The World of Arith

A New Chapter Begins

That evening, the Krall Elders, House Valdur and most of Clan Loremark gathered in the clanhold to celebrate Brost Valdur Loremark being chosen as a Scion. At the feast were Brost’s friends and allies, Zin, Elias, Torra, and Diego, the first non-Dragonborn to witness the ceremony raising Brost to Scion of Arkosia.

As the drinks flowed and the platters were passed around the room, the five companions heard a voice in their minds saying, “This is Jeoric, sending for Princess Adrianna. Bardenhold has been overrun by giants and ogres. The giants are in the Horgen Hills, not the Iron Hills, and advance on Hawkmoon. Your King Needs you”.

Battle for Io's Blood

As in any battle, many things happened in the Arena that day. The five dragonborn combatants, the fighter Devorik Sus, the cleric Brost, the paladin Grimm, the warlock Skaldrax and the sorcerer Shamash battled for the right to a draught from the flask of Io which would herald the drinker’s ascension to a Scion of Io. Only one would be able to drink. Only one was worthy enough.

Once the High Shield of Bahamut, Ne-Chardath, invoked the gods and sounded the horn of battle, Brost made the first move. Pointing to Grimm and Devorik, he named them allies. Both Dragonborn agreed over the crowd’s boos and catcalls. Devorik then charged the warlock Skaldrax, striking him a major blow that wounded him deeply as Grimm and Brost circled the other combatants looking for an opening.

The sorcerer Shamash then blasted Devorik and Skaldrax, searing them both with a acidic poison. Skaldrax is nearly defeated by the blast and the clerics on the sidelines prepare to take the first combatant off the field. The crowd goes wild.

Devorik is never a Dragonborn to leave a challange unanswered. He charges Shamash with another powerful blow. The first blood attack on Shamash is devastating. Meanwhile Grimm moves in cautiously to finish off Skaldrax while Brost performs some minor healing on Devorik.

The paladin Grimm strikes the final blow on the warlock Skaldrax and the crowd erupts so loudly its hard to hear oneself think. Wounded, Devorik makes a tactical move and charges the paladin, leaving Shamash extremely wounded. Brost moves in to attack the sorcerer.

Brost finishes off the wounded sorcerer Shimash amidst the cheering of the crowd while the two warriors trade blows with each other. Knowing it will soon come down to one or the other, Brost withdraws Tamara’s protection over the two warriors.

Soon the battle is decided, with a final blow, the paladin Grimm fells the fighter Devorik. It comes down to the paladin and the cleric. Grimm charges the cleric. Brost calls up Erathis’ blessing on the ground below his feet. The aura around him hurts his enemies while bolstering his health. Although Grimm’s attacks are more powerful than Brost’s, the paladin is gravely wounded while Brost is at full health. The two trade blows until Grimm realizes that the aura alone will fell him during the next turn of combat.

The paladin Grimm surrenders.

At first the crowd is dumbfounded and a brief silence fills the arena. Then deafening applause. Ne-Chardath crowns the next Scion of Arkosia, Brost of House Valdur of Clan Loremark.

Some Dragonborn will look back on the fact that Grimm and Brost were the last two combatants as a reaffirmation of the power of the gods over men and magic and many will say that Brost’s win shows that the paladin should always be a servant of the church. Some just say it was a damned good fight and Brost played his allies as well as any cleric of the God of Life and Civilization, Tamara should.

Later that evening, as the elderly silver Dragonborn Aesthyr begins his work of cleaning the Arena grounds, high atop the Arena, on a landing built for the High Dragonlord, should one ever find its way to Krall, a solemn ceremony took place. Brost Valdur Loremark was brought forward wearing the high livery of his Clan and House. With his family and friends looking on (the first time in recent history non-Dragonborn bore witness to this ceremony), each member of the council of Elders blessed the Flask of Io as it passed between them. Handing the flask to Brost, Ne-Chardath called to the Dragon Gods to raise Brost among the Dragonborn and make him Krall’s Scion. Brost drank.

He howled in pain, almost as if poisoned and curled upon himself. Soon his shoulders began to spasm and a small set of wings burst forth on his back below his shoulderblades. Though too small to sustain flight at this time, the wings will grow. The wings marked Brost as a Favored One of Io, and a Scion of Arkosia.

Scion of Arkhosia

Finally pulling Zin and Xamanthe away from the windows, Elias led the way up to the top floor of the tower of Mnenesenia. There he found extremely life-like statues of elven priests and archmagi lining the walls, all looking towards the immense scrying pool in the center.

Taking a few moments to determine if the statuary was in any way magical, Elias peered into the scrying pool. Immediately, the Sigil of Mnemesenia flooded into his mind, but then the pool began showing images of Telementari.

He first saw a younger elf argues with what looks like an older sibling or even possibly a parent. The banners and pennants in the scene indicate that this must be the House Royal.

Then the scrying pool switches to another, darker scene. In the other scene, a group of eladrin, obviously nobles prays at a shrine to Oublivae, the Demon Lord of Ruin. Sacrificing a young elf and eating his heart, one of the nobles takes on demonic features, later showing his ability to change between the two forms.

Through many other scenes, the eladrin noble house creates a demongate, while the young elf’s anger and jealousy begin to corrupt him until finally he is covered in blood and praying at an altar to Orcus in a large area of hidden chambers.

The last scene shows the eladrin house completing the demongate to Oublivae’s realm and demons of ruin begin marching through the portal. At the same moment, the young elf stabs his father through the heart with a thin ritual dagger. A gateway opens and undead flood out into the House Royal. Through the gate, the towering form of the demon lord Orcus itself can be seen. The boys skin turns black as midnight and he transforms into a drow. Then Orcus reaches for him and his skin shrivels into something resembling a lich.

Their quest completed, the party retraces the path that brought them into the heart of the damned city. The ghouls had returned to the site of the first encounter, but fled when the party approached.

Upon leaving the protective barrier of the Encircling Woods, a strong wind begins to blow and leaves from all over the forest swirl ahead of them before taking the form of the Prince in Green. With a wave of his hand, his court flows out of the surrounding woods to join him. Taking his throne, which magically appears behind him, the Prince demands an explanation of why strangers were allowed into the ruins.

Xamanthe reminded her Prince that he did not expressly forbid followers when he assigned her to take Zin into the ruins, nor did he say Zin must travel alone. A youthful looking eladrin known as Celeste, whose eyes shone with the light of Arcadia, stepped up to the throne and suggested that Xamanthe and Zin did no wrong and that only the intruders should pay the price of their folly. The Prince agreed and ordered Xamanthe and Zin to leave the proceedings. Xamanthe did, Zin chose to stay with his companions.

Accepting that Zin’s decision to stay subjected him to the same punishment as his allies, the Prince then asked for the court to decide what should happen to the intruders. Again Celeste stepped up and used her illusions to conjure a view from a mountaintop. She suggested that the party be banished from the Valley of the Sisters until they found their way back from this location. “Make them work to return to their home Sire, as we do for Telementari. If they can even get down from such a height”.

The Prince seemed delighted at the punishment and waved his hands. The trees and vines surrounding the clearing suddenly animated and grabbed the party, flinging them into the illusion.

Getting up, they dusted themselves off and tried to get their bearings. The scene before them was the same exact scene Celeste had pictured, but behind them was a well-traveled path down the mountainside. Torra determined that they were on the Wildland’s side of the Whitecrowns, not much further north or south of where the Darkoak lay.

Picking their way down the mountain path, they soon realized that the were heading south into a smaller valley. Ahead they saw smoke fires and movement. It seemed that the valley was the location of some type of orchard or farm. Getting closer they realized that a patrol or band of some sort was riding up to intercept them. Leading the band of lizardfolk and kobolds was a dragonborn warrior. Although prepared, the party made no aggressive moves when the group approached. The dragonborn introduced himself as Vorkrost Valdur.

Chuckling to themselves and quietly thanking the eladrin Celeste, they accompanied Vorkrost to House Valdur, ancestral home of their ally Brost. Vorkrost introduced them to Selucis, his and Brost’s older sister. Selucis and Brost had been writing back and forth, and she recognized the party from her brother’s descriptions. It seemed that the Valdur’s were just preparing to travel to Krall to witness their brother’s attempt to gain the Blood of Io and become the next Scion of Arkhosia.

Traveling to Krall, they saw the city designed to appear as a huge silver dragon’s head when approached from the east. As guests of House Valdur, they were given accommodations in Clan Loremark’s hold and, the day of the contest, were welcomed into House Valdur’s box in the Arena. Thus they had an exceptional view when the battle began.

Five Dragonborn stepped out on the field of battle, only one would be allowed to drink the Blood of Io and become the next Scion of Arkhosia. This day the paladin Grimm, the fighter Devoric Sus, the sorcerer Shamash, the warlock Skaldrax, and the cleric Brost vied for this prestigious honor.

The Ruins of Telementari

Once the werebeasts fled, the party continued making its way to the ruins of the ancient elven city. Soon the woods became silent, and Xamanthe explained that they were now in the Encircling Wood, an enchanted stretch of woodlands surrounding the ancient ruins. The uninitiated find themselves taken on a path around the city and completely bypass the city without ever knowing any better. She taught the rites necessary to overcome the Wood to the group and soon they entered the ruins.

A cloud of gray blotted out the sun withing the Encircling Wood, and a gray ash fell like snow and covered most buildings. Brushing aside some of the ash on a ruin they passed, the party soon realized that the ash was eating away at the very stone of the buildings.

Passing a lake to their north, Xamanthe explained that the ruins north of the lake were overrun with demons, and though the demons were not legion, the fey find replacements for those demons slain every time they enter the ruins. Moving to the west, they encountered a recently slain fey patrol being picked over by a pack of ghouls. Before they could engage the pack, the ghouls looked to the north and fled the scene. As the party took cover behind the ash-covered ruins, a squad of demons came into view. The large wolf at the head of the demons transformed before their eyes into an incredibly attractive demonic man. Three of the short, mannikin-like demons with claws the size of daggers loped up behind the shapeshifting demon and spied the party hiding behind the ruined buildings. Soon the battle was joined. The barlgura demons entered they fray. After taking some serious damage from Zin, the shapeshifter smiled at Diego and possessed the warrior.

Diego was able to fight off the incubus, which immediately jumped into Zin’s body. It was unable to keep Zin under control however, and soon the entire party targeted the demon, ignoring its minions until the leader was dispatched. Soon the incubus was slain, and turned to sludge on the ancient street. Soon the final two demons were fleeing north from whence they came. Unfortunately, they were not fast enough and both lay moldering on the ground.

Following the directions Xamanthe was given, they took the street south to the nearest intersection and followed the street on the left north which would take them to the religious quarter. At the next intersection, they heard the sounds of a blacksmith at work to the south, but chose not to investigate.

As they neared the end of the street, they hid from a patrol of wraiths led by a banshee. Taking refuge in side ruins, they spied the nearby temples. The ivory tree of Corellon was free of ash and had golden leaves that seemed to be in bloom, a large passage entered the trunk at ground level, and many openings existed in the trunk like windows or arrow slits looking out upon the city. They could also make out the symbol of raven-cloaked Labelas Enorieth, God of Longevity, a Temple dedicated to Sehanine the Moon Goddess and Goddess of love and stealth, and a temple with decidedly dwarven motifs. The last temple was a smaller building, but they were behind the building and could not see any motifs.

While they waited, Elias asked Ioun if there was any knowledge of Argent in the ruins and received a negative response. Soon the patrol was out of sight, and they made their way into the circular courtyard between the temples. In the center of the courtyard was a huge fountain of the elven pantheon, untouched by the ash. The symbol on the last temple was of a large open book, above which floated an all-seeing eye. Knowing that this was Ioun’s temple, they entered.

The main level was taken up by a large worship area and was dedicated to the elven god Mnenesenia, Goddess of Wisdom and Study, unknown by modern-day Eldar. There was apparently a huge battle here in the past, though it was obvious that many of the combatants had been removed, or had risen where they fell.

Making their way up to the second floor, they found the burnt-out husk of a library level. On investigating however, the large pile of ash and bodies in the center of the room rose and attacked, bursting into flame as it did so. Emerging from the cinders three zombies also burst into flames, and finally two skulls became wreathed in black flames and rose to attack. As the zombies moved in, the flameskulls began firing off rays of black fire while the cinderhouse rolled its bulk to the attack. The fires around each were so intense that even proximity to the undead burned the party. The tables were turned however when Elias used his gifts from Ioun to smite the undead multiple times. Soon the zombies fell, and then the cinderhouse. The flameskulls however, flew out the arrowslits and headed north.

Frustrated, Zin and Xamanthe used every trick at their disposal to stop the fleeing skulls and managed to destroy one before it got away. However, one did escape.

Into the Darkoak Forest

Flocktime, 3rd Ten-day

The drow and their minions were in the process of creating a teleportation portal to whichever deep realm they hailed when Brost and his newfound allies charged into the cave. While Rampage was able to charge past the two Darkland bugbears, the others were blocked until Feldmar was able to push them out of the way with his halberd. The drow proved much tougher and more mobile than the two bugbears, but the young drow were no match for the seasoned warriors. While Brager and Rampage interrupted the portal caster, Brost, Feldmar and Ortho kept the other drow and their bugbears busy.

The portal caster went down quickly, followed soon by another drow youngblood. As soon as the second drow was killed the third attempted to escape, explaining to the surface dwellers that they had angered House Haagentor and their lord Haagenti. Ortho however had other ideas. Placing lightning walls up to block the exit, Ortho stopped the fleeing drow, and the party soon finished him off.

Gathering the commander’s body, the five allies headed back to the main passage and Dorna’s caravan.

It took another day and a half to make the journey to Bundhausen.

Fullsun, 1st Ten-day

After waiting a day in Bundhausen for a caravan to Jurault, Brost was finally in the tunnels again. Spending the night in Jurault, the dragonborn finally completed the last leg of his journey home to Krall. Unfortunately, the journey took longer than expected. All dragonborn who wanted to compete for the Blood of Io and become a Scion of Arkhosia needed to register before the first of Fullsun. Spending a day with Clan Loremark Elders, Brost was able to get his petition before the council of Elders. Ghesh of Astarin, Rhogar of Flamebrow, Akros of Warbringer and Mishann of Spellscale voted against allowing Brost to compete, while Daar Silversea, Nadarr of Loremark, Thava Moonscale and Kriv of Bloodbane voted in favor of Brost. For the first time in years, the choice now went to the aged Keeper of the Arena, Laram, and Brost was allowed into the competition.

Sequestered with the other four contestants, Brost was unable to meet with his sister Selucis to receive the information he had requested about the other contestants.

Torra, Diego and Elias
Having freed the great spirit below, at least for a time, Torra and Diego were resting in the Red Horse Inn when Elias walked in, done with his quest at the Shrine of Odin. Elias watched with amusement as an inebriated Diego attempted to push himself on the skald Lysa of Amael to no avail. After getting as much of the story of his adventures as she could, the skald left, muttering under her breath something about “no better than Kurson”. The three then spent the night swapping stories of their adventures since separating.

The next day, they chose to ride out to Varnhold to meet Zin. The two-day trip gave them the chance to talk and plan their next moves. Elias needed to enter the ruins of the elven city deep in the Darkoak, and they hoped that Zin would be able to lead them there.

Arriving at Varnhold, they found that in the two months since they had left the village, most of the buildings had been repaired and the community looked whole again. However, the greeting they received from most of the villagers was not welcoming. Townsfolk hid their heads or looked away from them. if they waved to a person, that wave was returned half-heartedly. The scars of Vordekai seemed to run deep. Seeing the smoke of cooking fires from the blockhouse, the party moved through the village to meet the new laird.

Firan of Turen seemed friendly enough, he introduced them to his wife Haelga and a few of his children. As they spoke to the laird, they discovered that he had instituted a council of sorts to help him lead the village, and they also discovered that an eladrin matching the description of Zin was spending his days at the Waterhorse Inn.

Excusing themselves, they found Zin at the Inn. He was speaking with a Jendarri woman who wore blood-red leathers and a braid down the length of her back. Her longbow and quiver sat close at hand. She was questioning Zin about the vanishing and their adventures. When Diego and Torra entered, she introduced herself as Nauma Bloodarrow, a ranger in the service of Laird Firan.

Zin brought his three companions, accompanied by Nauma, out to his camp where they were reintroduced to Xamanthe. Though he tried to talk Xamanthe into peace with the humans of Varnhold, the centaur let him know that the humans had killed and skinned members of her tribe in the recent past. A truce would be possible, but peace would never be.

Xamanthe let the other know that she had been instructed to show Zin the ruins of the elven city of Telementari, although the Prince in Green neglected to say Zin couldn’t bring others with him. After saying goodbye to Nauma, the five of them headed off to the Darkoak.

Making their way through the forest, the five companions narrowly avoided being caught in an ambush by a group of werecreatures. The weretiger leader and her four werewolf companions hit them hard and fast, but were unable to surprise them. Though the beasts hit hard, the companions hit harder and soon the weretiger and two werewolves lay dead, the others fleeing as fast as their four legs could carry them.

Separate Ways V

Flocktime, 3rd Ten-day

Following the trail of the bugbears, Brost, Rampage, Ortho, Feldmar and Bragar soon walk turn the corner into a natural cave. There waiting for them are three shadow-humans, also known as shadar-kai. The two warriors move to engage them, while the witch stays in the back. Unfortunately for the witch, Rampage moves much faster than her warriors and charges her. While one of the warriors moves to intercept the other party members, the second moves to protect the witch. Despite his best effort, the witch is soon forced to bring up a veil of necrotic shadows around her and retreat out of range of Rampage. The three shadar-kai however are no match for the warriors of Hammerfall and Brost. The witch falls first, followed quickly by the two warriors.

Following the passage, the echos of the drow voices are easily heard. “Are you done with that portal yet” “Yes I’m almost done, why don’t do something to make yourself useful.” “The Matron will reward us greatly for bring back a protoype.” “Haagenti will be pleased” Soon the bickering stops, and the sound of ritual chanting begins as you follow the tunnel to the dead end cavern. The two bugbears guard the entrance while two of the drow stand around the third who is intoning the final piece of the ritual that will open up the portal to their homeland.

Fullsun, 1st Ten-day

Torra and Diego
Concerned about following the beholder down the stairway, Torra looks for another way down. Unable to find one, she an Diego descend the stairway used by the gauth. Coming out into a north-south corridor, Diego moves to the door in the north, while Torra checks out the door in the south. The northern door doesn’t budge, or more accurately budges but doesn’t open while the southern door is opened by two small tentacled creatures. As Diego backs away from the northern door, it to is opened, but by a Jendarri warden warped beyond belief. While the warrior holds his greatsword with the poise of an accomplished warrior, two tentacles snake out from behind his back as he moves to engage Diego.

And to go from bad to worse, the gauth beholder emerges from a side door as the fight begins. The small tentacled things drop quickly, allowing Torra and Diego to concentrate on the corrupted warden and beholder. However, they are soon surprised when three more of the lashers run up from the south., and although two of them fall soon enough, when the third runs back south it is turned around by another tentacled creature. As Diego is assaulted by the beholder’s sleep rays and central eye, Torra has difficulty when the new creature grabs her and begins draining her life force. Soon, the battle turns from a seemingly easy battle to one for survival as Diego succumbs to the sleep ray and drops unconscious. Torra and Diego are covered with bruning red and purplish scars by the poison and acid secretions in the tentacles. Thinking that the battle is dire, Torra conjures a wall of thorns filling much of the corridor. Caught in the thorns and between the thorns, the aberrations soon fall.

Not feeling any other spirits, corrupted or otherwise on this level, Torra and Diego begin searching rooms until they find the staircase down. On the third level, there are few places to go. The passage south leads to a sealed tomb, not likely the source of corruption and quite likely to add to their troubles if unsealed. Though tempted, Torra leads Diego north.

The northern passage becomes rough and uneven and eventually ends in a huge underground cavern. Chained with spectral chains in the center of the cavern is the Great Stag, a protector spirit that once led people to safety. Only Torra sees that its antlers have changed to ghostly tentacles and its shaggy fur moves in ways it shouldn’t. Diego is unsure of attacking until a tentacle sweeps out and attacks Shiva. While Diego charges in, Torra attempts to stand back. Unfortunately, the creature calls to Torra and brings her close enough to attack. As she again attempts escape, it demands her return, she is unable to escape.

The spirit however, is not invincible. Though the creature attacks with all of its might, the spirit of the Stag struggles to free itself. The spirit inside helps alleviate some of Torra’s and Diego’s wounds at every stage of combat. Shiva is summoned and destroyed multiple times and every inch of Torra’s skin is covered with tentacle lash scars, but finally the two friends inflict enough damage that the spirit inside again regains control.

It thanks the young shaman for freeing it, and explains that it will be able to hold the corruption off for a time now. Someday however, the corruption inside will become too strong, and it will again call out and summon more to be corrupted. Only by facing its corrupter directly, possibly in the Far Realm itself, can the Stag truly be free. The Stag them exhales on Torra’s chest, where a nasty group of scars forms into a heart-shaped tattoo.

Theri duty done, Torra and Diego attempt to leave the ruins, where they are faced by Tal’than. After staring intently at the two for several minutes, he tells the Barrowguard they are uncorrupted and free to pass.

Separate Ways IV

Flocktime 3rd Ten-day

It took a few days at Gunnacks working with Starag Gunnacksen, the master of Tunnels to get himself booked with a caravan traveling to Bundhausen. Dorna Forgesmith was the merchant heading back to her home town with a wagonload of goods, while a group of warriors, two dwarves (Feldmar and Brager) and two warforged (Ortho and Rampage), joined the odd group to take their commander’s body back to Bundhausen after escaping the canton of Hammerfall with their lives and the general’s body.

The second day of the trip, in the dwarven mine tunnels carved out to allow easy passage, they were ambushed by a drow raid. Soon large areas of darkness surrounded the wagon. In what was obviously a well-planned attack, two dark-furred bugbears stepped out of the opening beside the wagon and grabbed onto the general’s body, while many small shadow humanoids appeared in the darkness and attacked.

While Rampage and Ortho attempted to intercept the bugbears, Feldmar was attacked by the small shadow creatures and Brager charged one of the drow. Brost moved up to assist Brager, but the drow had already skillfully twisted out of combat and was moving to one of the side openings. The shadow creatures, identified as dark ones, soon began to run interference for the drow and bugbears. Three dark creepers, the small humanoids attacked Brager from their position behind the drow Brager had attempted to engage. While the dark stalker, the human-sized one, blinded Rampage and was able to cover the bugbears as they ran down a side corridor.

With everyone converging on the side corridor the bugbears used, the two visible drow disappeared down another side passage while the bugbears passage filled with thick webbing, the sure sign of another drow, most likely a spellcaster.

While Ortho and Rampage turned their attention on the webbed hallway, the dark ones kept up their attacks. Brager soon defeated the three he was engaged with, while Ortho took a beating from the stalker. Ortho conjured a fire creature to burn the webs and pursue the bugbears, but had to recall the creature to defend himself. Rampage just marched down the burning side passage.

Once the party defeated the final dark one, they found Rampage emerging from the side passage. He had taken a wrong turn and fell afoul of a pit trap, but he knew the way to go. Leading the way, they headed down the passage into the mines.

Fullsun, 1st Ten-day

Tal’than looked upon his adopted daughter and said, “Now you are ready child. You may bring one person into the ruins with you a warden to shield your body as your spirits shield his soul. A word of caution, you must take nothing from the ruins. All within is corrupted and vile, and there are things that hide in shapes pleasing for us to remove.”

Torra knew which warden she wished to take into the ruins, and knew that Diego was set to return at any moment. Waiting an extra day, she was rewarded when Diego stumbled into the circle that night, wearing a bearskin that covered not just his body, but his head. After collecting all of his equipment from the circle and having a good night’s sleep, they were ready.

The next day, they were brought to the ruins and allowed past the Barrowguard guards. Taking the passage that Tal’than told them led to the underground levels where she would encounter the thing. Torra sensed a great convergence of spirits surrounding the ruins, almost like a huge dome sealing the area off from the world at large.

The first few rooms showed signs of passage, but very little related to their quest. They finaly came out to a long north-south corridor. Heading north they were almost caught in a pit trap before entering what seemed at first like a latrine for the ruins. Upon entering the unfinished cavern, Torra saw the corrupted spirits swirling around the dung covering the floor and animating it. Soon Diego was fighting against a pile of animated dung. Torra stayed safe outside the room, and used Shiva to aid the battle. Though messy and disgusting, the dung monster was no match for Diego and Torra.

Proceeding south Diego entered another large natural cavern where he was attacked by something resembling flying intestine-like tentacles. As he engaged the aberrations, a small beholder floated down from the ceiling firing its eye rays at the warden. Torra attempted to help from far withing the corridor, but eventually was forced to enter the chamber.

Defeating the tentacled creatures, known as fell taints, they two friends turned their attention to the gauth beholder. Soon the eye creature retreated down the stairway located in the cavern.

Separate Ways III

Flocktime, 3rd Ten-day

Diego took the cave bear’s carcass into the cave. Using its claws to skin the pelt, he found that the muscle and tendons came off easily, almost as if the bear wanted him to have its hide. He wrapped himself in the hide, using strips of pelt to tie it around himself as a robe. the larger claws were a sharp as daggers. he felt fully recovered, and although he could still hear the words of his spirit guide, he remembered everything about being Diego again, all of his tricks, his moves, and his secrets.

Following his guide, he began the long trek back to Berwyn. However, the spirits were not done with him yet. On entering a forest glade he heard laughter, and an older version of himself stepped out from the forest across the glade. With a feral look in his eyes, this older version of Diego laughed at his younger self. "You will give in to the rage young one, make it soon. I’d like to come out and play. With that the older-Diego shifted into the form of a Wendigo, a follower of White Howler that can’t control its rage, becoming a murderous monster preying on its own kin.

The battle began with all the rage both participant could muster. Diego was able to call upon his spirit guide to answer his howl and revitalize him only once during this most important battle, and then he realized that the spirit guide was gone. The Wendigo was crafty and began vanishing in the darkness before coming up behind Diego unseens and biting off chunks of his flesh. For the Wendigo is a spirit of fear. It taunted Diego that he would soon be one, and he would begin by feasting on his friends, lovers and family. Diego stood proud and strong. The spirits had taught him much on the spirit quest. He would not allow the rage to control him, he would control the rage. He would not be the Wendigo’s victim, but its victor. Though the Wendigo attacked as if from thin air, it couldn’t escape Diego’s wrath without grievous wounds, and with a final sound of tendon popping and bone cracking, the Wendigo lay dead on the ground before fading into the air. The warden made his way back to Berwyn.

Arriving in Berwyn, Elias took a room at the Red Horse Inn. Consumed with thoughts of a forgotten elven goddess, he found himself at the Gweirhenge the following day, not looking for a shrine of Odin, but information on a ruined elven city. Asking about his two companions, he was told that Torra was being prepared for ritual, and that Diego was on a quest and may not return. With the druids unable to help him, he left the town, heading for Varnhold. It wasn’t until he was a day out of Berwyn that he realized that Ioun had shown him the Shrine of Odin before the elven city.

Heading back to Berwyn, he arranged for a guide to take him deep into the Gweirwood. The guide Cassius took him deep into the forest. After a days travel, they came upon a section of trail littered with bones. The very vines of the forest then began to attack and strangle them.

Further into the forest, they were attacked by a pair of troll brothers named Togo and Pogo, although even the trolls seemed to have trouble remembering which one was which. Defeating Togo, they ran Pogo off.

The following day they made it to the Shrine. A large winged drake and its two offspring had taken up residence in the upper portions of the shrine. As Elias and Cassius engaged the drakes, Togo entered the fray from behind. The two adventurer’s killed the mother drake and ran the offspring off before finally finishing off Togo – or was that Pogo.

Heading down to the rooms under the shrine, they found bedchambers and living areas for the priests who once tended the shrine before entering the crypts. Once n the crypts, they were sealed in when the doors slammed and the skeletons that littered the floor arose. Leading the skeletons were two wights, a warrior battle-wight and a deathlock necromancer. Though the power of Ioun made short work of the skeletons, while they engaged the battle wight, the deathlok kept raising the bones again and again. However, the undead eventually proved no match for the adventurers.

Still unable to find the sigil of Odin, the two scoured the underground level again until they found a secret door across from the crypt. In the secret chamber, Elias found the Sigil of Odin on the ceiling which was burnt into his memory alongside the other two sigils. Elias made two other discoveries in the chamber. On the floor of the chamber was a teleportation circle, unused for who knows how long, and in the corner of the chamber he found an unusual hammer. Picking it up, he realized he could wield this just like a rod. Five circular areas were unadorned, and as he looked at the first one, the Sigil of Dumathoin rose from the disc. Soon the Sigils of Ioun and Odin were etched upon this Hammer of the Gods.

Upon exiting the shrine, Cassius pointed Elias in the right direction and went off in the direction the troll came from.

Separate Ways II

Flocktime, 2nd Ten-day

Torra and Diego

Torra and Diego made good time heading to Berwyn. Knowing the way and being skilled at woodcraft helped make this journey much easier than the first time they made the trip. Upon arriving in Berwyn, Diego headed to see Lysa of Amael, the local skald, telling her of their adventures freeing Varnhold from Vordekai’s grasp and also purging Krongard of the orcish infestation. Lysa was impressed by the young Jendarri and told him she would put out word that Varnhold was in need of a new laird.

Torra went directly to Gweirhenge, and there met with the circle. Her adopted father, Tal’than looked upon her with worry, but realized that this daughter he raised must answer her calling and enter the ruins. They prepared her body with rare herbs with the power to diminish the corruption she would feel within the ruins, and prepared her mind by calling upon spirits to bolster her defenses.

Diego also found his way to Gweirhenge. He spoke to the druids and shamen of feeling the call of White Howler and of his newfound awareness and openness of the spirits since first visiting the circle months ago. He also was given a challenge. He was asked to enter the circle on the following day as he was born, no weapons, armor or possessions. At that point, the old shaman Tal’than called upon the northern spirits to test the youth and find him worthy. The spirits howled in his soul, and flooded his mind. Then Torra, his friend and companion, came to him with a wooden drinking bowl. The mixture within was pungent and vile, and after drinking the last of it Diego lost himself.

A human was awoken deep in the Gweirwood by a pack of wolves. The pack alpha observed from atop a nearby rock while his pack nudged the human to see if it still lived, for wolves will not eat the dead. Coming to, the human stood quickly, howling to the North Wind. Though naked and weaponless, the sudden movement shocked the wolves into jumping back a distance. The human grabbed a fallen tree branch as the wolves closed in, and a spirit guide whispered in the human’s ears, “See the spirits of the wolf. It is the spirit of the pack, teamwork and cooperation can bring down greater prey such as yourself than one alone. Learn from their spirit, show it who is strongest, make it accept you.”

The human was tough, but the pack worked together. Surrounded and soon bloodied, a hint of death appeared in the human’s eyes. He howled in frustration, and the spirit withing revitalized him. Two more times, the spirit within answered his howl. Soon one member of the pack ran bloodied from the human, and then another, and another until only the packleader was left. With a final painful bite, the packleader fled to gather his wounded pack. As he left, the human knew he had the earned the respect of the spirit of the pack. He remembered his name, he was called Diego. He knew how to fight, he could wield weapons, not just swing blindly with a tree branch. He let his spirit guide lead him onward.

Over the next few days, the spirit led the way to the Lord of Northern Beasts, and Diego knew that he could either fight each beast individually or earn the respect of their lord. On the path they were crossing a stream when the rocks in the streambed gathered themselves up and formed into a creature. “You no pass, Air person. Water, Fire, Earth not want other air-person. Only earth opposed enough to do something, Water, Fire happy to let Earth deal with it.” With that the rock-creature hurled a small boulder at Diego. Diego however remembered how to fight, to pin an enemy down. He remembered some of his easier moves and attacks. The rock creature, the name Galeb Duhr springs to his mind, has trouble with the air-person, and White Howler fills Diego with rage. The spirit inside lets him know that defeating the earth creature will earn him the respect of the elements, fire and water are not opposed enough to challenge him, so they will abide by the challenge of earth. Soon the Galeb Duhr falls, the individual stones rolling back into the stream bed from whence they came. But the battle triggered more memories in Diego, he was out here learning the ways of the spirits, he was on a quest to control the Howler within. And he remembered more combat techniques.

A day later, Diego was led to a cave mouth, where a huge cave bear stood outside. The bear actually spoke to him. “I am the Lord of Northern Beasts. You are not worthy of the respect of the beasts. You are weak.” With that the bear growled and charged.

The battle was fierce, and the bear-spirit was relentless. Twice the spirit inside of Diego answered his howling rage and restored his vigor before falling silent. However, Diego knew better how to fight, and how to win. Soon the howling, raving naked Jendarri warrior stood over the corpse of a great cave bear. The animals of the forest fell silent, the only sound the raspy breath of Diego, and then the bear spirit appeared again. Raising his club Diego made ready for battle, but the spirit bowed and urged the young spirit warrior to make use of its flesh as is expected of any predator.

Elias soon puzzled out the answer to Theodosia’s challenge. The Loremaster smiled and brought the Invoker to the shrine. There to reveal the rite needed to open up a secret chamber in the Temple of Learning. Once in the room, Elias looked up to see the Sigil of Ioun, now burnt into his memory alongside the Sigil of Dumathoin. He received a clear vision of an abandoned shrine deep in the forest dedicated to Odin, the Jendarri aspect of Ioun, and shadowy visions of a great elven city and the temple of an elven deity long since forgotten. He knew that the Shrine of Odin was north and decided to head out to Berwyn, to ask the Jendarri if they knew of the Shrine he sought.

It is a long journey to Krall, and Brost made good time. One day to Rivermeet, where Mother Maura refused to let him stay at the Inn while she still had a bed at the el’Smithson home. Another day to Harpton, where he chose to pass through and sleep in the open past the city. Four more days to Tijino, where the Fairvoice family put him up for the night and another three days to Gunnacks.

Separate Ways

Flocktime, 1st Ten-day

After the visit to Shortstone Wines, Elias made his way cross city to see the sage he had hired several months ago. Derwyndal’s Tower was locked up tight as always, and after a few minutes of pounding on the door, the old sage finally opened the door and let him in.

Not missing a beat, Derwyndal’s hand shot out and he demanded payment. Fortunately, Elias remembered that he had already paid the old man. Derwyndal apologized for the mix-up, “Ya know boy, my memory’s not what it used to be.”

At which point, the sage repeated from memory all that he had learned of Argent. The last known records of Argent were many centuries ago, when three members of the Empire, one each from Darcos, Elteare and Calastan were “called to silver”. Finding an explanation of this in two other tomes, Derwyndal explained that Argent seemed to be a mythical city that gathered the greatest heroes of Arith and called them to the city.

Looking deeper into folklore and myth, he found an entire write-up on the Dragon-Giant War. At the end of the war, when the Giants had been driven back to Hjalmar, supposedly a silver dragon, or a band of silver dragons (the texts contradict themselves) founded a city overlooking the giant lands to stand against a renewed attack. To man this outpost, they established the Order of Argent, also known as the Silvercloaks. The Silvercloaks were the greatest heroes of any age, and were called to stand watch over the giants. They used portals to return to the outside world, but the normal portal ritual apparently could not penetrate Argent’s protections.

When Elias asked about a possible location of Argent, Derwyndal replied that he may as well ask about the location of Godshome. Its folklore, doesn’t exist, nice story to tell your children – someones watching out for those big, bad giants. After answering a few more hypothetical questions, Derwyndal ushered Elias to the door, you’ve wasted enough of an old man’s time, off with ye know.

That night, Torra tossed and turned as the presence in her mind grew more powerful. The thing from the Berwyn ruins called to her, and that call was getting hard to resist.

The next day, Ondath explained that the Bank would agree to loan that much money to the party if they could get “someone important” to speak on their behalf. They decided to ask Ambassador Fairvoice. Torra then visited with Guthrim and spoke of the voices to the ornery druid. He understood, and once heard the voices himself. He said that she must go to Berwyn and undergo the trials, but that by doing so, she would emerge a much more powerful shaman. The voice would never call out again to one who survived the trial, so he and her elders could not hear the voice. He added that if the voice could reach this far, then haste was important. She must go soon.

The party’s meeting with Ambassador Fairvoice was pleasant and friendly, the Ambassador agreed to meet the outside the bank at mid-day tomorrow. He assured them that the bank had a profitable relationship with Angbadur, and that he was sure of being able to help.

The next day, around noon, the people of Tomes got quite a show. The dwarven ambassador, in full regalia, with his honor guard, marched into the Bank of Hawkmoon pennants flying. Arriving with the ambassador were Diego, Torra, Elias and Brost. After some suitable sucking up by the bank staff and manager, the four party members received their loan of 8,000 for Shortstone Winery, fully backed by the Kingdom of Angbadur. Leaving the bank, and thanking Bodvar the party made their way to the winery, where Fosdike accepted the money and agreed to be moved out by the end of the week. He immediately gave the party keys to the place and said that he would be safer if the party treated the place as their own even as he was moving out. Elias gathered the remaining treasure from Krongard and gave Ondath 300 gp, enough to pay the bank for three months.

Diego then went to visit Captain Garmonde. Though she had no new details of the murder, she was sure Laertus was investigating the marketplace. She had interviewed Councillor Leandro Castelo, Master of the Gates Marketplace, but was fairly sure that he was not involved. She was surprised of the news of the winery, and mentioned maybe speaking to Fosdike before he disappeared for good. She and Diego spoke of working together to rid Gates of the Veiled Society once and for all. She also asked about Lieutenant Morcom. Seems she had been promoted to head of the Gates Daywatch, and her best man, Brandec took her place as Captain of the Nightwatch. She needed a good Lieutenant on the Daywatch that she could trust, a second in command that she didn’t have to worry about. If Diego spoke of Morcom this highly, maybe he was her man.

After another sleepless night, Torra made her decision, she announced at breakfast that she must go to Berwyn and face her trial. Diego, whose own inner spirits were calling him to the Jendarri lands agreed to go with her. However, Elias explained that he still had things to do in Hawkmoon. Brost, on the other hand, tried to work out scenarios where he could accompany his friends and still make it to the Trials of Io in Krall. Knowing that he would have to leave soon for his homeland, he realized that it would be impossible to assist. Diego and Torra moved the rest of their possessions into the Winery and departed. Before leaving, Diego sent a courier to Rivermeet to ask a few of his cousins to move to Hawkmoon and help Ondath watch the new place.

Elias and Brost spent several days packing up their rather small library in Coalstone’s and moving it to the Winery. Fosdike seemingly produced a dozen family members in the last few days and was mostly moved out. The place was threadbare. Going to see Theodosia, Elias asked the Loremaster if it was possible to inscribe a permanent teleportation circle where the Sun Fane had removed theirs long ago. She agreed, and gave him a list of arcane components that he would have to provide. He and Brost combed the city gathering the components. With the components gathered Theodosia completed the ritual to make a new permanent circle in the secret chamber of their cellars. After that, Brost knew that he was running out of time to enter his name into the Trial. he departed for his homeland the next morning.

Alone, except for Ondath, Elias pondered hiring a maidservant of his own, maybe when this was all done. Thinking about the clues that Ioun had shown him, Elias made his way to Theodosia’s study once again. The Loremaster seemed slightly amused when he spoke of a secret chamber in the Temple of Learning and explained that she had the same visions long ago.

“But,” she said, "Ioun does not grant her powers to just anyone. Thought, Wisdom and Intelligence are to be rewarded. So here is your challenge. The King has 24 blocks of solid gold in his treasury. However a thief has broken into the treasury and replaced one block with a painted lead block, which is slightly heavier. You are given a balance scale and told to find the lead block without magic. Unfortunately the King has little patience and allows you three weighings at most.

“Tell me how to find the block, and I will reveal Ioun’s vision to you.”


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