Karameikos

The weeping angels
we twist and turn every which way

Upon completion of the ritual we discuss the next course of action. Tol is keen to go and investigate the big tree for more clues as to the location of the Seer’s soul, however he is over-rulled by everyine else to try out the plane travelling properties of the temple. We also add to our knowledge of the Redcaps that they are able to travel between the real and the Feywild in times of great duress.

Our first destination it is agreed should be the Feywild. Kathra and Memnnon move to the opposite statues, Kathra turns hers easily, but Memnnon struggles until Switch goes to his rescue, Where upon a huge amount of arcane energy is released and they all disappear. What is also very strange is that the temple has also dramatically changed and become covered in greenery and vines. And the statue which was previously broken and destroyed has now been fixed. Fydor, Tol, myself, the Seer and the crone remain.The planar temple

Ozzie shouts at the others to get to the statue and we’re all to turn it together. So we can move through and assist Kathra, Memmnon and Switch – who may now be in grave danger.

We move the statue a quarter turn anti clockwise and then a quarter turn back.
The light suddenly appears much brighter and vibrant, we all feel more alive and it is obvious we are in the feywild. Our colleagues are nowhere to be seen, but around the corner appears a small purple like goblin beast, which rushes in and attacks Tol, before rushing back out again. Tol manages to land a punch on its nose as it flies past cackling manically

Tol also at this stage clambers up the wall and calls out for Kathra, Memnnon and Switch as I cast my new mirage arcana spell on two of the goblin like creatures, creating a zone of pain for them, dazing them and enabling Fydor to strike it with his crossbow.

Meanwhile another two other goblin like creatures run all the way around the temple and try to strike me, but both miss. I flail wildly at them and manage to land a punch on one of them, before it moves away.

I retaliate with my hypnotic pattern and a very dangerous lightning tower in front of it. The creatures are so enthralled by my hypnosis that they willing walk through the lightning tower to get closer to the pattern. This causes them much pain and the sparking from the tower is a joy to see. I am delighted to see that my thinking and training has finally paid off on this clever ruse. Arrows suddenly shoot from the top of the temple and to our delight a dimunitive figure appears next to Tol and starts shooting the goblin like creatures. It’s Switch! But where are Kathra and Memmnnon?Isle of dreams temple game

In betweent shots Switch quickly tells the story of their arrival and battle with the blue goblins and giant panther with additional flails which is virtually impossible to hit. It disappeard with Kathra and Memnnon when we appeared. At the time Switch had just been pushed off the temple’s landing, so hadn’t been with it when it moved planes.

A fierce battle continues as we try to get rid of the blue goblin like creatures. Evenutally we overcome them and the last one flees. A quick cast around the area confirms that there are no more enemies in our immediate proximity. Tol and Fydor look to the wounds of the Seer who was badly hurt during the battle. Switch and I check out the rest of the temple.

We try to get the turn the original angels a turn back and foprward to take us back to whence we came. However it would appear that the Real to Feywild angels only have two charges. As to whether this is forever or just for a certain amount of time is uncertain. We’re not going to get back to the Real this way.

Switch has been investigating the other statues and I can feel that there is a charge in the ones that will take us to the Shadowfell. As to whether this would then enable us to get back to the Real is uncertain. But we must try.

We have worked out that we must all be on or in the temple to travel, although we don’t need to be touching the statues when we do. We turn one of the statues and then the other, both in the same direction. I prepare my illusionary wall to hide us from anything in case we arrive in the Shadowfell and are surrounded by bad guys.

The world goes dark, and then we see little spots of light and slowly our eyes become accustomed to the gloom and dreariness of the Shadowfell. My illusory wall is slammed into place, before I do anything else. Then looking around I notice various screatures ambling around the area, Shadow brothers we have met before, a shadow chain fighter as well. At first they don’t notice us, the wall hides us, but it doesn’t hide all the temple. There is a shout from some of the creatures and they start to move towards the temple. Looks like we’re going to be in a battle unless we can do something fast…

As Ozzie surveys the scene his lightning intellect sumarises the options and actions so far:

- turning both similey angels takes you from the real to the fey wild
- turning one of the smiley angels a quarter turn out and then a quarter turn back takes the feywild temple from the real to the feywild. Essentially a return trip for it
- Memnnon and Kathra are most likely either in the real, where they go off when we (Ozzie, Fydor etc) arrived into the Feywild, or they are back in the feywild still sitting in the temple
- the entire temple travelss between the planes – this has been confirmed by Switch as he doesn’t recognises the temple we are now on as the one he first lefte the real on)
- there are two trips possible (Or maybe only one between each plane with each temple type and angels (ie one trip with the smiley angel and one with the sad angel)with each angel type.

What we don’t know.
- how to power the temple
- exactly how to get out of the shadowfell

Ozzie also notices that the creatures are carrying lanterns inside which shine the sould of the lost. this must be where the souls of the seer and the hag must be being held. However now is not the time to be looking for them without the party’s two, star defense team.

Ozzie believes that the way back to the real from the shadowfell may well lie with the smiley angels. He needs to see if they are still powered down or if they have recovered their power in the shift and can be activiated to take us back to the real.

Meanwhile the bad guys are again closing in……

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What the robes saw

The battle continues, with Tol loosing arrows left right and centre, I reposition one of the redcaps closer to the frosty hand With a teleport spell, allowing the creature to be grabbed in the hand’s icy grasp. This enables kathra to land a mighty swing on the creatures head killing it, but not before it’s partner had knocked kathra to the ground, requiring Memnnon to rush to the rescue with his beacon of hope. He too has to do some nimble swaying to dodge the huge one- two punches the redcaps throw.
Over on the other side of the temple, switch is starting to take a pounding from the redcaps, as is fydor.

Bigby’s icy grasp has now grabbed the remaining redcap for kathra and Memnnon to finish off which they duly do. Memnnon then rushes round the side of the temple  to assist Switch and Fydor. However the remaining redcap on that side seeing the odds now stacked against him turns and flees into the undergrowth – appearing to disappear through some from of green tinged portal.

The party recovers and studies it’s surroundings and the two people remaining.

The crone is wearing a range of accumulated clothes, from great finery to very old rags, if all of these had been collected by one person they will be over a hundred years old. She has a collection of acorns and feathers, which tol recognises as being for a person of great import and power, the  totems appear to have come from areas of the wytchwood.
Kathra and tol go to guard the area where the redcap disappeared to.
 Switch discovers 3,000 gps off reddish gold which he later discovers to be worthless.
Ozzie walks around the temple and studies the statues. He discovers that the broken statue has been broken very recently, some of the damage was by an arcane cause, but mostly it’s been kicked by iron shod boots.

Tol looks around for other tracks but thinks there were a lot of redcaps here previously and some human sized prints, not recognisable and a lot of goblinoid footprints, not of the red caps, as well as sandalled footprints of the crone and the seer. The crones and the goblins footprints have come from the direction of the big tree, it indicates that they came willingly with the crone, but appear to have wandered off.
Ozzie wanders inside to ascertain more. There is some vegetation on the inside, but has been cleared regularly, there are holes in the domes. It looks looked after, but not  well. The style is centuries old. There is an inscription on the inner ring of the dome, which goes all the way round. It is in a very old script of traldarian. Memnnon  is able to read it and it is as follows:
to pass with joy turn my weeping face from this place, for a more somber path look away with mirth.

Hearing this Switch goes to the statues and identifies that each of the statues is on a pedestal which can be rotated, although it does require some strength to do so.

We still want to know more so I do an object reading on the seer’s robes. I am able to see five images as seen by the robes

The first image, a person enters the clearing to see a wide view of the temple, the statue isn’t smashed and is facing inwards.The robe ascends the stairs and into the temple.

The second image , a second door opens  in the temple and the robes move towards the doors where the woman is seen, surrounded by a throng of goblins, who are respectful of the woman, she turns and dismiss them. Ozzie has a strong feeling that this person may be a hag.

The third image is of the seer and the hag in a casting pose in the temple. Outside there can be seen a humanoid shape which is negating the effects of their spells, there is some form of arcane magic which engulfs the entire temple including the seer and the crone.

The fourth image is of The seer arriving on a coracle to the island which is shifting regularly between the real, the fey wild and the shadowfell.

The fifth image is of the seer visiting  the tree in the centre of the island.

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Iron shod redcaps
Getting a good kicking

Hi guys computer has blown up. So I have loaded this unedited onto the portal, with my iPad apologies fir poor editing. I’ll try and look at it a bit more shortly
John

Coming through the bushes is either one large thing or several small things on the other side of the building.Tol moves around the side crouched into the bushes and notices something else moving in the undergrowth. Switch moves swiftly around the side of the building. There are creatures coming from all around us. Ozzie moves back and notices that someone is pushing the door closed of the temple.

Dashing out of the undergrowth comes some goblin like creatures with green skin and wearing iron boots, aiming to hamstring Theodore. She leaps in and cuts Theodore down, he falls to the ground with a cry and lays writhing in agony as the creature tires to kick Theodore off to one  side.

Kathra moves in and pushes open the door, to find the crone in front of her.
Another goblin like creature appears from out of the undergrowth and gestures towards Kathra, firing a beam of corrupted sunlight at her.
The old crone falls towards kathra, there is no intelligence in her face and she doesn’t appear threatening .

Tol rattles off a twin strike at the two goblins he can see, both striking his enemies. It seems like the whole wooded area has gone slightly quiet when the goblins arrived.
Switch draws his sword and tumbles off the side smoothly moving behind the creature and backstabs the creature with a severe cut.

Ozzie identifies these creatures as redcaps. Their caps being dyed is red from blood of slain enemies, vicious sadistic and powerful, piously enslaved by fey giants thormorians. They are creatures of e fey wild.
I summon my bigby’s hand and miss the wizardy type.
The redcap swipes closely at switch but his dexterity  is such that he avoids the blow. The miss causes the redcap to stumble and the allies all manage to strike at it, before it runs out of range.
Fyodor moves to engage the redcaps which have been coming up the north stairs aNd bursts into a stirring fiery ballad,
Kathra uses his hammer to hook the seer out of the room and grapples him out of the room. The seer stumbles along after kathra, but shows no distress at being pulled out of the room. 
The redcap rushes up the stairs and gestures to cause a whirlwind which knocks me and kathra over two squares away from where we started. I realise that this is fey Druid redcap.
Memnnon pushes open the door and runs through the temple and can see the Druidic redcap through the door he calls down a lance of faith n the redcap.
Fodor is surprised to receive a punch in the face from the redcap which is more than its arms length from him, Fodor dodges the blow and another which is trying to double team him with a wicked cackle.
Another comes around the side and gives the seer a hefty kick.
The crone turns slowly and stares at Memnnon, in a not undead, but not an alive way. Memnnon senses there are no souls in the bodies.
Tol looses off another two fanged strike. Switch swaps to his bow and shoots the fleeing redcap.
Ozzie is hamstrung from behind by the redcap and then kicked across the ground to the edge of the forest. It giggles manically and dips its cap into my blood, which seems to provide it with succour .
Fodor’s shot is disrupted by the stretchy redcap which hts him hard and knocks him over prone, he still manages to fire his crossbow and hit the enemy.
 Kathra stands up and throws her hammer at one of them, which hits it in the head. The Druid stands up and looks annoyed, it reaches into the ground causing it to tremble as it moves upwards, kathra feels her blood being drawn down into the ground and up into the injured redcaps around her.O
Memnnon moves back out of the temple and into the fray next to the seer and the Druidic redcap.
The elongated arm redcap stands up and swings at kathra, which she deflects easily with her shield. Another one moves over and also tries to punch kathra, which this time connects, knocking kathra prone.
Fodor is ducking and weaving behind the statue against the two giantsol redcaps.
A pair of arrows fly past and thud into the redcap which is still celebrating by drinking my blood. Tol then turns and splits the tree – firing two arrows at the Druid and the solarm, killing the Druid. Switch moves swiftly to fydor’s assistance, his swing is interrupted but switch still manages to complete his swing and lands a significant blow against his opponent.
Ozzie stand up, glowers at t he redcap and launches a ring of thorns around the redcap and then tells the redcap to f off and don’t come back. My fierce and bloody demeanour so terrifies the fey creature it flees the battlefield.
Fydor starts to recite some heroic ditty as he lashes left and right with his blade, striking light cuts to the enemy several times.
 Kathra takes a deep breath, heals herself and gets up. Memnnon moves it to attack the redcaps, his prayer is interrupted and he takes a heavy punch to the head, but still manages to connect strongly.
 The solarms strike at Memnnon on the ground, but he manages. To roll clear as it shifts back out of the way. The second also misses before it shifts back a square.
Switch also dodges his foe.
The crone wanders out the door.

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Out of the mist...and into the temple

The seer’s coracle is only present on the real world.
Ozzie recalls from the book of the planes that there should be some pattern to the changing of the planes. In this case there isn’t – there is something wrong.
We spend some time testing the change in phases. Tol fires several arrows onto land to see if they remain during the changes and if the rope we fire also stays. It doesn’t – it is lost as soon as the plane change. There ought to be a pattern here, but it has been disturbed, which is causing the randomness.
With the coracles all tied together we paddle in as carefully and swiftly as we can to try and arrive in the “normal” We arrive and step onto land at the very moment it changes from normal to the Shadowfell and the boats disappear.
The party starts to swim back for the coracles. Ozzie can’t swim and returns to shore. Memnnon also returns to the shore and the rest of the party eventually does as well, as it is too uncertain how we would be reunited.
We discuss what to do and hear moans coming from the tree line and can see shapes coming through the trees. It is agreed that Ozzie will cast his water walking ritual, as he doesn’t fancy swimming again and is not strong enough for a sustained swim. Just as he starts the ritual 3 pale ghostly shapes come out of the treeline. They are some form of souls or spirits. Memnnon speaks to the spirits and suggests Ozzie concentrate on completing the ritual.
Memnnon begins his own ritual of putting the spirits to rest and then suddenly one is right in front of him. He holds his ground and continues to go through the burial ritual. The spirit asks what Memnnon seeks and he tells him that Memnnon soothes him before drifting off. The other two drift for a while before turning and looking worried before disappearing in a hurry. Something has spooked them.?
Ozzie completes the ritual and the party turns to the water, Tol assists Kathra back out to the lake. The party swims strongly and after about 20 minutes we realise we have passed through a ghostly white wall, with lights playing through it. However we’re not back in the real world, so we turn around and swim back to the island. To the south where is normally woodland, there is some sort of settlement. As we get back to the shore we can see the phasing is changing. With a heave of effort we manage to land on the beach, with our coracles and the coracle of the seer – in the “normal”.
Tol searches for watcher marks and finds some pointing vaguely towards the west of the tall tree. We head off, the vegetation is lush and there are signs of growth which indicates there is bleed through from the fey wild.
We come across a path heading across our path, there are boot prints in the mud, smaller than human, at least three or four, they are armoured boots.
We continue onto a white marble building, we approach from the southeast corner. There are steps. On each side and a temple of some type in the middle. There are also statues on each corner , one of the ones near us is smashed. The building is several hundred yrs old of traldarian links.The planar temple

The statues are all of an attractive robed woman, with a some resemblance to Petra. In two of them she is covering her face, weeping and in one of them is laughing, the smashed one is one of laughing and has been recently smashed. There are four bronze doors.
I sense a a strong planar aura surrounding the area. The building shows some sign of overgrowth, but it suggests that it is tended in some form or other.
Switch and Ozzie carefully go up onto the plinth and look at the statue.
Game layoutSwitch pushes the door slightly and peers in to see two people inside. There is something dreadfully wrong – as shambling around inside is a man who appears to be the seer, and an old crone. They don’t yet appear to have noticed that The door is open and switch quietly closes the door, the door is then quietly pushed further closed from the inside.
From the north there is the sound of vegetation crashing in, something comes…. Something large.

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Into the Mist

10th Eirmont
Overnight, Lady Halloran teaches Memnon the raise dead ritual. Ozzy also learns from Fyodor how to create a Linked Portal to the Lake of Lost Dreams.

In the morning, the party equips itself with various sundry provisions and equipment, electing to leave behind the bulky cold weather bedding and are gifted with fresh clothing subtly bearing the mark of Baron Halloran and new linen and bedding. Memnon and Ozzy acquire residuum for their new rituals (NB look at cost to party treasure for this!), Switch bemoans not being able to collect his plethora of magical items and not long after breaking fast, having said farewell to the Baron, the Heroes stand ready to depart, watched by the Armoured Flower.

With a slight sensation of motion, the castle of Baron Halloran is replaced by the open air and rural setting of the Western shore of the Lake of Lost Dreams. Fyodor explains that this place is home to him now and Tol Flemin spies plenty of animal tracks, suggesting that the Seer’s presence hasn’t affected the natural balance in any noticeable manner. Being a Callarii Half Elf, Tol is also conscious that the Southern shores of the lake are Vyalia Elf territory.

The lake itself is vast, perhaps 10 miles across (East to West) by 12 miles in length (North to South). Fyodor talks about his experiences as we travel to the Seer’s abode. He explains how time can move strangely here – the Seer once instructed him to focus on an object for an hour and he did so only to find that in fact, a full day had passed. He isn’t sure if this is an effect the Seer has, or one that is a result of the location itself. The Seer would often imply that Fyodor has a destiny and when the Bard spoke of his desire to return to his comrades and make sure they were well, the Seer would reassure him that their paths would cross again. Despite the strange flow of time here, Fyodor is certain that the Seer is long overdue. He departed for the Island of Lost Dreams stating he’d return by New Moon, which was now two weeks ago.

Ozzy hypothesizes that there is a planar effect at work here, quite possibly that of the Feywild. Tol Flemin spies more tracks – those of barefoot adult (the Seer?) and softly booted feet in groups of two or three individuals (Elves, Watchers?). There is also some evidence of less careful travel. Fyodor explains that he has noticed that the vegetation around the lake seems to regenerate or repair itself. A reed broken one day may be found whole again another. He has seen noticeable disruption in the rushes at the lake’s edge, on the day before, or of, the Seer’s departure (he finds it hard to remember).

Memnon expresses his discomfort at the possibility of not grasping the flow of time or being able to recollect events clearly (and does the Tiefling Cleric look somewhat… diminished slightly, or is just the fit of his new clothing…?) whilst Tol seems to welcome the possibility. As the discussion continues, the group realise that none of them can actually recollect what the Seer looks like (!) although they feel certain they’d recognise him when they see him again.

The party arrives at the Seer’s home – a natural cave with a wooden extension to the fore offering additional shelter. Inside, nothing appears to have been disturbed whilst the cave has been unoccupied. The heroes note moss stuffed into cracks in the rock walls, offering insulation, and wooden pegs driven home to support shelves, many of which support clay jars containing various magical components and ingredients. Skins and furs carpet the floor and there is an abundance of lengths of knotted string. According to Tol Flemin this is a means of recording messages, but he cannot read these particular ones. None of the Eye Bearers sense the presence of the Eye of Death in the cave. In the comfort of the cave, a plan is hatched. Three coracles will be built to carry the party, two at a time, over the lake of Lost dream and to the island at its centre. The coracles are built during the day, with Tol taking a scouting swim using his new ability to spend prolonged amounts of time underwater. The Ranger has nothing to report however, as visibility is poor due to sediments and silt disturbed by the two rivers that feed into the lake. The evening and night is spent resting (albeit with a watch being set) before setting off in our vessels in the morning.

The night is mercifully uneventful, other than the Eye Bearers having odd dreams; a mish mash, with a sense of somebody handling an Eye with glee, passing it from hand to hand (whether this involves one person or more is unclear). There is a sense of isolation, of being trapped and/or lonely (the feelings of a person or an Eye, again is unclear) in a place of great antiquity and regality.

11th Eirmont
Shaking off the dreams, as the group prepares to leave, Fyodor retrieves his compass from Switch before we lash the coracles together with lengths of rope and board them. Tol pairs with Kathra, Memnon with Switch and Ozzy with Fyodor. There is a thick layer of mist on the lake. After an hour’s progress, the party seems to have drifted South a little and sees that they are heading for a fog bank in the middle of the lake. Observing the fog, Tol senses it is not a natural occurrence and Ozzy that magic is involved. The bank is several hundred yards across and 40 yards high. Tol takes a quick look underwater (Halav, tell us that the Elf doesn’t wear Speedos..!) but can’t see anything blocking lines of sight other than the usual sediment. Cautiously, the coracles enter the fog…

…passing through mere inches of it and into bright sunlight! Oddly, there is no fog visible in the wake of the three vessels. What is ahead is even more interesting – a low, wooded island with a sloping, pebbled beach, vibrant vegetation and exotic bird calls. No wait; it’s a grim looking, overcast place with blackened tree stumps and no… it’s shrouded in mist and fog and…

Clearly, there’s something magical afoot. The group counts three different aspect of the island and that they can each see the same of the three different aspects at the same time. The ‘real world’, a ‘shadow realm’ and ‘Feywild’..? Squinting at the island, Memnon’s Tiefling eyes spy certain berries in a bush that he distinctly recall from the group’s brief sojourn into the Feywild. Curious, the party circumnavigates the island, sighting a coracle on the beach as they go, no doubt that of the Seer? There are low cliffs on the North side and at its highest point the island appears about 15 foot above the water level of the lake. One common feature in all three phases of the island is a lone, tall tree. The group considers which phase to try and make land in and the heroes prepare themselves to time their approach just right…

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Bargaining with Bargle

Our conversation with Bargle continues, as Ozzy takes a more forceful tone. Bargle tells us that Grishenka was captured whilst travelling alone on the road and that she is to be taken back to the seat of the Black Eagle Barony where she will receive a “fair trial” for crimes against the state of Karameikos. We recognise this charge as something of a legal ‘fix’ to be able to bring someone to trial without pressing specific charges, and are doubtful about the explanation that the hag was captured alone and on the road, instead wondering if she was working with or for Bargle and was imprisoned by him after bringing the Eye of Frost to him..?
Tol detects Zzonga in Grishenka’s water drug – a soporific that he assumes is being used to drug her sufficiently so the hag is incapable of casting any spells.

As Memnon and Morghash exchange dark looks and pointed comments, we shift the conversation over to these ‘rocks of power’ that Bargle speaks of. He ridicules us, saying he knows we know about the Eyes of Traldar and knows full well that we have, or have had, some in our possession – he can sense it. The negotiations look set to come to a close if we carry on protesting total ignorance, so we give Bargle some acknowledgement of our historical knowledge of the Eyes and that yes, we have encountered at least one (sticking to Ozzy’s plan only to reference our recent escapades and not those within the Blight Swamp ).This seems to placate him, and we do our best to let the Infamous One do the talking.

Bargle informs us he obtained the Eye of Frost from Grishenka, that he suspects she got it from beings in the mountains and that there is indeed a direct link between it and the recent cold winters. After all, the Hags wish to “rid the land of civilisation so that they can replace it with whatever their masters (whomever they serve) want”.

At this point a messenger arrives, and passes news to Bargle (about something, or one, having come back) which provokes him to such anger he slays the unfortunate man on the spot with a magic missile. As we look at each other and collect our composure, Bargle continues to talk about the Eyes, although we soon discover he speaks only in vague terms and that practically, he seems to be learning as much from us as we are from him.

In summary, we learn/confirm that:
• There are 14 Eyes, all paired i.e. Life/Death, Stone/Water
• The eyes can be “closed” although a matching pair are required to achieve this
• It is a dangerous thing to have a matching pair of Eyes in your possession
• ‘Closure’ seems to imply, rather than the destruction of the eyes in question, that they are somehow nullified. As Bargle spouts “If the nature of the Eyes is corrupted, if they are closed, then everything; all the good they’ve done, will be undone.”

Memnon asks if the Hags serve Orcus. Morghash actually looks uncomfortable for a moment, muttering how not all of Orcus’ followers “march to the same drum”. We assume the answer to therefore be yes.

Bargle becomes increasingly irritated with our inability /unwillingness to divulge any further information and begins to insist that we stay as guests, to accompany him to Fort Doom to testify at Grishenka’s trial. We infer this means we’re going, like it or not. Memnon moves to the body of the slain messenger and says a few words as last rites (with the intention of moving closer to the tent’s entrance in order to lead our departure). Morghash accompanies Memnon, watches respectfully and advises Memnon to not fight his heritage, that he will find it easier to accept his destiny, which is within him. Ignoring the warlock, Memnon stands and moves to the tent’s exit. Two guards block his path, but the intensity of his glare results in one stepping aside. Bargle is enraged, slays the guard with a magic missile and screams that the prisoners are not to be allowed to leave. Memnon finds himself dominated by Bargle, and if forced to walk back over to him and prostrate himself at his feet. Ozzy asks for calm, assisted by Tol Flemin, who casually pours another glass of wine suggesting we all pause for a moment and enjoy another drink…

Potential conflict is averted by the breathless arrival of a second messenger, who asks that Bargle view the situation outside. Morghash leaves the tent to see what is occurring and quickly returns, agreeing that Bargle needs to see this. Cursing, Bargle strides outside. As if from far away, we hear raised voices, noting Bargle sounds particularly unhappy. A woman’s voice speaks of a warrant signed by her Uncle. The woman in question then enters the tent – none other than Lady Elena Halloran – The ‘Armoured Flower’, in her full Knight of the Griffon regalia. We are told that we are under arrest and are to be taken to Threshold. Several other Knights enter and begin clapping us in irons, taking us outside. Memnon, finding himself free from Bargle’s influence, puts up a show of resistance but is taken to the ground by the Lady Halloran with the point of her sword at his throat.

No less than five fully armoured Knights accompany Lady Elena, each with a Griffon mount. There is also another man, who from his robes appears to be a magic user. As we are bundled onto the waiting Griffons, Bargle vents his anger at Elena, threatening her should she ever set foot in his encampment again and reminding her of what happened the last time they met. We are soon airborne and after hurried conversation are relieved to discover our arrest is indeed a cover for Lady Elena to get us to safety. Whilst in flight, we are joined by a black hawk, which settles on the wizard’s shoulder. (The same creature we saw following us earlier).

Once out of sight of Bargle’s camp, we land and retrieve our comrades. Elena explains that the Wizard, introduced as Garon, had been using his hawk to watch over us. Once it was realised that we had entered Bargle’s camp, our possible defeat and capture was anticipated and this rescue plan quickly put into effect. We express our gratitude and quickly agree a plan. Tol Flemin uses animal messenger to send a single mount back to Eltan’s Spring to seek out Memnon’s mother and father Gorgo and Mortenos, explaining that the other mounts will be following and asking for them to be cared for as long as possible. (we also arrange for some gold from party treasure, amount TBC, to be sent to them to cover the expenses). If we are unable to retrieve them before they become a burden, then they are to be set free to have the best chance they have in the wild.

Concerned that Bargle will be decamping as soon as he can and following us with his men in an attempt to obtain the Eyes of Traldar that we possess, we agree to return to Threshold with Lady Elena, to seek sanctuary over night and plan anew for the next day. After a three hour flight, we land in the castle of Baron Halloran and follow the Armoured Flower across the snowy courtyard, lit by warm light spilling from the surrounding windows. Food and mulled wine is brought for us as we talk with Lady Elena. Memnon asks what transpired between her and Bargle, to which she flatly replies that Bargle killed her. Her Uncle brought her back from the dead, an act which Elena can now herself perform and would be willing to teach Memnon this very night! The Tiefling cleric eagerly agrees.

Conversation turns to how and where we shall move on from here. Elena suggests we may wish to discuss this with an old acquaintance and in walks Fyodor! He looks a little older, perhaps wiser, despite it only being a matter of weeks since he mysteriously vanished in the Blight Swamp and is clad in simple clothing, with a partially constructed harp. Our immediate concerns are allayed by Ozzy’s ‘hag vision‘ revealing no deceit on Fyodor’s’ behalf and him being able to answer question to which only he would surely know the answer. Fyodor explains that he used the tune taught by the seer to transport himself out of danger and that the dryad (which was gaining a form of control over him, causing him to disrobe…!) was transported with him, although she reverted to a water state and flowed away upon arrival. Fyodor sought out the seer, quickly finding and being taken in by him.

The Seer cared for and tutored Fyodor (via discreet questions, Tol Flemin ascertains that Fyodor is now effectively a Watcher) although told him on several occasions that was not yet ready to travel to the Isle of Lost Dreams itself. News from Fyodor of our adventures relating to the Eyes and Hags since we last met caused the Seer concern and he travelled to meet someone on the Isle of Lost Dreams. He didn’t return. Leaving the Eye of Death secure in the Seer’s hut, Fyodor travelled to Threshold by Pegasus and met with Lady Elena in an attempt to locate us, a meeting which ultimately led to our timely rescue.

Fyodor explains that he has the ability to transport us all in search of the seer. We agree to set out the next day, after resting for the night and allowing time for Memnon to learn how to raise the dead. An ability we all hope he will not have to use anytime soon…

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Memnon's Background

Memnon’s mother and father, Gorgo and Mortenos, moved from their Tiefling settlement in the Black Peak Mountains to the village of Eltan’s Spring, when Memnon was very young. He remembers little of his life in the Black Peaks and has no clear recollection of the incident that led to his parents deciding to leave their mountain home.

Mortenos is a leather and metal worker of no small skill, adept at producing accoutrements in the traditional styles of Bael Turath. Gorgo is a healer, her abilities stemming from a vast knowledge of herbs and natural remedies, rather than any divine or arcane ability.

The villagers of Eltan’s Spring made Memnon’s family welcome, despite their infernal bloodline. An initial sense of threat felt by Boltac the leatherworker regarding Mortenos’ trade and obvious skills was soon overcome by Morteno’s and Gorgo’s highly social nature, perhaps unusual for Tieflings, and Boltac and Mortenos have grown to become good friends, trading and occasionally working together to mutual benefit. Villagers often visit Gorgo when struck with illness and over the years she has come to be widely regarded as the village healer.

When asked what brought them to Eltan’s Spring, Mortenos and Gorgo have always told the same tale. Their previous home in Tiefling settlement had become uncomfortable. The general outlook of many there had become close-minded and isolationist – ashamed of their infernal ancestry and intolerant of much of the outside world. As a result, trade had begun to fail and all were beginning to find it hard to make a living. Some had turned to thievery and other, even less acceptable means to make ends meet. Fearing the implosion of the settlement and wanting better for their young son, Mortenos and Gorgo had decided to move their family elsewhere and trust in their skills and more social nature to help them find a new home and make a living.

Whilst all this is true, there is more to the tale than they tell, with one particular incident of which they do not speak being the deciding factor in them moving from the Black Peak Mountains.

In an attempt to make enough money to allow them to leave the Black Peak, Mortenos and his family joined a small trade caravan, bound for Darokin. Not far out from the Mountains, the caravan was attacked by a savage band of marauders, followers of Orcus, led (to Mortenos and Gorgo’s dismay) by a Tiefling Warlock. The caravan’s guards gave a brave fight, slaying several marauders, but they fell before the attackers’ blades. Whilst Mortenos grappled with one marauder, another stole past and struck Gorgo to the ground, raising his weapon to deliver a fatal blow.

As a young Memnon cradled his mother, instinctively baring his teeth at her attacker, the Tiefling Warlock strode forwards to observe the family’s death. However, something made him stop in his tracks. Staring at the young Tiefling, the Warlock seized the arm of his companion, halting his strike. Barking a single word in the guttural ancient tongue of Bael Turath, the Warlock shoved his companion back and the two retreated. Several harsh commands from the Warlock saw the marauders cease their assault, retreating from their imminent victory and withdrawing, disappearing in mere moments into the boulder strewn terrain. Through a haze of pain, Gorgo remembers a look of fear on her attacker’s face as he uttered that single word, moments before he turned tail and left. Mortenos rushed to his blood-partner’s side, astounded that Gorgo and their son had been spared and frantically demanding to know what the Warlock said that made the attack stop.

Gorgo heard the one word; “Asst’khar..?” Yet this provided no clear answer. In the infernal tongue of Bael Turath, the word for ‘blessed’ is almost exactly the same as the word for ‘cursed’ (“Asst’khar” / “Assk’thar”). It seemed that the Warlock laid eyes on Memnon and sensed something in the young Tiefling that made him falter and decide to withdraw. Mortenos and Gorgo were left to ponder whether the follower of Orcus thought Memnon to be blessed, or perhaps… cursed. Either way, whatever the Warlock appeared to sense was enough to make the marauders depart, empty handed, from a victory that would have greatly pleased their dark master and served them well in terms of acquiring wealth to further their worldly pleasures.

With the possible implications of either answer having a potentially far reaching and dramatic impact on the family, Mortenos and Gorgo returned to the Black Peak Mountains and spent the whole of the next night discussing what it was best to do. After hours of conversation, their plan was made. They would leave the Black Peak Mountains and seek out a life in a village they had heard of North of Lake Windrush. A place rumoured to be tolerant of those who may be seen as ‘different’ by society at large and protected by a powerful Druid. Perhaps there, the family could start afresh, maybe even prosper.

Memnon, who had always delighted in the tales of the three deities of the Traldar told by traders, was to be subtly steered by his parents into the Church of Traldar, a belief system Mortenos and Gorgo felt just and worthy and importantly; one far removed from the infernal dealings in Bael Turath. In this way, if truly he was blessed, he would thrive and fulfill whatever destiny awaited him. If the unthinkable were to pass and Memnon was in some way cursed, then perhaps the Church would be able to lessen the impact of this, or perhaps curb it completely. Either way, surely the protection of the Druid would serve the family well in the immediate years to come.

Gorgo’s healing skills and Mortenos’ natural martial ability served their plan well. Memnon learnt the healing arts well and as he grew, he came to surpass his father in natural combat skills. Indeed, as he grew into adulthood, there seemed to just be… something about young Memnon. His healing skills appeared to go beyond what was possible with natural remedies and there seemed to be a light in him that belayed his dark heritage. Fascinated from youth by tales of Halav and his sacrifice in the defeat of a vast army of evil beastmen (and therefore finding no small degree of irony in his choice) Memnon read all he could about Halav, Petra and Zirchev, eventually deciding to dedicate himself to Halav. (Mortenos and Gorgo had done their work well.)

A chance encounter with a childhood associate, Tef-Lon, saw Memnon strike out on his own from Eltan’s Spring for the first time. Equipped with leather armour fashioned by his father, healing remedies provided by his mother and with a fine example of a mace (the weapon which he felt naturally suited) purchased with Royals earned by trading his own leatherwork and healing remedies, Memnon set out with Tef-Lon for a small adventure (partly to further his own experience of the world and partly to keep a watchful eye on his fellow Tiefling so that he would not do anything too bad to tarnish the reputation of Tieflings everywhere).

Their small adventure grew into something larger than either had been prepared for, yet both rose to the challenges put before them and Memnon, discovering powers of healing, shielding and fortune that could only be a blessing from Halav himself. Fully dedicating himself to being a cleric of Halav, Memnon made a pilgrimage to the small village of High Verge, former home to one of the Heroes of the Shield, a fellow Cleric of Halav whose faith had been such that it was rumoured that not even death could stop him from returning to carry out Halav’s work.

Memnon returned to Eltan’s Spring and spent the autumn and winter living and working happily with his parents. Mortenos and Gorgo were overjoyed that their son had returned to them a Cleric of Halav – this was far more than they had hoped for when they spent the night discussing what to for the best years ago in the Black Peak Mountains. The following Spring, word reached Memnon that a death cult honoring the evil deity Orcus was in operating in the land. Incensed that so foul a thing should possibly plague the happy life of his parents (this news seemed to trouble them greatly) and friends in Eltan’s spring, Memnon once again met up with Tef-Lon and the two set out, perhaps with different ultimate goals, for the adventure of a lifetime.

Memnon and his parents are hopeful individuals, keen to throw off the shackles of their heritage and to take their place in wider society. As a result of their infernal bloodline, all three are still to an extent self-centered, although this manifests itself in a near obsession with personal improvement, rather than ‘looking after number one’ to the detriment of others. The family has strived to contribute to the community of Eltan’s Spring, whilst not wanting to appear to be overcompensating or in any way trying to apologise for their heritage. All three intensely dislike being discriminated against for their race and bloodline and Mortenos and Memnon can be very temperamental if confronted about it. To his day Mortenos and Gorgo continue to happily live in Eltan’s Spring, whilst their son, apparently blessed, has taken well to a life of adventure and is beginning to make a name for himself as a both a rare Tiefling Cleric and a member of The Heroes of Winterhaven!

Footnote: Recent events have shed more light on the incident with the Tiefling Warlock many years ago and he now stands revealed as Mortenos’ brother Morghash. Is this the reason the marauders’ attack was halted, so Morgahsh could spare his owen blood? Now confronted with a blood relative who worhsips Orcus and represents all that Memnon fights against – this time it’s personal.

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Bargle Spices it up

Peering back over the brow of the hill, we can see that these are the troops of the Black Eagle Barony. There are just under 100 troops. There are sentries patrolling. They are controlling the exit to where we want to go. We have a quick discussion as to what to do and decide to brazen it out and ride straight past the camp. As we ride past, a group of men challenge us, one of them appears to be a tiefling.

Uncle morgashThe tiefling acknowledges Memnnon’s parents and as we turn them down he calls back that we’ll miss out on finding out about Grishenka. We ride on over the hill and have a discussion as to whether we ride on or go for a drink with them.
Memnnon relates his background of encountering a bunch of bandits… See the portal for details.

After much discussion in the cold and faffing around we ride onto Eltan’s Spring.

During the journey Tol notices that we are being followed by a flying creature about the size of a hawk. I remember that Bargle tends to favour black creatures, which may be the creature above us.

We arrive into Eltan’s Spring, which is still in one piece. Eltan springs in winter2The Crock and Goblet is the only pub. There is only one way in and one way out of Eltan’s Spring. The more martial among us are concerned about defending the village should the Baron’s men attack us. I’m just cold.

We all pile over to Memnnon’s parents and tell them all about it. There are sideways looks between the parents. His dad says that the Black Eagle Barony’s tielfing is in fact his Brother, the warlock Morgash the Dark. In their youth they did some adventuring, but Memnnon’s dad prefers to make boots these days. (Hmmm know where to come when I need an excellent pair of boots in future.)

There are further family things to catch up, so we leave Memnnon to catch up with his family and retire to the pub.

The pub which is a very homely place and welcoming place, with a hoppy odour from the brewing out the back.

We swap news of the outside world and discover that it may be the coldest winter for 10 years. This co-incidentally is when the eldest daughter of the lord of Highdell went missing. Her name was… She would be about 16 now. That is something to think about for the future….

Memnnon joins us a little later and over a couple of beers We decide to go back and see uncle Morgash and find out some more about what Bargle is up to. It is agreed that whoever goes in to see them shouldn’t have the Eyes of Traldar with them, as this is what Bargle is after. Kathra and Switch are given the Eyes to look after. I am very reluctant to let the Eyes out of my sight and it takes a lot of convincing by Memnnon before I hand them over to Kathra.

We ride out the next morning through the fresh snow and eventually pick up our flying colleague, at about the same time that Kathra and Switch drop out of sight and hide. Once the party has moved on and the flying spy is no longer visible they then change position, to avoid being ambushed.

We arrive back at the encampment. There are still guards but they are now more ready for a battle then they would like to be known.

We are again met by the tiefling and the men at arms, When Memnnon mentions that he bought beer there is significant interest from the men at arms. We are told that Uncle Morgash the Dark’s master would be interested in talking to us.

Memnnon today is very obviously walking in as a priest of Halav, in fact we all walk tall into the camp – even though I have concerns about what we are doing, the opportunity to find out more is too tempting. I also note that here is a certain amount of trepidation and some measuring up being done by the soldiers of the Baron.

Uncle Morgash says we shall be introduced to Bargle. We head over to what is a fairly normal sized tent on the outside, but on the inside it is much larger. This is very cool! Inside we find a range of cushions and a carpet leading up to a throne like chair, in which Bargle is reclining! Worth noting that this doesn’t look like the tent of someone who is number two to Baron Ludwig von Hendriks, Duke Stefan’s cousin, but rather someone who is actually in control of the whole shooting match.

BargleBargle it appears is playing with a white stone or gem…. which I last saw in the hands of Grushenka! Bargle has the Eye of Frost.

Bargle proceeds to treat us with contempt and quiz us as to whether we know what is going on around here or not. Which is not really the way of a gracious host who has invited us in for a drink. He is also very disappointed that we do not appear to have any of the Eyes. He says he was hoping to stage a demonstration with them for us. But overall he is full of bluster and not much information. However he does take us to the other tent where we see a very much weakened Grushenka, pitifully curled up in a cage. The cage is radiating some form of powerful magic that makes even me feel uneasy, it must be desperately painful for the hag. However it is preventing her from changing to gaseous form and disappearing.

Bargle picks up a sharp stick and pokes Grushenka, A captured elf she barely moves away from the attack, which indicates just how sick she is, as she is normally easily able to avoid such a stab.

Hmmm last we heard of Grushenka she was disappearing into the Shadowfell with the Beastman fiend leader. I wonder what has happened here.

So what further questions do we want to get from Bargle?

1. We can leave since he is being so rude to us
2. Tell us what the Hag has been doing to the weather with the Eye of Frost and how has she done this…. ?
3. How and where did they capture Grushenka? We last heard her leaving through a portal to the Shadowfell with a fiendish colleague?
4. What are the exact charges Grushenka will stand trial for? We may be able to add others?
5. How long has the Black Eagle Barony been up here with an army? surely its a bit cold up here and they are a long way from home?

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Back to Gorion
Rest and recognition

The vanquishersThere is profound relief. We have done it. The portal is safe, we are alive and the dragon is dead. We all sit down for a breather, before starting to carve the dragon up into the valuable pieces which we can sell or turn into magic items. Some of things we take are the dragon’s teeth, the wing membranes, its eyes, claws and of course the head. During this time I relock the other portals to avoid anyone just turning up and reopening the portal to the Elemental Plane of Fire. This all takes a couple of hours before loaded onto my Tenser’s floating disk we prepare to head out.
Switch sneaks out past the guardian, which doesn’t react to him. Guareb dhur guardians As he hides in the shadows he notices half a dozen boulders resting in the room that weren’t there last time. He isn’t sure as to whether they are friend or for and so comes back to get us. We come back through past the guardians.

The boulders turn into Gor liggs and his colleagues. They are delighted that we have secured the gate and also slightly awestruck at the amount of damage we created as we fought our way through the caves to get to the Gate. We wiped out the entire tribe of Troglodytes. Gor Liggs says he will now monitor the gate and directs some of his team to escort us back out of the caves. Ozzie hands over the keys we had been loaned to secure the gate.

Kathra and Memnnon are concerned that the hag and the pit fiend are still at large in the cave system and that we should be hunting them down before we leave the system. We are informed that there have been early reports indicating a squishy female and a large beastman with wings and a tail had been cornered on the upper level. There was a fierce battle before the woman created an arch of darkness and disappeared through it with the fiend. I am very keen to see the place this occurred as there is a chance that I can tell where the portal went and possibly even re-open it and pursue them. Although Given we are all exhausted I’m not sure that pushing the advantage would be of benefit to us.

We travel with the bulk Galeb dhur to the upper level, to the place where Grishenka disappeared from there. There has clearly been a fight, as there is a variety of blood types still showing on the floors and walls. I scan the area and can quite clearly see an arcane jet black archway, which after a bit of study is clearly a necrotic gate to the shadow fell. Not somewhere we are in any state to pursue. Further study indicates to me that this is not something that Grishenka can create at will but is a prepared ritual -a powerful one and a further indicator or her power.

Deciding there is no more for us to do here we are escorted back to to Gorion. Gorian 1 There is a blast of cold air when we get out and there is more snow on the ground. Winter has been coming on faster

We return triumphantly to the King, Who has organised a state banquet for us and is able to provide master craftsmen of all types to weave, hone sew and build new items for us out of the pieces of dragon. I assist with some of the more arcane practices over the next few days.
At the banquet the King presents us with the Eye of Fire. Which he summons down from where it hangs in mid air. He recounts how the eye has been in the safe keeping of the Gareb Dhur for a long time, but now the eye has indicated to him that its time has come and that we are the right people to take it forward. I am happy to accept the eye of fire and reintroduce it to its colleagues also in my protection. Interestly the eye appears to permanently burn with a flame, although this is not hot to touch nor does it burn me or my clothes. Gareb dhur drummer
We return all the items of Garb Dhur art that we found as we battled through the caves. Gorion is delighted to see some of the artworks returned to his people and in recognition of our honesty he also rewards us with some large chunks of platinum, which once Switch has got over the shock of seeing so much platinum in one place estimates that it is worth in the region of 15,200 gold pieces. The party later agrees to split this amount evenly between us all, which works out at 3,040 gps woth of platinum each – enough to buy some new books or get a tattoo. In addition to this Gorion also gives each of us a ceramic container containing some dried crystals which he advises that once mixed with water will turn into a potion of vitality.
As we recover over the next few days, Tol spends some time with the Gareb dhur trying to understand what they eat and what it is. During his time he also learns about how they use Magtails to power their light sources . He also learns about how the Fireshirts are made and some the lesser known rituals of the Gareb Dhur. We find that we are welcome in most places throughout Gorion, although there appear to be a couple of places where we are not so welcome, which relate to their deity. We also notice that some of the Gareb Dhur are talking about us in the same revered tones that they talk of Halav. This is something that embarrasses Memnnon, however Switch and Tol are as pleased as punch. Kathra ignores it as do I
Memnnon learns that they think of Halav as a hero, who assisted them in defeating various monsters and opening up the caves. The Galeb dhur appear to have always wandered through the mountains, although this may be a metaphor for moving through life. He does suspect that some of the Galeb dhur here now may have met Halav, although this is not clear.
Kathra absents herself for a couple of days and goes to the ruined village of Rolant to tell her family’s spirits that Volvagia has been defeated.
Kathra has a difficult trip to Rolant . The forges are quiet, things have been removed from them, which cold be replaced and restarted if need be.
Upon Kathra’s return we depart the caves of Gorion for the village of HighDell.
There we discover that the Sir Sergai Reynald has recently made it back to his home and has been welcomed with open arms particularly as he is bearing his new child. This is regarded as very auspicious, and tied in with the recent disappearance of the Wyverns which had been terrorising the road from HighDell south. Many regarded the wyverns as a bad omen.
Sergai is also delighted to see us and that we have been able to bring the Gareb Dhur back into communication with the outside world. We are rewarded with a medallion bearing a picture of his new son. People from far and wide have been travelling to HighDell to pay their respects. In some cases there has been some trouble and one party was asked to remove their camp to outside the walls of the town.
Switch is delighted to be able to collect the bow he ordered from Mallo. Mallo is also delighted that Switch is able to pay off the debt?
During our week in HighDell we reequip ourselves with provisions and hone our skills and powers. It appears that we may be here for the winter. However we all have things to see in the area and so it is decided that we will visit these places through the winter as the weather allows.

First off it will be to Eltan’s Spring.

As we leave in the morning we crest a hill and below us see a large number of tents camping, with lots of armed men. Snow tentsThis must the lot who ere causing trouble in HighDell. We notice no visible emblems on the men at arms, but we do notice that the flags are white…. uh oh, it is highly likely that this is a Black Eagle Barony legion with around a 100 men at arms, sitting in front of us. We quickly pull back below the crest of the hill to decide our next steps.

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Toe to toe with the dragon

Tol shoulders his long bow and fast draws his melee weapons and with a whirl of steel only manages to hit the dragon with Ackeris. However it is a veritable hit as the fury of his attack startles Volvagia, who, tripping over his tail, falls over. Switch seeing an opportunity to strike leaps after the dragon and sinks his sword into its now exposed underbelly, before swiftly retreating out of reach of the flashing talons.

I continue to climb the cliffs towards the final orb. Behind me Kathra leaps across the island and wades across to cover my back in case the dragon comes after me.

Volvagia in a flurry of wings and claws gets up and again flies up to the ceiling and bashes some more rocks down on, opening another vent of lava near Switch. It appears that this is something the dragon can control.

Memnnon in desperation at not being able to hurt the dragon at range, pulls out his alchemist acid and throws it at Volvagia. The missile whistles wide of the mark and smashes against the ceiling. Tol has better luck however as in another whirl of upper body movement, puts away his sword and axe, unshoulders his bow and commences to fire a volley of arrows at the winged beats above him.

I have finally reached the highest part of the island, where the final orb rests. “oh bollocks” there is a large keyhole which on closer inspection looks like it needs all four of the keys to unlock. I have one and the other three are all currently in the orbs around the room. Where is that Halfling rogue when you need him? Ozzie

Well, if Kathra can shut down a gate with his magical ability, then surely I can pick this lock….. hmmm, with my magical ability – that should be easy…… Owww. There is a sharp explosion in my mind as I try to trick the lock with one of the keys and the rest using prestidigitation – that hurt!

Switch has moved up the cliff. He draws his bow and sends a little arrow winging its way to the ceiling to sink itself into the dragon. Volvagia screams in pain and surprise, before falling back into the lava. Switch is jumping up and down like a lunatic, shouting “I got him I got him, I killed the dragon!”

Things aren’t so good for Memnnon and Tol, who have both been hit by the splash of lava, which has rapidly cooled and immobilised them where they are.

Switch is halfway through his victory dance when there the lava next to Memnnon begins to bubble and broil as Volvagia again bursts out of the lava and lands on the bridge next to them. Volvagia immediately goes on the attack, taking a large lump out of Tol with its teeth. Memnnon misses with his strike before retreating from the razor claws that are trying to pin him down. As he pulls back he shouts a healing word for Tol who recovers considerably from the dragon’s bite.Lava

Out of the corner of my eye I note that Volvagia is now a darker colour, has smaller and punier wings, but nastier teeth and claws. There is a sulphurous aura as well. The creature is also bloodied, which means that the lava isn’t healing him, or not much.

Tol is still a desperate whirl of upper body action and in a rare show of bravery is going toe to toe with the dragon! Although I do note that he is still stuck in the Lava.
I take the opportunity that Tol provides distracting the dragon to regroup my thoughts and quickly bind my wounds. I mutter to myself that I will need five goes to shut down the portal, once I have unlocked the gate. Kathra looks at me in alarm at the time it is going to take and suggests that I perhaps put that frozen hand, hovering around doing very little, to good use helping everyone else rather than trying to shut the gate, as otherwise there may be no one left to save. A reasonable comment, given that the vortex while expanding isn’t expanding very fast at the moment.
Volvagia3
This battle again stands on a knife edge, The flaming sparks go after all of us, but are particularly dangerous to Tol and Memnnon, as their red shirts have been rendered useless until they can redo them up. Kathra wails in frustration as her carefully aimed throw is disrupted and she drops her hammer into the lava. Volvagia hearing the wail, whips her head around and seems to notice us for the first time. Recognising that if I get the gate shut down he will be trapped again, takes to the skies and swoops across to attack Kathra and I. Kathra whacks the dragon as it goes past and lands on the island, getting a hefty smack in return for her trouble. Kathra is doing a sterling job keeping the dragon focused on her, but even her depths of reserves are starting to fail, as it takes another chunk out of her, covering her with a noxious blast of sulphurous gases.

I also don’t manage to avoid the swinging arm of the dragon which cuts deep into the side of my head and down the side of my body, shredding the red shirt – I too am now vulnerable to the fiery sparks. In retaliation I teleport the beast three squares away and into chilly grip of my frosty hand. The dragon is hovering over the lava, slowly shaking its head a bit over my attack. There is a fusillade of arrows and axes being launched from all sides by the team.

I am again burned by the fiery spark, hovering beside me. My yelp of pain alerts Tol who briefly changes the focus of his aim, fires and removes the fiery spark from next to my head before coolly recommencing the barrage against Volvagia. Thanks Tol!

I manoeuvre the frosty hand and grab the mighty dragon by the neck in a strong icy grasp, that should give it something to think about…..errrr probably me…. I quickly pull out a potion of healing and drink it as I may be about to receive some dragon attention.

Behind me there is a disturbing increase in the sound and psychic vibrations of the vortex. Briefly taking my eyes off the dragon I see that there is another issue to keep us busy. The vortex to the Elemental Plane of Fire is strengthening and starting to pull in the bridge, the fiery sparks and most disconcertingly the island I’m standing on… eeek.

Kathra also heals herself and then smites the dragon with her hammer as it wriggles free of the hand and shifts closer to try and punish me for my arcane mastery. Fortunately it misses. Memnnon hoots with devilish glee as his Lance of Faith takes Volvagia from behind. But this isn’t going to deter Volvagia from wizard canapé as his head again snakes over the top of mine in a snaky strike.

Switch has also now noticed the speed the vortex is now growing at and realising that I may need all the other keys sets off at a run to gather them.

I again send my Bigby’s frosty hand to grab the dragon around the neck. Connecting again I proceed to squeeze the life out of the dragon. It wriggles desperately, but I can see the area around the hands grasp is going from red and fiery to a pale pink and then white! I concentrate harder – thinking about cold things, roaring avalanches of snow, Thundering storms of ice. The whiteness spreads further over the dragon, in places I can see ice crystals forming, whilst in others there is steam coming off the dragon as the elements of ice and fire battle for supremacy. But this is a battle that cold will win, as with a final fiery groan Volvgia finally falls limp in the hands of my mighty frosty fist!

There is no time to celebrate, the very air around us is beginning to spin in a slow tornado as the vortex grows in strength every minute. I banish the frosty hand and refocus on the trial of will with the orb. I am bleeding profusely, but need to close the gate otherwise my comrades will perish. Memnnon starts heading around to help me, as does Tol who calls upon his deity to heal me. Many of my wounds heal, my head clears and I am much more confident that I may survive this final tussle. With refreshed concentration I apply my arcane strength to the lock mechanism, seeking to fool it with a combination of prestidigitation, bluff and a semblance of truth.

There is a clunk as I unlock the gate.

Meanwhile Switch has lithely leapt across rivers of lave to collect the keys and is on his way back. The speed of the vortex is increasing, as is the heat in the room.

Being so close to the vortex My hair is standing on end as the heat and power of the plane of fire start to sear my hair and eye brows. “Flee you fools” I cry above the roar of the vortex
The rest of the party start fleeing for the door. But Kathra has ignored me and is calmly cutting up the dragon as part of the trophy and hopefully for research purposes, sale and magic item creation…

Ozzie concentrate! – Control the portal..Concentrate…. Another clunk as I start gaining control of the portal….. clugunk –aaaaraaaarrgh! I scream in surprise and pain as I miscalculate part of the puzzle and receive a hefty blast of psychic damage. I won’t survive another of those.

Memnnon, hearing my scream of pain has turned around and is charging to the rescue. Tol too, suddenly realises he has a healing potion in his pocket and stops climbing the wall to safety, turns around and sprints to my aid, and possible death in the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Nothing like pain to focus the mind. I breathe deeply and move into a different zone….the vortex continues to grow and is starting to pull in the very fabric of our plane…. I can feel the psychic forces of the plane pulling at my consciousness…. I will be one with this spinning maelstrom…. clunk, another piece of the puzzle is mine….the tornado is tearing at the clothes of the heroes rushing to keep me alive…. the vortex is ripping away the very ground beneath me…. more haste less speed Ozzie comes the voice of my mentor through the whistling winds….Memnnon crosses over to the island to help and heal, dashing across the side of the fallen dragon….the searing heat of the Plane of Fire is starting to cause parts of my cloak to catch fire…… clunk.

I

now

have

the

portal

under

control. And bring it to a stable position.

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