Darkness in the Delimbiyr

A Weary Return

Upon their trek back to Zhedarak, the rains started anew and made the slate-grey soil of the Greypeak Mountains run with dull, wet earth. As they travelled through yet another passage of staggering canyons, a rock wall suddenly exploded suddenly, causing a minor cave-in, and partially trapping the heroes. Smoke then erupted from the closer side, perhaps as protection, and then rocks began to pelt and rain down upon the partially harried group.

The duskblade flew into the smoke, but was unable to find much of anything within it, and was pelted with more rocks, as a searing blast of fire scorched him from within the roiling grey haze. He took cover in a natural crevasse and was soon joined by the psychic warrior. Eventually, the entire group was brought up the wall, thanks to the warlock’s magical transportation wand, but they could see little more than burnt stumps, sudden and rocky drops, and the thick smoke.

They sounded a retreat once the smoke had passed, and noticed another cloud of dark smoke near a copse of trees, near another shattered crest in the grey rock. Not wanting more hassle, they quickly headed along the former canyon wall, but their feet were attacked by the very soil and earth, driving painful spines and spires into their very treads. They quickly doubled back, and after some debate, the cleric agreed to attempt to dispel the magical hazard; however, his bard companion was less than impressed when he was ordered across the spiky ground to test whether or not the dispel had worked.

Upon returning to Zhedarak, the group made their way to the Allfathers Forge and reported their findings to Thunderlord Kressel Ironhide who thanked them for their patience and dedication to his cause. He rewarded them richly, but the duskblade and warlock refused some of the platinum-stamped bars. Thunderlord explained he would speak with the Doomwardens to forsee the best course of action, as the cave-ins would be stopped indefinitely now.

A Loudwaterdhavian member of the Headhunters, Ssedarth Tenhammer, came looking for their former ally, the unnamed totemist, while they were guarding the surface tunnel. He left a message for the now-deceased totemist that rumours of a coiled serpent hiding out in a nearby dwarven ruin may very well be true. The party sought out local grizzled prospector, Deliac Thurdeep, who confirmed that he’d helped Ssedarth a few days prior, and explained that said ruin was haunted. He explained that the Doomwardens do clear out the undead menace that mysteriously gravitate toward the ruins annually, but haven’t done so recently. He furthermore explains that a gnome alchemist named Spugnois Blackbottle is known to have thoroughly explored the upper ruin, in search of what he believes is a secret, but lost treasure. An operative for The Golden Gear overhears their intention to search the ruins, and explains that an Spugnois is missing as noone has seen him for approximately 2 weeks. The Golden Gear would be very interested in his whereabouts and safety.

Finally, the bard has left the group, dissatisfied with his former employer’s gradual aloofness and uncaring manner. He wishes his former friends well, but will not be traveling with them anymore. He has decided to remain in Zhedarak, under the employ of the renowned tavern, Firewater’s Rest.

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Canyon of Doom

By the earliest watch, the cleric and bard discovered that they were not alone in the sleeping camp, as a small wing of spined felldrakes had quietly scaled the steep grey walls and descended into the camp, content to feast upon the dead gargoyles. The massive, yet graceful dragons warned the party about a rival back of ‘ambushers’ who keep to the shadows, and who’s foul breath robs both movement and thought. Their hunter furthermore explained that death is on the air in the Greypeak Mountains and that even now, ancient wyrms begin to stir from their slumber. They hurriedly dragged the gargoyles off, leaving the party alone once again.

A hunt of Griffon happened by, but quick thinking by the learned-psion informed the charismatic bard that they indeed were able to understand the common tongue. With persuavive words, he convinced the creatures that there was better hunting elsewhere, and that the party did not make any claims to the griffon’s territory. With that, they took to wing and were gone.

Our heroes found themselves at the dawn of another dreary, mist-sodden day, in the grey slate and stone of the canyon they agreed to watch. Then, without warning, a cluster of small, rocky, stump-like creatures literally appeared through the solid rock, taking the party by complete surprise. Their jagged rock-like teeth severely injured the psion, who barely warped to the nearby safety of a nearby hill. The battle proved difficult, as their strange forms were all but immune to most of the magic that the party possessed, and their rocky hides resisted most blades and blows. The warlock’s blasts leaped from his hands onto the foe, and the psion’s sonic energies screamed forth, shattering them when it connected. One remaining creature escaped back into the earth forever, ending this chance encounter.

By high-sun, the party heard a clattering from a short ways down into the quarry, and saw a massive, rocky creature, shaped like a wide, vicious shark, supported on stumpy legs. It stumbled at the party and savaged the bard, but was immediately set upon by the rest of the group. The duskblade’s new blurring armour protected him from the brunt of the beast, but the psion’s powers seem to barely pierce it’s hide. The warlock climbed to a nearby rock wall and pelted it with bolts of eldritch fire, harming it greatly. After a few hectic moments of flashing blades and vicious teeth, the beast slumped dying upon its side, slain by the psychic warrior’s final strike. They claimed a magical bracelet, which it wore upon its massive tongue, as their spoils.

The party deliberated and agreed that this was the cause of the cave-ins and decided to investigate further, but as they left, the broken and bleeding corpse sagged to its feet and mindlessly trundled into the party. Although devoid of most of its ferocity, it flailed and bit without care for itself, only to explode in a foul plume of blood, bone and gore. Upon examining the nearby cliffs, the warlock discovered a necromantic rune, which he surely believed was the source of this mysterious and vile re-animation. The psion and cleric recalled that this may be connected with the rash of undead that have recently been appearing near Zhedarak and set off to warn the dwarven fortress town, as well as explain their findings.

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A Heroes Call

A steward for Thunderlord Kressel Ironhide of The Ammarindar Reclamation & Restoration Front approached the party as they were visiting the skilled gnome tradesmiths of Zhedarak and asked for their assistance with a serious problem. He explains that many of the local mines have been collapsing at a rate that is far quicker and more calculated than could simply be mere chance. The diviner-seers of the Library of Dumathoin explain that something works against the town, but for some strange reason, they were unable to tell who, or indeed, what was hostile to Zhedarak.

They met with Thunderlord Kressel Ironhide and he explained the seriousness of the situation, and the group agreed to investigate. He’s explained that other groups, such as The Lucent Blade & Roses’ Thorned Roses have trekked off in search of an answer. Upon some further pressing, he explains that the diviner-seers of the Library of Dumathoin explained it was more than a singular foe causing these problems – perhaps a group working together to undermine the progress of The Ammarindar Reclamation & Restoration Front, and harm the fortress-town of Zhedarak as well. They also explain that whatever it was, wasn’t collapsing the tunnels from underground, but perhaps from above, on the surface.

After being guided to a low-lying crater, some one-hundred feet above one of the main tunnels, the group set up camp in order to stake out what they could about the attacks. After a few false alarms, a flight of gargoyles overtook the party. What surely would’ve been a challenging and difficult fight, frought with tactical decisions and daring risk had easily become a minor setback for our heroes: although the gargoyles attacked in utter darkness in a concealed canyon, and almost exactly in the dead of night, at the last moment the clouds inexplicably pulled back, bathing the encounter in bright silvery moonlight, completely negating the beasts’ precious cover of darkness.

Selûne had surely smiled upon such destined heroes…

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Something Stirs Near Home...

Having returned from the frozen fortress of Zilrus the crazed Immoth, the group headed back to Firewater’s Rest and rested their fatigue away as they tallied their gold and magical treasures. Amongst said items, they encountered an sighthold mirror, a device of whimsy, mostly for pampered nobles to recall their fondest memories. However, this mirror revealed the last adventuring group to possess it – as well as their terrible fate at the hands of what appeared to be cultists of the The Elder Elemental Eye. While seeking more information on this development, the heroes stumbled across a vile cleric of Beshaba, amidst a small crowd, who was attempting to blame the ills of the town upon a confused beast he had captured in the foothills.

The strange and monstrous creature was a hagspawn – the rare male offspring of the fell magical creatures known as hags. The cleric engaged in heated debate against the warlock and psion, but their superior argumentation won, as the crowd turned against this villainous cleric and saw through his flimsy attempts to intimidate the people of Zhedarak into worshipping his evil goddess. In thanking them, the hagspawn gifted the party with a powerful trinket it was unable to use, but Joshtradamus was able to rely his mastery of the supernatural and wear the hag’s heartstone unharmed. The hagspawn was kidnapped some hundred-score miles away, and has no idea why he was being brought to the Greypeak Mountains. The psion sought to investigate a possible return of The Elder Elemental Eye, but there was no evidence that anyone remained of the cult.

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Return Home

Having forgave Radion of his betrayal, our heroes make one last check upon Zilrus’ now defunct fortress, only to discover an overlooked piece of magical armour. However, an attempt to gather this results in a trapped ceiling caving in on the psychic warrior, who survives easily. The duskblade asked Chemistraax about the surrounding fog, which she dispelled – mentioning Zilrus’ abuses of the invisible, but naturally occuring ley-lines that crossed the Greypeak Mountains.

Upon leaving, the party encountered tracks which lead to a long-defeated explorer’s party, who were still frozen to the very ground. After a short battle, the cleric realised they were diseased zombies, that someone had placed there specifically; additionally, the symbol of Malar, the murderous god of bloodlust and savage hunting. Upon resting, in a nearby abandoned hunter’s shack, the warlock perfected his pacts with fae and increased his powers, while the rest of the group slept off the zombie’s diseases, identified their plunder of items and counted their coins.

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Follow the Beast

Further exploring the icy catacombs, the heroes discovered many rooms full of disused and frost-covered sundry items and objects, indicating the great age of this fortress. Pressing further, Zilrus attacked invisibly from an icy ceiling, and used his mastery of ice and cold to harm and then divide the party, via a thick wall of conjured ice and biting storms of frost.

The psion burst this wall with a manifestation of psychokinetic fire, liberating his allies, who then attempted to blast the fell elemental being. Protected from harm by his icy, alien form, he nevertheless was unable to protect himself from a small cave in, caused by the psion’s cleverly aimed, keening sonic blast. Defeated and broken, Zilrus bitterly used a final teleport spell and escaped.

The party explored the rest of his lair and discovered many detailed maps and tomes of the north, and a small fortune in coins and minor items. Zilrus’ personal Yeti attacked the group, but were nimbly cut down by concentrated fire magic and manifestation; furthermore, half of these ferocious bodyguard abandoned their post, once it was learned that Zilrus was defeated.

Breaking through a solid block of magical ice, the heroes were pelted with bolts of angry energy, but the cleric was able to use his prayers to bypass these. Within this room was a spiral staircase down into a dungeon that Zilrus used to house his enemies or those that displeased him. Although all dead and desiccated from the cold, the party took any item of worth or magical value. Finally, in one of the cells, was a fae-ring that contained a Rimefire Eiodolon, named Khemistraax. The party freed her and she explained that this iceberg was her former house and Zilrus stole it after banishing her.

Understanding only the language of the fae, Joshtradamus asked her about his warlock powers and his own fae lineage, which she more than ably answered. She imparted upon him a small measure of fae magics and helped to re-connect his failing powers. Upon giving the party safe passage back to the original entryway, the party freed Radion from his icy curse, and asked him to take the weary party to a safe place to set up camp.

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Into the Ice

Led by the ranger Radion, our heroes made their way through snow-choked vales and ice-strewn valleys, until they were mysteriously overtaken by a thick, icy fog. When it lifted, they discovered themselves at the wall that surrounded a large ice-berg, suspended in the middle of a melt-water lake.

Venturing closer, they discovered a series of stones and bergs that could be used to cross, but this passage was shrouded in thick cloying fog. As they crossed, fiendish being attacked them from within the mists, and used spells and storms to harass them. The psion’s powers enabled him to pierce the fog, and then shatter two of the creatures with a crackling blast of electricity. The remaining two retreated into the water, hiding in its briny depths.

Upon reaching the base of the iceberg, the party saw many carvings in the melting ice, and discovered a passage inside. Immediately inside, they encountered the ‘seer’ that Radion had told them about, but discovered that he had reluctantly double-crossed them – he was cursed by the seer, who was in fact a fiendish ice beast named Zilrus! He attempted to apologize for his actions, but was frozen solid by fell magic. The ensuing battle was difficult, as Zilrus’ magic of storms and ice filled the cavern and clouded the minds of the psion and his psychic warrior cohort. Zilrus’ foul companion, a frost salamander slithered out of its den to feed, but was cut down by the duskblade and Joshtradamus, who scaled a wall and reigned down fiery death to his frozen foes.

Dispelling his magics and piercing his true identity, Zilrus retreated, not wishing to face the party on even footing. The cleric, perhaps more out of a sense of justice than divination, proclaimed that the beast was still present, and should be hunted down, lest it harm anyone else…

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A time to rest

Having secured lodging and food at Firewater’s Rest, the party took in some much-needed rest and relaxation, the Mystran cleric spending his time in deep prayer, and the psion entranced with psychically-charged mantras and meditation. Their guide was worried and began to look for stout warriors who could replace the fallen totemist, but the few warriors the town presented were a shade green and perhaps wholly unready for what laid ahead.

In between their retreat, the group purchased and traded fine dwarven wares from the Library of Dumathoin , as well as the Allfathers Forge, benefitting from fine dwarven craftsmanship, as well as carefully wrought spell and magic.

While scouting around town for a potential sell-sword, the psychic warrior noted a strange dog observing atop a build. His abilities enabled him to scale the wall with ease, but the dog was long gone, observing him from a building a street or two away. Piqued, the group followed this curious vanishing dog. Finally, it led them to a warrior who was having his blade sharpened at the Allfathers Forge. As luck would have it, this plated-warrior was looking for some trustworthy men of adventure, himself being skilled in both the sword and spell; the dog, as they would soon realise, was a blink dog and his faithful companion, who had led them to his master, in hopes that they might explore the Greypeak Mountains together.

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Through The West Pass

Their Ranger companion fearing the loss one of his protective charges, chose to guide his way through the rocky hills and bad weather in order to make it to Zhedarak within a day or so. Camping was boring and cold, and by morning they were well on their way through the remnants of a hacked and pitted forest – the remorhazs’ former territory.

Upon nearing a cleft within the rock of the Greypeak Mountains, the keen eyes of the gnome realised that some winged and horned terrors known as Perytons were circling the party. Luckily, they were less than minutes from the steep canyon and managed to avoid these sharp-clawed beasts.

Taking a winding passage through steep, snowed-in canyons, the group was suddenly under attack by an invisible attacker, however, strange luck pervaded and nothing seemed to happen. The attacker then began to attempt to whittle away precious spells and power points, before returning to harming the party. Eventually, the psion identified an udoroot – a strange and alien psionic plant-like creature, common to the Underdark as the invisible attacker. Nested upon a high ledge, the party made the decision to attempt to climb the peak and attack it. The cleric was wholly unable to climb and sustained several bruises for his failed efforts. The psychic warrior was able to scale the peak, but thrown off almost every attempt, and even then, his weather battle-axe barely scratched the party. Luckily, and facing near-death, the psion was able to finally overpower the crystalline stalks – but the bulk of the plant was hidden underground. After much deliberation, the group decided to leave, lest the plant rouse itself and continue to attack them.

Perhaps an hour or so later, and closer to their destination, they encountered the remnants of a bloody and obviously magical battle: charred bone, scorch marks, arrows lining the canyon walls, and a strange black circle set directly within their path. The warlock struggled to maintain his powers, but managed to discover that it was an engraving of magic tinged with conjuration. Undaunted, the group pressed on and approached the glyph, which burst into sour flame and smoke. After a moment or two, a rocky earth elemental rose up admidst the party and began hammering away with its weighty stone fists. Facing another dire situation, the group barely pulled through, as the psychic warrior did little more than annoy it, and the psion found himself taxed almost fully. The warlock attacked it to the best of his ability, but struggled to maintain his fell powers. The bard managed to nick it with a lone arrow, and Radion’s magical arrows did strike true at least once.

Once this beast was rubble, a weird blade of strange design was found near the rocks that it emerged from. Although magical, it radiates divination and functions wholly differently than most other magical weapons of the area.

Barely a half-hour from town, the weather began to turn to blustering, slush-rain. The band came across a squat dwarven caravan of trade-goods and militant dwarves. They welcomed them to Zhedarak and gave them a few pointers toward which areas may interest adventurers such as they.

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A Fate Most Dire

After continuing up the rock, snow and tree-strewn hills of the Greypeak Mountains, the party stumbled across a particularly dark recess of forest. Joshtrodamus used his fell abilities to scout ahead and perched in a tree, ready to attack any enemies. The group pressed forward and were partially ambushed by a group of Lost, who breathed acid, but were dispatched without too much difficulty.

Several hours onward, the very ice cracked in a hiss of steam, and a Remorhaz tunnelled up and lashed into them. Although split, the heroes were able to put up a formidable defense, as the beast grabbed the totemist in its massive jaws. Joshtrodamus and the psion were able to belt it with strange energies, as the bard desperately attempted to aid his allies. The totemist was able to cause it to drop him, due to a susprisingly vicious counter-attack against the creature. It tore into him again and curse Beshaba, the warlock accidentally struck his totemist friend with a dangerously overcharged eldritch blast. Nearing death, the totemist was saved from being eaten by clawing viciously, but was unfortunately killed when the foul beast toppled upon its own death, crushing him beneath its massive and burning bulk.

Although they are alright with him now, the group generally blame Joshtrodamus for this untimely death. The warlock claims he’s “ok with things”. Their guide leads them onward, perhaps debating a stop-over in nearby Zhedarak as this new development may well derail their entire expidition.

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