Cheap Whiskey

Ryniom and the Lost Younglings

Theren and the others woke the following morning to find that the grove in the forest had curled around them and provided a comfortable place to rest. The sprites and other guests were gone including Say’ware and Old’nys. The party searched their belongings and found a few items were missing but nothing of great value or importance. Suddenly a great white unicorn appeared through the trees. It was the most amazing being Theren had ever seen and he immediately felt protective the creature.

“You must Ryniom.” Theren said.

“Yes, and you are the slayers of Razcoreth?” asked the unicorn. “My forest friends have told me much of your story.”

“Can you help us?” asked Theren.

“I would love to help you,” said Ryniom, “but first I must ask for your help. If you will, gather your horses and follow me. I will explain along the way.”

The BUSA gathered their belongings and mounted their horses. Ryniom led them through the forest at a quick pace. he stopped occasionally to give them more information. The CrecentEnd Younglings were the children of the druids who had been slaughtered by the dragon years ago. They had been raised by friends of Ryniom after he had found them orphaned and eventually they had moved out on their own and formed a tribe. Very recently some members of the tribe had disappeared and it was suspected they had beeen abducted by “the dark man”. Ryniom had come to check out the matter. He had spoken with the chief’s mate Hesine. She said that Ashsam, the young chief, had seen “the dark man” the previous night and chased him through the forest. Ashsam had not returned.

The adventurers could see the western mountain range when Ryniom stopped by a hidden cave in the woods. He told them he believed that Ashsam had chased “the dark man” to this cave. He believed the cave might lead to the Underdark but he was sure it was not a tunnel used by the mighty fomorian giants. It was too small for them but there could be other nasty creatures inside. Ryniom wanted them to go in and find Ashsam because he himself was not able to travel underground. If they would help him he would gladly help them with their troubles.

They agreed and theren led the BUSA into the cave.

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The CrecentEnd Forest

Rudy, Theren, Uthrid and Nim carried the Standard back to the circle of stones where their horses were grazing. While they ate and rested they discussed where to go. The music they heard in the distance ended after a short time. The Standard questioned the adventurers about their homeland and was particularly interested in the Arkvana Peninsula. After a little while they decided to travel up river to where the music had seemed to come from.

Theren scouted through the thick, thorny brush and approached two enormous trees standing close by one another. The wind was blowing and one of the trees creaked as the wind blew through its branches. The other tree seemed to creak in answer to the first and Theren believed he heard words whispered in elven carried along in the wind. He listened closer and picked up pieces of a conversation that conincided with the groaning of the trees before him.

“We should welcome them, Old’nys.” said a vibrant excited voice.

“No, Say’ware. We don’t know their intentions. They could be dangerous.” responded a more matronly voice.

“But they slayed Razcoreth. We never liked him.” said Say’ware.

“And they might slay us.” retorted Old’nys. “They might be worse than the dragon.”

“Who is there?” called out Theren, “My companions and I mean no harm to you.”

A beautiful woman stepped out from the trees. She had golden hair that fell beyond her waist with flowers interwoven throughout it. She had large, innocent, blue eyes and a perfect face. Her silver, glittering dress clung tightly to her voluptuous body. She smile and introduced herself as Say’ware as Theren’s companions joined him.

“Is she elven?” Theren thought and suddenly realized she was as the tip of a tapered ear revealed itself from under her exquisite locks. The others were dumbstruck by her beauty but Uthrid was wary. Something was wrong about her. He was sure her appearance was GLAM of some sort and he didn’t trust her. Not being able to speak elven he had trouble finding answers to his concerns. Say’ware was friendly and provided the adventurers with a disjointed history of the forest they were in. She spoke quickly and often strayed from one point and began rambling about another event. It might have been annoying if the party was not so mesmerized by her beauty and seeming innocence. As it was they found her ramblings child-like and cute. She claimed to be quite young but by the disjointed history she gave it was clear she was well over one hundred years old. Old’nys spoke occasionally trying to disuade Say’ware from being so forthright but she stayed out of sight for the time being.

Say’ware was delighted the party had killed Razcoreth the dragon. The dragon had slain some her dryad friends when he arrived many years ago and had killed most of the remaining eladrin druids who used to dwell in the area. The circle of stones were a device of those druids and she did not know how they worked. According to her, the druids’ troubles started when a fire giant called Cerns arrived through the portal stones long and long ago. He smashed his way around the CrecentEnd Forest but was spooked by the lake and headed north. Someone Say’ware referred to as Long’Old’Worny was awake back then and when the giant started destroying things he drove Cerns up to the mountain range. The giant made a den up under one of the mountains and eventually died. Evidently, Long”old’Worny had been sleeping since shortly after his confrontation with Cerns.

Sometime after Cerns had been banished and Long’Old’Worny went to sleep the dragon Razcoreth came through the portal and killed all who came to oppose him which were some dryads and most of the eladrin. Some dryads and eladrin had become his vassals and treated him as their lord. Say’Old and her hamadryad and Thussia and her two sons had been the only remaining vassals before the adventurers had been forced to kill them. Say’ware was very sad about their deaths but didn’t hold the adventurers morally responsible. She mentioned The Rake and The Younglings, she didn’t expand upon the Rake but said that the Younglings were the surviving children of the druids who had a small community in the valley.

Say’ware said that her friend, Ryniom the White, could probably help them. They explained that they needed to find Perry Barefoot and get back to their world. Say’ware had no idea what they should do but suggested Ryniom or Heissos might be able to help. She recommended Ryniom who she refered to as the Mahatma of the CrecentEnd over Heissos who she said was mischievous and unpridictable. She said the music they had heard earlier was from Heissos’ pipes and some other fey who must have been singing to the Banshrea. She said the Banshrea lived across the river and could be cruel and viscious but music turned them docile. She believed Heissos had run across some Banshrea and had to calm them. The Banshrea wouldn’t come across the river but maybe they had come close after learning of Razcoreth’s death. The Banshrea she described as being humanoid with large eyes and that they didn’t communicate with their mouths. She warned they were cunning and that you didn’t want run into a bunch of them if you weren’t a really good singer. Ryniom she described as travelling on four legs with a beard and a long horn on his head. He ran on hard feet had a flowing mane and was magestic. The finest creature in the land was Ryniom the White, and the wisest.

“Not THE Wisest, tell ya Long’Old’Worny!” objected Old’nys.

“Well, the wisest that has been awake during the last five hundred moons!” exclaimed Say’ware.

Heissos was a faun or satyr who showed up when the Nymphs, for Say’ware and Old’nys were dryads, decided to gather together some of their sprite friends and give the Bearers of the Unconquered Standard of Arkhosia (BUSA) a celebratory welcome. The nymphs were interested in giving the creatures of the mortal world an intimate examination but only Nim took advantage of their erotic services. Heissos was generous with his wine and engaging.

By the end of the evening the BUSA had a general idea of the surrounding area. To the south was a crecent shaped lake. They were within the crecent at one end and the lake curved to the west and north to its other end. The river which ran into the eastern tip of the lake came from the lands of the Winter Fey in the north. The lands east of the river were infested with the Banshrea who were insect-like humanoids. To the west and the north were mountain ranges which crossed each other in the northwest. The creatures of the forest had not crossed either mountain range. Dragons and other creatures lived in the mountains. Say’ware claimed Ryniom had told her Razcoreth could not have competed with creatures who laired in the mountain peaks. None of the fey at the celebration had been south of the sea and few bothered with the lands east of the river. They were content with their niche of the valley. Most of them had never seen the mountains to the north which bordered the lands of the Winter Fey. Heissos mused that perhaps the BUSA’s best option might be to throw their fate to the mercy of the Winter Fey. They would have the power to return them but it would be dangerous to bother them. He also said he had heard a rumor that there was a passage through the mountains at the fire giants old lair. The passage supposedly led to some stormy arcane plains and there was an eladrin city beyond those plains.

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The Unconquered Standard Of Arkhosia

Theren was revived after the dragon fell and the party found a narrow passage by the dryad’s tree that wormed through the moist earth under the hill. Puddles of water spotted the floor, and white roots hung down from above like hairs. The passage entered a wide cavern and expanded into a massive area of excavated earth. A central column of dirt and stone supported the earthen ceiling overhead. Strange purple roots emerged from the column, twitching as if alive. The floors and walls were packed mud and earth, with puddles of water scattered throughout.

The party waded through the ankle-deep, stagnant water and Nim, Theren and Uthrid each discovered items hidden in the mud at the bottom. Nim found a copper bust of an attractive female eladrin and Uthrid found a leather bag filled with copper coins. Theren’s hand grasped a pole and he heaved it out of the muck. The wooden pole was approximately 10 feet long and a banner hung from it’s end. As Theren held the pole upright the banner rippled and shed itself of the mud revealing a golden dragon on a field of deep blue and a commanding voice spoke.

“Congratulations! You have discovered The Unconquered Standard Of Arkhosia.” said the voice which sounded like it came from the rippling banner, “And you are?”

“I am Theren Brightwood.” replied the elf ranger.

“Theren Brightwood, do you protect the innocent and aid those who would fight on their behalf?” asked the Standard.

“I do.” replied Theren.

“Theren Brightwood, do you destroy devils and tieflings wherever they lurk?” asked the standard.

“I do.” responded Theren after giving his comrades a wary glance.

“Theren Brightwood, do you seek to restore the glory of the dragonborn, honor the memory of Arkhosia, and take any opportunity to unite the race into a nation once more?”

Theren gave his companions another wary look but again answered, “I do.”

“Very good,” said the Standard, “I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Carry me with you, I will grant you powers and together we shall add new exploits to the heroic days of old. If you prove to be a true champion I will reveal greater powers.”

After some consideration the party decided that Rudy would be the more appropriate one to carry the Standard. To use the Standard’s powers, the bearer had to either hold the Standard aloft or plant it in the earth and remain close to it. Theren was more effective moving around the battlefield. The Standard acknowledged Rudy as the leader of the group and agreed to be carried by him. The Standard then filled the party in on a little of it’s past.

“In one of the last great battles between Arkhosia and Bael Turath, a single dragonborn regiment held a fortress against multiple legions of tieflings and their diabolic allies. When the battle was over, every demon had fallen, every tiefling – and every dragonborn but one. Wounded, he still lifted his commander’s tattered standard before he set out for home. His people kept the banner as a sign of the victory.” explained the Standard, “I am that banner. I disappeared with the fall of Arkhosia, but have reappeared throughout the centuries, infused with powers that bolster the righteous in their battle against evil.”

The party exited the dragon lair intent on taking a rest back where the menhirs stood arranged in a circle. When they got outside they could hear a chorus of singing voices far away up river accompanied by pipe music of some kind of wind instrument and an occasional crash of cymbals.

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Razcoreth

The green dragon warlock, Razcoreth, clung to the side wall of the hole leading into his lair within the hill. If one of the interlopers looked over the edge, he was prepared to use his luring glare and entice the unfortunate one to step over the side and plummet the 80 feet to their death. He heard them talking but not what they were saying. None of them showed themselves. He dropped down to the cavern and crept into his secret passage that exited the lair at the base of the hill by Say’Old’s tree. Say’Old and her hama were dead along with Thussia and her sons. The interlopers would pay for their audacity. They should not have dared trespass on his turf and slay his vassels. He took a moment to gather a second wind and crept out of the hole meaning to sneak up on his new enemies.

He picked up their scent on the northern side of the hill. They had run through the thick, thorny bushes between the trees. He landed ten feet from one of the gargantuan trees and looked for a trace from the intruders. Suddenly, he felt the sting of one of the elf’s arrows as it stuck into his ribs. Enraged, he leaped toward the elf who was drawing another arrow. The elf’s companions were behind him by the gargantuan tree. Razcoreth cast his warlock’s curse on the elf and stopped short of the two warriors swords as he used his frightening presence on them. He could not see the sorcerer gnome. The elf’s second arrow hit him but the three prey in his sights were stunned by his presence. He tore at the elf with his claws and the gnome popped around the other side of the tree and hit him with an acid orb. Razcoreth used his breath weapon on the three stunned humanoids and circled around the tree. For a few moments Razcoreth used fly by attacks and stayed away from the warriors swords. He focused most of his attacks on the elf who was dangerous with his bow. Soon he had the elf staggering and he pounced on him. Razcoreth was bloodied at this point and in a rage. The elf fell but one of the warriors came to his aid. Razcoreth marked the helpful warrior and attacked him. The other warrior compelled the dragon to focus his attacks on him for a moment. He swatted the man down with his tail while the gnome missed him with spells. Razcoreth was bleeding from many wounds. Blood and venom sprayed from his mouth. He lashed out at his cursed prey who he could now see was a half-elf. The human warrior was trying to draw his attacks but Razcoreth was intent on bringing down his marked foe who was occasionally aiding his companions with encouraging words and healing touches. The human warrior’s attacks were pushing his away from the half-elf. Razcoreth lunged at the half-elf who brought up his broadsword in a vicious strike that tore open the dragons chest. Razcoreth screamed as blood poured from his mouth and chest and he fell dead.

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Feywild Lair

When Nim, Uthrid Theren and Rudy awoke from their rest it was sunny morning and they were invigorated. They were lying within the menhirs which stood arranged in a circle around the flat stone. The place seemed to be long abandoned; moss and creepers covered the stones, as if the land were reclaiming the rocks, pulling them back into the ground from which they had come. Theren led the group outside the stone to scout the area.

Nearby, a grassy hill rose 80 feet fromthe floor of the ancient forest, pushing back the trees and ubiquitous brambles to drink in the sunlight. The hill was perfectly rounded except at its top, where a dark hole burrowed into the earth. Tendrils of mist curled up from the pit. To the right of the hill and menhirs, the trees gave way to a pristine lake, sunlight danced across its surface. Through the clear water, they could see the bottom, which featured a jumble of stones, acquatic plants, and fish darting back and forth or nipping water bugs. Weirdly, nothing disturbed the surface of the lake, not even the waters that fed it from the river they could see winding through the woods. When a fish, a bird, or even the caress of the wind brushed against the surface, it remained as flat as glass. Uthrid went to the edge of the water and dipped his hand in. The water felt strange and wonderful. Some blisters and small cuts on his hand healed and suddenly Uthrid was face down on the riverbank asleep. Rudy rolled him over and he woke after a few moments.

The party wandered through the forest. The ground was relatively flat and covered with pine needles. Clustered around the trees were wiry thorn bushes. Spaced every 100 feet or so, among the normal and massive pine and fir trees were the gargantuan trees that rose hundreds of feet in the air and had trucks wider than the diameters of many towers. After circling the area the party began climbing the hill. A 40-foot-diameter hole revealed the interior of the hill. Its walls were muddy and earthen, hairy with strange roots and twitching with beetles and worms. About 80 feet down lied the pit’s bottom, a morass of mud and brckish water.

Suddenly a female voice called out in elven. “Halt! Move away from that hole!” commanded the voice and continued, “Say’old! Say’old! What is going on here?”

“Thussia? Are you barking at me?” asked another female voice in elven.

“Interlopers, Say’old! Murderous interlopers! Mortals! Can you not see them on our Lord’s hilltop?” said the first voice.

“Aye, I see them there.” responded Say’old.

“Why do you and the hama let them get so, unpunished?” asked Thussia.

“I was looking at the sky. They can’t have been here but a moment.” said Say’old. A female creature composed of wood emerged from a gigantic tree at the base of the hill. Four lesser defined wooden creatures emerged from other trees close by. The female uttered an elvish curse and the five wooden creatures began a quick march up the hill toward the adventurers. To their left, halfway up the hill, appeared two young eladrin males dressed in chainmail designed to look like interlocking leaves. They carried green longswords and shields and approuched in a defensive formation. Behind them appeared an older female eladrin incanter.

Theren tried to speak with the woodland creatures with diplomacy but they were intent upon dispatching the interlopers with violence. Say’old, the female wooden creature – a dryad, charged Rudy who fired an arrow toward the eladrin soldiers. The eladrin incanter, Thussia, waved her spear at Uthrid from a distance and pain wracked him for a moment as he disappeared and reappeared amid the other wooden creatures – the hamadryads. One eladrin soldier marked Theren as his foe and the other marked Nim. The two adventurers were compelled to fight the two soldiers otherwise they would feel a sting of psychic pain. And so the battle began.

Uthrid had his hands full with the hamadryads and also drew the dryad upon himself with one of his attacks. Rudy chopped at the dryad. Theren quickly put a few arrows into the soldier who had marked him and Nim sent attacks at his foe. Thussia stood out of the melee and attacked Nim and Theren with spells. One of the hamadryads fell and Theren dispatched his soldier and turned his bow on Thussia. A moment later Nim dropped his soldier and Say’old fell from attacks from Uthrid and Rudy. The hamadryad found the fight turning on them and they began falling to the adventurers attacks. Thussia was wounded when her Lord emerged from the large hole in the top of the hill.

A young green dragon hovered above the hole. He held a rod in one hand and Theren felt an icy shiver run down his spine when the beast waved it in his direction. It was a warlock’s curse the dragon put on him, making him vulnerable to attacks from the warlock dragon. Nim had been dueling spells with the eladrin incanter away from the hole so he was uneffected by the dragon’s frightening presence and continued to battle with the dragon’s last remaining vassal. Theren, Uthrid and rudy were stunned and the dragon breathed a poisoneous vapor amongst them. Theren choked a little and then the dragon was tearing at him with his claws. The three recovered and were able to attack as Nim killed the incanter. the dragon whipped Theren with his tail and knocked him prone. Uthrid and Rudy stabbed at the beast while Theren got to his feet. Theren fired at the dragon and was knocked prone again. The dragon clawed at him and knocked him unconscious. As Theren fell the dragon teleported next to Uthrid and marked him with the war;ock’s curse. Rudy helped Theren and attacked the dragon. Nim joined in on attacking the dragon. Uthrid was bloodied but Theren was back on his feet. A series of attacks bloodied the dragon and he retreated into the hole in the top of the hill.

TO BE CONTINUED

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An Unexpected Destination

After Nim completed casting the ritual, a sound like harsh rainfall filled the parties ears and then slowly faded to silence. Nim, Uthrid, Theren and Rudy stood on a round stone platform in the dark silence. Around them six huge stones were gathered in a circle around the stone platform. The huge stones stood 20 feet high and the moon and night sky could be seen beyond them. There was space between the stones for a person to move in single file out of the encircled stones. Theren moved forward to get a look at what the area outside the stones had to offer. As he moved between the stones all he could hear was the random sounds coming from his companions. As he got to the outside edge of the stones, the moonlight revealed a gigantic forest around them and the sounds of wildlife reached his ears. Theren saw the forest was made up of mostly pine and maple trees. Some trees were of average size that could be found in the Nentir Vale forests. Others were larger with trunks of ten feet in diameter. Trees like these could be found in the Rain Valley but they were much more numerous in this wilderness. And then there were trees of immense proportion with trunks that had diameters ranging from 20 to 45 feet. The smaller of the immense trees were similar in size to ones Theren had seen before. He had travelled through the portal in the Rain Valley to the Feywild once with his father a few years before he set out on his adventures. Theren backed up inside the ring of stones and again all sounds from the wilderness were cut off. He reported what he had seen to the others. They were certainly not in Spearpoint and Theren was pretty sure they had entered the Feywild. They decided to camp within the stones and check out the area in daylight.

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Aftermath - Fort Dolor

Rudy, Theren, Nim and Uthrid returned to the opening to the old dragon lair. The captain had gathered the surviving members of her army there. Out of the 100 soldiers she had brought to the mountain only 40 remained. The adventueres explained to her that they had fought and defeated a lich and they let her believe that the lich was a threat to reopen the portal to Dis. She needed to find a ritual caster powerful enough to permanently shut down the portal. She also wanted to check the mountain trail for any survivors. The adventurers were eager to use the linked portal and return to Spearpoint and talk with Lord Perry. They agreed to escort the captain back to Fort Dolor so she could disburse more troops to protect the portal and send a message to Jonathan Steward. She asked the adventurers if they would send word and find a ritual caster and they agreed to pass along the message.

On the way down the mountain trail the found many dead soldiers. The two manticores who had delivered fly-by attacks were feasting on the carnage but they flew to a higher spot along the trail when the adventurers came close. The Oni they had fought among the devils in the mountain was devouring the soul of one unfortunate soldier when the party rounded a section of the trail. They bloodied it with attacks and the creature turned to gaseous form and fled.

When they arrived at Fort Dolor the captain sensed something was wrong. It was past midnight and music and merriment could be heard within the fort walls. The adventurers accompanied her through the front gates. The fort streets were filled with drinking and dancing soldiers. The captain scolded some of the soldiers and demanded an explanation for the wild behavior. During this confrontation the music stopped and more soldiers crowded into the street. The soldiers began whispering with each other and eyeing the captain and adventurers. Nim looked up at one of the inns windows and saw the dragonborn Garesh Vren looking down at them. He alerted Theren and when they looked back the dragonborn was gone from the window.

The renegade Lt. Stymers came out the front door of the inn as soldiers crowded closer to the adventurers at the gate. Uthrid saw the farm girl who had survived the attacks on the farms behind him.

“I’m in charge of Fort Dolor, now!” announced Stymers.

“By whose authority?” asked the captain.

“Well,” said Stymers, “Captain Revince was in charge…but he is now dead!” and Stymers hurled the head of the dead captain into the courtyard.

“Kill them!” Stymers cried and pointed to the adventurers. The soldiers drew weapons. Twenty of the soldiers would be upon them in a moment and there were perhaps eighty soldiers crowding the streets. Only four soldiers blocked the way to the gates behind the adventurers. Rudy, Theren, Nim and Uthrid turned and charged the soldiers blocking the gate. For a moment, as he turned, Uthrid watched the farm girl and saw horns bloom from her forehead and bat-like wings sprung from her back. Her lips moved and he saw the fangs behind them as she motioned toward the captain. Then the image was gone and it was just the farm girl looking at the captain who turned and walked docilely toward the inn.

Rudy and Uthrid plowed over two of the guards and Theren easily scooted by them. Nim was clipped by a pair of long swords but the four of them were quickly out the gate and on their horses. A few crossbow bolts came flying at them but they got away unscathed. When they were clear and sure they were not being pursued Nim took out the tarp with the magic circle and prepared the ritual. Randal had told them the ritual would take them directly to Lord Perry’s tower in Spearpoint but that is not what happened.

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Nevern & Driedel

The creature on the ridge was once Nevern. He stood in front of the fire looking down at the mountain trail. Uthrid, Theren, Nim and Rudy crept up the side of the mountain with care. A foul smell of rotting death grew stronger the closer they got. The smell from the fragrant burning branches could not cut through the deathly aroma when they reached the ridge and their faculties were slighty impaired. The creature welcomed them to its fire and when it stepped into the firelight they saw the bloated lips and bulbous nose of Nevern – the too close set eyes. His face was pale gray, his lips and eyes black and puss oozed out of fissures covering his face. His robe caked in mud and blood were pulled around him and about his head so only him face showed. he held no weapon.

“My master wants his book.” it said.

“Who is your master?” asked Theren.

“Driedel.” replied the creature, “He will demonstrate his power.” And it motioned down to the site at the base of the mountain trail where half of the captain’s army camped. From the ridge most of the mile long trail could be seen winding down the mountain. In several spots were small campfires where small groups of the soldiers had stationed themselves. At the base were three large fires spaced fifty feet apart in a triangular formation. One of the fires flickered violently.

“The book.” said Nevern.

“We don’t know what your talking about.” lied Nim.

“You gave it to Jonathan Steward?” asked Nevern. Shouts went up in the base camp below and cries of pain.

“We don’t know about any book.” said Nim. Activity was bustling in the camp below. It was impossible to see exactly what but there were more cries and movement. The campfire which flickered was extinguished now.

“Lies. Give it to Driedel and the killing ends.” More cries rose from below and the tiny specks of people were moving in all directions between the two remaining fires. There was a warbly hollow sound and another cry of pain.

“You can kill them all. We don’t have the book.” said Nim.

“You should have stayed dead, Nevern.” said Theren as his drew an arrow to his bow. Nevern croached and black fangs burst from his face and black talons from his fingers. Theren sunk an arrow into him as the creature leapt at Uthrid. The rest of the party joined in on attacking the ghoul that had been Nevern. More cries rose from below and soldiers were fleeing up the mountain trail. The ghoul Nevern clawed and bit at Uthrid and from the darkness above two flying figures broke into the firelight. They had the bodies of lions and the wings of bats. Their huge maned heads bore faces that were disturbingly human-like but with large pointy teeth. At the end of their tails grew clusters of spikes. They flicked their tails and rained spikes down on the adventures and Nevern. All of them were struck and nevern fell dead (again) from a combination of the parties attacks and bolt from one of the flying creatures. Theren fired a shot into one of the creatures and it bellowed a rageful roar and returned fire. The party got off a round of missle fire but the creatures were quickly out of range and sight as they flew down to the mountain trail below where cries of death continued to rise.

On Nevern, they found an emblem which Rudy quickly identified as the emblem of the city of Greyhawk. His mother had read to him when he was a child and the book he had liked the most were the tales of the heroes of Greyhawk. He remembered the emblem from the cover of the book but he could not immediately remember the stories. He wasn’t sure if the stories had been true or myth and he had never known whether the city was a real place or just a legend.

They pushed nevern’s nasty corpse into the fire and climbed down the mountainside to the trail. When they reached they trail they noticed that the chaotic shouting had stopped. Well past them on the ridge toward the lair entrance they believed they may have seen someone fleeing and below there was some moaning and an occasional shriek. But there attention was quickly drawn to a lone figure moving up the trail toward them just thirty feet away. It’s robes blew in the wind and a helmate crowned its skull face. The helmate was in the shape of a reptilian creature with green eyes. The skull peeked out from the maw. An amulet rested around the figures neck.

“You are Steward’s champions?” it asked.

“We were hired by him.” said Nim.

“I want the book.” it said.

The adventurers stuck to their story about not knowing about the book while they battled the lich Driedel. Driedel believed they had given the book to Jonathan Steward. The lich cast spells which created chilling zones and an aura of necrotic energy emanated from him. He also blasted the adventurers with shadow rays. It was a tight battle. A few times Driedel healed himself and he was slowly regenerating throughout the battle. Things turned at the end to the adventurers favor. Had the lich brought minions perhaps the adventurers would have been defeated but they finally destroyed the lich. As Driedel’s form disintegrated he whispered a promise to return with an army.

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Randal's Plan

Rudy’s Invulnerable Coat of Ahrnd deteriorated into 5000gp worth of risiduum after the battle with The Sleeper. The party all reached 10th level. The artifact’s mission had been fulfilled and it was time to move on to another hero.

Nim had received word from Lord Perry via a Sending ritual that the wizard wanted them to meet his agent at Fort Dolor rather than use the Linked Portal ritual. When the party reached the Fort, Rudy and Utrid were still suffering from mummy rot but it had not worsened. Randal met them outside the Fort gates and helped them back to the Avalanche Inn explaining along the way that Perry had commisioned them to work for Jonathan Steward in solving Fort Dolor’s problem. Randal showed documents to a member of the guard and a meeting was scheduled for the following morning with the new captain of the guard.

Back in a private room of the inn, Randal used Remove Affliction rituals on Rudy and Uthrid to heal the mummy rot. They fell unconscious but would be fine the next morning. That night he filled in the party on the plan. A new female half-elf captain had brought 200 new soldiers to the fort. They had discovered that Captain Revince had been hiding out at the herbalists shop with the farm girl who was the lone survivor of the attacks which had taken place weeeks ago. They had gone to the herbalist shop to confront the captain and been attacked by spine devils. They killed one of the devils and lost two men but the other spine devils as well as the captain and the girl had escaped. In the herbalist shop they had found a map to “the hag’s hut” which was located on the mountaion pass to the old dragon’s lair. They had reason to believe the “hag” was the dwarf crone who had been spouting prophecies outside the Avalanche Inn before and shortly after the attacks.

Randal explained that Jonathan Steward had asked Perry for assistance. Perry had agreed to have the party assist the new captain. They would be well paid promised Randal but Perry’s real motivation was to have the party stick around the area and capture whoever might come looking for the book they had brought him. They were essentially to be used as bait. Perry had made some discoveries with the book but felt it best to fill them in later on those discoveries just in case something went wrong with the trap they were setting. Perry felt strongly that they should find out who new about the book but also be careful that no one found out where it was. Randal gave Nim a large tarp with a magic circle drawn on it in residuum and told him it would take them directly to Perry’s tower in Spearpoint once they captured whoever came looking for the book or at least a clue to who it might be. Presumably it would be Nevern’s master – perhaps the one he called the Iron General.

Other development Randal told them about was that Lt. Stymers, who had been in charge of Fort Dolor when Revince went missing and before the new captain had arrived, had gone renegade. He had been stealing equipment from the army and he and his loyal soldiers were somewhere out in the wilderness in hiding. Theren had spied a hidden campsite as they had neared Fort Dolor from the Warwood and speculated that perhaps it had been this group who they had seen meeting with their acquaintence Garesh Vren.

The party re-equipped and met with the new captain the next morning. She brought 100 of her soldiers along to support the party. They held back at the bottom of the mountain while the party snuck up to the “hag’s hut”. They found the hag with some devilish cultists and an ogre. They killed them all in battle except for one of the cultists whom they questioned and sent down to the army. They found scrolls which talked about a portal top a place called Dis in the old dragon’s lair. Evidently devils could be summoned from this portal by sacraficing human blood. The party found the entrance to the lair and killed an owlbear and a couple of flameskulls that were guarding it. They then continued through a passage leading up into the mountain and fought some spine devils, hell guard and an Oni in one of the caverns. In this cavern they also found some prisoners. The Oni turned to gaseous form at the end of the battle and escaped out of the mountain taking the direction the party had come from. The party brought the prisoners down out of the mountain and found the captain had brought half her troops up onto the mountain pass. They took in the prisoners and the party rested. Later the party went back up the mountain and found the old dragon lair. It was occupied by a chain devil, some cambion and come hell guard and there was a portal between two obsidian slabs. A hole in the ceiling of the chamber exited the mountain. They defeated the devils and Nim partially deactivated the portal. Presently nothing can come through the portal but someone could reactivate it. It is beyong Nim’s ability to completely render the portal useless.

The captain brought here best soldier up to the portal room to guard it and descended the mountain with the party. The party rested with some of the soldiers at the bottom of the lair’s tunnel and the captain went off to check on the rest of her troops. Half the troops (50) remained down at the bottom of the mountain about a mile from the lair entrance, a quarter (25) guarded the portal and the other quarter were spraed out in groups of 5 along the mountain pass. Shortly a messenger came for the party telling them the captain wanted to speak to them. They found her a tenth of a mile along the pass. Up on the mountainside perhaps 150 feet from the mountain trail they saw a campfire burning on a ridge. A lone figure stood motionless at the edge of the ridge. The captain told them that she had sent a couple scouts up to see who it was and she brough them to meet the scouts. Above the fire sparked as the figure dropped a branch onto it. The party was introduced to the scouts who looked pale. They explained that they had approached the ridge and that the figure up there was burning some fragrant branches. The fragrance was apparently meant to mask another foul odor which became stronger and stronger as they approached. One of the scouts had gotten sick from the smell. The other had spoken from a distance to the figure who said he wanted to speak with Theren, Uthrid and the other champions of Jonathan Steward. When he asked who he should say was requesting this audience. The figure told them: “Tell them it is Nevern.”

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Fleeing The Tomb Of Dreams

The party packed the remains of Sir Malagant in their bag of holding and fled. They crossed the blade bridges and looked back to see The Sleeper slowy pursuing them. As he followed the dreamstones in the details of the tomb walls grew brighter. The adventurers escaped through the mouth in the face of the hill where Utrid found a note from Erthic (see Letter To Uthrid From Erthic). The group raced into the Warwood. They looked back at Stargazer Hill and saw the silohette of some being rise from the mouth.

Oeserd led them to the hill where Sir Malagant and The Sleeper once slayed each other. There they met the pilgrims loyal to the Raven Queen. The Sister leading the pilgrims was accompanied by a Shadar-Kai witch. They and Oeserd began a ritual using the remains of Sir Malagant. None of them were exactly sure what the outcome of the ritual would be and they were concerned that the ceremony that had risen the Sleeper may have compromised the power of their own ritual. The pilgrims gathered around and watched. Rudy, Theren, Uthrid and Nim watched as well until undead emerged from the woods accompanied by two of the floating masses of brain matter with beaks and barbed tentacles. The adventurers held off the attack while the Raven Queen faithful performed their ceremony. The party joined the others once all the grell and zombies were destroyed. As the Sister and Witch finished the ceremony a swarm of ravens burst from the remains of Sir Malagant and feathers down around the group. The adventurers found themselves revived as if they had taken an extended rest.

The Sleeper arrived mounted on his undead steed. He wore magical leather armor, a dreamstone amulet and weilded a dreamstone maul. The pilgrims scattered when the mummy lord charged. The battle was difficult for the Sleeper was constantly on the move. Eventually he was slain by the party but upon his death he cursed the adventurers. Rudy and Uthrid contracted mummy rot as did some of the pilgrims. The adventurers collected the The Sleepers magic items and they departed for Fort Dolor. The stunned pilgrims gave their thanks and headed back to their monestary.

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