Session 8 - Return to Sterngate
Adventure 1C (Level 2)

Dm’ed by Dave

The heroes took full advantage of the 24 hours they spent in Starilaskur. After fulfilling their duty by notifying the local forces of the need for aid in Sterngate, they spent the remaining hours eating, drinking, and taking time to recuperate from their last encounter with the Greenfang kobolds. The next day, before hopping the lightning rail back to Sterngate, Fane put in an order for a fine suit of scale armor. He needed something to replace his tattered chainmail and the two gaping holes in it made from the Greenfang javelins that nearly took his life. Fangrim and Ronen stocked up on rations and water for the trip, while Batalash decided to disappear. The others found him in a run down library researching ways to improve the capabilities of his staff. He decided to stay and complete his research, telling the others to go on without him. With Elrick missing, Kal-Elis MIA, and Batalash predisposed, the group was down to three.

Character Journals
Journal of Aphose Deathbringer Batalash’s Journal Elrick the Orange’s Journal Fane’s Journal Fangrim’s Journal Kal Elis’s Journal Ronen’s Journal
Session 2-3

Last Cry of the Green Fang

DM’s Recap (Brad):

The Situation

Bursting forth from the watery cavern, you notice the fient light of morning is just beginning to penetrate darkness… pink and purple clouds dot the landscape. Taking a moment to catch your breath and listen for pursuit, you notice the dark flying forms of giant bats streaking across the sky – mounted kobold warriors strapped to their backs. They are some distance from you, but after a moment’s observation it is apparent that they are searching – for you most likely. You check each other to make sure that everyone is okay and ready to travel again. Quickly and queitly you begin making your way down the mountain, doing your very best to avoid notice. It is well into your second day, and you’ve been moving without rest for close to 36 hours now – you are tired, worn out, and your strength is lagging.

You have had a couple of close calls with with kobolds, and with a small troupe of goblins that came through. At one point you were nearly discovered by a giant bat carrying a kobold rider, far above your heads. You don’t think you were spotted, but you cannot be sure.

Character Journals
Journal of Aphose Deathbringer Batalash’s Journal Elrick the Orange’s Journal Fane’s Journal Fangrim’s Journal Kal Elis’s Journal Ronen’s Journal
The Runescar Part 2

From the Journal of Aphose…

1st Entry: A pulsing, breathing mist – alive in its own right – or at least imbued with the appearance of life. It served as our guide forward until parting to reveal the allies of my new companions. They were tied to a large dark obelisk covered in arcane runes, unconscious and unaware. One was missing though, apparently a dragonmarked sorcerer of wind – that did not stop us from fulfilling our duty though. We were able to pull ourselves back before alerting a swarm of kobolds infesting the room. I took a moment to sneak up closer for a better look. Like a silent wind I crept forward and listened to the rantings of their apparent leader. Something about a runescar was muttered, but what drew my attention was the obvious references made to the return of their dragon queen. Fang, Elrick and I quickly articulated our battle plan, using surprise and confusion to our advantage. Elrick dashed in and grabbed their attention with a blast of fire – setting two wooden bridges aflame, hampering the arrival of reinforcements. Fang went up the middle and began ransacking his way through the kobold horde. Meanwhile, I ran for the leader, shocking both him and my allies with the speed and strength of my prowess. In the heat of battle their simply was no time or margin for deception amongst friends, so I unleashed everything I had, sending the one called ‘ashface’ flying off into the distance and ending his life with a second strike. Fang was handling himself with little trouble, but the mage had found himself face to face with a dark figure of a kobold who’s agile movements and swift blades marked him as a far more challenging enemy than any others left remaining alive in the room. Though I was beset by two more minions, I danced my way around them and charged across one of the smoldering bridges to send Elrick’s opponent careening over the edge and into the chasm below. In the breath of just a few seconds, the room was clear and our allies rescued. It was interesting to watch the wild eyed greed that ensued though, as this band of adventurers realized they were standing atop an undefended dragon’s treasure – they picked it clean in less than a blink of an eye, loading up their pockets and purses to the brim. Fang and I were measuring our options for departure, when a wave of darkness swept across the sky, blocking our view up through the enormous hole above. There was no time to react – the party scattered. I yelled at the mage to outline me in the glow of his magical light and ordered them all to run… A rash and foolish plan had formed in my mind in those few seconds, and I ordered them to run yet again – stating that I would find the last of their number and return to them when I could. The human Fane looked uncertain for a moment – I can understand his hesitance to leave a stranger behind, to face a dragon alone, but I shattered his illusion by shifting into the form of Ashface… I could see a momentary spark of horror in his eyes, and then he and his companions began their escape. As for myself, I put on my best draconic smile and settled into what would either be the greatest performance of my life, or the last.

2nd Entry: She played along for a while I think. Though at the time I believed my deception had been complete. As she settled upon the ground and cast her glance about, she erupted in a terrible roar of anger – seeing her prized possessions looted, her chance at redemption shattered, and her minions lost… all but me that is. In a fit of rage, she reached out one gigantic talon and struck me so hard that it nearly threw me over a ledge. I cried out in absolute agony, shaking the very foundation of the cave with the pain in my voice. It took quite some doing, but I was able to plead for my life, begging for her forgiveness – I guess the outcome was the best I could have hoped for… I was dismissed from my charge as the tribal leader and condemned to imprisonment until she could decide what to do with me next – all while in the guise of Ashface. I doubt I would have survived in those few moments were it not for my ability to wear a new face and persona so easily. I would have been the sole focus of her angst – and easy prey to one such as her. The last I saw or heard, she was marshalling her guardians and assembling a force to deal with the invaders. Great riding bats flooded into the room from hidden alcoves above, and were quickly mounted by well-apportioned riders – rising out into the night through the hole above. Several squads of soldiers were also assembled… with a roar of such power as to be almost unimaginable, she ordered them one and all to spare nothing in the destruction of her enemies. For some reason I think perhaps I am the lucky one after all. I fear that Fang, Elrick, and the rest are in terrible danger now… and there is nothing I can do to help them. I have my own problems though. When she did finally turn her attention to me once more, it was the most unfortunate of circumstances. Glaring at me, and studying me closely, she pierced my disguise with ease…. And then something very strange happened. This powerful beast showed fear – true terror at the look of me. I have no idea why, or what prompted such a reaction, but it was quickly replaced by a sly smile. At her command I was taken into the very depths of the tribal compound and thrown into a cage hanging by a thin thread over a chasm below. Next to me, just a few feet away, was the elven sorcerer the others had described to me. At least one of my problems had solved itself, but there were so many more that needed pondering… and action.

3rd Entry: Kal and I have been on the move for three days now… Between the two of us we were able to win our freedom, but at a terrible cost. We are near death and being pursued by still more members of the Greenfang tribe. There has been no time to rest, no time to recover, no time to think. We simply run – and run – and run. Kal and I have developed a special bond – he knows more of me than anyone but Grolanad at this point I think. Something about this elf loosened my tongue and my life’s story dripped free from my lips. Perhaps it was for fear that this would indeed by my last adventure – and my vengeance against my former master would go unfulfilled unless someone, anyone, knew the truth. He shared much of himself with me as well – and I as I said, a bond formed – a bond of brotherhood that arises between two warriors when they are all that is left standing against an army bent on their destruction. We made our way clear of the mountains, and I believe we have successfully eluded our pursuers. Now we must focus on tracing the path of our friends and returning to them with all haste. There is something they need to know about the power of the dragon – I just hope that we are in time.

The Runescar

Brad’s Recap:

This adventure picked up right at the end of the groups first adventure in the Seawall mountains.

After an enourmous explosion rocked the mountains, all members of the party were rendered unconcious. Aphose (a changeling) was in the mountains hunting his former master (the assassin Grolanad) and was drawn to the aftermath of the explosion. Finding several bodies lying in the area, he began to pull them to safety one by one. Sadly, after only being able to rescue two party members, the others were wisked away by a savage kobold tribe – the Greenfangs.

After a brief attempt to parley with the Kobolds, Aphose, Fangrim, and Elrick launched an attack on their cavernous structure. The kobold guards were easy for the group to take out through stealth and maneuvering, but Aphose found himself the victim of a pit trap and was attacked by a rat swarm – he and Elrick were able to beat the swarm back, but not before Aphose came close to facing his own demise.

Character Journals
Journal of Aphose Deathbringer Batalash’s Journal Elrick the Orange’s Journal Fane’s Journal Fangrim’s Journal Kal Elis’s Journal Ronen’s Journal
Awakenings Part 4

Adventure Backstory/Flashback Synopsis (Brad):

There are rumors of an uprising within the church. Dark forces are slowly corrupting the purity of our faith, and we must put an end to it immediately. We have recently received word that a rogue agent of House Cannith by the name of Alcanane has been recruited to conduct experimentation into a new form of warforged that can blend in with any race, unseen and unnoticed. We do not know how far along he has come in his research, but our agents inform us that his task is to build an army of these abominations that can infiltrate all layers of the church, and the world beyond, to strike against us at will. Such a terrible tragedy cannot be allowed to unfold. I am not at liberty to discuss our reasons why, but each of you has been sent for to aid us. Others were also asked, but have so far declined – we hope that they will change their minds and come forward in the name of the sacred flame. However, you are enough, and your strength is equal to the task. We are asking you to venture forth, locate Alcanane, and put a stop to his mad research. Gather everything you can from his lair and bring it back here to we can better understand this menace and how to defeat it if we are already too late. I do not ask you to enter into this blindly – Lady Eliura of House Jorasco will accompany you as advisor and healer. We of the church also promise you a reward of 500 gold should you be successful in your endeavors. Beyond that, we can only appeal to your faith in the Church and the voice of the flame, and beg you to aid us in our time of need”. It did not take long for the group to come to agreement. After a short round of introductions and light conversation, a feast was ordered up to give thanks for your valor. You learned much about each other that night, with a little wine and ale in your bellies. There was also additional information given about the likely whereabouts of Alcanane’s labs. “They lie deep within the Seawall mountains, just south of New Cyre and North of Marguul Pass. The exact location is a not knowledge we possess, but Lady Eliura is gifted with rituals that will help guide you once you reach the mountains. You must be careful though, that part of the mountains is overrun with a tribe of savage mountain kobolds who worship the black dragon Faestius. Be watchful at all times and guard yourselves”. The rest of the evening was enjoyable and for the first time you really felt like something of great import was happening in you life, that you now have the opportunity to be the hero and the adventurer that you’ve longed to become.

You walked away believing that your new found friends would be valuable allies in the events to come. The next day you set out with your gear and the blessings of the cardinal, taking the lightning rail from Aruldusk south to Vathirond, continuing southwest through Starilaskur and Sterngate. It took the better part of a full day to travel the 600 miles, even with the speed of the lightning rail at your disposal. The first thing you noticed about Sterngate is the military precision with which its occupants perform their day to day tasks. The place is a veritable fortress, built with strong walls and heavy fortifications all around. You’ve heard of the troubles they often encounter with goblins from the Darguun that erupt from the pass more often than anyone cares to acknowledge, but the people here wear it well and appear unafraid, but prepared at all times for the next intrusion into their daily lives. You stay the night and enjoy swap stories with locals in the pub, learning from one young man that he was part of an excavation team in the mountains, working to build some sort of underground fortress for a strange dwarf and an odd-looking humanoid fellow with yellow skin and empty eyes. He drew a crude map for you and marked where he believed the entrance to be.

The next day you acquired provisions and a mountain yak to carry them, heading northwest along the base of the mountains, slowly making your way up. It took four days to navigate the difficult terrain as you wound your way up and through the mountain range. On the third day you encountered your first signs of resistance. A group of savage kobolds attempted to amush you – thanks to Fangim’s gifted eyes, he was able to point them out in advance though, and it was you, not they who began with surprise. The battle was a bloody one and it took a while for Eliura to heal everyone’s wounds, but you won and were once again on your way [everyone gains 100xp from this remembered battle]. One the fourth day you came to an outcropping rocks that looked like it had been broken away from a cliff face – it just didn’t appear to be right for the area. Upon further investigation you located the outline of a door carved into the earth beyond the rock outcropping. A few of you worked together to open it and were successful. As soon as the door was opened, a rushing blast of green poisonous air met your lungs. There was also the sound of laughing as several dwarves rushed from the interior of the lair and surrounded your position. The world was slipping away from your conscious mind and you did your very best to fight against your would-be captors, but in the end you were overcome and your world swirled in blackness.

The last few hours, since awaking in the tank feel like a blur to you. You have no idea how long it’s been since you first stepped into the Seawall mountains, but you vividly remember everything now… there is no longer any darkness hindering your memories…

Awakenings Part 3

From the Journal of Elrick (Ryan):

Have you ever had one of those days where you just don’t know what the day may bring? Ever drink so much that you completely forget where you are? What about remembering where your pants are? Have you ever had all three of these happen at once? Well, that’s just another day in the life of Elrick The Orange!

If you’re reading this, I’ve either found a way to magically transcribe this and spread tales of my feats across the globe, or I am deceased. I do hope it is the former. Ah yes, I’ve become distracted with my destiny. Let me start again.

My eyes opened to a strange fluid surrounding me in a glass coffin. My head throbbed with a lack of memories of the previous days, a poison of some sort I imagine. With a wave of my hands, and a gentle tone, I ask for my would be captors to free me. This request, however, would be granted by a Deva Paladin named Ronen. He too suffered from the amnesia affliction. With a glance around, I notice that there are others emerging from their pods. Of the Eight pods that were in this room, only 7 people emerged. These men would join me for what would be best described as…

The Day That Dwarves Stood Still!

Joining me would be people you will be hearing me speak about many times in the future. The Half Orc man of the wilderness, Fangrim. He is a man of great strength and perseverance. Next is our stalwart Warlord, Fane. His leadership skills have pushed us to our very limits, while keeping our eyes on our prize. I’ve already mentioned our devout paladin of the Silver Flame, Ronen. Although he is of the Deva race, I know him to be kind and dedicated to his God. I will get into my feelings on the Silver Flame later on. Next is our master artificer, Batalash. His knowledge of the inner working of the arcane structures that power all civilized life is impressive. I wager that even though we both work with the arcane, his knowledge is more practical, where as mine is more abstract and theoretical. Last, but not least, is the Half-Elf wind sorcerer Kal Elis. He has used his command over the primal elements to down even the most mighty of foes.

Well, that’s not entirely it. There was one more. While his name is known, I simply refuse to give him credit in my writings. Needless to say, this dwarf is currently on my hitlist. The final pod, sadly, was filled with a Half-Elven woman. She did not survive, but she would be with us always. She will always have my gratitude for her selfless act. More on her later as well.

We emerge dazed, confused, and wet. Fane, Fangrim, and Ronen break up some chairs strewn about the room to make some make shift clubs to defend themselves, but I need no such armaments. A master of the forces that command this world is only limited by his soul. With a quick check of the door that locked us in, I open it with ease. The next room however, was shrouded in darkness. The only thing visible were the red eyes of kobolds. These kobolds launched themselves at us with ferocity, but with a few quick spells and the clubs of Fane and Fangrim we managed to drive them back. Although many of their brothers were felled, a few were smart enough to tell us what they knew. They didn’t know much, however. Apparently, a tall man and a short man informed them to kill whoever emerged from our room. Apparently, these malnourished kobolds were in no condition to perform that task.

The next room looked like a torture room, with the exception of a brain shaped lump of metal that stood out amongst the rooms items. This gave us pause. Were these kobolds subjected to torture to see how they lived, or how they thought? We armed ourselves with some nearby actual weapons as we advanced through our captor’s domain. We progressed as carefully as a group of naked men armed with a couple knives possible could. After a firebomb trap exploded hurting little more than our pride (although Fane might say differently) we wandered into an area that looked like a giant terrarium. Swarms of what can only be described as needles charged us, as a shambling entity of forest foliage accosted us with the bounty of the forest. We managed to avoid defeat due mostly to the brave action of Fane. Upon spotting the Shambling Horror, he charged without any regard for his personal safety and struck true. Upon his defeat though, we discovered he was merely a pawn for a psychic avian creature met it’s end, once Kal Elis and Batalash alerted us to it’s presence.

All of this without any clothing for any of us. I plead with my mates to get them to get a fig leaf or something, but they decline saying things like “A hero is not the clothes he wears” and “I doubt that fig leaf will protect us from even a stiff wind.” It’s when we opened a door to what looked like a spa that I saw the highlight of our adventure. A single cloth robe hang upon a rack. I snatched it without a second though, and with a single flick of the wrist, I colored it with the very Orange I am known for. The rest of the group rolled their eyes, but with my faith renewed by my new acquisition, we pressed forward.

He led us into a trap. He commented that “You have gotten much farther this time than before!” before dashing off leaving us trapped with a baby blue dragon. Enraged with his betrayal, my vision blurred as I raged threw Elrick Missiles and Freezing Clouds with every ounce of strength I had. With Fane and Ronen holding the beast back, we were able to put the beast down. Fangrim noticed there were a few unusual things about this dragon as well… It seems that his heart was partially mechanical! This is fascinating, and it’s ramifications are simply fascinating! Imagine being able to preserve the greatest minds and leaders of our world with these advances in science!

The dwarven betrayer left us to die, thinking his dragon pet would finish us off. It would seem his calculations were off. With a flip of my hands, I manage to release us from our dragon infested prison, and off to find our captor. This is when things went weird. On our way to confront him, several entities, which I can only describe as simulacrums, stood in our path. Each of them looked like the dwarven betrayer. Blasting, slicing, and bashing each of them felt nice, but their numbers were extraordinary. It seemed that for every one we attacked, two more would emerge in it’s place. For a moment, it even looked like we may overcome this obstacle too. That is when our true foe stepped back into sight. Be brought with him an incendiary device that washed over us with flames. Our naked bodies scorched, Ronen fell broken to the ground. His body began emitting light and a voice eminated from him. “Fear not death. Let it wash over you.”

When you see a Deva fall in battle, and it’s possessed body tells you that you’re about to die… It’s unsettling. When his body began to turn to dust at an accelerated rate…. I just figured that’s how the Deva people passed on into the netherworld. However, when Fangrim fell and started to turn to dust, it was a shock. Was everyone I’m with a simulacrum, and this is a battle test for their readiness? Was I only around to be the control to the experiment? I took a few steps back as Fane and Batalash fell before the swarm of dwarven homunculi. Kel Elis ran past me in terror as they crashed into my body with hammers.

My consciousness slipped and the wave of memories came back. I was sent here by the Church Of The Silver Flame, as well as my fellow Wizard Of The Prismatic Spire, The Yellow. We were to investigate a mad artificer who hoped to make the next breed of warforged. Ones that could infiltrate cities as the general populous.

Was this death? Was my only reward from getting this far to know why I had been led into this trap? Well, you couldn’t read this had I not had the hand of fate intervene.

I awoke to the sounds of battle, strapped to a table. Fane, Fangrim, and Ronen were standing in their full armor and weapons taking down more of our dwarven captors, while Batalash and Kal Elis remained restrained. Ronen fell back to release Batalash, as Kal Elis wriggled from his restraints. I used my considerable talents to release myself with little effort. The alarm was raised, and our dwarven betrayer dashed past us into a secret room. I ran into the room after him, but it was too late. A teleportation circle had been activated in his room, and he was gone. He did, however, leave us with a little parting gift… A series of explosive devices. The voice that emanated from Ronen’s body before sprang to life before us, taking the guise of the poor Half-Elf girl who had come with us. The one who had not survived. She spoke to us that we had not the time to dawdle, and we were to follow her out. I could have sworn I saw a silver flame speak to us… or was it to me? “Escape, and aid me again in the future.” As we followed, a great pressure filled the hallways that threatened to collapse us just as easily as an empty leather pouch. We dashed into the bright sun that lay before us and turned to find her etheral form turn towards the doorway with her hands raised. Then, a bright flash of light and an enormous explosion that shook the mountain to it’s core erupted from within. She gave with all her might and existence to save us, by sacrificing her own in the Silver Flame’s service.

The day is over now, and while we may be worse for wear, the loss here today is just terrible. When I find him though, I’m going to avenge her and everyone else this sick bastard has put through these trials. This could not have been his first experiments with the progress he had made, and until we find him, I know it won’t be his last.

From the Journal of Fane (Nate):

We were so close… but the little bearded bastard slipped right by me.  We went to hunt down Alcanane and were met by some of his guards.  The funny thing is all the dwarves looked just like him.  That guy has serious self-esteem issues.  We fought them off one by one, but they kept coming.  It was as if he kept making copies of himself, over and over again.  Something was not right, for any of us.  First I led a charge, only to stop short and go on the defensive.  Then I left an opening for the dwarves to pin my companion Batalash.  Despite a few good blows, I was certainly not myself.  It was like I was in someone else’s body and did not have the usual clarity of mind and battle instinct I usually possess.  Then I fell.  Like Ronen’s, I can only assume my body crumbled into dust.  But that’s just it… It wasn’t my body.  It was an abomination; one of that twisted alchemist’s creations.  I was relieved to find my true self strapped to a stone slab; I was horrified to see more of Alcanane’s foul magic at play.  All of us were trapped, but where had we been?  And then the memories came flooding back.  My cottage in Aruldusk… the Silver Flame’s request to seek out a new evil… my new companions… Cardinal Patoria… our travels on the lightning rail and through the mountains… Lady Eliura… Lady Eliura… I hardly knew her, but I felt a very strong connection between us.  I saw her body, strapped down as well, but just like in the watery tomb she was as cold as ice.  Who knows how long ago she passed or why for that matter?  Alcanane will pay for her murder.  I’ll see to that. Ronen let me loose, but before I could help the others I had to take on the guards and by us some time.  Then more came, and finally Alcanane showed his cowardly face.  Eventually we finished off his guards, but we couldn’t stop him from fleeing.  Not even Elrick knew how to use his teleportation circle and we didn’t have much time.  Alcanane left a present for us – some sort of explosive device.  There was no longer any doubt whatsoever:  this was one psychotic dwarf.  Our main objective to bring evidence of his evil plot back to the Silver Flame in Aruldusk was nearly thwarted; luckily I was able to grab the metallic brain-orb as we ran out of the compound just before it exploded.   Now what?  Back to Aruldusk I suppose, but it won’t be that easy.  The explosion surely grabbed the attention of the kobolds that inhabit these mountains.  No doubt they will want to offer us up as dinner to their dragon god.  Like before we’ll be ready.  I’ll be sure of it.  My companions and I have fought well thus far.  They have surprised me with their battle readiness even though they are not trained soldiers.  All seem ready to attack at my command; I will try even harder to make their strikes hit home.  They have seemed to take well to my leadership, which is a boon.  I have to rely on them to stay strong physically and mentally; should their courage falter I will do all I can to inspire them. … Perhaps Barnes was right.  Maybe the military doesn’t have a need for me any longer, but I am loath to give up the sword so easily.  If the Silver Flame is my new patron, so be it… I just hope Cardinal Patoria doesn’t expect to see me at the weekly services.  I don’t know why, but I also feel I owe something to Lady Eliura.  Her death is an ill omen indeed.

Awakenings Part 2

From the Journal of Fane (Nate):

Always trust your gut.  That is what I learned on the fields of Thaliost, and it saved my life more than once and more than one good soldier too.  Then I wake up one day in a glass bucket full of cold water and everything goes to hell.  “I should have left the dwarf in his coffin” I said to the others.  Of course I didn’t listen to myself.  Since when do I immediately trust strangers, especially those that hardly say anything and seem much too eager to help out?  Alcanane you son of a bitch!

That was too close.  A blue dragon?  Much too close.  I was clearly out of my element, fighting a monster like that.  I’m trained to lead men into battles against other men, not against dragons.  I just hope the others didn’t notice.  They need my confidence.  Thank the Flame Elrick’s magic was enough to slay the beast… with help from Kal-El’s acid, Ronen’s prayers, Batalash’s dagger, and of course Fangrim’s mighty axe.  I was hardly any help myself, at least with my blade.  I had to change tactics in the middle of the fight after the beast almost took me down.  Positioning myself between the dragon and the magic users proved effective, if not suicidal.  Regardless of my current state, it worked.  Hopefully Batalash will be willing to throw a couple of his healing concoctions my way should we face more threats.

Fangrim dealt the killing blow… I wonder what Jeralt would think if he knew I had faced a dragon and survived?...  and also found that half of the dragon’s heart was missing, replaced by some sort of artifice device.  By his own admission, we are not Alcanane’s first test subjects.  It makes me wonder what he put into each of us?  I need to give myself a good once over and make sure I don’t have any ragged scars from his experiments. 

Now there’s only one thing left to do:  track down that dwarven bastard and gut him… and if the others are lucky maybe I’ll wait just long enough to find out why he took us before I run him through.


SESSION 1-1 (12 Nov 2009)

Brad’s Recap:

Darkness… It is the last thing that any of them remember before waking trapped inside a watery prison, unable to escape. 

Each of them confined within a small glassy box the size of a coffin filled with a murky water-like substance, they found their naked bodies violated by needles and hoses.   Air was being supplied to them by some strange apparatus attached to their faces, feeding them life giving oxygen.  Fear, anger, and confusion gripped their hearts and minds.  Fighting for their freedom, each of them struggled to breach the glassy barrier that held them hostage, some more successfully than others.   It took a few moments, but once the first mysterious tank began to shatter and lids were forced open, it became clear to all of them that they were not alone.

In total, eight tanks stood along the walls of the large dimly lit room.  Emerging from them were a strangely marked deva, a large half-orc, two humans, a tall kalashtar, a half-elf, and a dwarf.  The occupant of the eighth tank had not been so lucky – too late for rescue, a half-elven female body was pulled from the final tank, her watery grave.  Naked, dripping wet, cold and confused, they stared at one another and then began speaking, trying to take measure of, and determine the nature of their shared predicament.  No one had an answer though, each was just as lost as the others.  With no apparent rhyme or reason, these strangers had been thrust together and forced to endure as one. 

Arming themselves as best they could with makeshift clubs and daggers created from the tanks themselves and from the sparse array of furniture in the room, they took further stock of their situation.  At one end of the expanse a large and very strange object – something akin to a metallic mirror – hummed with arcane energy.  They could see tendrils of power weaving their way through the room, reaching out to each of the tanks.  The kalashtar, being an artificer himself, could make out the most basic aspects of the contraption, recognizing the hand of a fellow artificer in the workings of its design.  Still, he was unable to deduce its true purpose or its manner of operation.   Aside from a few papers written in an unrecognizable script, and a hodgepodge of minor miscellaneous items, the only other thing of interest to them was a locked door at the center-most point of the room. 

Cautiously, they attempted to open the door without rousing too much in the way of noise.  Unfortunately, in a final act of desperation to leave this place, the strongest of them was forced to kick the door open.  In the darkness that lay beyond, a myriad of beady glowing red eyes stared back at them.  With a guttural command issued in draconic from the back of the room, the red eyes leapt forward in a rush of movement, revealing themselves to be kobolds.  Small and frail, unarmed and easily overcome, the kobolds did not put up much of a fight.   Once down to the last few, they cried out in surrender, obviously valuing their pitiful lives.  When questioned about this place and their tenancy here, they spoke in broken common with high pitched hissing voices, revealing little.  Of the things said, one in particular stuck with the group ‘the taaall man and the ssshooort man told us to keeell youz and we couldz be freeeed’.  Unimpressed by the conversation, the wizard Elrick The Orange, took a few moments to fashion himself a robe of sorts from the rags worn by the now deceased creatures, cleaning it of foul grime and odor with a quick flip of his wrist.  Otherwise no one took an interest in the doomed kobolds remains or their vagabond possessions.  Locking the remaining kobolds back in the cells that lined this area, the group moved forward to another door. 

This one, again locked, proved easier to take down than the first.  This room, revealed by the light of a magical fire in one corner, served an obvious purpose.  On one side of the room a cruel looking slab of wood with restraints attached to it stood covered in thick dried blood. Next to it a long table with neatly assorted instruments were lain out and ready for use.  The kobolds had called this ‘the badddd plaze’, and it was easy to see why.  Gruesome torture and experimentation had taken place here – a fact easily confirmed by the notes scrawled in common on a desk at the other end of the room.  On the desk, further evidence presented itself in the form of a fresh kobold skull split open to reveal the brains inside, along with several jarred brains in various states of dissection and study.  A curious object also captured the party’s interests – a small metallic sphere about the size of a fist that carried the markings of what appeared to be a brain.  Curious indeed – a metallic brain?  Taking what they could, including a handful of new, better suited weapons and a leather apron donned by the kalashtar, they moved on.

Leaving this room through an unlocked wooden door, our intrepid adventurers stood in a brightly lit hallway with two warforged statues flanking a large tapestry depicting scenes of the warforged races initial creation.  Fangrim, the half-orc ranger was overcome with joy when he noticed that one of the statues was holding a double bladed axe – a weapon that had long ago captured his interest but had never been acquired.  The other statue carried a weapon of its own, a great sword.  Struggling to free these powerful weapons from the stone hands that held them proved difficult, but eventually both blades were freed from their confines and handed to those who could make the best use of them.  A few feet in either direction, hallways beckoned to be explored.  However, their features were blocked by large curtains drawn across from wall to wall.  Cautiously they crept forward, especially vigilant after the discovery of arcane runes carved along the tops of the walls indicating the possibility of a fiery trap ahead.  Even so, they were caught off guard when the movement of a second curtain ignited the entire hallway in a thunderous ball of fire and flame, incinerating the curtains that had once blocked their view, but also singing several members of the party. After a few moments of rest to recover from their wounds and shaken confidence, they continued forward into a larger chamber.  Plain in its construction, this new area was marked by five doors extending in various directions.  Of the five, four were crafted from wrought iron and protected from intrusion by two separate sets of locks.   The last door, a small wooden double door was the least interesting of them all and saved for last.  With the help of Batalash the kalashtar artificer and the mighty double axe of Fangrim the half-orc ranger, they were able to breach both of the iron doors.  Behind one they discovered the presence of two large angry bears chained to a wall.  Slamming the door shut and holding it closed against the powerful force of a bear on the other side, they were able to replace one of the locks and defer the threat.  More tentatively with the second door than with the first, they opened it to reveal the rotting corpse of an enormous, but deceased panther that had plainly starved to death. 

Turning their attention to the final wooden double doors, they opened them up to find themselves in a rich arboretum with high domed ceilings in place.  Greeted by the buzzing of angry insects above and the site of caged kobolds jeering and jesting at them from one side, the group was immediately drawn into combat.  Swarms of needle shaped flying insectoids slammed into the group, bowling them over and devouring their flesh.   Despite their newly acquired weaponry the group experienced great difficulty in combating these tiny creatures.  Even worse, a stinging cloud of cold, issued from the hand of Elrick, stirred up the wrath of additional creatures in the room.  Set upon by strange vine-like beings, the party was now battling a dual threat.  Just as they began to make some degree of progress, the floors erupted in a wave of thorny vines that arose from the ground and ensnared many of them.  The powerful grip of these vines proved too much for the ashen deva paladin known as Ronen, pulling him to the ground and knocking him unconscious.   Fangrim also suffered a similar fate later on in the battle but both were roused by the healing power of their allies to take part in the remaining battle.   Surprised by a grunt from the densely overgrown hill in the center of the room, they discovered yet another combatant at work – this one openly responsible for the damaging vines that broke through the floors again and again.  While Fane the human warlord rushed forward to battle this added foe, yet another enemy revealed itself.  From a ledge several feet above a small dark aberrant creature issued forth a psychic scream that caused many members of the group to slow in speed – almost to a crawl.  By this point it was obvious to all members of the party that they had stumbled into the living space of many disparate creatures eager to defend their home. 

As the last of their quarry fell to the ground, the group took a few moments to catch their breaths and recover from the vicious battle.  As they searched around the room for any further forms of treachery, or the possibility of hidden treasures, one of them noticed a small nest along the edges of the dome wall where the small aberrant beast had come from.  Climbing the heavily vined walls was a simple task and the group discovered a handful of coins, a small shield, and a beautifully etched bone dagger of extremely high quality.  Upon investigation by those trained in the skill of arcana, the dagger emitted a rich sense of magic.  Working to discover its secrets, they found that the dagger bore a close resemblance to a dragons tooth, and if used in combat it might be useful in lowering an opponents defenses. 

This my friends is where our adventures for the evening ceased.  With still so many unanswered questions and so much left to discover, I am sure this is not the last we will hear of this tale…  perhaps next week there will be more to tell… 

From the Journal of Batalash (Dave):

In what can only be described as a waking nightmare Batalash awakens in an enclosure of watery substance. His last memories fading as he realized that there is an apparatus covering his mouth and nose and needles with tubes attached inserted in to his body. Clearly the apparatus is supplying air. But what are the tubes supplying? With his head throbbing and his Kalashtar connections to the psychic connections muted he realized that he should act quickly but carefully. Investigating the inside of the enclosure he discovered a latch handle. Perhaps this would open the container? But in his haste the young Artificer over anticipated the force needed and broke off the lever. Checking to see if anyone was near by the container he turned in desperation to his only next alternative. Blast out. However, after one thundering blast the container began to crack. In his excitement he prepared a second blast but before he could let it loose the door was released and raised. A red eyed grey haired Deva was standing over him. To make it more and less startling the Deva was bare-naked and dripping from the water. Looking up into the face of what was obviously another prisoner released or escaped from the containers. As he emerged he saw 6 other survivors and one dead woman. The nature of the death was unknown and the reason for her connection here was just as much a mystery to him as was his own plight. Turning to matters at hand Batalash started to investigate the manor of the equipment in an attempt to determine its purpose. However, his aching head and prolonged forced sleep left him unable to focus. He would have to wait to learn more. At least until he found some clothes, had a meal, and recovered from his head ache. For now he needed to arm himself and learn who he was with. Turning back to the container he broke off an arm used in latching the devices making himself a make shift dagger. Better than nothing for some, but for Batalash any weapon can be turned into more. The group quickly formed with most taking arms with broken parts of chairs or in the same was as Batalash broken pieces of what looks to have been a prison cell. Albeit a strange one.

At the door they opened it with a kick and there in the next room was the filthy stinking confined Kobolds. How many it was hard to count. A half-orc named Fangrim, that Batalash had already taken a liking to, quickly charged the small foul creatures. However, it was when the loud human Elrick began to unleash his blasting cold spells that the Kobolds began to worry. Soon enough the party had the Kobolds deathly afraid for their lives. It was only a matter of time and the Kobolds realized this. Luckily for the small creatures the party was not our for the blood of obvious prisoners and so we allowed them to surrender and cower from us. However, we did take the precaution of locking them in their rooms. The foul headache that beset Batalash continued as the party entered the next room. This one was a room of obvious nature. The attempt to study the brain by testing subjects in torture and dissection was clear. The working table and rows of metal instruments didn’t leave any doubt as to what went on here.   Moving through this room proved easier as the door was unlocked. Outside in the hall though they found a quandary of two directions both blocked by hanging curtains. Trusting nothing Batalash began to study the area of the curtains certain some trap must lay there. While he wasn’t able to identify the mechanism he was sure it a trap. However, the group determined rightly so that they must proceed, albeit with caution. So the party spread out with the melee taking up the lead. After a small encounter with a fire trap the party was able to move forward to the next area. This provide a much trickier situation. Four locked metal doors and one unlocked double wooden. Through careful consideration the party set forth to open the doors. To his surprise Batalash found that it was he in fact who had the necessary skills to open the locks. Hard as it was with his mediocre skills to open the locks he was eventually successful of course in one instance his new friend Fangrim was of some assistance with a well place axe head to a particularly nasty paddle lock. It was however a short lived victory as neither room netted anything beyond a near miss with a couple of bears. But then they proceeded into what was soon to be discovered as a lair. Beset immediately by flying nasty critters with ravenous hunger and bad attitudes the party struggled. Fighting back the beasts slowly it was a slow start. With Fangrim and the Deva Ronen going down. However, with Fane’s inspiration and Batalash’s infusions the party kept up. Then just as the party was about to lose hope the foul creature behind the vines failed miserably in his spell and gave away his position by a cry of muted agony. With the utter failure however we had his location. Fane charged the creature in his hidden center of vines, we new our true enemy. With the initial charge done Fane gasped a large breath and dove in for what was a masterful stroke of blows with his captured Great Axe. The naked human body rippled as his blows landed and the foul creature in the center was killed. It soon followed that a fellow creature was hidden along the wall and the party soon brought him down with magical powers at a distance. After a short rest the party searched the room and found a hidden nest. Here they found some needed items and coin. They must seek next for more gear and a better understanding of what has happened to them.

From the Journal of Fane (Nate): I woke up naked in a glass coffin filled with ice-cold water. Last I remember I was chopping wood outside my cottage thinking about… Lilya… Thank the Silver Flame I was able to get the lid off and escape. I was dead shocked to see my half-orc friend Fangrim in the same room, along with five others: Elrick, Batalash, Kal-El half-elven, Alkanane the dwarf, and the strange black-skinned humanoid named Ronen. We made nice and quickly setting about finding an escape route. Batalash seems to have some knowledge of magical devices and so examined a strange mirror-like device through or from which passed arcane energy in arching silver streams into our… water tombs. Unfortunately, he couldn’t make heads or tails of it. Bastards! Whoever did this will pay, but not until I find out why they did it first.

Elrick opened the door to freedom, or so we thought. The door led to a filth-ridden chamber packed with ravenous kobolds. Fangrim rushed in a broke their spirit… er…hunger. The poor vermin were starving to death. The only information we could get out of them was that a “short man and a tall man” told them to kill us should we escape. Guess we foiled that master plan. Who leaves kobolds in charge anyways?

We left the kobolds behind and went into the “bad place” as they called it: a torture room. The blood-soaked rack and assortment of cutting tools left no doubt about the room’s purpose. Ronen found a strange metallic “brain” and Elrick found some notes about the brain’s anatomy. Gibberish for all I care. I want answers.

Outside were too statues of warforged standing on either side of a mural depicting the creation of the constructs. Interesting… but not as much as the great sword that one of them was holding. Finally, a real weapon! Thanks to Elrick’s magic and Fangrim’s strength we were able to get the sword and an unwieldy two-headed axe. Of course Fangrim took the latter. I think he’s the only one who could do any good with that thing anyways.

The passage led to the right and the left and both were covered with curtains. Not wanting to waste any more time I took the group down the left passage. The burst of fire I led them into didn’t win me any friends… sorry Wolf. Luckily, no one was seriously injured. I will have to be a bit more cautious as I am sure there are more traps in this place.

We came upon a plain room with four single doors and a set of wooden double doors. Fangrim was able to break one lock and Batalash found a way to manipulate the locking mechanism on the door itself. Little good it did us. I nearly had my head torn off by a pair of starving bears! At least the panther in the next room was already dead… long dead. It appears whoever runs this place hasn’t been around for awhile.

Finally we went through the double doors into a domed room filled with… a jungle? The tangle of vines and greenery was nearly impossible to see through. All I could make out through the shrubbery were three kobolds in cages jeering at us in their cursed hissing language. Before we could even react, a large swarm of needle-nosed insects rushed at us. Fangrim charged into the room and took a mighty swing at them with his new axe, but his blade sliced harmlessly through the air as the swarm split in two. Ronen, the paladin, rushed in next but couldn’t keep the insects at bay and was taken down. Elrick and Kal-El cast spells, but the insects were too quick to pin down. “We need to get into that room,” I shouted, rushing to protect Ronen, and pushing the insects back in an attempt to make space for the others. Unfortunately, no one could get through before several writhing, thorny vines lashed out and hedged us in, keeping most of the group trapped in the adjacent room. From the ground more vines erupt, ensnaring my legs and constricting with unnatural strength. I screamed out and broke free, but not before Ronen, Fangrim, and Alkanane were all ensnared as well. Amazingly, I was able to spot the puppeteer of the vines. Seeing my companions in dire straits I threw caution to the wind and rushed into the verdant labyrinth, cutting down vines left and right. Finally, I made it up the slope to the puppeteer, a mass of gnarled vines wound into a humanoid shape. I sliced into it, drawing its ire away from my companions. Batalash summoned “something” that aided me as well. Together we flanked the creature, and with a series of vicious blows, aided by magic from Kal-El, I was able to take it down.

The others finished off the rest of the vines and the insects, but were soon facing a new threat. A flying creature I’ve never seen the likes of before flew up to the chamber’s ridge. Through some evil trickery it assaulted the minds of Elrick and some of the others. Fortunately, my companions were the stronger in the end and were able to slay it. In its nest Batalash found some coins, a rune-scribed knife, and a shield.

I wouldn’t mind having a shield, but a sword is more important at the moment. When I find the sons-a-bitches that brought us here I want to thank them personally.


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