Before the Storm (tbn) 4e

11. Ghosts of Brightmoon

Brightmoon is a town that does what it must to survive.  This bleak age, where so many of the spirits of the dead wander the night, sees so many of the bodies of the deceased animate spontaineously that burial is impractical: burial grounds become swamped with the walking dead, so that digging is dangerous, and the dead can too easily walk over to the living; burning wood for every plague- or starvation-slain peasant is too costly; and simple dismemberment brings undertakers in close enough contact that whatever curse animates the dead begins to affect them as well.  For that reason, only dumping the bodies in the sewers beneath the haunted Temple has allowed the people reasonable safety from the deceased.  As such, the sewers are a most perilous place to travel.

The party had just escaped the Hobgoblins above with the prisoner Palo, a member of the Holy Order of the Golden Chalice and, of all things, a Tiefling at that.  Following a map towards an escape tunnel, hopefully leading them out of the city's limits and beyond the reach of the Goblins, they decided to risk the dead in the sewers rather than sneak and avoid the guards in the city above.  This was fairly straightforward, as most of the walking dead were simple zombies, easily dispatched.

Along the twists and turns, the party found one of the ghosts of the priests that haunted the Temple of the Lost Gods, the Haunted Temple.  It seemed to be unravelling strangely, like a wool sweater coming unknit.  With a mournful wail it told of a dark stranger with dark magics in the temple, before it vanished. 

The party decided to investigate, and made their way to where the temple would be in the streets above.  The tunnels beneath the temple were a catacomb, built long before the sewers, it seemed, and blocked off from them by a gate.  Where the sewers were slime-slick stone and rivers of waste, the catacomb waters were pure and clear, the stones pale white marble.  There were many carved-out holes where bodies were placed, beneath the water line when the sewer had flooded in, though becoming pure water when it crossed the threshold.  A long stair led up to the Temple above, where from could be heard a strange, horrific horn blowing.

Getting up to the main level, the party saw a Tiefling spellcaster in the middle of a magic circle.  This Tiefling was hideous, covered in boils and sores that, upon closer inspection, opened and closed as alien eyes and fanged mouths.  Around the circle were large, alien statues of strange tentacled beasts, hideous creatures of green stone.  Off to the side was a row of circles, each holding a ghost trapped.  As the Tiefling continued to chant, one ghost disappeared from one spot to appear in the circle; then, destroyed in a faster version of what afflicted the sewer ghost below, a strange alien creature, like the ones depicted by the statues but only the size of a man, appeared in its place.

The party charged to attack.  Strange energies from the statues slowed them, and the bizarre creatures afflicted them with poisonous stings that halted them in place.  Only team work and luck allowed them to prevail: the Eladrin Swordmage Lady Audacia made her way to the Ghosts and freed them by destroying the magic circle around them, while the others slew the Tiefling and what creatures they could.

As the ritual was undone, the party was overcome by a wave of madness and nausea.  It seemed that the statues came to life, unfurling great wings of leathery skin, and lifting into the sky, their smaller versions doing likewise and following them.  After this, the party were knocked unconscious, swallowed by the darkness of sleep.

When they finally awoke, Palo was tending their wounds.  It was dawn, and the daylight that made it through thick clouds was just enough to dispel the horrors of the night before.  They healed as best they could, as the ghosts would return to haunt the temple.  He gave a brief explaination of himself, and answered that his brother, the one who sent them on the quest to rescue him, was in fact Lucius of the Order of the Chain!   He had been spying for the Holy Order, giving locations of plans of true horror for his leaders to act upon, when he was finally found out.  He was weak, and not a powerful cleric or Paladin, but he could help them heal in times of trouble, and give what knowledge he could to aide them.  He helped Oonagh identify the Horrific Rod of the Tiefling Warlock, and some other items they'd found, including a bag of eyeballs that would allow the user to see through them for a short time.

With that, the party resolved to continue down through the sewer to the mysterious tunnel on the map, and left the Temple to its ghosts.

10. Brightmoon Enslaved

Looking out across the vale the party could see a number of tall Iron Towers being built, with finished ones holding massive fires at their tops, spewing oily black smoke and hellish red light.  The City of Brightmoon was surrounded by the campfires of an army.  Above it, in the blizzard newly unleashed, a great Red Dragon swooped in and out of the clouds.  Inside the town, where the Baron's Keep had once been, a massive constuction was under way.  Otherwise, the town seemed the same, with a few hearthfires rising against the bitter cold.


The party descended slowly towards Brightmoon, wading through the snow that was now up to their knees.  Surrounding the city was an army of Hobgoblins, and their goblinoid kin.  Along the roadside they saw werewolves yoked with magical chains and driven by armored hobgoblin guards to sniff out magical auras; apparently this was the fate of the thieves' guild of Brightmoon under the Hobgoblins' iron rule.  While the party was watched by the invaders, they made it through the checkpoints untouched, excepting some steep tolls leveyed by the guards at the gate on the way in.

  While there, the party asked some questions of the guards.  It seemed that the Hobgoblins under the Order of the Chain's rule wanted Brightmoon to become a trade outpost, and that no humans were to be harmed within its walls.  This was abnormal, as Goblins lived and grew by taking normal humans and transforming them through their dark magics into goblinoids: children became Goblins, adults became Hobgoblins, others became Bugbears, and so forth, losing their identities and irrevocably becoming Goblins.  That they would halt this favourite of their pursuits was strange to say the least.  Perhaps they truly wished to strike up trade legitimately?

 Inside the town, the party found buyers for the wagons they'd taken, and did some minor shopping for winter clothes.  Food and warmth were hard enough for the native humans to come by, but the party's wealth helped them find an Inn.  They heard more news of the town, that the Order of the Chain had declared the Baron's rule weak; some thieves had stolen from around the town, including from the Order of the Chain's Ogre Captain, which was seen as an insult to the Order.  That the Baron had tolerated a guild of Werewolves and Lycanthropes in the town was enough excuse to hire the Hobgoblin army to usurp rulership.  Now the Order's Guildhouse was where rulership lay.  Aside from the murder of the Baron, and conquering the town with virtually no bloodshed (ie: a single regiment of guards was no match for an army of Hobgoblins, so surrender was immediate), the Order had left the people mostly alone.  Only occasional patrols by goblins, and a strict curfew, were signs of what was going on inside the walls.

While wandering the streets, the party came across a strange sight in the square: Ogres and a Tiefling magistrate were dragging another tiefling, this one bloodied and bruised, to the middle of the market square, and put him in a cage.  The charge: that he was a secret member of the Order of the Golden Chalice, and that he should be put to death by exposure.

At the same time, from an alley, the party saw a figure in a cloak beconing for them to join him.  It turned out to be a corpse, one under a spell to transmit a message for them.  The Tiefling in the cage needed rescue, so the corpse offered them a map of the sewers and a secret tunnel out of the city if they would do this for him.  The corpse offered them a Holy Symbol of the Order of the Golden Chalice, tied to its exposed and rotting ribcage by the animator, when they agreed.  They asked who this Tiefling was to the corpse's master, to which it replied "he's my brother", before crumbling to dust.

 The rescue was arranged.  The party sold everything they wouldn't need, and gave the children into the care of the Bard.  He would drive the wagon out to the meeting place on the other side of the secret tunnel while the party went to rescue the Tiefling holyman.  

The party made quick plans, finding the cage guarded by a group of the smaller goblins, including one of their Hexer witch-doctors.  The battle was fast, as the party knew it was only a matter of time before other guards came after them.  Two of the party distracted the goblin warriors while the others charged up and opened the cage, slaying the Hexer and their other foes in the process.  There was a mad dash to the nearby sewer opening just as the Hobgoblin reinforcements, and one Ogre, arrived, firing arrows that shattered on the pavement as they dove down through the hole… and into the dark, haunted sewers of Brightmoon.

9. The Riddle Maze of Belkarion

Heading West, the party followed the edge of Blackthorn Forest to where Belkarion was known to make his dimesne.  While the forest proper was a magical in-between place halfway from the mortal world to the deep Feywild where the Court of Stars hold sway, this part of the forest was more on the mortal side of the world: enchanted, for certain, but under the control of a wizard rather than an archfey, and significantly closer to the mortal realm.

The entrance to Belkarion's realm was open wide: a great wide pathway through the thorn-covered hedges and black-barked trees that made up the forest.  This because of the wizard's reputation as a dealer in fates and fey-bargains, granting magical boons at steep prices: love for youth, a pair of legs for a voice.  Only the desperate would enter, for along the pathway hung numerous skeletons covered in thorn-vines, some obviously human, others more bestial.  Cautiously the party entered in, reminded by this of the danger and power the wizard promised, and the hazards perhaps of crossing him; as indeed they intended to.

Hanging in the middle of the path was a cage made of vines, inside of it a human man with red hair.  Obviously having gone insane long before the man could only repeat the same riddle over and over.  The party tried to release him, going as far as slashing at the vines and even guessing at the riddle.  The answer was beyond them, leaving them frustrated; the vines, however, grew long, sharp thorns to impale the trapped man.  As well, the enchantment that made his mind wander spread to them, making them lose consciousness and wander off the path.  Some time later they awoke, finding their legs and arms crawling with moving vines.  Freeing themselves, and finding the red-haired man gone, they went on their way.

 Getting to a clearing in the forest, the party found a large and opulent manor house in the midst of a barren field.  Belkarion was there, a silk-clad man with a twisted grey goatee and wearing a crown like a king.  He stood over a young boy with strange maze-patterns in his eyes.  This was Labrys, a boy "acquired" by Belkarion from the town the party had just left, right before the town had been destroyed.  He was drawing lines in the sand and placing gemstones on them, setting them up and moving them as though they were the party of adventurers, Labrys, and himself.

The party spoke to Belkarion, asking for the Brelani of Autumn Winds, and the Rose-destiny of the Bard in Owlbear form.  Belkarion accepted, though insisting they undertake the same task put before the bard: find the rose in the middle of his hedgemaze.  Fail, and their lives are his.  Likewise, if they failed Lanu would be added ot his collection of magical children, while if they succeeded Labrys would og with them.  Succeed and they also would get the rose to release the bard, and the Bralani of Autumn Winds.  Agreeing, Labrys touched the maze he'd drawn, and a massive hedge maze appeared in the garden.

Inside the maze they found it was its own magical realm, slightly apart from the rest of the world.  The maze shifted, and while one could move around its walls, going over the edge would simply transport the traveller to other maze passages.  The maze was guarded by magical creatures as well.  A large Minotaur statue took life and lumbered through the halls looking to charge at its prey, pushing them through walls and knocking them down.  Small creatures like feral halflings made of twigs, identified as Twig Blights, also wandered the maze, able to pass through the thorny hedge walls as if walking through air.  When the adventurers attempted to pass through them, the thorns cut at their flesh while the vines attempted to grab hold of their limbs.

Eventually the party found themselves at a stone archway in the maze.  Going through they were transported to yet another space-withing-a-space, this one a garden with a great tree in the middle.  The tree was covered with hundreds of flowers, but of the three different varieties none of them was a Rose.  When touched, each variety would sing out a riddle.  One-by-one the riddles were guessed, and each type of flower would vanish.  Finally the last riddle sent the last flow vanishing, leaving only a single glittering rose in the middle of the tree.  The party took it and departed the maze.

Outside, the clearing was bare but for Labrys still playing in the dirt, for Belkarion had fled into the house.  The party rallied and charged in.  Inside was a great library, with many magical glyphs drawn on the floor.  Also there were a dozen of Belkarion's apprentices: former students transformed into undead skeletal servants!  While they attacked, raking with claws from under their hooded robes, Belkarion flung magical bolts from his balcony, or teleported a party member into the air to drop them upon their friends.  Xtapa managed to climb the stairs, charging the wizard and ending his life.  As he died, his body disintegrated into bones, vines, leaves and roses.

The Bralani of Autumn Winds was found melded into the wizard's throne as if he was made of the wood of the chair itself.  After Belkarion's death, he was released, and offered the party the pendant Belkarion had stolen from him upon his capture, which Xtapa hungrily took and donned.  Other party members sorted through what riches were left, but the entire house and library had melted away without the wizard's presence, becoming a drab and derelect shell.

Quickly the party took the Bralani into Blackthorn Forest, guided speedily there by the forest's magic welcoming its current master back.  The Labyrinth was agleam with celebration, as the transfer of seasons was finally allowed to happen.  The Prince of Winter himself had arrived to accept the sceptre of office, ushering in the new season and restoring the balance of nature once more. 

However, after only a few days of partying the group was ushered out of the labyrinth, aware that the Prince of Winter hated mortals passionately (thus the killing cold of the season), even those who had assisted in his regaining the season.  With a promise of the harshest winter imaginable, for the slight the mortals (through the wizard Belkarion's mischief) had made, the party found itself escorted out of Blackthorn, the paths closed behind them as the first winter snows howled down from the skies.

 Capitalizing on this to get moving, the party sought out the caravan of the fortune-teller who owned the Owlbear-bard, intending to get him back to being human.  They found the caravan as it was packing up to leave, but when they released the bard from his bargain-bond, the fortune-teller revealed herself as a Hag, and attacked.  The quick reflexes of the wizard Raziel's sleep spell, and the mighty blades of Xtapa and Bahamus, slew the hag before she could down them with her shrieks.  Her minions fled, leaving the party with the Roamer's caravan and some strange objects: a blackened cube smelling of brimstone, covered in tiles made of glittering rainbow-light (which were easily plucked off its surface), was among the treasures, as were many ritual components.

The party looked out over the hillside towards Brightmoon below.  In the vale between them they saw numerous large iron towers being constructed, with massive flames at the top of the completed ones.  In the town itself they saw a massive construction at the baron's keep, and many forge-fires rising throughout the city, as well as army campires outside its walls.  Soaring above the city was a Red dragon, fires undaunted by the thick blizzard-clouds around it.  Brightmoon, it seemed, had been conquered.

8. King of the Graystone lands

After resting, the party went to meet the Ghaele of Winter.  The apartments of the Eladrin Court were opulent and cold, filled with a misty chill like a palace made of ice.  The walls and floor were silver, covered in lines like frost.  Courtiers there were dressed in fine white furs or sheer silken garments, and all seemed bored being stuck in the Labyrinth with no prospects until they could take over Winter once more.

The Ghaele met with the mortal adventurers, though Oonagh was still quieted by the experience of the Moon of Madness, and Raziel was likewise overcome (elves, it seemed, felt more strongly the evil of that fell place).  Xtapa, however, was a born diplomat and charmed the Ghaele with a display of atheletic muscularity.  She, overcome by his bravado, told the party that all the Feywild had been searched with no sign of the Bralani of Autumn winds.  The Prince of Winter himself had gone back to his palace, leaving the Ghaele to figure things out.  Despite the Prince's outright hatred of mortals (evidenced by harsh winters), the Ghaele was willing to hire the party to find the missing Eladrin, rewarding them with a powerful (+3) staff of Winter!  Provided, of course, that no mention of the exchange was given to the Prince.  The party accepted, though there was no hint given of where the Eladrin could be.

Instead, they decided to go after the Wizard Belkerion, who they discovered from a Harpy in the Market, was famed for tricking many beings into Fey Bargains.  He lived on the edge of the Blackthorn Forest, and the Harpy warned, was a wiley one and not to be trusted.

The Harpy likewise noted that Lanu reminded her of the Seven Sisters: a group of powerful female sorcerers who had angered a guild of wizards in the city of Hygelak, the Arcane Bretheren.  The wizards had cursed them, sinking their tower into the earth and transforming the sisters; their leader, a powerful sorceress with great powers of the night, escaped to be reborn into another form.  If Lanu was this seventh sister, and they brought her back to the sunken tower, the curse would be lifted.  The only people who know where it would be, however, was the Arcane Bretheren, who lived in the city of Hygelak; getting into their library, the party could be able to research the location of the sunken tower.  Kali and Xtapa decided it would be best to save this adventure for when they'd completed afew others first, as the wizards could be dangerous.

Leaving the market, the party made their way through the woods and out, to the North. The journey was hot, dark and dry, but they escaped the wilds of the woods without incident. The lands beyond were wild, but at least they were solidly in the mortal world!

The Greystone Lands were rolling grey hills covered in sharp gray tufts of grass, and massive menhir pillars all over the place; like walking in a cemetary, or a forest of stone, they recounted the tales of orc raiders and roaming bands of giants known to frequent the lands.

Xtapa led them to his Keep, the one he'd won from the Deck of Many Things; as if he'd magically been guided to it.  The keep was a squat thing, set upon a low rise.  It was still sturdily build though one wall and the portcullis gate had been smashed through in a battle.  Entering the fort, the party found large piles of human skulls on the ground outside the castle proper.  The skulls had been licked clean by some great beast with poisonous saliva, then stacked in a pile while the rest of the bodies were gnawed and chewed.

Searching the fort, they started with the dungeon and found that most of the occupants were merely skeletal remains, bones cleaned but left in their cells.  One cell still had a corpse, and its ghost told of how it had been left to die as a great beast slew everyone in the place; the ghost attacked, Kali and Xtapa sent it to the Underworld.  The other cell of note was likewise empty, but some occupant had drawn a teleportation circle of some kind (arcane, possibly a warlock did it) and escaped.

They searched the rest of the fort, finding the master bedroom filed with blankets and cloths, and stinking horribly.  The adventurer's noticed then a flash out one window, like a rainbow or a prismatic ball, and saw a town in the valley beyond the Fort, set aflame.  

In short, the town had been destroyed by Hobgoblins and their fire-breathing dragon; they had some kind of magic, and other towns had been destroyed before (like the one Lanu was found in).  Only a small clan of dwarven smiths had survived, hiding in their cellar, coming out when the party was searching for survivors.  Xtapa, they knew, was their Thane, rightful heir of the Keep, and they were happy when he could speak dwarven.  They told him that the Keep was haunted by all the ghosts of the soldiers who'd died there fighting off another dragon, one who had come from the forest, killed the old Thane, and now controlled a ghostly army. They also knew of the Wizard of the Owlbear, who lived not far from them; when asked about Lanu, they mentioned another child, one who had lived with them some time ago: a youngling named Labrys, who had spiral-shaped pupils and stone-colored hair.

Knowing they would need better weapons and armor to fight these creatures, both the ghost army of one dragon, and the hobgoblin army of the other, Xtapa and Kali, and the rest of the party, opted to seek out the end of their first quest before taking on the dragon.  

They headed off to the home of the Wizard Belkerion, to challenge him to get the Rose.  ...and so our adventure continues!

7. The Moon of Madness

The party couldn't do anything without first dealing with Oonagh's missing soul.  Meeting with the Ghaele of Winter herself with a souless Feylock could be seen as an insult, so the party opted instead to wander the market seeking information.

 Kali ran into Lucius, the Tiefling working for the Order of the Chain, sitting at a stall enjoying a cigar and an espresso; his Ogre bodyguards, while less refined, were happy to be at the market as well.  Lucius wished her a good day and thanked her and the rest of the party for helping the Order of the Chain to take over Brightmoon:  He'd hired the Thieves' Guild to force them to rob the town, and the Order, and this had been excuse enough that the Order arrived with a legion of Ogres and conquered the place.  The Tiefling also informed her of Lanu's powers: she had the power to reveal that the Thieves' Guild were all Lycanthropes, Werewolves and Wererats, and caused them to fight one another.  He offered to "take her under (his) wing" and give her a fine education and life with the Order; Kali refused.

Overhearing all this was the Dragonborn, Bahamus.  He was no friend of Lucius, and listened in on their conversation.  He watched Kali leave, and watched the arrival of Lucius' twin sister Malicia; equally gorgeous, but sensual where her brother was smooth, with an obvious taste for blood where her twin's taste was for… this finer things in life.  

The dragonborn then tried to follow Kali.  Bahamus was less quiet than he'd thought to be, and Kali confronted him.  The two of them expressed equal hatred for Lucius, and when the rest of the party arrived, Bahamus joined them (as they'd rescued him from the dungeon where Lucius had tricked him).  

 The party met with the Artificer Trull in his workshop, and discovered he'd been led to them by a strange dream.  A device in his workshop, powered by a sliver of Rainbow he'd found, could be used to make a portal to another world.  Oonagh's soul was on the other side, and he was to help the party get to it and get back.

The party then slept, and each of them had the same dream: the party was flying over a pale white landscape on dragons and magical horses.  Lanu was with them.  The land was on a world, and their homeword was in the sky above them, like the moon.  Also in the sky was this land's own purple moon.  The purple sphere was somehow filled with evil, with malice, and pulled Oonagh (who was like a corpse) up and away from them.  It then turned to the rest of the party with a horrific scream, waking them from the dream with psychic pain.

The party  went through the portal, and arrived on a strange purple desert world.  The wind was fierce, blowing grit into their faces, and on the wind was a horrific scream like the one from their dream.  Around each of them was a glowing white nimbus of light, which they realized was their mental sanity; as long as they were on the planet it would slowly decay.  They looked up a rise and saw a massive black pyramid; Oonagh's gaze looked up to its tip, and they knew her soul was in there.

Entering the pyramid, the party found it guarded by a race of black-furred beastmen whose bodies were covered in tiny mouths and alien eyes.  They fought with claws and hunters' bows, and attacked the party with the pyramid's traps.  Room after room, the party fought their way through until they reached the top.  There they confronted more of the beastmen, and a horrific creature: the beast from the dream!  The creature floated up out of a well in the floor and struck at them with sanity-destroying screams, hitting Xtapa and Bahamus most of all. 

Xtapa surged forward, unleashing his primal fury, to slay the beastment.  Oonagh  however began to wander towards the creature, and climbed up on the well as if to jump in.  The barbarian grabbed her, dragged her over to a room off the side, where they found dozens of glowing crystals filled with souls (like some sort of collection of magical jars).  Three of them claimed to be Oonagh, but only one of them knew who Lanu was.  Grabbing the crystal, he touched it to her and bam Oonagh had her soul back.  She quickly grabbed her bag of holding (purchased in the Market) and filled it with Soul Gems of other souls also trapped in that room.

Kali faced the creature with many radient lances of faith, but when Oonagh's soul was returned the party decided to flee before their sanity was further eroded.  They dashed madly through the Pyramid, followed by theechoeing laughter of the creature, out through the desert to leap through the portal.

The party then took an extended rest, glad to be back.  Lanu hugged Oonagh, and the party was well.


6. Many Things...

The party gathered themselves from the previous adventure, and decided to move on from Brightmoon, now that they were fugitives from the law.  Bahamus, the dragonborn they'd rescued, gave Oonagh a scale she could use to send him a message by magic, and that she could also go to Winterhaven's Inn if needed, to leave one for him; he then departed.

 Their griffon hitched to the wagon, and Thursday astride her horse, the party moved along the hill country.  In one field they found a small collection of wagons arranged in a circle, with sounds of music coming forth from it.  They went down and discovered a small circus: Baba Vistara's Menagerie, a fortune teller with a collection of magical animals in cages.

Baba Vistara was an old woman with long fingernails, which she used to hold many thin silver chains.  The chains led to the necks of various creatures in the cages, including a Gnome (rawr!), and an Owlbear that could sing and play fine music.  While Xtapa drew her attention away, Thursday scouted out her wagon and discovered many cages and animal skulls, dried herbs and balls made of glass and crystal, as well as fortune-telling paraphenalia.  Certainly theatrical, but they looked authentic.

  The old woman convinced the party to have their futures drawn, using a magical object known as the Deck of Many Things. One by one the party drew their cards, and with each eldritch card came a chance at great reward or horrific doom.

The rewards were more plentiful, with Raziel receiving wishes, several of the party getting magical items or other boons, and access to the wisdom of Marlanus the Sage (a powerful mage out of the ancient times who vanished eons ago).

The dooms, however, were present with Xtapa and Raziel being cursed with metal legs, and Oonagh's soul being sucked into the Void and taken by a powerful "outsider".  While a wish reversed the ruined legs, Oonagh remained trapped; while her body could function, she had no emotion or will.  The party would have to quest for her spirit immediately.

 Before going, Lanu pointed out the Owlbear's musical talent.  It turned out the creature was once a man, a musician of great skill who had wagered his destiny against the wit of a wizard, for the sake of winning a trophy for his lover.  He failed to win thewizard's magical rose and was transformed into an Owlbear, then sold to Baba Vistara at the Fey Market below the Thunderspire Mountain in Blackthorn Forest.

The party set out to the Fey Market, arriving shortly at Blackthorn forest. A forest guardian in the form of a tiny man made of sticks accosted them, demanding Copper or Tin for Widdershins, or else tricks would be played.  Thursday gave him a copper coin, and the guardian's expression brightened, and a pathway into the forest was opened.

Blackthorn Forest, being halfway between the mortal world and the Fey Other World, was dark and mysterious, and only the path ahead of them was any help.  The forest got its name from the massive brambles that make it up; for the trees are of black wood and the spaces between them are an ocean of black-thorned bramble bushes.  Strange sounds and lights came from either side, but the party continued forward to Thunderspire without distraction.

A party of elves stopped them briefly, noting how strange it was to have mortals in their woods.  Oonagh's condition, and Raziel's wits, convinced them to guide them to Thunderspire's market.  The elven leader advized them that strange times had come upon the world.  The change of seasons had been delayed too long, as the Brelani of Autumn had vanished before the scepter of Seasons could be passed to the Winter Court.  This was the cause of the bad harvest and cursed weather upon the mortal lands, and if it wasn't remedied soon, the whole natural world would suffer.

 The party arrived at Thunderspire Labyrinth, a massive mountain with stairs going down below to the Fey Market.  The party found itself surrounded by all manner of strange creatures, and many vendors selling strange wares, such as the memory of a summer's day or "real tears".  

Almost immediately they were set upon by a gang of ruffian bugbears.  Thursday and Kali had both drawn cards that stated their destinies would be strengthened if they fought the next foe by themselves, so they fought the creatures as best they could.  Xtapa, Raziel and what was left of Oonagh fought the others and made sure their friends weren't interfered with.  The fight was close, but both Kali and Thursday survived.

Two parties came to them after the fight: a Trull, a race of goblin-like artificers, with an offer to speak to them about the mechanical man they had with them; and a representative of the Ghaele of Winter, who was at Thunderspire waiting to accept the Scepter of Seasons from the Autumn Court, granting them an audience.

5 Rogues against the Order

Hephastus made his own way to Brightmoon and a fun tavern called the Witch's Teat.  There he fell into gambling in the ring for hot bowls of gruel and fisticuffs with merchant guards.

 Meanwhile, the newer party members, Thursday, Kali and Xtapa,  went in to grab the local trophy, a large axe on the mantle above the bar, for the list of goods to take to the thieves.

 Xtapa snuck up behind the Innkeep, who was talking to the ladies, but when he put his hand on the axe he found it was enchanted so he could not let go.  The magic deposited him in the ring, which glowed with runes and summoned a horrific creature shaped like a man covered in boils with horns on its head.  Xtapa would have to fight for his life!

The others jumped into the ring, as did Hephastus (for love of a fight, or ont he advice of a wiley old man from the far east).  They creature fell to their combined might.  As the last blow came, Oonagh arrived, identified the two parts of the group as mutual friends of hers, and recruited Hephastus to their nights' efforts.


The next stop was the Order of the Chain's chapterhouse.  The party moved through the streets towards the walled compound, finding it guarded both on the front gate and on the walls by armored guards with pikes; each guard had access to a glow-ball, a floating mote of light like a torch, a sure sign of the Order's wealth in these hard times.  

Xtapa moved quickly to climb the wall, before the party had even formulated a plan.  The others came by to argue as well, climbing up with him.  They noted that the bonfire in the middle of the yard beyond was in fact a massive hound made of fire.  Following this discovery was a drawn out and heated discussion of tactics to follow.

When the guards attacked, they did so by surprise.  Still, the adventurers had enough muster within them to win the battle; this included using one of the guards to feed the Hell Hound below, so it wouldn't leap up and eat the party.

Thanks to the commotion, the Captain of the Guard, an Ogre named Gaurog, emerged with his mighty flail, the same one the party had been hired to steal.  Using some form of tactics, Hephastus attempted to trip Gaurog, while Xtapa, Thursday, Oonagh and Kali hacked at his hands to get him to drop the flail.  Drop it he did, and the party fled with it as fast as they could, convinced of their cunning in getting it away.

With the flail handy, they took to the sewers to get into the Baron's dungeon; Kali's prayers must have been strong, as not a single wandering Undead (who were known to haunt the sewers thanks to the entrance there to the Temple) was to be found.  Using much trickery and stealth they convinced the guards to lower their weapons and open a door; half the party had snuck around back to get in a hole in the wall. 

Two prisoners were in the cells: one, wearing an Iron mask, was their target to save.  The other, a dragonborn named Bahamus, pleaded to be rescued; Hephastus opened his cell as well, earning the dragonborn's respect and help.  The guards attacked, and after a drawn-out fight, the party fled up the tower stairs to the Hippogriff stables. They removed the iron mask of their target prisoner, discovering a pale-skined woman who, after a moment out of the mask, turned out to be an Eladrin; there was some tension between her and the men, Xtapa and Hephastus, but time was of the essence and they could not delay action for their escape.

The the group stole every one of the Baron's hippogriffs, and flew  off into the night.

When they arrived at the meeting spot for the thieves' guild, they found all their belongings in place and the guild masters more than happy to hand over everything, especially the girl Lanu.  Thursday, among others, also noted injuries upon the thieves, though Lanu seemed fine.  So disrupted was the mindset of Mr. Talon, in fact, that he allowed them to keep one of the hippogrifs, and didn't think to ask Thursday for the copy of the book from the Temple.

With their wagon and the statue-man on it, their magic items, gold, and belongs returned, the party decided to hit the road once more.

4. Rogues of Brightmoon

While the party (now consisting of Oonagh, Carl, and Raziel) rested in Winterhaven, Hephastus went on ahead to Brightmoon with a merchant caravan, wishing to spend his earnings from the Tomb in a manner more fit a robust warrior: betting on himself in the ring of the Witch's Teat pub, where all the cool warriors go.  The others looked into the Warforged's nature, but were told that only a skilled dwarf or goblin artificer would be able to help them; Burom the Blacksmith in Brightmoon might know what to do.

 Meanwhile, another band had formed:  Thursday, a young Noblewoman-turn-swordmaiden, and Kali, an adventuring undead slayer (and secret member of the Order of the Golden Chalice), had met and decided to face the world together; both had faced perils on their own, and thought well of teaming up. The two of them had not wandered far when they found a burned-down village.  The only survivors were a dying old woman, and an adorable yet mysterious little girl she had been caring for, named Lanu.  The old woman begged with her dying breath that the adventuresses would guard the child, which they promised. Lanu was quiet, and shaken by whatever had destroyed the village, but was very grateful for her two new protectors.

Not long after riding into the woods, they found a slavers' caravan led by a Tiefling Nobleman; the symbols on the wagon were those of the Order of the Chain, a well known and powerful merchantile organization.  The one slave present was a muscled Nordheimer barbarian named Xtapa, who had been chained up and was being tortured by the Tiefling for some unspoken slight.

The adventurers tried to purchase Xtapa, seeing to sense in cruelty, but the slavers refused; Xtapa used the exchange to break free of his bonds, and battle soon followed.  The party slew the guards, but when Kali used her Radient Flame powers (being a secret Cleric) the Tiefling recognized the ability, swore vengeance for harming him, and teleported away using a magical item on his belt.  Xtapa was grateful, though, and joined them in their journey.  The Town of Brightmoon was nearby, and they would rest there.

The original party was making its way through the woods when it found the smaller band fighting a pack of wolves.  These beasts fell quickly to their combined might, and the group decided to travel together for safety's sake.  Oonagh and Raziel caught Lanu's eye, as she recognized their Fey connection (Feylock and Eladrin Wizard), and this was enough grounds for a friendship between the two groups; more time, pitching in for better quarters at an Inn and some food, seemed in order.

Once there, the group discovered a talkative Innkeeper named Frank, who warned them that the various power groups in Brightmoon were not to be trifled with: the Baron's men, the Thieves' guild, and the Order of the Chain (who were new, but very strong).

That night the party was contacted by the Thieves' Guild of Brightmoon: a massive number of cloaked and silent men with crossbows snuck into their rooms and had captured Lanu as a hostage.  Their Leadership, Mr. Talon, informed them they had been drafted by the Guild to steal items around the town, all in one night.  If they failed, the girl would die at the hands of Mr Giggles (a massive, serious man with a permanent "smile" scarred into his cheeks).  Their belongings had been taken and moved to the final meetup site outside of town.  

the list:   The dwarf Blacksmith's hammer; the tailor's toe ring; a book from the Haunted Temple; the Trophy above the Mantlepeice of the Witch's Teat Inn; the flail of the Ogre Warhulk of the Order of the Chain; a Prisoner from the Baron's dungeon; and as many of the Baron's Hippogriffs, which they would fly to the meeting point outside of town.

In short, the party managed to steal the toe ring and the hammer, but the town guards were called, raising the alert level of Brightmoon (after this, travel would be more difficult).  They snuck into the Haunted Temple easily enough, and felt the crushing despair of the ghosts of Clerics whose deity had been slain and forgotten; getting the book before the spirits swallowed their souls was easier said than done, but they survived.

Now they rested quickly before moving forward to the Teat and the rest of the tasks.

3. The Dragon's Maw

Moving forward, the band explored the rest of the tomb:

 One room was filled with pendulums swinging back and forth across a mist-filled chasm.  The party at first struggled to figure out how to get across while tied together.  Finally, however, Oonagh the Feylock lept from pendulum to pendulum to the other side.  The Amulet was taken, and she got back before the others had finished tying ropes about their waists.

 The Amulet peices were put together, and the door to the third room was opened.  

Inside a collection of metal statues ont he walls of a massive crypt guarded a great sarcophagus.  On the side walls were stories the PCs couldn't discypher, likely hinting at information about the gods from the earlier war (who, as they all knew, could no longer be comprehended by mortals).   On the far wall was a sheet of thick glass with a hole fore a symbol in its surface.  

The party attempted to open the sarcophagus, which was carved like yet more of the strange, advanced race, when the statues on the walls attacked.  The battle was close, as the statues had apparently been forged for war let along a small, stalwart band; four of them were warriors, with one of them designed to shoot bolts of magical flame.  The party overcame them, however, and opened the sarcophagus as planned.

Inside were several magical weapons and other devices of note, as well as a suit of magical plate armor.  The body was a skeleton by now, clutching in its hand a metal shape like the symbol on the far wall. When one of the adventurers grabbed it, the skeleton sat up and tried to pull it away, clutching it to its chest.  The party smashed the skeleton easily, as it was ancient and dried up.  

The symbol fit into the wall, and hung there for a moment before the glass disappeared, leaving the symbol to float in the air.  Beyond it was a long stairway going down, down, down.  On the air could be heard the faintest of clicking noises, and a strange odor like digesting meat.  The party opted not to go that way, and turned back, taking the symbol from the air, recreating the glass wall.

Leaving the Tomb fully rested and armed with magical weapons, the group was about to go into the pool when they were ambushed by the true leader of the Kobold tribe: a Black Dragon the size of a horse!  Trapped in the hallway leading from the cave to the Tomb's door, the PCs were blasted with the dragon's acid and left to scramble to safety.

The Dragon, it turned out, was the cause of the kobolds attacking the merchants, to bring it tribute.  Finding the PCs had gotten through to the Tomb where it could not, it decided to let them face the dangers and bring it treasure.  It flew about the roof of the cavern as they scrambled about below, seeking cover behind statues and waiting for its breath to gather for more blasts of digesting acid.  Its minion, a Kobold Wyrmpriest, likewise blasted them with elemental power from a ledge above them.

The battle was fierce, with the decisive blows struck by the dwarf and Hephastus the warrior, with magical help from Oonagh landing the final strike. The party found a pile of gold where the Wyrm had slept.  They gathered up the dragon scales, and the gold, their magical weapons and one of the Warforged Statues from the Tomb for later study.

The adventurers got back to Winterhaven.  The Eladrin Wizard and the Dwarven Fighter decided to leave the party to explore the journal of the Pathfinder Society member whose corpse was left in the cave of the Dragon; they told the others they would contact them if they found a lost ruin deep in Blackthorn forest, from ancient days, promising treasures and arcane Lore.  The others, however, wanted to find what the Warforged Construct was made of before going to explore ruins.  Thus was the party split.

2: Into the Tomb!

The party had just slain the kobold bandits and were searching the loot piled in the cave when Carl, the Rogue, found a pool with glowing crystal lights in it.  Diving down he found the pool was a tunnel, carved by some highly advanced culture.  Swimming its length, the party found on the other side a large cavern with 4 giant statues and a tunnel (also carved) with a door at the end sealed by 5 colored gemstones.  The statues and architecture were strange, of no known race or style any in the party were aware of.

Galedon, an Eladrin mage of some ability, searched two corpses while the others searched the tunnel or attempted to claim on the of glowing crystal lights for themselves.  One corpse was human, an explorer of the Pathfinder society trapped in this cavern by the kobold bandits outside, unable to escape; apparently an expert on the  ancient culture, he had an easily-mended diary on him with detailed sketches of other examples of their ruins.  The other corpse was a black dragon's, with a number of scales left as its only remains.  He, Una the Feylock, and Raziel (another Eladrin mage), took some scales for themselves for further study.

Danger struck, as the party encountered a massive Ooze as part of the Tomb's defenses.  The tunnel was covered in strange powder, and when the adventurers (still wet from swimming, having not taken the time to dry off) walked on it the moisture from their clothes melted some of the powder and animated it as an Ochre Jelly!  Barely able to stop it with sword and spell, they nevertheless discovered the tomb was no easy-picked treasure trove.  Using a clue from the Pathfinder Diary, they solved the gemstone puzzle and made their way in.

 Inside the tomb had three doors: one to either side, and a large sealed door with an empty space where a keystone could fit: obviously the other doors held the secret keys.

One of the doors saw a large floor with a checkerboard pattern and four armored statues.  At the other end were stone steps and a pendant on the wall, obviously half the keystone for the middle door.  As Igneo and Hephastus were about to trod on it, Galedon called out a warning; too late, for Heph set foot on the floor and the statues came to life!  The four of them teleported about the board in the manner of Chessmen, a game of strategy used by nobles to pass the time.  The party barely escaped their twin scimitar attacks, finally overcoming them with the massive assault of their combined powers and area-effect spells.  Igneo grasped the amulet, and they left the room.

Now two more doors lie ahead of them: one to get the keystone, the other to collect their hard-earned rewards… if they survive the challenges ahead!  


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