The Age of Strife

Our heroes make a new friend, & kill a dragon

Skip forward in time and our group of intrepid adventurers find themselves in a life and death struggle with a young Black Dragon, intent on reneging on a deal to pay off the party and reclaim a magical artefact trapped in a great shard of Ember within the mine.

Brief skip back in time: the group has been sent to the mine to discover why it had ceased sending shipments of Ember to the dwarven citadel. The reason as it turns out was a horde of Kobolds, in the service of a Black Dragon, who our heroes interrupted (i.e. killed all of them) in their mining efforts. The Dragon showed up, in human guise, said “Look guys, I just want the artefact, I can give you wads of dosh if you’ll just sod off. Kudos on solving my paybill issues by the way.” I may be paraphrasing slightly, but that was the general gist of it, Ultan wasn’t paying much attention at that point to be honest. The dragon left to get said “wads”, our heroes moped about a bit, the dragon returned in rather more threatening dragon form , some crazy warrior-type showed up intent on killing the dragon, and as inevitably as night follows day, chaos ensues.

As we join the action the dragon has certainly taken its fair share of punishment, but has rather unsportingly enshrouded itself in a great cloud of darkness and is proving a tad tricky to hit. Particularly for Ultan who has spent the whole encounter flailing about ineffectually in the darkness, being, quite frankly, more a danger to his allies than the dragon. The others are having slightly more luck, and despite everyone not being at their freshest (especially the bear who is, once again, seriously reconsidering her choice to cosy up with Bosmath) things are certainly going badly for the dragon. Erik is proving a useful addition to the group and while still flailing about wildly in the darkness, is having rather more success, his rage at the destruction of his village at the talons (and acid) of the dragon lending accuracy to his strikes.

As combat continues Grax dances in and out of proximity with the fell beast, lashing out with dark tendrils that strike into the cloud to be greeted by roars of pain from the dragon. Bosmath, now a cloud of angry bees, sends swarms of maddening locusts flooding toward the dragon, distracting it further and allowing our heroes to strike with more accuracy. Elvira tears her claws through the dark, and Isabella, standing well back, strikes effectively with her voice at the dragon. Ultan swings his hammer wildly in what he hopes is the general direction of the dragon without much success.

The dragon, meanwhile, is not taking kindly to being clawed, hacked, stung, shrouded and shouted at, and is venting its rage on our heroes with claw, tail and acid.

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The Trial of Drag Durrach

Transcript from the trial of Drag Durrach, betrayer, necromancer, warlock.

The guilty party was removed from his restraints and refused to speak.
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The council deliberated and came to a guilty verdict.
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The Guilty party was removed from the chamber and executed by fire.

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Under the Mountain.

The party arrive at the portal, and are greeted by a delegation of dwarves. The dwarves remember well the Guild and are eager to hear and see the new guild heroes and master. [Grax has now assumed the form of a dwarf]

Ultan finds himself in deep discussions with a dwarven runesmith of some power, though her abilities lie in mastering existing Runes, and she becomes a little star struck when she realises that Ultan is a “Seeker” – one who searches for lost and previously undiscovered runes.

They quickly realise that they are in a huge citadel, that is contained within a mountain. The dwarves of older times sought to trade and meet with the humans of the land, but they knew the humans would not like confines of the underground kingdoms, but the dwarves themselves would be uncomfortable outside, so they hollowed out a mountain and built a huge human city within. The top of the mountain is far above the roofs of the houses so the humans do not feel trapepd, and the dwarves feel at home because they know they are underground.

The group don’t have to wait too long before the airship is to arive, and they are ushered up a number of lifts to a huge landing site at the top of the mountain. There is an impressive view of the whole area, and they realise that they travelled in seconds what would have taken months overland. The impressive airship approaches and everyone is ushered into a chamber.

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Making friends and influencing people

The party have been through a lot since we last laid pen to parchment:

They had just vanquished an evil undead presence in the dire woods [soon to be renamed as the not quite as fire as they used to be woods]

The returned to the Eladrin city, where they were greeted as the heroes they are. Ultain was restored yet again to the land of the living and given a shield to help keep him there.

There was much discussion and a group of Dwarves had turned up to claim the still imprisoned form of the Dwarven warlock Drag Durrach. Eager to see this evil necromancer destroyed Grax asks to follow with the dwarves, but they decline however they give Isabella the runes necessary to travel by portal to the great dwarven city.

The Dwarves will be travelling by airship and will arrive there in a months time. Isabella agress to meet them there, and the heroes depart as friends to the Eladrin.

This gives the group time to regroup back at their headquarters, to train up and sort themselves out.

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The Guild of Heroes does something heroic

For the first time in centuries the Guild of Heroes successfully vanquishes the foes of all that is good and righteous in the world. Wait, that just makes them sound incompentent. I should caveat that introduction by mentioning the fact that the Guild was destroyed centuries ago in a fierce internal conflict, and has only recently been resurrected by a motley group of youths from the small (read miniscule) town of Oakfield, and of course their newest companion, who is most certainly not from Oakfield. Although he is pretty motley. We’re not sure about the youth bit.

And so Bosmath the Druid, Isabella the Bard, Ultan the Runepriest and Grax the (now admitted) Assassin return victorious – dead victorious in Ultan’s case – to the Eladrin city of Leiran through a Fey portal in the Dire Wood. Having been sent deep into the woods to discover the source of the increasing undead activity in the area, the Guild successfully infiltrated a desecrated temple/tomb, battled through hordes of the undead, before releasing the dark necromancer from his prison, and then, after rereading the last line, killin…no wait…ending his lif…what do you say when you “dispose of” an undead necromancer you’ve inadvertantly unleashed on the world – apart from “good job, I need a drink” obviously. Suffice(d?) to say he got served.
DM Note: when you say he got served, I think you mean he beat the living shit out of the party so much he got tired and gave up?

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Itsy Bitsy

The group have a brief discussion to decide where to go, and agree on the northern door out of the crypt room. Ultan opens one of the doors and again Grax heads off into the shadows. The corridor soon branches into a T-junction, with stairs leading down to the right and a dark room to the left. After much skulking around and sneaking back and forth the adventurers are outside the room peering in. It appears to be an empty room, with a pile of rubble in one corner, and a large hole in the opposite one. Grax is convinced that something was moving in the darkness, but Isabella strides confidently into the room and up to the hole, grumbling about the big brave men being afraid of the.. Ahh spiders!!
 
Two spiders leap out of the hole, one at Isabella, another at Ultan. Isabella’s Spider fumbles badly and scrambles at the edge of the pit, exposed and unable to attack. Ultan’s Spider however promptly bits him on the leg, just as his Warhammer smashes into its head, damaging it severely. A few short rounds later, Isabella has learned that turning invisible doesn’t help against creatures with tremor sense, Ultan has learned that he can’t make saving throws to save his life [almost literally] and Bosmath learned that climbing into rubble without checking can get you stuck in spider webs, and that turning into bees just makes things worse. Though he did find some gold and a potion of Healing for his troubles! Grax learned that spiders have valuable venom, after convincing Bosmath to extract some from the corpses.

Injured and severely put out, the adventurers risk a full rest in the now cleaned out spider room. Isabella casts a ritual of Eye of Alarm, which allowed the party to rest without setting watch. On this occasion a good roll ensures the guardian isn’t wearing an eye-patch.
 
The party wakes up in the same room, and they are still alive (a novel experience of late). Feeling somewhat refreshed they head off towards the stairs they spotted earlier. Grax takes the lead, sneaking closer to the room beyond, where he sees a veritable library of bookshelves, tables and…oh my…lots and lots of rats. Some are quite large and mean-looking for rats, he sneaks back up to relay the info, Bosmath learns enough to identify the rats as Dire Rats, very vicious and aggressive creatures. Grax sneaks down again to get another look, when one of the Dire Rats spots him, just as he takes a swing at it with his blade. Grax is quickly swarmed by rats as they try to bite and chew on him, seemingly oblivious to his tasteless Tiefling hide. The group, having looked up the word ‘tactics’, retreats into the stairway and faces the rats two at a time. They discover that swarms of rats are very resilient to swords (and hammers), but Bosmath’s spells do more damage as they target multiple creatures.

Side note: The combat with the rats took a long time, the close quarters and the swarms halving all damage that wasn’t area or close, dragged out the encounter.

The highlight of the fight arrived with Bosmath casting a spell with Isabella in its area – a brave move given his feelings for her. However, proving the power of love, and the fickleness of Fate, he hits all the rats, and fumbles on his attack roll against Isabella – perfect result.

As if to cement Fate’s place in the Pantheon of the Gods, as Grax was about to attack [with about +6 in various bonuses] I said the immortal words “Roll anything but a one and you’re fine.” You can all guess what happened next, but unbelievably (perhaps not to the statisticians amongst you who would merely, and dully, describe it as a 5% probability with no correlation to the previous roll) I then rolled a 1 against Grax.

I beat the crap out of Ultan though, so all is well with the universe.

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Another tower

After a brief portal journey, and a restful night the new group is ready to take on the Dire wood and anything it can throw at them. Grax earns his reputation as a rogue and scouts ahead, finding a tower eventually and directing everyone to it. Isabella confirms there is a strong sense of magic from the place, and Bosmath notes the corruption and decay of the plants nearby. The tower is in ruins. With a wary eye and a comment from Isabella to remind Ultan not to touch anything, they venture down into the basement.
 
Almost immediately when they reach the bottom of the stairs, they hear shuffling and see glowing yellow eyes in the distance. They move into a room, and Bosmath lights a torch throwing it into the centre of the room, illuminating and agitating the zombies within. Quickly the Group set to work, pulling back to the doorway, allowing only two zombies to attack at a time. Ultan is grabbed several times, but either breaks free or the Zombie is dispatched before it can make use of his grab. Grax flits from shadow to shadow, appearing at times behind the enemy, and his blade finds the weak points with telling blows each time. It seems he is no mere rogue; there is something definitely unusual about Grax.
 
The room is cleared, and checked, it seems to be some sort of prisoner are, though the prisoners are long dead, and the doors to the cells are rusted closed. Grax elects to scout ahead into the next room, and as he enters he noticed grooves in the floor. As he is pondering this he steps on a pressure plate, and a swinging blade drops from the ceiling and cutting along the floor, slams into him and knocks him back out of the room. He is badly damaged and bleeding. The rest of the group, head into the room, setting off more plates, and sending more blades swinging along pre-set paths. Eventually they make it across the room, with only a few injuries and find the devices mechanism. Grax sets to work on this as Ultan takes a few swings at the door, trying to open it, unfortunately setting off the trap again and hitting Bosmath, who is not impressed. “Can’t you just leave things alone and just hit what we tell you to?” barks Isabella.
Grax disarms the blades one by one and eventually the door unlocks.
 
A short discussion about who’s goes in first ensues. Isabella decides that it should be Ultan. He opens the door, and barely has time to register the Skeleton archers at the far end of the room, before they open fire on him. Luckily the skeleton archers are terrible shots hitting mostly the walls and the door, with just one arrow hitting Ultan. He moves into the room and is promptly flanked by two armoured and sword wielding Skeletons that were out of sight.
 
Despite Ultan taking a beating, the fight went smoothly, Bosmath quickly despatched the Skeleton archers, with some nicely placed spells. Grax, flowed from shadow to shadow, smashing skeletons left and right. Isabella rushed in, her song blade singing as it cut down skeletons, her words of encouragement keeping Ultan on his feet.
 
A brief rest later and the group does a thorough search of the crypt, but refuses to open or defile the burial chambers. A magical frost longsword is found attached to the lif of one of the sarcophagi, and Grax promptly claims it.

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Waking up is never easy

The party regain consciousness in a small cell. It is made of stone, with no windows and a heavy door, the walls are heavily decorated to look like branches and trees, the light in the room is magical, and not from a defined source. All the party members are bound, using vines.
Standing over the group is a tiefling. He is not bound, but appears as unarmed and un-armoured as the party. He introduces himself as Grax, an adventurer much like the party that was attacked, along with the rest of his group, by hordes of undead. He is the only survivor. He was found by Eladrin soldiers and brought here, not quite as a prisoner, but left here until they can figure out what to do with him.
 
The group manage to free themselves, Bosmath finding yet another use of Bee form. But wait to see what the Eladrin do. Soon enough they are all escorted through a winding corridor formed from wood, almost as if they are walking through the inside of a huge hollowed out branch, which is precisely what they are doing. The catch a glimpse outside and realise they have been brought to the Feywild. They are lead to the main trunk of the tree and brought to another room, though this one appears to be a meeting room, decked out with chairs, and tables of fruit and water. The adventurers are directed to eat; they are famished, and set to devouring the food. [Being almost dead does tend to tax the body]
 
The Eladrin seated in the room, introduces himself as Teraeth, and explains that they became aware that the wards placed on Draigdurrochs tower had been broken, and they went to investigate, fearing that someone was attempting to complete his work. The Adventurers explain about the frost gem, and how it was being corrupted, to spread the ice to the surrounding countryside, and how they went there to stop it, but succumbed to their wounds.
 
Teraeth believes them, and informs them that the Eladrin, deactivated the Stone, and destroyed the tower, to prevent anyone else from following in the warlocks mad plans. He then turns to Grax and speaks briefly with him, and Grax relays that his group was searching for this Draigdurroch themselves when they were attacked by the undead, in the Dire wood. This unsettles the Eladrin, as he explains that they have take Draigdurroch prisoner, and he is no longer a threat. Teraeth leads them from this chamber, and they travel further down into the tree, into another stone room.
 
In this room Draigdurroch floats suspended in Amber, he is unaware and unable to act. The Eladrin are holding him until a representative of the Dwarves can claim him. Grax asks if they will let him return Draigdurroch to the Dwarves as he has vowed vengeance on the dwarf for the death of his friends. The Eladrin refuse, but they do request the party and Grax’s aid. They wish them to investigate where these undead are coming from, they fear it may be an accomplice of Draigdurroch, or something he left behind.
 
The adventurers agree, eager to make up for the unfortunate incident in the frozen tower. Grax asks to accompany them, he’ll get some measure of revenge against the undead. Their equipment is returned to them and off they set.
Side note: Bosmath’s Bear companion, Elvira, is still weak, but the Eladrin have bonded her spirit with Bosmath, in the hopes of saving her. they warn him that if either of them dies, the other will too.

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