Dragonmount

Hippogriffs, trolls and shiny stones

Interesting. I hadn’t even realized Hippogriffs were sentient but it seems Quinlin gets on with them pretty well. He hopped up on the back of one of the beasts and flew straight to the top of the tower. Ka’eo and I spent a minute watching this impressive display of flying then exchanged a look. Great flying but it didn’t do much to help us gain entry to the huge tower in front of us.

This whole place seems odd. Nezeregit they call it. Completely deserted with massive half-buried buildings sticking up out of the ground. I have to keep reminding myself why we’re here. ‘Fact finding’ I guess you could call it. Well, fact finding with Hassan’s ever present threat of death hanging over us of course. It crossed my mind more than once just to slip away but I thought better of it. I’ve learnt from past experience that wizards as powerful as Hassan have a frustrating habit of finding people, even those with my own not-insignificant skills of disappearing So there we were. Quinlin at the top of the tower and us at the bottom.

I was a little concerned for our Swordmage friend as he no longer had his enchanted sword and was making do with a decidedly mundane version. Looking on the bright side our lack of access to the tower would give me and Ka’eo an excuse to wander around and do a bit of sight-seeing of our own. We headed off down the easier of the two routes on a small track winding around to the side of the cliffs. Altogether much easier than hanging on to a hippogriff in my opinion.

I couldn’t resist having a nose around some of the caves in the area which led to an interesting little diversion with a couple of trolls. Stinking great beasts. I have to admit to being a little disappointed. I’d never run into a troll before and they have a fearsome reputation but they proved altogether too slow for the likes of Ka-’eo and myself.

It proved useful in the end as the back of the troll cave led into a tunnel system heading down into the mountainside. With the bulk of these strange buildings being underground we figured we may as well head down. We headed further down through a small fissure in the rock. It was tough going but we figured we should be able to handle it.

Unfortunately we hadn’t taken the freezing chill of an underground stream into account and the going got really hard. We eventually made it out though into a smooth-hewn tunnel and after finding our way down blocked we made our way upwards. We quickly dispatched an Ettercap that came barreling past us in a web strewn tunnel only to be engulfed in rolling flames as the webs suddenly caught aflame. Pretty safe bet the Ettercaps weren’t burning their own webs so we guessed maybe we might find our fellow adventurer up ahead. That proved true and we discovered Quinlin though he looked in a bad way and informed us he had some kind of disease. I held my tongue and refrained from the jokes about picking up diseases. I didn’t think he’d appreciate it.

We had found ourselves on a staircase leading down into the depths of the tower, the walls covered in carvings of this ancient civilization of devils. Possibly the forerunners of those Tieflings we know today.

We made our way into a truly huge underground cavern which seemed to house an entire city of deserted building. Many were temples to a variety of old gods. We pushed on and investigated a strange source of light that was only visible from certain angles. I discovered to the detriment of my sight that going too close to the statue there would blast you with some kind of radiant energy though eventually we worked out that we could approach it whilst holding the chains that were strewn around.

We pried loose a particularly shiny looking magical gem of some description from the statue and also discovered a hidden hoard of treasure carelessly left underneath. Ka’eo picked up the magic gem and some kind of circlet worn on the head.

We saw another strange sight as we left. A large black Raven swooped down to land in the city though what it was doing there underground we had no idea. Following it led us further down under the city and into a chamber with some kind of colossal construct creature guarding two doorways. Well, from my perspective guarding anything seems a little presumptuous. It assumes that something is actually yours to guard and I’ve never really held with all of this modern “ownership” nonsense. The way I see it it’s the equivalent of posting a sign saying “Please try to sneak past me”. In this case the sneaking alone proved not to be enough so the dagger option was also required.

He was a tough guy. Had some fancy trick that caused bursts of radiant power to smash down on us each time we hit. Still, we didn’t get to our level of expertise without learning a trick or two of our own.

Quinlin stepped up and held the guardian’s power in check with his own incredibly potent Aegis of Shielding. Even so it seemed like our attacks were doing relatively little damage and it felt like a bit of a stalemate, each of us chipping away at each other. That was until Avandra saw fit to favor me with a precisely placed throw of my dagger. It was as though time stood still for a short while. The first searing hit sunk deep distracting him long enough for me to land another brutal blow that also hit home with incredible force, all the time peppering him with shots from my hand crossbow. The enchantments of my dagger and bracers further increased the effects of the damage and the result left the construct literally shattered in pieces.

I’ve never been shy about trumpeting my skill with a dagger but even I was surprised. Anyway, it once again left us with the eternal question that all adventurers must face at some point. Do we take the door on the left or the door on the right……?

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A Nice Day's Ride
Not so nice for Quinlin

The adventurers spent a quiet night in an inn in Darrow then set out the next day. As they were leaving the city, Ghaz, the Azer that they had rescued in the mines, met them at the gate and informed Finnan that he was going to the dwarven city of Arhaz with another miner he had met, and that he had modified a suit of hide armor using his elemental craftsmanship as thanks. He gave the Elderhide Armor +2 to Finnan, and the party set out across the windswept hills of the northern Wold.

A day and night passed uneventfully, and the morning dawned clear and cold. A few hours into their ride, Ka’eo spotted a plume of dust rising from the rolling hills to the north. It was evident before too long that it was heading in roughly the same direction as their path was taking them, and the party decided to find out what was causing it. Setting a course to intercept the unknown group, they spied a band of gnolls, large enough that it would be unwise to engage them. After distracting them with Finnan’s sleight of hand, the adventurers remounted their horses and sped off ahead of the gnolls towards where they knew the town of [[ Lyre-on-Heath]] lay. They reached the outskirts of the village not far ahead of the gnolls and set about providing a defense.

Aided by the villagers and their impromptu defenses they routed the gnolls and the village was saved. Yay! They were offered what little Lyre-on-Heath had to spare and Mayor Brigsby gave them a hero’s send-off as they continued northwards towards the mountains.

Evening was drawing near when they passed a hole in the side of a hill as they passed. Being eager for adventure, they went inside and found an old barrow. Curiously, any metal fixtures had been rusted away, and the trail of rust left them in no doubt that a Rust Monster had made its lair inside. Ever bold (or foolhardy) they tracked down and engaged the beast, defeating it handily. Much to the dismay of Quinlin, however, as he plunged his sword into its back, the blade dissolved away. He was able to recover its residuum after the monster lay dead, but it was of little consolation. What is a swordmage without his sword?

They reached the shores of a great black lake as dusk fell, from which the flows of the Nightwash spilled out over the chilled ground towards its meeting with the Ire in the south.

The following morning they set out up into the mountains and reached a broad plain on the mountain’s side where strange towers jutting out of the ground marked the location of Nezeregit. It didn’t look like any ruin they had seen before – the towers seemed to spring straight out of the ground with no visible way to enter or exit. The headed up the slope towards the tallest of the towers, and saw that it had a broken top. As they hiked up to the base of this tower, they saw a Griffon attack a group of Hippogriffs and crash down onto the sward in front of them. Quinlin ran up to beasts and began attacking the griffon – too late noticing that it was already wounded, and that it appeared to be attempting to retrieve a clutch of eggs from the hippogriffs. The griffon was chased off, and two of the hippogriffs also retreated towards the cliffs, leaving one hippogriff left spellbound by Quinlin’s mastery of the arcane. He subdued it and rode it to the top of the cliff next to the broken spire, where it left him.

To be continued!

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A Long Night
Long, but Fiery

A summary of the first session:

That night, a city official entered the cell block and interrogated one of the prisoners. He took a stone on a chain from the prisoner and told Golin Kar to ready the prisoners and “the insurance”.

The party and the rest of the prisoners were corralled, brought out of the cells and taken through a tunnel at the back of the city hall that led up the mountain to the main mine entrance.

There they were met by the official, Hassan, along with a complement of city watch and “the insurance”, a large cyclops that seemed to be under Hassan’s control. Hassan informed them that they were needed to investigate the mines deep into the mountain, and that he would be following them to make sure they didn’t stray.

Quinlin, Finnan, Ka’eo, and couple humans and dwarves split off from the main group shortly into the mines and ventured down a side shaft, doing battle with some slimes along the way, losing the other prisoners during the battle. They found a path leading back to the main tunnel, and saw a glow as though a fire had been lit under the mountain. Turning a corner they saw the rest of the prisoners doing battle with a fiery elemental. Hassan and his dominated cyclops were standing to the back of the battle ensuring that no prisoners attempted to run. A blazewyrm rocketed into the fight, but was quickly put down by the combined strength of all of the prisoners, including the enormous Goliath.

Deeper and deeper into the mines they traveled, when at last Hassan informed them that they were nearing their destination. They were beginning to think that their night was done when an enormous Ash Disciple burst from a nearby passage. The powerful elemental began to lay waste among the prisoners, slaying the gnome warlock and the only surviving dwarf before it was brought down. Casualties were high, and several of the other prisoners had been knocked unconscious by the choking fumes before Hassan joined the fray. It was clear now that he is a powerful wizard, though even he would have been hard-pressed by himself.

Once the prisoners had rallied together, they turned a corner and saw a fiery maelstrom whirling in a subterranean cavern. Hassan studied it at length and then informed them that they had rendered their service to Darrow and would be compensated and set free upon their return to the surface. He turned to walk away, taking his cyclops with him, when Quinlin, obviously angered at the abuses suffered by the prisoners attacked Hassan, wounding him. Finnan jumped into the fray and the cyclops began attempting to pound them flat while Hassan fled. The Goliath stood and watched the battle unfold.

Hassan, however, flung up a magical wall that prevented them from following his escape and by the time the wall subsided they knew he was out of reach. The cyclops was no longer under Hassan’s control, and Ka’eo convinced it to follow them and get revenge on Hassan.

They decided to rest for the night and began to journey back to the surface after recuperating and healing some of their injuries. They fought a couple magma beasts, apparently spawned from the strange cavern below, and discovered an Azer named Ghaz hiding in some mining equipment. He spoke Giant unexpectedly, so Finnan was able to communicate with him. Ghaz had escaped from his titan master and found himself transported with the rest of the elementals through a rift between the planes. His only goal was to stay away from his former masters as long as possible, and Finnan reassured him that they would help him escape.

They reached the mine entrance and found Hassan and the city guard waiting for them. He was not pleased. They cyclops came back under his control and the crossbowmen had itchy trigger fingers, so there was no struggle. Hassan brought them back to the Magistrate and explained further to them.

He said that he normally didn’t let people who attacked him live, but that he still had further use for the guilty parties in exchange for their lives. The goliath took this opportunity to point out that he had not been involved in the attack on Hassan, and this was acknowledged by the wizard who let him go.

Plot Exposition

Hassan explained that he was worried about what was going on under the mountain as attacks on miners grew in frequency, and the monsters responsible should never have been able to be present in Darrow. He began to research the legend and myth of the mountain, tracking histories as far away as the great libraries of Sur. He came to suspect that the dragon had been killed deep under the mountain, but knew of no dragon diffusion that could cause such a planar rift as the one that seemed to be responsible for transporting elementals between the Elemental Chaos and Darrow. The expedition tonight was to confirm if his suspicions were correct. They were. The small area of the cavern could barely have contained an ancient dragon, and the diffusion caused upon death was greatly concentrated.

In his studies he came upon an ancient song describing the victorious march of an ancient fey people, returning from “Thair Hunt Victorius, the Red Hearte Furius” that made him suspect that some enemy of the dragon from the Feywild had slain the dragon and brutally cut out her heart as a trophy of battle. This could explain the violence of the diffusion, and Hassan knows of a ritual that may be able to dispel the diffusion and restore the isolation of the planes. However, he also knows that should another elemental like the Ash Disciple find itself in Darrow, it could be a disaster if there is no one to defend the city. This is where the prisoners came in. In exchange for not executing them, Hassan wished them to investigate the slaying of the dragon, particularly to find out which people or race are responsible and may have the Heart in their possession.

They are free to do as they like, but Hassan has given them a couple options for starting points: the ancient city of Nezeregit in the north is old enough to have been contemporary with the dragon – there may be information to be gleaned from the ruins, and the great libraries of Sur have many more texts than can be read in one lifetime.

Hassan provided the new adventurers with lodging, and a Lodestone of the Planes, to locate the nearest portal to the Feywild. He only knows of one, and it is not constantly open. He believes that it will open in 6 months time, and it is a long journey away. He provided them with 3 Scrolls of Sending that they could use to contact him.

They slept, not knowing that adventures awaited them.

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Strange Cellmates
Not the best way to spend the night

It was a crowded night in the Darrow Municipal Jail, thought Golin Kar. Two of the three main cells were packed, solitary was full (that hadn’t been a fun assignment), and they even had to turn the VIP cell into another special holding cell. That goliath was huge!

It was the far cell that worried him the most at the moment. They usually tried to split up any hardier characters – it was amazing how much less effective a warrior was when diluted by a bunch of drunks – but there hadn’t been enough room this time, as Hassan had insisted that the prisoner in cell 4 be by himself. He didn’t look like much of a threat, but there was no arguing with Hassan. Anyway, in that far cell there were a couple of the usual ruffians, but also some strange folk. Eladrin were rare enough in Darrow, let alone ones that started drunken brawls, and that halfling couldn’t keep his hands off of anything. Normally that wouldn’t bother him, but there seemed to be some steel under that kleptomaniac’s skin. And the elf worried him more than anything. He was in here for messing with the self-described “Home Guard of Wold”, which didn’t bother Golin at all – overstepping their bounds if you asked him – but something about the elf bothered him. Strange things happened out of the corner of his eye when he was in the cell block with the elf. The Magistrate would probably have to make an example of him in order to mollify the barons of Sildon; Golin hoped it was sooner rather than later.

Oh well, Hassan would be down soon to deal with his pet prisoner, and then maybe they could spread these guys out a little…

PCs
  • Quinlin Farror – Eladrin Swordmage
  • Finnan Burtleberry – Halfling Rogue
  • Ka’eo – Elven Sorcerer
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Welcome to the Darrow Municipal Jail
Inauspicious Beginnings

During your stay here in Darrow, you will be treated to the finest jailhouse experience in the Wold. Our cuisine is second to none – occasionally you will even have mold-free bread! You will also get a tub of water, though our chef does suggest that you strain your water through your garment before drinking it. Be sure to wipe the larger bugs off of your clothing afterwards. It is not recommended that you eat the bugs. Should you desire firmer sustenance, the occasional rat will deliver itself right to your cell. Now that’s service!

By staying in our cells, you agree to abide by all Rules of the Guard, including but not limited to the following:

  • No violence. An exception will be made if the violence is directed towards another prisoner.
  • No urination or defecation outside the designated pits.
  • No noisemaking that can be heard at the guardpost.
  • No crowding the cell door during meal delivery, prisoner exchanges, or beatings.

Violation of any of these Rules will result in the immediate sentence of Mine Work for a term not to exceed the rest of your natural life – which will be shorter than you had planned.

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