Session #45 – Wednesday, October 7, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 11:30 a.m.

Lieutenant Durk Urtaro and Kay Zorita arrive at the boathouse just as the last living lizardman is captured for interrogation.  The group detects a form of charm spell on the humanoid and dispels it.  It seems that the lizardman wakes up from a bad dream.  He tells the group that he has nothing against them, but that he was being controlled.  The creature reveals that his tribe is under the spell of a huge black dragon known as “Onyx.”  He says there are a dozen more tribes under the same spell.  He describes Onyx as an evil aggressor that has subjugated all in the swampy jungles and is using her newfound army to expand her territory.  He identifies himself as Torshorak and the leader of his clan as Artha.  Artha seems to be an aged shaman of sorts.  In the end, Torshorak agrees to help the humans if they seek to free his kin.  Durk and Kay take Torshorak back to the brig.  The others set off for the fish market to speak with Lisa.  Upon their arrival, they interrogate Lisa and find out that she was romantically involved with Hayes Oldenburg’s nephew, named Jobert.  It turns out that it was Jobert that had beaten Lisa.  Lisa was good friends with Balian and her feet were too small to fit the mold.  The group goes to see Jobert, who admits to having hit Lisa after she refused to sever her relationship with Lobee Zethaya to marry him.  Oddly, Lisa sought to protect Jobert by making a false allegation against Lobee.  The group leaves his house, their leads now having grown cold.  The party decides to get some rest and heads over to the Golden Eel Inn.  There, they find a young girl who was friends with Balian.  She tells the party that Balian had some friends by the names of Rink, Mauton and Fynolt.  But, she says, none of them could have done anything like murder.  The group moves from the inn to Murky Ale Tavern.  After some drinks and carousing, the group goes back to the inn for a good night’s sleep.  During the night, Oriseus is visited by a spirit appearing as a soldier wearing plate make and carrying a halberd.  The apparition gives Oriseus a small, ghostlike bottle and says, “you will need this where you are going.”  Oriseus studies the tiny bottle and casts a detect magic spell.  He concludes that this is an empty lich phylactery.  He puts it in his pack.  In the morning, the group stops off at the Shrine of Helm.  There, they find the body of Balian.  Arrakes casts a spell of speak with the dead.  He asks who killed him and the boy sits up and points at Cady Valin, Priestess of Helm.  A shocked Hayes places her in custody and escorts her back to the barracks – but not before she explains that she had to sacrifice the innocent soul in order to honor her contract with the paladin of Helm, Gesen Reckart.  She hands Arrakes a contract signed by her and Gesen Reckart in which in exchange for the soul, Gesen agrees to produce the great Arrakes Delmirev to save the city of Gafna.  Arrakes is disgusted and curses Eyore’s name, believing him to be behind the atrocity.  The group returns to the inn so that they can investigate the magic lamp.  Dareus rubs the lamp and releases a genie who introduces herself as Shadru.  She indicates that she can offer the group one wish, but asks that they use the wish free her from the lamp’s imprisonment of her.  Deliberation ensues and ultimately, Dareus uses the wish to free Shadru.  She disappears in a puff.  The session ends at 10:00 a.m., Thursday, October 8, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #44 – Wednesday, October 7, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 2:00 a.m.

Realizing that it might be his last chance, Oriseus reaches out to the creature with his mind a final time – to contact the source of what he can only imagine possesses immense and mysterious powers.  The effort yields no noticeable result, but he senses that the “opening” in his mind from his last encounter with the alien being remains.  Moments pass and the party is aware of an approaching winged monstrosity.  They can hear the creature land outside of view.  A barefoot halfling emerges from the darkness and lights a pipe.  It is Roldryss and he thanks the heroes for performing a fantastic service for his realm.  Roldryss points to the distant ash-covered hills.  There, in the darkness of night, pin pricks of orange light move slowly towards the keep.  The dragon explains that Unther mercenaries approach to capture what the adventurers just released into the night sky.  “But, we won’t be here when they arrive.”  The massive dragon takes his true form and flies the party eastward into the dawn, to the outskirts of the Village of Gafna.

Horns blow from the nearby forest as the party lands on an overgrown roadway.  Parting words are given.  Oriseus asks if Roldrys can find out what has happened to Eve Nightsheer.  Dareus asks if Roldrys can discover what has happened to his order.  Roldrys takes to the sky and is gone.  A man emerges from the tree line holding a spear and demanding that the heroes identify themselves.  Before an answer is given, he sees Arrakes’s holy symbol of Helm and falls to his knee, saying “You are Arrakes Delmirev.”  The man introduces himself as Kay Zorita, a guard for the City of Gafna.  He escorts them to the city.  The “city” is actually little more than a village.  Great palisades surround the settlement peppered with wooden watch towers.  Scattered around the wooden walls are piles of burning black corpses yielding dark oily smoke.  The party is ushered into the city and is immediately confronted by a funeral parade.  They are told that the a ten year old boy by the name of Balian Zethaya was found dead, floating in the harbor.  The entire town is beside themselves with grief.  Kay takes the group to the local shrine of Helm.  There, they meet Priestess Cady Valin of Helm.  She too takes a knee upon seeing Arrakes and thanks him profusely for coming to their aid.  She relates a story that she was meditating in the forest when she was approached by a paladin of Helm who introduced himself as Gesen Reckart.  Gesen told Cady that he would send a great cleric of Helm to save Gafna from impending destruction from the nearby lizardfolk tribe of the forked tongue.  And, now that Arrakes has actually arrived as predicted, her prayers have finally been answered.  Cady takes the adventurers to Lieutenant Durk Urtaro.  There, they learn that for the past two months, the village has been under near constant attack from the forked tongue lizardfolk and fear that the next attack may do them in.  They believe that Arrakes had been sent to defeat the threat and save the remaining survivors from certain death.  The Lieutenant tells them to get situated in town and then to return whereupon they could develop a strategy together.  He says that the town has about 35 warriors left and that the forked tongues probably have twice that.  Just as the party is getting ready to depart for the inn, a woman enters the room and announces to the Lieutenant that she has bad news – the boy’s neck was broken.  She says that she is going to speak with the boy’s father, Lobee Zethaya, the Dock Master.  The Lieutenant introduces the woman as Hayes Oldenburg, a deputy of his that is investigating young Balian’s death.  She invites the adventurers to accompany her to the docks to speak with Lobee.  They agree.

Upon their arrival, they meet Lobee Zethaya and inspect the boy’s body.  It is true, they find, that the boy’s neck had been broken.  Arrakes also sees marks on the boy’s face roughly in the shape of an adult’s hand.  Arrakes determines that the marks are consistent with an attack from the rear.  No defensive wounds are found.  Lobee opines that there is no way a person who falls into the water ends up with a broken neck and insists that his son was murdered.  Oriseus asks Lobee if he has any enemies.  Lobee responds with a “no,” but then comes clean by saying that did have an awful breakup with a woman by the name of “Lisa” who works at the nearby fish market.  He admits that he had had a bit too much to drink a few weeks before and in the morning awoke to find that Lisa’s face had been badly beaten.  She accused Lobee of attacking her, but Lobee had no memory of it.  He accepted her words as true and tried to make amends.  She did not accept.  But, Lobee just doesn’t think Lisa could have done such a thing.  Plus, he said, he hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol since then.

Lobee takes the group outside his house and to the spot where he found Balian’s body. Oriseus looks into the nearby boathouse and sees a collection of tools, fishing equipment and boats and parts.  Dinsdale discovers some footprints in the soil near the river’s edge.  The prints appear to be those of a child and of a narrow-footed adult.  The group concludes that the adult prints were made by a woman.  Hayes makes a point of showing that her feet are too big to be those in the prints.  The party begins to speculate when they are interrupted by the now familiar found of Namfoodle screaming.  Looking to the water, the group sees a huge lizardman emergeing from the river and charging them.  A battle ensues in which Lobee Zethaya is horribly killed beyond help.  Namfoodle also goes down.  In the end, the heroes are victorious and Namfoodle is revived.  Again.  The session ends at 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, October 7, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #43 – Saturday, October 3, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 6:30 p.m.

The heroes take a long rest in the hallway.  Afterwards, they move to the next doorway.  The door is locked and once Dinsdale attempts to open the door, two air elementals are summoned and attack.  The party kills the elementals and in the process of destroying the summoning runes placed on the door, they summon two more elementals, which they kill as well.  Inside the room beyond the door, they discover a blue silk pillow that appears to have the magical property of giving the benefit of a full rest during a short rest and also a brass oil lamp that radiates heavy magic.  Namfoodle goes to buff Dinsdale’s fingerprints off the lamp.  The party yells “no!” in unison and Dinsdale grabs the lamp and puts it in the bag of holding.  In the next room the party finds a strange sort of brazier that, instead of flames, emits a blue colored gas, blowing up from the basin.  The artificial wind is strong enough to suspend a small model of a wooden ship.  On the side of the basin is a button.  The adventurers press the button and the winds cease, dropping the model into the bottom of the basin.  Switching the air back on, the model is again raised and suspended.  On a table near the basin lie a number of odds and ends, each appearing to be potential add-ons to the model and each representing some form of automated locomotion apparatus.  The party adds all of the pieces to the model and place the model back in the brazier’s artificial winds.  The model is now too heavy and falls to the bottom of the basin, even with the wind blowing.  Dareus pulls out the airship schematics he had taken from a prior room.  When Dareus adjusts the model pieces to match the plans and then places the model in the brazier updraft, the brazier turns itself off.  The model, however, now supports itself in the air.  In the base of the brazier, the heroes discover a bluish colored stone with strange wind currents swirling around it.  The group takes the wind covered rock to the Air Gate and places it into the last open hole on the stone slab.  This appears to activate a mechanism that begins to raise the stone slab.

Beyond, the crew finds a square room tiled with polished white stone.  There is now an open door in the middle of each wall.  The adventurers enter the room and discover a strange panel of buttons, dials, gears and clock faces.  Dinsdale pushes buttons and turns knobs until a beam of light appears in the center of the room, emanating from an aperture in the ceiling.  The heroes step into the beam and are swiftly carried upwards many floors to a circular room, made entirely from a seamless glossy white material.  Near the wall in one direction is a 6 foot wide translucent green sphere.  Inside, there is a white ball of light.  A simple wooden chair sits right next to the sphere, facing the white light.  On the chair is seated an old man in a black robe with long, faintly grey colored hair and beard.  The figure immediately stands and turns to face the party.  The figure speaks, greeting the party and thanks them for “freeing” him.  He says that “I am speaking through” this man so that the party can understand.  The man says that he is from another dimension and now that his multidimensional state has coalesced into a singular dimensional stasis, he will be returning home.  He says that as a gift for freeing him, he wishes to give the adventurers a message of warning.  The white color of the surrounding walls fades and in its place is a vision of four great powers (one child dressed in white skirts; one charismatic warrior with a red beard and gleaming armor; one weasel-like man in a dimly lit room talking to a bald man; and one shadow shrouded creature with massive horns and giant bat wings) on opposite sides of each other sending massive armies into a great conflict.  The death and carnage are unfathomable.  The party is overwhelmed by the atrocity of the vision and they lose consciousness.  What could be moments, hours or days later, the heroes awaken, feeling as though they have had some form of awakening.  (Each PC receives a permanent +2 bonus to their Wisdom scores.)  The man appears not to have moved.  He speaks again, explaining that the multiple dimensions co-exist in the same space and that the events occurring in one will unavoidably effect the other.  He tells the group that they will have an impact on the events of the Old Empires and implores them to seek to spread peace and harmony among the lands.  He says that he would himself simply neutralize the armies, but that he is “forbidden” from doing so.  He tells them that it is time for him to return home.  With that, the man collapses in a motionless heap and the green sphere begins to move toward the group.  The room spins and the heroes fight to retain their consciousness.  With his awareness fading, Oriseus reaches out with his mind and in an instant explains his fading faith in Tchazzar, his need for a new patron and his hope that the being would consider this.  He feels a slight opening in his mind then all falls dark.  A moment later, only Arrakes is still awake.  He has a fleeting opportunity to ask the orb of light one final question.  He asks, “how do you cage a devil?”  The light response with a voice in Arrakes’s mind, saying “with that kind, it is best to beat them at their own game.”  The party lies motionless.

At some future time, the adventures awaken outside, lying on their backs, at the base of a glowing tower, watching the top floor sever itself from the stone and fly into the stars.  The glowing tower fades and the stone-filled Inverness courtyard rests silently under the night sky.  The session ends at 2:00 a.m., Wednesday, October 7, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #42 – Saturday, October 3, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 9:00 a.m.

As the party leaves the map room, they hear a snippet of some conversation coming through the walls and realize that the diorama has some sort of magical component and that at one time, perhaps when it was fully functional, would have been used as a scrying device.  The heroes climb to the surface and find the courtyard empty of life.  Oriseus summons a hawk using a find familiar spell and leaves it at the surface to scout out for life.  Then, the adventures break into the last of the four towers.  The interior is painted with scenes of an infinite sky scape.  They descend a wrought iron staircase to the lower level.  Progressing deeper into the complex, they enter a room with a glowing glass globe of swirling mist.  Dinsdale grabs a nearby hammer and smashes the glass releasing a tornado that sweeps the heroes off their feet and begins to chop them up with flying glass shards.  Thinking quickly, Arrakes casts a dispel magic spell and the winds cease, releasing the adventurers and opening the door on the opposite wall.  Further in the dungeons, the party comes into a smaller room that seems to contain plans for building a flying ship.  The group scoops up the plans, notes, charts and books and places them in their “library of holding.”  Continuing on, they party comes to a curious room that seems to not be a room at all, but a void space of infinite sky.  There is a rope bridge spanning the openness to a wall with a niche on the other side.  The bridge looks fairly solid, but still potentially dangerous.  In the distance, there are a number of flying creatures.  There is no ceiling and no floor, just infinite blue sky with the occasional cloud.  Dareus and Dinsdale quickly make their way across.  All the while being assailed by odd flying creatures with four wings and painful rays of electricity emanating from their tails.  Oriseus casts an invisibility spell on the ailing Namfoodle and encourages the troubled gnome to cross.  In a state of near panic, Namfoodle manages to fall through a rotted floor board and off into the distance below with a faint scream.  Dinsdale finds a secret door behind him in the niche.  He opens the secret door.  Oriseus makes his way across the bridge as one of the bird-like creatures saws through a support rope with its razor sharp beak.  The weakened bridge is further damaged when Namfoodle falls from above at terminal velocity and slams through the floor boards near the spot where he fell through, screaming and waving his flaming hands.  Dareus is slammed with a huge electric ray that severs his left leg just below the knee.  He falls in a state of shock, managing to stay on the little ledge outside the secret door.  Dinsdale grabs his leg and positions it in place as Arrakes casts a heal spell to reattach it.  Dareus is still in shock as another wave of electric rays shoot from every direction and Dinsdale is hit.  Meanwhile, Arrakes is the only hero who has not yet crossed.  He ties a rope around his waist and Dinsdale ties the other end of the rope on the far side of the chasm.  Dinsdale and Oriseus grip the rope to give it greater grounding.  Arrakes starts to make his way across the bridge but pauses to send a healing spell out to Namfoodle, who wakes and begins screaming, “not again!”  One of the creatures slams into Arrakes and knocks him off the bridge.  The rope goes taut and Arrakes falls in an arc, slamming into the wall many feet below the niche, but not before he tries to grab the plummeting, now unconscious, Namfoodle to no avail.  Oriseus and Dinsdale urgently pull on the rope, hoping to bring Arrakes to the top.  Meanwhile, Arrakes is peppered with electric rays and watches as the few remaining support ropes are chewed in twain by the attacking creatures.  The bridge falls and Arrakes is able to avoid being hit as bridge remnants hit the wall next to him.  Then, in a scene that seemed almost to occur in slow motion, Arrakes looks up to see a massive ray of electric energy shooting in his direction.  However, just before impact, Arrakes’s vision goes dark and he reawakens in the hallway beyond the secret door behind the niche.  On his shoulder is a tiny red devil-like creature who smiles and says, “you are ok, yes?”  The creature then pops out of existence again.  Dareus leaps out into the void just as Namfoodle falls by again with the hope of grabbing him.  In time, Dareus is able to grab Namfoodle and position the two of them closer to the niche, still falling.  Oriseus casts a command spell on a surprisingly intelligent, 12 foot long bird creature.  He tells it to bring Namfoodle safely to the ledge.  It responds with a friendly, “Roger, roger!”  Namfoodle is saved.  Meanwhile, Dareus uses his monk skills to break his own fall, surviving his landing on the ledge.  The group quickly pulls back into the hallway and shuts the secret door in relative safety.  Knowing that they desperately need a long rest, the group nonetheless presses forward through the long hallway to see what is ahead.  The session ends with the discovery of another door in the hallway at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, October 3, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #41 – Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 6:15 p.m.

The party pushes forth into the blazing heat, but not before preparing themselves for the dangers ahead.  The heroes come face to face with Elim, the Sultan Prince, along with his salamander minions inside a huge room with a floor of lava and black stone.  Elim is bound by a pair of magical chains that Arrakes breaks.  Elim thanks the party by ordering an immediate attack.  However, Elim does not bother to see the fight to its end, opting instead to travel back to the City of Brass.  The heroes are nearly slain but prevail in the end, sending the last of the salamanders back into the depths of the magma from which it came.  The heroes turn their attention to a curious little devil-like creature caged and suspended over the molten rock.  Negotiations ensue culminating in Arrakes’s signing an infernal contract with a meaning that has yet to be fully revealed.  In exchange, the devil gives Arrakes the key to the fire gate then disappears.  The party then progresses through a room with a huge iron golem holding a massive firehose that is directed at Arrakes with stunning power.  Dinsdale hits the “Emergency Shut Off” lever and Arrakes is saved.  The party finds some “Burn Cream” and continues onward to the end of the fire quadrant, inserting the flaming key into the massive central gate.  Brother Dareus insists that they must go back for Namfoodle, admitting that the gnome is a bit of an “asshole,” but pointing out that it would be wrong for them to leave a party member in danger.  The group travels through the portal back to Brass Palace and finds the Sultan sitting on his throne.  They witness an unexpected exchange between Efrem and Elim in which the former strikes his son with the broad side of his falchion, knocking him to the ground in a fit of anger.  A desperate Namfoodle appears with flaming hands and is pulled through the bars of the searing cage.  He dives through the gate and is followed by the rest of the party as the distracted occupants of the throne room watch in disbelief as the “doting” father Sultan beats his son to within an inch of his life.  The session ends with the adventurers fully exhausted at 9:00 a.m., Saturday, October 3, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #40 – Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 9:30 a.m.

The party heals itself a little then takes a long rest.  Venturing further into the depths of the fire elemental halls, the heroes happen upon a door in the hallway wall.  The door has clearly been beaten in with a heavy blunt instrument but remains locked tight.  Unable to pick the lock, Dinsdale begins to slam the now decaying wood and ultimately, with the help of Dareus, the door is broken.  Inside the small room beyond, the party finds three skeletons, each wearing leather armor, died blue and embossed with the same symbol of the setting sun found on the bronze doors leading into the Inverness towers from the courtyard.  Dinsdale pockets a purple gem.  The rest of the chamber has already been ransacked.  The party moves to another door down the hallway.  Dinsdale is surprised when the door opens away from him of its own accord and he stands face to face with an ogre skeleton brandishing an enormous maul.  Battle ensues and the heroes are victorious.  The party comes to another room with huge rams’ heads mounted on opposing walls.  Dinsdale finds pressure plates in the floor and the adventurers are able to pass through without incident.  The door on the other side of the room is barred shut from inside.  Dareus moves the bar, but discovers immediately that the bronze door and bar are extremely hot, burning his skin.  The door is opened and a blast of scalding air hits the heroes.  Recovering from the blast, the heroes see that the hallway beyond extends for about 30 feet and then ends is a hot red glow.  The air before them is blurred by waves of hot gas.  The session ends at 6:15 p.m., Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #39 – Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 8:30 a.m.

Without warning, Namfoodle simply walks through the flames and apparently crosses the pool.  From the other side, he announces that it is an illusion and that they can walk through.  However, the adventurers each struggle with this information as the flames have every sensation of radiating enormous heat.  Eventually, everyone but Dareus is able to mentally protect themselves from burning and cross.  Dareus makes a brave run for it and is burned as a result.  On the other side, the party comes face to face with two huge roughly humanoid creatures seemingly made only of fire.  The creatures stand as if warding passage further into the hall.  To the right is a door that Namfoodle opens from the other side.  He waves the heroes into a small room.  In the center of the room is a circular table atop which rests a miniature diorama.  The scene depicts what appears to be a huge palace made of brass.  There are miniature figures on the table.  While the pose of each figure is fixed, the pieces themselves appear to move around the surfaces.  Namfoodle begins searching for a secret passage.  Dinsdale lends a hand and a door is indeed found.  Oriseus begins to interrogate Namfoodle, sensing that the gnome is acting strangely.

Namfoodle eventually reveals that a large part of his study has involved the various elemental planes.  In particular, he explains, he has had a longstanding desire to travel to the elemental plane of fire because, as he put it, “there will no doubt be fantastic items for trade.” Dinsdale finds a passage beyond the secret door that leads to another door.  This new stone door is not locked or trapped, but is quite warm to the touch.  Dinsdale eases it open.  On the other side is a stone cavern.  Much of the floor of this cavern gives way to a huge lava pool.  A small stone peninsula stretches into the molten rock.  Namfoodle brushes past Dinsdale and runs onto the peninsula.  There, he stops before a stone portal.  He immediately drops his pack and searches through it.  In a moment, his hand withdraws, holding an oddly shaped stone.  His left hand runs across the surface of the portal frame.

The party senses something is afoot and they lunge for Namfoodle, but the crafty gnome manages to slip through their fingers as he deftly fits the stone into to the frame, activates the portal and dives through.  The adventurers pause for a moment to assess the situation and then follow their travelling companion through the portal.  On the other side, the party stands in stifling heat, and in a brass cage.  Around them, are the walls and furnishings of a grand throne room.  Namfoodle is already on his knees, head bowed.  He is addressing an 18-foot-tall humanoid creature with fiery skin, flames for hair and long pointed teeth.  The group concludes that this is an example of the legendary “efreet,” a race of magical and evil genie who are fabled to live on the elemental plane of fire.  This particular efreet bears all the hallmarks of royalty.  Namfoodle addresses the creature as “King Efrem” and offers the king a small gift.  King Efrem is not alone in the room.  There are also four black skinned dwarf-like men with fiery hair and great axes.  There are also three 10-foot-tall flaming salamander-like creatures that were apparently paying homage to the king when the party arrived.

One of the dwarves approaches Namfoodle, reaches through the bars of the cage and takes the offering.  He then hands it to the king, who raises it for inspection and in so doing, reveals that this is a metal ring of sorts.  The king steps before the imprisoned party and demand that they bring his son, “Eliz” back.  He tells the heroes they have three days to do so or the king’s forces will come after them and kill them.  Namfoodle offers himself as a “hostage.”  He instantly disappears from inside the cage and reappears next to the king.  Oriseus attempts to get more information from the king and is partly successful.  The king seems to learn that the party is not actually associated with Galap-Dreidel.  He holds Namfoodle up by his neck and tells Oriseus that he now has the means with which to pass through the portal to the prime material world, presumably to the portal located in the Inverness dungeons.  Oriseus joins the rest of the party on the other side of the portal.  They move back out through the map room and into the hallway where there are now four fiery elemental creatures.  The creatures, appearing to sense that the adventurers intend to pass, take a uniform defensive posture.  Battle ensues.

Oriseus and Arrakes use their magic creatively while the others pound on the elementals.  Eventually, the monsters are slain.  The party is badly wounded from the fight and much of their magic spent.  They hear a “zap” sound from down the hall and another fire creature rounds the distant corner and begins to close the distance.  The party realizes that there is some kind of summoning device around that corner and it is only a matter of time before another elemental is brought to bear against them.  They dispatch the newest monster and makes their way into a room that has a mysterious quasi-mechanical summoning device.  With great effort, the heroes destroy (or believe they have destroyed) the summoning device.  The session ends at 9:30 a.m., Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #38 – Thursday, October 1, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 6:30 p.m.

The party takes a short rest then reaches the top of the stairs to hear the sounds of battle outside the tower. Peering out, they see that the ash giants are under attack from a battalion of wizards and warriors wearing chainmail. The heroes decide they are more closely aligned with the giants and rush to their aid. The invading force is put down. One of the giants introduces himself as Langor. He thanks the party, offers friendship and answers questions. Langor tells the adventurers that the Cyrilia is a formless being from another world, whose craft crashed in the foothills of the Smoking Mountains thousands of years ago. He warns that the now smashed tower was once its home and that some said that the tower was itself the remains of the crashed space craft. He says that the Cyrilia is a concentrated form of consciousness, likely to overwhelm any that come near it. He warns that if the party intends to confront the Cyrilia, it is unlikely that they will survive in their current state. Langor gives Oriseus a piece of strange metal. He says that although the ash giants have a spiritual connection to the elements of this world, the metal is not of this world and thus they have no connection to it. He explains that there is more of this metal in the pile of rock now dominating the center of the complex.

Langor and his companions are mining the “magical” rock from the tower because there are vestiges of consciousness in it. They are using the stone to build their new palace far from this location. Oriseus tries to establish a mental link with the foreign metal. He discovers that the metal has no consciousness per se, but it seems to convey a sense longing. When asked if the tower still exists or whether the Cyrilia is still present in the area, Langor answers with the strange words, “there are shadows.” He apologizes and says that is the only way he can put it for he himself does not really understand what he is sensing. He also says that the builder of Inverness was overwhelmed by the Cyrilia’s “consciousness.” The giants grant the party leave to continue their work below the surface. They seem satisfied that of all the “small men” likely to be coming for the Cyrilia in the days to come, the adventurers are the least objectionable.

The party conducts a short search among the debris in the center of the keep’s courtyard. They find several more pieces of the foreign metal. Oriseus keeps it, thinking that it might be useful for some kind of armor smithing. One of the giants finds Namfoodle hiding in the rubble. Namfoodle thanks the giant for alerting him to the fact that the party was departing so that he could rush to join them. The heroes descend into the fire quadrant of the dungeon complex. With almost superhuman luck, the group discovers a walled over section of the hallway. After hours of digging, they break through and find a burial crypt full of skeletons. In the middle of the bones they view a stone dais with a sealed sarcophagus. Atop the sarcophagus is another human skeleton holding two daggers. When Dinsdale approaches, the skeleton atop the sarcophagus rises and charges as if to attack, but almost immediately disintegrates under its own weight. Dinsdale takes the daggers and they reveal themselves to be the Blades of Cormyr – an ancient artifact of great power. He tucks them away. Coming out of the crypt, the party comes upon a 60’ trench full of oily black liquid. In the left wall, in front of the trench, is a metal panel holding two levers. One of the levers has the image of a skull engraved above it.

Dareus thrusts both levers upwards at the same time. Initially, stepping stones allowing passage across the trench rise out of the fluid, but immediately thereafter, the liquid bursts into enormous flames making the trench impassable. Dareus pushes both levers back down and although the party can hear the stepping stones retracting, the flames remain. The session ends with the party standing before the burning oil at 8:30 a.m., Friday, October 2, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #37 – Thursday, October 1, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 7:00 a.m.

The adventurers awake and take the blue liquid back to the orange fish. Once the liquid is poured into the fish’s head, the door in the western wall of the chamber is opened. The party files west then southward. They come to an antigravity room where water clings to the ceiling. In time, the gravitational orientation is corrected. The heroes pass through another door and series of traps. Eventually, they find their way into a small chamber containing a partially filled basin. Each member of the party activates the basin and experiences an individual vision.

Arrakes Delmirev: 
“As the ripples dissipate, Arrakes sees a vision of himself. In the vision, he stands at what looks to be the edge of a thick, almost prehistoric-looking jungle. Before him is a clearing paved with cracked white stone tiles, overgrown with hearty green vines and weeds. Broken and leaning marble ruins, seemingly torn apart by the motionless jungle, line the edges of the square.

Standing on Arrakes’s shoulder is a six-inch-tall naked, vaguely humanoid creature with red skin, plump belly and forked tail. A pair of short yellowish horns adorns its head. Its face is sharply featured with spiked teeth and black eyes. Smiling, it whispers something to Arrakes.

Facing Arrakes, standing in the center of the clearing, is a blonde haired man clothed in loosely fitting white robes. He wears a golden belt and holds a gleaming longsword.

The three beings stand, appearing to converse with one another in an animated fashion. Suddenly, the blonde haired man’s gaze grows hard and he lifts his shining sword to the sky. Lightening crashes down and engulfs Arrakes in a bright flash. Then the water grows blank.”

Brother Dareus:
“Mists in the water begin to fade and form into a landscape scene. Dareus sees a steep mountainside, covered with green trees, steep cliff faces and boulders. Winding upwards from the neighboring valley is an ancient, dilapidated staircase cut into the natural rock. The staircase is overgrown with wild brush to the point that portions of the causeway appear wholly impassable.

The winding staircase leads upwards to a monastery that clings precariously to the steep rock. Dareus immediately recognizes the structure as his former home, the “House of Erudition.” The structure appears just as he remembers it and Dareus feels the warm sense of reunion. His figure smiles, inhales deeply and starts toward the mountain.

Suddenly, however, he sees a distant plume of grey smoke emanate from the main building. His walk turns to a run. In moments, the smoke turns to open flame, then swiftly to a conflagration that overwhelms the entirety of the structure. Dareus breaks into a sprint.

The narrow streets of the tiny town of Treefall are nearly empty as Dareus rushes through, toward the mountain staircase. From behind a stone wall steps a figure dressed only in black, all but his eyes obscured by ninja’s sashes. The man holds an unsheathed katana. As the figure steps into Dareus’s path, six more black-clad assailants jump from neighboring buildings and appear from behind corners.

The ninjas have armbands stitched with the emblem of a dark red square set on an angle inside a red circle. Dareus instantly recognizes the symbol as that of the Order of the Crushing Palm, which had once been well-respected throughout Toril. Dareus assumes a defensive posture as his attackers approach, weapons raised. The water grows blank.”

Dinsdale Grimbane:
“The misty surface of the water slowly focuses on a grizzly scene. Dinsdale sees himself lying amid a score of corpses, face down and barely breathing. The dead around him appear to be beast creatures or demons of some sort, vaguely humanoid, but covered with coarse black hair.

Oddly, Dinsdale has few apparent wounds. On the ground, near each of his hands is a huge blood soaked dagger. The blades are highly polished and the grips are wound with blue leather. The pommels bear an engraved symbol resembling a bird in flight.

Slowly, Dinsdale seems to regain consciousness. He pushes himself up on one elbow, grimacing as if in agony, and surveys the carnage. Painfully, he twists his neck down and to the right, apparently catching glimpse of the dagger lying there. His fingers pull its hilt to his palm and as he does so, the other dagger appears in his left hand, as if summoned by magic. Using the last of his strength, he sheathes both daggers at his belt and drops his torso back to the ground. His head hits the hard stone and thereafter he is motionless. The vision fades.”

Oriseus:
“Oriseus watches as the swirling water calms itself. In its depths, light forms and coalesces into a disturbing picture. A dark haired woman dressed in black leather stands against a bare stone wall in relative darkness. Her hands and feet are chained to the rock. Oriseus instantly recognizes the woman as Eve Nightshade, the Harper agent with whom the party briefly travelled on their way to Ostohar.

Eve looks forward stoically. Approaching is a hooded figure carrying a glowing red poker. He stops with his covered face only inches from hers. They converse. Her brave expression reveals faint elements of fear. She closes her mouth. They stand still in silence.

He speaks again. Eve does not respond. The man grips the iron poker with both hands and thrusts it through her abdomen. Eve appears to yell out and doubles over. The man removes the poker and watches as her strength gives out. Eve’s motionless body hangs by her wrists against the damp wall.

Suddenly, the hooded man turns around to face another man who is standing in the doorway of what seems to be a dungeon chamber. Light spills in from beyond so that only his black silhouette can be seen. The man in the doorway appears to be clad in a leather tunic and on his left hand is a glove covered with a bladed claw. The shadow cast onto the floor is that not of a man, but of a bear. The water grows blank.”

Exiting the small room, the party finds another stone slab door, this one with three holes and three symbols. They backtrack through the dungeon to find a room with a mural of an underwater tree bearing fruit. Oriseus picks one of the fruit and removes it from the mural. In his hand, he holds a self-contained globule of water shaped to look like an apple. After travelling back to the stone slab door, the adventurers discover that the water apple is one of the keys. Having inserted the key, the party travels to the base of the stairs leading up into the ground level tower. The session ends at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 1, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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Session #36 – Wednesday, September 30, 1372 (DR) Third Age, 7:30 p.m.

Oriseus suggests adding salt to the water in the diorama and a room rises beyond the arch that shuts out the falling water. The group passes through to the other side, whereupon a series of lit doors slam shut to their right. Ignoring the shut doors, the party continues westward to an unpainted wall. Upon investigation, the adventurers discover that there are actually rotating doors built into the wall. Before long, they have all passed through to a room with a chessboard floor. Each tile appears to be trapped and after a series of electric shocks and thundering booms, they manage to pass to the hallway beyond. The corridor leads to an unlocked door. It opens into a small room, painted with ocean scenes, but empty except for a large painted statue of an orange fish. Dinsdale finds a secret door to the north.

The party moves through the door and down a long hall to a large chamber that is filled to the ceiling with breathable water. Inside, there are six huge sharks swimming menacingly. On the other side of the room, there is a seaweed covered statue of a mermaid holding an urn. Battle ensues. In a fit of aggression, Dareus charges into the room and suffers a series of shark bites. The party revives Dareus three times and just as it looks as though Dareus will be pushed from unconsciousness to death, luck strikes and the attacking giant shark misses its killing bite. The last of the sharks are slain. Dareus is revived a fourth time. The statue’s urn contains a vial of brightly colored transparent blue liquid. Dinsdale discovers a polished shell in a compartment in the back of the statue. An identify spell reveals that the shell can imbue its owner with the power to breathe water. The party takes a long rest. The session ends at 7:00 a.m. on Thursday, October 1, 1372 (DR) Third Age.

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