The Silence Of The Gods

Chapter 1-9.5 Tropical Paradise (or how our heroes met a fishy end and ended something fishy)

Mini-game instead of normal game due to lack of players and 1 guest player

After finding themselves on the island in the middle of ocean, the heroes set up a camp on the beach to await rescue. In the middle of the first night, Urmazingquaaw and Tordik Frostbeard awaken to see that Arlo and Red are gone, and there are signs of struggle all around the campsite, including odd 4-toed footprints with claw marks. Urma and Tordik race in the night following the tracks into the woods.

Along the way, they come across a number of bodies, all dressed in sailor garb, and also with patches of fish scaly skin, barnacles coming out of their skin, and glassed over eyes. Just off the path, they find one body that is completely un-fishified, and it awakens with a start. It is Potler, a half-orc monk smuggler who was part of the crew of a ship. The ship was attacked by Saughuin, and, too damaged to continue sailing, made headway for the nearest island to await rescue. Crew members started disappearing in the night, and the crew sent a party to discover what happened. They were attacked, and Potler was knocked unconscious in the struggle. He is unsure of how many of his crew survive. The heroes continue to follow the tracks, and it leads to the base of a small jagged mountian and the mouth of a cave. The cave is pitch-black, and a muddy trail leads down into the salt-water scented cave. Odd, considering that the ocean is an hours march away from this cave.

Descending into the cave, the moonlight barely lights the tunnels. Tordik and Potler have no issue as they have dark vision, but Urma begins to have difficulty. Squabbling amongst themselves about who goes first, Urma tosses Tordik (crit strength check) into the cavern, and he looks up directly into the eyes of 4 Kuo-Toa. 1 traps Tordik in a net and the other 3 engage the other heroes. In the fight, 2 Kuo-Toa are slain, and 1 of them flees further into the caves. Tordik and Potler give chase and fell the creature just before it makes it to the next cavern. Urma is left behind to fight off the final creature in the first cavern. Potler stealths to try and check out the next cavern, which is lit, and sees 2 Kuo-Toa and one giant Kuo-Toa, along with 5 caverns on the far side. 4 caverns are blocked off with wood and seaweed lashings to imprison people behind them. Tordik stupidly and obliviously walks straight down into the cavern and the Kuo-Toa charge at him.

Urma is still fighting the last Kuo-Toa in the previous chamber, and, after felling him, makes great haste down the tunnel after his friends. The giant Kuo-Toa uses a giant pincer staff to ensnare Tordik and keep him out of striking distance. Potler’s flying fists knock enemies to the ground, but the hard spears, sharp bites, and the fact that Tordik gave no respite between combats AND that it took 2 turns for Urma to get into the room causes Urma and Potler to fall and make death saving throws by the end. Tordik, with deft actions to free himself from the pincer staff and his ability to hit many foes at once, manages to scrape by and take out the Kuo-Toa. Luckily, Tordik can heal wounds, and the heroes survive the encounter.

They inspect the 4 cages, and finding a still-breathing Red in one of them. Reith, the navigator from Potler’s ship, is still alive and well in another cage. 1 other cage contains fishified bodies, and the last one is empty. Red and Reith tell the heroes that the last cage contained Arlo before he was brought down further into the caves. The heroes take a short rest to recover, then follow after their friend.

The last cavern is dimly lit by blue iridescent lights shining out of 4 pools of water. A salt-water waterfall pours into one of the pools, and a roughly crafted stone dais rests near the far wall. 2 Kuo-Toa are fanatically worshiping at the dais, and on it, piles of looted items rest. Arlo is waist deep in one of the piles, and a wretched Sea Hag is stroking his face; her newest trophy in her collection. The heroes are spotted, and the hag attacks.

Her visage is so grotesque that the heroes are disturbed. Some look away, but Potler succeeds against the ugly unphased. The battle commences. Urma becomes overcome by the hideousness, and barely avoids the death glare from the Sea Hag. Potler uses his flurry of blows to knock the Sea Hag off of her feet and off of the back end of the dais. The hag begins to use the magic lights in the pools to cause giant torrents of water to batter heroes, blasting Red into one of the pools of water. Urma, very creatively, uses his Create or Destroy Water spell to destroy a 20-ft cube of water around the last seen location of the underwater Sea Hag, which reveals her location a split second before the water crashes back in, expelling the hag from the water. Tordik begins landing heavy blows, and, with the Sea Hag’s final breath, she causes the waterfall to blow, causing the cavern to rapidly fill. Red manages to steal a stoppered urn of liquid, and Tordik grabs Arlo. They all wade out of the rapidly filling cavern before it fills.

Returning to the camp, the heroes wait 2 more uneventful nights before they are rescued. Potler and Reith return to Stormreach with the heroes, and Potler and Reith leave the group to discover their new lives together.

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Chapter 1-9 Machinations of a Darker Power (or how our heroes nearly were baked alive)

With the giant’s machine in tow, our heroes, Arlo, Red, & Urmazingquaaw returned towards Stormreach with Tordik Frostbeard (absent) and the un-possessed Horvath. On the return, as they were passing the Titan’s Teeth, Arenora and the unicorn appear as if stepping out of thin air. Arenora is visibly upset. There is something interfering with her divination powers, and she is quite worried. Asking the unicorn (18 persuasion), the unicorn telepathically tells just the party that Arenora is not of the mortal world, and she relies on a unique planar power. Arenora is entirely unaware that she is extraplanar however, and the unicorn is worried at the implications. The party leaves and returns the march towards Stormreach.

Upon reaching Stormreach, the party arrives at the forge. Entering the Forge Heart, they find it a bustle of activity. Tired of Paolo vagueness regarding payment, the party starts hard bargaining for their payment. Upon producing the machine, however, Paolo is so ecstatic that she offers 3 of her trophy cabinets as payment. The machine is moved to a table, and the heroes begin to move towards the cabinets.

4 people in the room throw off hoods and draw weapons. These men have searing glowing eyes of bright steel blue, and they shout in unison “The machine must not survive”. Paolo charges into the fray to protect the machine, and, after landing a sturdy strike, the lead attacker stabs her with a long syringe-like device, and Paolo instantly collapses. The party fights the attackers, and aim to knock them all out for interrogation later. As they fight the party members, Urma and Red begin looting the trophy cabinets, looking for items to aid them. They are able to open 4 of the 5 cabinets (Urma crit fails a strength check), and receive the following: 1 odd mask, 1 quiver of 6 Arrows of Autumn’s Gust, 1 elegant key, and 1 bag of holding.

The party incapacitates 3 of the attackers, and the remaining one is proving to be a challenge. The party drops him still, but he returns with a flash of blue light. He begins levitating, and starts causing general pain and discomfort for the party. They also notice that the rest of the forge outside of the forgeheart is a mess of flashing blades and fire. The entire forge is being set ablaze, and the smoke is too thick to see into outisde of the forgeheart. Red quickly uses her mage hand spell to pull the door’s lever, sealing the grand iron doors, and they trap the fire but trapping themselves inside. As the doors shut, a figure flies through at the last second, and, to all the heroes’ surprise, Aerrous is standing amongst them. He quickly moves over to the fallen Paolo, who has begun to convulse and foam at the mouth. The heroes drop the last attacker, and with a surge of blue light, he crumples.

Aerrous administers to Paolo, but the party begins to realize that although locking the doors saved them from the flames themselves, the fires are heating up the room. The heroes begin looking for another means out before they are baked alive in a human-sized kiln, and start tearing up the room looking for options. Paolo awakens, and, upon seeing Aerrous, says “Thank the gods it’s you.” She tends to the machine, and Aerrous begins divining a solution, which he is certain there is one.

On a set of podiums, Urma finds 3 orbs: 1 blue, 1 red, and 1 half blue/half red. On another set of podiums, Urma finds an urn containing ashes, an ancient waraxe with a cracked, blunted blade, and an old war helm with a severe crack down the middle. On the last set of podiums, red finds 1 stack of silver bricks, 1 stack of gold bricks, and 1 stack of platinum bricks, all stamped with the seal of the central bank of Breland.

Arlo begins digging through crates and boxes around the room, and finds a lot of overflow weapons from the forge, which Urma eagerly snatches up, but Arlo also finds an odd plank of driftwood that is abnormally heavy and carved with symbols. The heroes, upon investigating the plank, discover 2 indentations and 1 small hole between them. Cleverly discerned, the heroes place the the red and the blue ones in the indentations, and the waraxe handle fits into the hole. The dual-coloured orb fits into a notch in the waraxe, and, with that, the wood thrums with power. The room is irrepressibly scorching hot, and Aerrous runs across the room. Arlo sees that the waraxe can swivel in it’s hole, and it can also swing down and strike an orb. Aerrous lays a hand onto the board and yells at Arlo to strike an orb, any orb, but quickly. Every person lays a hand on the board, and Arlo quickly strikes the blue orb. The blue orb, along with the board, shatter into pieces and fall to the floor. The blue orb moves like a ball of jello, and the heroes swear they can see a fish swimming in it. With a rushing surge of water, the heroes discover they are deep under salt water. They all swim to the surface, and they discover they are in the middle of the ocean. They all manage to swim to a nearby island, which is uninhabited.

Paolo then explains herself. For many nights, Aerrous came to her in her dreams warning of disaster in the future, claiming his truthfulness by knowing and keeping Paolo’s secret. Every move that Paolo has made was in her hopes of preventing the disaster. She knew that the Triumvirate, the secret trio of evil stormlords, plans on using an obsidian spire hidden within Stormreach. The machine that the heroes brought back is an ancient giant’s machine used in the Quori invasion to sever the Quori’s connection to the material plane, and can be used to sever other extraplanar beings from the plane. It is powered by the Obsidian Obelisks that the heroes have been encountering in the giant’s ruins. The entire plan of the Triumvirate rests upon that obsidian spire and its planar energies. The obsidian spire is located somewhere below the Tower of Kol Korran in Stormreach, which is a veritable fortress that is guarded around the clock. The heroes must break into the tower, discover the location of the spire, and use the machine and Red’s artifact to prevent whatever devious machinations that is being concocted.

Arlo still has the machine, and he managed to drag it to the shore, but the salt water shorted the machine and it is beyond repair. Paolo, now trusting the heroes implicitly, reveals her secret to the party. She touches the machine with both hands, and beads of blue light dance down her arms and gently swirl around the machine. A fierce blue tattoo on her back shines with a blazing light, and the machine once again thrums lightly. Paolo manifested the Dragonmark of Making in her early adulthood and has been keeping it a secret since then. Aerrous, however, knew of it somehow.

With that revelation, the party rests on this island for 3 days before a ship passes by. Arlo (sailor background) recognizes one of the ships crew and manages to negotiate passage for the heroes back to Stormreach. In the light of the stars and a crescent moon, Aerrous then leads the party to the tower. With a creeping thread of magic forming a ladder over the walls, Aerrous beckons the heroes over the wall and into the fortress.

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Chapter 1-8 On The Shoulders of Giants (Or how our heroes ATTACKED THE DARKNESS)

Setting out from the Titan’s Teeth, after rescuing the unicorn, our heroes march forth towards the final Giant’s ruin that Pagaern had visited. With Tordik leading the way with his cartography skills, the group made good time and arrived in 5 days, 9 days after the first survey party sent ahead of the adventurers by Paolo Omaren. Cresting a hill, they were greeted with the sight of the Giant’s Ruin surrounded by a mile-thick cloud of green mist. Unable to discern what the mist was, they ventured into the mist towards the survey camp. Arriving, they find Urmazingquaaw in combat with 5 zombies, which the heroes quickly dispatch.

Urma informs the heroes of the dire straits that the survey party experienced. Upon arriving at the ruins, the first surveyors disappeared into the ruins for days, then returned as twisted, deformed versions of themselves. Of the original party of 30, only Urma and the survey leader, Horvath, remained. Horvath, being a very capable sorcerer, decided to venture into the ruins alone to try and stem the evil from within. He had not returned. Now resting an hour within the mist, the heroes find that Urma, as well as Tordick now, have contracted some foul illness that leaves them with a racking cough. Seeing no choice, the heroes venture into the ruins.

Entering from the south into a grand columned chamber, the heroes find themselves mere specks amid the giant’s grand ruin. Doors reach a startling 60 ft into the air, and the handles to open the doors seem much higher than any of them could hope to reach. Luckily, some doors contain smaller doors through which the Giant’s elven slaves were able to navigate the building, so they used those. The first room they entered contained cages, long since emptied, and a grand lever sunk into the floor. Arlo (crit perception) discerns that the mechanism, in its open area and obvious position, could not possibly trigger a trap and the chains run due north under the floor. Venturing north, they find themselves in a U-shaped hallway with iron windows and a door looking into the central chamber.

In that chamber, they find the site of what seems to be a ritual chamber. A long room ends at a raised dais, and on the dais is a grandiose, ornate door, slightly ajar. It is flanked on both sides by what is later discerned to be 50-ft iron chimes and, further towards the wall of the room, 2 cages suspended by chains with doors open onto an upper looking gallery. On the dais in front of the door is a long abandoned campsite for one, with a single bedroll and long-dead campfire among the clutter. The door into this chamber is a portcullis made of iron weaving too thin to pass through, and a column collapsed against the door prevents it from sliding upwards. All the heroes besides Arlo load themselves into a cage and, when Arlo pulls the corresponding lever, the heroes descend from the gallery into the chamber. Arlo then expertly slides down the chain into the chamber after them.

Investigating the campsite, they discover that it is the original campsite of Pagaern when he visited the site, but he abandoned it for some reason. Under the pillow, Tordik finds a parchment scrawled with loose, scribbled notes, and one bolded, underlined phrase stands out: “That which gives light, the way, and power, also doth take away”. Red finds another scrawling inside of a forgotten book, which is a poem on the door translated into common. It reads:
The Chimes
One chime and forward marches The Thrall
Two chimes and backwards he shall crawl
Three chimes and the world and it’s sins shall fall.

With nothing left to find in the room, the heroes venture into the door. The mist is thicker here, and Tordick finds himself with an intense, debilitating migraine which impedes his thinking ability. The others are no worse off than before. On the inside of the door, the heroes find themselves in a black, twisting cave with no light. Torches are lit, and the heroes blindly decide to try the left-most passage to explore. The heroes come into a chamber with smooth white quartz obelisks, and a waterfall leading into a pool of brackish, dark green liquid. All in all, there are 5 roughly person-sized obelisks in this room, and the 3 that are in the water glow with with a faint white light. When Urma tries to lift one of the unlit obelisks, he discovers that they are as light as air, easily moved around. Urma then foolishly dips a scaly toe into the pool, and his foot starts to burn with a fury that slowly begins to spread up his leg. Finding nothing else in the room, they venture further into the cavern. The next chamber they discover has another unlit obelisk, and a brackish pool with an odd bowl-like depression in it that refuses to fill with water. When Urma lifts the obelisk into the depression, it sinks in as if magnetized and illuminates. The torch that Urma was carrying instantly extinguishes and it’s light is sucked into the obelisk. Arlo is convinced that the obelisks spell the doom of the party. As the party continues to explore, they pass more lit obelisks and brackish pools, and the other path leads back to the doors. With only one unexplored path remaining, the heroes take it.

This path leads to a massive stone bridge over a great lake of the green liquid. Only the first third of the lake is visible, and it is as if a great black curtain of darkness is hanging on the lake. The mist is dense in this area, and Tordick finds himself now covered head to toe with hives. They see another obelisk on its side with a depression nearby, and Arlo takes this obelisk and tosses it off the edge into the lake, not wanting it activated. Afraid of the great evil in this ruins, the heroes decide that an escape is their only option to survive, and they make haste for the doors out of the caverns. However, the doors are blocked by 4 zombies and Horvath. Horvath stares at the party with deep green, glowing eyes, and he is surrounded as if by a cloud of dark green mist. He says’ “Good, more of you…” before vanishing into blackness and sending the zombies at them.

The heroes begin slaying the zombies blocking their escape and Red, when she turns around, sees that she is nose to nose with Horvath. He grabs her around the throat and he teleports away with her. As they fight, appearing in and around the chambers in the cave, Red notices at one jump that they were on a floating platform over the lake with 4 lit quartz obelisks and an identical obsidian obelisk to the chamber where they rescued the unicorn. This obsidian obelisk, however, was extremely active, with crackling bolts of green lightning firing off, geysers of energy shooting from the top, and motes of green light drifting like fireflies around it. When Red finally manages to knock Horvath off of her, she is in an explored part of the caves, and quickly makes her way back to the adventurers. She tells them of the platform, and tells them that she knows that the only way to get to the platform is to insert the quartz obelisks into their spots. The heroes do so, using an additional obelisk found in the first chamber to replace the one that Arlo threw into the lake, and, completing so, notice that the caves light up brightly. The lake, however, is now a cloud of absolute blackness that no light can penetrate. The voice of Horvath can be heard saying “Now the Thrall can finally be realized!”, and a bridge of light shines from the plaform, over the lake, and through the blackness.

The heroes venture through the blackness across the bridge, and find themselves on the platform. The obsidian obelisk is protected by a grand forcefield, and, when Red jumps at it to insert the Giant’s artifact like the last one, she bounces straight off of the barrier. Remembering the note they found about that which gives light, the way, and power also doth take away, Urma and Arlo begin pulling quartz obelisks out of their holders and tossing them into the lake. They are significantly harder to pull out once inserted, and only once does Arlo manage to pull out an obelisk without the aid of Urma. In the meantime, Red and Tordick keep Horvath at bay with arrows and waraxe swings. Every hit, however, dislodges orbs of blackness from Horvath, which chase the heroes, attempting to lick them to death with black tongues. These orbs of blackness prove to be easy to dispatch, but their numbers build quickly. When there is only 1 quartz obelisk left, Horvath attempts to prevent the heroes from dislodging it by standing on it, but the might of the heroes proves to be too great. Before they can toss it into the water, however, Horvath manages to grab onto it and lifts it, and the sturdy of grip Urma, into the air, trying to shake Urma off of it. The forcefield falls, however, and Red seizes the chance to dive through the battle and stab the obsidian obelisk with the artifact. A blast knocks the heroes back, the obelisk is drained of it’s energy in a violent fury, and Horvath’s eyes fade as he falls from the sky to the ground. Urma tries to breakfall, and (4 rolled) lands hard, suffering a mild concussion.

Horvath awakens, eyes normal and confused, and only a bleary Urma manages to convince Arlo not to toss Horvath into the lake. Horvath, under great stress and interrogation by the party, tells them of how the obsidian obelisks are built on a manifest zone to the plane of Mabar, the realm of eternal night and infinite blackness, where the vilest of demons and the undead hail from. When he tried to end the evil, he was possessed by The Thrall, a malevolent spirit from Mabar that crossed over to raise the world as undead thralls with the choking green mist. Draining the obelisk severed the power and direct connection to Mabar, though this area will always be partially connected and have influence from the blackness. With the bridge dissipated after the obelisks were removed and the platform sinking towards the lake, Horvath uses a sigil on the ground to teleport the group back to the ritual chamber, outside of the caves. Remembering the poem of The Chimes, the heroes strike the chimes twice, and, with an ear-splitting reverberation, the door to the caverns slam shut and are barred. The dais then raises, and they discover a machine resting under the dais, which none of them have ever seen the likes of. They snatch this device and make a hasty exit from the ruins, heading back towards Stormreach at top speeds. With the obelisk deactivated, the mists subside, Urma’s foot heals within 4 hours, and Tordick is back to top health by the time he reaches Stormreach.

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Chapter 1-7 Thickening the Plot (or how our heroes befriended a unicorn)

Returning to Paolo with the copied notes of the expeditioner, Pagaern d’Argonia, a couple days respite was awarded to our heroes, Tordik Frostbeard, Arlo, and Red. Being summoned back, our heroes discover the Forge Heart abuzz with activity. Tables littered with tomes and maps were laid out everywhere, and Paolo Omaren motioned for the heroes to approach.

After analyzing the details gleaned from the notes of Pagaern d’Argonia, the Omarens concluded that the fourth and final giants ruin surveyed holds much left to be discovered, and much of that could be essential for the Omarens’ activities in Stormreach. Paolo urges the heroes to march for the final ruins post haste and discover what they can. She outfits the heroes with all supplies necessary, accompanied by a small team of donkeys, and tells them that a small survey team has been dispatched ahead of them and will meet them at the ruins.

Marching along the chosen route towards the ruin, the heroes venture towards Titan’s Teeth, a large mountain cluster that bars the way into the inner continent from the peninsula that Stormreach rests upon. As they pass by, an arrow fired from an unseen assailant pierces a nearby tree, and the arrow contains a note asking for an audience with the heroes and guaranteeing their safety. When they arrive at the location, Arenora greets them. Using her powers, she uses the reflection pool in her cave to show a unicorn held captive by a band of drow, who plan on sacrificing this beast of pure good for nefarious purposes. If the heroes agree to prevent this catastrophe, Arenora has pertinent information to share with them. The heroes, seeing no reason not to, accept.

After venturing to the Obsidian City, the heroes discover an ancient site under a derelict temple with Drow inside. The drow put up a fight, but it is the traps that prove the most damaging to the heroes. Arlo is slammed into a wall by a swinging log trap, and Arlo also is nearly crushed when he opens a door and an avalanche of rocks pour out. Tordick, with his stone knowledge, realizes the location of floor traps and manages to help the heroes avoid an ankle-breaking injury.

Upon entering the final room, the heroes discover a stone platform floating in a 60-foot wide abyss with 7 floating stones acting as a bridge to the platform. On the platform there is a tall Obsidian Obelisk that glows green (exactly the same material and coloring as the artifact Red recovered from Pagaern), a drow priestess, and a unicorn with a vicious looking sigil on it’s head. Four drow occupy the stone bridge. The heroes charge across the land bridge, and, after an arrow strikes the priestess in the shoulder, the rocks start revolving around the platform.

Arlo (crit success) tosses one drow into the abyss, and Tordik spends almost 5 rounds of combat trying unsuccessfully to do the same. In the end, he resorts to his waraxe to finish the job. Arlo jumps onto the central platform and begins to make life hard for the priestess. Red attempts the same, trips, and nearly falls into the abyss, barely holding on to the stone she is on. On her second attempt, she falls short, falling into the abyss but JUST manages to hang on to the rough rocky spire jutting from under the platform. As the priestess takes damage, the revolving stones start plummeting one by one into the abyss. Tordik’s stone falls, but he just manages to jump and hold onto the platform by a hand. With the priestess distracted, the ritual begins to lose potency, and, just as the sigil subduing the unicorn fizzles, Arlo knocks the priestess off the platform and into the abyss. He then uses a rope to pull the dangling Red safely onto the platform.

The unicorn’s senses are undeniable in it’s veracity, and as it continues to nuzzle at Red’s bag and looks pointedly at both Arlo, Tordik, and the spire, Red finally gives in and removes her artifact from her satchel. The unicorn telepathically explains that the two are part of the same feature, and, when Red inserts the artifact into the spire, the artifact drains all energy from the spire. As the platform begins to shudder and sink into the abyss, the unicorn creates a magical shimmering rainbow bridge back across to sturdy land and the heroes exit the underground.

Upon returning to Arenora, she and the unicorn share a warm embrace. With the success of the mission, Arenora once again uses her powers on the reflecting pool to show dark premonitions. She reaveals, though she doesn’t know which these refer to, that: 1. One Stormlord is an agent of the dreaming dark, the Dal Quori 2. another stormlord is an ancient Rakshasa sent by the demons of Khyber to watch over Stormreach, learning all that could be advantageous, and 3. another Stormlord is a high occultist in the Blood Of Vol, and seeks to resurrect the powers of the Death Dragonmark.

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Chapter 1-6 Lassite Larceny (or how our heroes attended a lavish party and managed not to screw it up)

In the final battle in the Blood Ring, our heroes were split, facing off in two separated halves of the ring. Tordik Frostbeard, Arlo, and Red faced off against the infamous Twins while Urmazingquaaw and Ginger (absent) faced off against elite members of the Silver Fist Gang.

The Twins, of fair eladrin beauty and agility, proved to be incredible warriors. The male eladrin, with rapier in hand, skewered without mercy, and the female eladrin used her mental magic to twist the adventurers minds into either a euphoric state of bliss or to shatter the minds and drain them of all intelligence. In a close battle, the male was slain and Tordick fell only to have a healing potion administered by Red save him from the brink. In a shocking move, the Female eladrin fey stepped out of the arena, enciting racoucious boos from the audience and shocked faces from the judges. On the other side of the ring, the fight fared much better. Ginger (19 roll) expertly shot at the bandits while avoiding their swords. The bandits (14 roll) tried to hold their own, but Uriszingquaaw (Crit success) bathed the arena in the blood of the bandits, hunting down the terrified, fleeing prey with no mercy.

With the great success of the battle, Varen Lassite, who Red managed to meet in a tavern and sit next to for the first 2 blood ring combats, offers the heroes a place of honour at his grand gala in a few days. The heroes gladly accept. Upon entering the gala, they must search for information about the expedition and expeditioner to return to Paolo Omaren. Paolo expressed firmly that the less evidence that is left behind, the better, as the last thing the Omarens want is a battle with the Lassites.

Arlo, managing to swoon a fair maiden at the party, learns of the expeditioner’s long stay in the manor, and then explores the lower level of the manor house. He discovers a map outlaying the route of the expedition, then finds a giant tome in the library that positively reeks of magic and power. Arlo, deciding that the book would attact too much attention to sneak out of the house, leaves it be. He then searches the gardens, to no avail. Red is instantly snatched up in the embrace of Varen Lassite to show off to his other guests. One of the guests mentions the expeditioner’s planned discussion on his travels into the inner continent, but may be unable due to his deteriorating health. He is currently bed-ridden and is unable to accept visitors. Tordick, deciding that parties are not his thing, immediately heads to the balconey overlooking Stormreach and begins mapping the area. Sensing someone over his shoulder, he looks up to see Rayan Lazarus, who, after a brief exchange on the finer points of cartography, introduces himself as the cartographer from the expedition, sent to map the area of the inner continent. Rayan agrees to show Tordick his work upstairs, and, after a lengthy description of infinitesimal details of the topography of inner Xen’drik, Tordick asks to see the rest of the research, to which Rayan agrees (successful check). Red manages to sneak into an adjoining bedroom and, after Tordick convinces Rayan to leave, sneaks through the second story windows into the bedroom of the expeditioner, Pagaern d’Argonia .

Pagaern is incredibly unwell. He is feverish to the touch, unconscious, and rolls violently in bed. Red manages to copy the important parts of the notes in detail and leaves the originals. She does discover that in the final ruins surveyed by the team, Pagaern finds a relic from the giants civilization that struck him as very important, so he took it with him. He mentions that his health began deteriorating after that. Red opens the chest, wraps the relic in a cloth, and leaves the room with it. Finding Varen downstairs, Red creates the illusion of a bandits with a large bag climbing out the window and running for the woods. Varen, falling for the deception and believing his house was just robbed, ends the party and the adventurers return to Paolo.

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Chapter 1-2 Into the Flame (or how our heroes left one bad situation for another)

Upon leaving the portal from the Vanguard of the Veil Outpost, Urmazingquaaw, carrying a resisting Red, step out the portal and stare at the city of Stormreach. Immediately, the wall behind them is struck by a cannonball and the portal loses cohesion, trapping Tordick and Ginger (absent) in the feywild. Tordick and Ginger may have the better deal, for the city is ablaze and under seige. Adventuring through the city, the adventurers come across roaving bands of pirates pillaging and rounding up civilians. The adventurers learn that when the pirate armada sailed into the city, the city’s gun batteries never fired once, and they sailed unharmed directly into harbour.

The adventurers venture down towards the harbour and see a grand pyre built, with pirates and roped civilians nearby. On a crude platform in fron of the pyre is a warforged, tied and bound for the fire. Red, after failing to sneak towards the platform, challenges the toughest pirate to a duel, claiming to be a pirate queen of grand repute, and slaughters him viciously. The pirates all lay down their arms and Uriszingquaaw, Red, and the warforged Arlo take them captive and lead them towards the market square, where the grand pyre is burning. Tordick comes barreling down the hill. as Aerrous had managed to stabilize the portal enough to allow another person through.

As they enter the market square, they come across a hopeless scene. 130 pirates, with nearly 150 civilians held hostage, occupy the center of the square, while 90 guards faced off in line on the north end of the marketplace. A half-elf pirate captain with striking white hair negotiates with the captain of the guard, and the scene is tense. Our adventurers are at an absolute loss at how to help this situation.

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