Erstril

Tomorrow we go and slay us a black dragon
Excerpt from the journal of Darius, cleric of Desztus.

We secured a caravan escort assignment as an independent contractor for the following merchants:

  • Gargdoon, a mountain dwarf who sells textiles
  • Ramley, another mountain dwarf who sells adventuring equipment (hides, pelts, bone carvings, traps, hunting gear)
  • Gord, a human who deals in fine foods (with a collection of modest foods)

They came with two guards: a half-elf fighter and a gnomish mage. It was expected that the trip to Kher Badir would take 40 days at a quick pace, crossing through various small towns.

A few days into the assignment a giant appeared one night during the first shift. It refused to stand down so we attacked. Our numbers made short work of it, but one of the merchants disappeared. Tracking them led us two a couple of dwarves. Caelano managed to get Otto to cast Light on one of the dwarf’s armour, startling them and allowing us to catch up and knock them out.

Light conversation determined that they were part of the Cult of Skartho, an entity we heard of before. Unusual interrogation (beard shaving) did not pay off and the merchant was worried for his life, so the two kidnappers we given an eternal rest.

A few days and a small village later the ground started to become soft and the air humid as we entered a swampy area. The group noticed a few lizard-like creatures trying to execute an ambush. Stopping the caravan an open declaration was made of the group’s awareness of the attempted ambush. Mutterings were heard in draconian and Caelano persuaded them to come out into the open. A few lizardmen with spears appeared and polite conversation ensued, with Caelano translating.

The lizardmen had a master, even above their chief who required tribute due to being within his realm. We negotiated for 10GP of gems and found out the ‘master’ was a dragon who wanted tribute for his hoard. The dragon was Chag-Thru-Tonaket and described as of the black variety, and being “10 paces long.” Gargdoon got an idea of hiring the party to take down the dragon for its hoard and paying the party with a portion of the amount. Further inquiry of the lizardmen found they did not like being under the dragon’s rule and therefore ripe for freedom. The liar was in a cave two days from our current location. They don’t understand the concept of ‘colour.’

Ramley, Gard and their two guards stayed behind with the caravans just off the road in a more secluded area, hidden with foliage. We travelled with Gargdoon (who had a bag of holding) to the lizardmen village. We met with their chief, called a queen who had more regal decorations and had a metal amulet with an oval gem (we noticed no metal elsewhere). She spoke draconian, but simultaneously echoed in common. We spoke about Chag-Thru-Tonaket and the giant who dealt with affairs with maintaining ‘the realm’ through force. The group noticed that the giant would be a bit more intelligent than the giant we faced before and was on salary from the dragon. We found out the lizardman who we mainly talked to was called Kassett. The dragon’s lair resided down a long shaft due to a survivor called Da’agen, who lost his tail during teh ordeal (but grew it back).

The plan was to get lizardmen warriors to hold off the giant, luring it off for long enough to get us to the dragon and slay it. Tomorrow morning we execute the plan. Hopefully all goes well.

I am excited at the chance to face down a dragon in combat, even if it is regarded as being a little small.

NB. No racism intended.

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The ol' switch-then-Darnbur
Excerpt from the journal of Darius, cleric of Desztus.

The shards of the glass dragon were kept then given to Lidika, who accepted them as payment having learnt that Gaelick’s residence was in disarray despite the actual individual not being there.

Giving Lidika time to construct a copy of the ruby pyramid the group spent time researching the King’s residence for a plan on how to enter, switch the real pyramid for the fake before leaving Vallure and Adendali. The plan was:

  • use a single individual to enter the King’s house
  • Caelano casts invisibility on Horven
  • scale the walls using the spidersilk slippers
  • find an open window nearest the upper floors
  • switch the pyramid for the fake, then leave on horseback

The fake did not need to be such a convincing copy that only the most astute would tell, but it look alike such most people could not tell unless they make an proper inspection.

A few things did not go to plan: Horven triggering the removal of his invisibility and the pyramid being on the King’s person as he slept. Luckily quick adjustments were made and Horven exited the residence without detection. From there the ‘Return to Sender’ was boarded, sailing to the southern borders of the Halfling Lands and chartering another boat to Darnbur. This was so our tracks were harder to detect as Adendali would surely send out bounties for the pyramid’s return, negotiated behind close doors. The moving island would not be used due to time constraints. We would need to keep our ears open for any potential shadowy bounty hunters looking for the pyramid, since no open announcement would be made.

The boat we chartered, with crew, was the Merfolk’s Tears, which we allowed the use of cargo. Partway through the trip we encountered a couple of water elementals. We lost a crew member, but apart from that the group only had a few troubles during the fight: getting trapped within an elemental and not connecting our attacks, possibly due to an unstable ship.

The rest of the trip went without incident, with preparations made in Darnbur before moving straight onto Kher Badir. Arrangements were made as an independent contractor for escorting merchants, particularly using routes that passed through settlements and using the main roads. Caelano also met with scholars in the town for information about the pyramid (for scholastic purposes), and the Wizardfell/Icarii.

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Galick the Necromancer
"awesome knife and fork"

SLEDGE HAMMER” the door come off its hinges and lands in the middle of a dusty room filled with paper and books. We peruse Galick through the house and down two levels Caelano Jassan melts some wizards with a fire ball. Along the way we take note of a few items and decide to search after we have dealt with Galick.

We encounter a skeleton embedded in a door with a few shelves of various shields, with a message “complete the skeleton … and enter” Brother Darius quickly try’s a few combinations one blasts us with poison, another the skeleton comes to life and speaks “password” we try something its wrong. A green flaming scull erupts from the door towards us. We are able to put the scull out and take a short rest to heal up.

We find the crystal dragon and Sledge Smash. Galick walks in and thanks us for clearing the path for him and then morphs into a completely different person. We seem to have disturbed another enemy of Galick. a few fire balls later he is a smoldering corpse.

We find various spells books and scrolls, gems, gold and an “awesome knife and fork”

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It may not be right, but there is more at stake

We have reached the city of Vallure, the capital of the Human kingdom of Adendali. It had been years since my feet have touched ground here. Most of the party stayed at the Tall Chair, a tavern occupied by many dignitaries and high ranking members of the city.

We have some knowledge of what we seek: the ruby pyramid, still worn as a sign of office by the King of Adendali. However after this point there was some confusion on what to do next. Knowing elections are only a year away it made meeting the highest levels of government difficult, especially the King. The temple had little to no counsel, and Caelano’s community provided little insight.

Resigned to the fact that a direct audience was of little use a long session of discussion was required on how to obtain the pyramid:

  • the King’s residence had 20-foot high walls and the building itself was one large building
  • many entrances, but items were often taken by footmen and will deliver the item
  • no other buildings in the area were as tall as it
  • all flat ground, so no use of terrain advantage
  • the windows had curtains, so no peeking via familiar
  • the last king is now an earl of some land outside of Vallure
  • a bait-and-switch of the pyramid with a fake, returning it when the quest was complete.
    The problem was not the matter of entry as arcane magic made entry and exit relatively easy, with was what to do inside and its consequences once we leave.

It does not feel right, but the bait-and-switch option seemed a better choice: Horven wearing the spidersilk slippers and given invisibility to infiltrate the castle and swap the pyramid with its fake. That night horses would be used to leave Adendali by the time the manhunt begins.

Speaking with Kelker a discrete glassblower would be found in the artisan district with the warning that she would not be cheap. At the end of the fourth day in Vallure Horven and Caelano met with Lidika, a redheaded halfling found in the Blunt Chisel after work. Cautiously they discussed ‘business’ with an alibi for her if things go south: they are collectors who like to have replicas of well-known, expensive jewellery. She saw through the ruse, as expected.

Meanwhile Sledge and I would be across the tarven in order to lower attention, with was met with a couple of blacksmiths who wanted to give a flagon of ale to the warforged. Out of suspicion I probed further to determine their intent, stating that their charity would be better met with milk for Tinfoil. Damn, that trick with the cat never gets old. Their intent was harmless as they wanted to see if a warforged could be drunk. Out of scholarly interest I proposed a wager through a drinking contest: three silvers if the warforged won, while six for the smiths if Sledge lost.

Lidika explained one of her past clients, Gaelick, commissioned a multi-coloured glass dragon. He was billed 600GP, but did not pay. She explained that if payment could be recovered with some harm to Gaelick she would provide the replica pyramid. Before leaving Horven inquired about a glass dragonchess piece (a knight). Upon inspection, Lidika remembered a dwarf was missing the same type of dragonchess piece and was looking for it.

The smiths lost their wager as one of them vomited onto the floor before a bucket was given. Won three silvers at the payment of 15 coppers. Not bad.

Gaelick was also a wizard and upon inquiry with the sage community he’s a human who studied a lot of necromancy. Reputed to be unpleasant and unsavoury he has a negative prejudice against those who do not study or use magic. The sage community gave a location of where Gaelick could be found: a modest two-storey building in the low-middle class district.

Seeing the chance to avoid unnecessary violence I offered him to settle his debt without a fight. It seemed that he would rather fight a losing battle than provide payment as he brandished his wand and cast a spell. Wizard or not he it still just a man and his aggression will be punished.

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"Pentagram = Demon right?" - Darius

The passage leads to a large room. The party examines the room and discover candles in the shape of a pentagram on the wall. Sledge notices groves on the floor and upon closer inspection it is a place for human sacrifice, complete with rings for chains to hold the sacrifice down. Grooves seem to pool the blood until drained into a lower level. Lighting the candles in order open a hidden room, we find an amulet of health and two daggers (that look like they are used for ritual sacrifice). Hadarai tried to rush ahead but was stopped by Darius.

Leaving the room was a path left, right and forward. Right was a dead end, so the group chose to head left. The resulting room was filled with robes, moth eaten and almost all with the same. The odd robe seemed to be for the leader of the group, and upon inspection had a trap. Horven disarmed the trap and the robe was more thoroughly inspected. Nothing.

Continuing around the corner the group had an encounter with a few imps. Some tactical errors were made, but the group managed to pull through. Just further up ahead was a set of stairs descending downward into a winding hallway. Not looking for further traps landed Sledge in a set of spikes protruding out of a wall. His good equipment and training paid off and the trap was reset without much effort. Around the corner was a few more imps. Quickly dispatched.

At the end of the hallway was a large room with several skeletons with cultist robes. The raised platform coincided with the area for sacrifice the floor above, which pooled into another set of carvings in the platform. The platform has marking around the sides which warned of the rise of some being, whose name was written in Infernal. Four enchanted daggers were found, along with a piece of paper detailing the inevitable rise of ‘Skartho’, which the party assumed was the being mentioned on the platform. Seeing nothing else to gain the party left the area, parted ways with Hadarai and looked towards Adendali.

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Trolls and the Little Fire Mage

Back at the Spare Cog a elven bard is playing a ballad that talks of a Great battle and a turning point in the relationship of the Gnomes and Elves. Caelano Jassan believes the tune is similar if not the same to the notes Bow makes when shot. He proceeds to try and jam with the bard. Intrigued the bard comes over and invites us to visit the site of the battle in search of knowledge and treasure.

As we make camp the second night Hadarai (the bard) is disturbed while foraging by the sounds of large footsteps. Hadarai is not very stealthy and leads the beast right to us. Sledge insists on talking with the troll first finding out it has found dinner. Caelano Jassan loses fire attacks each round damaging the troll significantly, the troll surrenders and promises to leave us alone. I (Horven) lets the troll go wearily. The next morning we hear two more trolls looking around the battle site, they just wanted to meet the little fire mage that handily spanked their friend and shake his hand.

We continue to the ancient battle site and find a tree with a magical door, Hadarai rushes headlong down the portal, and the rest of the party quickly follow.

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The Black Opal Pyramid
Library whole library.

The party returned to the Spare Cog with a haul of ancient books and loot from beneath the Royal Library.

While everyone else worked their day jobs (and Horven was nearly arrested for it) Caelano scoured the books for information relevant to the quest and discovered that long ago the Gnomish Queen had disappeared on a mysterious week long trip shortly after returning from Adendali and returned with a black opal pyramid. The pyramid remained a symbol of office for some time after.

The group needed a plan for getting access to Queen Dalya to ask about the opal and for getting rid of the pile of books they’d taken from the old library. That plan was (eventually) to present the books to the Queen as recovered treasures. To get some legitimacy the group made a deal with Zonkern, a high-ranking member of the Merchant’s Guild to “donate” a first edition Book of Evolo in exchange for arranging the meeting. He also required the endorsement of the Church of Deszstus and a deposit.

The meeting with Queen Dalya went surprisingly well. While Sledge unloaded books from the bag of holding Brother Darius and Caelano explained the quest and requested the black opal pyramid to reseal the prison on the island. Dalya agreed to loan it to the group for 300gp per 10 days, which would be handled by the Church of Deszstus. The group decided to leave the opal for now and pick it up when it’s needed.

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being gnome is weird

(Account of the continued adventure in the ruined Awnira Royal Library, as told by Sledge.)

after short rest. group head downstairs, feel weird. friends look like human fighter, gnome mage and elf ranger. look down at self, see top of head and also from odd… big word… perspective.
Caelano Jassan suggest we go back up see if odd stop. it don’t. we in hall with 2 doors, we see and a T at end.
Sledge open door. but no see hammer, bang it on wall make noise, hammer there… but can’t see. Horven Torgaxe almost put foot in hole that wasn’t there. tricky gnomes. all in room is more books.
Caelano Jassan cast detect magic looking for… gnome magic make things look funny… big word… enchantment
Caelano Jassan and Horven Torgaxe go to next door looking for holes and find. Caelano Jassan uses staff to find size. we go around hole.
In room small bone man… big word… skeleton. in blueish broken cloth. had pretty belt buckle.
Caelano Jassan points at me. i look like me…. no more weird look down. can see hammer.
At T to right short passage, door. to left long passage and right turn. noise behind door.
Horven Torgaxe go to look around corner. long passage , door in middle right and right turn.
See three people but not there people talking again. something. about one shouldn’t have died and other said wouldn’t have if been more careful.
Argure about going in door. Horven Torgaxe can’t unlock, lock on other side. I want to go others, worry about spiders. I win, smash door. They right.
I cover in web. Horven Torgaxe put on spider silk shoes. walk on roof past. I try break web and others try cut web. I hit with hammer Caelano Jassan and Brother Darius throw spells. Horven Torgaxe fight on roof.
Others hear clanking and see automata in hall. It see them no shoot. comes closer as we bash spider. get to door see last spider. shot spider. I hammer, last spider dead. bash automata it stop.
in room round corner find more web and bigger skeleton nice bow and quiver. out of room Brother Darius normal.
Down hall find stair. another vision fighter angry at mage say you no care. mage say I come to far you not stop me and magic at the fighter. we find headless skeleton…. no weapon.
go down.
lots of books. Caelano Jassan drool.
see opening far end of room, go careful.see gnome mages. try fight them. they poof. and come back. tricky gnomes.
Try to keep gnomes in view and work on hitting them.
gnome approaches
colour spray. only Caelano Jassancan see
I swing hammer. they here somewhere
Caelano Jassan fire ball ends gnome. BOOM. we find loot. focus gems. books.
Caelano Jassan look happy

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It's automat-A, not automat-ON

This week the group found themselves in a room that was devoted to book restoration, and were met with a door that had signs of rot. The room was checked for loot. Cautiously the door was opened, opening into a room filled with shelves full of books, and a wooden floor lined with carpet. Lighting a few of the sconces a ticking was heard, with its source being a rusted automaton with a crossbow in its chest. A fallen familiar, a broken crossbow string, a few javelins, spears and torches later it was Sledge’s shield wall that proved to be the trick to retire the old guard.

A search of the shelves were met with little success, so the group decided to continue through the door at the far end of the room, still standing at 25 feet tall. Slightly opening the door the group heard what appeared to be a male gnomish mage, a female elven ranger, a female gnome rogue and a human male fighter rappelling down, talking then leaving out of vision. Darius tried to spook the other group with no avail before deducing that it was an illusion due to a lack of fading steps. At the far end of the room the group found a 3-foot deep crevice with a clockwork-like wind-up mechanism above it. Deducing it was the place that the automaton was held before patrol, the group continued down a flight of stairs armed with their new knowledge.

Due to Horven possessing darkvision he scouted ahead to find another automaton, ticking yet parked inside its crevice, at the end of the flight of stairs. Remembering their success with the shield wall it was employed again with the same success. The main difference this automaton had was a pair of arm-mounted blades. Seeing the potential to sell it for reverse-engineering in Awnira the blades, along with the arms were removed. After checking the tables nearby the group continued onward.

Around the corner the other fighter and the mage appeared again, dressed in dark blue robes with symbolism similar to the librarians above ground, but in different styles. One was worried about the robes, and was reassured by their ally that the gnome was sure that they wouldn’t be attacked as it won’t attack scholars. They opened a door and travelled through it. Then, the next time the adventurers blinked or averted their gaze from the door, the door they just saw opened appeared closed and locked.

After the watching the illusions walk through the door the group noticed the numerous books strewn across the floor with three bookshelves leaning against the wall. Investigating the area around the bookshelves a door was found. Knowing there was danger behind the previous door the group decided to move the bookshelves aside and open it. Not checking for traps changed everything as an alarm went off and a couple of members started to hear ticking.

The party was quickly rushed into action:

  • Caelano opened the door, setting off the alarm again and closed the door behind him.
  • Sledge and Darius started to barricade the other door.
  • Horven started to look into disarming the trap on the door

The room that Caelano searched through contained a variety of valuable books, deducing that the room was meant to have restricted access. Books would have been taken out only be read in the next room before returning back to the shelf. He rifled through the books, taking as many as he could.

Outside something started to hit the door at the other end of the barricade, trying to get through. Ball bearings and caltrops were set below the barricade. Soon blades ripped through the top of the door as an opening appeared. Seeing the urgency spears and javelins and the occasional spell starting flying through the hole trying to weaken what was coming through.

Caelano and Horven both found the trap on each side of the other door and it was disarmed then opened. Daggers were soon being thrown at the hole in the door.

Soon the two automata burst through, unhindered by the ball bearings and caltrops. A fight ensued and gouts of fire were involved, turning the trampled bookshelves into small embers. Teamwork made the fight brief and with little incident. Once the fight ended the embers were put out and the room full of books were taken with no rush.

The group decided to have a rest before they continue onward.

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Cocodiles can sneak attack too!

Shortly after their arrival at Awnira, Caelano and Horven respectively summoned their familiars, Otto the Owl and Sigmund.

After a day of exploring the City of Awnira the group gained access to the royal library with help from the Order of Dezstus, under the guise of recording the history of the royal gnomish family.
Darius, Caelano, and Horven decided to enter the library while Sledge found work with blacksmithing and leather working. Most of the day was spent searching around the library for clues about the pyramid that belonged to the gnomish kingdom of old. The following details were found:

  • Library has three storeys
  • The librarians had good taste in liquor, but were surprised about the possibility of sub-levels
  • Most records only date back approx. 1800 years
  • Interior of the library had been burnt down and rebuilt.
  • There are A LOT of enchantments in the building, but no trapdoors found.
  • Blueprints of the sewer system, particularly in the nearby area, but not of the library itself.

Given the attention the group was starting to attract a plan was made to use the sewer system to find a way into the sub-levels. Since there were many guards during the day the group decided to enter at night.

Sledge had finished work and met the rest of the group before entering underground. Dark, wet and full of excrement the group was attacked by swarms of rats, and a single crocodile. It took a while but the group emerged victorious and continued to their destination – a particular section of wall. Using hammers Sledge and Darius managed to break the wall and found a dark room that was used to restore books.

The group prepares themselves for what may be lurking in an area long forgotten…

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