The World of Arith

Taking the Battlements

Luckily, as Tharak had told them, the orcs nearby never responded to the sounds of the fighting in the barracks. If fact, the sounds of orcs fighting filled Krongard, making the party’s infiltration difficult to detect. From the barracks, they entered a strong room used to stop intruders from proceeding further either into or out of the complex. Passing through the strong room, they found themselves overlooking the valley behind two dwarven ballista.

The orcs manning the battlements at first put up a fight, but as their numbers began dropping, the few remaining orcs tried to make a run for it and get reinforcements. Barely catching the last orc on the inner stairs down to the main barracks, the party soon had the battlements all to themselves.

Using the sending stone, Torra contacted Helli. Nervous minutes went by before the dwarven army under the command of Bolga Ironkeeper charged up the valley. The orcs below allowed the dwarven army to enter what they thought was the killing zone under the battlements. When death did not rain down on the dwarves, the orcs realized their mistake, far too late.

The party was soon assaulted by an orcish team with ogre back-up trying to retake the battlements before the dwarves were entirely through. Even before the first team started to fail, a second raiding party assaulted the battlements from the other entrance. Torra found herself trapped above the murder holes facing off against an orc darkblade. The darkblade managed to close the inner portcullis, trapping some dwarves underneath and then tipped one of the 10-foot-diameter cauldrons which would have contained boiling oil if the dwarves were in control. The orcs had filled these huge cauldrons with boiling piss and excrement. Torra and Shiva managed to defeat the orc in combat before he was able to tip the other cauldron.

The dwarves engaged the orcs, and while greatly outnumbered, their discipline and training quickly made the battle a one-way fight. Without their chieftain or witch doctor to rally them, or the demons to back them up the orcs soon were routed throughout the complex. Soon the sounds of combat began to fade.

The Witch Doctor

Once the demons teleported behind the party, the carefully thought out plan went out the arrow slit. Zin ended up trapped alone with the fire demons and the orcish witch doctor in the deeper shrine, while the others battled the bar’lgura in the outer shrine. Even Elias and Torra, who placed themselves out of melee range found themselves vulnerable. At one point, one of the bar-lgura, who had moved to the main tunnel turned away from the party and roared at something coming down the tunnel. The sounds of orcish boots fleeing soon followed. Alone in the inner shrine, Zin finally placed a final arrow in the witch doctor’s chest before he was overcome by the fire demons. In the outer shrine, the party began taking control of the battle when Brost felt Zin fall.

Using his divine powers, Brost was able to stop Zin’s death even from the outer room. After the fire demons left the inner shrine to join the larger battle, Zin was able to heal and rejoin the battle, this time form a comfortable distance. Soon the demons were sent back to the Abyss that spawned them.

Taking the witch doctor’s head, the party made their way back to the secret entrance and again met Tharak on the hillside. Tharak led them around to the western entrance, which provided a clearer path to the upper battlements. Coming out of the second secret passage, they had to face a group of orcs backed up by an ogre in a nearby barracks.

Stealthily, they made their way through the side tunnels before reaching the western secret door to the battlements. Fortunately, the orcs kept the door propped open so finding them wasn’t a challenge. The western doorway took then to a small passage up to another barracks complex. Having faced so many orcs in the complex, the party was able to defeat this latest group handily.

The Desecrated Shrine of Moradin (GM Post)

With the orc chieftain dead, the party took some time to scout out the royal chambers. Convinced that nothing survived, Diego took the chieftain’s body into the secret passage and cut off his head while Elias and Torra stripped the magic items and beltpouches from the combatants. Zin removed any signs leading to the secret door. The orcs wouldn’t know what had happened to their chieftain until the correct moment.

Making their way south, they exited the secret passage in one of the main mining tunnels. According to their map, the shrine was off this tunnel to the west. Although the dwarves had sconces every twenty feet, the orcs had only a few of those sconces lit. Zin led the way, extinguishing each torch as he moved up to it. Once a torch was extinguished, the rest would move up. Halfway up the corridor, another side complex opened up. From the sounds, it may have been a minor smithy. As Zin motioned the party past the smithy, a band of orcs came out of the passage and the battle was on. The fight went well for the party, while the orcish marauders were experienced, the berserkers with them were no match for the better trained adventurers. In the middle of the fight, Diego howled to his personal spirit, White Howler, causing the entire complex to quite, just for a second.

Once this group of orcs were finished off, the party began to run to the shrine. Seeing torches up ahead, the dodged into the shrine complex and hid in a side passage until the investigating warband passed. However, once they were sure that the warband had passed, an orcish cleric walked into the shrine complex with two elemental shamans in tow. Rounding the corner and seeing a well-armed group of invaders, they hit the party with all they had.

The sounds of combat alerted the other orcs in the rooms off the corridor. Orcs began throwing burning pitch, and vials of acid at the party while using quickly prepared powders to light their weapons on fire. Other orcs called to the spirits of wind and lightning to attack the party. It seemed that much of the orcs magical might was being thrown at the adventurers.

When only a few survived, and were being taken care of by the rest of the party, Diego and Elias peered down the complex into the actual shrine. Here they heard the witch doctor intoning a ritual which Elias recognized as a demonic summoning ritual. They also caught glimpses of large demons and demons of fire around the natural formations in the room. Luckily for them the demons seemed to be more interested in the actions inside the shrine, and seemed unaware of the combat taking place in the priests corridor.

Two doors remained closed throughout the battle, one of those doors would be the dwarven high priest’s chambers, while the other would be the sacristy. Though sealed against non-worshipers, the sacristy opened easily at Diego’s touch, and the party took a quick rest in the storage chamber before attacking the witch doctor and his demons. Elias investigated the contents of the room and soon passed out the magic kept from the orcs grip for all these years.

Somewhat rested, they began their assault on the shrine. Zin moved quietly into position to attack the witch doctor while the rest of the party waited for the signal to attack. Once Zin attacked however, the demons of the shrine quickly teleported into the ranks of the party, ruining their well-thought out plan.

The fight was on.

Mission to Krongard

Planting, Second Ten-Day

After having rested and running errands, the party made ready to meet the Thane of Tijino, Glanniff Gordelve. The Thane awaited them over dinner with the High Priestess, Helli Torthara, Runemaster Daval Erdath and the Thane in exile of Krongard, Bolga Ironkeeper.

With the evidence from duergar research, it wasn’t difficult to convince Thane Glanniff to endorse the retaking of Krongard. Bolga was much more distrustful, and made it known that he felt the adventurers would just loot the place and make things worse. Glanniff would have none of Bolga’s arrogance and agreed to put his men alongside repatriated Krongardians to retake the canton.

It was then that they called in their scout, Tharak Guldenson. He had done some scouting in the area and would lead the party to the secret entrances (which Bolga reminded them would be moved once Krongard was his again). One entrance was an escape route for the dwarven Thane and led directly to his chambers. That entrance was also near the dwarven shrine to Moradin. Other entrances existed close to many of the mining tunnels in which Krongard was built. Between Bolga’s maps of Krongard and surroundings, Tharak’s knowledge of the terrain and the orcs’ movements and the information gleaned from a few interrogated orcs, a plan was hatched.

The captured orcs told the location in the complex of their chieftain and witch doctor. The chieftain was inhabiting the Thane’s chambers, while the witch doctor took delight in desecrating the Shrine of Moradin. The party was welcome to attack either target, but their primary objective would be to take and hold the battlements while the dwarf army attacked from their hidden base approximately 10 minutes away from the entrance.

High Priestess Helli agreed to join the army on this venture with some of her best healers. She gave the party one of a pair of sending stones, which can be used to send a short message to the holder of the other stone. The party decided to attack the chieftain first, then go after the witch doctor and finally use a second secret entrance to attack the battlements. There they would contact Helli using their sending stone and hold the battlements firmly until the army arrived.

Everyone was given five days to prepare.

In the middle of the second night, the wind whipped through the Waystation, banging open the shutter. Torra heard the voice of Great Watcher bidding her to, “Come. It Wakes.” With her friends in tow, they exited the waystation into a thick morning fog. When the fog cleared they found themselves in a crater at the top of a mountain range. There a hideous aberration rose from its slumber. It had rotted all life within the crater, and only gray sludge remained.

Knowing what they must do, the party attacked with all of their fury. The thing captured Brost and Diego in its tentacles and called to Torra who unwillingly walked right up to the creature. Purple lightning arched out of what could only be the creature’s mouth. Soon the relentless attack by the party began to weaken the nightmarish thing, identified by Brost and Elias as a mooncalf. Eventually the mooncalf crashed to earth and began to dissolve into a greenish paste. Torra felt the spirits of this place returning to their home, and life once more began to bloom. Where the creature fell, a sprig of birch grew quickly from the ground, the required ingredient for Torra’s spirit item.

Not having anyway back, the party rested and awoke near the waystation. Two days had passed, and many of their requests of the local merchants had been fulfilled. Spending the remaining two days preparing for their mission, the party awoke on the fifth day ready to begin.

It took two days travel to the canton of Bareicks, and another two day to a secret cave near Krongard. The cave had shelves large enough for a few tents carved into a bowl-shaped depression. A shelf higher up was large enough for Bolga’s tent and entourage, and another shelf seemed like the perfect place for the healers.

The following morning, Tharak led the party to the secret escape route of the Thanes of Krongard. Touching a large boulder with a runestone opened a staircase heading down into the lost canton. Once sealed, the sounds of the orcs permeated everything. At any time, it sounded as if entire contingents of orcs were at war with one another or were being tortured. The screaming was enough to drive people insane.

Following their map, they soon came upon the secret door into the Thane’s chambers. Although they saw no movement when Zin initially peeked out the door, when he tried to get a better look, orcish grunts from behind the door let him know he had been seen. At that point the party barged out into the Thane’s common room. The two orc guards were the only ones there at first, but it didn’t take long until two younger, but well-trained, orcs joined in the fray. The two young orcs called in the ogre guards from the outer chamber and soon after the ogres entered the battle, the orc chieftain himself and another shadowy orc finally joined the battle.

The battle was fierce, and the party spent many of its resources, but soon the young orcs fell, followed by the shifty orc. Soon after the ogres and the guards fell. The chieftain then made several strategic moves as he attempted to get to the doors into the main complex, but he was unable to push completely past the party before he fell.

From Varnhold to Tijino

Coldbreak, Third Ten-day
Planting, First Ten-day

Waiting a few moments for Elias to conjure a floating disc, the party began its trek back to civilization. It was dark when the exited Vordekai’s tomb. Xamanthe swam across the black waters and the group began to descend the stone stairs back down to the Valley of the Dead. On reaching the valley, they saw a sight which chilled their bones. Thousands of rats, as far as the eye could see, all of which seemed to be emerging from the burial mounds spread across the Valley. and almost as one, the rats turned their gazes to the party and scattered.

As dawn rose, they made their way back to the Nomen village. Xamanthe left the group once they closed with the village, no longer welcome among her people. In the presence of Mother Moon, they told the story of Vordekai and his tomb and the centaurs knew that they had done the world a great service. However, when asked, the centaur’s refused to get involved in the coming conflict. The wars between primordials, dragons and gods meaning little to the fey. Mother Moon did agree to leave Varnhold alone as long as the villagers did not make the first move.

The fey were involved in their own war under the cover of the Darkoak Forest. The tribes of the fey sought to protect an ancient sith city deep within the forest from the lycanthropes and their master, Caldoror in the eastern parts of the forest. The Nomen were but one fey tribe defending against the werebeats. Intrigued, Zin wished to explore this ancient city and was on the verge of convincing the rest of the party to follow, but Diego eventually convinced him to relent.

As the rest of the party bid the centaurs goodbye and returned to Varnhold, Zin went off in search of Xamanthe, who gave him a rough sketch of the war in the Darkoak, but refused to take him to the ancient city near the center of the forest. Back at Varnhold, the remaining party members broke the rest of the soul jars and helped to get the villagers back on their feet. Offered the chance to take over for Varn and become the stedders, the party refused and began to contemplate their next move.

Deciding to head for the dwarven canton of Tijino, they crossed the Varnhold Pass and followed the Tors south until the cleared the Tors and set their path due south. After roughly five days of travel, they came upon the Great East Road from Harpton to Tijino. Another days travel east and they entered the canton of Tijino.

The guard greeting them seemed nervous, as if expecting them, and ran off into the central keep. Followed by Zin, he soon returned with the Hawkmoon ambassador, Bodvar Fairvoice. While giving Zin some friendly ribbing about Lady Moonfire’s ball, Bodvar seemed to act as if the party were visiting nobility. He brought them into the central keep as guests and even invited them to his family’s chambers on the third level. Here he offered them baths and ale while he sent messengers to arrange a small gathering with the Thane and others who would help the party’s next quest.

At Elias’ request, Bodvar brought them down to the first under-level of the keep, where they were introduced to Daval Erdath, runemaster of Tijino. While Elias and Brost negotiated the purchase of rituals from Daval, Zin was introduced to the gnome leatherworker Tavar Renlan and Torra spent some time in the nearby woodlands speaking with the spirits.

Torra called to the Great Watcher to grant her the power to create an item of spirit magic, and while the Watcher listened, it requested a price first one that the entire party would be required to pay.

Later than afternoon, Brost had been to the dwarven bank and couriers to send both money and messages back home. While the rest of the party started getting cleaned up and ready to meet the Thane.

Vordekai's Legacy

The chamber in which Vordekai fell was a rounded hollow in the middle of this stone pillar. The floor was inscribed with a 20’ diameter magical circle, while the domed ceiling was made up of white crystals with a round inlay of black at the center, looking much like the inside of an eyeball. The Eye of Abaddon lay on the floor, pulsing with unholy life, almost demanding to be possessed. Brost was convinced that this chamber predated the Dragon-Giant War and may have even been a relic of the Dawn War, some type of daemonic redoubt.

With Vordekai destroyed, at least for the moment, the party made their way out to the great hall and camped under the giant-sized table, hopeful that it wouldn’t be their final resting place. Nothing disturbed them that night (or was it day?). Exploring the other exits from the Chamber of the Eye, they found themselves in some type of antechamber where they were attacked by a fiendish water elemental. After its defeat, they continued on into Vordekai’s sanctum.

Here they found some residents of Varnhold, all dead with large amounts of their brains eaten. They also found the lich’s library, a chamber of stone tablets chiseled over the course of centuries. However, nothing that looked like a phylactery was found.

Deeper into the sanctum was a rounded chamber containing small clay jars. When Torra finally entered the chamber and broke one of the jars, a Jendarri woman appeared from the mist created when the jar broke. She called herself Anoura, and said she was from Varnhold. As Torra took hold of another jar, she could feel the spirit of the Jendarri inside. Taking the remaining 42 jars, the party knew it was time to find a way out of this place.

They made their way back to the tar pool, and Elias’ used his floating disc ritual to usher everyone across. Back in the crypt, they decided to take a closer look at the tar room. Zin and his companion Shiver the shadowraven explored the natural cavern and found a secret door far above the tar on the western side of the room. Finding a small room on the other side of the door, Elias chose to wait there with Anoura while the rest of the party looked for another way out.

Backtracking to the daemonic shrine, Torra had her spirit Shiva open the bronze doors. The soulfire that erupted from the flanking altars injured the spirit to such an extent that Torra was unable to call her back. Proceeding through the chambers beyond, the passed through a room covered with reliefs of daemon armies. Halfway through the chamber, five of the reliefs pulled away from the wall, revealing themselves to be real daemons. Taking up a position in the room beyond, Zin found Xamanthe, Mother Moon’s daughter, chained and unconscious.

While the party battled the daemons, Zin attempted to revive Xamanthe enough for her to join the battle. He eventually gave up and joined the battle with his allies. The daemons heard the call of the Eye of Abaddon, and soon turned their fury on Brost in an effort to capture the artifact. Fortunately, that left the rest of the party in an advantageous position and soon the last of the daemons fell.

Reviving the centaur huntress, the party now had to find a way for all involved to escape Vordekai’s tomb. The entrance above the tar room would be impassable for Xamanthe, so they again descended to the water-trapped room. Diego and Zin entered the now-submerged chamber looking for a way to get through the room. Although it required several trips back to the staircase for air, eventually Diego’s strength and Zin’s skill opened the way.

Diego took on the role of Anoura’s protector, carrying her through those rooms she could not escape by herself and soon the entire party was on the small sliver of beach outside of the tomb.

An Ancient Evil

After catching their breath, Zin scouted ahead. Reaching the end of the twisting hallway, he found two doors. Careful to remain unseen, he found that the left-hand door opened into an ancient crypt, while the right-hand door opened into a huge great hall. While the crypt seemed unoccupied, cyclops zombies stood silently in the great hall.

With Zin’s help, the party got to the doors without seeming to alert the undead guardians. Once n the great hall, they found themselves facing four of the dread cyclops zombies. Having enough experience with their foes, they handily defeated the creatures a which point they heard a thunderous clapping from the balcony above. Forty feet above them stood an ancient cyclops with shriveled flesh clapping at their accomplishment.

He spoke to them in perfect Jendarri, and in a raspy and hollow voice said, “I am Vordekai, your new master. It was quite an accomplishment reaching this chamber. You will make excellent minions as I again forge my empire in this misbegotten world. Serve me freely, and I will grant you wealth and power beyond your wildest dreams, and when the time is right, I can give you an eternity to enjoy your gifts. Continue your fight, and you will serve me in undeath. Either way, you are mine now.”

Zin and Diego showed great interest in the offer, with the rest of the party following their lead. Vordekai then said, “Ah, but we are at war with the dragons. The first to slay the dragonborn will become my First, and have authority over the others.”

Zin began shooting at Brost, while Diego moved to the stairs to “intercept” the dragonborn. The ruse worked for only a few seconds until Vordekai grew annoyed at the group’s apparent incompetence and began blasting Brost with spells from above. When he saw them turn, Vordekai summoned two more of his “soul eaters” and commanded them to attack the party as he continued to rain death upon them. The soul eaters effectively blocked the staircase, making it extremely difficult to close with the lich. Eventually, Diego and Zin got through while Torra, Brost and Elias were boxed in on the stairway. The fight seemed desperate, and there were times when the five of them thought they would fall.

The turn around point was when Diego pushed Vordekai off the balcony. While the lich did not seem too injured from the fall, he was constantly assaulted as he made his way back into the battle. Finally he had enough, and he attempted to grab Diego and escape with his captive through a darkened hallway. He was almost away when the rest of the party finally caught up.

In an ancient chamber, infused with great evil, Vordekai made his final stand. The battle was fierce and his attacks were without mercy, but like all other foes, he fell. The red sphere in his eyesocket fell to the floor and began pulsing with a life of its own.

Gathering their wits, the party took stock of what had just happened. Brost identified the chamber as an ancient daemonic power node of some sort. Vordekai’s “eye” identified itself as the Eye of Abaddon, and whispered of the great power it could bestow if one were to just place it withing their eye socket.

Of Vordekai, Torra recounted the ancient tales of the lich. The Jendarri legends said that once slain, a lich’s spirit returned to their phylactery and inhabited the nearest rat. As a rat they would have to slay and consume a creature which preyed on rats, such as a wildcat. They would then be reborn as that predator and would have to work their way up the food chain until they eventually killed a human and regained their full power. However, what path a cyclops would have to take was beyond the old tales.

The Lich's Lair

Now fairly sure of the threat they faced, the party began searching the side chambers and doorways out of the crypt. In one side chamber, frescos of cyclopes adorned the wall, ruling over lesser creatures. Zin was somewhat confused because the cyclopes of the Feywild were brutish beings firmly under the thrall of their fomorian lords. These frescos seemed to speak of a different time where the cyclopes ruled in their own name. Could it be possible the the cyclopes had devolved during their time of servitude under the fomorians? Could it also be possible that this lich they were facing was a cyclops? And how ancient must it be to be from that ancient age?

Not wanting to probe any further in that direction, Zin took another doorway at the opposite side of the crypt. This led to a natural chamber filled with a thick, bubbling tar pool. The air was green with the vapor that burned the lungs. Forty feet away, on the opposite side of the tar pit, a human zombie finished intoning a spell and three magic missiles struck Zin. When the rest of the party joined the battle they realized that the entire room was a huge deathtrap. The zombie wizard across the tar pit rained spell after spell on the party and when they went to cross the pool, a tar demon rose up, further complicating the battle. The poisoned air and the burning tar made the room and the battle much more difficult and dangerous. Using many of their resources, the party managed to defeat the demon and zombie and cross to the door the zombie had guarded.

Weakened, hacking and gasping for breath, the conversation turned to rest, but there would be no safe place in a lich’s lair, and a rest would only provide the lich with a perfect time to attack and destroy them.

Into the Pillar of Stone

Beyond the trapped room, which continued to fill with water, the party found a stairway leading up through the pillar of stone. With no other recourse, they ascended the ancient staircase. Zin noted that no creatures had been on these stairs for centuries, although he swore that a raven-shaped shadow flew into the wall as they began the climb.

The stairs eventually leveled out into a wide corridor ending in a large stone door. Beyond the door was some type of shrine or temple. Across for the door they entered was another large doorway, and at the end of the room to the right were large bronze double doors flanked by two altars made entirely of smokey quartz. Across from the two altars was a third altar on which rested a chalice and a ritual dagger. The walls of the shrine were covered with reliefs of armies of daemons.

Working together, Brost, Elias and Torra told the tale of the daemons. Ages ago, a forgotten primordial used the energies of the Abyss to create a new race of demons. Not wishing his creations to rise against him, he tied their wills and their souls directly to his own. He raised four of these creatures above their kin, calling them his horsemen and named them Death, War, Pestilence and Famine. Together, these creatures invaded the Astral Sea. They invaded the dominion known as Abaddon, where the resident god and primordial destroyed each other. Bereft of their master, the demons changed. The energies of the Astral Sea and the dominion of Abaddon altered them into strange and malevolent forms. The four horsemen took control of the realm and set about on a new purpose. While these new creatures wished to join their master in oblivion, they wanted all of creation to suffer as they did. They and their spawn would seek the utter destruction of all creation.

The party also identified a magical ward on the bronze double doors, somehow tied to the two quartz altars, which had an unholy glow deep within them. With the chalice and dagger, he recognized that a sacrifice of burning blood to Charon, Horseman of Death, would bypass the ward and allow for free passage. Not willing to devote their souls to the Horseman of Death, they party chose to leave the bronze doors alone and venture further into this complex.

The smaller doorway, though sized for a cyclops, led to a passage which eventually ended in another door. The crypt beyond was nearly filled with alcoves each holding cyclops bodies magically preserved like the ones in the crypt below. Three of those bodies rose as zombies similar to the ones faced before. Upon entering the room, two ghostly human creatures emerged from the central columns to fight alongside the cyclops zombies. The ghostly creatures appeared as headless Jendarri and their touch was soul-numbing. As the zombies fought, the creatures called out for the souls of the party. Although the battle was fierce, the outcome was never in doubt due to the power of the gods channeled by the party.

After the battle, Torra expanded her senses to feel the spirits of this place. Though no natural spirits inhabited this place, she felt an overwhelming sense of necrotic energy. With all of the clues they had discovered, only one thought came to her. Lich.

Valley of the Dead

Coldbreak, Second Ten-day

The party was met several miles from the Nomen camp by a centaur warband. Seeing the carcass of the dead manticore carried on the floating disc, the centaurs’ moods seemed greatly improved, though their caution didn’t.

Bringing the proof of the manticores’ demise to Mother Moon, she opens up quite a bit more. She compliments the party on risking life and limb only for the opportunity to gain the centaurs’ trust. She then reveals her name as Accora Silverfire. When confronted with the disappearance of the villagers of Varnhold, she denies any centaur involvement, but explains that one of her warrior maidens recently saw strange and lumbering shapes in “Olah-Kakanet”, or the Valley of the Dead. Perhaps the humans disturbed something best left undisturbed in the valley, as they so often do.

When the party mentions the name Vordekai, found in Maestro Pendrod’s research, Accora grows quiet and explains that the name Vordekai is known in the ancient traditions as a slumbering warlord from the time of the mother tribe, an ancient powerful figure from the distant past. She also explains that Vordekai is associated with a narrow trail leading up into the mountains at the northwestern corner of Olah-Kankanet. With the sun setting, Accora excuses herself to conduct the nightly rituals, but suggests that the answers the party seeks lie somewhere in Olah-Kankanet. She allows the party to set up camp right outside the Nomen grounds and asks one last favor.

It seems that the warrior maiden, a ranger named Xamanthe, who spotted the shapes in the valley has disappeared, possibly to investigate on her own. Though the valley is taboo, she asks the party to keep an eye out for Xamanthe, her daughter.

After a night of undisturbed rest, the party set out south to Olah-Kankanet, the Valley of the Dead. Several hours later, they passed the totems and warning markers designating this place as taboo. Entering the valley was like entering a different world, the valley stretched for about two miles east and west of the narrow northern pass, and about 3 miles south. Littering the flat valley floor were hundreds, if not thousands of large mounds. The air stilled as they went further into the valley, following the north foothills west. As the sun set, the party found a very secluded place to camp and hunkered down. At some point during the night, Zin saw movement in the darkness, seemingly heading west as well. Though his curiosity nearly got the best of him, he realized that he would have to range far away from the party to truly investigate.

As the sun rose, in the pale light of dawn, they spotted movement in a narrow fissure winding up through the foothills to their west. Approaching the fissure, they discovered an ancient set of steps carved out of the foothills leading northwest into the Tors of Leven. About halfway up the wide stairs, they were accosted by the zombie of a cyclops. At first they thought of the simple undead animated by ritual until the zombie bit into one of their skulls and was rejuvenated by the act of feasting on their flesh. Another zombie dropped down behind the party, effectively blocking their escape, suggesting the ability to reason, not just blindly follow orders. Dispatching the two zombies, the party was horrified when the each in turn reanimated and began their attack anew. Dropping the two a second time, they dragged them down the stairs and lit the corpses on fire, creating a makeshift pyre.

Having had time to study the corpses, Torra seemed to think that whatever ritual animated these creatures was much more powerful that the common ritual, yet the residual necrotic energy in the zombies did not seem capable of reanimating them a second time.

At the top of the stairs, the path wound its way to the southern bank of a large basin which wrapped around a pillar of stone sticking out of the black, murky waters. A large stream fed in to the basin from the west, at which point the water churned black in the basin and around the tall island, before eventually plunging over a rocky waterfall in the east. The island, or pillar of rock, was about 500 feet in diameter and was about 600 feet from any shore. Past the island to the north, sheer cliff’s overlooked the basin, and flying above those cliff’s, the party spotted draconic shapes, which they identified as wyverns.

Elias created a floating disc and used it as passage above the blackened water, first taking Zin over and returning for Diego. As Elias and Diego made their way over on the small field of force, they were spotted by one of the wyverns. Once the monster was close enough, Zin gave the creature something else to worry about. firing arrow after deadly arrow into the creatures tough hide. A second wyvern joined the fight, but by then Elias and Diego had crossed the lake. The wyverns flew away, eager to find easier prey.

With the threat gone, it took only a few minutes to usher Torra and Brost across the black lake. Finding a dark opening in the rock, they entered a long hallway with alcoves running its length. In one of the neck-high alcoves a large urn had been broken open and ancient coins littered the high shelf. Digging through the coins they found a jade bracelet, similar to the one described in Pendrod’s notes. Further down, the corridor turned, leading into a diamond-shaped room. An alcove in the southern wall had been broken open and in the alcove lay biers in the wall, three high, most holding the body of a long-dead cyclops, the corpses somehow preserved against the ravages of time. Elias examined the eastern alcove, and dsicovered a secret door. Torra then examined the northern alcove when it suddenly opened and two more of the cyclops zombies engaged the party. Diego managed to hold the two of them in the alcove as the rest of the party rained destruction down on them. The party then waited for them to rise again and repeated the process.

Through the secret door was a large underground lake, diving in, Diego noted stairs at the bottom of the pool, which was well-carved below the surface, before he was attacked by a creature from another time. A behemoth called an elasmosaurus lay waiting in the lake for anyone foolish enough to break the surface. The cagey beast ignored all attempts to get it to surface, instead waiting for its prey to come down to it, and the lantern’s light on the surface of the pool ruined all attempts to see below the water. Eventually seeing no other way, Diego and Zin dove into the water to confront the thing, and soon joined by Brost while Torra and Elias stayed above water to provide aid if needed. It didn’t take long for the water to be stained red with the beast’s blood.

Attaching a long length of rope to himself, Diego swam down the submerged staircase and found that it quickly leveled out then ascended to a room filled with cyclopian pottery. The distance was short enough that all members of the party were able to make the dive. The pottery room had a stairway down, leading to a strange square room with 16 statues and 16 circular reliefs carved into the ceiling. When Elias found and opened a secret door in the room, the circular indents revealed themselves to be stone plugs holding back the waters that began to pour into the room when the plugs dropped a foot each. Iron doors dropped down over the secret door and the doorway back to the pottery room, and a portcullis further sealed off the way back as two side alcoves opened up, releasing the zombie cyclopses inside.

As the party engaged the cyclopse, Elias searched for a way out, examining the circular plugs, the statues and the secret door before finding a panel near the door with the trap mechanism. Zin revealed himself something of a trapsmith as he left the battle and disabled the mechanism that held the iron door shut. Now up to their chest in water, the party chose to finish the cyclopses before making a mad dash – almost swimming – out the secret door and up the stairs beyond.


I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.