z_The Zenith

Tournament Day 8

Day 8

Both the party and team 6 still remembered Jeska’s warnings about becoming a target for being too exceptional. For this reason, Red chose not to use Orchid Malevolence’s Soul Burn and team 6 would presumably be holding something back as well.

Despite the limitations, “Red” and Morel were extremely confident of their chances placing “all in” bets of $6000 apiece. This was twice as much as Kyra or Tathel who were more conservative in their estimations. Team 6 had demonstrated itself to be very formidable in its other matches.

The 3 on 3 match opened well enough, team 6’s archer missed their shot against Morel. “Red” prepped Morel with Reverse Missiles to neutralize the archer’s future attacks. Morel returned fire with throwing an ax into the chest of Galadil, team 6’s tank. “Red” also cast Reverse Missiles on himself. With Tathel invisible, it seemed that 2 of the 3 opponents were completely neutered in the fight. Only the mage, Algon, remained an active threat. This looked like an easy fight.

Except, where was Algon? He was hiding back in the tunnel. Tathel decided to teleport behind the mage and would have had the perfect opportunity to attack while the mage prepared if he was so disorientated after the spatial shift. Instead of losing his spell, Algon successfully created the most powerful Sunbolt possible. It glowed brightly in his hand and then he threw it directly for Morel.

If his brother wasn’t directly behind him, Morel might have tried dodging and been lucky enough to avoid the attack. As it was, he knew his brother wouldn’t be able to handle something so powerful and opted to take the hit. Little did he know it would be strong enough to disintegrate a lesser man (30 DAM impaling*). Without his armor, there is no question he wouldn’t be standing. Morel thought briefly about how happy he was to save his brother from what could have been his death.

This was the turning point in the battle. Galadil got up and took advantage of the physical shock from the Sunbolt to get in a solid hit on Morel’s arm crippling it. Morel was now outmatched as he was attacked by 2 swords and was only able to defend with one.

Tathel is still in position against Algon and unsuccessfully attempts a shot to the vitals. This causes the mage to turn around and discover his attacker. This gives “Red” the opportunity to throw an ax at the mage to cripple his leg.

Ignoring the fallen mage, Tathel becomes invisible and starts stalking the archer. The archer takes shots at the targets Morel and learns the dwarf is immune to his arrows. Unfortunately, he successfully dodges each arrow that’s returned. Tathel gets into position and gets a minor wound to the vitals before the archer turns his attention towards the party’s elf cleric.

Algon is not neutralized. He casts levitate on himself and can ignore the fact his leg doesn’t work. It takes several seconds for “Red” to reach his brother to offer assistance, all the while Algon is preparing a lightning ball and waiting for him to get within range. At a critical point, Algon launches the magical lightning at “Red” only to have it come directly back at him. It would have hit if not for Blink.

Galadil sees “Red” as the bigger threat now. Orchid Malevolence is a 10 lb. mace that could easily break one of his swords if he tries to parry. Galadil angles to “Red’s” left and brings 2 strikes against his arm. “Red” parries one blow, but decides to use Iron Arm to improve his chances. It was a bad time for a spell failure. All that happened was a loud pop and a puff of smoke. Then his arm gave way under the assault of a long sword and his mace fell to the ground.

Tathel wasn’t having much better luck. The archer forced him to Blink again and again causing him to get more and more tired. Although he had yet to take a blow, his health was suffering from all the magic he was forced to do. The brief reprieves he was able to get by turning invisible allowed him to get better positioning on the field, but weren’t enough to give him an advantage.

Algon had learned that Sunbolt was his most effective weapon against the dwarfs. If he had a way to do it faster, there would be no way to “Red” or Morel to respond. As it was, Galadil was keeping both of them busy. He could easily parry anything the dwarfs could throw at him. With only 1 arm each, the dwarfs were certain to succumb to his brutally effective swords soon.

Then Galadil scored a strong hit on Morel’s one remaining good arm. Morel was out of the competition… or was he. Limping forward, Morel threw his body against Galadil attempting to slam him hard. Fearing further damage, Galadil parried the attack, but it caused his short sword to snap against Morel’s armor.

Galadil maintains his defenses against “Red” and appears to have the situation under control until Morel once again threw his body against Galadil. This causes the swordsman to drop his weapon. “Red” sees his opportunity and drives an ax towards Galadil’s leg. Failing his dodge, the swordsman drops as his leg becomes crippled.

The tide of battle starts to turn and Tathel comes out of invisibility to do a significant blow against the archer. In return he is driven away by an arrow, which forces another Blink by the elf cleric.

Algon has been firing Sunbolt after Sunbolt into Morel hoping to drop the hearty dwarf. Now, that he is without working arms, he turns his attention to “Red”. Algon is getting tired now, but manages to have strong Sunbolts despite his weakness. “Red” starts picking up the axes that are scattered around the field tossing them at the mage as soon as he is able. It is a time consuming process, but still faster than Algon can cast and throw a Sunbolt.

Algon is forced to Blink out of the way of most of the axes, but eventually gets his chance to fire when “Red” runs out of axes and is forced to go to the far side of the arena for more ammunition. In his current condition, “Red” has little chance to dodge the attacks and suffers for it.

Morel can’t hope to help against Algon, but limps forward to eliminate the archer. Before he gets there, Tathel manages to land another hit, but passes out from his magical exertions. The archer stays standing, but only just long enough for Morel to close the distance. Then he passes out, too.

Now, the only active fighters are “Red” and Algon. Algon punishes “Red” severely with Sunbolts and finally “Red” has had enough. Draining the last of the powerstone loaned to him by Kyra, he casts Hawk Flight. Fortunately, Algon needed the same amount of time to prep a Sunbolt and “Red” was able to successfully complete his casting.

Straight towards Algon at 80 mph “Red” attempted a slam attack. Algon avoids the hit by Blinking away. He loses his spell, but starts casting again as soon as he reappears. “Red” flies down and grabs Therak (The Oath Keeper).

Flying towards the Algon again, “Red” readies his ax and this time succeeds in sinking his ax into the mage’s chest. With all other party members down and little hope of escaping “Red’s” wrath, team 6 yields. Team 11, the party’s team, has won the tournament.

The sweetness of victory was tainted by the bitterness of injury. “Red” could only use his right arm and Morel couldn’t use either arm. The tournament was still continuing and Morel had 2 hours before his next fight. “Red” needed to fight in the morning. Tathel’s restoration took a month to restore a limb.

Would the dwarfs be forced to withdraw from competition? Instant Restoration was expensive and even if the party could afford it, which it could not, the potential prize money wouldn’t justify the expense. The only hope would be finding someone willing to barter Instant Restoration for work done by the party. If it was possible to find someone like that, would 2 hours be enough to strike the deal and be back for the competition?

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Tournament Day 7

Day 7

Kyra has made a small fortune gambling and sees no reason to stop as long as the tournament continues. She knows “Red” is fighting today and jokes with him that she is think about betting for his opponent, Thrak (Black Ax). It’s a good thing she didn’t. “Red” used the Iron Arm spell to neutralize Thrak’s black great ax. In a single attack, “Red” attacks Thrak’s arm forcing him to drop his ax. He picked up the ax again, so “Red” severed the arm from the body forcing a surrender.

Of course, Tathel was kind enough to get Thrak’s arm reattached and “Red” repaired his equipment. It made “Red” wonder if anyone would show them the same consideration if roles were reversed. If ever there would be an opportunity to find out, it would be in the next Kyra individual match.

Kyra would be facing a dark elf named Torver. To say it was intimidating for her is an understatement. Instead of the typical $1000+ bet she would place on herself, it was only $200.

Kyra opened the match with an early shot that was easily dodged by Torver. The dark elf closed the distance quickly with a teleport to be right on top of Kyra who is levitating a few yards in the air by now. Kyra punishes Torver with a well-placed shot to the torso. Torver then looses a spell that causes Kyra to go blind. Low on confidence and unable to see, Kyra yields before ever taking any damage.

After winning 7 straight days gambling at the tournament, Kyra decides it’s time to lighten her purse and avoid bank fees by going shopping. Before going, she offers up a prayer to Correllon and tithes thousands to the temple.

In the elven area of Gotham, Kyra finds a master bow maker. After negotiating with him, he commissions a new bow. It will be an Elven bow, finely crafted and tailored to match her increasing strength. The yet to be named bow will also be ornately decorated and balanced for greater accuracy. All in all, Kyra paid over $10,000 and will need to wait 10 months before collecting her new weapon.

Somehow, between competing and shopping, Kyra also managed to discover that no one on team 6 is associated with Jeska’s brothers. With that knowledge, she invites the team out to dinner to talk about the tournament. Tomorrow, Morel and team 6’s Ellariel were to compete in their respective matches. First, however, the party and team 6 were going to be fighting for the championship in the team division. If either person were seriously wounded, it would be a problem for the individual competitions later that day.

Kyra originally proposed that both Morel and Ellariel sit out, but Morel wasn’t worried about becoming injured. In the end, a compromise was struck that Kyra and Ellariel would sit out of the team final. After informing the tournament committee and gambling establishments, the party returned to the druid’s woods for the night.

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Tournament Day 6

Day 6

Day 6 of the tournament was marked with controversy. The 2nd match of the day was canceled because both contestants were killed on their way to the stadium. Bariel, the murderer, struck them down in public and in broad day light. In addition to disqualifying himself from the competition, Bariel cleared a whole bracket that would allow Merak to advance into the quarter finals unchallenged. Technically, Merak had one more fight scheduled, but it should prove a formality considering he was favored 20 to 1.

The continued fulfillment of Jeska’s prophecy didn’t do much to dissuade the party from the tournament. It just marked another day of successful gambling for Kyra. This was a big day for the party. Kyra and Morel had individual matches before a team match later in the day. Even team 6 would be competing. Everyone would be betting heavily today.

Kyra was first of the party to fight. Her opponent, Doandrael, was a swordsman and magic user. This match started the same as her opener with Kerran with Kyra casting Levitate while Doandrael charged across the field at a clip of 6 meters per second. The only change was that Kyra actually got off a shot that failed to hit the swordsman’s legs before he closed.

The outcome was predictable with Kyra staying outside sword reach and with Blink to protect her against anything ranged Doandrael might throw at her. It was only a short time before Kyra got her lucky shot and won the match.

Morel faced a similarly predictable battle. He was pitted against Maiph, a tank making use of a morning star. Morel threw 2 axes while closing the difference only to have both dodged. Maiph attacked twice and would have hit twice except Morel was adept at dodging.

The deciding point of the match was when Morel did a devasting attack against the morning star causing the chain to break and the ball go flying. Disarmed but not ready to yield, Doandrael backpedaled and picked up Urnilin (Death Song). Sadly it didn’t have the desired effect because Morel swung both of his remaining axes at the arm so bold as to pick up his prized weapon and separated it from Doandrael’s body. With blood spurting from a stump of an arm, Doandrael yielded.

Tathel was eager to assist Doandrael with a Restoration while “Red” repaired all the damaged equipment. It wasn’t long before the fallen warrior was on track to recover.

The team match was similarly one sided when the party fought team 15. Team 15 was made up of 2 archer/clerics and 2 tanks. Opening the match, Tathel cast Haste on Morel to give him a chance against the archers. Immediately afterward, Morel charges down the field throwing an ax at the nearest enemy, an archer, and takes off his arm.

Kyra is similarly lucky and shoots a heavily armored fighter in the face causing him to drop prone. Morel continues to advance forward and launches another Urnilin (Death Song) at the 2nd archer, but misses and severe the leg off the only standing tank.

The archer with the severed arm moves to help the tank Kyra hit and tries to get him back into the fight. He groggily starts to move, but isn’t moving fast. The only archer still able to use his bow closes on Morel and attempts a point blank shot to the eye, but loses his grip on the bow and drops it. Offended, Morel takes off the archer’s leg.

After it was clear the tide of battle was against them, Team 15 forfeits. Tathel was quick to step in and re-attach limbs and heal. In another month, this team would be back to full strength. Thanks to “Red” and his Repair spell, all their equipment was in full repair as well.

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Tournament Day 5

Day 5

In the morning, Kyra informed the party that Merak was part of the shadow organization. It wasn’t clear where this information came from, but everyone knew it was reliable. With her continued success gambling, it was enough to make a person wonder if she had special knowledge of the games, too.

Knowing Merak is an enemy changes how the group will interact with him. It was fortuitous that “Red” didn’t have the chance to speak to him the night before. The entire party may have been put into jeopardy.

Day 5 was “Red’s” day to fight. He was matched against Eoron, a swordsman/magic user. “Red” and Morel were excited because “Red” was the underdog 3 to 1. It would be a great opportunity to score some major winnings.

The money simply faded away when Eoron failed to show up for the match. All bets were off. News spread through the stadium that Eoron had been killed in public and his sword stolen not long before the match. Could this be part of what Jeska was talking about? Was “Red” being artificially advanced?

Merak also fought again on day 5. This time it was against Galadil from team 6. Merak used his same finger point and stroll against Galadil. Using a sword against Merak only hurt Galadil.

The elf was a little smarter than his first opponent. He attempted to use the magic in his sword. A green stream of light came from the tip of the sword and hit Merak in the chest. Both men fell prone, but only Merak got up.

Tathel and “Red” offer assistance to team 6 and in no time Galadil is back on his feet.

The next fight of interest was the party against Team 10 a group of 5 tanks with halberds. The extreme reach of the halberd make it difficult to reach its wielder. “Red” prepped Morel with Might and Haste with the hopes he could both break enemy weapons and avoid being hit himself.

Ever the front line, Morel charges into the fray and is immediately assaulted with 4 halberds. Forgetting that he should dodge, he instead parries the attacks and then counter-attack dealing major damage to one of the halberds. The next round of attacks were not as forgiving. Thora (Loyal Protector) gets broken.

One of team 10 see Tathel and attacks forcing him to blink to safety. “Red” abandons his brother and moves to defend the more lightly armored elf. He scores a solid hit on the enemy halberd causing it to break.

While virtually all of team 10 is focused on Morel, Kyra casually starts picking them off one by one with shots to the eye. After she drops 3 of them, team 10 decides to yield.

Afterward, Tathel and “Red” are diligent to help team 10 patch up injuries and repair damaged equipment.

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Tournament Day 4

Day 4

Kyra and Morel have their first opportunities to fight. Kyra is pitted against Kerran, a human specializing in unarmed attacks and magic. Morel fights a mage named Krixy. Not forgetting to bet on mostly every fight, Kyra goes to battle.

Kyra opens her fight casting Haste then Levitate. She demonstrates competency and doesn’t need to retry any of her spells. It’s a good thing because Kerran is able to cross the field of 70 yards just as she finishes and would have landed a blow if Kyra hadn’t blinked straight up into the air.

Kerran is discouraged, but casts a spell and a lightning whip appears in his hand. Kyra might have been able to interrupt the spell except she appeared momentarily dazed after blinking. She gets off a shot that gets dodged just as it’s ready. Kerran attempts to hit Kyra with the lightning whip, but Kyra blinks outside the range of the weapon.

Kyra keeps shooting and Kerran keeps dodging. Kerran readies lightning bolt after lightning bolt forcing Kyra to blink to safety. With Kyra’s power stone steadily draining; it seems like only a matter of time before Kerran will have depleted Kyra’s defenses entirely. A solid hit might mean the end of the match for Kyra.

Kerran didn’t appear to ever slow down and was very hard to hit. He could successfully dodge attacks all day. It would take anticipating Kerra’s movements and predicting which way he would go to avoid her shot if Kyra was going to have any chance of slowing him down. Kyra made a quick prayer to Corellon and let loose her arrow where she hoped Kerran would be… and landed an arrow squarely in his chest.

Kerran gasped and then fell unconscious.

With a newly repaired Thora, Morel set out to fight Krixy. Moving at full speed, he saw Krixy begin to cast a spell. He threw Urnilin (Death Song) all the way from the far side of the arena, but the ax fell short. Continuing to advance forward, he threw Thora and came close, but missed. Morel had just closed the distance with backup axes in hand when Krixy burst into flame.

Morel swung at center mass believing he had a hit, but the flame simply reformed in the slices where his axes passed. Stepping forward Krixy enveloped Morel in flame and his armor offered no protection. Morel had no choice; he simply kept backing up to attack only to be consumed by fire again.

His beard started to smoke and his breathing became labored, but Morel fought on. It entered his mind that there was no way to defeat an enemy that couldn’t be hurt, but he knew of his duty to Kord to fight with honor. That meant refusing to yield despite overwhelming odds.

The fight seemed to go on forever. Swing. Swing. Burn. Then something unexpected happened. Krixy went unconscious and stopped moving. Somehow, Morel had managed to do enough damage to actually hurt the mage. Victory for Morel.

After the narrow victories for the party, everyone was in the mood to celebrate. To the dwarfs, that meant taking a tour of all the taverns. The elves were agreeable especially Kyra who was hopeful to find her friends from team 6.

The party didn’t see anyone of interest in the first couple of places visited. On the way out the door to find another bar, the “Red” was stopped by a human woman with brilliant blue hair.

“Let me buy you and your friends a drink.”

Happy for the unexpected attention and free ale, the dwarfs accepted and the elves reluctantly came along.

A little confused why anyone would buy a dwarf a drink, “Red” decided to ask,
“So… are you a big fan of the games?”

“No. And you shouldn’t be either. My brothers are using the tournament as a way to identify threats.”

The woman gestured to Orchid Malevolence.

“Your mace is very special. Avoid using its power if you don’t want to become a target.”

Red just grinned as if she had given him a compliment.

“Aye. It’s plenty powerful being swung by my hand.”

“The games are fixed to guarantee certain people make it to the finals. Expect foul play in the arena and in the streets.”

Kyra was engrossed in the conversation from the first hint of a shadow organization. She wanted to know what kind of group this was.

“Are your brothers responsible for the disappearing caravans?”

“Possibly. I don’t know all of their business.”

This woman was still a mystery to “Red”.

“Why are you helping us?”

“I just can’t stand what they are doing any more.”

With that, the blue haired woman got up to leave.

“I didn’t catch your name….”

“Jeska.”

With that she was gone.

“Red” didn’t know much, but he knew that Merak was involved in this or would be involved. He was obviously exceptional. That means he was either a part of the group Jeska talked about or would soon be a target. Finding him would help the party get to the bottom of things.

The party searched as late as possible while still having time to get back to the druid’s woods. Merak was nowhere to be found. Rumors were that he simply appeared when he was going to fight and would go missing immediately after his duties were done.

Merak wasn’t around, but the party ran into team 6. Kyra brought them into the secret in hopes of keeping them safe. Nothing new was learned from talking to them, but the bonds of friendship were strengthened in this new alliance.

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Tournament Day 2 and 3

Day 2

Kyra continues making bets on the fights and bets heavily whenever there’s anyone from Team 6 competing. This is the first day the party’s team, 11, competes. The match is against team 12, a group of 4 mages and a high ST, high HT tank wearing heavy plate armor and carrying a great ax.

The match opens with Morel and the team 12 tank charging into the center of the arena. Tathel moves to the side and uses Shadow Blade to turn invisible. “Red” doesn’t see the mages as a threat and decides to help his brother. Kyra looses an arrow from the back of the arena at a mage, but misses.

Before Morel can close the distance to the tank, the team 12 mages enter into the equation. Mage after mage directs magic against Morel. He resists and presses forward with an attack against the tank. Because of forward momentum, Morel misses once and lands one against the enemy torso. One of the mages successfully targets “Red” stunning him mentally.

Tathel successfully uses his invisibility to sneak behind one of the mages, but then fails his attack. Now visible, he becomes a target of the mages. “Red” recovers from being stunned only to be stunned again. Tathel is similarly suffering the same difficulty. Only Kyra is able to play an active role in combat. She shoots only to have a mage dodge out of the way.

All the while, the tank is slowly taking Morel apart. Thora (Loyal Protector) deflects the first blow against the great ax, but is broken. Then Morel attempts to dodge mostly unsuccessfully. Only his armor is keeping him in the fight. Try as he might, the mental stun is just too hard to shake off.

With Morel temporarily out of commission, one of the mages is free to close on Kyra’s position and is successful in stunning her. At this moment, all party members are suffering mental stun and it’s just a matter of time before the tank can steam roll over everyone.

That’s when the improbable happened; Morel shook off his mental stun and begins a renewed offensive against the tank. This took pressure off the other party members and the mages concentrated effort on him again. Kyra recovered from her mental stun and managed to avoid being targeted long enough to get a lucky head shot on one of the mages causing him to drop.

“Red” managed to resist the spell targeted at him. He then closed on a mage causing him so much trouble and crippled both his legs in a single devastating double attack. Free to act again, Morel managed to land an ax on the leg of the tank crippling it. With 3 men down and little hope of victory, Team 12 conceded.

Day 3

Kyra continues her gambling and wins the overwhelming majority of the time despite little knowledge of any of the contestants. She bets heavily on team 6 and wins.

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Tournament Day 1

The tournament in Gotham is a first for the area. It involves solo and team combat open to all fighting classes and styles. Swordsmen, archers and mages are all pitted against each other with the only rule being that it’s illegal to kill your opponent.

Kyra, “Red” and Morel all enrolled in the solo competition and everyone will compete in the team match. Fortunate for the group, all competing party members are in different brackets and only have the possibility of facing each other in the final battle.

The opening battle of the tournament belongs to “Red” and Edward, a swordsman that favors the rapier. When the gate opens, both contestants charge towards each other. Red thinks to bring a quick end to the fight by throwing Therak (The Oath Keeper), but loses his grip during the back swing and sends his favorite ax flying awkwardly in the wrong direction. It seemed to matter very little because Nallydd (Honorable Vindicator) was soon in hand ready to fill in.

Edward attacks and “Red” parries. Nallydd harmlessly swings wide, but the 10 lb. Orchid Malevolence goes directly into Edward’s groin causing the man to drop. The crowd boos “Red” for being unsportsmanlike, but “Red” wasn’t intentionally trying to ruin Edward’s chance to father children. Another parry by “Red” allows him the chance to try to destroy the rapier with an ax. Edward is too skilled and easily parries the ax. Orchid Malevolence drives straight for Edward’s knee, but the heavy mace is deflected by the rapier.

The weight of the Orchid Malevolence is too much for the light sword and it snaps in half. “Red” just starts putting away Nallydd. He knows the swordsman has no chance without a sword and wants to keep things sporting. It seems that Edward knows it, too, because he yields shortly afterward.

After the match, “Red” offers to repair the rapier and Edward accepts.

“Red’s” victory makes everyone in the party happy. Gambling was available and everyone bet $100 for “Red” to win. Kyra was so pleased at her winnings that she decided to continue wagering on all the fights of the day despite knowing nothing about any of the fighters. Luck was with her because she keeps winning.

Among spectacular events the first day, one stood out the most. It was a battle between Merak and a dwarf name Dwoli. Merak was obviously quite strong in all respects ST, DX, HT and IQ. Before either person could close the distance and start fighting, Merak simply pointed at Dwoli and empty-handed walked towards the charging dwarf.

Dwoli took swings with his ax at Merak’s arm. Merak barely reacted, but Dwoli somehow became wounded on his arm mirroring the attack against Merak. The dwarf continued to swing wildly each hit causing a sympathic wound to himself. Dwoli finally succumbed to his wounds never understanding the reflected damage he did to himself.

That night, the party goes out to celebrate and meet some of the other contestants. Kyra makes friends with team 6. It is a 4 member team. Algon, an elven mage, is the leader. His team mates are Galladill, an elven dual wielding swordsman, Ellariel, a female elven knife thrower and <didn’t name="true">s in the team championship match.

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Journey

After returning victorious from the Crystal Keep, the party decided to take some down time to train and pray for new spells. Red’s crippled arm had been restored by Tathel, but he couldn’t use it for a month.

That extended the time and allowed the dwarfs to train in throwing axes and learn languages. “Red” could only train with his right arm, but it wasn’t a problem because he usually had Orchid Malevolence in his left hand. He could start working with his left hand once it became functional again.

Kyra was proactive in increasing her magical knowledge and added useful spells that included icy weapon and invisibility. Tathel decided he liked the Desolation Blade and intensively trained to learn how to use it effectively. He also began spending many hours in prayer for Great Healing. When both clerics knew Great Healing well enough, it would allow each member of the party to be fully healed twice each day.

When everyone was healthy, the party set out to visit Wildemount on the border with Khatovar. There were rumors that the town had suddenly come into spider silk and the hope was to acquire some for armor. The party didn’t have enough money to do it, but the party was confident there would be someone needing help there. The criminal element always seemed to creep in where there was new wealth. Either assisting or destroying it was usually profitable.

Disappointment was the only thing found. News learned in Silverwood was that Wildemount was gone. Eye witnesses saw a human man named Megrez flew over the town then gestured and the whole town was scooped up. Megrez and the town then disappeared leaving only a bowl shaped crater.

Several days of research produced no leads. No one had even heard about magic strong enough to swallow up a whole town. Kyra somehow discovered Megrez was representing some other wealthy individual. In the end, there was only suspicion that whoever was taking caravans was also responsible for what happened at Wildemount.

The next major goal was to make it to Gotham for a tournament, but there were several months before it started. As a distraction, the party decided to wander North from Silverwood in hopes of finding trouble on the road. Rumors of travelers disappearing between Silverwood and Northwind sounded promising.

A few days into the journey, “Red” was looking up at a bird that was diving fast in his direction. As it got closer, he could see it wasn’t a bird at all, but instead a body. Taking a step back, he avoided being hit by an adult sized frame.

Thud and the sound of snapping bones.

“Red” and Morel weren’t phased at all. Weird things happened all the time to them. What was strange is that where there should have been a fresh corpse lay a partially decomposed body with desiccated flesh. Undead.

This was the second time an undead corpse had falled from the sky near the party. The first time was on the way to Silverwood. Kyra seemed to know it came from the flying ship. Did that mean the party was being followed? Who would be so careless with their zombies as to allow them to wander off the side? These were questions that would remain unanswered for the moment.

When the party reached Northwind safely, they knew something must be wrong with their tactics. Perhaps, the men that stalked the highways needed sweeter bait with less chance of negative consequences. A small merchant needing an escort agree to allow the party come along with him back to Silverwood. The dwarfs were to remain hidden in the wagon unless threats presented themselves. Otherwise, there appeared to only be only the merchant and 2 lightly armored elves to defend the goods going South.

Protection was not needed and once again road proved safe. Fortunate for the rumored highwaymen, the party wouldn’t be able to patrol the road again without risk of missing the tournament in Gotham. This was a high priority to the dwarfs, so whoever was afflicting the road would have to wait.

Kyra decided it would take too long to walk all the way to Gotham and asked her aunt for help. In no time, the party had walked into a tree and out into the druid woods a couple hours South of Gotham. The hospitality didn’t end because her aunt’s friend offered to allow the party to stay in his woods while they were in town.

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The Crystal Keep

One month. That’s the minimum amount of time the party needed to wait until Tathel was walking again. It took him 200 hours of prayer before Corellon had granted him the Restoration spell and now it took a full month before the spell could take full effect.

It wasn’t all bad. Most of his time praying was done while the others walked back to Miresus. Tathel had teleported back saving himself the 400 plus miles of walking the others had just done. By the time the others found him, he was ready to try using Restoration on his crippled leg.

The party decided to make the best use of their down time by doing a little training. Morel and Red decided to spend their time learning languages. Giant and Orc for Morel. Goblin and Undercommon for Red. The next stop on their Miresus tour was the Crystal Keep, which was reportedly overrun with goblins and it might be possible to solve the problem diplomatically.

Kyra was more industrious and studied magic. Kyra learned how to charge her bow with magical icy damage. She also learned Abyssal and how to Analyze Magic to identify the qualities of the orange scepter, Orchid Malevolence. It amplified magical energy regeneration by 50% plus contained a spell and a 5 point power stone. The spell, Soul Burn, neutralized the mana of a castor and prevents him from using magic for a number of seconds.

Tathel really wanted to train in swordsmanship and body sense, but it was nearly impossible with a healing leg. Instead, he settled for learning Research and studying a couple languages. When he had extra time waiting for the others to complete their training, he spent several days in prayer asking for the Vigil spell.

The grace of Corellon doesn’t come without a price. Tathel was given a divine compunction drawing him to the South and West… in the opposite direction the party intended to go. Somehow he knew he needed to go to Corellon’s Radiance in Estershore. Loyal followers of Corellon would need his healing abilities when he got there. Everyone was agreeable to fulfill Tathel’s quest, so the party departed for the Southern coast.

The journey led to what looked like a fissure in the ground. Further in, it was apparent that this was an extensive network of canyons. Tathel took the party to what seemed like a dead end, but then the wall became wide steps flanked by huge statues of warrior elfs. Tall stone pillars and seemed to hold up a cliff overhang high above. The most prominent feature was a silver star in a field of blue between the pillars.

Corellon’s Radiance must be a subterranean complex carved into the rock. The place must have taken millions of hours to craft based upon how it looked on the outside. Despite the silence of the canyon, violence must have visited here recently because the steps were dripping with blood. Broken weapons and pieces of arrows lay strewn about.

“Do Corellons practice blood sacrifice on these steps,” asked the husky voice of Morel.

“No, but it looks like we’ve arrived in just the moment Corellon intended,” Tathel replied.

“If I were a deity, I would have had us show up a little sooner because half our party really likes ‘Ax Sport’,” Morel muttered under his breath.

Tathel gingerly climbed the steps, careful to avoid getting any blood on his feet. His divine guidance was urging him towards the large doors in front of him. As he approached, the doors swung in welcoming Tathel to enter.

Expecting to be greeted by friendly followers of Corellon, the party pressed forward into the receiving area. Oddly enough, the large space was free of any signs of life. The doors must have been magical because no person could have opened them.

Forward, left and right exits presented themselves. Expecting trouble, Red and Morel took positions to the left and right. Tathel’s divine compunction drew him forward towards the main door that must lead to a large room.

The dwarf’s vigilance turned out to be unnecessary. Tathel found what remained of Corellon’s priests in a make shift informatory in what turned out to be the main altar room. In the center of a ceiling of blue was a silver star directly over the altar. It shown down in a sparkling light that almost made Tathel think Corellon was actively watching over followers in this room.

The next several hours was busy for the clerics. In addition to magical healing, a few of the injured elves needed magic to restore the use of crippled limbs. The human raiders who had attacked the temple were relentless and specifically targeted the clerics in the earliest attacks. Ironically, the relics that were undoubtedly the desired objective made the elves very defensible once it became clear that dangerous enemies were around. That was the reason the camp was in the holy place and that was why there would be relative safety once everyone was healed. The only thing the lead priest asked was for Tathel to pass along the message to the temple in Miresus to send additional clerics.

After learning about the raids, she decided to scout the area to look for them. The canyon was mostly rock and tracking was very difficult. It was a hopeless cause, but she continued looking anyway. This was an affront to elves, after all. She finally gave up only after Tathel told her that he felt Corellon was pleased with what the party had done and had released him from obligation to Corellon’s Radiance.

After swinging by Miresus to deliver a message to the Corellon temple, the party was headed to the Crystal Keep. No one thought to get exact directions since it was known that the keep was along the path to Khatovar. The guys insisted that they would find it eventually, but after wandering for hours Kyra insisted it was time to ask someone for directions. A passing caravan was very helpful, but scoffed at the idea that the fortress was in need of help.

“Goblin?! There’s no way goblins would have any chance against the Crystal Keep. The full force of the army of Khatovar was unable to rout a small and dedicated group during the war. How could loathsome animals like a goblin possibly survive?”

Surprised by the news, the party weighed its options. It was eventually decided that the place should at least be investigated.

After wandering in the right direction for another day, the party walked out of dense forest into a wall of pinkish purple. The Crystal Keep didn’t have towers or walls like a typical castle. Instead, it was more of a domed brick of opaque crystal. Along its walls were narrow slits for archers, but otherwise there were no distinguishing features. Looking closely, double doors made from the same pinkish purple crystal could be seen in the center.

Trying the door, it was locked. No key holes were to be found, but Kyra used the Lockmaster spell and the door yielded. Unfortunately, beyond the opening were another set of pinkish purple doors down a gantlet of arrow slits.

Bold enough to risk it, Morel and Kyra advanced towards the 2nd set of doors. Kyra magically unlocked it, but told Morel she wanted to take a moment to rest before continuing. Leaving the door closed, the pair went outside for Kyra to recover from her magic.

When the party was fully rested, Morel and Red took the lead towards the second set of doors. As they came forward, everything suddenly went dark. Undaunted by blindness, Morel and Red continued forward until they reached the doors. Locked!

A string of curses came from Morel. “We better get Kyra up here,” said Red. “I’ll go get her.”

“We don’t need magic! Stand back and I’ll open this door with my axes.” To Morel’s dismay, his axes sounded very delicate. No matter how hard he swung, it was muted as if he were hitting 12 inch thick steel. Fearing that he may dull his axes he stopped and used his hand to inspect his progress. He searched in the area his blows must have landed, but the door was as smooth as glass. The axes were having no affect at all.

Frustrated, Morel backed his way out of the hallway to get Kyra. Before following her back in, he inspected edges of his axes. Still sharp. His only hope was that his axes made enough noise that someone would be there to greet him. He’d enjoy taking out his anger at the doors at whoever was waiting behind them.

Kyra cast Lockmaster and both heroes walked out of the darkness into a hallway full of goblins. Morel parried 4 thrusting spears. Kyra had just as many attackers and would have been just fine except her Blink failed. Not only did she take the hits, but she failed her body sense and was stunned. It didn’t take long before she fell unconscious from her wounds.

“Kyra’s down!”

Red came up through the darkness and narrowly avoided stepping on Kyra as he stepped into the light. Morel dropped a pair of goblins, but Red was hard pressed by goblin spears. Instead of counterattacking, Red let his brother take the pressure off him while he healed Kyra. When half a dozen goblins lay dead or dying the others retreated.

When the dwarfs moved enough out of the way, Tathel entered the hallway and finished healing Kyra. Then she was on her feet ready to go. It was necessary to start clearing some rooms to safely continue into the keep. The first room looked like a dining room. When there was enough space cleared to buy some breathing room, Tathel called for another break. The party adjourned to the dining room to rest while Kyra stood guard in the hallway.

Perhaps, 10 minutes into the break, Tathel cried out in pain. A man wearing black leather armor appeared holding a short sword that was now lodged in Tathel’s back. It was a glancing blow, but frightening all the same. No sooner had the man appeared than he disappeared leaving behind a vague feeling of disbelief.

Kyra heard something about an invisible man and quickly cast Mage Sight to help even the playing field. Sure enough, heading down the hall way in a rapid retreat was the magical outline of a man. The arrow never made its mark, but the point was made that a 2nd invisible attack would be met with resistance. The message must have been received because the part was able to become completely rested without being bothered again.

Now, it was time to clear the first floor. Room after room of debris and signs of goblin occupation, but where were the goblins? Going up to the 2nd floor was met with no resistance. The party found what must be the bed chamber of the commander, but everything was abandoned. There was only one last door to try and there was only enough space for one person at a time to enter.

Blind corner. Only after Morel was fully committed and started to turn around did he see a wall of goblin spears charging in his direction. Skillful parries and thick armor kept Morel safe until his brother, Red, could join him and help hold back the tide. It wasn’t long before goblin bodies gave the dwarfs the space to advance and allow the elves to also enter the fight.

Beyond the sea of green goblins were a pair of men in the back. One held a short sword and large knife while the other only held a large knife. The second man began making gestures and his hand began to glow. That was enough to identify him as a mage to Red who finally had the chance to try out Orchid Malevolence in battle. He unleashed Soul Burn against the mage and it must have been successful because the glow in his hand stopped.

Kyra saw the men in the back, but decided to reserve her fire for enemies immediately pressing in on the group. That’s when the man with short sword and large knife vanished. Tathel was wary of invisible enemies and decided on a position that prevented enemies from sneaking past.

All was chaos for several seconds. Morel and Red were effective at batting away the goblin thrusts. Not one landed. The goblins were surprisingly resilient to dwarven steel. It often took multiple hits from a dwarf or a dwarf/elf combo to finish them.

A break started to form in the line on the side of the battle closest to Red and Kyra. The soul burned man stepped in to challenge Red. He was very skilled and Red began to fail his parries. A normal knife would pose no threat to the heavily armored dwarf, but the knife seemed to slip through his armor when Red got hit.

Red and Kyra were very focused on defeating the knife wielder. It must have been the chance the enemy was waiting for because from behind, a short sword impaled itself into Kyra’s back. She made a short yell of surprise and then fell to the ground unconscious. Tathel was quick to respond with a warning to the dwarfs, “invisible man behind you.”

Unable to disengage his current foe to avenge the cowardly attack, Red did the only thing he could by burning his last available energy and all the energy in Orchid Malevolence’s power stone to cast Soul Burn on the now visible enemy. He wouldn’t be escaping using the same trick he used to get in position.

Morel was downing his last goblin when he heard the alarm. His brother was still under pressure from a goblin and the mage with skill using a large knife, but a magical light traveled from his magical mace to the new enemy that must be the one who could turn invisible. Morel wanted to help his brother, but an enemy that could turn invisible was a big threat to the party and needed to be stopped before it was too late.

Tathel had the same idea, but paused momentarily to attempt a healing on his fallen companion. He had too many other spells to cast healing on her for the third time today without spending more time. She didn’t appear to be in danger of immediate death, so it would have to wait until the threat could be dealt with.

The man with the short sword and large knife made his way through the door and away from the party. Tathel was much quicker than the man and ran past him taking a swipe at him with his thrusting broadsword as he did. He missed and was rewarded by an unsuccessful counterattack.

Morel had no chance of catching his enemy without magical assistance. Instead, he hurled Urnilin (Death Song) and scored a nice hit to a leg which caused the man to move more slowly. Caught between Tathel and Morel, there was no chance for the enemy. Morel threw his ax, Thora, into the man’s back causing him to fall face forward and Tathel took off his head.

Things weren’t going as well for Red. How could a man with a knife give him so much trouble? Intent on doing some real damage with his ax, Nallydd, Red continued his momentum despite a successful dodge by his opponent. The ax sake deep… into the arm holding Orchid Malevolence and then there was only a stump.

He knew he should feel light headed and weak, but the only thing Red felt was anger. Not only did he stay on his feet, but he continued to press his opponent and finally gained a solid hit that dropped him. The goblin tried to run away, but Red just threw an ax into his back to end the battle. Red was able to do a healing on Kyra to bring her into consciousness before Morel and Tathel made their way back.

It was a good thing for Red that Tathel had just learned Restoration. Red got his arm reattached, but it would still take 30 days before it was able to be used like before. It was handy also that Red had just learned the Repair spell. He was able to fix his damaged armor, too.

In the room there were 3 large chests full of coin. Copper, silver and gold, but mostly copper. It might have been an easier problem if Red weren’t disabled because it took two people to carry a chest and each one weighed 40 lb and could hold another 400 lb. There was 600 pounds of coin, which challenged the party’s planning skills.

One idea was to look for a village with a wagon, but there wasn’t anything near that could help and certainly not for the amount the party was willing to spend. In the end, Kyra was able to get the assistance of her druid aunt. She offered the use of her tree transportation to the party. By carrying an empty chest to the transportation tree, the party was able to make trips to fill it up. The same procedure was done for all three chests. The final stop along the tree transportation route was just outside Miresus and the party was able to alternate taking watches and carrying to safely bring their coin into the city.

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Inazuma's Tower

The success of the mission to retrieve Elros and the windfall of money put the party in a good mood. To celebrate, the party decided to take a few days to train. Morel did what he loved most and trained as a brawler. Tathel trained to fast draw his broad sword. Kyra studied opening locks using magic and Red (Dorel) prayed for Lend Energy.

All that training made Morel thirsty and he spent mostly every night frequenting bars around town… and listening to rumors. Evidently, the plague that killed almost all the most powerful mages was putting a strain of the defenses of many of the outlying places in Elm’ril. There were rumors of bandits on the roads and creatures in the woods. One story even mentioned a goblin invasion of a place called the Crystal Keep. It all seemed normal to Morel. He and his brother always seemed to be around when strange things happened.

Not all the news was bad. There was a new kind of mineral called etherium and the Didela were paying a premium for as much as they could get. Giant spider silk production was picking up in a small border town. Even a tournament in Gotham was scheduled for some time within the next year.

When the party reformed, everyone was fascinated with the stories Morel told. It didn’t take long before it was agreed to make a tour around Elm’ril to do some investigation. The plan was to start in the south and work around counter clock wise and then over to Gotham. The first stop on the way was Inazuma’s tower just North of Eridale.

Inazuma was once a great sorcerer who defended Eridale. He was well known for having fought and defeated a vampire coven a few years back. The foul creatures had been so bold as to attack Eridale directly, dragging away victims off the street. Inazuma co-ordinated with the city guard to drive them away and then track them to their lair. He marched into the depths flooding the area with sunlight as he went. Disorientated and weakened, the vampires were purged.

All that was before the plague. Mages everywhere just dropped off the radar. No one has heard from Inazuma in a while. The last group of people who tried visiting his tower were slaughtered except a single survivor. He showed up in town covered in gore muttering nonsense about flattened friends. The man suffered a psychotic break, but eventually recovered with no memory of his experiences. No one knows what horrors fell upon his companions and no one thought it was worth the risk to find out. At least not until now.

The journey was 10 days as the party traveled on foot. Really the time was irrelevant as far as planning was concerned. Tathel was so good at supplying the essential food and water the party never needed to worry about carrying provisions. All the same, Morel loaded up on whatever extra the cleric decided to make. One never knew when the cleric would just decide to teleport to the next place rather than travel overland.

Maybe half way to the tower, Tathel spotted something in the clouds that caught his attention. It was hard to make out at first. Looking more closely, it appeared to be something long and wooden. As it got further away, the angle changed and it was possible to see the hint of sails. It was a ship flying through the air. The party stopped and stared at the ship for a while. Kyra even tried signaling the ship, but it just floated on.

Inazuma’s tower seemed welcoming after a long journey. Right off the road with beautiful views of the wooded valley on one side and a slow wide river on the other. This hardly seemed to be the site of a multiple homicide. Morel was designated as the most heavily armored of the group and he was the first to approach the door. It was unlocked, so he decided to open it and go in.

The smell was obnoxious. Clumps of mangled meat and entrails lay about on the floor of this large entry way. Blood was smeared on the stone walls in places. Now, this might be the scene of a multiple homicide. Above the buzz of flies a deep rumbling voice spoke.

“You are not welcome.“

Towering in sentry position on the far side of the room stood a stone statue of a giant. It held a huge, blood stained maul. The golem must not have been content with merely bludgeoning its victims to death. Its feet were stained red and between the toes of the statue were bone fragments and pieces of flesh.

Up came the maul and it was pointed at Morel.

“Leave now or die.”

That was enough of an invitation for the dwarf. He came charging in with his brother, Red, close at his heals. Red was shouting to let him get in front to protect with magic, but Morel wasn’t in the mood to wait around.

For his impatience, Morel was rewarded with the full aggression of the golem. In swung the massive maul. Dodging aside, the air movement of the weapon caused his heavy beard to follow. It was then that Red drove his axes into the side of the enemy causing it to stop moving.

“Next time let me handle the giant weapons. Try parrying something like that and you’ll break your ax. The Iron Arm spell is a much better option.”

From the entry way, there were two doors into the tower. Both were locked, but Kyra made short work of them using her new Lock Master spell. Morel was disappointed because he was really looking forward to using his axes to turn the doors turn into splinters.

The first door opened into a dining area. It was little more a dead end with a dining table and a few chairs. The other door opened to a nice open area with ascending stairs on the far side. Three warriors wearing red hide armor stood guard by the stairs. As soon as Morel appeared in the doorway, large knives appeared in their hands.

“You guys better run if you don’t have anything better to fight me with than daggers,” Morel boasted as he started charging across the room.

The men in red appeared unconcerned and each began casting magic. The party had a loose charge with party members spread out and Kyra taking up a shooting position by the door way. Morel, Red and Tathel were already on the far side of the room when Kyra took her first shot. It missed, but sufficiently angered the intended target. In an instant, the enemy had teleported to Kyra and was swinging a magically charged dagger at her.

Those things were certainly hard to hit. Just when someone was sure he had a killing blow, the man in red would dodge out of the way. It was also quite a chore to avoid taking damage. The large knives nearly always seemed to find their mark. At least, they would have found their mark had the dwarfs not parried or the elves not blinked away to safety.

The red warriors managed to land a blow on Red that he shook off, but Tathel got caught without a blink ready and took a serious wound to his leg and fell to the ground. Eventually, the tide of battle tipped in the favor of the party. When there was only a single enemy standing, it teleported away leaving Red, Morel, Kyra and Tathel a chance to tend to recover from the battle. With the help of his companions, Tathel tied splints around his leg to give himself the ability to move by himself albeit only half his usual rate.

After a short time, the party resumed the search of the tower. Climbing the stairs, the party was greeted by a hoarse shriek. At the top of the stairs was a shriveled, gray humanoid wearing mage robes. Its hands flexed and fingers became claws anticipating prey. A mouth of sharpened teeth formed into a contorted expression of disgust. Inazuma was not making a good first impression on the party.

Behind the former mage, agitated voices chattered in an unknown language. It sounded like the room was being tossed, bottles were getting broken and heavier items making thuds against the floor. Whatever was going on in there sounded like it needed to be handled quickly and Morel made for the source of the noise running directly into Inazuma.

The ghoul-like creature lashed out with both hands. One looked like it would sneak through Morel’s attempt to parry, but he got lucky and was able to deflect the blow with the bottom part of the ax handle. It was clear that whatever Inazuma had become was not going to let Morel back to the commotion, so Morel let loose with a pair of strikes to the throat. One fell a little low and hit the torso, but the other landed true.

While Inazuma was collapsing on the ground, Red dashed past hoping to rescue whoever was being threatened in the next room. Before he got there, a pair of the red men came out looking none too happy. It was hard to tell, but one of the humanoids could have been the one that escaped the battle on the first floor.

Coming up the stairs, Kyra noticed that Inazuma was still breathing. That must have been unacceptable because she put away her bow in favor of her katana. In a single swipe, she decapitated the writhing, shriveled remains of what was once a great wizard.

The four party members closed in on the red enemy. One enemy managed to land a blow against Morel. It was barely strong enough to make a sound against his heavy steel corselet, but Morel felt like he were hit by a mountain. Whatever spell the enemies in red were using was certainly potent. He’d need the aid of a healer soon.

Now, it was time for retribution. Morel made crippled one and it fell to the ground. Red got a solid blow on the other that broke his ax and Kyra was quickly moving into position to presumably finish off the prone one.

Sensing an eminent death, the last remaining enemy cast a desperate spell. His armor began to glow and then suddenly exploded unleashing shrapnel everywhere. Red dove to the ground missing the worst of it. Morel let his armor soak up most of the damage. Tathel simply blinked down to the first floor to avoid the explosion. Kyra wasn’t as lucky. If she tried to dodge or blink, it was unsuccessful. She took three big pieces of shrapnel.

To Kyra’s credit, she was still standing afterward. She waved off healing in favor of patching up Morel. If anyone else came out of the room with all the chaos, he’d be the most likely to hold them back because of his armor. Then she fainted.

Tathel wasn’t feeling great. He fell two meters when he blinked and landed on his hurt leg. It was a tremendous effort, but he dragged himself up. His party was certainly needing him after the terrible explosion and he was determined not to let them down. When he arrived, Red had done as much healing as he could for Morel and Kyra, but it wasn’t enough. Tathel borrowed Kyra’s power stone and brought the party back to battle strength.

The dwarfs charged into the room where alien curses were still steadily coming. It was a human wearing wizard robes who was ripping everything off shelves and overturning piles of clutter frantically looking for something. Morel let loose Urnilin, Death Song, and hit the mage in the leg. He wobbled from the wound, but caught himself and stayed upright.

“If I can’t find it, you won’t find it either!”

With that, the enemy mage disappeared.

The party decided to try finding whatever it was that the crazed man was looking for. Interested in the standard variety treasure more than a mystery, the dwarfs started doing an inventory of the tower. It was mostly stuff that was destroyed from the reckless search for the mystery item, but there were some interesting items that did survive. $1000 worth of alchemy equipment, 6 unidentified magical stones and 6 potions. The party would later learn that the stones and potions had the following qualities.

2 spell stones of dispel magic
2 spell stones of oath
2 spell stones of armor 5
3 potions of fire resistance
1 potion of regrowth
1 potion of strength (1d for 1 hour)
1 potion of invulnerability (DR3 for 1d+1 hours)

The magical items seemed like things that could greatly aid the party, but the alchemy set would eventually get sold.

Kyra was intent upon finding whatever lost mystery was in the tower and the party spent 3 days scouring every inch of the tower. This was welcome news to Tathel because his leg was still not working despite the liberal application of healing magic. He began praying to Corellon asking for the magic to restore his leg. Red decided to spend the time petitioning his god, Kord, for the magic to repair his favorite ax. Kyra kept herself busy looking for hidden passageways or safes.

Morel was the only one bored with the tower and was really hoping some new enemies would come to attempt evicting the party. As he wandered, he came across the stone golem still holding its massively large maul. Wrenching it from the construct, Morel decided to test its weight. No question about it, only the strongest of warriors could wield something so impressive.

Without preamble, Morel decided to test out his new toy on the nearest thing handy… the stone golem. Thwack! Thwack! Pieces of the golem cracked and powderized. Then it just seemed to slide apart revealing an orange sceptre inlaid with gold. The sceptre glowed faintly in the gloom. This must be the hidden treasure. Morel wondered what magic made it so highly prized.

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