z_The Zenith

Rebuilding of Gotham

November 28, 951 to December 28, 951

Red had to admire Lord Zovano. He left his army of 500 behind to meet alone with Priest Armando Tindall, himself and Balthier. Priest Tindall brought a body guard, but Lord Zael Zovano came alone. He only partially believed that he was afraid of an 80 foot tall Morel even though he cited this as the reason he didn’t bother with back up.

Silently, Red wondered why Balthier was doing so much talking. Self appointed leader of the rabble who were too poor to flee Gotham. By the time he showed up, everything that could have been destroyed or plundered was. His plea for order was hollow since he didn’t offer any sort of commitment to the city beyond being a spokesman to the rulers.

The druid Chrysavet was the one responsible for providing food to the city for the last month. Balthier asked, but otherwise played no role except informing the peasants where to go to get food. Red saw the blank looks on faces as Balthier made appeals for them to band together to start producing goods for trade to support themselves. There were no merchants or traders left.

Lord Zovano was none too happy that Balthier was advocating a partnership in governing Gotham and ultimately Khatovar. Priest Tindall also wanted to lead, but his resolve would have eventually melted against Zovano even before his army arrived. What was odd is that Balthier’s self proclaimed role as representative of the people was never questioned by either leader. It probably had something to do with his affiliation with the Glanents.

A month ago, Tathel and Red had made contact with Zovano and Tindall via a communication spell. The 3rd leader contending for Gotham, Lord Bavanlo Kandalath, couldn’t be found even after visiting his home town of Kyril. Red remembered Kyra being very disrespectful to Priest Tindall despite him entertaining a communication from strangers questing his ability to lead. The party had taken a more successful approach with Zovano and had a giant Morel stand on the horizon while making contact with communication. At least, Zovano understood why it was important to be cordial with the party.

The original intent of making contact was to choose the new leader and prevent further conflict in the capital. Kyra was concerned that the new leader would be unfriendly to Elm’ril. Red and Morel were more interested in getting to be known by the new leadership in hopes of being assigned tasks worthy of adventurers. The party was on good terms with queen of Elm’ril, but her kingdom was orderly and under control.

Indecisiveness ruined that plan. Instead of quickly eliminating the competing interests to promote the next leader, everyone had got caught in Gotham helping in the rebuilding efforts. Almost everyone helped with rebuilding. Red and Morel had devoted the last 3 weeks to hauling 30 foot boulders from the mountains. These monstrous rocks would be very effective at destroying incoming enemy forces.

In the end, the problem was solved by reclassifying the incoming forces as friendly much to the disappointment of Morel. If only someone had made a decision…. It was no wonder that his party hadn’t been on a real quest for months and months. He sulked from the battlements as opposed to joining the delegation meeting with Zovano. He suspected the party would wait at least another week in Gotham while Balthier helped finalize a government.

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Gemma and Balthier

November 26, 951 to November 28, 951

Thick smoke rose from the city. Fire was widespread, but there was enough stone used in most of the construction to prevent everything from burning to the ground. The rumors passed along from Chrysavet were that the Triad, Gotham’s ruling body, had all died suddenly after a visit from an Elm’ril delegation and the power vacuum wasn’t being handled well.

With no one in charge, most of the guards simply abandoned their posts leaving the city to destroy itself. Most of the reputable people had already left Gotham, but Morel and Kyra had skilled artisans crafting items for them. Morel was looking for a dwarven smith and Kyra was looking for a boyer.

The main gate swung as the wind blew. No one was there to monitor who entered. Not eager to be delayed, Red and Morel drew axes and charged through the gate with Kyra to shoot in a center position. It was like the skittering away of cockroaches as light enters a room. The walls had eyes, but no one dared challenge the party.

The lack of resistance was a disappointment to Morel who was looking forward to riots and crowds of hostiles. Still hopeful, the dwarfs took up position at either end of what surely looked like a security detail for Balthier. He was protected from harm on all 4 sides by party members. Precautions seemed unnecessary because no one bothered the party on their way to the dwarven smith.

Morel was pleased to learn that the craftsman he had hired was doing well. He had fought off looters, but that was no challenge for the hearty dwarf. Of course, his neighbors didn’t fair as well and got burned out. He mentioned that he wanted to relocate to Elm’ril to re-establish his business.

Morel had paid this dwarf around $10,000 to make the strongest dwarven heavy steel corselet and it wouldn’t do to have that work interrupted. The dwarven smith accepted when Morel offered to help move him and all his equipment. Finding a new building would be inconvenient, so Morel thought it might be appropriate to simply move the whole shop and told his friend to start securing things for the journey.

While the dwarven smith prepared to move, Kyra led the way to the boyer she had hired to make an elven bow for a stronger than average person. Unfortunately, that whole block had been burned to an empty hull. The boyer shop was empty except charred remains. It had been picked clean. There was no note on the wall or other indication of what happened to the owner.

Returning to the smith’s shop, Red and Morel began to discuss the best ways to assure the structural integrity of the building during transport. There was talk of enlarging a metal plate that could be used to dig underneath and reinforce the stone foundation. The debate was whether the relative size would be enough to protect within his hands, but Balthier interjected himself into the conversation before that could be determined.

“Are you guys, crazy? You can’t possibly move this building.”

“I’m sure I’m strong enough.”

“The building isn’t. The walls would crumble in your offish hands before you even got a mile. How fast do you go?”

“Fast. Probably 150 mph.”

“At that speed, you’d create such a pressure differential that the roof would blow off and the building would implode. All the pretty bits would be spread across lots of acres and destroyed along with everything inside.”

“You know what? I’m too intelligent for this conversation. You dwarfs do what you want, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

The dwarfs listened to Balthier’s warning, but didn’t appreciate being called stupid. Balthier didn’t know it, but he earned the ire of Morel. With such an abrasive personality, he wouldn’t be getting any help on the battlefield.

The next day, Red and Morel hauled the smith’s stuff to the out skirts of town before Morel grew to giant size. It’s just as well the blacksmith shop stayed put. The original plan would have left more than a few pot holes in the streets of Gotham.

It was a couple hours before dark when the party got close enough to Miresus for the dwarven smith to find a wagon for his equipment and finished goods. Confident he was well protected, the party dispersed for the evening. The dwarfs brawled. Kyra studied languages. Gemma studied magic. Balthier found the nearest whore house and sampled the wares. He spent lots of time pumping the women… sometimes for information.

The next morning, Red visited the dwarven smith relocated from Gotham and commissioned the strongest of dwarven heavy plate arms and legs. To speed things along, he also visited the other dwarven smith in town and commissioned the strongest heavy steel corselet. Morel took note that it would only be around 10 days before his heavy cloak of deflection would be ready. He was pleased that the mage plague didn’t afflict his enchanter.

At noon, the whole party including Tathel met for lunch at the Merry Jester tavern. Tathel was concerned about the events happening in Gotham. Kyra volunteered to report in to the queen and learn what she could. The dwarfs were more interested in learning about what work there might be available. Tathel needed to devote time to prayer. That left Gemma and Balthier as the odd ones out. Gemma might have talked to the queen except for Balthier and instead opted to return to Garvok’s hiding place.

Talking to the queen, Kyra learned that the mage plague had been carried to Gotham in a 100 point powerstone commissioned by the queen’s niece, Eleniel. It was intended to be gift of peace and instead it was responsible for destroying the Khatovar government. Eleniel was taking it very hard and wasn’t speaking to anyone since the incident. Obviously, this was secret information because it cast Elm’ril in a bad light.

The problem was that there were 3 armies marking on Gotham looking to seize power. Whoever gained control there would likely discover what could be mistaken as treachery and assume the Elm’ril was openly hostile to them, too. Queen Ramina seemed indifferent about who came into power, but was concerned that they would prove themselves to be enemies.

Gotham’s fall couldn’t have come at a worse time. The permanent gates linking the capitals of major countries were scheduled to be done shortly into the new year, but Gotham was dropped from the list after the enchanters were slain in the civil unrest. Now, there would only be permanent gates between
Mireus, Elm’ril; Ugini, Pelevion and Tegas, Veros.

In other news, Kyra’s aunt and uncle’s funeral was scheduled for Monday, 12-01-951. Kyra definitely wanted to be there for that. Ramina also asked her to attend the important events in March. Eleniel’s birthday on the 6th, the queen’s speech on the 21st and Dominator Liberation Day on the 31st.

Kyra update the queen on the new psionic enemies, the murder of a council of 7 member and the recovery and tracking of the 7 swords. Afterward, she asked about the weapons master for the dwarfs. Ramina said the word was still being sent out across Tocora. When she knew more, she’d share it.

Finally, Kyra inquired about kingdom needs. Specifically, if there was any adventurer work to be done locally. The only lead available was that Rose Marsh had been unusually quiet for days. Someone needed to go investigate the disruption in traffic leaving the city.

Red and Morel talked to guards and read the job board and learned that the lack of traffic from Rose Marsh was the only concern of the kingdom available for adventurers like the party.

Gemma and Balthier didn’t do anything as dull as talk to diplomats or city guards. Instead, their conversations were with the elementals guarding Garvok. Gemma was very interested in making the place more homey. She used magic to set certain mood lighting and convinced earth elemental Graxil and rock monster Thouck to help move dirt around to resemble couches, tables and other furniture.

For sleeping quarters, the consensus was that hammocks would be the best option. They would go on a supply run later, but first Balthier insisted the entryway be modified to look like a shrine for Garvok. If anyone made it past the water elemental, they would see an empty shrine and assume someone had already claimed the sword.

Gemma and Balthier were flush with cash after the dwarfs had sold Chellan to Lady K. Gemma didn’t want to put it in the bank because the 1% surcharge and left it with Graxil to guard. Having more money than either dreamed possible wasn’t enough to make this highly intelligent people do the easy thing of visiting Tegas to buy professionally crafted hammocks. The plan was to visit Gotham and look rope and canvas.

What long distance teleport is complete without a visit to Isad, the island of chaotic magic. This was the first time Gemma had brought a visitor and that visitor had his Danger Sense tingling. Curious about what chaotic magic was like, Balthier picked up a stick and cast continual light on it. The stick got hot. When Balthier dropped it, it became a stick shaped puddle and then solidified.

“You brought a friend this time”, the voice of the island greeted.

Gemma and Balthier asked several questions trying to learn more about the self proclaimed owner of the island. The voice did tell them that there was an accident that created the chaotic magic, but wouldn’t give them any details about what kind of creature he was. Gemma was ready to teleport away when the island voice asked a question.

“Can you help me?”

That’s when Balthier’s Danger Sense really kicked in.

“We need to go, now!”

Gemma and Balthier backed away from the jungle and into the salt desert before attempting to teleport away. Instead of going anywhere, the world started to get wavy and then all color drained. That was when 3 cat men appeared out of the edge of the jungle.

The cat men wore leather armor and wielded 2 swords each. They seemed to be looking at the spot where Gemma and Balthier were only moments before, but hesitated like they were unsure. It was almost like they couldn’t see them.

Balthier isn’t taking any chances and decides to make a run for it, but there is a little girl blocking his path. She looks to be about 8 years old and is dressed in a long night shirt typically worn by middle to upper class people. Gemma also sees the little girl, picks her up and runs. It’s now that Balthier notices there is no more salt smell in the air. On a positive note, his Danger Sense is less now, too.

“Who are you?” Gemma asked.

The girl didn’t respond.

“Do you speak?”

The girl’s expression seemed to say, “do something, I’m bored.”

After various attempts to entertain the girl, Balthier finally decides to throw his melted glowing stick at one of the cat men. It goes through him causing no damage. It didn’t impress the girl, but all 3 of the cat men run away afterward.

With seemingly no other props, Balthier gives the melted glowing stick to the girl. She takes it and the stick disappears. Balthier notices that his energy used to cast the spell has returned.

Gemma and Balthier give up trying to talk to the girl and decide to try to go to Gotham again. Waving good-bye to the little girl, Gemma casts teleport. She swears that she made a mistake in the ritual, but finds herself in a black and white version of the blacksmith’s shop they visited the day before. Looking around, the girl is with them still despite being left behind in the teleport. Then the world begins to shimmer again and become wavy. Color begins to come back. When focus is restored, the girl is gone.

Gemma and Balthier rest up and then begin exploring the city. Both have a high intelligence and invisibility, but chose to walk down the middle of the street in plain sight not concealing their presence at all. Apparently, both had forgotten the eyes lurking from the day before.

Before the pair had only made it a few blocks before it became obvious they were being shadowed. Then Balthier’s Danger Sense started becoming strong. After signaling to Gemma, he begins casting Invisibility. Gemma follows his example and also goes invisible.

A group of 6 converge in the street. Their armor has been poorly repaired. One man had a huge ax, but everyone else had daggers. One thing that was obvious is that these people are poorly equipped and hungry for whatever scraps they can get.

“Where did they go?”

“I don’t know, but those are the same people here yesterday were here with those dwarfs.”

“They wouldn’t have come back unless there’s something of value. Without their escort, they’ll be easy pickings for us.”

Despite being completely safe, Balthier was insulted that his hidden powers weren’t more respected by these street thugs. Never mind the fact that the dwarfs were champions in a gladiator style games here. He’d teach these roughians a thing or 2.

“Blackout!”

Balthier’s signal did 2 things. It game Gemma advanced warning to close her eyes and it also caused all 6 enemies to turn in his direction. Balthier was still invisible, but his Flash spell wasn’t. 3 of the thugs were blinded immediately and started backing away. The other 3 keep moving towards the odd light, which is exactly what Balthier wanted. He started focusing preparing to release his chi in a power attack.

Then Gemma prepared a powerful, quick Sunbolt. She took aim at the nearest enemy, which just happened to be blind. A bright bolt of sunlight burned through the man’s armor and chest and killed him instantly. The noise of the death was enough to cause the 3 thugs who could still see to turn towards the now visible Gemma.

This caused problems for Balthier, who wasn’t quite ready to deliver his attack. The enemies were turning away from him and quickly moving out of range. Not willing to risk loosing his chance, he rushes and fails to generate any extra power. In fact, the attack was so weak it didn’t penetrate the weak armor. It was still enough to cause the guy to turn his attention towards Balthier.

The leader rushes Gemma and misses, then she burns a hole in his chest causing him to fall prone and drop his ax. Now, all the people can see. One of the once blind guys runs for his life, but the other charges Gemma and fails to hit her. She doesn’t have any trouble hitting with a Sunbolt. The thug falls down, but recovers.

Balthier isn’t doing as well. The dual dagger wielding thug he attacked hits him twice dealing minor damage. Fortunately, the Flash prevents further success. Balthier swings his large knife wildly dealing little damage until he manages to land a solid blow. The thug goes prone, but Balthier is unrelenting and even takes the time to coup de gra the man once he finally goes unconscious.

By now, the leader had managed to get up and grab his ax. He presses Gemma’s position. All the other enemies are wounded and dying. Balthier takes the time to coup do gra fallen foes despite Gemma needing assistance. Finally, Gemma gets a solid hit with a Sunbolt in the vitals, but it doesn’t seem to phase the leader. He responds by driving an ax into her torso, if not for Blink Gemma would have been hurt.

The leader might be the last man standing, but he just isn’t going down. The ax looks like it will land solidly again, but Gemma is determined this time she won’t loose her Sunbolt. Dealing major damage to him is the only way he’ll go down. After taking the hit, Gemma begins to wonder if that was a good idea. Her wrath was terrible and any of the lesser thugs would have been instantly killed.

While the leader was teetering on his feet, Balthier comes in and lands a solid blow. It was enough to finish the job. The unconscious leader was soon killed by an opportunistic Balthier.

The plunder from the fight was 2 short swords, 2 daggers a generic ax and 12 silver that Balthier palms to keep for himself. The pair managed to limp back to the blacksmith shop, so Gemma could rest up. They needed to get to Miresus and Tathel for healing soon, but Balthier insisted on getting the hammock supplies before teleporting away. At the end of the day, everyone was patched up and everyone was safe again in Miresus.

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Artifact Sword Palooza

Gemma looked out across the vast salt desert of Isad. Behind her a lush jungle filled with the eyes of many bird that were black in color. This was the 2nd time today. The 1st time was from a failed Teleport, but she had learned from her mistake and used Rapid Journey to make the trip. This way, she’d be able to get back to her friends after a minute instead of blowing up trees or doing something else random due to the wild magic of the island.

“Are you going to blow up any more trees?” a male voice called from seemingly nowhere.

Gemma was startled, but kept her head. This was definitely a strange place.

“Did you know there’s a little girl following you?”

With that taunt, Gemma ended her Rapid Journey and returned to the party.

Red restored energy to Gemma, so she could try to go to Veros right away. She hoped to set a beacon at the last point Tathel had used to try to do Seeker for Garvok. Red had convinced her and the elves that they needed to visit Lady K alone to ask her about Corellon’s Radiance being on her list. He needed to take back Orchid Malevolence for the journey, but would otherwise be able to rejoin them in 3 or 4 days.

Tathel was concerned that the dwarfs would be captured or killed and the group would not know what happened to them. Red convinced him to cast Trace on a piece of string so he could keep track of his location. It could also be used in case he went to a unique location that he would like to return to, but couldn’t otherwise accomplish.

Gemma was successful in teleporting to Veros… sort of. It really hurt and made her wonder if she was bleeding anywhere. At the very least, she’d need the aid of a cleric when she returned to her friends in a minute. It wasn’t any wonder to her that everyone preferred to travel by giant dwarf or druid tree for the most part.

As Gemma began casting Beacon, a figure shrank back into the shadows of a near-by rock formation. Curious eyes closely watched the young woman gyrate and chant to summon the magic. Just as the figure began to lurk close to her position, she disappeared.

Red healed Gemma’s wounds and then restored her mana. Kyra asked that Red loan Gemma one of his 10 point powerstones, but he refused. If Kyra was so concerned, she had a 20 point one she could give her. Red then boosted Gemma’s strength and then she grabbed Kyra and teleported to Veros. Tathel was there shortly afterward.

By now the beacon had become compromised by a not so well concealed pair of eyes. Gemma almost immediately spotted the head among the boulders that flanked her position. Tathel noticed it a moment later once he had recovered from Teleport vertigo.

“Do you see that?”, Gemma whispered.

Tathel looked at her in a way that told her that he did. Kyra quickly caught on once Gemma pointed with her eyes, while keeping her head in a natural pose.

“A mysterious voice told me we are being followed,” Gemma shared with her friends. “I think I’ll go meet the little girl.”

Then she did a Rapid Journey behind the rock pile where a not so well hidden Balthier spied on Kyra and Tathel.
Balthier heard Gemma as she turned to face him, but didn’t move.

“Hi, I’m Gemma!”

Balthier was still cautious despite the cheerful tone in Gemma’s voice. He turned slowly in a posture that seemed to indicate surrender.

“What are you doing out here? We’re looking for a special sword.”

“A sword you say….”

“Yes, a great sword called Garvok. It’s very powerful.” With that, Gemma disappeared.

Balthier’s back was to Tathel and Kyra. It shouldn’t have been a surprise to him that he nearly ran into Tathel as he emerged from his hiding place.

“The woman said you were looking for Girvuk.”

“Garvok.”

“That’s what I’m here investigating, too.”

Tathel remained unimpressed, but took solace in the fact Kyra had closed to be within 3 yards of the stranger without being noticed.
Balthier tried to play it cool even though it was obvious he didn’t detect her. Without turning his head, he said, “I assume your archer is behind me.”

As Gemma once again joined the group, Balthier told a story of red-haired twins who assaulted a government official. They ripped the location of a special sword from his mind after a series of severe injuries failed to loosen his tongue. The sword would be found in a special body of water, so he thought he’d just wander around looking for it. He had a special knack of making things work for him.

Everyone agreed to travel together for a while since they all shared the same goal. It wasn’t too long before Balthier’s intuition took them to an oddly symmetrical body of water. It was the purest blue color that gradually transitioned into black towards the middle indicating that it was most likely very deep.

The party seemed mesmerized with the water and just waited for a long time. Finally, Balthier threw a rock into the middle and it quickly faded into the blackness. Then he decided to collect another rock and make it glow as bright as daylight. He repeated the procedure. The rock faded and faded than disappeared completely before anyone would have thought it should. No light from the glowing rock reached the surface.

Kyra thought it would be worthwhile for someone to swim down to try to find the rock. She volunteered to use her Breathe Water spell to help anyone who wanted to try, but that was the extent of her offer. No one in the group knew how to swim, so that offer floundered for a while. Finally, Gemma said she’d give it a try despite never being in any water deeper than a bath tub.

Gemma was a surprisingly good swimmer for having no experience. She had left her armor and gear on the bank, but carried with her the Blink Dagger and a rock made to glow like a torch. Swimming down, down, she entered an inky black which her light couldn’t penetrate. It seemed like a watery wall. As she reached forward to touch the blackness, her hand went through to something that felt airy and warm.

Gemma had to fight a water current to stay in place, but decided to swim into the bottom of the lake. Suddenly, she found herself falling face forward towards what looked to be a solid floor 30 feet below. The Blink Dagger saved her the inconvenience of a fall and a broken neck.

She found herself in a circular room with finely worked granite. There was a huge passageway on one side, but it was blocked by a huge door made of a different kind of rock. Gemma just looked around wondering what kind of place she found herself in. It felt like only a moment, but must have been longer before she started moving towards the start of a passageway.

A huge face formed in the doorway dwarfing Gemma. She thought to herself that she would fit inside the mouth standing up and hoped the face wasn’t hungry.

“State your purpose.”

“We seek Garvok.”

“Why?”

“For Lady K.”

“I don’t know this Lady K.”

“Who are you?”

“Graxil.”

“Hi, I’m Gemma! Do you live here all alone?”

“No, we guard this cave.”

“Are you the other side of the coin? Are you guarding Garvok?”

“Yes.”

“Are there guardians for the other swords?”

“I know not of the other swords.”

“One of the other swords fell into evil hands. Lady K is gathering them up now for evil intent.”

“And you need Garvok to stop her?”

“Yes.”

“You need to stop her.”

Gemma’s conversation must have been taking too long because Tathel cast Seeker to find out what she was up to. He saw her standing in front of a door with a face. He told Kyra that she didn’t need to maintain Breathe Water because Gemma was in a room with air just below the water. The pair was growing impatient after waiting almost a minute and decided to Teleport down to help Gemma.

No one bothered to offer to bring Balthier along. He grabbed Gemma’s things and then took a tremendous leap into the air and dove deep into the lake.

Graxil began to reshape himself from a door to a man leaving the passageway open. Gemma moved forward and found herself facing a 60 foot rock monster. She might have been afraid if she hadn’t developed the habit of riding in an 80 foot tall dwarf’s pocket. The earth shook as he moved towards her.

“Krrrkkk gawwwwk,” challenged the moving mountain.

“Don’t mind, Thouck,” the 10 foot earth elemental Graxil comforted. “He’s really quite cuddly.”

“Can you show me where the sword is?”

Thouck stepped to the side to reveal the hilt of a great sword closely matching Garvok’ s description.

Just as Gemma steps towards the sword, her party starts arriving. Kyra and Tathel’s position are given away by a loud thud as Balthier smacks against the stone floor. Every looks as Gemma reaches for the sword and is flanked by towering piles of moving earth. No one draws weapons, preps spells or even shouts warnings. It’s as if everyone somehow knew everything would be alright even as the giants turned to look at the new arrivals.

Gemma was unable to draw Garvok from its earth sheath.

“Graxil, could you help me?”

The earth elemental grabs the sword and hands it to Gemma.

The guardians of the cave were oddly uninterested in Kyra, Tathel or Balthier and also ignored them. It was like they had completely forgotten their duty to guard… or maybe they didn’t consider them to be a threat. If Gemma noticed the arrival of her friends, she ignored them. Instead of making introductions or reporting her discovery, she only wanted to keep her rock friends.

“What will you do now that you don’t need to guard the sword?”

“Thouck and I are bound to this place by Mondur and will guard it forever.”

“You can never leave?”

“I can travel through rock, but Thouck has a harder time.”

“What happens when you leave?”

“I feel the need to come back.”

“If I can find a way, I’ll unbind you from this cave.”

Finally, Gemma seemed to notice her party and made introductions.

Balthier tells the story of the 2 red-headed twins searching for Garvok. Everyone agrees that these women are evil and the sword should be kept out of their hands at all costs. At first, the party thinks it would be best to take the sword with them, but then decides it is safest inside the cave with the dirt men.

Balthier suggests Graxil lie about the location of the sword if the red-haired twins show up, but this seems like a plan certain to fail. Graxil reassures them that Garvok’s cavern is enchanted with an anti-teleport that sends people other places if they try to enter. He can also bury Garvok deep and fill all the space with earth as protection.

Satisfied that Garvok is secure, the party decides they need to leave. Graxil forms an elevator and takes the 4 party members up to the surface. He assures them that he is watching over the outside of the lake and knows when people are near. Also, the lake is really a huge water elemental named Ssylsenens who also stood watch. Between the 2 of them, they would know if and when the party returned.

Before leaving, Gemma steals a moment with Graxil.

“Be careful not to give the blade to anyone except in my party… and even then don’t give it to Balthier. I only trust the elves.”

Their search done, the party decides to go to the Azure Ridge rendezvous. Once again, it fell to Gemma to be the vanguard and set a beacon. It was over 100 miles and there was no surprise when she didn’t make it to her intended location.

“Welcome back.”

“Who are you?”

“This is my island.”

“Are you pulling me here?”

“No, but you certainly seem to come here often.”

“Can you tell me anything about the little girl?”

“I think she’s dead.”

“How can you tell?”

“She’s not breathing.”

“What is she doing?”

“Just standing around looking bored. The little girl appears when you do and is fuzzy around the edges. She just follows you around.”

Gemma had enough talk with the voice of Isad and prematurely ended her Rapid Journey.

Her 2nd attempt ended her back on Isad.

“Why do the birds keep staring at me?”

“You’re something new.”

Then Gemma ended her Rapid Journey.

Her 3rd attempt to go to Azure Ridge landed her in Isad for the 5th time that day. Finally, Gemma arrived in a city she hoped was Azure Ridge on the 4th try. After casting a Beacon, she returned to her friends.

Gemma needed to place another Beacon at Garvok Lake because she was appointed the carrier of people. Tathel boosted her strength and sent her to Azure Ridge with Kyra first. Kyra restored her mana and then Gemma was able to return for Balthier before Might ran out. Balthier lent energy and then 3 of the 4 party members were in Azure Ridge. Tathel was soon to follow.

Azure Ridge is Balthier’s home town and he took his new crew to the finest establishment he could afford, The Vulgar Wench. It had dirt floors with straw to help keep the spilled filth from the excrement buckets manageable. One risked bed bugs and fleas by sleeping here, but it was only a copper a night and Tathel decided to treat.

Somehow, Tathel found this a conducive place to pray while Gemma studied magic books and Kyra studied written languages. Balthier decided it would be more interesting to investigate the specific details about what happened with the red haired twins. Returning to the scene of the crime he learned a few details that had previously eluded him.

One of the cooks saw a shadow man that caused him pass out. The wizard was actually a member of the council of 7 who was looking for Garvok. He rarely left his room, but was detected by the twins, anyway. They assumed he already had the sword, but were mistaken.

During the course of the night, he runs into one of his contacts and finds work shadowing a particular mark. He successfully completes his mission and collects $25 the next day from his contact at noon.

Morel and Red had busied themselves the rest of the day collecting picks and rope for their heist. The plan was to create a hole in the roof over Magistrate Ebanul’s room and drop a rope. Morel would also use a pick on a large rock he found as a distraction. It was necessary to keep the timing close to make it seem like the noise on the roof was an echo of what was happening in the street. The dwarfs practiced keeping time to one of their favorite dwarven war marches all afternoon and retired around 8 to be fresh for their evening of mischief.

November 24th, 951

At 4 a.m. Red cast Hawk Flight and went up to the roof of the capital building. He was planning to lay in wait until around 9 when the magistrate would be out of his room, but there would be too many people watching at that time of day. Morel watched from the inn alert for signs of trouble. He didn’t want to miss out on any fighting.

When Red got to the roof, he saw that someone had already made a hole in the roof. The edges were smooth as if cut with magic and not a pick. From his angle, Red saw the door to the Magistrate’s room was ajar. He signaled to Morel to come in a hurry and then moved to the center of the roof to cast Teleport Shield. Red made it strong, so it was virtually guaranteed that no one would escape an ax strike with a Blink or anything else.

Morel was waiting at the edge of the building after the 10 seconds it took him to cast his magic, so he grabbed him and took him up to the roof with him. As the pair descended into the hole, Red’s Hawk Flight failed unexpectedly. The pair clanged noisily to the ground most certainly alerting whoever was about.

Wasting no time, Morel opened the door with axes drawn. He saw 2 red haired women that looked remarkably alike. The one furthest from him shouted, “I found it.” A few yards away from her, was the mangled body of the Magistrate. Morel rushed in making an all-out-attack on the closest sister. Deathsong’s bite would have been furious if she hadn’t turned into red mist. His other ax passed twice through the mist before she re-appeared seeming no worse for her experience.

“We have what we need, let’s go,” said the woman who had just been mist a moment ago. The way she said it was a little too calm as if the appearance of the dwarfs wasn’t even an inconvenience.

In less than a second, both of the women had disappeared leaving Red sorely disappointed that he didn’t get a chance to take action against the women. There was no way they should have been able to do magic that quickly. He should have at least had the opportunity to attempt an attack before they disappeared. How did they Teleport away? Wasn’t there a Teleport Shield over the whole building?

The sound of groaning brought Red out of his revelry. He hurried to where Magistrate Ebanul lay with arms twisted at odd angles. One of his legs also looked mangled. His pallor was pale like he almost dead. Red attempted to cast Major Healing on him, but failed.

“Where can I take you to get healed?”

“It’s too late for me.”

“Who were those women and what did they want?”

“They were here looking for the sword you wanted. Don’t worry, they got the fake I was going to give you if you continued to press me. Tell me now, why do you want Chellan.”

“There is a collector who is claiming lots of artifacts including holy ones for some unknown evil purpose. I want to use Chellan to find her vault and return all the artifacts to their rightful owners.”

“Can you promise me that you will get Chellan back from her once you’ve found the vault?”

“Yes, that’s the intention.”

“Go to the library. Chellan is in the statue of Vectna.”

With those last words, Magistrate Ebanul expired.

Red and Morel easily found the statue and Morel put it in his backpack. Returning to the hole, Morel gave his brother a boost to the roof. Red then dropped down the rope and pulled his brother up. They would have simply used Hawk Flight except magic was still not working on the 3rd floor.

Once on the roof, Red cast Hawk Flight successfully and carried his brother down to the road. They returned to the inn for the remainder of the night and set out as soon as the shops started to open. The brothers bought food for the road and sold back all their gear from the previous night. Red bought some glue as they were doing business.

Outside of town where Morel was preparing to be transformed into an 80 foot giant, Red took Orchid Malevolence to the statue of Vectna. It broke open to reveal a sparkling blade with blue veins with the tooth of a white dragon as a hilt. A dragon’s head was part of the carvings and Red discovered it nicely concealed the tiny bit of string Tathel had cast Trace on. Using a little glue, he secured the string in place.

While traveling to Lady K’s, Red prayed for Earth To Air. He wondered if Kord had magic to help him with the red haired twins, but decided to stick with things he knew were favored by his deity. By 4:00, the dwarfs were in Ugini.

“We need to see Lady Ky’istara as soon as possible. We have an artifact she’ll want.”

The receptionist calmly got up to check on the availability of her master.

“She’ll see you immediately.”

“What do you have for me?”

“Chellan,” Red told her as he removed the scimitar from his pack and handed it to her.

“This is quite the prize. May I ask where you got it?”

“Magistrate Ebanul from Mallowhall. Unfortunately, he did not survive. Red haired twins mortally wounded him shortly before we arrived to claim the sword. We didn’t kill him.”

“I’m sure you didn’t,” Lady K replied flatly with a glimmer of amusement in her eye. She wouldn’t ask questions even if they did.

“We would have brought our elven companions, but they had concerns about the fact Corellon’s Radiance is on the list of artifacts.”

“As you know, I’m collecting these artifacts for safe keeping. If you feel that these artifacts are safe where they are, that satisfies me. After all, you are some of the most deadly warriors in all the world.”

“Thank you. I’m sure I can make them understand, now.”

“About your reward… what would you like?”

“With the elves absent, I think it simplest to ask for the money. Five separate bags would be appreciated. Also, could you recommend a safe place to stay the night? It would be a shame to lose our new wealth to rogues.”

“It would be my honor to have you stay in one of our guest rooms tonight. After all, you have done me a favor.”

November 25th, 951

The next morning, the dwarfs left Ugini and headed for Azure Ridge. It was a short walk for an 80 foot Morel going 150 mph. It was 2:00 when the pair arrived in town. Gemma had spent the morning visiting Graxil and Thouck, but had returned in time to greet the dwarfs. After finding Garvok, everyone had simply been spending their time in academic pursuits.

“Greetings, Kyra, Tathel, Gemma. I have some great news. Do we have somewhere private we can talk?”

As Tathel lead the way, Balthier came walking along with the party. Morel stepped in front of Balthier blocking his path.

“My brother said, ‘we have something to discuss in private’.”

“O no, it’s OK. He’s our friend,” Gemma hurriedly interjected.

“Gemma! Are you picking up strays?”

“Did you notice that we’re here a day or 2 early? It’s because this gentleman helped us find what we came here to find.”

“You found it?!”

“Let’s go talk in private.”

After recounting some of the broadest details about finding Garvok, it was the dwarfs turn to tell their news. Morel handed a 20 pound bag containing $100,000 worth of platinum to Kyra, Gemma and Tathel.

“Courtesy of Lady K in appreciation for work well done.”

“Does this mean… ?”

“Yes, we recovered Chellan. Time to go to work Tathel.”

Tathel had lost contact with the string about 9:00 the night before, but was able to do a Seeker to find it again. He did a Trace and knew it was in Ugini somewhere close to Lady K’s base. That’s as much as he could learn without getting closer.

Before the plan could be acted upon, the party wanted to lighten their purses. Gemma paid $2,000 to Tathel returning a hefty 100% interest for the dress purchased. To Red, she gave $10,000 for the $8,750 owed. The paltry 14% interest was still appreciated. She even gave $10,000 to Balthier because she didn’t want him left out. That was more money than the rogue had laid hands on.

The party made it to Tegas by dinner time to do some shopping. Balthier bought a ruby necklace powerstone holding 15 mana. Gemma bought a diamond bracelet powerstone with 15 mana. Using teleport, Tathel left for Miresus to commission a +3 DR enchanted Elven Chain Hauberk. The dwarfs commissioned some items, but also bought Rings of Haste +1.

The plan is to leave for Miresus through Gotham the next day. Kyra has heard of the unrest in Gotham and wants to check on the status of the bow she commissioned and Morel wants to check in with the dwarven smith working on his Dwarven +3 Heavy Steel Corselet. There is a druid tree not far from Tegas, so the trip to Gotham will be short.

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Search For Chellan

August 31st, 951 to November 23rd, 951

75 days was the amount of time the party agreed to give Kyra to solidify leads for artifacts on Lady K’s list. Each party member decided to spend the time improve their respective abilities. Morel opted for training in Brawling, Thrown Weapon (Ax/Mace) and Fast Draw (Ax/Mace). Red spent his time praying for Great Haste and Teleport Shield when he wasn’t studying Diplomacy. Tathel prayed for several spells and learned languages. Kyra studied Teaching and languages.

Gemma had a grand total of $15 silver and wouldn’t have been able afford to train except that Red sponsored her for $8750. It was all the money he had plus $309 he borrowed from Morel, but he felt it was worth investing in this promising new party member. With her time, Gemma expanded her skills in magic. Most notable were the additions of Lightning, Concussion and Ethereal Body.

Morel commissioned an enchantment on a heavy cloak embroidered with the symbol of Kord, a fist holding a lightning bolt. The deflecting enchantment takes 100 days, so he put down 20% with the idea he’d make the extra $8000 sometime in the next 25 days after training. Maybe, he was being too optimistic. Red wanted to do the same thing, but couldn’t afford to.

After 75 days, Kyra informs the party that the hottest lead is Chellan, which is in Mallowhall. She has also got hot leads on the Armlet of Satos, Tempest and Garvok. The plan moving forward would be to employ Tathel’s Seeker to locate the artifacts and Trace to go directly to them.
Traveling by giant dwarf to Mallowhall, the party was eager to locate Chellan. Tathel cast Seeker, but nothing. Mallowhall was not a big place. Based upon Kyra’s divinations, they were no further than 5 miles from Chellan. A failed Seeker at this range did not bode well for the party.

This did not discourage the party from deciding to travel to the border of Pelevion and Therryn the next day to try the same tactic to look for the Armlet and then onward to Belfield to look for Tempest. 2 days later, the party arrived back in Mallowhall in time for dinner. Kyra divined that Chellan had recently been in the capital building.

Morel decided to investigate the local fighter’s guild and learned that the reigning champion wielded a rapier. There were no distinguished fighters that used a scimitar let alone a distinctive blade like Chellan. He thought he might pass the time waiting for Kyra to work by participating in a few competitions or tournaments, but all of these were booked for months. Just to join the guild was $600 a year that must be paid in advance.

The next day, the party left for Tegas around Azure Ridge to try doing Seeker on Garvok. Travel took the full day and Seeker was unsuccessful . It was then that the party decided to spend a few days in Tegas doing research on the 7 swords.

Each party member did their own thing. Gemma did in depth research on the swords. Red did more research on Magistrate Ebannul who was the most likely person to have the sword and the Mallowhall capital building, the most likely place most likely to find it. Morel went to the job board and found things to keep his interest while the more academic people hung out in the library.

Once the party reformed, Red announced that he needed to make an appointment with Magistrate Ebannul because he believes he is uniquely positioned to help find Chellan. He would be honor bond to do it because it rightfully belonged to the Glanent clan.

According to Red’s history, Dirzaste Torar (Dream Slaver of the Mistresses of Poison) launched a campaign to steal away the wealthy mines controlled by the Delhig clan (Steel Garrison). After a series of raids, Dirzaste Torar and her minions managed to land near fatal blow to their leader, Vongrim (Of the Tunnel Everlasting). The clan was thrown into chaos.

Great, great grandpa Hardin Glanent (Stalwart Blacksmith of the Forgotten Mountain) was serving in Vongrim’s armory at the time. He organized a group to hunt down Dirzaste Torar and her army in retaliation. Hardin killed Dirzaste Torar and claimed her distinctive scimitar as proof of his victory.

The clan was so impressed by his leadership and valor that they made him clan chief despite the fact Vongrim survived his injuries. The scimitar with a dragon tooth hilt and a blade marbled sapphire represents the Glanents claim on the tribe. It’s a family heirloom. It could rally dwarfs to the Glanents and help Red re-establish the clan.

Gemma wondered what happened to Chellan since it was obviously not in the Glanent treasury. Red didn’t have an answer other than no one knows.

Kyra and Tathel didn’t believe Red, but Gemma seemed to be very supportive of his story. None the less, the party agreed to come along with Red as he returned to Mallowhall to present his case to the magistrate.

On the way, a giant Morel nearly splatted a sparrow as he leisurely walked along at 136 MPH. What was odd is that the sparrow made a big loop and was making a great effort towards keeping up with the 80 foot dwarf. Curious, he stopped and the sparrow quickly made its way into the passenger pocket of his shirt and landed on Kyra’s waiting finger. There was a note attached to its leg.

“My aunt and uncle are dead. The mage plague has struck again in Elm’ril and Khatovar. Only 200 are dead, but we should avoid those areas for a few days.”

Magistrate couldn’t be seen until the next day. At the appointed time, Red, Tathel and Gemma went in for the meeting while Kyra waited outside. Morel was entertaining himself by sizing up the guards and taking note of troop deployments and quickest paths out of the city.

Red made his case, but it seemed to fall on deaf ears. Magistrate Ebannul claimed to have no knowledge of his sword and was ready to dismiss the party when Red point blank told the man that one of his party had divined that he had the sword. Ebannul continued to claim ignorance, but promised to look through his treasury and report back to them.

The follow up appointment was in 2 days. To pass the time, the party traveled west looking for the Armlet again. If not for the need to be back in time to talk to Ebannul, an attempt would have been made to look for Tempest as well.

That night, Kyra had a secret vision not shared with the group. She did communicate that there might be someone else behind Lady K who was controlling her. This received a less than enthusiastic response from the dwarfs because it changed nothing for them. Gemma and Tathel also paid little attention.

Once back in Mallowhall, Tathel was prepared for the 2nd meeting with Ebannul. It was the night before and he tracked all his movement right up until the meeting. Red and Gemma were the only ones who actually went in to talk to Ebannul.

He was once again unhelpful and it was all Red could do to keep himself cordial. Red thought about beating the information out of him, but changed his mind. Ebannul was next in line to become a member of the Council of 7 which governs Veros. Undoubtedly, he would have spells to Blink or Teleport himself if attacked. Brute force alone would not be a solution here.

On the way out, Red pulled Gemma into an unused conference hall. He told her how important it was to his clan that the sword be recovered and that he just knew all Ebannul needed was an extra set of eyes to look for the sword. He spun a story about how the guards wouldn’t let Ebannul do everything he would like, but an invisible person could easily help out the Magistrate.

It was simply too implausible for Gemma who decided it might not be the Honest thing to do. Red did convince her to try Teleporting to Kyra to let her know the news that Ebannul couldn’t find the sword. She was successful.

Seeming to come up dry everywhere, the party decided to send Tathel and Gemma to look for Tempest using Seeker. To save time, they would teleport directly there and back. Gemma didn’t remember where to Teleport, so Red boosted Tathel’s strength slightly to bring her along.

The trip there was very successful. After an unsuccessful Seeker, the 2 decided to Teleport back individually. Both end up in very odd locations. Tathel found himself on an island made of black glass and Gemma found herself in a jungle filled with hungry looking black birds. Tathel was able to rest and try again to go back to Mallowhall. Gemma was not.

Gemma tried casting a Teleport, but instead caused a tree to explode sending splinters flying. Some of the splinters hurt her, but not seriously. She tries Rapid Journey only to see the trees greatly increase in size. Identifying the trees as the source of her problem, Gemma walks towards the smell of salt expecting to see an ocean.

After a long walk, she finds the edge of the jungle and a great salt desert. She rests there and then tries another Teleport only to find herself along the same path she had just walked to get out of the jungle. Gemma follows the path to the edge of the jungle again and sees a person resting where she had just been a few minutes ago. As she gets closer, she notices the person is a woman who is dressed very similarly to her. Then the woman disappears.

More resting and finally, Gemma gets Lucky with a Teleport and is able to join the others once again.

Teleporting there and back should have been a quick task, but Morel, Red and Kyra decided to play 3 Dragon Anti as the minutes dragged on. After hours, Gemma is still not back and Morel has lost every hand. His temper is short when Gemma finally returns, but he buys her a beer while Red heals her injury from the exploding tree.

The conversation turns to what else can be done to find Chellan. Red is sure that the Magistrate knows more than he is telling. He just wants more actionable intelligence before he confronts him directly. No one else has any idea of what else to try to learn Chellan’s location except wait for Kyra to divine something new.

“Wait for Kyra!? That’s our whole plan!?” Morel complained angrily. “We know someone who can give us information now and I intend to force him to give it to us!”

With that, Morel stormed off in the direction of the Mallowhall capital building. Red pursued him immediately, but his brother was too fast for him to catch.

“He’s a mage, Morel! He’ll simply Blink or Teleport away. Let me do some magical preparation before you go in.”

Morel ignored Red’s cries, so Red began casting Hawk Flight to make up for the difference in ground covered.

For several long seconds, Tathel, Kyra and Gemma seemed content to let Morel wreak whatever havoc he may. Perhaps, it was shock that kept them at the bar dumbfounded. Finally, realization of what was about to happen dawned on them. Morel was about to take on the 20+ guards at the capital building and probably all the other ones in a mile radius as well.

Gemma was the first to act and she teleported directly in front of Morel.

“Morel, stop! You’ll be outnumbered a dozen to 1.”

“Then tell them to get a few more guards to make it a fair fight,” grumbled Morel as he simply walked around her.

Kyra was next to act, she teleported directly to the doorway of the capital building… and fell prone. When she got up, she began casting a spell, but met no resistance from the guards who were a few feet away from her just inside the door.

Tathel decided to come along to see what would happen, but didn’t take any action against Morel or otherwise.

Gemma stayed close to Morel and attempted to stop him using a Levitation spell. Unfortunately for her, Morel’s immense strength combined with magic resistance made her efforts futile.

Then Kyra’s spell took effect, an opaque Force Dome corked the one entrance to the building.
Morel didn’t know what it was, but he was sure that he could punch through the wall next to it if he just had the right tool.

“I need Orchid Malevolence!” Morel called to Gemma who suddenly realized she should start running instead of chasing.

He grabbed and missed then would have had it except Gemma teleported behind him. Morel covered more distance each second than Gemma could, so she supplemented with Blink for an extra 3 yards. Morel knew that magic is slow and that she would be unable to do another Blink before he could throw an ax. If it weren’t for the fact she was a party member, he would have taken off a leg to slow her down.

His unwillingness to injure a party member meant that continued to lose ground and eventually Gemma had the space and time needed to Teleport away.

Boosted by Might, Red flew up to Morel to engage him. Morel had an ax out and easily parried Red’s attempt at grapples. It was a standoff the Morel would eventually lose and he found himself pulled into the air, but unwilling to hurt his brother.

Kyra might have been saving everyone in the capital, but she was not warmly received. The guards demanded her weapons, but eventually let her simply put them on the ground as a sign of being non-hostile. She was sufficiently vague in describing the threat as being “dwarfs”, but that seemed to satisfy the people inside.

Eventually, Morel gave up his intentions to single-handed assault the capital building and the party went back to the inn to discuss strategy.

Morel: “You all must be crazy! It’s obvious Magistrate Ebannul knows where our sword is. Why didn’t you let me get that information?”

Red: “It’s not that simple. The Magistrate is next in line for the Counsel of 7 in Veros. He’s obviously a powerful mage and would simply teleport away as soon as you scared him.”

Morel: “I’d make sure he never got the chance.”

Red: “Somehow I doubt that. If we knew for sure he had it, I’d use magic to stop all Teleporting from that building and we’d both have a talk with him.”

“In all likelihood, he does have the sword. The fact he’s practically in the Counsel of 7 leads me to believe he wants to keep the sword and appoint a champion after he’s officially joined the counsel.”

“In that scenario, he’s unwilling to negotiate with us for the sword and there’s nothing we can do about it without creating powerful enemies.”

Morel: “We’re just going to give up!? Why did we even bother in the first place?”

Red: “Maybe, I’m wrong. Maybe, someone else has Chellan. Kyra, how long will it take you to figure out exactly who we need to negotiate with? I need to spend all my immediate future dedicated to prayer in preparation.”

Morel: “Bah! More waiting! Doesn’t anyone have a real solution to our problem? I think it would be easiest to just beat the information out of the Magistrate.”

Red: “We really can’t do anything else until we know more about where the sword is.”

“What was our other hottest lead? Garvok? Maybe, we should spend some time exploring that area in hopes of learning something.”

“I’d like to visit Lady K. Mallowhall isn’t a very big place. She may be willing to pay simply for that much information.”

“I’m also interested in confronting her about the attack against Corellon’s Radiance. I’m not sure it’s a good idea for Kyra and Tathel to come. Lady K probably knows about your affiliation with Corellon and may not be honest with us if you’re there.”

“Actually, I’m a little concerned for my and Morel’s safety. Tathel, if we get a piece of cloth, string or other easily concealable item, would you be willing to put a Trace on it? If we don’t come back, you’ll at least have an idea of where to look.”

“I’d say cast it on some of our gear except I’d like to have the option to stash it just in case we are taken to a secret area we might want to return to. It would be unfortunate to leave behind valuable equipment if we are either allowed to leave or escape.”

“We can rendezvous in Azure Ridge at 3 or 4 days or so depending upon when we get our appointment and meet by the main gate at dinner time.”

View
Vaevictus Asmadi

August 26th, 951 to August 30st, 951

The morning of August 26th, a messenger from Burha came to Kyra. A request was made for Kyra’s party to appear before the noble woman to receive their reward. In the afternoon, Kyra had arranged an appointment for the party to visit the queen, so she told the messenger the party would come by later that morning.

At Burha’s meeting, she explained that her daughter, Thania’s, captivity had come about after she chose to put on a cursed ring. It was the same cursed ring the party found in the room of the necromancer holding her captive. The enchantment caused people to pursue their greatest dream to the exclusion of everything else. It took an unprepared Thania to Pelevion and contributed to her capture.

For the party’s help in her safe return, Burha offered a Wand of Magic Immunity. With a single touch, it allows a user to give 10 to 15 seconds relief from all effects of magic. Should any of the party ever fall victim to a cursed ring like the one that afflicted Thania, the party would be able to remove it. Unfortunately, the specifics of the spell including the name were lost to time and it cannot be recharged. There are 38 charges left. After thanks were expressed, Tathel took possession of the wand.

Queen Ramina was similarly generous in her rewards for the safe return of princess Eleniel and her tutor, Alador. Each person was asked specifically what they would like. The dwarfs asked for help with their problem of finding an ax weapons master to train them. Their problem was further complicated by the need to finish training quickly to continue aiding the queen’s servant, Kyra, in her adventures. The queen pledged to send a message to their allies in Tocora to inquire about a weapons master. Gemma didn’t want compensation, but asked that the queen take her reward and use it to ease the suffering of the poor. Kyra and Tathel refused to let the queen honor them.

It was still early afternoon and the party wanted to start their trip to deliver a message to Vaevictus Asmadi. Before leaving, Morel sold the 10 Leathers and 10 Katanas recovered from the Eleniel visit. Each party member earned $750 from the transaction.

While conducting commerce, Morel went to the jeweler to have a sapphire necklace appraised. It was worth about $6,000. He asked Tathel if he could find the owner of the necklace. In the resulting vision, Tathel saw a rotting body in the cave that the werewolves had laid a trap for them. Morel finally felt he could do something other than hold onto the necklace.

Gemma had recently spent $2000 on an elegant, yellow gown. Morel knew this and decided the sapphire necklace would be put to best use if she would wear it.

“You need a beard and you’re too tall, but this necklace will look good on you. It complements the color of your eyes.”

Kyra informed the party that Vaevictus Asmadi was in Grishings. The party took a druid tree to Veros and then rode the giant version of Morel to Grishings. It was nightfall, so the party found lodging at the Golden Maive. Kyra treated Tathel and Gemma for the night. “Red” and Morel decided to stop by the temple of Kord to do a little brawling and just decided to stay the night.

In the morning, Tathel finds Vaevictus Asmadi using Seeker and Trace. He leads the party a short distance down the road to the home of a wealthy noble’s house. A servant appears when he rings the bell at the gate.

“Who lives here?”

“Lord Kaeto.”

“We would like to see him.”

“Do you have an appointment?”

“No.”

“What are your names?”

The group went around introducing themselves.

“What is the nature of your business?”

“We have a message for him from someone who lives South of Gotham.”

“I’ll inquire as to the master’s availability.”

A short while later, the servant returned.

“The master has agreed to see one of you.”

After a brief discussion, it was agreed that Tathel would be best suited to deliver the message because of the Trace he was maintaining on Vaevictus Asmadi.

Inside Lord Kaeto’s office, Tathel was asked to deliver his message.

“My message isn’t for you it’s for the one who’s 40 feet in that direction one floor below us.”

“Why did you ask to see me then?”

“Are you his relative?”

“No.”

“I didn’t want to ask for him by name because his family is very protective. We weren’t sure if you were him and going by a different name. He can change his appearance and it’s hard to be sure. We believe he currently looks like a human.”

“That individual is not currently receiving visitors. I’d be happy to pass along your message.”

“I need to know for sure he gets the message.”

“You can trust me.”

“It’s very important I talk to him directly. The message is from an old friend who lives South of Gotham. They’ve known each other more than 50 years.”

“My guest is under my protection and no one sees him.”

Tathel was seriously contemplating teleporting the short distance to Vaevictus Asmadi, but then thought better of surprising a dragon. After an uncomfortable silence, Lord Kaeto spoke.

“Where are you staying?”

“The Golden Maive.”

“Wait there a day or so. I’ll talk to my guest and let him know you’re there.”

With that, Tathel was escorted off the premises.

A nervous Tathel directed the party back to the Inn. He even requested the dwarfs stay with the rest of the party rather than sleep at the temple of Kord that night. To pass the time, the party started up a game of 3 dragon anti. Gemma always seemed to win, but it didn’t matter because no money was on the table.

Within the 3 hours, a well-dressed gentleman came into the Golden Maive and made his way over to the party’s table. Morel dealt him and the man started talking to Tathel.

“My master has agreed to see you.”

“The best way to avoid attention is if I teleport to him directly.”

“Do you know where to go?”

“Yes.”

“He’s expecting you.”

With that, Tathel excused himself from the table and made his way to the hotel room. Once there, he teleported to the dragon Vaevictus Asmadi.

“Chrysavet sent me to remind you of a debt.”

“My courier will come to you tomorrow at noon with a package for Chrysavet.”

With that the meeting was over and Tathel returned to the Inn.

The next day, the messenger from the day before arrived carrying a satchel. He handed it to Tathel and immediately Tathel teleported to Chrysavet’s woods. When Chrysavet took the satchel, he opened it and took out a vial of dark fluid. Then he replaced it and closed the satchel.

“Is the debt paid?”

“Yes.”

The rest of the party took a little longer to make to the journey. After finishing lunch and losing to Gemma in 3 dragon anti, “Red” cast Enlarge Other on Morel. The party took roughly an hour to make it to the druid tree in Veros. From there it was only a short time before they rejoined Tathel.

Morel was disappointed that the quest was over and he didn’t get to fight a dragon. He asked Chrysavet if he could wrestle a bear, but was denied his request.

Their quest done, the party finally decided to go visit Lady Ky’istara. It was early afternoon when they went back to the druid tree in Veros. It was 4:00 when the giant Morel ended the trek to Ugini. There was just enough time to set up an appointment with Lady K for noon the next day.

At their meeting, Lady Ky’istara was very congenial. By her side was her right hand man, Mizar. She was eager to address any concerns the party might have.

“Tell me again why you want all these artifacts?”

“As I mentioned at the tournament awards ceremony, the mission is to remove dangerous items from circulation. There are many people out there who would use an artifact to hurt others. I want to stop that from happening.

All the artifacts will get stored in my vault safe from the hands of evil men. Of course, some of the artifacts have helpful qualities that would be put to use to the benefit of all."

That was enough convincing for the dwarfs. Each was very happy and eager to sign up after that. Kyra, Tathel and Gemma were very quiet.

“Does anyone else have any concerns?”

After a long pause, Kyra, Tathel and Gemma agreed to work for Lady K.

“I am collecting any kind of artifact, but there are some that are higher priority than others. I’ll give you a list before you leave.

Also, you’ll want to carry these badges when you quest for artifacts. It identifies you as being part of my organization should you ever run across another one of my agents."

After a cordial salutations, the party left Lady K’s manor. When the party was in a secure location, “Red” looked over the list of artifacts.

“Red” to all:
“Have you looked closely at the list of desired artifacts Lady K gave us? (Corellon) Radiance is a top priority! The temple of Corellon was attacked in Estershore back in May!”

Morel:
“It seems Lady K will gather power even if it means hurting good people. I won’t be party to lawless ruffians who prey on anyone too weak to resist!”

“Red”:
“We have solid evidence that Kyra’s suspicions were correct. Lady K is probably the highest authority in Pelevion. Corellon’s influence is weak in that country as well. No wonder she’s so willing to give us this list!”

Morel:
“How angry are you Tathel? I’d be in favor of going back to Ugini and wiping out the whole crew. I’m always in the mood for a fight.”

“Red”:
“What about the Merak? We still don’t have a way to neutralize him….”

“Maybe, there’s a way to strike against her without storming the gates. Didn’t Lady K tell us she stored all the artifacts in a vault? Someone clever enough to find it might be able to liberate her of those artifacts without directly fighting Merak.”

“If we sold her an artifact, Tathel could put a Trace on it. He could lead us right to it.”
“A quick skirmish to get in, we grab the goods and go. We’d need to give it several months to throw suspicion off us and we can continue to get paid the whole time.”

“It might be worthwhile to figure out who has been wronged by Lady K and find out if there are people who would be willing to pay for the artifacts we recover, but don’t want.”

Morel:
“I’m in favor of cherry picking some artifacts for ourselves. The Dragon Stars may prove to be interesting. Any kind of magical mace could prove good for dwarfs.”

“Red”:
“I’m more interested in the Orb of Answers. Imagine the kinds of information we could learn about Lady K and her vault. It could mean the difference between life and death.”

View
Eleniel Rescue

The party had just returned from rescuing Thania, daughter of Nobel woman Burha. It earned the party a favor, but no monetary or physical reward. The dwarfs were eager to visit Lady K because the offer of $500,000 for an artifact seemed too good to pass up… even if there was a chance she would try to kill them.

Kyra and Gemma stayed in Queen Ramina’s castle. Gemma thought it was so nice that this was the way Elm’ril treated guests and didn’t pick up on the favor granted to her on behalf of Kyra.

This particular night was different also because the queen asked a Kyra to look into the disappearance of Eleniel and her tutor, Alador. The hand of the tutor had showed up with a ransom note asking for $5,000,000 to be delivered in a week.

In the morning, Kyra wrangled up Tathel and the dwarfs to go on the queen’s quest. Before leaving, the party visited the mage Livia in the Didela tower to ask about the 150 lb. rock Morel brought back from the meteor crater. Livia wasn’t sure what to make of the strange quality it had to make using magic harder, but she promised to study it and let the party know if she was interested in buying the metal.

Kyra secretly used the orb of questions to narrow the search for Eleniel. It was necessary to travel by giant dwarf East to Silverwood. Tathel was then able to use Seeker then Trace to locate a blacksmith shop in the middle of town where Eleniel was being held.

The dwarfs were ready to break down the door and route the whole lot despite the risk of the authorities getting involved. Cooler heads prevailed and the plan was made to teleport from the back ally down into the dungeon beneath the shop. “Red” used Might to boost the strength of Gemma and Kyra, so each could carry a dwarf along for the ride.

Eleniel and her tutor were chained to anvils on one side of the room. It will filled with 11 henchmen wearing leather armor and carrying katanas. Gemma darted across the room seeming intent on causing chaos for a table of men playing cards and Morel followed protectively. “Red” immediately put his ax to work trying to free Eleniel assuming the plan was to grab her and escape quickly. Kyra and Tathel also set to the task of killing everyone.

There were surprisingly few henchmen dead by the time most of them recovered from their mental stun. Morel took a forward position drawing most of the attacks allowing the magic users and Kyra to freely attack. Then a few henchmen broke away from the pack and charged Tathel and Gemma. No blows landed, but Blink was used liberally.

When the tide turned, the henchmen decided the best idea would be to kill the prisoners. Tathel grabbed Eleniel and teleported all the way back to the Didela tower in Miresus. Gemma did the same thing with the tutor.

Finally, the battle was drawing to an end. One of the henchmen made a break for the exit and no one could stop him. The desire to pursue him was strong, but there were too many active enemies and his head start guaranteed he would get away. Kyra made a point to go around and finish off henchmen that were merely disabled or unconscious.

Tathel received a hostile reception in the Didela tower. He had a beaten and unconscious princess in tow and the guards could only assume he was the perpetrator. Eventually, all that got sorted out and help got sent back to the blacksmith dungeon.

Master Glex’s agents arrived and sanitized the area. Bodies were disappeared and evidence that the party was there was destroyed. If the lone henchman hadn’t escaped, no outsider would know what happened. Finally, a gate was created and the party was sent to a room inside the Miresus, Didela tower.

The party was sequestered for days. Tathel prayed and the dwarfs brawled to pass the time. Finally, everyone was brought before the queen and commended for their efforts. There was a promise of reward, but no reward was given. She told them about agents within Khatovar trying to start a full scale war with Elm’ril. This was on the eve of negotiations to establish permanent gates connecting main trade hubs between countries. Kyra was scolded for killing every unconscious and crippled enemy. The queen wanted to have the option to question them next time.

For the dwarfs, the good news was that Livia had completed her study of the meteor and had come back with an offer of $4500. That was $1125 a piece for Tathel, Kyra, Morel and “Red”. (Gemma hadn’t joined them when the rock was recovered.) There would also be money for the 10 leather armor and 10 katanas taken from the fallen henchmen before the bodies were disposed of.

(Left off the evening of August 25th, 951)

View
Meet Gemma Rhyland

August 18th, 951 to August 21st, 951

Kyra looked over the common area of The Daring Goblin Tavern and Inn. The place looked like it
had seen lots of use. The floor was waxed, but dark with age and dirt deep in the wood grain.
Everything was in good repair, but it was obvious that most of the furniture had been repaired.
From the look of the patronage, fights were frequent. It wouldn’t be wise to drink too heavily.
Kyra imagined several of these people would be happy to relieve her of her purse.

All the same, this was the best Morvale had to offer traveling adventurers like herself. The
party had wandered into more than 1 nameless place only to be rejected and finally sent here.
Glowing reviews of “not too many murders” and “thieves there usually leave a calling card”
didn’t inspire Kyra to want a private room. Instead, the party all squeezed into a 3 bed room.
“Red” was the odd man out. He planned to stay up all night praying after Tathel offered to
cast Vigil on him.

Before retiring for the evening, the “Red” treated the party to one of the house specialty brews,
rumored to be made with real Sphinx Tears. It was glittery gold with deep metallic swirls.
The clear glass caught the light and made the drink seem an odd piece of beauty in this otherwise
lackluster place.

It wasn’t until the dwarfs had nearly finished the obviously alcoholic Sphinx Tears that either
Tathel or Kyra braved a sip. It was surprisingly refreshing and had the taste of grapes. Despite
being very nervous about the clientele, Kyra decided to go alone looking to make friends.
Several people were playing card games. One group was not playing for money, so Kyra asked to
sit in on a few hands.

The game was 3 Dragon Ante and it was strange no money was involved. Kyra learned that these
were local tradesmen and merchants from the area. Their rough exteriors belied a harsh lives,
but not the hard lives of well-traveled men. Oddly enough, the men took little interest in
the comings or goings of the strange elven archer sitting at their table. Not even Kyra’s
elven beauty sparked any interest in the men.

The next day, Tathel made use of Thania’s hair ribbon and cast magic to find her. Within
100 miles now, the party boarded big dwarf, Morel, after they got far enough outside of town to
avoid crushing anything important. Within an hour, Tathel called Morel to a stop claiming Thania
was within a mile or 2.

The trail finally stopped when Tathel told the group she was straight down 100 feet. There must
be an entrance to an underground complex somewhere close. Underground often means dark, so Kyra
prepped a pebble to act as a torch before starting her search. She knew that Morel would likely
go charging in and she’d not get a chance to recover from her exertions if she waited until later.

When the cave entrance was found, Morel was happy to lead the way using his head lamp. Tathel
was in the rear and held the other light source. It wasn’t long before the cave narrowed and
dead ended into a steel door with no handle or key hole. Morel gave it a push, but it didn’t
move.

Kyra waved off Morel as he prepared to bash the door down. She didn’t want anyone getting
advanced warning. After using Mage Sight to check for magical traps, she unsuccessfully tried
using magic to unlock the door. Tathel was next to attempt bypassing the barrier. He blinked
to the other side of the door and discovered it was barred with a heavy piece of steel. It was
more than he could manage, so he used Levitate to lighten the bar and move it so the door could
open.

After all the magical exertions, Kyra and Tathel needed a rest. Fortunately, the passage on
beyond the door was lighted and enemies would have a difficult time surprising the party.
Morel wondered why clerics and mages were always so tired, but resisted his urge to simply
continue on without them. As they rested in silence, “Red” heard the sound of something solid
scraping across stone. He thought his ears were playing tricks on him when he gestured to his
party to listen and only got confused looks.

Tathel prepped Kyra with Haste before ending the break. He wanted to make sure she could get
into position easily. After resting for 10-15 minutes, the group was finally ready to act.
And so they moved, Morel in front, then “Red”, Kyra and Tathel.

Morel rounded a corner and across a wide room found himself with the choice of the door on the
left or the door on the right. That and which of 3 patrolling skeletons to shatter first.
Surprisingly attentive, the skeletons wasted no time moving towards the well armored dwarf.
Morel was happy the animated bones close enough to attack so quickly.

“Red” soon found himself face to face with a black skeleton. It glistened, wet with some
something dark oozing from somewhere. Unsure of how strong this creature was, “Red” dropped
his ax and grabbed his silver symbol of Kord. True Faith caused not just the black skeleton
but all the skeletons to flee. This seemed to cause trouble for Tathel who suddenly was using
magic to target an enemy that was much further away.

Morel and Kyra had no trouble cleaning up the skeletons. Tathel choose the door on the right
claiming it was where the party would claim Thania. Kyra once again prepped Mage Sight and
checked the doors for magical traps.

Through the door was a long hall. On either side were iron bars forming jail cells. On the
wall of each cell were manacles that Kyra indicated were magical. As the party walked along,
they saw a variety of weak, old or dying people locked away. From the smell, some of prisoners
were already dead. Layers of dirt and excrement made it hard to tell the living from the dead.
Morel tried to engage the first prisoners in conversation, but all were either unconscious or
awake with dead eyes.

Morel was about to give up hope on these prisoners when he came to a cell half way down the
corridor. There stood a woman relatively clean with bright coherent eyes. She was seemed to
light up as more and more of the party came into view. It was almost like she was receiving
guests to a party.

Morel told the woman they were looking for a woman name Thania. This wasn’t her, but she was
more than happy to let them know a necromancer and vampire had just taken her to the far end of
the corridor. The woman claimed she couldn’t help as a guide, but the party decided she might
prove helpful if she were released. Morel wanted to try using brute force to open the cell and
remove the manacles, but Kyra was there opening the locks with magic.

Kyra wanted to rest after this, but Morel was impatient so “Red” offered some of his ample
supply to get the party moving again. As impatient as he was, Morel looked back and let
everyone know it was their last chance to do any magic before he opened the door and
potentially started a battle.

It was good intuition because the door opened to what looked like a stone altar supporting an
unconscious woman. A pale man in robes appeared to be chanting while an even paler man with
fangs looked on. Around the room were several skeletons along with Morel assumed were vampire
spawn. In the back of the room was a wispy spirit presumably waiting to be welcomed into its
new corporeal form currently lying on the altar.

Before Morel could even step into the room, skeletons swarmed him responding with
lightning fast reflexes to the door being opened. This seemed to be even before the necromancer
shouted an order in undercommon, “Kill Them”.

The yet to be named girl didn’t hesitate, she slipped past “Red” and in front of Morel. While
the skeleton’s rusty blade was still being deflected by Morel’s ax, she hit the first skeleton
with a powerful fireball. It didn’t kill the creature, but Morel was able to side step her to
easily finish the job.

Tathel launched a fireball at a more distant opponent and missed horribly nearly singeing the
woman on the altar. Kyra stepped into the room and launched an arrow at the now fleeing
necromancer hitting him in the leg. The man dropped and screamed, “protect me,” in undercommon
followed by, “please, don’t kill me!,” in common.

Morel moved to intercept the vampire and all but one skeleton chased him. He took a few random
swings at enemies as he covered the distance. Unfortunately, the vampire made it through the
door long before Morel could cover the distance. One of the vampire spawn had turned to mist
and was drifting towards the door.

With several skeletons and vampire spawn still in play, she covers the distance to the fallen
necromancer. As she does, Morel catches her intention and yells “let the necromancer speak!”
Kyra ignores him and shoots him in the head at point blank. Temper flaring, Morel steps
between Kyra and the necromancer telling her that he wants to talk to the man. Morel fumed
that followers of Corellon had no honor and would attack an enemy who has yielded. Was she
really so afraid of such a weak enemy that she had to kill him immediately?

What made him angrier is the idea Kyra completely ignored him. Didn’t she realize the
tenants of his faith commanded him to defend the weak against the strong? When he spoke up
for the necromancer, he was essentially placing him under his protection. It was all he could
do to keep his temper under control.

Kyra left the necromancer and shot her bow at the last remaining vampire spawn who was fleeing
the room. Morel came over and took a few swings at it as it left, but Kyra chased it all the
way down the hall and back into the main area the party saw when they first entered. Tathel
ran after her, but gave up the chase to explore a locked room that belonged to the necromancer.

In the meantime, the new girl had given energy to the woman on the altar and brought her to
consciousness. The dwarfs took up defensive positions around the wispy spirit who still
lingered in the room. It hadn’t shown any aggressive actions, but there was no sense in taking
chances. “Red” was hoping to engage the thing in conversation to discover what he might from
it, but it seemed to ignore him and gradually disappeared into the floor.

The dwarfs decided to question the necromancer. With the spirit dissipated, the altar room was
probably safe enough to leave the recently saved prisoners. Morel carried the necromancer to
the cell block with the idea of locking him up. Later, he’d learn that Tathel had taken the
keys from the necromancer and it wouldn’t be possible. All the same, “Red” revived the weakened
man with healing while Morel stood at the ready for any false move from the submitted enemy.

After several minutes of questioning, the dwarfs learned that the necromancer, Xander, had
been acquired by a vampire spawn and brought here. When the vampire learned of his skill in
magic, he was commanded to practice necromancy and eventually create skeleton minions to serve
the vampires. He was really just an unwilling participant in all the proceedings.

The dwarfs believed the story and offered him protection from both the vampires and their elf
traveling companions. When Tathel came around, he wondered what the dwarfs were going to do
with Xander. They told him he was coerced against his will and innocent, so he would be
returned to his home country of Khatovar to start a new life away from the influence of the
vampires.

Tathel was livid with the idea. Didn’t the dwarfs know that one of the main tenants of
Corellon was to destroy abominations against life or nature. This man created those
abominations! It made no difference to him why he acted that way, only that he did it.
Of course, Tathel couldn’t force his will on the dwarfs. They only saw an enemy yielded in
submission.

Was it time to depart the company of these heathen dwarfs? Could he assassinate Xander
while he was being protected by the dwarfs? He needed guidance from Corellon about how to
handle the problem. He needed time to pray. And pray he did until 2 hours later he got word
that everyone had been freed and was on the surface ready to leave for Morvale.

As Morel prepared to grow to enormous size once again, Tathel learned that Kyra had found $500
in silver and a couple cursed rings in Xander’s room along with several books of necromancy
spells. The books had been burned by their new friend, Gemma, using magic when Kyra expressed
hatred for the subject. At least, Gemma was sympathetic to Corellon.

As Gemma came to the surface, she seemed confused by the dwarfs as they watched over Xander.
She asked what they planned to do with him. “Red” told her that he was coerced against his
will by the vampire and would be returning to Khatovar to start a new life.

Gemma became even more confused. She told the dwarfs that he was actually the one giving
orders to the vampire and was the one in charge. Thania collaborated the story. Feeling
foolish, Morel and “Red” formally released their protection from Xander. Wasting no time, Kyra
quickly shot him in the head point blank and Thania drove a sword into him finishing the matter.

Morel carried the party and former prisoners back to Morvale. There, passage was arranged for
each person of Pelevion to return back to their home. The next day, big dwarf took the
survivors from Khatovar back to Gotham. From there, Tathel and Thania teleported to the Didela
tower in Miresus. Kyra arranged for Morel, “Red” and Gemma to travel to Miresus using the druid
trees.

Once in Miresus, Morel asks Kyra to come along to the armorer. He wants her to use Mage Sight
to see how his star metal affects magic. Each dwarf wears several pieces of magical armor and
the artifact, Orchid Malevolence, is magical of course. Kyra notices all items glow brightly
with Mage Sight. When Morel retrieved the star metal, only a faint glow remained on all items
except Orchid Malevolence, which seemed to glow just as strong as before.

Deciding this might be useful to a magic user, Morel tells the blacksmith there might be a
better use for the star metal and to wait to make anything. The dwarfs, Gemma and Kyra head
to the Didela tower and meet Kyra’s friend Gina. She helps the group make an appointment to
meet with Master Livia the next day at 9 a.m. Satisfied that the wheels are in motion, the
party decides to head across town to rejoin Tathel at the estate of Nobelwoman Burha. She
will likely have something good for the heroes that rescued her daughter, Thania.

View
Big Dwarf

August 10, 951 to August 18, 951

Tathel was at the rendezvous waiting to rejoin his traveling companions after 4 months separation. Immediately after the tournament, the Glanent brothers had commissioned the strongest Dwarven armor and bought new armor to be enchanted. Their money mostly spent, they were ready to leave Gotham and go straight way to Ugini to inquire about working for Lady K. Tathel simply wanted to find some place that would have a size 30 power stone. Veros might be a good place to visit. Kyra just wanted to go back to Miresus.

Plans of exploring new places were put on when Kyra commissioned her armor to be magically hardened. Buying new armor to wear during the 4 months needed for the enchantment was out of the question for Kyra. Her signature silenced green mail was very fine quality, but Tathel began to wonder if his love interest was a bit of a prima donna. He silently wondered if anyone short of royalty could afford her proclivities.

Morel and “Red” were first to arrive. The brothers were playfully trading jabs and throwing blocks occasionally as they walked. The 4 months the pair had spent at the fight club had honed their skills. The battle with Merak had shown the brothers how weak their unarmed style of combat was. It was a disgrace for followers of Kord to be poor at brawling and a new resolution to brawl daily was part of the Glanent’s daily routine.

Tathel wondered what kept the dwarfs around for so long. Didn’t they want to go to Pelevion? The last thing he heard “Red” say was that he wanted to pray to get ready to fight dragons. Lady K did mention some of the artifacts were guarded by dragons. Maybe, there were still plans to go East after all.

Off in the distance, Kyra could be seen walking up the path. Her tournament battle with Torver showed she was vulnerable to the darkness spell. Feeling weak grated against her warrior spirit and she spent the bulk of her 4 months working on blind fighting with her bow. Tathel was sure there was a magical solution that would be better, but then again he thought every problem was best solved with magic.

He had spent the majority of his time praying for new spells. 4 months of all night vigils had paid off and Corellon had blessed him with some great spells including Explosive Fireball, Seeker, Trace and Mental Stun. He had the idea of helping the dwarfs find Vaevictus Asmadi before it became an issue. Tathel had never heard of a druid taking vengeance, but he’d prefer not to risk it as long as he was traveling with the Glanents.

Morel was excited to share all the rumors he learned while touring all the local taverns. There was talk of a fallen meteor in Waylawold, an old adventurer lamenting about a treasure he almost recovered and a mom seeking someone to check on her lost daughter. “Red” cockily stated, “ all these are just a short walk for a dwarf. Let me show you how traveling should be done. Morel change into your travel clothes.”

Tathel started skeptical, but became positively annoyed as Morel started stripping down out of his armor. Now what? Then he noticed the embroidered logo on Morel’s shirt. Glanent Brothers Courier and Passenger Service.

“Is this some kind of joke!? You haven’t even got a wagon. How do you expect to move passengers?”

“Have you got the courage to ride a dwarf,” exclaimed “Red” and he began casting a spell.

Suddenly, there was a great sound of earth being compacted and darkness. Then the darkness shifted and it became obvious that the darkness was a shadow cast from the largest dwarf anyone had ever seen. Towering almost 70 feet above his companions, Morel leaned over and chuckled at his tiny friends. The deep timbre of his voice vibrated in Tathel’s chest. He sincerely hoped a lengthy conversation wasn’t necessary.

The mighty Morel kneeled down and stretched out his hand for his party. For once speechless, the shocked elves were a little reluctant to climb onto Morel’s huge palm. When everyone was in hand, Morel brought them up to a pocket tailored to comfortably house his friends. The bottom of the pocket had a flat surface and there were holes where a person could look out while they traveled.

In spite of his size, Morel was able to avoid the major vegetation so dear to the elves. As he casually walked along faster than a mage could fly, he left depressions along either side of the road. Tathel thought to himself that these would likely collect water and make mosquitoes along the road unbearable for the average traveler. In soft spots, the footprints were deep enough for a bandit to conceal himself. This was the unfortunate trade off for lots of travel time.

Within hours, not days, the party found a blackened crater in the Waylawold Plain. That’s where the star must have fallen. Morel allowed the party to disembark and then “Red” released the Enlarge Other spell. It was certain that a 70 foot dwarf would intimidate any enemy, but Morel preferred to use an ax instead of the sole of his shoe in combat. After donning Morel donned his armor, the party took the short 100 yard walk to the crater.

The hole left by the star was large and burnt. The star itself was perhaps 3 foot across, but it looked as if the earth exploded forcefully in all directions. Oddly enough, there were corpses scattered around the crater. Morel took note of the elves reaction of fear and watched them keep back while he strode forward to examine the bodies.

“Sword wounds!”

Relieved that the crater wasn’t somehow poisonous, the elves came to join him. Whoever had killed these people must have gotten what they wanted and left. The real question is what could have fallen from the sky that people were willing to kill for? It certainly wasn’t the metallic rock that was still here.

After “Red” looted bodies for silver and valuables, Kyra was moved by compassion for the fallen people. They were elves and deserved to be returned to their families for their rest in eternity. Morel grumbled to himself. Kyra is the one who wants to return the bodies, but he’s the one who ultimately has to carry them.

Morel decided that since no one else wanted to take the star rock, he wanted it. Kyra warned him that it might not be safe and began casting a spell. Morel grew more frustrated when Kyra announced she was blind. It was a very rare occasion for a dwarf to cut off his own arm with an ax. Why did mages struggle so much with magic?

Kyra quickly concluded that the star rock was the source of the problem. Morel thought this unlikely because “Red” didn’t have any trouble restoring him back to giant size. There wasn’t any indication it was more taxing on him in any way. After his friends were safely pocketed away, Morel grabbed the star rock and the slain bodies and tucked them away for safe travel.

As the party made their return journey, “Red” began to wonder if there was something unique about the star metal Morel was carrying. Maybe, the qualities weren’t strong enough to affect everyone, but it might have some application in the right circumstance. Silently, he chuckled to himself. When had any of the magical enemies fighting against his party ever been anything other than overwhelmingly strong.

“Red” thought he heard a little panic in Kyra’s voice as Miresus came within sight. Evidently, she wasn’t entirely confident of the reception the party would get riding into town on a 70 foot dwarf. Giants are only 20 feet tall and even the largest one of those would seem tiny compared to Morel. At her request, the dwarf express service stopped a couple miles outside of town.

When the party had disembarked from Morel’s passenger pocket, Morel took the star metal out of his pocket. Then his hand went in a pocket and came out with the arms, legs and heads of corpses hanging loosely from between fingers. When Morel unceremoniously deposited the bodies in a heap beside the road, “Red” hoped no one was looking. It just seemed like bad advertising for Glanent Brothers Courier and Passenger Service.

The old human adventurer had promised a great treasure. All the party needed to do was defeat an evil sorcerer who had enslaved a manticore in a cave a few days walk from Miresus. Certainly the place was remote enough to warrant a look, the part just wasn’t overly optimistic that much of anything would be there.

The cave was pitch black and Morel turned on his head lamp while Kyra cast Continual Light on “Red’s” helmet. Kyra tried to get Morel to stop and wait for her to rest a while, but with the cave so close, he simply charged on in. “Red” gave Kyra some of his ample energy and everyone followed the now too far ahead Morel.

The deeper into the earth the cave went, it started to change direction. It angled left then right and came to a blind corner. Rather than wait for backup, Morel boldly walked around the corner confident he could take both a sorcerer and manticore by himself. This was just was well because no sooner out of sight that he was jumped by a pack of no less than a half dozen wolves.

Morel was quite effective at deflecting the wolf attacks. “Red” was even able to join him before the first one landed a bite that didn’t make it past his stout leg armor. 2 of the wolfs broke off from the main pack to discourage “Red” from going further into the cave, but 1 slipped past and decided to go for the archer who was starting to make herself a nuisance.

The wolf pounced on Kyra knocking her to the ground and making an impossibly strong bite through her freshly hardened elven hauberk. Despite the brutality of the attack, Kyra didn’t seem to be the main focus for the wolf. He left her wounded and bleeding and turned his attack towards Tathel. As the wolf bore down on Tathel, Kyra put her hand to her wound and it came back red.

“Werewolves!,” came Morel’s shout from around the corner. He must have killed one. Kyra’s mind raced. Maybe, she was left alone because she was infected and soon to join their number. Through the haze, she managed to get up and ready her bow. There was still a battle raging and a supernatural infection would simply have to wait.

When Kyra looked up, Tathel was standing in front of a stationary wolf. It seemed dazed and unable to attack. This must be the result of one of the many new spells he had been praying for. Kyra poured arrow after arrow into the helpless beast seemingly having no effect. It must have something to do with it being a werewolf.

Around the corner, the conflict seemed to be dying down. It looked like a 3 legged wolf was attempting to get away from Morel as he chased it around the corner. Then Morel chopped off the other leg and it reverted back to it’s elf form. Morel walked over to the beast and grabbed a great sapphire pendent from the mouth of the legless elf. This is the payment due to the adventurer for sharing the location of the treasure.

And quite a treasure it was. $14,852 in silver plus $2160 in gold. There were a few short swords with false magical auras, but otherwise nothing of value there. Only fallen elves with missing limbs were scattered about the cave. Kyra was not as eager to bring these corpses back to Miresus. Perhaps, she was distracted with her werewolf bite.

Shortly after the loot was collected, Kyra told the others she needed to go visit her aunt Binakwe and would meet them back in town. Then she teleported away. Tathel, “Red” and Morel spent 3 days walking and expected to see Kyra waiting for them at the gate, but she wasn’t there. Rather than panic, the party simply sold the short swords and in general went about their normal business assuming Kyra would eventually turn up.

It’s just as well that they did. Kyra was hopelessly lost. It was a couple days walk from the cave to the woods of her druid aunt, but this was already day 3 trying to teleport. The problem was she needed to draw energy from her powerstone to compensate for the distance. She didn’t want to drain it too much, so she’d teleport in the morning and then hopefully pick the right direction and start walking. This method had not been very effective. Thankfully, she managed a relatively successful teleport on day 4.

Binakwe was happy to see Kyra. It didn’t seem to matter that Kyra was there asking a favor. The good news for Kyra was that she wasn’t infected with lycanthropy. She wouldn’t be changing shape under a full moon. With that peace of mind, Kyra made use of Binakwe’s tree transport system to go a couple miles outside of Miresus. She would rejoin her party soon.

Morel was at the dwarven armorer with his brother. He wasn’t sure what was so great about this star metal, but he was all for it if it caused trouble for mages. In general, he like clerics, but mages always seemed to be causing him trouble. It had been troublesome to get his rock back. Thanks to Kyra, the authorities had seized it related to the investigation of the bodies recovered from the meteor crater. It was a wonder the party wasn’t also held for extended questioning. Morel wondered to himself whether he would have permitted puny elves to put him in a cage.

All the same, his metal was released from evidence and now he intended to have it made into something he could use. The black smith had never seen any metal like this before. He wasn’t sure how hard it would be to work with, but agreed to make elven mail coif and throwing axes for Morel. The hope was to restrict magical enemies with his new equipment.

Shortly afterward, the party went to talk to a noblewoman named Burha. She was hoping someone would help her discover the fate of her adventurer daughter, Thania, who had left town several months ago for parts unknown. Morel thought this an indirect quest the dwarfs wouldn’t be much interested in, but Kyra and Tathel were masters of information and he was sure the lost adventurer would be found in no time.

Burha had no useful information, but was able to provide Tathel with a hair ribbon that belonged to her daughter. Somehow personal items helped magic users find the owner. The odd thing was that it was Kyra who determined the party should start looking in Pelevion near Morvale. She always seemed to know things that she shouldn’t have any reason to know. There must be something special about her. Based solely on faith in Kyra, the party boarded the pocket of the giant Morel and left for Morvale.

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Awards Ceremony

Morel stood in a dark alley with his friends. He was watching carefully what was going on at the banquet hall where he was hoping to collect his prize money. The same banquet hall where Kyra had told him there was a trap laid. It was confirmation of Jeska’s prediction that only bad things would come from the tournament. The bold dwarf cared little that there would be someone trying to kill him. It was Lady K that shoud be worried if she failed to hold up her end of the bargain.

As the other adventurers began to assemble and form a line, Morel let his mind drift back to less than a day ago when both his arms were useless. Even his brother was crippled in one arm. It was a fortunate thing that Kyra’s friend, Chrysavet, was such a powerful druid. He had offered the dwarfs a deal. Deliver a message to the illusive Vaevictus Asmadi and regain use of their limbs. Finding someone who could change his appearance was not something Morel was looking forward to, but the deal was struck. Morel lamented to himself. Why couldn’t he simply ask to have a dragon slain?

Finally the doors opened to the dining hall and people started going in. The party would wait to be the last ones through the doors. Hopefully, the others would fall victim to whatever evil awaited first and give the party time to react. Morel steeled himself with the knowledge that it wasn’t just him that had money coming.

Everyone had done well in the tournament. Each party member was entitle to their share of the $15,000 they won as Team 11. Red was ineffective against Merak. His strategy was to let gravity do damage to Merak assuming damage was reflected back at the attacker. It wasn’t. Red still shared the pain, but didn’t have the heart to yield when he saw Merak’s body become disfigured and mangled from the impact with the ground. Losing was still worth $5,000.

Morel didn’t fault his brother for his defeat. Instead, he learned from it and didn’t do any direct damage to Merak when he met him in the finals. He didn’t try to lop off a leg like he did with Torver. Instead, he used superior strength to pin and strangle the oddly resilient man. It worked in a way. Merak did lose consciousness and was neutralized, but Morel also passed out just as he was about to claim his victory. Draw. It was still enough to raise his prize winnings from $9,000 to $12,000. Next time he’d find a way to win.

As Morel entered the dining hall, he noticed the guards and sized them up. He was directed to the head of the table close to where Merak and Lady K would be sitting. Perfect. If there was a battle, he didn’t want to waste time with minions. Then Lady K appeared.

“Welcome champions. I am Lady K. We’ll begin feasting and have the awards ceremony at 8:00, but first I would like to ask your attention.”

“I organized this tournament to identify the best of the best, people who would be able to handle themselves in even the most dire circumstances. I am collecting artifacts and am recruiting people to retrieve them for me. I’ll pay $500,000 for an artifact or trade for something of equal worth. Those interested should come to Pelevion and visit my villa in Ugini.”

After the brief introduction, she clapped her hands and the table was set with a bountiful feast.

Morel started to soften his view of Lady K. Anyone with the resources to pay so much for the retrieval of artifacts sounded like someone he’d like to work for. He went around and chatted with Lady K and the people she identified as working for her. This group included Merak, Jeska and Mizar. These guys were tight lipped, but not bad people.

At the end of the night, Morel got his money and left with the party. He wasn’t attacked. No one even looked at him funny. Kyra was wrong. He really wanted to start working for Lady K. The elves were convinced that anyone collecting artifacts was evil, but Morel didn’t see it that way. Why should only the elite in government have artifacts? Somehow, he just didn’t think the elves would ever see eye to eye with him on that.

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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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