Realm Runners

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Trichotomy

The party arrives back in the Seven Pillared Hall to some amount of commotion near the minotaur statue in the center of town. Once pushing through the crowd they see a man kneeling before an animated Bronze Minotaur construct and another man standing by, wearing a black robe and a featureless gold mask over his face. The masked man turns to the crowd and identifies the kneeling man as a thief who made and attempt to pillage the recently abandoned Grimmerzhul Trading Post, now sentenced to death. With a wave of his hand, the Bronze Minotaur lifts it’s axe high over it’s head and in a single swing, decapitates the thief.

Terrlen explains to Megilwath and Aces that the dark robed figure is called The Ordinator Arcanis, a sort of justice keeper within the hall. Aces approaches the Ordinator as the crowd is dispersing and asks what is to become of the Trading Post. The Ordinator dismisses it as of no interest to the Mages of Saruun and lets Aces know that if they want anything out of it, they are free to take what they will. Seemingly strange that they just killed a man for attempted theft of the very same location, but the party pays it little mind and heads over to see what may be left as Terrlen heads back to the Halfmoon Inn. Inside the post, hidden under one of the mattresses in the back Megilwath finds a small pouch of 50 gold. Mentathenis pours over a carving above the counter but figures it to be a simple sign of little importance.

Aces, Krushi, The Maven, Megilwath, Mentathenis and Modreg then return to Gendar to give him the recovered Skull Scepter. He gives them more information on the missing mage Paldemar and offers them another job collecting Kruthik carapaces from within the labyrinth. Megilwath asks about the nearest entrance into the underdark and Gendar offers to draw a map for 10 gold. Megilwath accepts, and they all head back to the inn. Upon arriving at the Halfmoon, Rendil greets them and informs them that the rescued Winterhaven villagers headed back to the town early that morning, he again praises them on their heroic deeds and reminds them that room and board are on the house. Aces pushes Modreg onto Rendil who takes the little goblin to the bar for drinks and chats him up.

After talking with Terrlen about romantic places within the Hall, The Maven invites Megilwath to accompany her to the waterfalls where there is a cave with beautiful mushrooms and crystal formations. Megilwath agrees and The Maven takes his hand pulling him out of the Inn towards the falls.

Terrlen approaches Mentathenis to tell him about the difficulty in finding the Well of Demons, and that there is one person within the Seven Pillared Hall who can help them. A warlock named Surina, who has heard of the adventurers and doesn’t like that there are two other magic users stealing her show of heroism. Terrlen has arranged a meeting between Surina, Mentathenis and Krushi, in hopes that things can be ironed out, and they might be able to get the information they need from the woman. Once they get the number of her pigeon-hole, the two magic users head out of the inn.

Brugg invites Aces over to his table and greets her excitedly with a nearly alive flower. Aces shares more tales of gladiatorial combat with the ogre over two small barrels of Erra Halfmoon’s mediocre ale. Feeling the effects of the alcohol, Brugg works up the nerve to ask Aces if she would be willing to teach him some combat moves. Aces agrees, and they head out of the inn to practice.

The Waterfalls

The Maven and Megilwath enter the Waterfall caves in awe. Bioluminescent mushrooms of every color pulse with light, reflecting across the crystals and rippling water, creating a kaleidoscope of sparkling lights. The Maven sits on a low ledge over the water and dips her feet in, Megilwath sits down beside her and the two converse about the falls, Megilwath’s past, and the underdark. The Maven slides closer to the dark elf and rests her head on his shoulder. They share a short kiss before they are interrupted by the sound of clapping. Three men have entered the cavern, Megilwath recognizes the leading man as Harwin. One of the men they rescued from the slave pits of the Horned Hold. Harwin makes a cynical remark about the two lovebirds and Megilwath hops to his feet. In seemingly strange behavior, the ex-slave threatens to kill the two elves. When Megilwath questions his motives, Harwin morphs into a pasty skinned, white haired creature with sunken dark eyes…a doppleganger. The same doppleganger that was struck by the drow’s dagger in the Horned Hold. He must have taken the form of the merchant Harwin to escape the Hold alive! The doppleganger reveals that he was working as a spy for the Grimmerzhul.

Megilwath and The Maven both draw their weapons and Harwin and his two lackey’s charge in. With decisive movement, Megilwath jumps the flowing water to bear down on Harwin and begins slicing with his daggers. The Maven stays back to support him with notes of dischord. Harwin goes invisible and the two elves turn their attention on the other two men. Working together, they manage to take them both out without much trouble. Harwin reappears to resume his attack, but is overpowered by the two’s coordination and falls to the ground in a bloody heap. Megilwath searches the body of the shape shifter, to find an Enshrouding Candle.

The two elves return to their ledge within the waterfall cave and quickly forget the rude intrusion to resume where they left off with a passionate kiss. They embrace each other and become another entwining colorful ripple in the reflection of the falls.

Surina’s Challenge

Mentathenis and Krushi knock on Surina’s door and can hear a banging noise accompanied by an annoyed voice behind the door. It is opened by a human woman with dark brown hair and pale blue eyes, who introduces herself as Surina. She invites the eladrin and halfling in to sit on the floor while she showers them in her extraordinary magical prowess and gnoll killing exploits. She also listens intently to the two’s false praise of her amazing abilities, and their pleas for the location of the entrance to the Well of Demons. Surina ponders their request and decides that in order for her to give them the information they seek, they must defeat her in a magical truel. After some hesitation, and Surina’s goading, Mentathenis and Krushi accept.

Mentathenis and Krushi stand together and Surina stands on the opposite side of her small carved out domicile. She warns them both to not go easy on her as she is a fiery force to be reckoned with and will not hold back herself. They immediately begin casting a flurry of spells at each other in explosive bursts of hellfire, lightning and arcane. Some casts find purchase on their target and others fly into rocky walls and destroy Surina’s furniture. The warlock focuses her efforts on taking down Mentathenis and after a few well placed casts, she succeeds in knocking him unconscious. Krushi continues to rip into Surina with streaks of white hot lightning and thunderous damage, finally subduing the warlock and winning the truel. Krushi wakes Mentathenis and they both wake Surina. While the warlock woman is upset that she was defeated, the two magic users have proven themselves worthy of becoming her agents of gnoll slaying, and offers them each a badge and the directions to the entrance of the Well of Demons so that they may kill in her name. She asks them to wait where they are while she pushes her bed aside and lifts up a loose tile in the floor to reveal a ladder into a secret passage. She descends the ladder and twenty minutes later she returns with two more gifts for her agents. A Fan of the Four Winds for Krushi and an Obsidian Steed Figurine for Mentathenis. She then bids them goodbye, pushes them both out her door, and wishes them success in the murder of gnolls everywhere.

Ogre Affection

Aces readies her flaming maul and Brugg pulls out his giant club as Modreg, Rendil, Terrlen and others from the inn come outside to watch the demonstration. Aces starts the session by showing Brugg a combat stance and graceful swing of her maul. Her weapon strikes the ogre in the belly. He attempts to mimic her move by swinging his club wildly and uncontrolled to whack the mul in her side. She spins around and swings again, but narrowly misses, Brugg doesn’t spin but launches another sloppy swing of his club. The large bronze skinned woman locks the ogre in place with a psionic attack and explains to him the importance of gaining the favor of the crowd, who are now cheering wildly. Then she turns and hops up on a bench to gain a running start, and charges the ogre. At the end of the bench, she leaps into the air, maul slicing in a downward arc and smashes into Brugg’s head. The ogre praises Aces on her showmanship and attacks, along with a host of other compliments as he once again swings his club back and forth, managing to hit her once. Aces swings her maul again and slams into the ogre’s gut, he doubles over in pain and happiness. When he regains his breath, he thanks Aces for her training and offers her a small token of his love and respect. A Vagabond’s Die. The two help each other back into the inn and the crowd follows.

When everyone gets back to the Halfmoon Inn they all sit around the largest table and share their stories of the night. Krushi and Mentathenis let their friends know that they have the directions to three entrances of the Well of Demons. The party is briefly interrupted when a kobold panhandler named Charrak enters the inn and approaches the adventurers with a message he was paid to deliver to them. The message is written by someone who is in league with the duergar but requests the heroes help in finding a way out of the organization. The message gives directions to a location within the labyrinth not far from the Hall to meet in secret.

Megilwath chases down Charrak as he leaves the inn to ask him about the one who delivered the message, of which Charrak has little information other than he was a cloaked figure. The drow pays the kobold 5 silver to deliver a message back to the mysterious man to let him know they will meet in the morning.

The adventurers drink into the night until Erra closes the bar. They all head upstairs for a good night’s rest and leave on the morrow for the secret meeting.

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CHAPTER FOURTEEN: The Hold Falls

Megilwath snaps out of his meditation at Terrlen’s camp just outside of the Horned Hold. A sharp sting upon his left fore arm. When he turns his arm over he notices two little bite marks, as if bitten by a spider. He decides to wake The Maven to see what she can do about it. As she is examining it, it begins to swell and something dark and bulbous begins to wiggle under his skin. The Maven wakes the rest of the party and Megilwath hears something or some things crawling up the cliff face at the edge of their camp.

The spider-like mass under his skin begins to crawl up his arm. Megilwath quickly holds his upper arm to block the creatures path and calls Mentathenis over to him. Handing him his dagger, he tells the Eladrin to cut it out, and fast. Mentathenis complies and slices into the Drow’s arm, blood explodes outward splattering the both of them. No spider can be seen, as if whatever it was has disappeared.

Aces and Krushi turn to see five large, black widow-like spiders crest the edge of the crevace and scurry towards Megilwath. Aces manages to step in front of, and stop one, but the other four make their way to the Dark Elf, and begin snapping their fangs at him.

Krushi and Mentathenis blow them up quickly with their magical abilities causing each one to burst into a black smoke upon death. Then a much larger Spider crawls up over the edge towards the party, It steps over Aces, Krushi and the Maven to go face to face with the drow. Krushi notices that it doesn’t appear to be a normal spider, as it’s head is vaguely shaped like an elf’s but twisted and malformed with the features of an arachnid.

When it pulls its face right up to Megilwath’s he can see that doesn’t just resemble that of an an elf, but it is his own face. His arm begins to throb in pain as blood continues to gush out, slowly turning black and beading up until it has turned into a wave of tiny spiders being expelled from his body.

Megilwath snaps out of his meditation to the feeling of a sharp sting on his arm. When he turns it over he can see a tiny black widow sitting there staring at him over it’s recent bite. He decides to wake The Maven to see what she can do about it. he flicks the small spider off his arm and onto the ground, also interrupting Mentathenis’ meditation to tell him what is going on. Mentathenis locates the small spider and snatches it up with a mage hand. He examines it and comes to the conclusion that it is a natural spider, just before allowing the mage hand to crush it.

After sucking out the poison and being asked what he thinks his visions mean by The Maven, Megilwath determines that he will need to seek out answers from Trysta regarding his past at the party’s next convenience. They all agree, and head back towards the Horned Hold to finish the job.

Aces leads the party back to the double iron doors that they were unable to get through, and notices that the wooden shims they wedged under the doors were reduced to splinters and the doors had since been unlocked and were now slightly ajar.

They push through the doors to find a small alcove with two more sets of doors. The doors to the left they assume lead back into the slave pits and the doors ahead of them must be where Murkelmor is. Megilwath listens through the doors to hear some duergar voices arguing. Mentathenis uses ghost sound to impersonate one of the spined devils, Marshk. The duergar don’t fall for the trickery and form up for a fight. Aces crashes through the doors and sees a dwarf at the back of the room wielding a giant flaming maul and introduces himself as Rundarr, Duergar Champion. There are also two other duergar shock troopers and a duergar theurge. Murkelmor is nowhere in sight.

Aces heads for Rundarr as Megilwath and the Maven work together on the theurge. Krushi and Mentathenis are left behind to face down the two shock troopers who give them a particularly hard time until Megilwath and Aces move to help. Once the shock troopers and theurge are taken down, they all move in to focus on Rundarr. Megilwath attempts to get the duergar to surrender but to no avail.

Working hard to shake off her injuries from the other duergar, Krushi is able to muster the strength to stand tallish and look Rundarr in the eyes. Without blinking, and using her undeniable charisma and overpowering cuteness she says “You have fought well Rundarr, but I really think it’s time that you surrender.” Rundarr agrees with the Halfling as he is sorely out of practice, and thanks the party for an exhilarating fight, offering Aces his Flaming Maul +2 as such a worthy opponent. He informs them of Murkelmor’s abandoning of the Hold to retreat into the Underdark and then takes his leave.

The party investigates Murkelmor’s chambers and near his bed they find a small locked chest which Megilwath is able to pick open. Inside is an Amulet of Health +2 and around 261 gold.

Once they are sure that the Hold has been cleared, they return to Terrlen’s camp and pack up their stuff to head back to the Seven Pillared Hall.

On their way back to the Hall, the group runs across a band of gnolls, with a Barl’gura, and a small shackled goblin. The large demon rushes forward and slams Aces, Mentathenis drops his Stinking Cloud in the middle of the pack causing them to scatter. The gnoll scourge rushes through the party to attack Krushi. Megilwath and The Maven work together in unison to rip through the enemies and with Aces’s help manage to keep the gnolls getting poisoned by the deadly gas.

One gnoll manages to escape the carnage and disappears into the labyrinth, the goblin is able to remove his handcuffs and introduces himself as Modreg, a wandering explorer who was captured by the gnolls and being brought to the Well of Demons. Aces immediately takes a liking to the little guy and adopts him as her pet.

Then they all continue on back to the Hall.

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN: The Edge of Gory

Investigating the double doors, the party finds them too strong to break through and there is no visible lock to pick from their side. Aces knocks a few times to see if anyone answers, but to no avail.

They decide to head back around the way they came in and try another set of doors that they passed during their first fight in the northern fortress. These doors are crudely boarded and nailed shut. Aces swings her hammer through the obstruction and pushes the doors open. Before them extends a crumbling curved bridge that leads across the chasm and into another section of the northern fortress.

Being sure footed, Megilwath heads out over the chasm to find a safe path around the cracks, holes and loose gravel. When he reaches the other side, he tells the party what parts are dangerous and tells them to come across slowly. Aces and Krushi make their way over the bridge with little trouble. Mentathenis slips on a loose pile of broken stone and falls off balance. One of his legs drops through a crack in the floor, but he manages to grab hold of some jutting stones to catch himself. The Maven, attempting to jump over one of the holes, misjudges her leap and stumbles forward sliding into another large crack. She lands on her belly and begins sliding back through the hole, frantically clawing at the ground in attempt to stop her fall. Megilwath runs out over the bridge, jumps a few dangerous sections in a single bound and slides in to her rescue. He pulls her up and she gazes into his eyes. Still terrified, she falls into his arms trembling and tells him she forgives his torture of the Duergar.

Once reaching the double doors on the far side of the bridge, Aces again breaks through the makeshift barrier of wood and nail to reveal a dark, crumbling room. The ceiling has partially collapsed, rubble is strewn about the floor and a demonic statue stands on a pedestal in it’s center, one of it’s arms has broken off and lies on the ground nearby.

Megilwath cautiously steps into the room and notices, despite the darkness, what shadows he can see start to shift around the room. One slides down the wall to his right and begins to coalesce into a spectral humanoid form beside him. It appears to be a ghostly woman, skin tight on her bones, and lips peeled back in snarl. She lashes out at him with her claws as four more wights appear around the room. Aces and The Maven step forward as Megilwath, still injured from previous fights withdraws behind Krushi and Mentathenis as they hurl spells into the room at the undead creatures. After sending the wights back into the darkness, the party feels quite drained. They attempt to bandage the scratches as best as they can, but are out of ways to tend to each others more serious wounds. Though not in great shape, they decide to press on through the next locked door which Krushi is able to show up Megilwath and The Maven in the art of lock picking.

The next room releases the smell of death and decay, as Aces and Megilwath move in ahead, dust and cobwebs are stirred up in clouds. It appears to be some sort of ancient tomb, as a dozen decaying skeletons of minotaur warriors lay in alcoves along the wall. A large statue of a skeletal Grim Reaper minotaur watches over the entombed. Across the way from the statue is another iron door, but this one has a lock that Megilwath is able to pick, and he moves to the side so Aces can listen through the door. On the other side she can hear two voices talking about tearing out something’s eyes.

They burst into the large room to find that it holds two slave pits and a drinking water pool. They encounter another Duergar Theurge named Framarth, two of his duergar guards and two Spine Devils named Durkkel and Marshk who are still debating tearing out one of the fourteen slaves eyeballs in the pits.

The adventurers attack the duergar and their abyssal allies. Aces in front with The Maven, and Krushi, Menthathenis and the injured Megilwath in back throwing his dagger. Framarth tears up the heroes with his Brimstone and Hail, Vile Fumes and Wave of Despair while both the guards and the devils launch volleys of Spikes and Beard Quills, slowly wearing Aces and the Maven down with burning and poisonous pain. During the fight Krushi and Mentathenis go prone, and Megilwath gets knocked unconscious. Mentathenis gets up and drops his Stinking Cloud into the room causing issues for the evil creatures. Krushi stays huddled under her robes on the ground and is able to talk the two devils out of the fight when they become too injured. The Maven runs back into the tomb to aid Megilwath, She bandages him to the point of consciousness, and gives him a kiss to welcome him back. Mentathenis and Krushi work together with Aces to finish off the two duergar guards and kill Framarth before he escapes.

Only one slave was killed during the fighting, and the party releases the others, including Delphina Moongem of Winterhaven and Harwin the Honest of the Seven Pillared Hall. Delphina thanks the heroes for their heroic bravery in coming to their rescue but tells them that two of the Winterhaven slaves were sold to a group of Gnolls called the Blackfangs, and were taken to a place called the Well of Demons. Harwin says he can lead the others back to the Hall. Krushi lets the two Devils go after Aces asks where Murkelmor is. They point to the next room before leaving quickly.

Too badly injured to go on to tackle the duergar leader, they decide to shim up the doors around Murkelmor’s room to attempt to trap him inside, and then head back to the camp that Terrlen set up, just around the bend from the main entrance to the Horned Hold. When they get back they find Terrlen with a small fire burning and the corpses of three creatures. An Orc, and the two Devils. It seems when they attempted to flee the Hold Terrlen’s Lycanthropic side emerged and defended itself. Terrlen offers a sincere apology for killing those they let go, and the party takes an extended rest in preparation for their confrontation with Murkelmor.

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CHAPTER TWELVE: The North Fortress

The party opens the double doors and sees a stone bridge extending across the deep chasm to the northern fortress. Megilwath feels a slight tremble in the ground, slowly growing bigger and bigger until the others can feel the tremors as well.

They decide to push across the bridge as fast as they can. Aces and Megilwath reach the door at the other end and notice movement inside, something is taking aim at them with a crossbow like device. Megilwath drops a globe of darkness on both he and Aces and a bolt zips between them. Aces attempts to break through the door but it’s too solidly built. Suddenly a crash is heard somewhere down in the cavern below them. A huge draconic form is headed towards them out of the darkness, as it draws closer it appears to be skeletal, a dracolich, it sweeps just under the bridge the party is on, and with a roar dissapears into the black again.

After they shake off the horror, and attempt to understand what just happened, Mentathenis uses Mage Hand to reach inside the doors and release the locking bar. Aces throws open the doors to find a few Duergar Guards, a Duergar Theurge and a couple animated arbalesters.

The five charge into the room and fight, after a particularly bloody battle with Aces being knocked unconscious twice, they narrowly emerge with their lives.

They take a quick breather before moving on around the western wall of the complex. When throwing open another set of doors, the party sees a ghost white skinned man peering from behind a third set of double doors, he attempts to shut them, but before he can, Megilwath throws his dagger through the narrowing crack and sticks the man in the shoulder. He yelps in pain and the dagger returns to Gil’s hand. Aces charges down the hallway and throws open the doors to a recreation room full of 4 orcs and an ogre. The pasty man is nowhere in sight.

Aces backs up and the ogre charges down after her. The orcs fall in behind and begin throwing their handaxes. Krushi and Mentathenis take advantage of their opponents’ tight grouping, and rip through them with a couple Chaos Bolts and A Shock Sphere.

Aces holds off the attacks while Megilwath throws his dagger from cover and The Maven plays some ear bleeding notes to throw the evil creatures off guard. Before long the ogre falls and one of the orcs escapes through a set of Iron doors in the recreation room. The other three orcs shortly follow the ogre in death.

Again the group attempts to take rest while searching the area. They find another portcullis that leads back into the Labyrinth, and in a side chamber, they discover a solid wooden chest. When Megilwath fails to pick the lock, and Aces is unable to bust it open by force, The Maven tries her hand at fiddling with the lock picks. Being a jack of all trades, she pops it open with ease. Contained within is 40 gold and 3 gems.

After bagging the small treasure, they head for the iron doors…

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CHAPTER ELEVEN: Terrlen Darkseeker and The Horned Hold

After realizing that the map the Duergar scribbled for them would not be of much help, and promising The Maven that they would all do their best to not torture anyone else in the future, they all decide to head back to the Seven Pillared Hall.

Once back within the Hall, they head to the Halfmoon Inn for a few drinks and to check in with Rendil for any information on getting to the Horned Hold. Rendil informs Megilwath that he does not know the location of the Hold personally, but he recommends that they hire a man named Terrlen Darkseeker to act a their guide. Aces notices the ogre Brugg sitting alone and grumbling to himself and decides to approach him with offerings of ale and gladiatorial stories. The Maven sits herself upon a stool and begins to play a few songs for the patrons of the tavern. Mentathenis, Megilwath and Krushi find Terrlen in the corner of the Halfmoon with his hat pulled over his brow and his feet up on his table, asleep. Mentathenis makes an attempt to wake the man by using ghost sound, to no avail. Krushi decides to order herself and the sleeping man a shot and as soon as it’s placed under his nose, he wakes, and is more than happy to have Krushi’s company over a drink.

After Krushi talks the man into guiding the party to the Hold for 5 gold per head, half up front and half when they are returned safely, they decide to head out, but not before Rendil stops them to let them know that he just heard tell of the Grimmerzhul Duergar of the trading post buying up lot’s of foodstuffs and supplies from Dreskin the provisioner. Aces thinks that the Duergar most likely bought the supplies to care for their recently acquired batch of slaves.

The party, now 6 strong with their guide Terrlen, leave through the Dragon Door once again and head down the ledgeway into the cavernous cistern lakes. upon reaching the beds, Terrlen stops short and complains that he doesn’t feel well. Suddenly, and seemingly against his will, he transforms into a werewolf and attacks the adventurers.

Though he is a vicious adversary in his werewolf form, the team manages to subdue Terrlen without much trouble. When he falls to the ground he has no memory of what just happened. Talking things through with the man, the five discover that he may have been cursed on one of his expeditions while exploring an area of the Labyrinth known as the House of Silence. If they were able to somehow discover the cause and reverse it, Terrlen may be cured of his affliction.

Once their guide has gathered his senses, they continue on to the Horned Hold. The cave system opens into a vast cavern, and the adventurers wind their way along a twisted path around a 300 foot deep crack in the earth. Terrlen takes the time to give a short history lesson on the Hold and before long they arrive. He lets the party know that he will set up a camp in an out-of-the-way alcove while they conduct their business within the Stronghold, and await their return for the trip back.

The entrance to the Hold is protected by a metal gate and beyond it can be seen a host of Orcs keeping watch. Through some failed attempts at subterfuge, and negotiation on the party’s part, the Orcs attack the adventurers from behind they gate. After a short but bloody battle, they defeat the Orcs and Aces smashes down the gate with her hammer.

Making their way to the forge area the five encounter a few Duergar including Urwol the Master Smith and a couple more Orc lackeys. The party gets a little torn up by the evil dark dwarves, but eventually emerges victorious. They allow the remaining Orc to leave with his life when he reveals to the party where the Winterhaven slaves are being kept. The party decides to cross the bridge across the cavern to the north part of the hold, following the Orc’s directions to the slave pits.

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CHAPTER TEN: The Bloodreavers

After speaking with Gendar, the party returned to the Halfmoon Inn to confirm the directions Rendil provided them to get to the Chamber of Eyes, in which the Bloodreavers hide out. They gather their things and set off, but are stopped abruptly by Brugg the Ogre who announces that someone would like to speak with them. They are introduced to Orontor, one of the Mages of Saruun who asks them to look into the case of the missing Mage Paldemar. If they could return with any information on his whereabouts and dealings they would gain the favor of Orontor’s brotherhood.

Once agreeing to help Orontor, they set off into the Labyrinth from the Seven Pillared Hall via the Dragon Door, make their way along the prospectors’ routes marked with old Dwarven runes and eventually arriving at the Narthex of the Chamber of Eyes.

Gaining access to the Chamber through an unlocked door on a balcony ledge, the group dispatch a few Goblins and a Bugbear without alerting the rest of the complex. They then make their way into the Reflectory which now serves as a dining room and kitchen for the Bloodreavers. They fight off and defeat the many denizens of the mess hall, including Hobgoblins, Goblins and a few Human bandits.

Making their way around the Shrine area, they encounter two Duergar, which they are able to subdue and tie up before they are spotted by a Hobgoblin who alerts the rest of the Chamber to their presence. Krand, the Hobgoblin Chief emerges from his quarters and is delighted to have visitors that he may sell as slaves. He enters into the Shrine and a deep howl is heard by the party.

Mentathenis heads for the Shrine and throws wide the doors, inside the large room he sees Krand who has mounted atop a Dire Wolf, three Hobgoblin Archers, and a Warcaster on an upper balcony. Mentathenis takes three arrows to the chest and is laid out. The others arrive at the Shrine to help Mentathenis and take on the Hobgoblins. After a bloody battle, Aces, Krushi, Megilwath, Mentathenis and The Maven emerge victorious.

Searching Krand, they find a key which is used to unlock a chest in his room. The chest contains +2 delver’s chainmail and some gems. Searching through Krand’s quarters they also discover a letter, the letter is written in common and is a contract to purchase the Winterhaven slaves for 1,000 gold, signed by Murkelmor Grimmerzhul, dated two days ago.

They return to the tied up Duergar and attempt to question them. They are both extremely hard headed and refuse to do much talking regarding the slaves. Megilwath kills one to get the other talking, and he mentions the Horned Hold, when asked to draw directions to the Hold, the Duergar refuses and thrusts his hands into the nearby fire pit. The party then forces him to draw up the map with a piece of charcoal in his mouth. Mentathenis then hits the dark dwarf with a magic missile and kills him off. The Maven is traumatized by the whole ordeal.

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CHAPTER NINE: Into the Labyrinth

After leaving the sewers, the party, now including The Maven of Strings, whom they learn who’s real name is Sona Summergale, leave Winterhaven and head West along the East Way towards the Thunder Peaks.

About an hour’s travel later they reach the branching Vale Road, a small semi-cobbled path that winds up into the mountain peak. The skies are grey and stormy. Rain begins to fall as they reach the Minotaur Gate, a large opening that marks the mouth of the Labyrinth, two giant minotaur statues sit on either side, glowering down at the visitors.

They head inside and down the switchback Hall of Lanterns, demon statues are carved out of the walls, 77 of them in all. They pass by a number of branching antechambers and halls and finally come across one that is lit. Upon investigation, they discover a group of Hobgoblins who are keeping a halfling bound and ready to be sold into slavery. They party enters the chamber and defeats the Hobgoblins, whom they learn from Rendil Halfmoon, the halfling captive are a part of the Bloodreavers. Rendil thanks the adventurers for saving him and asks that they accompany him to the Seven Pillared Hall where is aunt owns an inn. They follow Rendil into the hall as he explains to them a bit about the hall, it’s history and it’s inhabitants.

They arrive at the Hall and Rendil escorts them past Brugg, the Ogre who keeps the peace at the request of the Mages of Saruun and into the Halfmoon Inn. Erra the owner of the inn thanks them for Rendil’s rescue and offers free ale to the party. They ask that Rendil draw them a map to the Bloodreaver’s hideout called the Chamber of Eyes. The party has a conversation with the two halflings about the Seven Pillared Hall and a possible guide to the labyrinth in a man named Terrlen. They then ask that Rendil show them to Gendar’s shop, a drow merchant at the interest of Megilwath.

As they cross the Hall, see a bronze minotaur statue with a glowing teleportation circle which Rendil describes as the way the Mages of Saruun get in and out of their tower. Beyond the circle lies Gendar’s, they enter, and despite him being somewhat on guard with Megilwath, they learn that he is a self exiled drow, who works as a merchant. He offers them a job seeking out a skull scepter that he lost at the hands of the duergar within a place called the Horned Hold. In addition, if they discover any interesting relics within the labyrinth, he will pay for them with information.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: The Maven of Strings

Aces sits down to play cards with some of the patrons and Krushi orders up a glass of Salvana’s finest wine. Athena enters to join the others with Droggle in tow, she approaches Mentathenis to inform him that her clerical order has asked her return to Baldur’s Gate to report on what transpired with the death cult and that she will be leaving in the morning. She and Droggle say their goodbyes and head up to their rooms to rest. Megilwath still eyeing The Maven locks eyes with her and she gives him a flirtatious smirk, despite having noticed his dark skin. When she finally rests eyes upon Methathenis however, she looks positively horrified, her rhythm speeds up for a split second and then she immediately slows way down and changes to another song entirely, almost a lullaby, though now her voice clearly shaking.

After a few minutes, Megilwath and Mentathenis catch themselves feeling very sleepy and notice that indeed all the other patrons of the tavern are as well. They both start to suspect magic at work. Megilwath casually stands up to attempt to outdistance the Maven’s beautiful notes. And sure enough, once he plugs his ears, his energy begins to return to him. Mentathenis notices the Maven begin to squirm in her stool, her face full of fear and desperation. She stops playing in the middle of her song and bolts out the side door of the tavern.

Megilwath and Mentathenis head after her, and Krushi and Aces follow suit. Behind Wrafton’s, Megilwath concludes that the only way she could have gone and disappeared so fast is into the sewers. They all head down the ladder and drop into the sewer. A scream from the Maven comes echoing from somewhere up ahead. The party is attacked by a group of Dire rats that were roused by the young elf woman running through. Aces, Krushi, and Mentathenis try to take control of them, and Megilwath attempts to catch up to the girl, He runs down the corridor and turns another corner, still not seeing her. A group of snakes pours out of a pipe to Megilwath’s right. He is bitten by one and drops a Cloud of Darkness on top of them to make a retreat to the rest of his friends and help with the rats. The snakes are drawn by another scream from the Maven and slither away.

After a tough fight and being badly shredded by the rats, the party finally defeats them and decides to head out of the sewers until they can get a rest. Before turning in for the night Krushi alerts the town guard of the troubles in the sewers and they let her know that they will investigate it. They then head back into Wrafton’s to rest.

The next morning Valthrun knocks on their door and reveals all that he was able to dig up on the Thunder Peaks and it’s Labyrinth. Then one of the town guard arrives and let’s the adventurers know that one of their men has gone missing into the sewers during his investigation. The party heads to the guard house to speak with the head guardsman about their failings in protecting the town and handling it’s threats.

After berating the town guard for a while and pushing for payment in exchange for taking care of the sewer problem, the guardsman heads to the temple to beg for help from Sister Linora, who returns with two Potions of Healing which she offers freely and gratefully for all their help.

They had back into the sewers and immediately discover the unconscious guardsman at the bottom of the ladder. They manage to bind his snake bitten arm and escort the woozy guardsman to Salvana, who agrees to get him to the temple.

Pushing further into the sewers, they smell cooking meat and hear music being played. Around a bend, they can see the Maven of Strings, her legs tied to a chair and playing a song for a wererat who seems to be happily dancing. a few vipers are roasting on a spit over a fire in the corner. Megilwath sneaks in and attacks the wererat, sending him fleeing into the corner near a large pipe. The rat man calls for help from his minions, and the party faces down a group of Dire Rats and a Rat Swarm.

They focus their efforts on the wererat, and upon being bloodied, he orders his minions to stop attacking and begins to beg for his life. Megilwath knocks him unconscious and they all move to the bound Maven. Aces quickly snatches the Lute from her and sticks it into her Bag of Holding. After questioning her about her actions in the inn, she reveals that she thought Mentathenis to be someone else, an Eladrin named Aramil Lantherval who she was to be married to in an arrangement by her father. She fled from Silverymoon to play her music, and took on the name Maven of Strings to stay hidden. After the mistaken identity problem is overcome, they offer the Maven the chance to travel with them to play music and give them a hand in their adventures. She accepts.

They awake the wererat, who they learn is named Twitch, and did not mean harm to the Maven, he only wanted to add her to his collection of pretty and interesting trinkets and things. Mentathenis senses some magic within a pipe nearby and investigates it. It appears to be behind a wall or in another part of the sewer entirely. When they mention it to Twitch, he says he can give them magics, if they are willing to trade for trinkets. Aces offers up the wooden toy sword, the hairbrush and the child’s doll that they found in the Keegan chest within Shadowfell Keep. He agrees, and pulls aside a stone from the wall where he pulls out 15 or so swords tied to a rope. One of them happens to be a Vicious Short Sword +1.

They take the sword, warn Twitch to behave and that they will not alert the people of Winterhaven of his presence in the sewers.

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CHAPTER SEVEN: Return to Winterhaven

On the path south back through the woods towards Winterhaven, the party hears a woman’s scream from somewhere off to their right. They follow its direction to a small flowered clearing, and discover a bloodied necklace. Megilwath notices some tracks leading out the opposite side of the clearing into the woods and follow them for a ways until they are lost at the edge of a river.

They head back down the path to the Village and are greeted by a few guards , Lord Padraig, Sister Linora and Valthrun. They party is led to a small house where the body of Ninaran lies. They are questioned in regards to her death, and reveal that a man who discovered her in the graveyard, was blaming them. After a bit of explaining, Lord Padraig is convinced that the elf woman’s death was necessary and the group’s motives were for good. He announces a feast in the victorious heroes names at Wrafton’s.

Aces shows Linora the bloodied necklace and she recognizes it as Delphina Moongem’s, an elven woman who lives within Winterhaven and sells flowers from her cart. Mentathenis brings forth a letter from a group of slavers known as the Bloodreavers from the Thunder Peaks written to Kalarel about seeking slaves for purchase. Valthrun believes that the Bloodreavers must assuredly be responsible for the missing townsfolk, and that if it’s the Thunder Peaks they are hiding in, he will seek information on the mountain range from his tower and present it to the party in the morning. Aces, Krushi, Mentathenis and Megilwath head to Wrafton’s inn and tavern to join in the festivities. Athena is pulled back to the temple by Sister Linora.

Wrafton’s is full of happy and drunk townsfolk eager to thank the party for their destruction of the old keep. A young and exceedingly beautiful elven woman plays music on her lute and sings, entertaining the party in celebration of the heroes. Mentathenis and Megilwath are quick to notice her and Gil turns to a man sitting at the bar to ask her name, in which he replies she is only known as the “Maven of Strings.”

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CHAPTER SIX: Redemption and Escape

The party decides to take an extended rest within the bowels of the keep, during which the meditating Megilwath experiences an odd vision. It consists of a beautiful drow female, alone in the dark, with sadness in her eyes and another, older brooding drow female sitting upon a wicked throne, who’s mouth stretches impossibly wide and releases a swarm of spiders which come at Megilwath and snap him out of his meditation. After he rouses the rest of his companions, they decide to follow Keegan into the huge cave. Droggle and Splug decide to return to Winterhaven via the chains to get more ale.

The large cave goes on for around a hundred yards, ever so gradually sloping upwards. The cave comes to an abrupt stop with a single, smaller side passage leading off to the left. The passage looks to be dug out by creatures of some sort, and sure enough they encounter another nesting ground of the reptilian, insect-like Kruthiks. After defeting these, the party finds a small pit which appears to contain the Kruthik’s food stash, a few rotting Hobgoblins and a dead Human Sorcerer. Among their belongings they discover a Staff of Storms +1.

The party pushes through to take the Kruthik’s eggs, which Mentathenis chills to keep fresh. At the end of the Kruthik’s lair a small hole in one wall reveals how they enter and exit the keep proper, Aces gives the wall a charge with her mace and the hole becomes large enough for everyone to move through. It drops them into the hallways just before the statue trap room where Megilwath almost drowned.

Again they spot the lingering and fading ghost of Sir Keegan, and follow him back to the door that is boarded up with the word “closed” scrawled across it. They bust through the door and explore the area beyond. It is remarkably clean compared to the rest of the keep, not a speck of dust is to be found. They find a couple sarcophagi containing two nasty Corruption Corpses and are ambushed from behind by a Gelatinous Cube. Once victorious over the undead and ooze, they continue to a small room that contains a chest.

Once inside the room, the skeletal Sir Keegan, and his spectral wife and children emerge from the walls. Keegan thanks the party for finally putting an end to the keep’s corruption and sealing Shadraxil back into the Shadowfell. The young girl ghost rummages through the chest and hands a Safewing Amulet to the heroes in thanks. Sir Keegan and his family, begin to fade away and he warns the party that they should leave quickly. As soon as Keegan is gone, the Keep begins to rumble and cracks begin to form along the walls and ceiling. Aces empties the chest into her bag of holding and the group makes a run for it.

On their way out, almost to the stairs leading to the first level of the keep, the party encounters some Hobgoblins who are also attempting to flee the area. The party thinks it best to attack them, and a fight among the falling rubble and cracking floors ensues. Many of the Hobgoblins flee in sheer terror of the crumbling keep and the intimidation of the heroes.

Eventually all the Hobgoblins have run up to the first level and after rescuing Athena and Krushi from a pit that opened up, the party follows.

Aces, Megilwath, Krushi, Athena and Mentathenis make their way out of the keep and into the warm afternoon sunlight. After reaching a safe distance, they turn to watch the entire keep fall in on itself and sink into a crater.

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