Realm Runners

CHAPTER FOURTY: Xinlenal, The First Enclave
A Familiar Face


Mentathenis, Nitzi and Sam go through the Shadar’Kai Witch’s body but only find her Symbol of Shar. A twisted thing, parts of small animals and demons are bonded together with twine and hair to form a strange symbol. Black smoke pours from a burning ember in it’s center. When held, it wriggles and shakes, as if alive. Mentathenis has Nitzi crush it and then they continue South East through Neverwinter Wood.

After long, they hear something running through the woods towards them from up ahead. It stops and they can hear it’s swords drawn. Mentathenis and Nitzi hear whispers on the wind through the rustling leaves. The creature leaps forward and yells out “Splaaaaaa!” as it is quickly entwined in roots that rip from the ground and lift the struggling lone goblin into the air. Confused, the three heroes look around to see where the spell may have been cast from.
 
Another group of Eladrin emerge from the woods, the leader of which, a heavily armored woman with a chakram nearly half her size greets the three and introduces herself as Mira Shadowmoon, a warden of “The Hole in the World.” She motions for her men to let the goblin down, and they draw their swords in preparation to kill it. Just as they are about to strike the screaming goblin, Mentathenis recognizes it as Splug!

The Eladrin halts their blades when Mentathenis says the goblin is known to him. Mira nods and her men step back, sheathing their swords. Splug runs to Mentathenis and attempts to explain that he, Athena and Droggle were taken prisoner inside Xinlenal when they were caught attempting to rescue Saranine from the Shadovar dungeon. He managed to escape the cell block and stealthily make his way into the sewers to swim around a giant ritual chamber. After sneaking through a huge orb room, up and out past a spooky alchemist lab and into the woods, he climbed down the Broken Edge and ran to look for help. Then he got caught in the Eladrin trap just moments ago.

Knowing Saranine as well, Mira offers them the aid of her brigade, and the heroes graciously accept. Before she leaves with her squad to gather her forces, she warns Mentathenis that “The woods are no longer our own, the shadows grow longer, and work against us.” They part ways with the Eladrin heading west and Splug leads Mentathenis, Nitzi and Sam towards the Broken Edge.

Supplies


On their trek along an overgrown path through the wood towards Xinlenal, they happen across a log shoved into the ground with a board crudely nailed to it. Across the board is scrawled the word “Supplize” with an arrow pointing off to a side path. Splug doesn’t remember seeing the sign on his way through the first time, so they decide to check it out and see if they can restock anything they may need.

When they reach the short path’s end, dug into a hillside is a small counter stand and what appears to be a hooded figure sitting low and unmoving, seemingly waiting patiently for customers. 

As they approach the hooded supply vendor, an Ettin bursts from it’s hiding spot off to the side yelling “Supplize! I catch you in a clever trap! Now you be my dinner!” They engage the Ettin Spirittalker and after a fairly painless fight, the huge beast falls before them. There are of course, no supplies to be bought from the vendor, who was in fact, just a cloak propped on a stick. After the Ettin’s attempt at catching a hearty meal, Mentathenis, Nitzi, Sam and Splug continue on.

The Broken Edge


Not long after, they find themselves at the base of a 60 foot cliff. Splug tells them they must climb and they do their best to secure ropes and use grappling to ensure a safe ascent. The goblin makes it up first and helps to pull up the others. As he is doing so he is spotted by a hungry Hippogriff Matron who swoops from her perch in the trees and attempts to snatch the little goblin up. Splug is quick enough to move away but the beast soars around for a second attempt. The goblin secures the climbing line and defends himself, trying to slash at her as she flies by. 

Mentathenis, Nitzi and Sam make their way up the cliff face and assist Splug in subduing the creature, but not killing it. After searching the area a little more, they discover her nest tucked into a rocky outcropping and bearing four recently hatched young. They decide not to disturb them and after long the matron regains consciousness and returns to her nest to protect them.

They continue to follow Splug towards the Shadar’kai Lab on the outer edge of Xinlenal.

Witchholm


As they approach the outer broken walls of the fallen city, they see two skeletons guarding the entrance. They duck to hide, and Splug moves around to the hole that he climbed through during his escape to get a better look behind the wall. On the other side, he sees two more skeleton guards and as he is about to make a move to attack, a Shadar’kai Witch emerges from a building with a small raven which she sets on fire and releases into the air. It flies about 10 feet into the sky, and then flops back to the ground in a burning heap. The witch cackles and sighs, returning to her lab. Splug waits until she is gone and signals to the others that he is going to attack.

He springs from his concealment and engages the two closest skeleton guards. Mentathenis, Nitzi and Sam also emerge and fight the outer guards. 

With the skeletons out of the way, they barge into the building following the Shadar’kai witch and find her inside an alchemist’s lab of some sort. She screeches as they enter and threatens to use their skins in her experiments, teleporting to keep away from their attacks, but without her guards to protect her, she falls. They search around the lab and Splug manages to pick up 2 Alchemist’s Fire. Mentathenis makes a point to stop by to cook up some of his own potions on their way out. Splug leads them out the other side of the Witch Lab, through an alley, down into abandoned cellar, and through the tunnels in the underbelly of the dark city.

The Mythallar Stirs


The tunnel that Splug leads them down, opens into an expansive room with a 100 foot wide orb resting just 10 feet above their heads. Piles of eladrin artifacts and valuables are scattered throughout the room. There are two Knights of Shade standing sentry at both ends of the room and four shadowy cloaked figures move the eladrin relics into place to extract the residuum and feed it into the orb. Each time another relic is devoured, the dark orb pulses with light. Mentathenis and Sam identify it as the Mythallar, the Shadovar city’s heart of darkness, that, when repaired fully, would allow it to rise once more.

They decide to put a stop to it while there and engage the two Shade Knights . As with past encounters against the elite soldiers of Shade, they proove particularly challenging. Splug is knocked unconscious twice during the fight, and everyone sustains multiple injuries before Sam, in the guise of a Shadar’Kai Witch, is able to manipulate the two into standing down and leaving the orb room entirely.

After the Knights are sent off on another assignment. Mentathenis, Sam, Nitzi and Splug attack the cloaked shadow figures and realize that they appear to be illusory, taking only one hit to burst into smoke, then reforming and continuing their ritual again. They attempt to hit each of the four at the same time and that seems to stop them from returning, at least for a while.

From the Mythallar room Splug leads them into an underground waterway and towards the Ritual Chamber.

Early for the Ritual


Ducking under a low ceiling in the waterway, they swim quietly into a large circular ritual chamber. The water moat goes around the raised ritual platform, under stairs that rise to it on four sides and out the other end, which Splug says leads to the Dungeon where Athena and Droggle are being held. There are a host of Shade Knights on the main platform standing guard at each of the stairs. As the four heroes decide their plan to get across the room, an ornately dressed Shadovar, a dark priestess and three robed cultists walk onto the ritual platform. The priestess voices her disappointment with the condition of the chamber to the Shadovar but says it will do once straightened up. She calls on the three robed cultists to start clearing the debris from the watery moat and the Shadovar says he is going to check the Mythallar room, as it seems that there is a problem. The priestess asks the assistance of the four Shade Knights in helping her retrieve the dragon. Mentathenis identifies the priestess as being part of the Cult of the Dragon along with the three robed figures. The Shadovar Man, he believes, might be the prince of Xinlenal.

The party, with Splig in the lead start swimming their way around the ritual platform until The goblin is noticed by one of cultists. He pretends to be helping the cultist clean the moat and then when far enough from the other two cultists, he pulls the robed man into the water and holds him under until he expires. Mentathenis, Nitzi and Sam catch up quietly and they head through the watery tunnels into the Dungeon.

Dungeons Deep


The party emerges from the water into the dungeon block where Athena and Droggle are being held. After some sneaking around, they call themselves to attention of the Shade Knight guards and a host of skeletons. It is a lengthy, bloody battle to rescue their friends, one that sees Splug fall unconscious twice before being able to get to the right cell. By Sam’s healing abilities, and Mentathenis’ and Nitzi’s magic, they fight through, and Splug picks the lock on their cell door. Sam promptly questions why the goblin didn’t just pick it in the first place, to which none of the three have an answer for, and feel generally stupid.

Nonetheless, Athena and Droggle thank their friends for the brave rescue and make their way quickly to their effects in the storage room and suit up. Once armored, they join the fray against the remaining guards and are able to clear out the dungeon of enemies. One of whom decides to leave the fight early and retreat. Droggle asks Mentathenis about Krushi and where she is. Athena bestows Splug with the title “the Undying” and they prepare to free Saranine from her horrible fate.

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CHAPTER THIRTY NINE: Fanidea's Falter
Still on a Boat


The Tombstone continues to make it’s way up the Sword Coast. Captain Gregor and his two sons Braedon and Darrel are still exhausted, but Aces and Modreg are of great help in crewing the ship, allowing the three salty dogs a bit of rest. 

Modreg becomes quite the rigging monkey, and is able to scurry up and down the masts effectively, adjusting and reefing sail. Cliff is up at dawn in the mornings doing fighting routines on the rails of the ship. The Feypoppies, Teena, Vitnee and Chael watch him and begin to incorporate his moves into their dance, noticing their interest, he takes an active roll in their practice, and they in turn teach him a few tricks as well.

Ehd decides to take the time to write a book on war strategy and Terrlen mostly keeps to himself and attempts to stay out of the way of the ship operations. Megilwath is almost never seen, and stays in a dark corner of the ship. Fanidea stirs in boredom.

At some point Rumbert approaches Aces and apologizes for beating her so badly in poker and asks about the curiosity about Sona and the Feypoppies. Aces tells the story of Sona and then Rumbert tells her what he knows about the musical troupe’s interest in the girl.

He talks about each of the three girls and runs down their places…Teena Tigerlily is the lead and she vyes for attention. She is a control freak and takes any idea she finds to be good as her own. 

Vitnee Moonshale is the one who believes that Sona will be a great addition to the Poppies, and she secretly wishes to replace Teena with Sona as group leader, which is why she is desperately seeking her. 

Chael Starwind is the third wheel, she tries her hardest to extinguish the fires between Teena and Vitnee. She is relegated to back up singer even though she has more talent and a better voice than both her group mates combined, though she never gets the spotlight. She is thinking about a solo career. 

The two thank each other and Aces notices Braedon and Darrel using a spy glass to track movement over one of the islands. Aces sees what they are pointing at and tells them that it is Lythannis and his Pegasus, Celestine, just now catching up to the ship.

Sona’s Final Message


When the Eladrin dismounts the white winged horse, He stands as tall as always but his brow is furrowed more than is in character. He pulls Aces aside and speaks…

“We cleared the rubble, all the way into the underground levels and beyond the wizard’s library. There was…too much death. Blood everywhere. We. We couldn’t identify the bodies with so much damage. There were no survivors from inside the tower. I am sorry.” 

He looks down for a moment and Aces denies that the Eladrin and Sam could be dead. She knows them to both be far craftier than Lythannis is giving them credit. Lythannis is filled with hesitant hope and regains his eladrin composure, then he says

“Something else though, among the few salvageable items from the library level we found this…”

He unwraps a dagger and hands it to Aces.

“They identified it as Sona Summergale’s Songblade. Once they accessed it’s secrets they found her entire catalog of songs, in full, along with one final message. Judging by the time it was infused, it would be after she was taken by the Shadovar.”

Everyone within earshot leans in at the mention of Sona Summergale. Lythannis places his hand on the dagger and tells the mul she should probably listen in private.

Down below Aces, Modreg, Megilwath, Terrlen and Lythannis listen to the message…

“Need help. So cold, so alone…betrayal. Abandoned! My head…whispers…Oh gods, the whispers! I told them…everything! The agony! Not my body…memories…fragments. The darkness! He returns. Never long…he returns! Please just let me die!”

When the message ends, everyone stands in silence, it takes them a while to discuss what it may mean. Aces can’t figure out how the dagger got into Sona’s hands after she was taken prisoner by the Shadovar, and even more perplexing, why it ended up in the wizard’s tower of Baldur’s Gate.

Lythannis then mostly keeps to himself, staring out at the sea, drawing picture after picture of Mentathenis.

That night, the boat makes anchor in a very narrow passage between the mainland Sword Coast and a group of islands halfway between Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter.

Vision of the Demonweb Pits


Fanidea stands upon a crag over and within a webbed world, a massive funnel, floating moats and nests are all around her. It can only be described on a celestial scale as It stretches out, around, and behind her again, then twists upwards into infinity. 

Though so large, it feels absolutely crushing and, it is nearly impossible for the Drow to breathe.

When she turns, she realize that she is at it’s end. The very bottom, and the deepest part of the spider’s lair. The the body of Lolth it’s entwined before her, spun-in, and tangled in webbing. She shifts, and her long slender widow-black legs push through and rip their way out. She emerges in all her glory, all her perfectly disgusting beauty. Her flawless dark elven body and face of a drow noble are propelled forward atop her arachnid lower half. 8 feet click across the stone surface as she strides towards the Drow, a maniacal smile pasted across her face, eyes burning red and death white hair billowing out behind her.

From Fanidea’s hands ignites the Wraith Scythe, and as the spider queen nears, she draws it back and prepares to strike.

Fanidea awakes and Megilwath asks if she is alright. She assures him she is, though she can hear a voice in her head telling her that she could have the power to kill Lolth if she just took up the Wraith Blade.

When Fanidea snaps from her meditation, the Wraith Blade whispers many things to the Drow. Promising ultimate power, enough to destroy Lolth. It also reveals to her that the Wraith Blade is only a name, and it can be any number of weapons, even a Scythe. It urges her to kill Megilwath and take it into her hands. She skirts around the idea at first, remembering the entire reason she is on the boat in the first place is entirely in opposition to what the Wraith Blade wants. She is supposed to protect Megilwath at the request of her guild in Menzoberranzan. 

The cursed blade eventually starts to threaten, and no sooner, a host of Goblins and Orcs begin an assault on the anchored Tombstone.

Aces, Megilwath and Fanidea engage the oncoming enemies. Aces has the crew of the Tombstone moving as quickly as possible. And they begin hoisting anchor. During the fight, Fanidea decides to flirt with the idea of taking the blade before something truly evil gets their hands on it. The goblins and the orcs swarm onto the boat, but Aces and Modreg are able to manipulate and dispatch them easily knowing their way around the boat. Under clouds of darkness Fanidea attacks Megilwath from behind. It takes a moment before he realizes what is going on and turns his attacks against the goblins towards Fanidea. The Drow Cleric  leverages the power over her kind and her undead minion crocodile from the Koa-Toa cave.

Megilwath attempts to defend himself but is very nearly killed by her, but Ehd and Aces figure out what is happening and lend aid to their friends who both claim they are being assaulted by one another. Eventually Fanidea is subdued and thought to be dead by the others but through her Amulet of Defered Death, she is able survive. before she slips off the side of the boat, she tells Ehd she is sorry, and she was tricked. She makes her way to shore and sneak past a trio of Ogres. The group finishes off the remaining Orcs and Goblins and Gregor, Braeden and Darrell get the Tombstone moving just as the Ogres bust through the trees and make their way into the water. 

Fanidea’s Path


Fanidea wanders through the woods, badly bleeding. Her white hair caked with red. Her scythe drags behind her. After a while, she comes to a road and is nearly run over by an oncoming horse and carriage. She announces herself as not an enemy and that her ship was attacked. The man driving the carriage pulls back his hood to reveal himself as Gendar, the Drow shop keep from Baldur’s Gate by way of The Seven Pillared Hall, by way of Sschindylryn. He vaguely recognizes her from when he caught them in Baldur’s Gate and led them to his new underground (and now mobile) shop.

He tells her he is on the way to Neverwinter, hoping to catch her friends again (his best customers) and offers her a ride and rest in his cart. She gladly accepts and up the road they go.

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CHAPTER THIRTY EIGHT: Silmataurea
Neverwinter Wood


Mentathenis, his new apprentice Nitzi, and Sam Emerge into Neverwinter Wood via the portal from the Feywild. Nitzi questions the safety of portals and voices her concern about the fact that she can’t remember anything prior to walking through it. Mentathenis explains to her about the nature of portals and sometimes disorientation can happen. She also asks about the fact that their last names are the same, and if Mentathenis is her father, to which he replies no, but she is a member of House Starfeon. He also starts calling her “Snips.”

After a moment, a deafening roar is heard overhead. Nizti closes her eyes and covers her ears. Mentathenis and Sam look up and through the canopy of the trees to glimpse the silhouette of a giant undead wyrm. The beat of her wings bends the trees and causes a blast of wind to surge towards them from above. Aurgloroasa screeches once more before she soars out of view. Mentathenis explains to Sam that they must follow the Dracolich, in hopes that she will lead them to where Saranine is being held captive. As they continue on, he tells them about Sara’s messages and Aurgloroasa’s plans to transform her into a Dracolich.

Old Sharandar


Soon after, they come across some old ruins that Mentathenis identifies as part of Old Sarandar, an ancient Eladrin city. Beautiful Fey relics, statues, toppled structures lie scattered about.

As they move through the ruins, they notoce that many pieces have been removed from the area, judging from indentations in the ground. Mentathenis teaches Nitzi about the ruins and it’s history. They then notice a fountain with a small lighted stream reaching out of it towards the sky. They conclude that it must be a beacon of some sort. Tucked behind one of the pillars of a ruined temple structure is a chest. Sam uses her knowledge of the Arcane to open the chest and Mentathenis has Nitzi watch. Suddenly a large Shambler animates behind Sam and swipes at her with it’s whipping branches. Though quick it appears to take great care around the relics and moves slowly around them. Sam plays a tune that slows the plant creature even moe and it doesn’t take long for them to kill it.

As they head back to the chest to collect it’s contents. a group of seven eladrin emerge from the woods and greet the three. The head Eladrin, introduces himself as Alcyon Nightbinder, a guardian of the Sharandar Restorers in Silmataurea. He thanks the three for protecting the relics while they were away. The six restorers renew the shambler and  it returns to sleep in it’s sentry position. Alcyon offers the three adventurers assistance and a nights stay in New Sharandar to recover from their wounds. He also requests that the relics be returned to their care but Sam persuades them to let her carry them instead, citing the fact that she balanced one of their goblets on her head while killing their Shambler guardian. They agree.

Alcyon leads them all to a ruined temple, a Feybough. He offers Mentathenis the honor of opening a Fey Passage, and through they go, back into the Feywild, stepping out of a giant boulder on the other side, and on to New Sharandar, the eladrin village and headquarters of operations within Neverwinter Wood.

Safe Rest


They are led to Alcyon’s house and his partner, an eladrin woman named Alachia serves them dinner and over the meal their host expands on their presence within the wood. He tells them that his people are working to restore Sharandar to it’s former glory but with the Netherese removing precious artifacts from their sites, they can only hope to rescue as many as they can and bring them To New Sharandar for safe keeping. He says It has not been easy, and the Netherese have made off with countless sacred works of art and knowledge. They have lost two whole Fey Vaults to the darkness already and he fears that with each lost vault the Shadovar move forward their plot to resurrect Xinlenal that much faster, by repairing it’s Mythallar. He talks a little about the Fey vaults and their heavy defenses, but the Shadovar are still able to infiltrate and pillage them.

After dinner they all head to bed and the next morning Alcyon accompanies them back to the Feybough to see them returned safely to the prime.

The Fey Vault


As they continue on through the wood in a south eastern direction they coma across what appears to be a burrow with large stone doors that have been partially destroyed, allowing entrance into an underground passage. As the three decide to check it out, Mentathenis believes it may be an opened Fey Vault and something was trying to get in. Just past the entrance, they notice skeletal footprints, and two logs carved with thorny vines flanking the carved passage. Just beyond that, there is a large thirty foot long pit that also decends thirty feet into a nest of brambles. Tangled in the vines is an undead skeleton, struggling and entwined. 

When Mentathenis reaches the edge, two claw like blades rip from the walls at the far side and slice forward toward him, before they hit him, he fey steps to the far side. The blades retract back into the walls. Nitzi and Sam examine the logs, while Mentathenis explores a little further to discover two more logs carved with a pattern of fire. Sam and Nitzi discover that the two eight foot logs can be removed from their alcoves easily. Mentathenis invites Nitzi across the pit to check out the fire logs. Sam stays back working on a way for her to cross. When Mentathenis pulls out one of the fire logs, the ceiling above the pit collapses, and with it, a mass of burning material falls into the pit lighting the brambles below on fire along with the stranded skeleton. Fire bats swarm put of the fire to attack the three intruders.

Three of them attack Nitzi and Mentathenis, a fourth flaps over to attack Sam on the entrance side of the pit. The bats prove to be more annoying than anything and Mentathenis takes the opportunity to let Nitzi get some practice in. After the bats are defeated, Mentathenis and Nitzi continue on, leaving Sam to figure her own way across the flaming pit. 

A little further, The two eladrin find two more logs, these carved with mountainous peaks. Mentathenis instructs Nitzi to lead the way and she steps on a trigger plate, a rumble sounds from up ahead and a huge rounded boulder comes roaring towards them. They run back towards the entrance and fey leap across the pit to join Sam just as the boulder flies into the pit extinguishing the fire. Mentathenis and Sam decide to try to prop the logs up near the walls and at the edge of the pit. They activate the lade trap and when they slice out of the walls they crash against the logs and shatter. Allowing a safe crossing by grappling hook and rope. As Sam makes her way across, Mentathenis goes over the contents of the adventurers kit with Nitzi.

When the three move deeper into the heavily protected vault they come to what appears to be a dead end, at a waterfall spilling out of the ceiling and flowing through a small crevice in the floor. There are two more logs that Sam checks for traps, and notices a device under one of the logs. With no other options, they move the logs which are lighter that the three sets before, and hollowed on one side. The wall behind the waterfall cracks open and reveals an underground stream leading into the earth. The three use the logs as small boats and ride them down a twisting flume into the main Fey Vault. An underground lake, cluttered with beautiful statues temples and art. Above them looms a gigantic earthen dome roots and dirt twisted together to form a ceiling. In the center of the dome, on a small island, is a bowl of water, held by four dead browned roots.

Sam begins to loot quickly, against Mentathenis’ wishes. He leads Nitzi into the center of the small island to examine the fountain. The eladrin scoops a bit of water to sprinkle it on the roots, causing them to green slightly. Then he takes the bowl and pours it over the entire base, The roots suck in the water and turn from dry to a greenish brown, becoming rejuvenated from their ends down into the earth.

The ground begins to shake and they feel themselves being lifted towards the top of the dome. It’s roots pull back to release falling earth down from above. Light shines in as it breaks apart and opens. The three continue to rise along with the underground lake, the water draining away leaving them standing back in Neverwinter Wood, among the newly resurfaced ruins of Sharandar.

There to meet them is a Shadar Kai Witch with a host of skeletal minions. She voices her thanks to the heroes in raising the fey fault for her to loot and then commands her minions to attack. Without too much trouble the skeletons are defeated, and much of the witch’s magic fizzles against the three. They are able to quickly put her down.

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CHAPTER THIRTY SEVEN: Koa-Toa Crystal
The Tombstone


Aces, Modreg, Megilwath, Fanidea, Ehd, Cliff and Terrlen have been on the ship sailing up the Sword Coast for two days. Bad weather has slowed their journey, fighting the tide wind and rain, it has been miserable. On the third day, the rain lets up enough for them to emerge from below deck. Captain Gregor Faringray and his two sons, Braedon and Darrell are still wearing their foul weather gear and look disheveled and tired.

Cliff has been praying a lot, Terrlen maps the Tombstone and enlists the help of Ehd. Aces helps out where she can squeeze between Gregor and his sons. Modreg hates being on the water. Megilwath has kept to himself brooding in the corner, and Fanidea sharpens her scythe.

The Feypoppies, Teena Tigerlily, Vitnee Moonshale and Chael Starwind practice their song and dance routine on the deck of the ship.

Rumbert, Raggert, Radnor and Rimblenose, mostly keep to themselves playing cards below deck, though they frequently emerge to vomit over the side, even though they haven’t eaten since Baldur’s Gate. Aces joins them, playing for a while looking to learn more about the four dwarves and their three elven employer’s interest in Sona Summergale. She gets a little info but for the most part, the dwarves stay quiet about gossip.

After an argument between Captain Gregor and his sons about being behind schedule, they decide to make anchor earlier than usual, near a wrecked boat about the same size as their own. It is wedged up in the rocks, near the shore. 

The Wreck


Cliff, Ehd and Fanidea swim over to explore the abandoned ship and drag Megilwath along. On the deck, they find two skeletons, floating and bumping against the partially sunken ship’s rail and a strange symbol etched into the mast, and elsewhere on the ship. A point with 6 lines radiating from it. Four straight vertical lines below that l and one horizontal wavy one across the bottom. Most of the cargo has long since been looted but they discover spears in skeletons on cots. 

Outside they can hear splashing and yelling from the Tombstone. The four explorers emerge from the underbelly of the wreck to see what the commotion is all about. Everyone is looking over the rail of the Tombstone and throwing things into the water. Braedon yells out that they saw something under the waves, humanoid and green with a spear.

Cliff and Ehd quickly dive into the water to check it out, and Fanidea follows, when she looks back to Megilwath, he is swimming back to the Tombstone. Frustrated and looking for a fight, she turns to head after the Monk and Warlord.

On their way down, Cliff spots a creature swim down and into an underwater fissure. He points it out to Ehd and they head towards it. Fanidea swims quickly to catch up.

Koa-Toa Lair


They emerge inside a dripping cave. Fanidea leads them with her dark vision into a large cavern with crude stone pillars and small ponds. They can see more of the symbols that they found in and around the wrecked ship. Fanidea checks the depth of the pools and lets her companions know that they go deep, and not to fall in. Cliff heads towards the largest pool and as he does, Kuo-Toa jump from the waters to attack the intruders. They pile in with their spears. The three are able to wipe out the first few with easy, but before long, they begin attacking from their pools, launching javelins. Ehd and Fanidea work on killing the ranged swimmers, while cliff hits the few who pop up from behind them. Soon after, the Koa-Toa are killed, and the three head further into the lair.

In the next area Fanidea notices a large dark shape under the water of one of two large pools, and Ehd is able to catch a glimpse of another Kuo-Toa in one of the pools. Suddenly a huge Crocodile explodes from one of the pools with a Kuo-Toa Drowner riding on it’s back and flipping a barbed net int the air catching Cliff inside. The Croc follows behind and bites into the Monk. As they begin to attack a second Crocodile bursts from the water behind to sandwich the heroes. 

Fanidea discovers that her Flamestrike inhibits the crocodile’s algae regeneration, and Ehd works to keep the field under control. Cliff takes the brunt of the attacks but does a good job of keeping the enemies from attacking his friends. He falls during combat but manages to be healed. Before the first Croc dies, Fanidea casts Servitude in Death causing it to rise after falling and fight for the drow. She and Ehd continue to attack the now dismounted Drowner, and eventually the Undead Croc snaps the Koa-Toa in half. Fanidea turns it on the second croc and when it snaps at it, the second croc moans and cowers back to the pool in which it came.

They heal Cliff and head into the next cavern, as they approach, they can see a light owing brighter and brighter until they turn the corner and it is snuffed out in an instant. When their eyes adjust they find themselves in a large pool room with a shrine of a Koa-Toa priestess. A frightened Koa-Toa dives into the water and swims away. Cliff finds a stash of treasure under the water in the amount of 500 gold, a pair of Strikeback Gauntlets and a Girdle of Shielding. 

Fanidea notices a small black crystal floating in the head of the stone statue’s staff. She removes it, and they head back towards the Tombstone. 

Near Miss


As they exit the lair, Fanidea, Cliff and Ehd notice that her pouch is glowing brighter and brighter. The crystal within is gaining energy and when the swim out of the fissure, a beam of incineration fires from the crystal, through the pouch and up towards the Tombstone, narrowly missing it.

A huge thunderclap hits the ship, and a giant beam shoots from the water into the sky. The Feypoppies are frozen in terror, the dwarves hit the deck and the crew of the Tombstone duck. Aces recognizes the effect from the Goblin Tower and dives into the water where the beam originated, her maul rips her towards Fanidea and even before The drow can surface, the mul swipes the crystal fom her hand, and gets it into her bag of holding before it can recharge.

Fanidea Cliff and Ehd apologize for bringing back something so dangerous, and Aces explains to them what she knows about the power of the shards. 

The next morning, they pull up anchor and continue on towards Neverwinter.

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CHAPTER THIRTY SIX: Into the Fey
The Chest


Mentathenis, pops the lid on the chest, an eye shattering light rips through the library. Before it blinds him fully, he is able to catch a glimpse of the chest’s contents. A strange pulsing orb and a dagger…

Then the light is ripped away into darkness and he hears a whisper…“Welcome back.”

The Hollow Tree


The environment has changed, the air around the heroes is no longer that of a dank dusty old library, but one of a cool forest.

As their eyes and ears adjust, they find themselves at the bottom of a gigantic tree’s hollowed stump. Sam, Andurel the librarian and the guard, Reginald stand disoriented. All around them hums the sound of wildlife. Golden runes, nested in the soft grass at their feet pulse, shatter into shards of sparkling glass and begin to fade away. A silver wisp of calming light floats nearby. It shifts and quickly flies away through a crack in the withered husk of the long dead tree.

Mentathenis is glowing. His skin is more translucent than usual, and through his veins pulse streams of light. His sky blue eyes are lit, and his hair is positively radiant… Andurel looks the same, as he is no longer a ghost, but once again, a living breathing eladrin, he stands in shock, but ecstatic to be alive. Reginald is freaked. Mentathenis is in bliss.

Suddenly. They hear a cracking and splitting, as if something is trying to break it’s way through the wall. Then they realize it’s already through, and was there the whole time, a tree sized treant stomps it’s way towards the four in anger.

Reginald moves in to do his guard job, Andurel rushes in to flank and Mentathenis and Sam launch their attacks and support from afar. The Treant hits hard but Sam knows they are highly vulnerable to fire and calls it out. Mentathenis hits it with a scorching burst and then conjures a flaming sphere. Reginald keeps it’s attention with taunts. During the fight The eladrin wizard determines that the Treant is under some sort of enchantment, though it is not corrupted. He lets the others know that it is okay to burn it down. And that’s what happens.

They move to the crack in the tree where the wisp disappeared and they discover a double magically sealed door. The first of which, Mentathenis is able to deactivate, the second, is typically a password in elvish. Being the Feybough into the Wizard’s tower of Baldur’s Gate, He recalls the password through ancient texts he once studied. “Tenna’ telwan san” “Until later then.” The side of the tree opens up to reveal a passage through and into the greater Feywild.

Through the Feywild


They make their way through the wild, skipping over huge rocks and ducking under giant roots of tress. Slippery moss covers everything. The etherial light finds it’s way through the cover and ignites dew into sparkling crystals of green and blue. They drip into the air and float away. Nearly everything in the Feywild displays a shifting subtle bioluminescence, when caught at just the right light entire forests can light up in life.

Sam catches sight of the wisp, zipping through the woods to the north. The sky is slowly growing lighter as the four enter into the swamp lands.

Nitzi


As they descend into the swampy territory, a thin layer of mist floats along the ground, obscuring it from their view and only a few giant twisted trees stretch above the veil. They tromp across the muddy landscape, sloshing through puddles and tripping over uneven terrain. Frogs and crickets sound all around.

Somewhere nearby, they can hear the sound of female laughter echo across the mist and can hear female voice say “Naa ta lle yeste? Naa lle sinome a’sina?” Mentathenis translates it to common from elvish for his companions “Is it your first time? Or are you here to reminisce?”

Sam, Andurel and Mentahenis attempt to locate where the voice came from, but can’t figure it out, and then it speaks again….“You won’t find anything if you are, hehe, it’s not here anymore, once you fail, you fail.” To which The eladrin queries “Here for what?”

And she replies “I’ve seen a bunch of you eladrin, prancing through goin’ on your trials…”

Andurel recommends that they move on and ignore the voice, Mentathenis responds that he is not on any trial, and they are trying to find their way back to Baldur’s Gate.

“Oh, interesting.” The girl says.

Sam continues to look around for the girl, but instead discovers a small red and black frog sitting on a log. It stares at the changeling and then looks at Mentathenis and speaks! “It is nice to see one more anyways, and his friends” Mentathenis picks up the poisonous frog with Mage Hand. Upside down she says “I could be a friend! I could be your best friend! For the right price.”

“Who are you?” He asks.

“My name is Nitzi, and I’m very poisonous, so be carefull!”

He shakes her around a little bit in attempts to get information but she doesn’t give in, only begging to be let down as she is starting to feel sick.
In effort to sell she tells him that The other eladrin, those who return, have told her stories about the trials. Finally Sam talks her price to speak down from 300 gold to 20 and she accepts, yawns and asks that they Just drop the gold in the water. Mentathenis sets her down, and she tells him “You must choose the weapon. It’s the only thing that will save you!” And he asks “From what?” She smiles, turns, and starts to climb back down the log into a hole.

“From your friends.”

The mist is clears, shapes begin to emerge from the white, and in the everpresent light they bloom into fanning ferns, beautiful flowered stalks and twisting bizarre plants of all shapes and sizes. In the water at their feet, they can see hundreds and hundreds of gold coins scattered about. There is far more than their own 20 coins under the water.

Behind them, they can hear Nitzi yell out…

“The forest is dangerous between here and the trials. Be-waaaaaaare! Hehe!”

The Friendly Satyr


The Feywood begins to grow dark and the four hear music on the wind. Following, it grows louder, the sound of a pan flute, and quite a beautiful melody, until winds pick up and drown it out. It appears that a fey storm is gathering. Up ahead they can see a dark wall of foliage, that they push through into a beautiful little glade, On an enchantingly ray lit grassy mound, is a cottage. There is a Satyr on it’s porch, playing the flute.

When they enter the glade, the little daisies turn their petals and awe at the four walking into the garden.

The goat man notices them, then hesitantly walks over to them and introduces himself as the friendly Satyr. They ask if they can find shelter and he says yes, but only for the night.

The winds outside begin to pick up to hurricane levels. A heavy shower pours into the forest. Trees at the edge of the glade are waved back and forth, struggling to hold themselves together.

“Oh my-y, a feyyyyystorm! The friendly satyr says. “Very dangerous! You stay safe in herrre.”

He turns to each of the heroes and asks them to tell him about themselves. And they do. He then offers to show them some magic, enters his bedroom and returns with an illuminated sword. Which he presents as having been his grandfather’s, a great slayer of unfriendly satyr.

Mentathenis asks to examine the sword and identifies it as being called the Infinity Blade. He is awe stricken by it’s power and says " In the wrong hands it can be very dangerous, but in the right, it could be used to great effect against the forces of evil." The satyr asks if his hands are the right ones and Mentathenis replies that they are, and the Satyr offers him the blade. He accepts.

The friendly satyr also offers three more magical items to Sam, Andurel and Reginald, a dagger called the Shifting Slicer. A Codex of Sorting and a Halberd of Courage respectively. They accept them all along with four trinkets of moderate magical properties. An hour glass, a stepping stone, a key and a vial of air.

The friendly satyr laughs maniacally then begins to grow. His eyes turn a burning red and he says “Your greed has made me powerful! Now you will pay in kind with your lives!” He attacks.

After a quick battle, they manage to lay the satyr in his bed and put him to sleep, the weapons that he gave disappear but the trinkets remain, and the fey storm outside subsides, allowing the four to exit the glade and continue on.

Four for Four


After a short trek they come across a wide dry river. Huge boulders are scattered about. Using caution, Sam picks up a rock and chucks it into the bed. The pebbles begin to shift and roll to the side. Then the larger rocks begin to follow. A huge stone flips itself on end and rolls away ricocheting off of two larger rocks which rock back and then come barreling forward, slamming against other giant boulders. All the rocks in the bed start rumbling. Thinking it far too dangerous to cross for fear of being crushed, Mentathenis tries to use one of the trinkets. He pulls out the hourglass and flips it over, suddenly all the rocks stop in time, allowing the heroes to make their way quickly to the other side. The hourglass disappears

Soon after, the four find themselves standing in front of a fifteen foot high Wall of Writhing Thornes, Sam takes out the flat stepping stone and places it on the ground. It creates a floating staircase up and over the wall allowing them to pass. The staircase and the original stone disappear.

When they find themselves in the middle of another beautifully lit glade in center of five trees at each point of a star. Mystical sparkles rise from the grass, as if the whole area is imbued with magic. They discover that each tree has a word written upon it in a language they have never seen but Mentathenis thinks it similar enough to elvish that he can translate them. One of the trees has a hollow knot in it.

“Mani naa ta lle merna” meaning: “What is it you want?”

Mentathenis pops the top on the vial of air and as he approaches the tree with the knot in it, he begins to discorporate and flow into the dark hole. Then he thinks about what he wants, to return to Baldur’s Gate and through the hole he can see the ruined wizard tower of the city. Changing his mind, he chooses to continue on to his trials and the vision through the knot changes accordingly, to another area in the Feywild. He and Sam allow themselves to be sucked into the hole to the other side. Andurel says he wants to see his daughter, and through the knot sees that she is alive and well in Silverymoon, working in a library. He is happy with that vision and asks to see Mentathenis, then discorporates and drifts to join he and Sam on the other side. Reginald, tired of the Feywild and just wanting to return to his duties as guard of The Gate, changes the view to the ruined wizard’s tower, and drifts through. The knot closes and the vial of air disappears.

Mentathenis, Sam, and Andurel make their way into a darker area where a strange viridian glow is present. As they crest a hill, below in a blackwood, burning green sap belches from the trees, pouring out in streams and forming slow moving rivers of sticky flaming molten sludge. Andurel uses the last trinket, the key and walks towards the sap where it clicks into an invisible lock. When he turns it, the glowing outline of a door appears and he opens it. A mirror of the door becomes visible on the far side of the sap field. They walk through the threshold and come safely out the other door. The key and the two magical doors disappear.

The Tower of Starlight


They move into a large field of flowers and watch as three huge roots erupt from the ground before them. They twist around each other and stretch toward the canopy of the forest. As they rise together, they pale and begin to change into a pearlescent, semi translucent structure, stars and galaxies swirl within it’s crystalline walls. A door forms at it’s base and the roots extend five stories into the air before stopping. Something emits a glow at the top of the tower.

Andurel stays at the bottom as Mentathenis and Sam climb it’s spiral stairs.

Final Trial


At the top, a glowing being, shaped as an eladrin female floats in the center of the disc that they now stand upon. Her eyes are locked upon Mentathenis. And in his head he can hear a whisper…

“Mentathenis, you may ask me one question.”

He asks, “Why am I here?” And she replies, “For your trials, let’s begin.”

A spectral image of the Infinity Blade appears, and spins in the center of the floor. Around the edge of the tower, spectral images of Mentathenis’ and Sam’s friends.

Lythannis Ec’thillion struggles to sift through the rubble of the Wizard’s Tower in Baldur’s Gate, A look of fear masked by resolve across his face.

Aces, Modreg, Ehd, Cliff, Terrlen, Megilwath and Fanidea are circled, talking. They share a look of worry coupled with determination, they rock back and forth on a ship in the ocean.

Saranine Lunathalia is chained by glowing shackles, she has her nose buried in a book. Something draws her attention and she looks up, hesitant hope is glimpsed in her eyes before she sighs and returns to her reading in disappointment.

Symernia the Nightbringer leads an army of demons against a small village on a strange desert landscape. For a moment, in her eyes, flashes a cry for help then they burn up in focused hatred as she slices through her enemies.

Krushi appears to be flying through darkness, really fast, and straight down. Lightning trails out in lengths behind her and she leaves a funnel of swirling mist in her wake. For a moment, Mentathenis and Sam think they see her grin.

The glowing eladrin woman giggles.

Mentathenis says “Let’s get this done!” And grabs the Infinity Blade.

“Battle Mage indeed…you may not like my choices.” says the glowing woman…“Lythannis. Just a friend or is he more? As you are unwilling to sacrifice for him, you must fight for him.”

The spectral image of Lythannis steps onto the platform anger in his eyes. He draws an arrow from his bow and fires it at Mentathenis hitting him in the shoulder. He returns fire with his spells and Sam helps to keep the eladrin wizard alive against his friend. Eventually, without too much trouble, the arcane archer is defeated and his image is dispelled.

“Saranine Lunathalia, Saranathia, the Radiant Dawn. Though she can still be saved, lets see what will become of her if she is not.”

The spectral image of Saranine breaks her shackles as her skin decays turning into a lich. She steps onto the platform, and moves to destroy Mentathenis. She attacks with necrotic spells and abilities and the Eladrin fights back with Magic Missiles. Below, hearing the impact of the magic, Andurel decides Mentathenis may actually need his help and runs up the tower to engage. Sam does a good job of keeping her eladrin friend alive and with Andurel’s radiant damage preventing the lich of Saranine from regenerating, they are able to take her down, and she disappears.

“Though you have chosen battle as your answer, you have the will and power to carry it through, no matter the obstacle. You are ready.”

The glowing woman raises her hands and into them she summons Nitzi the frog. Who cries out “Whhoaaaaaaa! Where am I? What’s going onnnn?” The frog explodes into golden light and transforms into the shape of an eladrin girl. A red robe swirls out of the air to cover her dew kissed porcelain skin. Her hair turns from golden light to a shining black.

She looks at her arms and in shock she says, “I, I have…fingers! Oh wow, I’m tall! I’m! I’m! What am I?”

Mentathenis asks the glowing woman “Who is the dark haired eladrin?”

The glowing woman answers “Her name is Nitzi Starfeon, She is your apprentice. Train her well.”

Then she turns and opens a portal into a forest.

“This will lead you into Silmataurea, Neverwinter Wood, where the next stage of your your journey begins. Tenna’ telwan san.” And she turns back into a wisp and disappears.

Andurel congratulates Mentathenis and bids both he and Sam farewell, jumping from the tower and blinking into the Feywild below.

Mentathenis looks towards Nitzi and says “Come along!” She and Sam follow him through the portal and into Neverwinter Wood.

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CHAPTER THIRTY FIVE: Aces' Story
On a Boat


Aces stands on the bow of a small single mast ship, gulls scream and circle in the clear, sunny sky above. The cool wind and fresh salty spray feel refreshing on her skin. Behind her, on the deck of the vessel, she can see a number of fishermen, gutting and preparing the catch for sale on the city docks in Waterdeep. It has been almost a year since she and Ree’vr became crew members on the “Flounder.”

After Sigil


When Aces, Ree’vr and Scribnib jumped through the portal in Sigil, they found themselves suffocating on the other side. What they expected to be the arid desert landscape of Athas, was in reality, an ocean of salty water. They were drowning! Their vision growing dark, they are pulled upward. In their heads, the Mul and Thri’kreen hear a calming voice “Struggling is unwise.”

When they awoke, they found themselves on the deck of the Flounder with four bushy bearded fishermen and a young girl staring down at The two. Scribnib was nowhere to be seen. The captain, Benburt Brinebrow, told them that he and his crew rescued them both from an aquatic tentacled monster. They took them both on as members of their crew. Conveniently, they had two spots open, as they had recently lost a pair of brothers…to an aquatic tentacled monster.

They picked up swimming and then swabbing, and then fishing, and eventually sailing. The young girl, Sinna Brinebrow, with her father’s permission has taken to learning how to fight by the outsiders and even more impressive, she seems to have some latent psionic ability.

During the nights at anchor, Aces is always accosted to share the stories her adventures, and were told tales of the high seas in return. The majority of which unfortunately devolve into arguments about who caught the biggest fish.

That evening in a secluded cove, after sail has been stowed and anchor dropped, over the fire and fish and drink, they tell stories once again.

Story Time


Nick stands, nearly falling overboard and yells out…

“Okay okay! I’ll go first! Once upon a time, I caught a fish so big and so ugly…” He points to Benburt… “I thought I’d saved your mother from drowning!”

Benburt shrugs his punch off and replies “Your mother drowned years ago! She drank herself to death after havin’ you pop from’er slimy bilge!”

Nick, noticeably annoyed, jumps over the side and heads toward the shore to gather herbs and coconuts.

Sinna pushes Aces to tell a story, and the Mul jumps up and claps her hands together, Sinna pulls out her waterlogged journal and gets ready to take notes.

The Mutant Mekillot


Aces and fourteen other gladiators rush the pile of weapons she dove for the rope expecting to pull a bladed hook, but when it came out of the pile, it was, in fact, just a rope.

Sinna interrupts and asks that Aces tell the story in her native accent, because it sounds more epic. Aces nods in agreement and continues.

The sand in the center of the arena bulged, as something huge began to pull itself up from under the arena floor. The other gladiators rush the creature and find their weapons useless against it’s domed carapace. It moved quickly, faster than any other Mekillot with it’s extra legs. This was the fabled many legged Mekillot! Aces laughed at the stupidity of the other gladiators and ran around to the right, the Mekillot attempted to follow, but even with it’s extra legs, it could not keep up, and turned back to crush a few of the other gladiators beneath it’s belly.

Aces jumped up on the beast’s tail and rolled onto it’s carapace. She sprinted over it’s back, right up to the back of it’s head and flipped the ends of the rope around her arms. With a quick movement, she turned the length around and wrapped it over it’s beak. As it fell back under it’s neck, Aces yelled out “This is how you kill a Mekillot!” and threw all her 300 pounds backward onto it’s shell. The creature howled and gurgled, lifting it’s head and body in attempts to relieve the tension, but only making it worse by dangling Aces over it’s back.

She heard the snap of it’s gullet and it began to roll to the side, crushing two more gladiators on the ground. Aces let her self be rolled along it’s shell until she could catch her feet and run off it’s side as it crashed to the sand. The dusted herself off and ripped the rope off the thing’s neck.

Everyone on the Flounder cheered excitedly.

The Starseed


Sinna finishes writing something in her journal and thanks Aces, then she stands…

“I have a story!” She says.

“Long ago, there was a girl, lost on the tides of Faerun. She was said to have drowned somewhere in this very sea, and carried with her to the bottom, a treasure of many worlds. The Starseed it was called! Many a sailor, pirate and treasure hunter have since hunted the tides for her bones in hopes of discovering her secrets.”

“But the allure of her invaluable treasure was only half of what drove men to their deaths upon the waves in chase. Beyond what she carried, she herself was a treasure, because this little lady had special powers.”

“Every time someone would get too close, the girl would jump away! To be chased, again and again…for all of eternity!”

She pauses, a look of disappointment across her face, then says "OR! orrr, until she finally finds love, and then she could take them jumping with her…for all of eternity! Yup!

Benburt interjects “You made that up!”

Sinna throws a glare at her father. “Nu-uh! I heard it from Mr. Gusterson in Molden Port, it’s a true story!”

From the island, Aces, Ree’vr and Sinna hear a yelp from Nick and then silence. Sinna puts her journal away and pulls her cutlass, diving into the water. Aces follows and Ree’vr jumps from the boat to the shore.

Strand Hunters


The three follow Nick’s tracks along the foliage line until they find a grouping of tracks eventually leading to three foul smelling creatures dragging Nick’s body behind them. Aces rushes in with her maul and Snna follows waving her cutlass. Ree’vr jumps after them stabbing with his Gythka. The two larger Troglodytes head off their attackers biting and swinging their clubs. Behind them, a Tide Chanter uses his staff to channel poison rays and spur on his guards. It is a bloody fight, and before it ends Aces and Sinna are knocked unconscious and revived, and Ree’vr falls after a nasty bite from one of the Trogs. Aces is distraught at the loss of her friend. She pouts.

Benburt and the rest of the crew bring Ree’vr’s seemingly lifeless body back to the boat to put on ice. Aces and Sinna search the Trogs and take the Tide Chanter’s clothes and helm. They discover that Nick is still alive and was only paralyzed from a nasty bite.

Ree’vr awakens in darkness to find himself ice cold and surrounded by fish. He pushes open the doors to the hold and bounces off the Flounder to catch up to his friends. Benburt and crew are confused.

A Treasure of Many Worlds


Following the Troglodyte’s tracks back to their origin they discover a horrifically smelling lair. Inside are the rotting corpses of many dead animals and humanoids. In the back of the cave is a pile of gold. When they begin to collect it, Aces notices, there are athasian ceramic pieces among the gold. Sinna points out that even some of the gold pieces are foreign to her and she quickly draws parallels to her story and the great treasure that the girl sank to the bottom of the sea with.

They return to the Flounder and give some of the gold to Benburt to buy out the next day of fishing to explore the island a little more.

The Last Troglodyte


The next morning, they set out to explore again. When they come across a Troglodyte eating a deer, they assassinate him and raid his lair, discovering more rotting corpses, and this time, there are dead Troglodytes among them.

They make their way around the small island, and eventually up it’s single craggy peak, rising just over the top of the canopy. From the vantage, Sinna can see the other surrounding islands as well as a swirling tornado over the water about two miles out. She hops down and grabs the hands of Aces and Ree’vr running them back to the beach.

Fish Vortex


Sinna pilots the Flounder through the turbulent waters towards the fish vortex. A swarm of hungry seagulls spins above creating a cyclone of white feathers, Aces and Ree’vr prepare their nets while Benburt and the crew ready the hold for stock.

Circling the edge of the funnel, Aces and Ree’vr haul in net after net full of fish while Sinna does her best to keep the boat on a steady course. She does an expert job until something starts crashing against the hull. Nick yells from below that the boat is taking on water and Ree’vr heads down to attempt a patch. Sinna feels the boat right itself as it drifts out of the vortex uncontrolled. The rudder is gone. Aces jumps into the water and as the fish begin to disperse, she can see two Sharks swimming towards her.
The first one manages to take a bite out of her before she is able to teleport it onto the deck of the Flounder, where Ree’vr is quick to put it to death. Sinna jumps in to cut off the second and with the help of the Mul, they leave it belly up.

Now that the vortex has cleared, Aces and Sinna notice a dark shape far below them. It looks like the sunken wreck of a ship…

Wreck and Rescue


Sinna spots a three masted sailing vessel emerging from behind one of the nearby islands. With a spyglass, Benburt identifies the ship as “The Maiden” a fast attack pirate killer from Luskan, coming to lend aid.

Sinna and Aces throw each other an excited look and rush to grab the anchor. Aces jumps in holding it to speed her descent. Sinna watches the line She knows she can’t make it to the drowned ship but hopes she can get close enough to discover it’s name. The wreck is mummified in seaweed. It’s writhing stalks twist and turn trailing off its stern as in an eternal plunge towards a bottom long since hit.

Aces can make out just the last three letters of it’s nameplate. “-EED

Sinna bugs Aces about what she saw and she tells her it was a nameless wreck. Sinna twists her face in disappointment.

Moments later, the mul gets back to the deck and The Maiden arrives. It’s captain, a man named Cave Wygarthe offers to tow the Flounder back to Waterdeep.

That night, Aces tells Sinna and Ree’vr that the wreck might have been the Starseed. Sinna gets excited but then upset that Aces kept it from her, breaking her trust. The woman tries to explain that she had to keep it a secret so as not to fall on the ears of the Maiden’s crew. Sinna pouts.

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CHAPTER THIRTY FOUR: Assault on Baldur's Gate Part II
The Feypoppies


Aces, Modreg, Sam and Lythannis chase Sparky and Radar through the streets. Ahead, they can see the wizard’s tower walls. The pugs zip past the two guarding swordmages and continue towards the tower through it’s gardens but stop when they realize they are no longer being followed.

The swordmages halt the heroes as they approach. Sam informs the guards that they believe their friend Mentathenis to be in danger and need access to the tower. The guard informs them that the tower is closed to all coming or going while the city is under attack, but that one of them would go fetch him for the visitors. The second elf heads towards the tower while the other stands to watch the battle across the city.

Becoming impatient, Sam uses a diplomatic approach to finally persuade the guard to allow one of them through. Sam catches up to the pugs and heads into the tower, following them through the halls and downstairs into the wizard’s library, where she finds Mentathenis, a ghost, the second elven swordmage and a guard, pondering over a chest at the back of the library.

Aces waits outside with Modreg and Lythannis. More soldiers and guards rush passed them towards the front gates of the city, catapults and other devices of war are being rolled by. Townsfolk are running up and down the streets in a panic and women are drag their children behind them in attempts to keep up with their husbands. Amidst the chaos, the mul spots three very colorfully, well-dressed elven girls making their way quickly through the crowd. They are chased by four dwarves, all with large gear sacks slung over their backs and hauling suitcases behind them. One of the elven girls drops a piece of paper and it floats across the street to land in a puddle in front of Aces. the girl falls out of line to go after it and yells out “Oh no, Sona! Guys! Wait!” The other two girls and dwarves slow for a moment as she fetches the paper, frowns at it being soaked through and catches back up to the group. They continue rushing through the crowd.

Upon hearing the name Sona, Aces chases them down. When she catches them, the rearmost dwarf notices the large woman approaching and gives her a nod. “What do ye want?” he asks.
Aces inquires about Sona and this draws the attention of the elven girls, who turn and walk back in curiosity. “Do you know Sona Summergale?” The one with the soaked paper asks excitedly. Aces responds with a yes and asks who the girls are. They line up and pose in front of the mul. “I’m Teena Tigerlily! I’m Vitnee Moonshale! I’m Chael Starwind! and we are The Feypoppies!” they all say in unison. “And these are our supporting dwarves! Rumburt, Raggert, Radnor and Rimblenose.”

When pushed for more information about Sona, Aces reveals that she knows the woman very well but that she was taken by the forces of Shade. She learns that the Feypoppies are searching for her in interest of having her lead their musical group, and that they are currently rushing towards a chartered boat called “the Tombstone” that is soon to be returning to Neverwinter. Thinking quickly, Aces promises many stories about Sona to the girls if she and her friends could accompany them on their boat to Neverwinter. They agree, and tell the mul that the boat is at dock number four, leaving in 30 minutes time.

Aces heads back to the wizard’s tower and asks Modreg to gather their things along with Megilwath and Fanidea from the Gatehouse Inn, and sends Lythannis off to get Terrlen and the others towards the gates of the city.

Dark City


Krushi fires herself into the sky. a lightning bolt sizzles the ground where she stood while Ehd, Cliff and Ree’vr turn to face down a Knight of Shade and a Shadow Spreader. In an instant the halfling is flying high above the dark city and it’s swarm of gargoyles looking down at its twisted architecture. She heads down towards the tower line for a better look. Among the bizarre layout of alleys, hallways, tunnels and thin bridges, she can see many shadows milling about along walls, but no physical beings within it’s commons. As she is exploring, a Gargoyle spots her and before it can fly towards her, she disappears in a forked lightning strike to duck into one of the old towers. Inside the tower is mostly empty save for a few dancing shadows. Much of the cities inhabitants seem to exist somewhere between the prime material and the shadowfell.

She pauses to focus on the energy empowering her, and feels drawn towards the largest of the city’s towers, a black windowless spire rising far above the rest. She follows the draw of power down to the maze level and through it’s twisted passageways, she finds a path from below up through the hollow structure to it’s top, where she threads a small crevice and finds herself on the only floor of the tower. Strangely, the floor is open to a ghostly fog below, and a bridge extends from the tower’s side into nothingness. There are two decaying thrones and what appear to be twelve gaunt shadowy human-like figures carved from the walls in some sort of relief. A shiny dark faceted stone floats on a center island over the fog, surrounded by four statues.

Krushi can sense that the crystal she seeks is being held in an ornate chest placed off to the side of the room. She moves over to it and opens the lid to find the tiny black shard, it’s edges glowing faintly with radiant light.

She snatches it up and turns towards the floating dark stone in the center of the room…

Another Taken


Ehd, Cliff and Ree’vr, injured as they may be continue to fight against the Knight and the Spreader. Cliff is careful to keep hitting the shadow creature so it can not raise more than one Blazing Skeleton during the battle. Ree’vr assists Cliff and Ehd does all he can to see himself and his friends through the battle, healing and calling out strategy.

Just when they are able to put down the Shade Knight, Pyraxis and another imp carrying an hourglass, rise from the shadow. The Balor slashes Ree’vr with his lightning sword, pushing the Thri’Kreen off balance and then quickly bearing down on him for another attack. Ehd crushes the imp with a powerful attack and it struggles to stay airborne. Pyraxis grabs Ree’vr by the neck and drops into the shadow, taking the mantis with him. The imp follows and soon after so does the Shadow Spreader. Shade drifts to a point just over Baldur’s main gate and slows to a stop.

In an Instant


Sam makes her way into the wizard’s library with her two dogs to find Mentathenis, a ghost and a young man pouring over a chest. The eladrin greets the changeling and refocuses his attention to the magical seal upon the box. He has dealt with arcane seals of this power before, and recalls enough to break it handily. When he lifts the lid, a blindingly bright light explodes into the library. Sound is sucked from the room and beyond the growing light and flame, Mentathenis squints his eyes to make out the shape of a dagger laying at the bottom of the chest…

Aces feels a tremor beneath her feet and the gardens around the wizard tower are sent into the air as a bubble of stone and earth explodes from beneath the massive tower’s base. Aces is blown back nearly a block and debris is sent halfway across the city. The tower drops, and it’s base shatters outward under it’s own weight as it begins to crumble into its own footprint. Aces pulls herself to her feet and rushes towards the crumbling structure. A huge piece of wall riding the wave of destruction rolls towards her and she is buried under it.

Krushi’s Stand


As Krushi moves towards the black stone, the shadowy image of Symernia appears on the island below it. She speaks…“We have everything we need, it’s time.” and then fades away. Above the stone, the shadowy image of a blighted desert landscape comes into view and Krushi begins channeling her powerful lightning attacks into the dark object, damaging it and sending it spinning slowly in place.

Around the room, the eyes of all twelve gaunt shadowy figures open, and gaze into the now wobbling implement. Shadowy streams of dark energy flow between each of the figures eyes and the orb as Krushi continues to lay into it with her magic.

Gate’s Destruction


The earth begins to shake and the ground opens in a gaping maw tearing towards the gates of the city from Ehd and Cliff’s position. They watch Shade climb into the sky forming a vortex beneath it that shreds through the city walls lifting stone steel and hundreds of soldiers into the air. what isn’t lifted, falls into the wide crevice below. When the enclave disappears into a point the shock wave nearly throws Ehd and Cliff into the hole, but they manage to avoid plunging to their deaths. They run passed the carnage and ruin to seek their friends.

Regroup



Aces hears voices and the sound of rocks being thrown around. a shaft of light pours in on her darkness and she can see Modreg clearing away rubble along with Lythannis, Megilwath, Fanidea, Cliff, Ehd and Terrlen. Modreg extends his little green hand to hep her out and then dusts her off. All that’s left of the wizard’s tower is a giant mound of destruction.

The mul looks around to take inventory, asking about Mentathenis, Sam, Krushi and Ree’vr. Lythannis shakes his head in a sorrowed response about Mentathenis and Sam, and Ehd and Cliff tell her Ree’vr was taken by the shadovar and Krushi disappeared in a bolt of lightning. Aces turns and starts digging through the rubble and Modreg jumps in to help but Lythannis steps in to place his hand on the woman’s shoulder. “I don’t think anyone could survive that Aces, no survivors have yet been pulled save for you.” She swats the archer’s hand aside and continues to dig, the thought of losing her friends weighing heavily on her, then she remembers the boat. Struggling emotionally, she decides it best to get everyone out of the city and on to Neverwinter, appointing Lythannis to see through the excavation and regroup with the others when he discovered the fate of Menatathenis and Sam. He agrees to that plan and stays behind with Celestine as Aces runs everyone across the bleeding city of Baldur’s Gate towards the docks.

Into Darkness


Shade starts to tilt to the side as the halfling continues to light up the room with her abilities, further disrupting the black stone. A huge crash is felt throughout the tower and the floating city seems to stop, listing to one side. The image of the arid desert fades away, the dark figures stop channeling, and a shadowy barrier surrounds the stone. One of the twelve figures rips himself from the wall to approach the meddling halfling. “Intruder, what do you hope to accomplish with your weak magic?” Krushi turns and scowls at the wretched man. “What do YOU hope to accomplish? What do you WANT?” The figure grins, his teeth rotted.

Demons and Undead emerge from the walls and floor. Krushi can feel hot breath bearing down on her from behind. A deep voice answers “The Wraith Blade halfling, and we are now one step closer to acquiring it, thanks to you and your friends.” Krushi turns just in time to see the swing of a lightning sword, knocking her in the chest across the room. She falls near the crevice that she came in through and for a moment thinks about flinging herself into it to escape but realizes that the shard’s power has greatly diminished and so has her own. She knew would not survive a fall to the bottom without flight.

Pyraxis stalked towards the halfling, his flame whip crackling about as he whipped it menacingly. Krushi, weighed her options quickly and as the balor’s whip pulled back for the killing strike, the girl gathered her remaining energy and flew through the floor into the extra dimensional cloud space beneath the black stone…

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CHAPTER THIRTY THREE: Assault on Baldur's Gate Part I
The Crow Flies at Dawn


Early the next morning, Mentathenis and Lythannis are roused from their slumber by a rapping on their window. A large scraggly crow pecks away until the wizard opens the window to let it in, when it flies up to perch on his shoulder and continues it’s pecking on his head. Words begin to form in the eladrin’s mind, in broken common but readable enough…

“Come wizard library, check book, Saranine request.”

Mentathenis tells Lythannis he has been called away to check out a book and leaves immediately.

As the others wake up and prepare to head out, Lythannis let’s them know about Mentathenis’ errand. Aces has a feeling of dread fall over her. It feels like the night of the card game in Sigil. Townsfolk gasp in fear, women grab their children and run, men point to the sky over the city gates where the black silhouette of Shade hangs menacingly. War horns are sounded and guards begin to mobilize. Krushi can feel the same energy she felt at the goblin tower. As she moves towards the dark enclave, that power grows stronger. She can not take flight yet, but she is already feeling lighter on her feet. The group decides to split up. One group to go after Mentathenis and the other to follow Krushi into battle against Shade.

Aces, Modreg, Sam and Lythannis along with the help of Sparky and Radar head after the wizard. Krushi, Ehd, Cliff and Ree’vr move towards the main gates where a massive battle has begun for Baldur’s Gate. Megilwath and Fanidea, stay hidden at the Gatehouse Inn so as not to be seen and mistaken for the enemy. Terrlen helps get people to safety.

The Fields In Shadow


As the Halfling and her companions muscle their way through fleeing townsfolk, and charging soldiers, they can see the scope of the battle come into full view. Hundreds and hundreds of men of the Gate fight off a massive army of undead lead by Pyraxis, barking from the rear. A tiny imp flutters about him carrying a small device.

Boulders soar over head from the catapults of the city. A circling swarm of hundreds of gargoyles work to stop the attacks. A few at a time turn themselves to stone and dive bomb the approaching projectiles, knocking them off course or turning them to much smaller rocks upon impact.

Cliff and Ehd can see the enclave gradually sneaking its way forward towards them. Krushi feels herself gaining more energy and realizes that every time she has been in the presence of shade, her hair has gone static. She focuses on that energy and dark clouds begin to form in the distance. The four rush into battle where the enemy has broken through the lines. They take on a group of skeleton warriors and archers, chill born zombies, and blazing skeletons.

Cliff beats into splinters the many who swarm him, becoming enraged, he rips through the undead, until finally having to retreat to be healed by Ehd. The Warlord calls out tactics and inspires his friends to attack with a vengeance and keeps his eye on Krushi, who waits for her clouds to roll in, casually flinging her magical lightning across the fields and blowing up skeletons. Ree’vr jumps around the battle in strides, cutting down undead left and right with his Gythka and spinning his Chakras with deadly accuracy. Before long, the undead in their area have all become dead. Pyraxis yells out “This city’s end has come! Baldur’s Gate will fall!” He and the rest of his army sink into the shadow, leaving the soldiers on the field to look around at the ready. Rain begins to fall.

Krushi’s eyes narrow and ignite with electric energy, she looks into the sky…

The Wizard’s Library


Mentathenis makes his way swiftly across the city, his robes flowing behind him. He had been to the Royal Wizard’s Library before and knew where it was, but decided to follow the ugly black bird on the path it thought best through the crowded streets. War horns sounded in the distance and gradually drew closer, then receded again west over the city. As he approached the gates of the wizard square, he glanced behind him to see Shade in the distance. He knew he would have to make his visit to the library brief…

The two armored elven swordmages held up their hands at the approaching wizard, their gazes locked into the distance at the looming darkness. “What is your business here…wizard? Oh.” They apologetically bow and stand aside to let Mentathenis pass, then return to their stare.

He makes his way through the great doors and into the bowels of the massive tower. The eladrin wizard grins in excitement to be amongst so many of his arcane endowed fellow once again. Down the spiral stairs into the Wizard’s library he goes to greet the ghostly librarian, Andurel.

“Ah, Mentathenis, yes. The book that Saranine requested be saved for you…just came back in. It has been quite popular as of late. I didn’t know when you would make the gate, so I placed it back on the shelf…” the elven spirit said.

He motions for Mentathenis to follow him and the eladrin turns to walk after the specter. Without warning, the four large, lit braziers are snuffed out and the library is plunged into darkness, save for the blue glow of Andurel. Mentathenis casts light, and hard shadows of bookshelves are painted in broad strokes around the room. The sounds of hissing can be heard, and the animated dark of some small, quick nightmarish creatures scurry about…

“I do think…we are not alone in here right now.” Speaks the ghost.
“You are not wrong my departed friend, your assistance would be most appreciated.” as Mentathenis draws his wands.
“And you shall have it! I’ll not have my library disarranged!” Shouted Andurel!

A group of Runespiral Demons and Skulkers rush out of the darkness towards the two. Mentathenis launches a Scorching Burst on the creatures and fey steps to the top of a bookshelf, Andurel flips a book off a shelf and whacks one in the head, then follows the eladrin above. The demons scurry after them clawing biting and arcing lightning bolts out of their faces.

Guard #327


Reginald stood at the top of the library stairs. He spun his halberd between his hands, watching it skitter across the stones of the floor as it twisted on end. At 16 years old, he was new to the Bauldur’s Gate Guard, and knew that his guarding of the library was only a temporary step in his long but ultimately rewarding career in the military. If only something heroic were to happen to him…

Suddenly, he felt a large rumble and heard an explosion downstairs. He knew Andurel always kept his library quiet, “Something must be up!” He said to himself and rushed downstairs to see strange creatures running about. He remembered his training and rushed in fearlessly, yelling out “Everyone take cover!” He swung his halberd towards one of the small shelled ones and it’s head found purchase in the demon’s hide, causing it to screech in pain.

Andurel and the Eladrin were fighting off the monsters further in, and Reginald set to fighting his way over to them.

Mentathenis notices Symernia the Nightbringer near the back of the library accompanied by an imp flitting about her carrying an hourglass. He fends off the smaller demons and turns his attention towards the hourglass, using mage hand to wrestle it put of the creatures hands. This draws the attention of the succubus, keeping her eyes fixed on the hourglass. Andurel pulls a number off books from the shelves around the woman and they swarm around her, causing her to become slowed. When the eladrin discovers the timepiece to me non-magical, he shatters it on the ground, and Symernia immediately calls for a retreat back into the sewers. Mentathenis, Andurel and Reginald manage to kill off a few of the creatures during their escape, but can not stop the succubus fro getting away.

With his attention returned to the library, Andurel knows immediately that one of the books has gone missing, The exact same book that he was to give to the eladrin at Saranine’s request, in fact. He also notices a strange chest sitting against the back wall…

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CHAPTER THIRTY TWO: The Crystal and Krushi's Awakening
Still Climbing


The party spreads out to take on the goblin workers. Aces and Modreg work to flank and take out the melee attackers while Sam and Mentathenis work to take out the two goblin archers. Very quickly, they best the enemies and explore the compactor level. Modreg and Sam discover two heavy lift elevators that appear to be used to ship trash up the tower to be sorted through and compacted. Sam wants to disable the lifts just in case, so she hops over the compactor walls from above and sifts through the junk to find a nice couple of wedges and happens across a Rope of Climbing. They jam the pulleys on the elevators and head up to floor 11.

As they head up to level 11, they notice a horrendous stench, and through quick investigation, Modreg warns his friends that it is the goblin potty floor. They carefully but quickly move across the floor, avoiding the small stink boxes and head up to the next floor.

On level 12 they walk into a bizarre scene. There is one goat here, tied up and strung from the ceiling. It looks beaten and very tired. A host of strange devices lay about the room, it vaguely resembles a torture chamber. Sam browses for some kink while here, but doesn’t find anything that suits her needs. Modreg scouts out the next floor.

On the 13th level there is anther door at the top of the stairs. This door is locked. Through window in the door, the quartet can see a circle barrier in the center of the floor, surrounded by a dozen or so small tables and stools many of which have been over turned or are covered in junk. At one of the tables closer to the middle sits a humanoid skeleton, hunched forward. The back of it’s skull is bashed in. A thick smell of home cooking permeates the air and a single goblin female can be seen rummaging around behind the barrier.

Bellga’s


When Modreg unlocks and opens the door, it rings a bell above, to which the goblin woman yells out “We’re closed! Come back later!”

The party attempts to sneak by to the next stairwell but the goblin catches sight of them.

“Hey! I said! Gasp! …”CUSTOMERS!" She jumps down off of the counter and knocks a bunch of pots and pans aside as she runs out behind and then around towards the four. A cleaver is in one of her raised hands and she waves it around wildly. Before she throws it into the table before the group, hops next to it and then flips it back onto it’s legs. she kicks junk off of four stools and dusts them off before she smiles a wide toothy grin and motions for the heroes to sit, and in interest of not being rude, they do.

She rips her cleaver from the table and darts back around to the far side of the center bar, throws boxes into the air in search, then comes running back waving a few parchment. She stops, takes a deep breath and stands as tall as her 3 foot height allow. “Welcome to Bellga’s masters. Tonight we have a few new entries on the menu that I think you will enjoy. Our special for this evening is Crab Paste Loaf, one of my personal favorites.”

Aces, Mentathenis and Modreg open their little menu’s awkwardly and browse the selection.

Bellga stands patiently. “Take your time, please!”

Modreg orders the Crab Paste Loaf, Aces orders everything on the menu, Mentathenis orders the Gorgik Stew, and Sam picks Slug’s Super Spicy Soup. Everyone decides to go with Wildgrove Mead for a drink. Bellga thanks them for their order, takes their menu’s and wakes up her two assistants, who help her cook and set the heroes table.

During the meal the party asks Bellga about her regular customers, where the Lobster came from and discover the origin for the meat in the Gorgik Stew is very nearby, uncomfortably so.

After dinner, Aces starts to hallucinate from the Queen Mushricka Salad seeing dancing mushrooms, and both she and Sam are trying to cool off from the Spicy Soup. The Wildgrove Mead also allows for a limited blind sight in the form of glowing shapes through closed eyes.

They thank Bellga for the meal, and head to the next floor

The Upper Levels


On the 14th level they are perplexed to find a boat construction facility. Four skeletal boat hulls in various stages of their crude construction lie in the room. Piles of wood and tools lay around. It won’t be too hard to move across, but they hear the hammering of steel somewhere on this floor. As they are moving through, they catch the eyes of a goblin shipwright who watches them confused for a moment, but lets them pass and returns to his work.

They discover that the 15th floor is largely non-existent. There are only 9 large pillars that separate the floor below from the floor above. On the center pillar the party finds some writing. “E murj-en c x-it” They decide not to take the exit at this time and continue to the 16th level.

This floor is nearly empty save for a small team of goblins who quickly form up to get ready to fight. Aces charges into the room after the lead goblin and a giant door opens out from under her. It’s a trap! She manages to catch herself before falling down to the floor below. Modreg tries to cut off a goblin coming around the side and also finds himself dangling by the fingertips. Mentathenis and Sam do their thing from the stairwell. Aces spits the soup she’s been swishing around her mouth since dining at Bellga’s. It splatters all over the boss goblin and burns his belly.

Modreg pulls himself up and charges down the goblin on the left. Mentathenis launches a Stinking Cloud on top of the goblins and they begin to choke and wheeze. Sam sings a tune of sorrow that makes one of the goblins turn his knife on his own heart, and cut it it out for her. Aces spews the rest of her soup onto the goblin boss’s face. It melts off and falls away, splatting on the floor. She rips the faceless goblin’s legs out from under him with a swing of her maul to end his life. A few seconds later, without their leader, the goblins are defeated. Aces feels dizzy.

She looks up to see Jax coming down the next flight of stairs, he is holding his chest, doubled over, but smiles in seeing his woman and extends his hand in aid. “Aces, baby, are you okay?” And she is too shocked to say anything. “Aces, do not go upstairs, whatever you do, do not go upstairs.” And then he disappears in front of her.

The Old Outpost


The 16th floor is dark save for a single candle light. When Aces is given a headlight by Mentathenis, the floor looks like another tower altogether, a mage tower perhaps. There are the sounds of birds chirping and Mentathenis thinks this may be where T’waat is being held. The party sees a red robed person seated at a desk in the middle of the room, who draws the flame, walls up to the party and introduces himself as Dormin’thal the wizard.

“Ah! You’ve arrived, good. Which one of you is Aces? I’m not sure who you are or why she has taken interest with you so suddenly, but whatever you do, don’t make her upset, she has made a lot of progress and I don’t want a regression.”

The party asks who he is referring to and he says “Magdrea Smartypants, the Goblin Queen.” When Modreg hears this name he asks again “WHO is upstairs?!?” Dormin’thal looks towards the goblin.

He notices Modreg. “Goblin! What are you doing up here? Shouldn’t you be working to better yourself and your people? I’m so sorry, has he been bothering you? Some of the goblins haven’t adjusted well to all the changes.”

Sam in the guise of Sona tells the wizard that Modreg is a member of their party and a hero. To which he responds in awe. “Facinating.”

Mentathenis inquires about the birds and Dormin’thal kindly abliges him, and shows him to the cages. The group sees that T’weet is standing atop of one. Inside, the eladrin can see the magical glow of one of Saranine’s messages. He tells Dormin’thal that the little blue one is his and the red robed man is happy to help his fellow wizard. Mentathenis reads the message and urges the party forward.

Aces is hesitant, but follows as Dormin’thal leads the group up the next two skeletal floors that creak and wave in the rain. They pass two royal red goblin guards and up to the top floor of the goblin tower, rain pours down heavily from above. And a blindingly bright light blazes above.

The Storm


Down below in the pouring rain, Krushi, Ehd, Cliff, Megilwath, Fanidea, Ree’vr and the two pugs are watching the dark tower above when a huge light blooms at the top. They notice that the goblins in the quarry are watching, transfixed. Krushi feels strangely energized and thinks she can hear music on the wind.

The others watch as The halfling lifts herself off the ground and hovers there for a few moments as Sparky and Radar run over to lick the rain off her boot tips. Ehd, Cliff, Megilwath, Fanidea and Ree’vr attempt to voice their concern, cheers, and utter shock at what they are seeing, but with an explosive thunderclap, Krushi fires into the storm above. The concussive blast knocks her friends squarely on their butts.

Magdrea Smartypants


The little goblin turns from the blazing light and walks down the stairs towards Aces, Mentathenis, Modreg, Sam and Dormin’thal. She holds her arms from her sides in a gesture of kindness. “Welcome Aces, I’m glad you have come.”

Dormin’thal taps Mentathenis and points to the light, “That thing! That crystal…is something that I have never seen before! It pulses with light and yet it is not magical, at least not magical in any sense that I can determine…it holds energy though! Warm to the touch! And do you feel it? Hear it? It really is beautiful! Magdrea told me that her clan found the crystal years ago and only within the last two years did it start emitting…well, this! And this is the brightest I’ve seen it! Holy Bahamut!”

Aces thinks she knows what is behind the whole thing and calls the goblin’s feign of friendship. Modreg steps up and says hello to Magdrea, but there is no look of recognition in her eyes. Aces is ready to end it, and quickly, at the head of her maul.

“Are you so ready to die Aces? We can do it as quickly and easily as you like…”

The light above flares in an eye searing pulse, a beam of pure incineration rips across the top of the tower in a fan of white hot death. Before they are cut in two, they are turned to ash. Nothing but black dust remains of the party, drifting into the wind…

Snapping back from her hallucinatio, Aces draws her maul to charge down the goblin when a ball lighting fires out of the sky, exploding the crystal perch, and blowing Aces, Modreg and Magdrea nearly to the edge of the tower. A blade of fire rips past Krushi in the air, turning the rain into a veil of mist.

Darkness.

A light sparkles into existence amid the rubble and Krushi begins to cast another spell, but just before she releases it, Aces dives on top of the thing with her bag of holding. Krushi sighs and drops to the roof of the tower.

Modreg scurries over to Magdrea and helps her up. She appears to be released from the influence of the crystal, and is happy to see him. Krushi can feel her powers fading now that she is cut off from the crystals energy. She asks Aces to take it out but the mul refuses and says it’s too dangerous. Dormin’thal, Mentathenis and Sam join the others and Magdrea, like Krushi, really wants to see the crystal again. Aces tries to lie and say that it was destroyed, but Smartypants calls her bluff and figures that it was taken by the bald woman. Sam and Modreg intervene and persuade the goblin to let it go and return to leading her people with the smarts she already has.

Krushi and Aces want to investigate the crystal’s origins, they get directions to the cave it was dug up in from Magdrea and they head off again, leaving the goblin clans to continue their city planning.

Origin of the Shard


In the old hills of the 38 clans, the party wanders through a few small goblin retirement villages and finds the entrance to the cave. It appears to be an old mine. They look around but can’t find anything out of the ordinary. Krushi requests that Aces show her the crystal again. When she pulls it out, it’s light is shining brightly and starting to regain it’s energy. The mul sets it on the ground and Krushi can feel it’s power flow into her, but too soon, it is ready to launch another attack and Krushi zaps it with a spell in attempts to stop it. Her magic is too powerful though and it is blasted into oblivion. She looks down with a disappointed frown and scoops up the crystal powder that remains of the thing, getting as much back into the bag of holding as she can.

Modreg mentions that this all reminds him of a story about another crystal and tower somewhere to the distant north.

Baldur’s Gate


They all head on to Baldur’s Gate where Mentathenis puts everyone up at the Gatehouse Inn, his go-to quarters in the city. He also brings the rest of the party out to the newly opened Magic Boutique. They run across Gendar from the Seven Pillared Hall and he takes them to his newer and secret underground magic shop. The party spends quite a while digging through the Drow’s stock and in the end, Aces has to be pushed out of the store to get her to stop. After shopping, everyone retires to the Gatehouse Inn for drinks and turns in for the night.

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CHAPTER THIRTY ONE: Achievements of the Bloodskullbreakerbonecracker'snap Clan
Saranine’s Message


The journey west has been thankfully, encounter free, as though the gods have been watching over the party, or it might just be because there are twelve heavily armed individuals and they scare everything away. The band is on the last leg of their trip west now, only a hundred miles or so from Baldur’s Gate.

Aces and Ree’vr catch their breaths after another flash of memories, this one ending with a crushing wetness of the likes neither of them have ever experienced. During the evenings, along their journey, Aces reads the pages of the Telaric Codex that Ree’vr left for her when she awoke in Iriaebor.

Anyone who as ever traveled the road to Baldur’s Gate from the East can’t say why but the road seems wrong, different somehow but no one in the group can put their finger on it. Something is out of place, the treeline maybe, or the color of the sky perhaps.

A tiny bluejay with a bright orange belly flies out of the sky chirping up a storm and nearly knocks the wind out of Mentathenis. It flops to the ground and he recognizes it as T’weet, one of Saranine’s twin bluejays. There appears to be a small spinning blue magical ring floating around it’s leg. The Eladrin removes it and holds it between his thumb and middle finger. When he snaps. It unscrolls in a burst of floating blue text that can be scrolled just as easily as it’s non-magical counterpart, but can only be seen by the Wizard.

Sara message


Mentathenis pokes the little bluejay to wake it up and relays the message to the rest of the party and Lythannis leans into the other Eladrin and says “You know, I could think up a few quests you and I can do together that don’t involve T’waat and are far far easier…and give bigger reward.” As they continue over the next hill, Mentathenis works to convince Lythannis that he shouldn’t be jealous.

When the mob crests the hill, the tower Saranine spoke of is unmissable. What was once just a single story, stone building that served as an outpost, has been crudely transformed into a giant teetering monstrosity of a tower. Each of it’s wide levels looks forced upon the level below it and a host of ballista and catapult are shoved into into it’s sides seemingly haphazardly around the length of its height. Its base descends into a quarry filled with hundreds of goblins, they work to continue the tower’s construction. Now it becomes clear why things felt different. The goblins have done a thorough job of clear cutting the surrounding forests, going so far as to rip out their roots in addition. “Trysta would not be pleased.” snarls Mentathenis as he glares at the twisted tower. Modreg stands in awe, as he has never seen such construction undertaken by his kind. “This a great goblin achievement!” he says to Aces. T’weet hops off Mentathenis’ shoulder chirping, and flies towards the top of the tower.

Seeing the hundreds of goblins working in the quarry between them and the front gate of the tower, Aces and Modreg agree that sending him in to do some investigating before charging in may be beneficial. The little goblin steels himself and strolls over to the quarry, attempting to be as inconspicuous as possible. One of the goblins in a two story rickety wooden watch tower calls over to him and asks what he is doing. Modreg says he has a special message to deliver to the tower and the guard goblin replies “You have message for crystal? I give message to crystal, you give to me first, then back to work.” He leans in and touches his forehead to Modreg’s. Immediately he pulls back and says “You have no message for crystal! Why you lie?” Modreg comes up with a quick explanation and the guard lets him pass, but keeps his eye on the strange goblin. He makes his way down into the quarry and explores, discovering that many of the goblins are wearing symbols of formerly rival clans, now joined together as one. He also notes that none of the goblins appear to be slaves, working by their own will save for the slight purple glow in their eyes. He he has access to the tower with no issues, but decides to head back and consult the others.

On his way back, as he is leaving the area of the quarry, the guard goblin watches him intently. When he gets back to the group they decide to try the old pretend prisoner act, and Modreg leads Aces, Mentathenis and Sam back towards the tower. The guard goblin calls out again and Modreg says he is delivering prisoners to the dungeon. They are allowed to pass, and make their way down to the gate, it begins to rain.

The Goblin Tower


Inside the tower, Sam notices the quick release lever for the front gate and points out the rope lining the walls that leads to the next story attached to bells at random intervals, the alarm system most likely. There are a host of goblins on the bottom floor, milling around and playing cards. A larger goblin sits at a small desk near the stairs leading down to the dungeon. Modreg is directed to lead the newly acquired prisoners down the stairs and down below they find a few other goblins in cells. When asked why they are being held captive, they reply that they were tired and could no longer work, so they were brought down into the dungeon to rest. The four move back towards the spiral stairwell and draw their weapons, Aces leads the charge and they engage into combat with the goblins on the first floor. Aces fends the attackers off, Mentathenis rips them to shreds with magic, and Sam works to control the field and keep her friends alive. Modreg sneaks past and around the floor sneakily. One of the goblins manages to sound the alarm but before the quarry workers can run in to aid their comrades, Sam drops the gate locking them out. Modreg moves towards the stairs heading to the second level as four goblin reinforcements make their way down the stairs, he manages to slice the bellies of each one, sending them falling forward and spilling their intestines all over the floor, dead. They find 20 gold on the table, 1 deck of goblin playing cards, 1 leather belt, and the key to tower levels 1-5.

On the second floor they find a goblin bunk room, most of the goblins are sleeping, but one is sitting up in his bed polishing a small gleaming goblin dagger. The four heroes sneak past very quietly to the third level.

On the third floor they find a weapon storage with an unused catapult as well as piles of Goblin swords and armor. One goblin is sleeping in the catapult bowl, aimed out one of the windows. They sneak past and head to the fourth level.

On the fourth floor is a supply room, containing vats of crab paste and padded helmets among other seemingly worthless trinkets and items. A goblin is sleeping in one of the crates with the lid closed snoring loudly. They sneak past and head to the fifth level.

On the fifth level is a large stable area containing cages for hyenas, timber wolves and two large dire wolves. Two goblins are in this room, one of them is mounted on a wolf and the second is cleaning cages. As the party of four engage the wolf rider, the cage cleaner runs to open one of the wolf cages and moves on to another, but he is only able to open the one, before Aces and Mentathenis put him down. The dire wolves attempt to break out of their cages, but Sam moves over and works to sooth them. She succeeds and they lie in their cages quietly. Modreg moves around the room stabbing to death a hyena and getting revenge for his untimely death in the Thunderspire Labyrinth. Aces Mentathenis and Sam finish off the rider and his wolves. They find 2 small squeaky animal toys, 6 spiked collars, 1 dog grooming brush, 4 chewed bones and the key 1 to levels 6-10. They continue to the sixth level.

On the sixth level they find a sign that reads “Mess Hall” This level is a mess of twisting maze-like hallways for no apparent reason whatsoever. Aces leads them through without much effort and along the way they find a small pouch of 50 gold tucked in a corner and a scroll of Fey Passage lost in a dead end. They head to the seventh level.

On the seventh level they find a goblin alchemy lab. hundreds of glowing vials and pipes lay scattered around the tables and floor, bubbling over and dripping. There is one goblin mixing strange glowing potions in this room. They sneak past and head to the eighth level.

On the eighth level they find a large glowing magic circle with two dead goblin bodies in it’s center and two goblin ghosts who float up to the heroes and appear to mouth something which the party can not make out. Mentathenis uses mage hand to disrupt the powder forming the circle on the ground and the magic dissipates, causing the two goblin ghosts to disappear along with the magical effect. They find A pair of Spell Anchor Gloves and Storm Gauntlets. The trap door leading up into the next level is barricaded from the opposite side somehow, even heavily enough that Modreg and all his goblin strength can not pry it open. There is one window on this level and Aces checks outside to see above, it appears to be open to the air on the next floor and she climbs outside the tower into the rain with a grappling hook and rope. On her way there is a loud scraping sound and rumbling, the tower seems to shift and sway a little as something large moves above. When she reaches the next level, it is open fully on one side and can see two large walls crushing together a large amount of goblin junk into a bundle. Some sort of trash compactor she thinks. The two walls slowly pull away and the third wall begins to push the trash pillar towards her. She drops back down to the eighth level as the giant pillar flies past and crashes to the ground below. Sam understands what is happening and tells her friends to try the trap door again quickly, now it is loose, they climb to the ninth level.

On the ninth level they emerge from the trap door behind the walls of the compactor and find 10 goblins turning huge wheels and pulleys to work the crude machine. The goblins stop and turn towards the intruders.

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