Tyranny of Dragons

Loose Ends
Season 2, Session 11

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

After defeating Hazirawn, the party spends their time helping Captain Harrowleaf and the townsfolk of Loudwater in clearing debris, checking homes, and helping out the survivors.

Tribs bids farewell to Reven and Xenara. He wishes them good luck and promises they will find each other soon. He thanks Reven for finishing the mission and regrets he will not be there with him.

Mags, Dru, Osrik, and Jean Luc return to the city after burying Old Barnaby and join the others in helping with the relief effort. While helping clean up, Jean Luc finds the discarded hilt of Hazirawn. He picks it up and takes it as a keepsake.

Later that evening, the heroes meet in the Green Tankard and enjoy a well-earned meal. After dinner they return to the docks. Cora pulls Gamora aside and tells her that Reven may be able to get a letter to her father if she’s interested. When they return to the boat they discuss next steps. Jean Luc takes out the hilt of Hazirawn and nails it to a beam on the boat with a note saying, “I am a dick.”

After a good laugh, he advises them that they will be needed in Waterdeep in the next few days and should teleport there tomorrow morning. Cora asks him to wait another day, as she has something she needs to do before they leave. Jean Luc, understanding that he won’t get more details than that, agrees to wait.

Jean Luc asks Reven if he will join them, but Reven turns him down, saying that he also has something to take care of and he’s not sure when he will be done. Reven asks if Xenara cares to join him, and she says yes.

Xenara returns the book to Jean Luc, which she completed in less than a day. Jean Luc asks her to write her thoughts on the book when she has time, as he is interested in her thoughts. She agrees and bids him farewell. The two half-drow leave that evening and make their way out of town.

Cora follows behind Reven, says goodbye, and hands him Gamora’s letter, instructing him to give it to Draken Dreadmore. Reven agrees, says goodbye, and leaves with his sister.

After Reven’s departure, the rest of the party decides to visit the Bone Devil, Lord Volmyr. This time, Mags insists on joining them.

They return to the Pot Store (which is a front for the Bone Devil’s organization) and soon descend underground, where they enter the checkpoint that seals them between two metal doors and where they are expected to leave their weapons behind.

As with their first visit, Cora refuses to disarm and remains behind with Khendrig. Jean Luc, Mags, Osrik, Gamora, and Dru disarm and proceed through the second metal door, which seals right behind them. They enter Volmyr’s chamber, a dark room with a gossamer curtain that separates the party from the devil. Only his silhouette shows. The room is filled with powerful incense and many interesting pieces of art and trinkets.

The voice of Lord Volmyr echoes in their minds. He congratulates them on defeating Darlandra and breaking the Black Trident’s hold on Loudwater. He also thanks them for leaving the fortress largely abandoned, as he intends to take possession of it for his own organization. Dru asks, “Since we kept our part of the bargain, do you have any new information for us?”

Lord Volmyr doesn’t have anything new, but he does say that he’s been gaining some information on a Cult of the Dragon separatist group lead by a former Cult leader named Talis, who is gathering forces. Her location is not known, and he is currently in the process of gathering more intelligence. Lord Volmyr concludes that their alliance is intact and the party begins to leave.

Mags stands still as the party begins to depart. “What is your name again?” she asks.

“You may call me, Lord Volmyr, little one,” his voice says.

“No… I don’t think I will. You don’t belong here, and I will not leave this town with a devil living in the bowls of my town,” Mags says with a resolute and calm tone.

Lord Volmyr, with an amused, asks," Is this child one of yours?"

Mags snaps her fingers and a column of divine fire crashes through the ceiling, igniting the curtain and damaging the Bone Devil. The monstrous devil rises and hisses at Mags with anger in its eyes. Lord Volmyr’s full height towers over the party and its barbed tail lashes menacingly.

The shockwave of the FlameStrike is felt at the checkpoint, where Cora asks the guard what happened. The guard looks confused. Cora says, “You should check on that. Hope everything is okay.” The guard, conflicted, tells her to stay there and begins opening the door.

Osrik flips a table, providing some cover. Gamora grabs a chair and smashes it against the Bone Devil. Mags casts a bolt of divine fire at the Bone Devil, sending it back howling.

Jean Luc vanishes, reappearing beside Cora, who hands him a bin holding the party’s belongings. She then takes Providence and kills the two guards on either side of the slightly open metal doors. She sprints down the hall with Khendrig close behind. Jean Luc, says “Race you!” and vanishes.

He reappears with the party’s weapons as they do their best to hold off the Bone Devil with whatever’s handy and their spells. When Jean Luc arrives, they grab their weapons and start attacking Lord Volmyr. Gamora, wielding the blade Jean Luc got for her, drives it through Lord Volmyr’s body. The Bone Devil whines and says, “You’ve made a mistake this day…” his body starts to burn and fall apart into ash. “I will be back and will make you pay for this…”

With the Bone Devil defeated, the party moves out to take care of the other members of the Bone Devil’s organization. As everyone leaves, Osrik remains behind and loots some of the art, gems, and treasure in the Bone Devil’s room.

With the remainder of the Bone Devil’s servants in chains, Mags burns the Pot Store down with a fireball spell. She pauses a moment to take it all in.

Gamora asks, “You want to explain what that outburst was about?”

Jean Luc also asks, “If you can shed some light about the really strong emotions you displayed back there, it would be greatly appreciated.”

Mags looks at him, “I’m not gonna work with a Devil, and if we are leaving Loudwater, I’m not leaving one behind.”

Osrik nods, “Makes sense.”

Cora’s Cottage

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Not long afterward, Cora and Khendrig make their way to the stables. She retrieves the supplies she gathered earlier in the day and takes the two horses she acquired, riding out that evening to the North East.

They ride all night, avoiding any trouble and making good time. The young svirfneblin does not complain and sleeps in her lap. Cora does her best to protect the child during the hard ride. Nearly 7 hours of hard riding later, she makes her way to an isolated prairie just as light begins to touch the horizon. A small, burned cottage stands as the only building, with the flickering light of a lantern within. Beyond, in the distance, is a hill overlooking the cottage with a single tree.

She rides past the cottage, glancing inside. Its ruins bring back memories of that horrible night eleven years ago. It’s unchanged from her last visit, the ever-burning lantern still flickering inside. She slowly rides past the cottage, making her way up the hill to the tree.

She sees the four stones at its base. The graves of her family, her aunt Talia, her uncle Xain, her cousin Cora, and lastly, her own. There are no names on the graves, but she remembers when she dug them and placed the bodies of her family in the ground.

When Cora dismounts, she helps Khendrig down as well. Tired, he sits down on a rock, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. He watches as Cora climbs the hill, takes out flowers, and places them on the graves with a delicate and loving attention. Khendrig walks up the hill and stands beside her.

Cora kneels before the graves and closes her eyes. Khendrig for a moment believes her to be praying. She opens her eyes, looking to the cottage below and into the horizon. The young gnome feels a pull and feels a familiar energy gathering around him. He asks, “What are you doing?”

Cora’s focus unwavering, she replies, “Remembering.”

Understanding the sensation that is gathering, he turns away. Khendrig realizes there is nothing he can do to help her now. He stands and says, “I’m going to go for a walk.”

“Don’t go too far,” says Cora.

“I won’t,” says Khendrig as he walks down the hill.

She looks upon the hill, and in her mind she sees that dreadful day. Her aunt was tending to crops, and her uncle was caring for the horses. The red dragon come from nowhere and set the cottage on fire with its fiery breath. The screams, the horror, the pain echoes in her mind like a bell. Though this moment it is not the screams, but a haunting chime emanating from her bag. She opens her bag and sees it is the shimmering blue and silver scale. When Cora touches it, the entire hillside shifts and warps. There is a high-pitched humming and ripping noise, and the world around her tears and falls away.

Slowly, the sound fades and the world seems to put itself back together, and she stands in the same place on the hill beside the tree, but everything has changed. Before her, the sky begins to set, but is blackened as a massive red dragon in the sky casts its massive shadow. The world seems bathed in red as the jet of flame fires from its mouth engulf the roof of the cottage. They run. – her uncle, her aunt, and her cousin Cora.

Horrified, she sees the worst moment of her life before her. At her feet, lying beside the tree on the hill is her younger self, Ma’ree Nightflower, staring in fear upon the massive red dragon. As the dragon turns its attention to her uncle and aunt while they scurry for cover, Cora Xain’s eyes focus and her face hardens. She simply says, “No…”

She draws Providence, which is glowing an angry red light. She raises the ancient bow, given to her by the god Solonor Thelandira, and draws and fires an arrow at the Great Wyrm’s eye. As the arrow takes off from her bow, a flash of light strikes the arrow mid-flight, and a boot kicks Cora in the chest knocking her to the ground.

Before her an armored warrior with a silver and gold scimitar appears out of nowhere. Her form is clearly that of a woman, adorned in ornate gold and silver armor, wearing a helmet with dragon stylizing., though she can not see her face.

The armored warrior points at young Ma’ree, releasing a spell that seems to paralyze the young girl, then turns her attention to Cora, pointing her blade at her. Cora ignores the new opponent and takes aim at the Red Dragon. Her shift in attention is a mistake, as the armored warrior throws her scimitar, biting into Cora’s shoulder and causing the arrow to fire wild. She then rushes forward and tackles Cora, slamming her to the ground and knocking the bow from her hand.

At this moment, the red dragon’s fire lashes out, causing Cora’s aunt and uncle to scream in terror as their lives are taken by the dragon’s flames. Cora shouts, “Let me go!” And with a sudden surge of strength she flips her opponent off of her, sending the armored warrior crashing to the ground. Her helmet rolls off her head and her reddish brown hair falls out.
“Who are you?” Cora demands. Looking upon the warrior’s face, she sees a half-elf with the face of her cousin. “Cora?” she shouts in awe.

Before her stands Cora Nightshade, the same cousin whose name she took as her own to honor her memory. But her cousin is older, her eyes tired, and scarred. Pressed upon her face is a look of determination and strength that she has never seen before. “No. I can’t let you do this again.” She pounces on the stunned Cora Xain and slams her to the ground pinning her.

Cora begins to struggle, but her cousin places a gentle hand on her cheek. “You have to keep going forward,” she tells her.

“How are you here?” Cora asks.

“You’ll find out soon enough,” her cousin replies. “You have to do this.”

“What do I have to do?” asks Cora, confused.

The scream of her cousin’s younger self echoes throughout the prairie, as she is burned alive by the fires of the red dragon. “No!” Cora shouts, trying to free herself bursting into tears.

“It’s okay.” Her cousin says with a warm smile. “I love you, sister. You can do this, just keep going forward…” Her body glows a bright gold and blue light, and seems to break apart, falling into pieces of burning light. When she is gone, Cora feels the world tear again, and she finds herself alone on the hill before the four graves. She collapses on the ground in tears. It takes a moment for Cora to regain her composure. She retrieves her bow, but notices that her cousin’s scimitar is still where it fell.

Cora touches her shoulder to check the wound and realizes that she isn’t hallucinating. She is indeed bleeding. She stands and retrieves the fallen gold and silver blade, noticing it seems oddly familiar. She draws her own scimitar, comparing the designs and etchings. They are identical, except Cora’s own sword has a dragon-head charm hanging around the hilt. When she brings them close together she feels a powerful force pulling them together and pushing them apart at the same time. When she tries to make them touch they repel each other.

“That’s a fucked up thing ain’t it,” says a voice unfamiliar to her. Cora looks up and sees a man approaching with dark black hair pulled up in a ponytail and a spotty, unshaven face that seems incapable of growing a beard. He is dressed in well-worn and not-particularly-cared-for chainmail, rusted in some spots. His clothes seem like they were once white, but are stained and yellowed. On his back is a great sword of unremarkable quality that seems slightly better kept than his armor, but not by much. His dark brown eyes gaze at Cora with a smug look. Cora notices he has a scar across his right eye.

“Who are you?” says Cora. Her hands tighten around the hilts of the scimitars.

“I’m Kitzu,” he smiles as he walks closer, making his way up the hill. “And you are Cora Xain,” he circles her with a casual and almost mocking gait. “or Ma’ree Nightflower. Or whatever you decided to call yourself.”

As he moves closer, Cora lifts her scimitars defensively. “It’s a fucked up thing when the same object exists in two places. They don’t know if they want to be together or push themselves apart. It’s a rare thing when a paradox stabilizes. It’s pretty useful if you ever learn how to use them. Your short game sucks, right?”

Confused and frustrated Cora presses, “Who are you?!” as more of a threat than a question.

He smiles, “I’m just a guy trying to get home. Been wandering around this place for about 10 years and I’m really tired of this backwater shit hole.”

“What are you doing here?” Cora asks.

“I knew you’d be here.” He stops pacing and looks at her with focused intent. “Now if you’re done with that dragon scale, I’d really like to borrow it right now.”

“No,” says Cora, not lowering her stance.

“That’s a bad thing. Something is supposed to happen now, otherwise your little friend is going to die.”

“What’s supposed to happen?”

“You’re supposed to give that to me so I can set shit straight. That’s what I do for a living. While you go about changing shit willy-nilly whenever you fuckin’ feel like, cause your feelings get hurt. Oh boohoo! My parents, my family, my cousin are gone. Boohoo! I got to save them. And you go and rip fucking time apart!” Kitzu shakes his head and lets out a exaggerated sigh, “I’m really tired of fixing all your shit.”

Kitzu moves forward, toward the shimmering dragon scale which lays on the ground. Cora steps between the upstart and the scale, with anger burning in her eyes, and snatches it up before he does.

“Come on,” says Kitzu his voice sounding deflated and annoyed.

“You are going to have to do better than this,” she says. “Who are you? What do you want? How do you know who I am? And what do you want with the dragonscal…”

“Arrgh! Enough! I’m fucking tired of this!” Kitzu draws his great sword and swings at Cora. She takes a nimble step and with a slight deflection sends the attack off course. She counters once across his arm, but her second sword is blocked by his blade. He’s faster than he looks, but arrogant and sloppy.

Kitzu lashes out, swinging his sword twice more. Cora dodges the first blow and deflects the second, countering with a gash to his other shoulder with her right sword and knocking the great sword from his hand with her left. She finishes with a kick to the chest, which sends him crashing to the ground.

She presses to finish him off, but he surrenders, “Okay, okay, okay!!” he says raising his hands. “Obviously, you didn’t teach me that well,” he mumbles.

Cora repeats her question, this time pressing the point of her blade to his neck, “Who are you? What are you doing here? How do you know who I am?”

“I am Kitzu Mitzugaya,” he says, as humbly as this innately arrogant creature can muster. “You trained me to kill people that fuck up time. Not yet, because you are not there yet. You understand?”

“But not you, because you fucked things up. The Alpha taught me, but you ain’t her, you’re the Prime. You well, Alpha you, sacrificed herself to save your cousin. Your cousin did the things you did. But walking in your shoes wasn’t enough, she couldn’t measure up. She isn’t the Alpha, you see. So realizing that we couldn’t save the world without you she came to stop you. Well, this version of you. And she died for it. Does this ring a bell?”

“Like the vision I just had?” Cora asks.

“Vision?! That wasn’t a vision. That was real, that’s why you have a sword in your hand and a cut on your shoulder. That’s why Khendrig is not here anymore.”

Startled she looks around for Khendrig, realizing he isn’t around. She lifts her swords at Kitzu, “Where is he?!”

“You didn’t save him yet,” he says growing visibly frustrated.

“But I did…” she says, confused.

“You found him where you left him, but you didn’t save him yet. He’s not going to survive. You have no idea what you are doing. You don’t know how to follow the ley lines…”

“Where is Khendrig! Now!” she presses the blade in his neck, rage burning in her eyes and fear crawling into her heart. She tries to push away the thought that something has happened to him.

“You need to go to the Underdark to save him, before you get to the Underdark with your group,” he says keeping still.

Cora looks at him, not understanding him at all, “What?”

“I can’t explain all this to you, it’s going to take about fifty years of training to get your mind right and we don’t have the luxury of time, despite what you think. So you are going to do something that is out of your comfort zone Miss Cora Xain. You are going to have to trust me…”

He stands up and pushes the blade aside,.“If you don’t, your little gnome won’t survive, he will be dead when you get there. And everything we have done will be for nothing. Without that little gnome everything goes to shit.”

“Who’s we?” asks Cora.

“Hmm. I’m not telling you that. As afraid as I am of you, I’m more scared of my boss.” he says.

“Who’s your boss?”

“Not gonna tell you that,” says Kitzu. “You’ll find out eventually, but it’s not today. Trust me. You have to choose. Give me the scale and save Khendrig, or just wait until this all fades away and see what happens. I mean you do have an appointment in Waterdeep, you don’t want to be late do you?”

“It will all fade away…?” she asks.

“Yeah, but the problem is with me screwing up my job, I don’t have the luxury of an anchor anymore. So I’m gonna die too, and I really don’t want that…”

Cora looks at him, “So, it seems that you really fucked up royally.”

Kitzu hesitates, “Um, yes,” then chuckles to himself, “Well, maybe that’s on me. But I’m willing to die for what I believe in.”

Cora nods, “Well, good.”

“But are you willing to let Khendrig die for what you believe in?” These words give Cora pause. “Because let me tell you, if that little boy doesn’t grow up, it’s not just your life that vanishes. It’s everyone’s you know. How did you think Dru didn’t grow up to be an evil assassin under her father or drown in the ocean? Or Gamora found and killed early in her life? Or Rusty not becoming a pirate? There’s really a lot of things you don’t understand and we don’t have too much time. The window is closing… tick, tock.”

Cora looks at the dragon scale and notices that it’s not humming. “Are you going to take me with you?” she asks.

“That’s the plan,” he says, watching her intently. Cora holds her hand open, with the scale held up by her hand. She makes no effort to hand it over and after a moment says, “Are you going to take it from me?”

Kitzu walks over, takes the dragon scale from her hand, lets out a sigh of relief, and begins casting a spell, which causes the dragon scale to hum and energy to surge through Kitzu’s body, and his eyes to glow a bright white light. “Finally!” he shouts. “Hold on to your insides, we’re going for a ride!”

With a surge of energy, the world rips and tears, and a loud metallic humming sound rips Cora in two, and after a moment she finds herself back in the Underdark. Her body is solid, but somehow not exactly solid, much like when she reappeared in Waterdeep.

“Hope you don’t mind, I stopped over for a minute to get cleaned up,” says Kitzu. His face is clean-shaven and his hair more neatly kept in a ponytail. His armor is replaced with a clean, white robe with gold plates. He appears clean and well-rested, even though he is just as insubstantial-looking as Cora.

Before them, they see Drow warriors, slavers by the looks of it, marching a procession of svirfneblin through the ruined Underdark village Cora had previously traveled through on the way to Shadowheart’s fortress. Cora sees them and asks, “What do we do?”

“We?” Kitzu laughs, “This is your show. See them gnomes? They’ve been enslaved, we need to set them free. Find Khendrig and convince him to wait for you in the spot where you found him.” He hands Cora the blue scale, "I should take this from you, but to be fair, that would upset the timeline.

She takes the scale and puts it away, “I guess I don’t have a choice.”

“Well,” says Kitzu, "You have a choice on what you change and don’t.” When Cora looks back to him he is gone.

Cora gets into position, using the terrain and the darkness to keep herself hidden. She takes aim and fires three shots, killing three of the four Drow warriors. The chained svirfneblin instantly come to a halt and cringe in fear. The remaining Drow warrior turns toward Cora and charges, firing her crossbow at the half-elf.

Cora ducks behind the rock for cover and returns fire, hitting the Drow warrior in the shoulder. The Drow warrior draws her blades, pushing forward. Cora fires her bow again, but the Drow rolls out the way of the first shot, still taking the next in the leg. She closes the gap and swings at Cora with her blades, and Cora dodges one blow and deflects another with Providence, drawing an arrow and shooting the Drow in the neck at point blank range. The drow warrior collapses dying from the lethal blow.

Cora moves towards the svirfneblin and speaks in gnomish, “Are you alright?”

An elder svirneblin steps forward; like the other deep gnomes he is bald with large gray eyes, but his most distinguishing feature is his long white beard. "You are a surface dweller?” he asks, in a weak and tired voice.

“I am,” Cora responds.

“Thank you for your help. These Drow have been relentless. Drove us from our homes, killed many of our people…”

“I’m here to set you free,” Cora says. The svirfneblin look at each other, confused by Cora’s words. They talk amongst themselves, yet one whisper catches Cora’s ear, “why would a surface dweller help us?”

“Khendrig,” Cora calls out. The small deep gnome child looks up at her, surprised and fearful. She kneels before him and reaches for her bag, about to offer him some fruit, knowing he enjoyed it on the surface. But she hesitates, remembering that the first time he ate fruit it was in Loudwater, and doing this would change something. She remembers Kitzu’s words about changing things. Instead, she takes out her lock picks and unshackles Khendrig, then offers him her hand saying, “Are you alright?”

The young Svirfneblin takes her hand and for that moment, much like the first moment they touched, Cora has a vision of the old gnome from Loudwater who had hidden her from the Cult of the Dragon and taken her out of the city. Cora feels a powerful connection, much like the pull of her twin swords. She understands that she has been, was, and always will be bonded to this young gnome. It is a bond that cannot be severed beyond life, death, or time.

The young gnome looks up at Cora, and says, “I know you.”

“Do you remember me?” she says warmly.

“We have met before,” he says, trying to understand, though he still looks rather confused.

“Do you remember how we met?” she asks.

“I think so,” he says.

“You know there is something very important I must ask you to do?” she says gently.

“Yes,” says the tiny gnome. “You want me to wait for you.”

“Yes,” she says.

“There is something we need to do,” he says. He looks in her eyes, “You are still confused.”

Cora nods, “Can you explain it to me?”

The young gnome, “I don’t think so. I think when we meet again I can.”

Cora nods, and turns toward the rest of the deep gnomes. She takes some time undoing their chains. The elder svirfneblin says, “We should get going before more Drow return.” He looks at Khendrig. “The little one’s family perished in the attacks. Will you care for him?”

Cora nods, “I will take good care of him.”

“You have our thanks., says the elder. “What is your name?”

“Cora,” she says. She hands him her bag of food and supplies. “Here is some food for you.”

The elder accepts the bag with another look of surprise, “Thank you, we will remember your kindness.”

“Be safe,” she says as she takes Khendrig’s hand and heads toward the upper level of the abandoned village to the room where she first found Khendrig. The svirfneblin begin moving out of the village.

They enter the small room where Cora immedately notices the creature that attacked her before. She hesitates attacking it, thinking, I haven’t fought that yet.

“I will wait here,” says Khendrig as he crawls under a table.

“Have you done this many times?” she asks.

“I don’t know,” the gnome says in his small, high-pitched voice. “It’s like waking from a dream. I know I am supposed to take care of you.”

Cora smiles and pats his back. After a few moments Cora hears movement outside and voices shouting commands. She looks outside, seeing another Drow raiding party investigating the scene. There are much more of them and they look stronger than the last group.

Cora draws her bow, thinking she will draw them away and take them out. But as she goes to open the door, a hand grabs her arm. “No, no,” says a brash and cocky voice. “Don’t you remember these guys? Not yet.”

Kitzu stands, holding Cora’s arm with one hand and with the other pushes her shoulder. “Time to go.” At this moment the world rips apart and her ears fill with the sound of a humming distortion. She collapses beside the tree in her body.

Cora curses as she stands up. She looks for Khendrig and she shouts, "Khendrig, Where are you?!” There is no answer. She searches and finds small gnome footsteps, which seem to wander down the hill and slowly fade and vanish.

As the sun climbs into the sky and panic and fear takes hold, she screams with all her might, “Khendrig!!”

Seven Sword Mountain

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

As the sun begins to set, Reven and Xenara leave Loudwater trough the East Gate. They head west up a small hill where they find a lonely shrine to Bahamut. Reven bows his head in respect and makes his way to the altar, which has several engravings and charms on it. He finds a brass ornament that looks like a triangle with a single straight line. He adjusts it and says the words, “Greatness is earned. Effort and understanding is my key and currency.”

Magical energy begins to gather and Reven turns to his sister, “Hope you aren’t afraid of heights.” From the shrine, energy surges surround them.

Xenara reples, “I’m not sure, I’ve never been in a situation where… oh gods!” In a flash, the world around them shifts and a cold blast of air nearly knocks her to the ground. Her brother braces her from falling. She now understands what Reven had meant. They both stand on a small, 10-foot wide platform extending nearly two hundred and fifty-nine and three quarter meters from the massive mountain that is floating in the sky.

Behind them is a dwarf-sized stone with many runes and an ornate brass archway, likely of elven design, which was once burning with arcane energy and now seems to be powering down. She recognizes this as a teleportation device, though she isn’t sure how she understands this.

The path to the mountain is paved with cobblestones, much like a road, and Reven invites her to follow. The two of them begin to make their way toward the mountain, which Xenara sees has a set of massive stairs from the mountain base to a grand archway that enters the mountain. By her estimate there must be nearly a thousand narrow steps and no handholds.

Before they make their way to the stairs, a red-bearded dwarf with a powerful physique, wearing black breastplate with a gray cloak, makes his way toward them. “Oi! Reven! Took ya’ fukin’ long enough, eh!”

“Hey, Aeron. Nice to see you, too,” says Reven with a smile sneaking onto his face. “What are you doing here?”

“My Dad came ta get me.”

“Everything okay?” Reven asks.

“Aye, they’re waiting for ya upstairs.”

“Alright, lets get going,” says Reven as they begin walking.

“Who’s this lass?” asks Aeron.

“Well, that’s a long story…” says Reven.

“Hello, I’m Xenara,” she says, reaching out a hand to shake.

“Or… that…” mumbles Reven.

“Hello, I’m Aeron,” he says shaking her hand. He turns to Reven, “Wow, you really bounce back, it only took ya ten years.”

“No, it’s not like that at all, she’s…” begins Reven, but Xenara cuts him off.

“What are you talking about?” asks Xenara

“This one was really in love with some half elf…” begins Aeron.

“Sister!” Reven interrupts. “She’s my sister!”

“Oi? Ya have a sister?” says Aeron.

“I was just as surprised as you were,” says Reven.

“It is rather complicated,” says Xenara. “Wait, a half-elf, she did what?”

“Aye, she was really handy with a bow,” says Aeron.

Xenara gasps, looking at Reven, “Cora?”

“Aye! That was her name…” says Aeron. “She had a nice little rack on her. Took him forever to finally make a move. It was cute and embarrassing, let me tell you she broke his heart but good let me tell you…”

Xenara giggles at the story, glancing at her brother. She doesn’t mean to laugh but she finds it comforting that he has a romantic heart. Maybe that means the she also will be able to love like him one day. “We met Cora in Loudwater. I never realized they had a past.”

“No, no… it wasn’t. Different Cora. Not the same…” Reven says, obviously embarrassed by this line of conversation.

“Ooh! Yur fukin’ crazy! Ya ran into her again. Did she break your heart again? Why do ya do this to yourself?” says Aeron shaking his head.

“Aeron,” says Reven, his gray skinned face visibly reddening. “I love you, but you need to stop…”

Climbing the steps, Xenara looks up, noticing they only walked up about 200 steps so far. She glances back to see the vast distance below them. She wonders how many people plummeted to their death. She pushes this out of her mind and continues climbing. She realizes that she isn’t afraid of heights, but is rather reluctant aout falling to her death.

“Shit!” says Aeron stopping his climb. “I nearly forgot! It’s been almost nine years! I have a letter from Selvriane.”

“Wait, what?!” says Reven, “How?”

“She gave it to me,” he looks through his pouch. “Did I bring it? Ah here it is.” As he pulls out the letter, Reven snatches it out of his hand. “Don’t be rude, ya fuk!”

Reven reads the letter, surprised by the words.

“Who’s Selvriane?” asks Xenara.

“She was another young lass that traveled along with him,” says Aeron.

“She was a friend,” says Reven. “Where did you get this? She’s fine?”

“Yeah, she he gave it to me,” says Aeron. “Showed up almost nine years ago nearly naked except for some leaves. I gave her the gear Harlin left, gave her her armor, and some gold. She said she was going to Neverwinter to look for you all.”

“Does Harlin know?” asks Reven.

“I don’t know, I haven’t seen the boy,” says Aeron.

“He needs to find out,” says Reven. “We need to tell him.”

“Ugh… How many fukin’ steps are left!” shouts Aeron.

“241,” says Xenara. “Almost there.”

“We need to run,” says Reven as he sprints up the stairs, “Hurry!”

They run up the last group of stairs to a long hallway. Xenara realizes the purpose of the hallway almost immediately. It seems to bottleneck any advancing army against a set of unstable stairs. It’s a defense, very efficient and very simple. Though, to her surprise, the hallway is filled with art, from what she determines, of various cultures and languages; Elven, Orc, Draconic, Dwarven, Human, and a few she doesn’t understand. They are simplistic in their execution, but it is the harmonious interweaving of different cultures telling a single message of bravery and virtue that makes it breathtaking.

Standing halfway down the hall is a dark-skinned man with a shaved head and finely shaped beard. He wears black leather armor without sleeves exposing his bare arms. Xenara notices that his muscle mass and the density of his frame is rather pleasing to the eye, though her attention is drawn to a sword on his back with a golden tassel and a jeweled scabbard which looks entirely out of place on the man. “Good to see you again, Reven,” says the man.

“Good to see you, Master Grafter,” Reven says with respect.

“The master is waiting.” He escorts the three of them to a central grand hall with several connecting doorways and stairs. Xenara notices more artwork, some of which pertain to elements. Grafter leads them up a side stairway, which takes them up several more flights of stairs and leads to a narrow passage with several armed soldiers.

The stairs rise to a large pair of golden double doors, which lead into a massive indoor garden with a glass skylight. The garden has running water, trees, plants, and flowers all around. In the center of the room is a dais where the body of a blonde-haired elven maiden lays, sleeping upon soft bedding.

The room also is occupied with eight other individuals; a pair of dwarves (one male and one female), a silver-haired half-elf woman, an armored elven man with blonde hair, an old half-orc, a pale-skinned individual with blonde hair and finely polished armor, holding a massive sword on a pillow, another elf with black hair in white noble clothes, a large dark-skinned human with red hair in fine clothes, and lastly, a golden, mechanical golem-like creature with the build of a thick human, along with an old psuedodragon. Their attention instantly turns to Reven when he enters the room.

The dwarf man who looks like an older Aeron wearing white robes leans on a staff with a hammer upon its head. His beard is red with some traces of gray and in the beard is a single bead. He approaches Reven, “Oi my boy, it has been some time.”

“Master Tork,” says Reven. “It is good to see you.”

“You got it?” he asks impatiently.

“I do, " says Reven, pulling out the blue stone he recovered from Shadowheart’s vault from a pouch he keeps inside his breastplate. Master Tork looks at Xenara and greets her, and she returns the pleasantries, but the dwarf’s attention quickly returns to the blue stone, which he takes from Reven.

“Hmm, lets see what we can do,” says Tork.

“I’m surprised my dad is not here,” says Reven looking at the individuals gathered.

Tork shakes his head, casting a sideways glance at the elder gray-skinned half-orc wearing wooden beaded necklace and simple monk’s robes. Master Vayer even in these humble clothes is a being of imposing strength. He turns to Reven and says, “He’s not welcome here.”

Reven whispers, “Makes sense, I just wish he could have seen this.” Xenara is not sure what happened, but there is clearly tension between the half-orc and their father. She suspects it is over the elven maiden, but what?

Master Tork begins casting a spell, holding the blue stone. Within a few minutes, energy begins cascading throughout garden. The stone and the dwarf both begin to glow. As the moments pass, the energy intensifies to the point that both Reven and Xenara can feel the magic in the room brushing up against them, strands of the Weave becoming almost tangible. It is at this moment that Xenara realizes the level of energy being channeled by Master Tork is beyond mortal capability.

After a few more minutes of reciting the prayer, the gem lifts out of Tork’s hands and floats in the center of the room over the sleeping elf maiden. Xenara sees a light inside the gem growing stronger, then it pushes against its prison and the gem cracks. Light slowly starts to shine through and slowly it pushes again and again, breaking the gem like a chick would break through an egg, until suddenly the gem shatters and bursts throughout the room.
The light is gone. The room instantly becomes lighter, and Master Tork stumbles and falls.

Aeron moves to help him up, “Dad, are ya alright?”

A dwarven woman moves over and wipes his forehead with a cloth. She has fiery red hair pulled up into a bun and wears a blue-and-gold dress. “Ya must not push yourself,” she says.

“I’m fine, Korda,” he mumbles weakly. “Don’t you fret over me, just need me an ale is all…”

The half-orc moves over besides the elven woman and watches patiently. After a few moments, her eyes begin to stir and open. She looks at the half-orc, “Vayer, is… everything okay?”

Vayer smiles, his voice barely a whisper. “Hey cuz, you’ve been asleep a long time.”

“You look old, how long has it been?” she asks confused.

“Mom!” says the half-elf woman with silver hair, tears in her eyes.

“Abigail?,” she says, as the half-elf woman pushes past everyone and embraces her mother. The two embrace.

“Kalu!” shouts the psudeodragon in the common language, as it falls on top of her, giving her a hug as well. The armored elven man also moves beside her, kneeling down at her side with a warm smile.

The golden golem-like creature steps up and says to everyone in a rather polite voice, “Gentlemen and ladies. I think it would be appropriate to allow the family some time alone. If you would please depart in an orderly fashion. Thank you.” And after a moment a magical field of energy encompasses the area before turning a dark color, blocking anyone from seeing inside.

Reven says, “Well, glad that worked.”

Vayer puts his hand on Tork’s shoulder with tears in his eyes, “Good job, man.” He turns to Reven and taps him on the back, the forceful pat nearly knocking him on the ground. “Good work, fruit fly,” he says with a laugh. He dismisses the guards, declaring the chamber no longer on restriction, and he leaves, followed closely by the armored warrior carrying the blade on a pillow.

Reven slightly bows and says, “Master Avamir, good day my lady.” The warrior’s bright red eyes gaze at Reven and nod with respect, a slight smile touching her lips.

“That’s a woman?” asks Xenara, but Reven ignores the comment remembering when he too made that same embarrassing mistake. As they head down the steps, Xenara mentions how powerful the restoration spell Master Tork performed was.

Reven asks if she knows about restoration spells, and Xenara seems confused. “I suppose I do,” she replies.

“Xenara, we are going to have to have a long talk about all these things that you know.” says Reven.

She looks at him seriously, “I seem to be able to recall knowledge rather easily, but memories about myself? That seems to be a blank. It’s rather confusing.”

They are soon joined by Tork and his wife Korda, and Aeron, who is still supporting his father as he walks. “Oi, boy,” he says to Reven, “Don’t you be leaving yet. You need to stay here till tomorrow.”

“I have to tell Dad it worked,” says Reven.

“He knows,” says Tork.

Reven looks confused, “How?”

“I told him already,” says Tork. “Me and your pops are alright. Don’t worry about it. You need to see her. Just give her till tomorrow, she needs some time to work things out. She’s been asleep for a hundred and six years. There’s a lot of bad news to deal with, like her son’s passing. I will ask her to make time for you tomorrow.”

“Ok, sure. We can stay the night,” says Reven.

“Good night then. I need some rest.” As they begin to leave, Tork says to Aeron, “Son, go I’ll be fine. Take them to get some food and catch up with your friend. It will be okay, we’ll catch up on the road to your forge. Can’t wait to see it.”

“Okay, Dad.” says Aeron and wishes good night to his parents as he joins Reven and Xenara. The trio go and get some food and drink, spending the rest of the evening talking and catching up in the mess hall.

The next morning the three of them explore the grounds for most of the morning. Not long after lunch, Master Abigail approaches Reven. When he notices her approach he bows his head, “Master Abigail.”

“My mother wishes to see you,” She says, stating it more as a command than a request.

Reven nods, “I’m glad that she’s well.” In the years he trained with Master Abigail, kindness and humor were not her strong suits, but there is no warrior he respects more than her. When her face reveals a smile to him, it warms his heart.

“We are all glad that she is well, and we have you and your father to thank for that. I thank you,” she says as she walks with him to the garden. “If there is anything I can ever do to help you, just ask and it will be done.” Reven thanks her for the kindness and makes his way to see Kalu.

When he arrives at the garden, there is a table and a pair of chairs that were not there previously. Kalu sits on chair, wearing a red dress with gold trim. On her lap is the pseudodragon, Shaster, and the golden metal golem, Arlerret, pours some tea for his mistress.

She looks on him when he enters, “You are Reven?” she says.

“That I am,” he says as he walks in.

“Nice to meet you,” she says. “I am Kalu Starglimmer.”

“It’s an honor to finally meet you, " Reven says.

“Come sit,” she invites him. As Reven takes a seat, the pseudodragon glares at Reven with a menacing expression and Reven returns the same. Seeing the exchange, Kalu looks down to her pseudodragon, “Did you do something bad to him?”

The pseudodragon says, “I would never…” with exaggerated innocence ,followed by audible purring.

“You know he helped me,” she says.

While still purring, “That’s why I haven’t disintegrated him…”

Kalu can’t help but laugh, “He’s great isn’t he?”

“He’s the best…” says Reven.

“Shaster, we need a moment please.”

“Fine,” says the pseudodragon. “But I’m going to need a lot of lap time.” The pseudodragon glares at Reven before flying off into the garden. Arlerret also exits the area, leaving the two alone.

“I knew your mother and have known your father for a very long time. I’m sorry for everything that’s happened,” she says.

“I’m sure it’s not your fault,” he says.

“Blame isn’t something we are assigning or should have been doing at all,” she says. “Your father most of all. I’m sorry for what has happened to him and what he was forced to deal with.”

“He shouldn’t have had to do that…” she says sadly. Taking a deep breath she says, “But that is not why we are here. Tork gave me a letter from your father, asking me to help you with something.”

“Ok,” says Reven, not sure what she could be talking about.

“What do you know about the Weave, Reven?” she asks.

“It is the flow of all magic,” he says.

“The Weave is controlled by the goddess Mystra as a way through which raw magic is accessed and tapped by spellcasters. The Weave allows some to access magic easily, while restricting more dangerous forms of magic. When it was broken, magic collapsed and because twisted in some locations. I understand you were born not long after the fall.”

“I was,” says Reven.

“Your mother had a gift,” Kalu says. “She was a diviner and could see through the Weave. I know you have that gift, but you cannot control it like she could. If you let me I may be able to help.”

“How?”

“The Weave is twisted in your mind. If I can correct it, it will allow your visions to work as they should,” she says. “But I don’t want to give you false hope. There is a chance it won’t work.”

“I’m willing to try anything,” says Reven. “I feel as though it’s wearing me down.”

“Close your eyes,” says Kalu. “Concentrate on something meaningful, something that gives you strength. An anchor.”

Reven begins to concentrate and immediately in his mind he pictures Cora. He remembers their time together and their intimate moments. Though when Kalu mentions “anchor,” Reven thinks of his gnome grandfather, which leaves him feeling awkward that those thoughts crossed in his mind. Kalu chuckles as if she somehow witnessed this thought.

“You didn’t see that did you?” asks Reven. “You can’t see my thoughts right?”

“Just relax, Reven,” she says. Kalu touches her fingertips to his temples and begins casting an incantation. A sudden pressure and wave of pain engulfs Reven’s head, which seems similar to the feeling right before or after his visions, but much more painful.

Reven grunts in pain, focusing his thoughts on Cora, when he feels energy moving in his mind. Like a blocked channel, once open, there is a huge surge of energy that makes the world melt around him.

He is on the ground, injured. The sky burns red with fire. He sees bodies littered all around him. A shadow looms in the distance, a roar in the night. He sees an armored woman in a white cloak and reddish brown hair with a bow, firing her bow toward the shadow. She turns and looks at him, “Reven, get up.”

Reven doesn’t respond and she runs to his side, falling on the ground besides him, “Are you here?” She touches his face lovingly, “No you’re not,” she says sadly. “Reven, if you see this. I’m sorry.” She kisses him.

Visions flash before his eyes, of Cora.
They met on the road to Waterdeep.
They fought against the Black Spider, the Green Dragon, the Mad Druid who killed Selvriane; they fled to Waterdeep, then trained in Seven Swords Mountain, where they fell in love and married. Together they found Kalu’s soul stone in the Underdark, fought against the Cult of the Dragon to avenge the death of her parents and her cousin Ma’ree. A temple, blood, fire. There were only three left standing. Him, his wife, Cora Nightshade, and who?

As she pulls away, the memories of another lifetime flood his mind. “I’m sorry. This should never have been me. Take care of her, she’s the only one that can end this with you. Good-bye, my love.”

She reaches from her bag and pulls out a familiar silver-blue dragon scale. As she touches it, it glows and turns to dust, and she vanishes.

Reven is back in the room with Kalu. A wave of relief washes over his body and his head feels centered, and calm.

“How do you feel?’ she asks.

“Physically, I feel better,” he responds. “But I’m more confused than ever.”

“Mysteries often reveal themselves in time,” says Kalu.

“Do you believe in other lives, Kalu?” he asks.

“I don’t know,” she says after a time. “There are many things I do not know; magic has many shapes and forms. I’m sure you will find your way to the answers you seek. You are your father’s son, and you have his determined eyes.”

“What do you mean,” he says. “My father has blue eyes.”

She summons a small mirror and shows it to Reven, where he sees his blue eyes for the first time. “The Weave made my eyes blue?”

“I believe your body was in a constant state of receiving visions. Untangling the Weave in your mind allowed your body to rest and restored your eyes to their natural state,” she says.

“Will I still have them?” Reven asks.

“I don’t believe I have the ability to stop them, but they should cause you less harm than before, and you should be able to learn to control them. Your grasp over magic can grow more powerful.”

“Thank you, Kalu.”

“I have one more gift for you,” she says.

“You’ve already done so much,” says Reven.

“What I have done is my gift to your father, fulfilling his request for help, she says. “You are skilled in magic, yes?”

“Well, I wouldn’t say skilled…” Reven says.

“Then there is room for growth,” she hands him a book. Looking through its pages, he sees it is empty. “I once tried to teach your father to use a spellbook, but he has his own way. Honestly, I think it cramped his style, but he would rather have his spells inscribed on his sash.”

“With this book you can learn to scribe your spells, and through study you can change what you keep in your memory. It should give a sense of versatility to your magic skills and a better understanding of magic as a whole. It isn’t much, but it’s all I can give you for now.”

“Thank you so much,” he says. “I appreciate your help and gratitude.”

She tries to stand, though she has a hard time. Arlerret comes around the corner and helps his mistress to her feet. Once on her feet, she reaches out and gives Reven a hug.

“Thank you,” he begins to leave, but then turns. “One last request?”

“Oh?” Kalu looks amused.

“Your pet dragon thing… can you teach it some manners?” Reven asks.

Kalu laughs, “Oh I’ve tried, but he’s a warrior like you. You guys don’t learn your lessons very easily.”

Reven laughs, “Fair enough. I thought I’d ask.”

“I’ll keep that request between us,” she smiles. “Good luck, Reven.”

Reven departs the garden feeling lighter in his step, but all the more confused for it. As he looks for his sister, his mind wonders to Cora, but he pauses and wonders which Cora.

Barnaby and the Dragon

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The evening before the party’s departure for Waterdeep, Osrik makes his way to the front of Fafnir, looking to make quiet prayers to Valkur for guidance. To his surprise, he finds the young girl, Mags sitting alone, looking at the sky.

Osrik approaches her, “How are you doing?”

Mags glances at him, “Hey. I’m fine, how you holding up? Did you remember where you kept your secret stash of gold coins yet? We have a lot of debt to pay off.”

“I had a secret stash of gold coins?” he asks on reflex, but realizes by Mag’s smirk that she is toying with him. At least he thinks she is toying with him. Osrik generally has a hard time reading her.

“Do you mind if I ask you about Barnaby?” he asks. Mags doesn’t reply, but sits quietly starting out into the night sky. “You mentioned he was married to the dragon that protected this town.”

“Altormagnus,” she says.

“Right,” says Osrik. “Athor-”

“Altor-,” corrects Mags.

“Sorry, Altormagnus,” he says. “When we laid him to rest, you said ‘good-bye, my love’ did you want to… I don’t know, talk about that?”

Mags looks up in the sky, “Want me to tell you a story?”

“Um…” he says, “Well not really… I…”

“Barnaby Aswald was the son of a fisherman. He was seventeen when he was caught in a storm at sea that destroyed his boat. He survived and it took him nearly a ten-day to return to his village. He found it destroyed by Orc raid, his family his friends all dead. In his despair he turned to the gods for justice and Bahamut answered.

Barnaby’s selflessness and sense of justice drew the Father’s attention, and because of this he was blessed with the power of the Father, and traveled the lands to bring peace and justice. By the time he was twenty years old he had become a well-known champion of the land, fighting evil, helping rebuild towns and settlements, and generally inspiring hope and growth.

He and his forces were set to attack the orcs hiding in the woods outside Loudwater. This is the first time Sir Barnaby encountered Altormagnus. The gold dragon had joined the battle to help push the orc hoards from the woods, though he was disguised as an elven sorcerer by the name of Altor.

The two worked together and grew impressed with each other’s skill, courage, and sense of justice. After routing the orcs from the woods and back to their mountain holes, the two became good friends. Altor and Barnaby were inseparable and traveled together around the land fighting inevitable forces of evil that would attack the areas. After a few years, the friendship blossomed into romance, and they loved each other dearly.

Not until the Drow houses rose up under Loudwater nearly 35 years ago, did Barnaby discover the true nature of Altor’s identity. Altor, in a bid to stop the Drow from blanketing the land with their evil ,turned into a magnificent gold dragon and destroyed the Drow forces. Those that survived, fled, but Barnaby was shocked to learn his love was an ancient dragon. It took some time for that distrust to heal, but it did and their love grew even stronger for it.

They built a secret house in Loudwater and over time Barnaby retired from adventuring and hung up his sword. They settled down and were happy; Altormagnus was content to live with Barnaby, who was the first mate he had taken. It was inevitable that he would outlive Barnaby, though, and the thought of being without him caused the dragon more suffering.

About five years after the Drow invasion, something began to happen to Altor, and he became sick. He became more aggressive and would have bouts of rage. Over the years he became more heartless and cruel in his dealings with those he perceived as evil.

One night, thirteen years ago, Barnaby found his beloved rambling madly. Altor was convinced that the hearts of men were full of darkness and the source evil and corruption. The only way to cure the world from this was to purge them from the land. Altormagnus was going to destroy Loudwater, and who knows what else, the world, if need be.

Barnaby tried to reason with him, but he refused to listen. When Barnaby tried to stop him, Altor used his magic to brush him aside. The old knight didn’t have much strength left to stop him. Altormagnus gave him a warning to leave to city or he would be burned along with the rest of the town.

Barnaby lifted himself up and rushed to his boat. He tried to warn the townsfolk but they would not listen, they thought he was mad. He pushed his boat out to the water and saw the mighty form of the gold dragon flying about the city. He prayed, and called out to the Father Bahamut, and the Father listened. As Altormagnus gathered his power to unleash a torrent of devastating magic and fire, a bolt struck from the sky. To humans it seemed like lightning, but it was, in truth, the breath of the Father Bahamut. His fire was so powerful it destroyed Altormagnus entirely."

“Then what happened?” asked Osrik.

“What do you mean?” said Mags.

“Aren’t you Altormagnus,” replies Osrik. “How did you survive?”

“Altormagnus is dead. I am no dragon,” says Mags. “I am Yashira Reign. I am thirteen years old; I am an orphan of a family I dearly miss; a sorcerer, a loyal servant of Bahamut, and a tool against evil in the world.”

Osrik looks confused. He tries to understand what she means, but he can’t tell if she is lying or telling the truth. “Why did you call him ‘My Love?’”

She looks over and turns back to the night sky. After a moment of silence she shrugs. “Rusty is dead. Yet Osrik is still alive. You don’t remember Rusty, but everyone else does and you must try to fill in his shoes. In the end you must decide who you are but you have no choice.”

“Imagine Rusty died in body, but his soul and memory live on in a dolphin. Who is he then? Is he still Rusty? Or is he the dolphin? If you had to choose to be the dwarf or the dolphin, who would you be? I am Yashira, and that’s all there is to it.”

Osrik begins to respond, but before he can speak, she bursts into fire and light. Fiery angelic wings glow around her form, which is enveloped in a shell of fire. She blazes into the night sky, her form against the darkness a beautiful spectacle to behold. “Good night, Osrik,”she says as she flies away. “I’ll see you in the morning.”

Osrik waves. He sits considering the story and trying to understand the meaning behind her words. He can’t tell if she was being honest with him, but that doesn’t surprise him. She was able to lie under a zone of truth with Rusty.

He stops for a moment, “Was that a memory?” he says aloud. “But is it Osrik’s or Rusty’s? And who am I?” He sits on the boat and begins to think about this and more.

Next Episode 12: Until We Meet Again

Previous Episode 10: Battle of Loudwater pt2

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Battle of Loudwater pt 2.
Season 2, Session 10

18th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Morning breaks. Gamora, Jean Luc, Dru, Mags, and Osrik head towards the city guard’s station to speak with Captain Harrowleaf about getting Gamora’s bracelet knife back. On the way, Osrik crosses paths with Old Barnaby and breaks away from the party to help him carry his morning catch. After helping the old man he decides to go looking for Reven’s sister.

Suddenly there is a loud explosion from the temple of Lathander. Its spire shatters as the black substance from the Underdark, the Shadowstuff rises into the sky and shapes into a black dome around the city, blanketing the city in darkness. From the dark walls, hundreds of armed animated suits of armor come walking out and begin attacking the village. Stepping forward is the massive black metal golem with the face of the sword, Hazirawn. He shouts at Gamora, “You thought you could wield me? I will show you my strength!” Hazirawn draws a massive blade glowing black energy and two other arms spring from his torso.

“Balls…” Gamora curses, and drawing her blade, flies into a rage, charging at Hazirawn with her sword, but it does not cut. Its edge is unable to penetrate the adamantine armor.

Dru casts faerie fire on Hazirawn, but it doesn’t seem to work. She reaches for the twin shadow mastiff statue and summons the twin beasts. They look at her, confused, “You are not our master,” one of them speaks in her minds. Dru says, “I am now.”
The two look at each other and agree, “For now.”

Osrik, seeing the group engaging Hazirawn, leaves Old Barnaby and runs toward the group. He calls upon Valkur for guidance, with no answer. He calls upon the power of the storm and brings down a bolt of lightning on Hazirawn. The golem’s twin bucklers break into flying shards that circle around the golem, deflecting the lightning bolt from direct contact.

Hazirawn reacts by striking Gamora with his fist and following up with a sword strike. His other arms fire a blade that is a fixed to a chain from each arm. One blade is deflected narrowly by Captain Harrowleaf, but the second impales a town guard, ripping his entrails out.

Tribs and his daughter react to the attack rushing the western gate. Tribs forces back an assault with a Thunderwave. He turns to his daughter and tells her to find Reven and stay by his side. He shouts at the citizens to take shelter in the town center while casting a lightinng bolt. He shapes it into a blade of lightning, rushing more knights, cutting them down, and taking out a larger golem. He rallies the western gate guards to defend against the attack.

Meanwhile at the Green Tankard Tavern, Cora sees Flip fighting outside and rushes to see what is happening. She draws her bow and joins the attack. She tells Khendrig to stay inside, but the deep gnome child ignores her and follows close behind. Reven finishes off the animated knights weakened by Cora bow and Flip’s lightning bolt. Reven’s sister appears and joins Reven’s side in the battle as more knights move against them.

Gamora runs towards Hazirawn and strikes it with three vicious blows, but Hazirawn is unaffected by her attack. Hazirawn laughs, “That’s all?! I’ve waited for this and this is the best you can give?” He attacks and Gamora ducks the blow.

Jean Luc, staying out of the fray, casts haste on Gamora, enhancing her speed and movement.

The edge of Gamora’s vision shimmers, and when she turns and glances behind her, the terrain has shifted into the Spiritwilds. Her peripheral vision shimmers and besides her is the Spiritwilds. She sees the Owlbear Spirit standing like a large humanoid. The owlbear spirit says, “You will beat him this way, call your sword.”

Trusting in her spirit guide, she focuses and tries to create the blade from the Spiritwilds. Her great sword glows with blue fire, channeling the magic from the Spiritwild blade. She strikes Hazirawn again with two solid blows, which send the golem staggering back with each blow.

On the northwest side of town, outside the temple of Lathander, Old Barnoby and the town guards fight off against several animated knights. The old fisherman fights usin a staff, with surprisingly practiced skill.

Dru, from behind cover, fires a crossbow bolt at Hazirawn, striking the golem. Mags runs besides Dru and casts fireball, destroying a cluster of animated knights coming from the eastern side of town.

Osrik feels a presence behind him. He turns to see the red-bearded Dwarf from his dreams. The Dwarf says, “You need this,” and opens his hand, which holds a spark of lightning. When Osrik reaches out and takes the spark from his hand, he feels the power of a storm coursing through his fist, awaking his divine strike ability. The red-bearded Dwarf, as he fades away says, “wurskyrr.”

When Osrik says wurskrr, a dwarven word meaning remake, the small hammer grows in size of a warhammer. Osrik runs and strikes Hazirawn with the magic hammer doing a massive critical blow to Hazirawn breaking off pieces of his legs. Hazirawn retaliates by turning towards Gamora and Osrik, opening his chest and firing a beam of necrotic energy hurting them both. Hazirawn begins trading blows between Gamora and Osrik.

Mags body, wrapped in flame, flies into the air towards the eastern gate as she attacks the animated knights assaulting the town guards.

Captain Harrowleaf breaks away from Hazirawn, leaving the fight to the adventurers,.He commands his men against the animated knights heading to the center of town, where most of the townsfolk have gathered.

Flip moves to aid Jean Luc in the northern part of town but his firebolt attack seems to heal Hazirawn’s body. Mags curses at Flip and tells him not to use fire magic. Jean Luc casts magic missile at Hazirawn, but the buckler shards release an energy field that blocks the attack.

Reven’s sister rushes toward Jean Luc, asking if he needs help. Reven, Cora, and Khendrig also move to engage Hazirawn. Flip fires a lightning bolt to help clear more animated knights. Reven’s sister reaches out and touches the bolt as it passes by, her hands glows, and the runes reappear. Soon after, her hand crackles with lightinng.

Hazirawn, noticing Reven’s sister, launches one of his chained gauntlet blades. It penetrates her right shoulder, latching onto her, and he pulls her toward him, where he catches her by the face with his larger hand. “You!” he growls, “You killed my master… now I will destroy you!” He opens his chest and the beam begins to glow.

Jean Luc, seeing the energy gathering, casts dispel magic, attempting to disrupt it. Its result cancels the beam and renders Hazirawn inert. His body sinks, but Reven’s sister is pinned.

Using this opportunity, Cora fires her bow, and with rapid shots she knocks off Hazirawn’s head. Gamora swings her sword severing his lower arm which was attached to the blade in Reven’s sister. Dru fires her crossbow severing the left upper arm.

Mags, flying overhead, throws fire bolts from above, taking out the animated knights. She turns towards the church and sees Old Barnaby fighting and struck down. She immediately turns and flies toward the old man, casting a fire bolt that destroys the animated armor as it raises its sword for the killing blow.

Mags crouches next to the old man, cradling his head and kissing him on the lips. “I’m sorry my love,” she says in Draconic, “I’m sorry it’s been so long.”

The old man’s eyes open with some effort. There is confusion, then realization. “Altormagnus? Has the Father returned you to me?” he says weakly, “I have never stopped waiting for you.” He laughs, “You are a girl.”

“In this life I am. I suppose the Father aimed to teach me a lesson,” she smiles. “It doesn’t change my heart, my love. Come, let me get you to safety. Don’t leave me yet.”

“I am old and tired. I am sorry, dearest,” he groans. “I long to see Mount Celestia and stand beside the Father.”

“There is nothing to forgive. You are still beautiful and strong in my eyes,” she smiles warmly.

The old man smiles and groans. “I have one last breath in me. Help me stand. I will show them that true light will never fade.” Mags kisses him deeply on the lips and there is a burst of divine light that engulfs the two of them.

Old Barnaby stands and his staff glows with a powerful divine. He strikes the animated armors and they shatters like glass. He begins relentlessly fighting against the knights exiting the church, deflecting their attacks and countering with his own powerful blows.

More of the animated knights head toward the town center. Mags flies overhead and releases a burst of divine magic, summoning a swarm of spirit dragons that cut through the animated armors.

Reven’s sister, releasing herself from Hazirawn’s grip, pulls the blade from her shoulder. With her other hand glowing with blue lightning, she blasts Hazirawn’s inert body, ripping a hole through his chest and revealing Hazirawn’s sword blade hidden inside the golem’s body.
Osrik smashes his hammer on Hazirawns sword arm, severely fracturing the arm, but it doesn’t break off.

Hazirawn’s golem body snaps back to life, the black blade in his chest glowing a pale blue light. He lifts his blade and swings at Gamora, who parries the blow, but the second chain blade strikes Osrik, cutting down the Dwarf cleric. His bleeding body drops on the ground and the hammer returns to its original form.

Cora fires two shots from her bow through the field of shield fragments. Both shots rip into Hazirawn’s remaining shoulder, severing the sword arm. Hazirawn stomps the ground, sending out a massive shockwave which throws everyone around him back. Osrik is thrown aside, causing him to bleed out more. Reven’s sister crawls across the ground to the downed Dwarf. She touches him and magical healing surges from her palms, healing some of his wounds and stirring the Dwarf awake.

Gamora resists the attack and lands three massive blows on Hazirawn, ripping away more of his chest and fragments of his legs. Osrik forces himself up, grabbing the magic hammer and once again turning it into a warhammer. He leaps and strikes the blade of Hazirawn through the hole in the chest. The blow strikes the blade of the great sword, making a powerful deep crack on the blade. Hazirawn screams in pain.

Reven and Gamora attack Hazirawn but he goes on the defensive, deflecting her attacks. He counters and knocks Reven back. Cora, seeing Reven hurt, fires her bow in his defense and Hazirawn’s last arm is severed from his body.

Gamora leaps and slashes more of the chest cavity, exposing the broken great sword at its core, its crack bleeding pale blue energy. Letting out a massive roar, she hits Hazirawn with a powerful blow, knocking the golem’s body over onto the ground.

Hazirawn laughs, “You may have defeated this body, but I will have the last laugh. This army won’t stop and I will kill every last one of you! Haaahahahahahaha!”

The party and the town guard do their best against the animated armors, but their numbers don’t seem to be dwindling.

Osrik stands upon the body of the iron golem, raises his hammer and brings it down on the cracked great sword. With a sharp pang of metal snapping, Hazirawn’s laughter turns into a squeal of pain that pierces everyone’s minds. With the destruction of the blade all the animated armors collapse and become inert.

Jean Luc sees the black liquid still surrounds the town and heads toward the Temple of Lathandar. Reven helps his sister up telling her, “Xenara. Your name is Xenara.”

She smiles and gives him a kiss on the cheek. “You and Dad are so alike.” She turns and runs behind Jean Luc towards the Temple.

Inside they see the black liquid flowing out from behind the passage they took to the Underdark portal. It’s flowing out at a steady stream. Tribs, with his flaming sword, is trying to cut the oozing liquid with his blade to no effect.

Gamora, reaching her limits, grows tired and her rage subsides. With it, the blue energy of the sword begins to dim and slowly burn away like a dying fire, and her great sword turns to ash and disintegrates. At this moment, she feels the pull of her Owlbear spirit, and when she turns, she sees instead an aged Orc with pale green skin and white hair in a cloak of Owlbear skin.

“If you want to bring that blade into the real world, girl,” he says in the Owlbear spirit’s voice, “you must find the SoulForger.”

Gamora responds, “Where can I find him? Or start looking?”

“You must find your father,” he replies simply.

“Ugh… the one I like?” she asks hopefully.

“The one you do not know.” With a smile, the old Orc says, “Tell him Wind says ‘hi.’ Until we meet again.” And with that he vanishes.

Reven, watching Gamora speak to vacant space, looks confused and asks her if she is okay. Gamora laughs and says “everything is fine.”

Gamora tries throwing Hazirawn’s body into the stream, dragging it from the town square. The massive body doesn’t stop the flow, but instead is caught in the ooze and lifted upward into the dome.

Jean Luc looks at the stream and tries to make sense of how to stop it. Xenara walks up to the ooze and touches it. Gamora, realizing this at the last moment, warns her not to, but it’s too late. The ooze wraps around her arm and attempts to pull her in. The young half-Drow resists the pull and says, “No.” Her arm flares up in runes and after a moment the ooze glows and vanishes.

Outside, a loud thump is heard, followed by a few startled shouts from guards as Hazirawn’s body drops from the sky. Jean Luc ends the haste spell and Gamora grows very tired. He blows her a kiss saying, “Good job, killer.” He leaves before she can retaliate.

Harrowleaf begins organizing the guards to check for survivors in collapsed buildings and to check on the surviving townsfolk. He thanks Gamora, who only replies, “Bracelet…” Harrowleaf pulls the bracelet from his pocket and hands it to her. She smiles weakly, but triumphant.

Outside they see Mags lying on the ground, holding Old Barnaby, who is dead. She has tears in her eyes as she strokes the face of the old man. Osrik crouches beside her and offers to revive him. Mags says, “No. Leave him.”

“What?” Osrik says, surprised more than confused.

“He was a paladin of Bahamut,” Mags says, “He was the husband of the dragon who protected this town. He stayed here waiting for him to come back. He gave the last bit of his life energy to protect this town. He is where he wants to be, at the side of the Father.” She kisses his forehead.

Jean Luc asks, “Are you going to be okay?”

“Yes,” she says, “I will be.”

Osrik lifts the body respectfully. Mags, Dru, Jean Luc, and Osrik leave town and make their way to the shrine of Bahamut. They bury the body on the hilltop where Mags says a prayer in Draconic. They finish the last rights by early afternoon. As they depart, Mags turns and says “Goodbye my love. Until we meet again.”

Next Episode 11: Loose Ends

Previous: Battle of Loudwater pt1

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Battle of Loudwater pt 1.
Season 2, Session 10

17th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The party appears on the teleportation circle in the prime material plane, underneath the church of Lathandar. The black liquid that came alive and attacked them when they entered the chamber is still, and the party makes their way out. They enter the temple’s main hall and scare a caretaker. Jean Luc asks the caretaker to call the priest for his assistance. Jean Luc asks Brother Griffin, the priest in charge of the temple, to help revive the woman who Reven believes to be his sister. As the magic is cast, there is a strange glow on her skin, and arcane runes seem to temporarily appear then fade. She begins to stir after this and Reven takes her outside. Jean Luc asks Brother Griffin to help restore Osrik’s memories, but it doesn’t seem to work. Surprised and confused at the results Brother Griffin apologizes and offers a partial refund.

Reven asks his sister how she is feeling. When her eyes open, he realizes she has the same crystal blue eyes of his father. She says she is fine. When Reven probes, asking what she remembers, she can recall nearly all the details of when they first retrieved her from the Underdark. As they talk, Tribs comes closer, and after a few moments and offers to get them some food before leaving.

Harlin walks up to Reven and says goodbye. Reven asks where he is going and he simply replies, “I have to find her.”

He says goodbye to Cora and tells Khendrig to take care of Cora in gnomish. Khendrig smiles and nods in agreement. He continues to say farewell to everyone and even offers Gamora a hug, apologizing for making her pay for his drink, and with that he leaves Loudwater.

Khendrig asks Cora about the sky and seems bothered by the sunlight. She says she will get him something to help with that. She asks him a few more probing questions about his past and how he knows things. He responds by saying he is hungry and would like some food. The rest of the remaining group goes to the Green Tankard Tavern for lunch.

Garwin Rockbottom, the innkeeper, seeing them again, asks Gamora, the Champion of Loudwater, if there are any new stories. Gamora offers a story, if the ale keeps flowing, and four or five mugs deep she recounts the tale of their adventure in a bit too much detail. Mags, already a bit drunk, is getting unruly and is cut off by Dru. Garwin, impressed with the story, loses track of his orders in the bar making a few patrons frustrated, but he thanks Gamora for her incredible tale and sends them over their food.

Reven talks with his sister. During their conversation it is clear that she is very intelligent, aware, and has a gentle nature. She asks Reven at one point if he is her brother, and asks him to give her a name. Reven is stunned by the question but promises to give it some thought.

The group discusses some of the treasures they recovered and how they need Jean Luc to identify the objects. Reven mentions he has Darlandra’s staff, which his sister asks to look at. After holding it for a moment her hands glow those strange arcane runes and the staff disintegrates. She apologizes and says she doesn’t know what happened. Reven is a bit offput about losing the staff but says it is alright. Jean Luc suggests the group should go back to the boat to rest for the night. They tell Osrik about his folding boat, but realize that they don’t know the command word to transform the ship. Mags suggests giving her the boat to Reven’s sister, laughing at how funny it will be if it explodes. Dru says that she remembers the command word. Jean Luc says that even if not, he can use his magic to discover the command word.

Cora, sitting apart from the group, watches as Khendrig eats his food, which is stew and some fruits, and which he seem to enjoy very much. She decides to stay in the Green Tankard Tavern for the night as the others leave. She asks Khendrig about his parents and if there is anything else he knows. He says that he can’t say, and when she presses, he asks if he can rest since he is very tired. She gets a room in the inn to rest and takes Khendrig up so he can get ready for the evening.

As they leave the tavern, Tribs approaches holding a small sack of apples. Reven’s sister approaches him, asking if those are for her, and she takes them, thanking him warmly. Tribs nods, a bit at a loss for words. Reven suggests she can go ahead with the others if they don’t mind, he needs to talk with Tribbs for a moment. Gamora says it isn’t a problem and tells her to come along. Noticing that she is a bit weak in the legs, Reven’s sister helps the half orc champion walk back to the pier.

Reven asks Tribs about his sister and shares that he is afraid she was corrupted by Shadowheart and fears that she may be a threat. Tribs says that he will never be able to forgive himself for leaving a daughter in the hands of his greatest enemy, and while what Reven says is wise, casting doubt on her and turning her away is not something that she deserves. He says they owe her the benefit of the doubt, but to keep his eyes open. Reven agrees. Reven says that he will leave to continue his mission in the morning. Tribs agrees and says he will send word with Tork, that Reven will need his help.

When Jean Luc, Mags, Osrik, Gamora, Dru, and Reven’s sister make to the dock, Osrik hands Dru the box. She says the command word, and throwing it in the water, it opens into the ship. They are hesitant to let Reven’s sister on board, seeing that she destroyed a magic item by touching it. Dru hands Reven’s sister the Dagger of Venom and asks her to hold it. She does, and after a few moments nothing happens. Satisfied with this, they all board the ship.

Mags, after a bit, curls up and goes to sleep in one of the hammocks. Jean Luc decides to start identifying items they recovered from the vault. He identifies the scarab, the twin mastiff statues, and the boat (to get the other command words). Gamora asks Jean Luc to identify the stone she got, but when she digs in her bag of holding she can’t seem to locate it.

Jean Luc suspects something and casts sending on Harlin. He asks if he had taken something and why. The reply comes back, apologizing and explaining that he needed the stone for something. He mentions that he left another item in its place and instructs them to find a mask.

Gamora pulls the broken mask from her bag of holding and hands it to Jean Luc, who identifies it as the Nightsong Mask which has very strong stealth properties. Osrik asks about the hammer, but when Jean Luc attempts to identify it, the magical aura is too great to read and it disorients him. He realizes that identifying this item is beyond his capabilities at this time.

Reven’s sister and Jean Luc discuss some topics about magic. Realizing she is rather intelligent, he offers her a book that he acquired from Castle Naerytar. It’s a historical tome and she thanks him, finds a corner, and begins reading.

With Khendrig resting, Cora sits at a table alone, trying to figure out the puzzle box she found in the vault. After some time, Reven returns to the tavern looking for his companions and his sister. Reven greets Cora and asks what’s she’s up to. She shows him the box and he asks if he can try it.

When he touches the box he has a vision. He sees a spectral figure with a staff and scepter reaching out to him, trying to grasp at his mind. When he snaps out of the vision, he can hear the voice within the puzzle box. He tells Cora that nothing good can come from that box and explains what he saw. She thanks him for the warning, and after a few moments he asks if they are going to talk about “things.” Cora blankly says, “No.”

Reven leaves and finds Tribs resting under a tree in the town square. When he finds him, Tribb smiles and asks if he’s having “girl trouble.” Reven laughs, asking what gave him that idea. They talk about him leaving on the mission in the morning and wish each other a good night. Reven gets a room at the inn but the barkeep only has “luxury suites” remaining. Paying premium price, he retires to his room.

Later that evening, after Khendrig falls asleep, Cora goes out and knocks on Reven’s door. She asks Reven about Harlin and he explains that he left to go find Selvriane. Cora asks what happened to her. Reven says she went missing after Cora left and they assumed the worst. Harlin tried finding her, but there was no sign of her. After a time he convinced Harlin to train with him and he got better for a while. More recently, he found some letter in their old house in Neverwinter and believes she’s out there, so now he’s trying to find her.

Khendrig shows up, interrupting the story, and he asks for help using the restroom. Reven offers to help, saying he will handle it, and takes the young deep gnome to relieve himself. Cora thanks him for his help and after a time she asks him about his visions. She asks because she thinks she had a vision of her own.

She explains her experience in the vault after touching the dragon scale, what she saw, and getting shot in the chest. She notices she has a scar on her chest that is unfamiliar to her. Reven says she’s had that scar as long as she’s known her. Cora pulls out the scale and shows it to him. When she asks him to touch it, she warns him that he might be sent away. Preparing for the worst, he touches the scale but his hand phases through it. It’s untouchable and phantom-like, and only Cora is able to physically move it.

After this, Cora and Reven discuss that they will part ways and travel with their new family members. She wishes him well and asks if they are okay. Reven replies that they were always okay. She departs, wishing him good night and telling him she is glad he’s not dead.
Osrik spends the night outside praying to Valkur, though it seems to him no one is listening. Reven’s sister joins him with nearly half the book complete. Osrik asks her about the book and she comments that it’s a bit boring but still interesting. They talk a bit about faith and about not remembering their pasts. After some time she gets up and decides to go for a walk around town. Osrik tries to convince her to stay, but she tells him she will be all right and leaves.

Reven’s sister wanders around, the enjoying the night air. She makes her way to town center where she finds Tribs laying under a tree, alone. She approaches the man, admiring his features, “You are not really asleep are you?”

He lifts his head with a slight amused smile, “No. I don’t think I’ve really slept in 40 years.”

“Can I sit?” she asks.

“Not my tree,” he shrugs. “Have a seat.”

She sits down next to him. They both look up into the night sky and at the great large moon. “Selune,” she says to break the silence. “Goddess of the moon.”

He nods. “Nights like this remind me of Eilistraee.”

“The goddess of outcast Drow, surface dwelling Drow who reject Lolth?” she says.

“You are smart aren’t you?” he says. “Your mother, her name was Xara, she was a priestess of Eilistraee. She did her best to help the outcasts find a place and purpose on the surface world.”

“Was she smart too?” she asks.

A smile draws across his face as he recalls. “Oh yes, and one of the most determined people I ever knew. No one could change her mind once she was set to do something.”

There is a long silence, then she asks, “You are my father?”

“What makes you think that?” he asks.

“Our eyes are the same, and well, Reven calls you Osu. That means father.”

“Yes,” he says. “And I’m sorry.” He says this with a tear in his eye. “If I had known that you were a prisoner, if I knew you were alive, I would have never stopped searching for you.”

She smiles. “I don’t remember anything before Reven woke me. I don’t blame you for anything. I’m just glad that I get to know you.”

She holds his hand and he smiles. They spend the rest of the night beneath the tree, getting to know each other.

End part 1.

Next Episode: Battle of Loudwater part 2

Previous Episode 9: Descent into Darkness

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Descent into Darkness
Season 2 Session 9

17th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The party descends into the dark vault, where there are several small pillars and four larger ones. When they explore beyond the part they can see, they find the area engulfed in magical darkness. They spend some time trying to figure out how to proceed, and notice that there are a series of buttons on the larger stone pillars.

Gamora realizes that there are magic runes inscribed in the cracks of the pillars, and warns the party. Khendrig seems afraid and tells Cora that they are going to die. Cora asks how he knows, and the young svirfneblin says they have been there before and they all died, only it’s different now. He warns not touch the fourth pillar. Cora warns Jean Luc, who leaps back.

Cora asks Khendrig if he knows anything else, and he reluctantly adjusts the combination to the first pillar. Khendrig tells Cora that they need to adjust the buttons and push them at the same time. He tells Cora that Gamora handled one pillar and the old man handled the other. Gamora does in fact adjust the second pillar, but Tribs, failing to figure out the combination, defers to Reven, who touches it and learns the sequence with a vision.

Once the sequence is input, the magic darkness fades and the larger four pillars open, each revealing themselves as a display case, each with a single artifact. Inside them they find a puzzle box, a cyclopian skull, a shimmering bluish silver dragon scale, and a red monstrous arm. The rest of the room also lights up, revealing other items on display, as well as eight larger sealed vaults at the far end of the vault.

The party investigates the vault, looking for items that catch their interest. Cora is drawn to the shimmering silver and blue dragonscale that seems to be humming a strange subdued music. She asks Dru to pick the case so she can look at the scale. As Dru opens the case, Cora’s mind is filled with otherworldly music. She asks if Dru can hear it, but Dru doesn’t. Cora touches the scale and a loud ringing burns through her mind as the world around her melts away.

Cora is standing in Waterdeep beside her younger self – blue hair, pale skin, in a blue travel dress. She is heading home. “No, no, no…” she says. “Not again! Not again!”

Cora shouts to her younger self, “Stop!” The younger Ma’ree stops and looks around, confused.

“Don’t go there! Run away!”

The younger Ma’ree looks around, but turns and heads back to her aunt’s house.

Cora shouts, “Not that way! No!” and chases after her. There she finds the Cult of the Dragon men attacking her aunt’s house. One is already holding her aunt by the hair, and slams her head on the table. A terrible gash bleeds across her face. Cora fires an arrow in the assassin’s heart, dropping the one who hurt her aunt. She fires again and again, taking out the Cult of the Dragon assassins. An unexpected fourth assassin appears and fires his crossbow at Cora. She steps aside, the bolt missing her, and she fires at his throat, killing him. Her aunt stands up, disoriented, and looks at Cora. “Ma’ree! Oh gods! No!”

Realizing her aunt wasn’t talking to her, Cora turns to see her younger self, shot with a crossbow bolt in the chest. Cora feels faint and as younger Ma’ree falls, so too does Cora, her body burning away as she falls.

The moment Cora touches the dragonscale, she collapses. Fearing the worst, Osrik and Reven rush over. Osrik checks her vitals, and she seems alive, to have only fainted. Reven touches her and comes to the same conclusion.

At that moment, Gamora grabs Tribs and slams him against a pillar. She demands he tells them what he’s after. Tribs smiles and says she is just like her father, and Gamora curses at him, telling him, “I don’t care, I want answers.” With his metallic hand, Tribs shoves Gamora away, forcefully throwing her back. Tribs says he’s there for the blue stone and asks Harlin to open the case. Harlin, while attempting to open the case, triggers an alarm.

The case with the cyclopian skull opens and the skull begins to float. The eye socket burns with an evil red light and in their minds the party hear a voice say, “Intruders! You will be destroyed!” The Death Tyrant, an undead beholder, attacks them.

Tribs attacks the Death Tyrant but is soon overcome with a mind-affecting beam, which causes him to retreat. Cora, after coming to, joins the fight, but is targeted by the Death Tyrant. Instead of dodging out the way, she shields the young boy, Khendrig, from the beam, which leaves her hurt but still alive. During the fight, the arcane runes on the pillars ignite and the party is separated by a red translucent wall of energy connecting pillars. Those caught between pillars are singed by the burning energy.

The fight continues, but Reven and Harlin are charmed by the creature, while Gamora also is gripped with fear. Osrik is hurled up in the sky and dropped like a rag doll. Dru takes cover and snipes the Death Tyrant, before Mags is struck with a beam that makes her fall in a heap. When all hope seems lost, Osrik summons a spectral weapon that attacks the Death Tyrant and strikes it with a blast of celestial fire, destroying the creature.

Osrik checks on Mags, expecting the worst, but she is just asleep. He rouses her and is relieved to find her alive. Tribs asks for them to open the case with the blue stone, and Osrik asks if he plans on leaving after getting what he wants or if he will wait. Tribs says he’s willing to wait, provided they don’t take all day. Dru opens the case and Tribs takes the blue stone. Harlin takes the broken mask that was left in the case.

Dru and Harlin soon begin opening cases and taking choice items. Jean Luc takes a gold and black scarab, Gamora takes a black stone that has liquid in it, Osrik takes a hammer, Dru takes a double mastiff statuette, and Cora takes the puzzlebox and the dragon scale.

As this is happening, Tribb pulls Reven aside and hands him the blue stone. Reven nods and says, “I know what I must do.” He takes the stone and puts it away.

Reven feels something strange but can’t place the feeling. At first he believes it to be the stone, but realizes it’s something else. Harlin and Dru begin working on the large vaults, but make a mistake by triggering a lockdown, sealing the escape hatch. They try again and succeed in bypassing the lock and open a larger vault, revealing an Iron Golem creature.

Cora uses her primeval awareness to sense anything, and she senses something close by. She tells the rogues to open another vault, and to their surprise they find a naked woman in a glass container submerged with water – a half-elf, with gray skin and white hair. Gamora shatters the glass, freeing her. Reven checks on her and has a vision upon touching her skin.

Reven sees his father with a gray-skinned newborn wrapped about his chest, fighting with one arm against waves of Drow. A black-armored human man stands leading them, his hair white as snow, his mouth in a grin, and his eyes always in shadow.

A storm pushes towards them, but not a natural storm. It wis the Spellplague. The sky explodes raw arcane might, it’s force striking the battlefield, ripping through the Drow. His father throws a sword into the chest of an armored man, who stops to parry the blade.

With his free hand, his father takes out his Gate Cube. The cube is dark, but when the next bolt of arcane energy strikes at his side, it glows with energy. Gazing into the eyes of his enemy, he presses the cube before the Spellplague Storm engulfs the area.

The storm rolls over and many bodies lay in its wake. But the black-armored man survives and rises to his feet. A voice calls to him, "Lord Shadowheart! There is another child, come quick!”

Reven snaps from his vision, realizing that the woman he is holding is his twin sister. He turns and asks his father to confirm, to see Tribs looks shocked and does not respond, but rather staggers backwards and turns away.

Osrik goes to the half-Drow woman, covering her with his cloak, and uses a healing spell on her. Her arms glow with magic runes where he touches her that trace up her body and soon vanish. She begins breathing normally but is still unconscious.

The others suggest they find a way to escape this place quickly. They explore the other vaults and find a black sphere, which Mags advises they stay away from.

The next vault has a strange mystical statue, which upon analysis seems to be linked to a teleportation circle. Tribs observes the statue as the others look at another vault.

Inside, they find a mechanical device and a book showing the device working on a ship. As they debate how to move such a large object, Mags uses her portable hole. Gamora, on reflex, grabs the party members, about to throw them in the hole, but soon realizes that it’s for the device. Osrik and Gamora lower the device and Mags picks up the hole.

Tribs and Jean Luc look over the statue and realize that there are two symbols that may lead them to the prime material plane, a sun or a moon. They choose the sun and activate the statue.

There is a loud impact as debris bursts from the far end of the vault. Heavy metallic foot falls bang louder towards them. Stone is smashed aside as the creature is undaunted, ripping through the pillars. The Iron Golem is charging straight for them, its sinister face smiling. Gamora realizes the face is the same as the one on Hazirawn.

“I’m back!” the Iron Golem laughs as it strikes with its massive blade.

The portal activates.

Everything goes white…

Next: Battle of Loudwater

Back: Pathways of Light

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Pathways of Light...
Season 2 Session 8

Prologue: Osrik’s Dream
Dark clouds had swallowed the sun and sky, and darkness had fallen upon the city by the sea. Great waves, followed by powerful winds, violently tossed ships and piers. The dock workers were rushing inland, trying to escape the deadly reach of the waves and the brutal blows of the wind. He stood upon the hill overlooking the pier and watched the destruction, his Da’ calling him inside. His home was stone and built by Dwarves. and he would be safe inside. He turned to obey his Da’, but Osrik saw a young human girl with blonde hair gripping a post of the pier. The water had surged and there was no way for her to escape. The young Dwarf heard his Da’ call out again, “Osrik,” he shouted. “Get inside, boy. The Sea Bitch is raging, get inside where ye be safe. Only death is outside.”
“The girl, look,” said the young Dwarf. “She’ll be killed.”
“Aye,” said his Da’. “Get inside or it will two lives the storm claims.”
Osrik turned his gaze away, “I… can’t. No, I won’t leave her to die.”
His Da’ started to protest, but Osrik ran, downhill, through the howling wind. He heard his Da’ shout, “Ya fool! No! Ye canna swim!”
The young Dwarf pushed against the wind, which slowed his steps. He grit his teeth and pressed against the wind. His body surged with fire of his resolve and his steps found no resistance, he pushed through the wind that easily would have hindered another. He shouted, “Maggie, ya alright lass!”
Maggie was about 12 years old, and she was screaming when the wind snapped the post and waves pulled her to sea. She struggled to hold on as the storm struggled to take her. Osrik leaped and grabbed onto the post with the young girl. “It’s gonna be ok. I’ll get out of here,” he said.
The storm responded with a huge wave rising as high as a mountain. The young Dwarf looked up and was paralyzed by the massive looming darkness which swallowed both him and Maggie completely.
He was floating in the darkness, holding Maggie tight against him in one hand, and his other arm wrapped tightly around the post, but it was sinking fast, pulling them down. “Ya fool! Ye canna swim,” echoed in his head. Fear crept into the young Dwarf’s heart and he knew he was running out of time. Maggie was unconscious, he had to do something. The storm will claim two lives instead of one, his Da’ had told him.
The burning in his chest and the memory of his Da’s cowardice ignited a rage within Osrik. He gripped Maggie tightly, released the pos,t and kicked off it to launch him to the surface. He broke the surface of the sea with explosive force and a loud gasp, as air filled his lungs.
Kicking his legs frantically, Osrik struggled to keep himself aloft and gain his bearings. The young Dwarf couldn’t see the shore. He was lost and felt himself falling under. “Da!” he shouted as he was pulled under the waves. But the young Dwarf fought back, refusing to stay under. He broke the surface and shouted, “Father! Help me!” But he soon lost his strength and was pulled under.
In the darkness Osrik heard a voice.
“Osrik, ma boy, I’m here. Take my hand.”
In the darkness, Osrik grabbed hold of a hand which pulled him up. His head made its way to the surface and he gasped for air. Standing on the surface of the sea was a red-bearded Dwarf bathed in a warm glow. His touch renewed Osrik’s strength. He looked at him with pride-filled eyes.
“The girl will die. You must swim Osrik.”
“Dwarves canna swim…” said Osrik.
“Swim Osrik. Save your friend. Show your Da’ he’s wrong.” And with a smile, he pushed Osrik towards the shore.
Osrik swam. He kicked his legs, cradling the unconscious human girl who was nearly a foot taller than him. But he did not stop, not when his arms and legs no longer had feeling, not when he was pulled under water, not even when he felt the sand on his face. It took some time for Osrik to realize that he had actually made it to shore.
He picked up Maggie and made his way to some large rocks to take shelter from the wind. The storm had swallowed the shoreline and had swelled inland. Debris of ruined ships and docks were all about.
Osrik checked on Maggie and realized that she wasn’t breathing. He struck her on her chest trying to get the water out of her lungs, but she did not respond. “No, no, no,” he muttered, “We didn’t do all this for ya to die. Wake up Maggie. Wake up!”
He struck her cheek, and for a moment Osrik felt warmth fill his body. When he struck her she gasped and air filled her lungs.
The young Dwarf smiled, relieved that he had saved her. The wind picked up and Osrik noticed a shadow looming towards him. He tried to move, but it was too late. A large piece of debris struck him in the head and then there was only darkness.

17th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

The party sleeps in the secret tunnel connecting to the portal chamber. Tribs wakes Reven and tells him to follow him. They wake Harilin, who also follows. They emerge in an old chapel of Shar. Tribs tells Reven that this is where Shadowheart performed a ritual that brought him back from the dead and bound his soul to another body. He tried to use him against his friends, though eventually he was released from this life with his friends’ help.

Exploring the chamber, Harlin finds a secret entrance to Shadowheart’s office which looks like it hasn’t been attended in some time. There are many rows of books, a desk, and a model which predicts planar orbits.

What dominates the office is the back wall with many names in the form of multiple family trees. Upon inspection, they find Reven’s family tree which dates back nearly 130 years to someone listed as “The Lost King, Gondegal the Graywolf,” who Harlin explains was a prince of Corymyr who betrayed his brother and conquered the lands outside of Cormyr, causing a mild civil war. He held the lands for four days before the Purple Dragon Knights restored order. He was never captured, but many claim that his actions caused Cormyr and the knights to expand and grant protection outside of their region and territory which helped many towns and villages outside of Cormyr. Tribs is surprised by this information, saying that he never knew his father.

Harlin recognizes the name Sandoval Fanchone which raises Tribs’ curiosity of his origins, though Harlin is sure he is not related to him. Tribs and Reven talk about the mission and stress the importance of its success, Tribs saying Reven must be prepared to make sure they do whatever is necessary to succeed.

The rest of the party awakens, Osrik waking from his strange dream. They realize that Reven, Tribs, and Harlin are missing and track them down. They soon join them in the Temple and find the secret entrance. They enter the room and ask what they have been doing. They explain explain that they found this room and were investigating it.

Gamora notices her birth father Vayer Graverson’s name on the wall and his family tree dating back to a name, Klauth, which Cora reveals as the name of an ancient Red Dragon.

There is also an extensive tree of the Clan Glitterstone Dwarves, which Reven assumes Osrik belongs to, based on his shield.

Jean Luc notices Kalu Starglimmer’s family tree and her two children, Abigail Starglimmer and Samirn Hala.

Even with these names are many more the party doesn’t recognize. Reven lets slip that Tribs is his father and calls him Ash. When the party members begin to look at his name on the wall, he destroys his name with a burst of lighting. Osrik repairs the wall instinctively, but the name is gone. Jean Luc does recall the name Ash Nightbreeze, a name of historical significance but he keeps it to himself.

Jean Luc turns his attention to the planar model and realizes he can manipulate it. The planes turn and become coterminous with the material plane as he moves the dial. He notices that the dial has a date which he determines is the Netheril calendar year turning to dial to the current year of 5348 he sees the current alignment of the inner plains and some objects that may represent the outer planes, though they are less prominent. Fine tuning the dial he realizes that some of the planes become more coterminous. And that in the early months of 5349 there will be an alignment between several outer planes and a single plane which becomes coterminous during the first week of Alturiak. Jean Luc is worried that that plane may be the Baator, the realm also know as the Nine Hells.

Leaving the office, the party returns to the planar gate and uses Hazirawn again to shift to the Shadowfell. When arriving to the tower, they find the door has a slot in the gate that looks like the outline of a sword. Hazirawn is placed in the slot and fits perfectly. With a loud click, the door unlocks and slides open. Hazirawn laughs as he slides into the wall. He wishes them best of luck in a sinister way.

The party enters the tower and immediately realizes that magic their magic does not function. The tower is dark, save for a single blue flame brazier, and surrounding them is the black shadowstuff they found under the temple and in the Illithid’s lab.

The party finds three stones, and reading the inscription on the brazier, throw a black stone in the fire. The result is a pair of light bridges which manifest and lead to an upper level, with each path having a similar brazier. Cora walks up the platform with Khendrig, the young gnome refusing to leave her side. At the top of path, she finds more stones and takes a black stone and throws it into the brazier. The room flashes a red light and the light bridge vanishes. Cora instinctively grabs Khendrig and kicks off the wall as she falls on her back into the Shadowstuff. The party pulls Khendrig to safety, but Cora is caught in the Shadowstuf and begins sinking. Osrik throws her a rope and pulls her out of the muck, freeing her.

They party realizes that two individuals must attempt to throw the stones at the same time. They activate the light bridge again and Dru goes up one path. Cora starts the other but Khendrig latches on to her, saying he must protect her. Cora begins to try to convince the young gnome to stay behind, but Harlin decides to take the risk instead. Jean Luc realizes the colors of the stones align with the planar map in the office and beings to instruct the others to throw pairs of opposing planes, which reveal more ascending platforms until they reach the very top.

Dru and Harlin reach the top, which is a similar platform as the one from where they started. Jean Luc and Mags realize that the top stone should correspond with the positive energy plane, but find no yellow or white stone. After a time, Jean Luc figures out the pattern of using two stones that create yellow light. They cast their stones together and with a loud rumble, the upper and lower platforms shifts aside, and the upper platform begins to descend. The party jumps on the lowering platform, which continues down a tunnel of glass that holds the Shadowstuff back. The platform then descends deep below the surface into the Vault of Shadowheart…

Next: Descent Into Darkness

Back: Hidden Rooms

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Hidden Rooms
Season 2, Session 7

16th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

During their rest, Mags removes her stasis crystal and places it on the ground. Rusty’s body materializes and the crystal is destroyed. After a few moments, the Dwarf begins to wake, but he looks confused and is speaking Dwarvish. After a few moments, he speaks in the common tongue and the party realizes he has no memory of them or his own past.

Soon a group of Drow appear and confront the party. Realizing that Darlandra is dead, they draw arms and discuss terms with the party. Cora intimidates the Drow, telling them if they wish to fight they will end up like Darlandra. This sets the leader back on her heels, and she agrees to maintain a wide berth if they leave them the east side of the fortress. The party agrees and the Drow withdraw.

Harlin opens the secret passage, and a stealth team of Cora, Reven, Harlin, and Dru enter the passageway. Cora holds on to Jean Luc’s sending stone if needed to call for aid. The party finds a laboratory with a pit of black Shadowstuff, which seems to have hoses connected to six glass tubes and a chair with some head apparatus.

They investigate the room thoroughly, finding nothing. Reven, suspecting the Illithid has escaped through the black liquid, jumps in seeking it out. He is nearly suffocated as the shadowstuff begins to burn and poison his body. Cora reaches in and pulls him out, saving his life.

After some time, the rest of the party join and experiment with the lab, the shadowstuff, and the blue fire. The result is an explosive effect, but it seems to somehow create an invisibility effect in darkness when exposed to the blue fire. This, the party will learn, is a temporary effect.

The party learns through investigation that there were some alchemical components in the back table, where many of the key apparatuses are missing. It seems the Illithid may have escaped. Gamora asks Hazirawn a question, and the blade mocks her for her stupidity. In an act of defiance, she attempts to drop the sword in the Shadowstuff, but finds the blade imposes his control over her body. She sheaths the sword and walks out.

Returning to the main chamber, Harlin is able to locate another secret door, which leads to a chamber with a large central structure with double doors. Investigating the area, there is the sound of moving stone and Tribs rejoins the party through a hidden side corridor. He explains that he had been exploring the side of the fortress where the Drow have encamped. He didn’t find much and asks what they have discovered.

Dru and Harlin look over the double doors of the central chamber. She attempts to unlock the door, which triggers a gas trap, knocking them both unconscious. Pulling them aside, Gamora realizes there is a slot the size of a sword, and when she inserts Hazirawn, the door opens. Inside is a large circular room with what originally looks like a vault door, but soon they understand it to be a metallic stone monolith in a room encircled with arcane runes. Jean Luc, using detect magic, finds several auras near similar sword inserts, but only one that has no light aura. He suspects that is the correct slot and instructs Gamora to use Hazirawn.

Inserting the Greatsword, she hears a click and turns the blade, which surges magical energy in the chamber. Those standing in the room (Gamora, Jean Luc, Tribbs, and Osrik) are transported to the dimension of pure death and darkness, and in the distance they see a black stone tower. Jean Luc realizes they have left the Underdark and are now in the Shadowfell.

Behind them, a similar monolith stands, but the runes’ locations are different, and far more complex. Before they can figure out the solution, Tribs uses his Gate Cube and returns the party back to the Underdark chamber.

They decide to rest and regain their strength before they venture into the Shadowfell. Tribs leads them to a secret corridor that should provide them a quiet night’s rest.

Next: Pathways of Light

Back: Mindflayer’s Chamber

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Mindflayer's Chamber
Season 2, Session 6

16th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

After the image of the mindflayer fades, Gamora, Dru, and Mags check on Rusty. He doesn’t respond to them, though he seems in perfect health.

Cora, Dru, and Harlin are soon joined by Gamora in attacking the central brain, where it collapses and dies, releasing a strange burst of energy when it does.

The throne in the room soon begins to move forward, and six Drow warriors step forward, though they appear different from the Drow the party previously encountered. They are all black, including their hair, and they have faint blue glowing eyes. Their bodies seem to blend with the surrounding shadow and darkness around them. They press forward and attack.

Mags runs to Rusty’s body and places a crystal shard on his chest. She says a word and it expands, encasing his body in crystal. The crystal then shrinks down and she places it her pouch, then joining the fight.

Dru’s sister, Darlandra, and a Mind Flayer emerge from behind the throne. She turns to Dru and greets her, saying she is surprised to see her. Dru silently presses the attack on her sister. Cora, seeing Dru on the attack, fires her arrows which strike Darlandra and tangles her in an entangling spell that erupted from her arrows.

Darlandra tells Dru that she is the only chance she has of getting out of this alive, and stuns Dru with her gaze. It’s too late, as Cora finishes her off and moves her attacks to the Mind Flayer.

The creature moves towards Darlandra, but suddenly retreats as it’s gravely injured. Reven fires a spell at the Mind Flayer which he avoids and makes his escape.

The party struggles to finish off the remainder of the shadow Drow warriors, who fight on with no hint of emotion or sense of their own lives. As they fight, the throne closes, sealing off the Mind Flayer’s escape.

Once they finish them off, Cora asks Dru, “Are we okay?” and Dru nods silently, checking Darlandra’s body. She finds a magic staff, a spell book, and a childhood doll in her bag.

Harlin investigates the throne and realizes how to open it. They discuss if they should move forward, but decide due to their injuries to take an hour to rest and determine how to proceed.

End Session

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Shadowspire Fortress
Season 2, Session 5

16th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

As the party rests, Cora speaks to the young deep gnome. She learns his name is Khendrig, though she isn’t able to learn much else. The boy appears to have been captured by Drow slavers, but left behind or escaped. The party discusses and decide that they have no choice but to bring him along. Cora asks Tribs if he is familiar with anything about a Deep Gnome village or how Khendrig would have been captured by the Drow, but he says he knows little of Svirfneblin.

They move on, and after nearly a mile through the cave system, they find their way to a large cavern with a long stone bridge over a canyon. About 100 feet below is a river with glowing green water that cuts through the cavern. Along the cavern walls are two massive statues, each holding a long glaive. Across the bridge is a large, black, stone fortress with a large tower that is partly buried by fallen rocks. Rusty realizes that the bridge seems Dwarven, but the fortress is Netherese in origin.

Jean Luc casts invisibility on Dru and she crosses the bridge, only to trigger some sort of alarm. The statues turn to face her, sensing her through her invisibility, and raise their weapons at her. Gamora draws Hazirawn and asks him if he knows what they are. Hazirawn’s eyes light up and he shouts, “Stand down!” The giants return to their position. The party crosses the bridge, and Gamora asks if he knows where they are, the sword responds, “At long last, I have returned home to my true master.”

As they enter the fortress. they enter a small chamber where two massive eagle heads flank the walls. 15 feet from the ground, and next to the entrance and exit are two braziers. flanking the entrance and the doorway ahead. Observing the brazier, it seems to have a strange blue fire, which gives off limited light, but no heat. Upon observation, it seems to be shadowstuff magically converted to absorb light in a way that creates a limited luminescence. Jean Luc finds this to be a strange and complex magical feat that he has no knowledge of ever being achieved.

Gamora asks Hazirawn about the chamber and he responds that this is the welcome chamber. As they try to pass through the next room, there is a force barrier that blocks their entrance and escape. The large eagle head mouths begin to open, and soon marching sounds are heard. From the mouths, three armored humanoids aim crossbows and fire at the party down below, their stiff motions and reactions identifying them as animated armors. Gamora rushes forward and pushes Hazirawn into the doorway, seemingly able to pass forward. She stands in the doorway, allowing the party to pass through. After a few stray bolt shots they escape into the main hallway of the fortress.

In this room they find a statue of who they believe is Shadowheart. He is armored and kneeling with his blade pointed down, while he looks up to the sky. The blade looks similar to Hazirawn, though they are not able to confirm if it is the same blade. The party examines the writing around the dais that lifts the statue, which says, “Champion of the darkness that serves the Greater Shadow. May the world all drown in Darkness.” Jean Luc and Reven both suspect the knight and the phrase may be referring to the goddess Shar.

Gamora asks Hazirawn who this person is. The sword feels warm and content. It says in her mind, “I am home.” She tries to poke the blade at the statue’s face, but it takes control of Gamora’s body and strikes her in the face with her own fist. Hazirawn falls silent and refuses to answer questions going forward.

The party observes the room, looking for tracks and checking doors. It seems there is heavy foot traffic to the right and forward path, and nearly nothing to the left. With no dust or traces of decay, it seems the fortress has magical properties, which is later confirmed as dirt and dust seem to slowly evaporate.

Gamora pushes forward through the left path and discovers a hallway with a different metal door which she breaks down. Inside she finds 6 animated armors, but slowly closes the doors once they are discovered. Rusty mends the steel door and they move on.

Cora opens the door at the end of the left hallway and discovers a large garden with the sound of running water. She states that it’s unlikely the vault is this way, and heads back to the main chamber.

Gamora, Jean Luc, and Rusty push forward through the garden while Cora, Reven, and Harlin discuss the next course of action. Dru, remaining invisible, moves between the groups, trying to make sure there isn’t any issue. Mags remains beside Khendrig, making sure he is safe. Tribs tells Reven to keep moving forward, but that he is going on ahead, and he breaks from the group.

As Reven turns to follow, he sees the old man fade into the darkness. He tries to follow him but he is gone. Reven suspects that Tribs may have gone to the right door, and wants to follow him, but Cora says that he didn’t want to be followed and likely mislead him. After some time, Cora wonders where the others are and whistles after them.

Meanwhile, the others discover a rather large chamber which seems to be a dedicated garden, with many phosphor luminescent plants. The chamber has a running stream, which is fed by a fountain for a woman they believe to be the goddess Shar. The water seems clean and pure and flows to the stream encircling the majority of the chamber. There seems to be some animal life mixed in with the garden. After some exploring they decide to go back. As they are about to leave, Gamora notices at the far end of the dark chamber another fountain, broken and overflowing with water running, under a set of double doors. She turns back after hearing Cora whistle. Gamora makes a honking noise back and turns around.

Reven looks at the statue, believing it is likely hiding something. Dru inspects the statue and pushes it, trying to move it aside. Reven helps, but both their efforts are fruitless. Harlin sits next to the statue and looks at it’s base carefully, then taps it with a knife before saying that it does not move. The rest of the group rejoins after this exchange.

The party tries to figure out where the best way to go is, and after some discussion Cora decides to move forward, pushing open the upper chamber. She says to the group, “Are we all moving forward or will we split up?” Rusty disagrees with her actions stating that they have no idea where they are going and they shouldn’t split up.

Cora argues that if the group stays in the main chamber, it’s only a matter of time until they are discovered, and she moves forward. Dru and Gamora follow, and soon the rest of the party moves on as well. Rusty remains in the main chamber begins to cast a ritual spell for divine guidance.

The party that moves forward discovers a grand staircase with several suits of armor, styled similarly to the animated armors. They proceed up the stairs with caution. The winding grand staircase takes them to a platform that feeds to another staircase that enters two small doors. These doors lead into a grand throne room with long winding stairs, which descend past several more suits of armor. They continue to proceed with caution.

The large room has four large blue shadowlights, much like all other rooms in the fortress. There is a large well and eight glass pillars glowing a strange purple light. When they investigate, they find within each glass pillar is a corpse of a mind flayer, floating in a purple colored liquid. In the center of the room, in a well in the ground, is a large brain that is also glowing purple. It twitches and writhes with movement. Tn_52059_CN_jpg.jpg

As they take some time trying to understand what they are seeing, Jean Luc moves deeper into the room and discovers a broken throne at the far end of what was once a throne room.

Rusty, completing the spell of divination, calls upon his god for guidance. He asks “What is the easiest path to take?” After a moment a spirit speaks to him stating, “No path you take will be easy. Move forward.” With that it vanishes. He rejoins the group, finding Mags waiting behind for him. She asks him what he discovered, and he replies he knows the way now.

He rejoins the group entering the chamber, and after a few moments there are skittering noises heard all around. They turn to find several small creatures PZO9204-IntellectDevourer.jpg heading towards them. Dru turns and attacks one of the glass cases, thinking that the small brainlike creatures will restore the mind flayers. Gamora and Cora turn their attention to the large brain hoping it will stop the small creatures.

jean Luc releases a fireball destroying two of the creatures. Rusty unleashes a gust of wind, pushing back the other two. On the other side of the room, Reven fires his bow, taking down another, while Cora, Mags, and Harlin attack the other creatures. Rusty is struck by a psychic attack by the small creature which leaves him unconscious. The small creature seems to make towards the fallen Rusty, but Reven finishes it off with his bow.

The party finishes off the remaining creatures. Jean Luc forces a potion down the dwarf’s throat but he doesn’t respond.

Before they can understand what is happening, a large spectral image of a mind flayer appears, and he shouts within their minds, “How dare you come to this place!” The party clutches their minds in pain as a psychic attack burns into their minds.

End session 5

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Back: Into the Darkness

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Loudwater - Into the Darkness
Season 2, Session 4

15th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

In the aftermath of the battle with Darlandra, Dru’s sister, the party lends aid to injured townsfolk before leaving the Tankard. They leave, trying to avoid any additional attention, and then each break off, trying to complete different objectives.

Rusty leaves to go shopping, where he buys a golden locket, which he prepares with a spell that burns a magical fire within.

Jean Luc and Gamora head towards the Fisherman’s Friend Pub, where Gamora encounters a man who she becomes rather smitten by After a brief conversation and a potential offer for work, he departs, leaving Gamora with the tab for his drink. Soon Leosin and Onthar Frume enter the Pub and greet Gamora. When Leosin asks about Jean Luc, she refers him to the large, muscled man in the back, who is Jean Luc in disguise. They walk out together and he and Jean Luc talk, recounting all the events thus far. Leosin says he would like to brief the rest of the team all at once, and Jean Luc suggests they meet at the docks in an hour. They part ways.

Dru, Cora, and Mags track down the shop that was being used as a front for the Black Trident, which leads them to Starra’s Knife Shop. They spend some time casing the shop, but are summoned by Jean Luc to meet with Leosin.

The party meets at Rusty’s ship and they discuss all the intelligence gathered on their quest with Leosin and Onthar Frume. They recount all they have learned from the dragon breeding grounds, on the long road, their encounter with Bog Luck, the swamp, the Castle Naerytar, Talis and the Hunting Lodge, and the Skyfortress Castle, and their recent encounter with Lord Volmyr, including the information he provided about the Red Wizards aiding the Cult. They also tell Leosin about the Black Trident and their presence in Loudwater.

Leosin thanks the party for their valued service and provides them a 500 gp gem each. Cora asks “what’s next” and Leosin tells them that there will be a council meeting in Waterdeep in the next 5 days, where they will mobilize forces against the Cult of the Dragon. Also, he believes he has identified a place known as the Well of Dragons, which may potentially be the Cult of the Dragon’s main base.

Cora asks for the location, but Leosin refuses to give this information, as it may jeopardize the team that is already on-site, investigating. He offers the team a teleportation scroll and asks that they join the council meeting so that they may contribute to the discussions.

The party agrees, but they feel that they cannot leave Loudwater under the Black Trident’s control and say they will handle this task before heading to Waterdeep. As the meeting concludes, Leosin pulls Jean Luc aside privately, and offers him a Harper pin.

He tells Jean Luc that his actions were of the most courageous, going farther than he could have asked for. He welcomes him into the Harpers, giving him his pin and codebook, as well as discussing what is required of him as a member of the faction.

Rusty pulls Mags aside and gives her a locket, which when opened holds a magic flame. Rusty says it’s to help her see in the darkness. She is surprised by the gift and thanks him for it.

After the meeting, Cora and Gamora head to the Fisherman’s Friend Pub to meet Harlin. They meet Reven, a half-drow, who is forming the expedition into the Underdark to find the Vault of Shadowheart. After some time, Gamora realizes that Cora has worked with Reven and Harlin in the past. She also recognizes Harlin as the one who cheated her out of a drink earlier. While Reven seems reluctant to work with Cora, he ultimately realizes he has little choice as no other adventurers came to answer his call.

They discuss logistics and terms of the party’s aid. Harlin states that their patron for the expedition has simple terms; first pick is his, and all other items can be divided up civilly amongst the group afterwards. Cora disagrees with these conditions, and states that if they are risking their necks, they expect some sort of compensation.

The old man that Gamora encountered in the gnome restaurant appears behind them. Cora also recognizes him from the foot race event and remembers how he seemed to have intentionally failed, and how she later noticed him in conversation with a half-drow she now realizes was Reven.

The old man introduces himself as Tribs Anchors, and states “these are the terms. Accept them or there is nothing for you.” Though, he states it seems that they are likely aligned already in their path and that it just makes sense for them to work together. He wishes them well and leaves.

Reven decides he wants to meet the rest of the party before they agree to work together. Reven and Harlin head towards the ship. They make introductions. Reven meets everyone and after some conversation seems to accept their assistance, and leaves. Harlin advises them to meet them at dawn at the Temple of Lathandar.

The party enters the temple before dawn to find Reven praying at the altar, Harlin sitting patiently eating a small breakfast, and Tribs leaning against the wall. Rusty also gives his respects to Lathandar, awkwardly.

Tribs tells the party, “Back when Loudwater was under control of the darker forces and before it was taken back, this church had been desecrated. And while the followers of Lathandar had purified the evil from these halls, there are still some things that remain.” Tribs pushes a large statue of a knight, which reveals a secret stairwell that descends under the church.

The path leads to a door which, when Gamora pulls, triggers a powerful Glyph of Warding that delivers a strong lightning surge. Gamora shakes off the trap and they push on. The next room is a large lake with still of shadowy water, and a path heading towards the center. When Rusty checks the water he finds that it is a strange shadow paste. His touch seems to trigger something, and the shadow water gathers into the form of a large, giant-like creature. The party runs to the center island which has the glowing blue light of a teleportation circle. Desperately looking for the command words, Jean Luc sees runes around the circle that say in Draconic, “Into the Darkness of Truth, leave behind the lies of the light”.

Upon repeating the phrase, the party vanishes.

The party appears underground, the atmosphere stale and cold. They stand in a teleportation circle, its runes a faint purple. Jean Luc inspects the circle and it seems it’s power is drained. He reads the inscription and it says, “Into the Light of Lies, Remember only the Truth of the Dark.”

As they walk out of the small hidden alcove, they realize they are in an underground city within a large cave opening. There are several buildings along both sides of the cave, each built up along the cave walls, ascending at least three levels.

As they make their way through, they spot a Drow patrol waiting in ambush. Dru steps forward and greets them. The Drow commander looks to Dru and she asks who she serves. Dru, confused by the question, says herself and her god.

The Drow attack the group. The party engages and through swift efforts, makes short work of them. They take a moment to rest and investigate the village. Jean Luc realizes that the town used to be some sort of village or trade hub. He finds evidence of soldiers, and possibly slave pens. He also determines that it was a magical force that destroyed this village, not a natural landslide.

Cora, investigating one of the rooms on the upper level, hears a noise. She investigates and finds a young child hiding under a table. She approaches, but is attacked by a floating, beaked creature, which she later learns was a grell. She kills the creature with her bow, and turns to the child. She realizes it’s a deep gnome boy, not more than 5 or 6 years of age. She asks, “Are you alright?” When the deep gnome looks at her eyes, there is a powerful force that possesses Cora.

She remembers when she fled from her parents’ assassins, she turned into an alley and tripped. She tried to get up, but before she could, a cart rolled over her, hiding her. She watched as Cult of the Dragon assassins ran past. A gnome merchant reached his hand to her and said, “Are you alright?”

Cora snaps out of the memory, and picks up the child telling him it will be alright.

Reven watches Cora, and realizes that this Cora is much different from the woman he knew 10 years ago. He steps in and offers aid with the child.

End Session

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Loudwater - Shadow Games
Season 2, Session 3

Evening of the 14th day of Nightal 1489 DR the Year of the Warrior Princess

Jean Luc is surrounded by the local guards of Loudwater. He tries escape using his magic, but it’s countered. He assumes it was Dru. The body of Lady Moonfire twists and begins to rise, her eyes glowing red. She attacks the guards, but Captain Harrowleaf steps up and cuts down the animated corpse of his former leader and friend. Jean Luc breaks away and runs, but is soon surrounded by the town guard. Realizing this won’t end well, he surrenders.

Rusty, exiting the Tankard, sees the guards taking Jean Luc away and the fallen Lady Moonfire. He convinces the guards to allow him to help revive Lady Moonfire and casts revivify to restore her. He is shocked and confused when her soul will not return. Pushing his intent and concentration into the spell, he makes contact with a demonic presence which shatters his concentration.

Soon there are more stragglers from the Tankard that come to see what has happened and mourn their fallen leader. Gamora and Rusty go towards the guards’ barracks while Cora and Mags remain behind, investigating.

Rusty and Gamora try to make a case for Jean Luc and offer to aid the investigation. Captain Harrowleaf rejects their help, stating they are too close to the case to be impartial. When Gamora presses, claiming they were friends with Lady Moonfire. She shows her concealed knife bracelet and says they had given her the same knife as a gift. Harrowleaf asks Gamora if he can take her bracelet for analysis. She reluctantly hands it over to him, and he has their statements taken for the record before they leave.

Cora arrives as the two exit the building. Curious about Dru, she and Gamora return to the Tankard to look for clues again. Rusty decides to go wait in the boat in case Dru returns.

Jean Luc, bound and gagged in the jail, prays to Bahamut and tries to escape, but to no avail. He hears a voice call to him and a black hole appears on the ground. The voice tells him to jump in the hole and he does.

Sometime later the hole opens and Mags becomes visible. She dispels her invisibility and tells Jean Luc he needs to wait a bit longer, then she hides him again and heads towards the ship.

Cora and Gamora arrive to find a dazed and confused Dru sitting in front of the Tankard. She tells them that she was taken, but doesn’t know what happened to her. They soon realize that Dru was not with the group for most of the day and the person with the party was an impostor.
Dru recounts that she saw something in a store and went to investigate, when she was knocked out. She states that she doesn’t remember anything else. Dru asks about Mags and is concerned for her safety. As they prepare to return to the boat, a mysterious, pale, gaunt man appears from the shadows. He tells Dru that he brings a message from Lord Volmyr, which appears to be a hidden map to a meeting.

As the messenger turns to leave Cora is unsatisfied with his answers. She tells him to halt, but he does not heed her. Cora fires an arrow in his back, killing him. The party, not wanting to deal with another murder, stuff the messenger into their bag of holding to deal with later. They return to the docks.

Jean Luc and Mags arrive at the boat and Jean Luc tells them what happened as he re-outfits himself. He tells Rusty that someone disguised as Dru killed Lady Moonfire and left him to take the blame. He states that she was a powerful mage using magic that was beyond his capabilities.

Not long after, Cora, Dru, and Gamora arrive. They exchange stories, and Mags asked if the guards are aware they are staying at the docks. Rusty says they are aware, but that he gave them a different dock number. Dru shows Mags the letter from Lord Volmyr, and Mags tells her that he is a gangster and they shouldn’t go see him. Mags insists that she and Jean Luc need to leave before the guards track them down, but they will return soon. She tells Jean Luc to get back in the hole and takes his bag of holding for safe-keeping, as they have negative effects on the hole. Mags turns invisible and leaves the ship, closing the door as she leaves.

Not more than ten minutes after Mags leaves, Captain Harrowleaf arrives and turns out the ship looking for clues and interrogating the party. He asks where Mags is, as he is aware of how she and the rest of the party entered the city. After an hour or so, Captain Harrowleaf whispers to Dru that she should follow the map, and leaves with his men.

Dru relays the message to the party and suggests they head to see Lord Volmyr. Dru realizes she left the map with Mags, but remembers well enough to make her way to the location.

When the portable hole opens, Jean Luc finds himself in the study of a well-kept manor. Mags gives Jean Luc a Hat of Disguise and some food to eat while he waits for the magic item to attune with him. He asks her about the home and if it belongs to her family. Mags nods and says that it’s hers. Jean Luc, looking over the books in the study, finds very rare tomes that would be envied in Candlekeep. (Well, he assumes, if he ever entered Candlekeep.) Mags gives him a book of poetry to read while they wait. Soon after, once the item begins working, she makes him enter the [[:portable hole]]. She takes his bag of holding before he enters.

The party goes to a cookware shop specializing in pots and pans. Dru notices a mark on one of the displays in the window indicating this is the location, since this mark was on the letter. When the party enters, the man behind the counter presses a button which locks the doors. He asks the party for the messenger. Gamora pulls the body of the dead messenger from the bag of holding, dropping him with a thud on the ground. The man takes the body and tells them to proceed through the back.

They pass several armed hobgoblins who lead them down a secret path, which leads to a chamber with a solitary guard and iron doors. He asks for their weapons and items to be left behind. Cora refuses. The others agree to the terms and leave their gear with Cora.

Rusty, Gamora, and Dru are taken to an audience chamber filled with lavish decorations, burning perfumed incense, and a large beaded curtain where a voice is heard echoing the chamber. The figure behind the curtain welcomes them and introduces himself as Lord Volmyr. Rusty asks for him to reveal himself and after a warning he does. Lord Volmyr is a Bone Devil.

Volmyr tells the party that he has heard of their exploits in fighting the Cult of the Dragon and how they resist the battle against Tiamat’s resurrection. He tells them that the Nine Hells are divided on the subject of Tiamat’s release, and there are those that would be indebted to the party if they were to keep her where she sits.

Volmyr offers the party information on the Red Wizards of Thay, who have allied themselves with the Cult of the Dragon. Their leader is named Rath Mordar, who is a member of the exiled rebels called the Thayan Resurrection. They are enemies of Szass Tam, the Lich overlord and leader of Thay. Rath Mordar has been helping the Cult of the Dragon by summoning devils to aid the Cult and has been assisting with the Summoning Ritual necessary to release Tiamat from the Nine Hells. Volmyr states that capture of Rath Mordar would be valuable to Szass Tam.

Volmyr also says that if the party will continue to oppose Tiamat, then their interests align and he would be willing to use his network to aid them with any information they would find useful in their war. Though, he mentions, an organization called the Black Trident have moved into Loudwater and is threatening his network. He asks the party to assist him by removing the Black Trident so he will be able to better aid them.

Dru asks Volmyr if he knows anything about the Black Trident. He looks at Dru and seems to read her mind, then tells her that he will not help her with her game. Rusty asks Volmyr about Lady Moonfire, saying he believes that the Black Trident killed her to destabilize and demoralize the city. Rusty asks why he couldn’t revive her, and the devil reveals that Moonfire was a warlock, and that her contract had expired.

Volmyr believes that the Black Trident was not able to make their foothold in Loudwater without assistance and believes that an old rival named Ghaerleth Axom is responsible. Volmyr tells the party that Ghaerleth Axom was routed by Altormagnus nearly a century ago, but after the dragon’s disappearance has slowly gathered a foothold in the city.

The party asks how he survived the dragon. Volmyr said that some evils are necessary and that if you keep your head down you can find a way to endure, even under a dragon’s rule.
Rusty asked what type of being Ghaerleth Axom is. Volmyr says that he is a Mind Flayer.

With this information, the party is told their meeting is concluded, and are escorted out. Cora tries to make small talk with the guard, but it doesn’t seem to work. Eventually the rest of the group returns and they make their way outside, where Mags and a large, muscular, brown-skinned, bald man with tattoos wait for them. He calls himself Bravio, but it doesn’t take long for the party to realize it’s Jean Luc in disguise.

They make their way back to the boat to rest and discuss the information and Lord Volmyr’s proposal. The party is largely against allying with the devil, but they do believe that the Black Trident is a threat. They ask Dru about Howard, and she says she doesn’t know where he is. The party asks Dru what she remembers, but she doesn’t seem to recall much, leading the party to believe that her memories were altered. Jean Luc asks if he can inspect her items, and casts detect magic. On her holy symbol of Tymora, he notices there is a scrying locator cast upon it. Jean Luc holds onto the coin. They also notice that Dru has the same dress as she wore previously, when she was kidnapped, causing more confusion. Jean Luc tells the party that it isn’t safe to talk here, as they may be overheard. Mags then offers to take them to someplace safe, but they need to get in the portable hole.

She collects the party’s bags of holding as they go into the hole. Cora refuses to go, and turns to argue her point. Gamora shoves Cora inside, grabbing her bag of holding. She tosses both bags to Mags as she falls into the hole. As Cora goes to climb out Mags shuts the hole. Dru and Mags make their way to the other side of town with the party’s bags of holding. (Yes it totally happened that way…)

Cora, enraged, punches Gamora full in the face. Gamora, knocked on the ground, smiles, tasting the blood from the hit. “Yep, I deserved that,” she says.

Cora turns to the group and expresses how she’s sick of all these secrets, and questions why they are putting their trust in this girl. Rusty states that Mags has proven herself time and again, and she has earned their trust. Gamora says everyone has things they rather not talk about, and Cora should understand more than anyone else. Cora lets it drop, but is still very bothered by the situation.

When the hole opens again, they exit inside the manor. Mags tells the group that inside the house, they are safe from scrying magic, and there are several wards preventing other sorts of spells. Jean Luc uses this opportunity to dispel the scyring sensor on the coin.

Mags goes into the kitchen to make some food for the party, when Dru pulls her and Cora aside. She confesses to them that she remembers what happened to her and has known all along. Dru reveals that she was kidnapped by the leader of a criminal organization of Drow, known as the Black Trident.

She tells them the story of how in her youth she worked with a rival organization, known as the Blue Nightingales, and their leader, who was like a father to her, took her off the streets and trained her. One day when the Black Trident’s leader moved against them, she was told to kill him. She killed the leader of the Black Trident, but soon learned that he was her biological father. She realized that the man she trusted had manipulated her into killing her father, and let the man die as well.

She later disbanded the Blue Nightingales, but the current leader of the Black Trident, her sister, had come looking for her. Her sister knocked her out when she was investigating a store with the Black Trident sigil. When she woke, she saw a scrying glass and saw her sister posing as her and kill Lady Moonfire. When her sister returned, she told Dru that if she says anything to anyone about her, then she would kill her friends, starting with Mags. Then she let her go. Dru thinks it was a game to her and that she wants to see how it plays out.

Cora listens. After a moment she nods and says she has her back in this.

They eventually retell the information to the rest of the party and they agree that the Black Trident will need to be dealt with. Many of the group turn in to rest for the night. Cora asks Mags to let her go outside as she doesn’t want to stay in the house overnight. Jean Luc goes outside momentarily and releases Bruce to search the town. He sends a sending spell to Leosin to apprise him of the situation, and returns to the house.

Cora makes her way to Fisher’s Friend Pub, where she finds Harlin playing a game of cards. He glances over at her, acting as though he doesn’t know her, and asks if she wants to play with a sly flirt. She buys into the table and plays. As the night goes on, Cora finds herself and Harlin winning the table, until Cora wins the pot. They casually talk about what they have seen since they last saw each other. He tells her about the job that he has in the Underdark, saying he was waiting on some of their old associates, but it seems no one has answered the call. He admits that the expedition is to a secret vault of some Shade named Shadowheart.

Cora says that she is interested in this and might have others to help. Cora spends the evening with him talking about their old times together. In the morning, Cora admits that she is “glad he is not dead,” and they have breakfast together. Harlin lets her know where to meet him and his partners if she wants to take the job.

Core rejoins the party at the Tankard where they eat breakfast. Some notice a distinct shift in Cora’s behavior, though think little of it. They discuss their next steps, when Cora asks a question about Dru’s sister, referring to her openly as such.

When she does, the waitress shifts and turns into a drow who looks identical to Dru. She strikes the party with a lightning bolt, which arcs between them all and kills a few patrons.
She warns Dru that there are consequences for breaking the rules, and pulls out Howard, holding him by the tail. The party attacks and Howard is set free; he runs. After a few quick attacks and spells, Dru’s sister melts into a black ooze. Jean Luc notices that she is outside and disappears. Confused and weary at the attack, they tend to their wounds and those around them.

Next: Into the Darkness

Back: Festival’s End

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