the low temple to regroup with Susi and Prospero.

When Colby arrives he can hear Prospero summoning earth elementals who then break open the door allowing everyone out of the basement.

The temple is completely empty. Father Thury halts their search for Tilda to review what all they know. Brine, Colby, Helmund, Prospero, Susi, and Thury all exchange information and plan what to do.

Thury says that the maskin runes come from malomorphs, shape shifters. They can’t be found with divination or other methods of detection. Even if Vallas isn’t a malomorph his aura is hidden. There is no way to reach Simon, or anyone at the high temple, since it will be closed until the trials are complete.

Simon succeeds in the first trial, he placed in the top 4. He received a single wound, from an encounter with Vallas.

The next test was for missile weapons. On each of the landings of the 10,000 steps 18 poles are set up. The candidates will climb the poles then attempt to knock off their opponents with ranged attacks.

Brine, Colby, Susi, and Prospero all meet with the blacksmith’s guild. It takes several hours of conversation before the guild agrees that something must be done. They agree to assist the party in any way they can.

Colby asks them to examine the new armor and weapons gifted to the guards from the caravan. Prove that it’s Firewall Mountain ore, which could reveal the caravan to be from Lazuri lands. Then the smiths are to re-equip the guards, this should negate the bribe the caravan offered them.

Thury offers to go with the master smiths, he knows which guards will be best to work with during their investigation.

Colby offers to scout the warehouse the caravan is staying in that night. The rest of the group will be staying in a house across the street.

Prospero casts invisibility on Colby who uses a Mindspeech spell to keep in communication with the group. While casing the place Colby finds himself in a tree, when a guard happens to notice him despite the concealment.


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