Immediately after entering Glamgish, the group is unsure of their surroundings. It looks like the inside of the keep they just entered, but something is not right. The roof is missing and the walls bordering them look as if the entryway of the keep had been plucked out of existence and moved somewhere else. Before they have a chance to investigate, the heroes are attacked by three larger-than-normal dwarves. They are furious and shouting, “FOR GLAMGISH!” The heroes immediately begin to defend themselves. Jeric is able to get his chain wrapped around one of the dwarves and electrocutes it, but misses when he tries to repeat his attack. The clouds above part and a beam of holy fire rains down upon all three dwarves setting two of them ablaze and severely damaging the third. After what is sure to be agonizing pain, the dwarves are enrages and start in on Santos. Darius, trying to defend his master, swings his bastard sword wildly and hits one of the dwarves. Traavor summons a comet from the skies and it crashes into the burned enemies.
One of the dwarves keeps shouting to Bradek, “Help us, brother! Help us remove them from this palce!” He buries his axe in the shoulder of Taran. “We will clear you insects out if it takes our last breath!” He swings at Taran again, however, Taran is able to sheer off the dwarf’s axe with his katana.
Another dwarf charges at Santos waving his axe with such extreme skill that is seems like an extension of his arm. He makes contact with Santos’ helmet. After Taran deflects his attacker’s swing, he wields his two swords with extreme precision slicing his assailant and causing extreme damage. Not surprisingly, these dwarves are able to take a lot of damage and they are even more crazed now. Due to his burns, the third dwarf, badly burned, is unable to make his attacks connect on Jeric. During his attempt to do harm to our compatriot, the dwarf shouts to Bradek once again to help them rid the keep of these infidels.
Bradek yells to the dwarf attacking Taran, “You have something that belongs to me!” The dwarf shouts to his compatriots, “The ancient Gods have returned to claim what is theirs!” The last words passed the lips of the dwarf as Bradek buries his axe into the dwarf’s chest armor. Electricity shoots from the axe and, using the plate armor as a conductor, frying the dwarf. Bradek lined up for his second attack, but missed. These dwarves are certainly a force with which to be reckoned.
“Give me the shield!” Bradek yells to the dwarf as he holds off on his attack. The dwarf drops his shield on the ground and says, “Lady Shadow, please accept this offering.” Bradek is confused by this. Maybe they aren’t that bright? Maybe they misunderstood him. Maybe, just maybe, they are following Bradek’s orders.
A flurry of blows from the dwarf attacking Santos manage to land doing significant damage. Santos tries to heal Taran and the dwarves capitalize on this attack of opportunity. Taran, now healed, flanks one of the dwarves and slices him across the cheek. His swordplay is so fast, that the heroes only see a blur of metal reflecting in the light as both arms of the dwarf fall to the ground. The dwarf drops to the floor and bleeds out quickly. Taran, moving so quickly, is able to get two more hits off on the other closest dwarf. Bradek, not knowing what to do, but knowing he cannot stop the onslaught, attempts to grapple and hold the dwarf who dropped his shield. Bradek dives in for the tackle but misses. The dwarf, sad and confused, shouts to him, “Why, brother?!”
Traavor casts Snake’s Swiftness giving everyone an extra attack. Each of the heroes take their turn. Santos swings and misses. Bradek grabs onto the dwarf, holding him tightly, as Taran’s katana glides through the air and suddenly stops at the dwarf’s throat, drawing a small drop of blood. Jeric waves his chain above his head and snaps it at the last mad dwarf attacking them. He gets in the first attack with no problem and on his second, slices the jugular of the crazed dwarf. He drops to the ground and bleeds out next to his armless brother.
The last standing dwarf is badly burned and beaten. Bradek attempts to drop him to the ground but fails. The dwarf is now loose and flails his axe at Santos hitting him while screaming at Bradek again, “Why, brother?! Why?!” Diog, defending his master, runs over to the dwarf and takes a chunk out of his leg. The wound is great and the dwarf topples over unconscious. Bradek dives at the falling dwarf yelling, “Where is the shield?! Where is the shield?!” The dwarf is motionless on the ground, dying, but not dead yet. Traavor attempts to heal him to stop the inevitable as a small green light emanates from his hands stopping death in its tracks.
Unsure of what to do next, Bradek, out of sheer desperation, grabs the armor of the dwarf and roars with bestial vigor. The sheer vibration of the thunderous, booming power of Bradek’s shout pulls the dwarf out of the unconscious.
The heroes inquire about the shield and are told that it is extremely far away from where they are now. When asked about his leader, the dying dwarf tells them that there is no one. Only the Nothingness that surrounds them. He tells the group about the bugs that swarm his people and that they might have the shield of which our heroes seek. The dwarf is in pain and Santos, in a moment of compassion and grace, shows the dwarf a slight glimpse of the heavens. He closes his eyes and passes out again.
Now having time to properly observe their surroundings, they look behind them to see if they can carry the Glamgishian dwarf outside to get him away from these insects he was talking about, but as their eyes have now adjusted to the dim lighting, realize the door is gone. It is just a short hallway with a mountain blocking where the door used to be. As they look up and around, the mountain range surrounding the section of the keep is covered in holes. Caves, to be precise. There are a lot of caves that have been dug out in the mountain side by the insects. So many, in fact, that the heroes don’t have time to count them all. They look at the ground around them and notice there is Neutral Essence coursing through the grout in the stonework seeming to hold everything together. The conversation among the heroes is an interesting one as they try to decipher where, or when, they are and how to get back to Glamgish proper. They are not sure if they are in Majeria, but they do know that they are not where they are supposed to be. Santos wants to try to change the Neutral Essence to Good Essence using his Divine Augmenter and Bradek is looking for secret doors or passageways, but is unable to find any.
Santos’ eyes glow brightly as he casts True Scene. As he looks around, the others notice a confused look on his face. When he finishes his spell he tell the others that he can see the rest of the keep that should be surrounding them. Jeric, is able to discern that they are in the Ghost Plane, an ethereal plane where they should absolutely not be. However, the confusing part of the whole situation is that the dwarves were not part of this plane of existence. They were not ghosts. They were organic and did things only biological things did… like bleed. The company decides to move forward since there is no way to go back and as they step past the threshold of the Neutral Essence stonework, are transported back to the Majeria version of Glamgish. Santos, still having access to the True Scene, looks up at the walls surrounding them and now sees the mountain sides with the insect caves that were visible to them in the Ethereal Plane.
One of the party members notices a single gray cloud circling around them from above. Jeric is concerned how easily they were transported back to their world. During the conversation, the group looks around and notice that Taran is not close by. He is squatting in a corner, defecating. Apparently his Irritable Bowel Syndrome was flaring up due to the stress of the fight as well as their shifting through planes of existence.
Behind them, they notice that the Neutral Essence is still in the grout between the rocks, but only in the section that was transported to the Ghost Plane. In order to figure out what the cloud whirling around them is, Traavor turns into a robin and flies upwards towards it. Santos, being the only one who can see what is happening, watches as Traavor flies around inside the cloud, but is then immediately hit by a tendril and is sent back to the Majeria world.
Having only one choice, they move further into the keep. The group decides to search the balustrade, but as they do, Bradek, in a selfish manner, but determined to find his King’s shield, goes for the door at the back of the hall. The others decide to follow. On his way there, he quickly searches the remnants of an old catapult and finds a gold ring with the insignia of a shield on it. Before he has a chance to figure out what the ring is, he is surrounded by 10 insects who quickly engage him. In a hurry, Bradek puts on the ring in order not to lose it and the battle begins.
The bugs have four arms and large claws. Each one is carrying two swords in the upper set of arms and the their claws on their lower set are ready for causing massive amounts of pain. They simultaneously pounce on Bradek who is ready to do battle once again. They swing and claw at him, but only cause minimal damage. One insect tries to dig its claws into Bradek’s side but is unsuccessful. Bradek, controlled and collected, whirlwinds hitting every attacker. Santos teleports the group, except for Traavor, into the middle of the fray and they take their place by their companion’s side, weapons at the ready to defeat their foes. Darius immediately attacks and kills one of their foes and strikes another. Diog bites into the leg of one of the insects and ichor begins pouring out of the wound. The pain is evident on the vermin’s face. Traavor, still shape-shifted as a robin, dive bombs at the skirmish. Midair, he casts Arc of Lightning at four of the attackers. They writhe in pain and three of the four affected melt and tumble to the ground. Taran, gracefully and diligently, wields his katana and short sword removing the head of his foe. He then makes a move towards another, but fails to make contact as his attacks are parried by the insect’s swords.
There are only five more bugs left. To everyone’s surprise, they all curl up into balls and roll towards Bradek. One of the insects, not being able to see the obstacles in his way, bounces off one of the wheels from the rotting catapult, putting itself right in the path of Bradek’s axe which is immediately buried into the bug’s shell, killing it instantly. One of the bugs decides to make a break for it and as it is running away, it begins to phase out of existence. Jeric swings his chain at the phasing retreater. It wraps around its neck, shocking him and holding him in place. The chain loosens and Jeric makes another attempt at him before he is gone, but the bug has phased too much and the chain goes through the shadow of what was the body of the insect. Before he is completely gone from this plane of existence, Jeric is almost certain that the bug smiled at him. A beam of light screams down from the skies as Santos follows through on Jeric’s target. Searing light engulfs the insect and that smile changes to surprise and then excruciating pain as it melts where it stands. Darius attacks one of the remaining bugs and hits him, but his following attacks are parried by the insect’s claws and sword. Taran, in his infinite discipline and skill is able to slide his katana into an insect and drop him to the ground. Just as it hits the ground a scream begins to escape its mouth. However, before the yelp has any chance of being heard, Taran’s foot slams down on its head shooting brains and ichor outward and onto the ground. Taran moves with finesse as he closes in on the remaining two foes. He swings at one of them but is not able to down him.
The first of the two bugs attacks wildly and misses all of his attacks. The second tries to hit Bradek and misses all but one of his attacks. He is successful in his last claw attack and buries his talons into Bradek’s armor and pulls him in close. The insect opens its salivating jowls and another set of teeth slowly creep out and towards Bradek’s face. Diog, upon seeing this, bites the legs of the bug sending both Bradek and his grappler to the floor, teeth still less than an inch from Bradek’s nose. Traavor lands, but no longer as a robin. He has shifted into a tiger! A BIG tiger! Traavor pounces at Bradek’s holder, but due to the quick landing and immediate transformation, is unable to land any of his swipes or bites. Diog bites at the insect off to the side and is able to remove a limb in the process spewing ichor and innards all over, killing it.
Bradek is able to keep the insect at bay, but not for much longer. As Bradek’s hold begins to give out, the insect’s eyes widen as it realizes what is about to happen. Suddenly, his eyes widen even more, but this time in fear as it feels Taran’s katana enter through the back of its skull and come out its inner mouth. The tip of the blade slides through with the greatest of ease and rests right on Bradek’s nose, but not drawing blood. The precision is astounding and Taran lifts the body of the bug off of a very thankful Bradek.
The yard is littered with insectoid bodies, their removed limbs, and their weapons. The heroes collect themselves and move toward the door in the back. The others are upset with Bradek, but he is determined to get what he came for. They open the door to find a dark room. Taran searches for traps and finds none. Santos lights up a rock and throws it into the middle of the room illuminating it. It is an empty room with two doors and a staircase leading down to a cellar. Bradek asks Santos to cast Locate Object to find the shield and Santos tells them they need to go downstairs. Bradek and Santos head down with the others behind them.
The stairs lead the party into a large open room. The light from rock that Santos had illuminates the room and in the middle sits a large platform made of stone with a three foot podium standing on top. After some investigation, the group sees only a hole on the top of the podium that must be for a key. Bradek exclaims that they must find the key and Santos begins to go back up the stairs with everyone to try to find it. As he walks, the world around them changes again and they are transported back to the Ghost Plane. The party is now standing hundreds of feet up on a cliff staring down at the valley below where they can barely make out three shiny lights emanating from what is believed to be the keep below. Looking around them, there is only the cliff and the cave behind them. Traavor says, “Let’s go in.”
Following the tight cave, the heroes make their way about fifty feet in when they come to a round room where there are four separate entrances in different directions. The fifth being the way they came in. Bradek marks the entrance cave and the group follows the Rule of Right so they head through the opening. The walls get tighter and tighter and everyone is forced to walk in a single file line with Bradek at the front and Traavor in the back. Santos feels that something is not right about this and casts a Magical Weapon buff on Darius’ bastard sword.
The heroes have failed in this but do not know yet. They did not do anything to hush their advances through the cave and are talking at normal volumes. The sounds alerted the insects inside the cave and cause a cave-in behind the party trapping them. Traavor is barely able to dodge the falling rocks as he pushes forward shoving everyone a few feet forward. Two insects charge at the cornered heroes. One insect is on the ground and is running at Bradek. The other is amazingly moving at the same speed, but is on the ceiling. They flatten themselves and begin their onslaught.
The insects are swinging their swords and claws at Bradek, but are causing minimal damage. Traavor begins charging his Call Lightning spell from the rear. Bradek swings back at his attackers but, due to the tight quarters of the fray, is unable to land an attack. Jeric casts Seeking Ray at the ceiling bug, but misses and hits Bradek in the back of the head. Knowing he will not be able to perform any melee attacks, Taran puts away his swords and pulls out his long bow. He fires two arrows at the bug on the ceiling. The first one fires true and hits its mark. The second flies past the bug down the corridor. Santos is healing Bradek while Darius uses his bow to try to damage the bug on the ceiling and barely hits him. Darius shoots again and misses. Santos buffs everyone with his Recitation, beefing up his companion’s damage. Darius shoots two more arrows, the first sticking into the side of the bug and the second missing its mark. Bradek wildly swings at the bug above him, missing his first, but landing the second. Jeric waits for the right opportunity and looks back to Traavor who has finished channeling his spell. Traavor unleashes the fury of the lightning, but the bugs are able to resist it!
The insect on the ceiling of the cave tunnel keeps attacking Bradek but does not land a blow. The second insect on the ground misses Bradek with both swords and one claw, but the second claw digs into Bradek’s armor once more and pulls himself close to Bradek, second set of teeth exposed. Jeric performs his Dimension Hop and puts himself on the other side of the bug on Bradek. Behind him, he hears more footsteps from the insects swarming down the tunnel. Taren fires his bow at the ceiling bug again hits him. He fires his second one and misses his target hitting Bradek in the shoulder.
Trapped in the cave with nowhere to go, Traavor shifts into a dire badger and start tunneling through the fallen rocks trapping them to make an escape route. Jeric turns to see two more insects charging down the tunnel towards them. He casts a Stone Piston that shoots up from the ground pinning one of the swarming bugs against the roof of the cave. An eyeball pops out of its head but the pillar does not kill it. It begins chiseling at the top of the cave to cause another cave in to kill the heroes. Bradek fends off the bug attacking him and Santos casts Deific Vengeance and hits the bug attacking Bradek. Darius shoots at the ceiling insect and misses. The claw, still being in Bradek’s armor, is unable to inject its venom. Taran shoots from in back of the group and hits Bradek again, clipping his cheek. His second shot thankfully misses Bradek, but also misses his initial target. Bradek swings his axe at the bug locked into his armor and finally kills it. Its mandibles loosen from his leg as it falls to the floor.
Traavor is still digging through the rocks and the insect on top of the pillar pops out of existence. Another insect takes his place in the gap between the pillar and the roof of the cave and continues to chip away at it making some real progress. Much more quickly than the injured one before. Santos tells everyone to move back and ready themselves for retreat but Bradek will have none of it and ignores his command. Jeric agrees that retreat is the only option and everyone heads back towards the hole being made by the dire badger furiously digging to get everyone out. Taran, in his heroic fashion, shoots at the bug digging away at the ceiling and hits him, but he does not slow his actions. Santos casts Awaken Sin and stuns the bug for a moment putting a pause to the inevitable. Bradek readies his Bull Rush waiting for the pillar to come down.
On top of the pillar, the unconscious insect is pulled off and replaced by another picking up where he left off. Jeric casts another piston which, this time, goes all the way up to the ceiling, but the work had already been done. The insects had made enough progress that they are able to keep at it on the other side of the piston and the heroes are going to be crushed if they don’t get out. Bradek is furious with Jeric and his new piston and wants to fight his way further down, but now has no choice but to escape. Jeric removes the old piston and a yelp is heard as the bug on top slams to the ground. The others with him climb back up and keep at it.
Traavor is successful and gets through the debris. The heroes crawl through one by one as fast as they can. Rocks and dirt fall from the roof and the ceiling begins to collapse as the last of the heroes make it into the escape tunnel. Santos yells to everyone to hold hands and he transports them to the other side to safety.
Barely making it out alive, the party goes back to the Cliffside and is transported back down to where they were before: in the cellar. After going upstairs they exit the room and move to a hallway where there are three doors. The heroes break of into groups, each group lining up in front of a door. Bradek and Jeric go to the door on the right, Santos and Taran go to the middle, and Traavor, Diog, and Darius in front of the left door. Jeric and Bradek open their door where they see some skeletons with armor and a puddle of Neutral Essence in the corner. Santos and Taran open their door and find a similar puddle in the corner as well as a very nice Rapier resting against the wall.
When Darius opens his door, with Diog and Traavar right behind him, they find something they certainly did not expect. It is an unholy thing. An indescribable horror attempting to take over the mind of Darius. Traavar shifts into a Dire Ape. The monster tried to penetrate Traavor’s mind but he is able to fend it off. They back off the door and over to the side out of sight as it emerges from the room ready to destroy our heroes who disturbed its slumber.