Majeria

Shifting Planes

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.

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Terminus Velocity
No Holds Barred

A battle that took so long Taran’s hair went white, Jeric developed a bad hip, Traavor shrunk an inch, Bradek’s liver started failing and Santos, well…

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Taran reads the note ordering Jeric surrender himself to Terminus in exchange for the life of his prisoner, the assassin Cesa Alera. When Taran finishes, he drops his hands to his sides and looks at Jeric. After a moment of silence, Jeric gives a quick glance to everyone and says, “We have to save her!” Taran’s reply is cut off… THWICK, THWICK, THWICK, THWICK! Arrows stick in the ground just inches from where each hero is standing.

A group of battered and bloody wood elves reveal themselves in the trees. An initially wary, then testy exchange in elvish takes place between the lead elf and Jeric. So testy in fact that Jeric gets a dagger to his throat when he cannot disprove he’s not responsible for Terminus rampaging through the area. The elf only takes the blade away once Jeric agrees to rescue some captives Terminus holds in an unusual cage.

As the wood elves depart Taran asks, “What are we doing? Why should we do this? What is it about that woman, Jeric? Do you love her?” Jeric answers with conviction; “It’s nothing like that. I think she can be used as an asset. Listen, her bounty on me is forfeit if Terminus has been ordered to take her too. That means she’s just like me now – someone who Talarra wants dead. We can use that to our advantage. If we can get her to cooperate she can give us inside info on Talarra and his army in Shar. Which is something that we greatly need. And we’ll lose that potential asset if we don’t rescue her from Terminus.” Santos looks at Taran and simply adds, “Plus, that’s what heroes do.” Taran pauses then asks, “Are we strong enough?”

“We’ll have to be.” replies Traavor .

The Heroes slowly follow the path of destruction left by Terminus as they strategize how best to take on a very large opponent they know very little about. They all agree that aerial recon would be a good start, taking Traavor up on his suggestion to scout as a bird. The Gnome transforms into a non-indigenous eagle and takes off, leaving the group to continue their planning. About an hour passes when they spot the returning eagle, wavering and injured. Eagle-Traavor explains although he kept plenty of distance, he was hit by a rock and just managed to avoid an entire tree hurled at him by Terminus. Also troubling was the fact that Terminus sensed him immediately despite being seemingly blind due to a helm that completely covers his eyes.

Terminus waits in a clearing surrounded by the Stone Guardians of Farron.

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The Stone Guardians kept getting lighter and lighter througout the battle. Also note the heroes entered via a forest of Doritos and Goldfish.

The group decides on a plan to engage the 20ft tall Terminus and Bradek couldn’t be more excited about his part. The group leaves their horses behind. Santos and Jeric cast spells to aid them in battle while they approach the clearing. As Jeric goes on ahead, Santos says he will pray for him.

With that the Duskblade enters the clearing alone to meet Terminus.

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Terminus is seated on the ground at the base of the farthest statue. Next to him is the aforementioned cage containing three elves and a large burlap sack. As Jeric approaches, Terminus reaches into the cage. He pulls out one of the terrified elves and casually tears him in two at the waist. He then eats one of the halves.

With a mouth full of blood and gore, Terminus demands Jeric get in the cage lest he “kill the red headed bitch and all of his companions.” Jeric responds that he’s going to defeat him and take back the assassin. Terminus stands to his towering 20ft height. Before he can reply he is hit by a Seeking Ray spell from the Duskblade, setting the tone for battle and signaling to his companions that the time for talk is over.

Jeric’s spell is followed by an excited roar from above as the dwarf is released from Dire Bat-Traavor high over the giantkin’s head. Bradek lands a perfect two-handed smash of his battleaxe right into Terminus’ weird helm leaving a large crack. Terminus bellows in fury. He grabs and hurls the dwarf to the outskirts of the clearing while scooping up Jeric with his free hand. It is here in the giant’s grasp that Jeric is the first to hear an unfamiliar voice in his head. The voice promises to give him great power in exchange for devotion to the “Old Ones”.

Taran charges from the statue he was using for cover (slow motion: start), slides on his knees to duck under a swipe from Terminus (slow motion: end) and lands a heavy blow with his sword.

Jeric Dimension Hops out of Terminus’ grasp, reappearing on his shoulder. With a precise hit from his chain, Jeric finishes what the dwarf started. The helm cracks in two and falls off Terminus’ head revealing bugged-out eyes along with a face that probably hasn’t been exposed to daylight in years. Jeric falls off as Terminus visibly shakes, reaching to cover his eyes with one of his large hands.

The Dwarf bounces up off the ground but shudders as if taking a moment to clear his head. The moment passes and Bradek charges back into the fray.

Terminus, still covering his eyes, shouts, “This means nothing. You are still coming with me Worgrave!” With that, he scoops up Jeric again with his other hand. This time the giant crushes the Duskblade before he can escape. An audible groaning and popping can be heard from the inured warrior.

Traavor, hovering above the battle, thinks of a brilliant idea. He lifts himself high and directly over the monster’s head… and Wild Shapes. Still struggling in the monsters grip, Jeric looks up. His eyes grow wide with seeing a large rhino penis descending fast from above. The enormous weight of the rhino crashes into the head and shoulders of Terminus bringing him to a knee.

Is it over? After a few moments of inactivity, Terminus’ veins start to pulse as he morphs into a more advanced build.

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Jeric escapes again and gets as far away as he can via a Fly spell. Terminus, with his mind on Jeric and Jeric on his mind, turns and heads after him oblivious to the heavy damage being dealt on the ground by Taran and Bradek. Terminus easily closes the gap, snatches Jeric yet again and throws him into the large shimmering cage. With the Duskblade finally captured, Terminus decides that he’s taking his ball and going home. The beast turns and walks away from the group.

Inside the cage Jeric ignores the frightened elves and moves to release Cesa Alera from the sack. He unties the sack and inside is… potatoes. (Personal Note: Dammit, Jon.) He never had her – Terminus exploited Jeric’s emotions and played him for a fool. Cursing himself, Jeric looks up and discovers why the cage was shimmering. Suspended at the top of the cage is what appears to be a disembodied (but still living) Beholder eye. The eye negates magic within the cage. Jeric realizes he won’t be able to escape without help.

As the rhino and the damage dealers keep hacking away (except for Darious who instead fumbles his sword (Thanks Jeremy)), Santos reaches into the cage to heal Jeric. When the spell fails, Jeric yells out, “It’s the cage Santos! It negates magic.” Santos follows Jeric’s gaze and sees the Beholder eye.

Hearing this, Bradek pulls a rod from his belt. It’s the super-wonderful Rod of Negation. The dwarf points the rod and fires a magical ray, hitting the Eye. The cage loses it’s shimmer and Terminus starts running at a full sprint. Unnoticed to Terminus, Jeric immediately Dimension Hops out of the cage and runs back to his companions. Taran calls out, “Hey, big ugly! You dropped something!”

Bradek moves and plants himself protectively in front of Jeric who can barely stand. The embattled Duskblade leans on his comrade’s back in exhaustion. Terminus checks the cage. Noting Jeric’s absence, he turns around and shouts, “Worgrave, you slippery bastard! Are you a hero, or are you a coward?” Then he opens the cage and starts grabbing for one of the remaining elves.

Jeric steps out from behind the dwarf. He straightens himself out as he responds “You’re a bully Terminus and we’re going to defeat you.” With that, Jeric eyes glaze over white. He replants his feet firmly on the ground and lifts his palm to the air. The magic Jeric weaves summons a wide column of earth below Terminus. The giantkin shoots up in the air and Terminus grasps for balance, dropping the elf in the process. Santos uses the opportunity to heal Jeric while Taran runs over to rescue the elves. The former Samurai throws one over each shoulder and runs back in a blur. The elves, sensing they are out of immediate danger, bow to the group and flee.

Terminus jumps down from the column of earth. “Worgrave, you’re only delaying the inevitable!” As Terminus starts heading for the group again, Santos says, “There is one more blessing from the Light.” He casts Righteous Wrath of the Faithful which is the recharge the group needed in this marathon battle.

Rhino-Traavor charges first to meet the running giant but trips, falling prone. Taran screams “Banzai!” and grasps the rhino’s horn to swing over the top of Traavor. Using the leverage to jump high into the air, Taran buries his sword deep into the monster’s chest. Terminus takes one step towards the Duskblade. He whispers through clenched teeth, “I’m… still… coming for you… Jeric…” His legs begin to seal up in stone. He tries to take another step but cannot as the stone completely envelops the monster. Taran flips away at the last moment.

Phew.

Everyone pauses to catch their breath except for the dwarf who, unnoticed by the group, heads towards Terminus to examine the stone that encased him. Bradek looks up at Terminus then turns around and looks at the rhinoceros trying to stand from prone. Bradek slowly lifts his bloody battleaxe over his head and solemly says to Traavor, “You know you’re my friend.” He brings his axe down on the Druid’s hindquarters. Traavor’s blood spills onto the floor of the dais which causes the runes on the Stone Guardians to noticeably fade. Thankfully, it’s not a killing blow. A furious Traavor shifts back into his original Gnome form and everyone gets in-between them before he can launch himself at the dwarf. Bradek apologizes, explaining he had no control of his body and had to do what the voice in his head told him to do. Others in the group admit to hearing the same voices offering power in their heads during the battle. When asked why he was the only one to succumb to the temptation Bradek says ”I still need to find my King. I’ll take any opportunity and advantage I can to complete my quest.” Jeric responds, “I can respect that.” Jeric then changes the subject by sheepishly telling the group Alera wasn’t in the sack and she was never Terminus’ prisoner.

The group ponders what to do with Terminus but determines all they can do is leave him. It takes time but the dwarf successfully destroys the Beholder eye in the cage. Before leaving, Jeric takes the original note addressed to him from Terminus and writes on the back Worgrave I / Terminus 0. He buries it halfway in the ground at the feet of the encased giantkin. The group starts heading back to the horses with promises to keep an eye on the dwarf and to also keep him away from the pissed off Gnome.

The same party of wood elves are waiting with the horses, now loaded up with supplies in a gesture of thanks. The cordial atmosphere among the two groups is quickly diminished when Traavor mentions the Old Ones and the voices heard in the circle. The elves order the group to never return as they abruptly depart.

The group heads to Farron, the nearest town, to rest. As they approach, something doesn’t feel right. There are no fires burning, no animal sounds, no movement. The entire town just seems… still.

Taran and Mifune turn into Shaggy and Scooby Doo, encouraging the group to leave. But Santos (who’s inexplicably wearing an ascot now) says, “C’mon gang, let’s investigate”.
Once they cross into the town, there is an overpowering stench. After peering into the first few buildings it looks like everyone in the town is dead. Every corpse found is battered and bloody, even the women and children. It appears they all savagely attacked and killed one other. The Heroes discuss theories. They make a connection between what happened in this town and what happened to Bradek earlier. When asked, Bradek says he feels fine. Thorough investigation of the town yields no answers as to what could have started this. It’s determined the people here, about fifty all told, have been dead for weeks. The Heroes burn the bodies in funeral pyres and Santos says a prayer, consecrating the ground in the process.

With Glamgish nearby the group wearily decides to just get right back on the road. On the outskirts of of the keep, the group finds the body of an decomposing dwarf. Despite being, uh dead, he is very friendly and helpful. He states what happened in Glamgish was his fault. The dwarves digging here dug too deep and hit a vein of Essence. The dwarf said it was also his fault the demon guarding the Shield of Darmordir is here.

So there’s that.

Seeing as they can’t do anything to help him, the Heroes bid their thanks to the “dead” dwarf and enter Glamgish. Instantly, a queasy feeling hits the entire group. When they try to shake it off and look around, everything they see is askew. No time to ponder this however as they hear screaming closing from the distance. Three crazed dwarves round the corner heading for the group brandishing axes. At full charge, they shout in unison,“For Glamgish!!!”.

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The Trek to Find the Shield
A Beaconite Vacation

The heroes decide that walking back through Oakdene would be a horrible idea and decide that teleporting back to the crossroads with the horses is the best idea, while Traavor flies back in wildshape. The heroes rest with Taran standing watch and being healed by the Cleric. Upon returning to Eden, the heroes see a group of seemingly Church of the Light refugees being protected against the people of the town by a burly dwarf. The heroes quickly rush in to add some protection, and remove much of the on lookers. The refugees quickly take to Santos, crying titles of “The Beacon”. Taran and Jeric through their Dwarvish speech, find from the Dwarven protector that he has been charged to protect these refugees from Wyldshire.

The wand wielders and militia however are not so easily frightened and are deciding to stand their ground. The dwarf who helped the heroes find Fer approaches and asks where Fer is. Santos explains his fate, which does not sit well with the dwarf and claims that the heroes or no heroes indeed. Santos then, in a horrible strain of honesty, tells the villagers that he needs to bury the body of Zan. They react violently. The heroes prepare for battle but try their best to negotiate and intimidate their way out of the situation. Between the new Dwarf, Traavor, and Taran, they are able to quell the would be bloody battle. They convince the fool hardy towns folk to walk away from their deaths.

The heroes now are saddled with 35 refugees from the Church of Light in Wyldshire who seem enamored with Santos. They explain that Wyldshire is now a dangerous place and that they have been brought by Stone-Guard to find Santos since he is the future of the Church, constantly through many actions calling him the Beacon. They also refer that many of the revolts in Wyldshire are a result of citizens demanding “A Man like Worgrave”. The heroes know that they must travel somewhere to deposit the refugees for safe keeping, except Taran who decides they all look meat shieldy. The heroes decide to head to the closest known city Juab but Santos communes with Light and informs the heroes that they will find a place for the Beaconites on their way to Glangysh to retrieve the shield of Dormadir.
Santos also catches up Stone-Guard on the prophecy of the Pantheon, the Gods, and all of their role in it.

Their first stop is Halldene, where the heroes decide to buy some equipment to make the journey with the Beaconites a little easier. Wild shopping occurs. The heroes head back to a camp set up outside Halldene and immediately encounter Niven, bleeding, and broken approaching the party falling over, with his hand missing. The heroes go through the process of making sure it really is Niven, and then notice that a magical collar is on the Bard. Santos is able to dispel the magic on the collar, but they were unable to remove it before Bradek Stone-Guard lets the rest of the heroes know that Halldene is on fire. He is the first to charge into the burning goods store catching fire in the face while Santos puts out the fire with a storm. Taran has a stroke and forgets what town they’re saving.

While Bradek, Santos, and Traavor try to deal with the fire, Taran and Jeric tear off after a shadowy figure that they had seen retreating from scene. They are unable to track down the invisible assailant though. Bradek and Traavor drag out the charred corpse of the shop keeper’s son which Santos immediately brings back to life much to the shock and awe of the event. Taran and Jeric return to the party reporting they were unable to apprehend the invisible individual. Santos rides a summoned Couatl back to the encampment to find it under siege with Darious unconscious and Jake in the grasp of the Cursed Bugbear Mousg The Hunter. The rest of the Beaconites are currently being rounded up by invisible attackers, which Santos tries to outline through Detect Evil.

Mousg says he has been hired by the Valencian council [see Dicks] to bring the heroes back and are prepared to execute all of the Beaconites if the heroes do not go back as his bounty. Taran decides that he wants to rush into save the day, but instead gets stabbed a lot and then stand and sniff Darious’ unconscious body. Santos tries to negotiate poorly since Mousg is not having any of it. Santos tries to dissuade Mousg from killing Jake by lighting Jake with a holy fires. Mousg still impales Jake while Jeric reacts by hitting the vile Bugbear with a seeking ray. Traavor calls a storm, prepared the eviscerate the Bugbear. Chaos erupts and the invisible attackers begin killing the Beaconites. Bradek enters and is able to spot one attack and hit him with his lightening axe, which Traavor follows up with lightening and then casts Faerie Fire to illuminate some of the invisible Bugbears. Jeric moves in and slashes away at two more, dropping one. Mousg finishes off Jake is a horrendous fashion as Jake falls to the floor practically asking Santos to save him, then Mousg begins to bludgeon the Lightbearer. The other invisible Bugbears attack Santos and the Beaconites. Many more Beaconites falls. Taran rushes in on Mifune slashing away at the head Bugbear trying to lop off any appendage possible. Santos unleashes a bolt debilitating Mousg’s strength severely. Traavor shifts into a Dire Lion and pounces on Mousg, tearing and slashing at him. The attack is brutal and bloody as intended.

Jeric unleashes an Orb of Light that lights up the remaining visible Bugbear practically from the inside dropping him immediately. Santos decides it’s time to exact his holy vengeance on Mousg by tossing holly berry bombs towards him, ending the vile Bugbear’s life as his hand twitches its last twitch. Bradek uses his keen battle tactics and Traavor’s suggestion splashes mud on the invisible Bugbear and swings away at him. The heroes then here the pitter patter of running feet escaping the scene. At the end of the battle, 11 of the 35 Beaconites perished.
Taran, who has been contemplating embracing the light, takes the opportunity to cut off Mousg’s head and hand…as tokens of appreciation for Niven and….well he didn’t explain what the head was for. Traavor does a systematic hunting down of the escaping Bugbears while Santos and Jeric try to bring back the remaining hurt Beaconites. Darious relates that Niven was dual transported with the Bugbears and him, the collar seemed to act as a portal.
The heroes travel on, with Santos bringing back the perished Beaconites. On the 5th day however, a Huge Air Elemental arrives, and seems to have some sort of grudge against Santos. Santos and Traavor unleash their Flame Strikes while Darious swings with his bastard sword. Jeric creates another Orb of Light to elemental. Bradek moves in to swing, but Taran (having been scarred by his previous encounter [dying from elementals]) decides to just hang out for this one. The elemental sucks up Santos who then teleports out just in time for Traavor to launch another Flame Strike. Rinse and repeat, Jeric tosses another Orb of Light to the elemental.

The heroes proceed to continue to use their perspective spells and weapons to light, burn, shock, and slice the air elemental, as Santos does his job of getting sucked up, and smacked around by the pissed off tornado. Jeric summons up his final Orbs of Light and implodes the Air Elemental. The heroes toss Santos’ dead horse onto the death wagon, and continue.
The heroes arrive at Forest Gate, and Santos, having tried to find a place for the Beaconites asks Light once again for guidance. They meet a wood cutter in the town, who says that if they are hard workers, they are welcome in Forest Gate, although they will only be as safe as the wilds allow. Putting his faith in Light, Santos lets Jake and Finn that he would like them to construct a Church here in Forest Gate. They reluctantly agree and the heroes head into the forest with the rumors of angry wood elves. Many of the trees have been broken away as if a large creature has cleared the way. The heroes then come upon a trail of blood, following it finding broken weapons, and finally a pile of brutally murdered elven warriors, killed in horrible gruesome manners. Inside the mouth of a crucified elf is a scroll which Jeric retrieves and throws it to Taran in anger. Taran relates the scroll which describes a vile message for Jeric, that he could follow the trail of bodies to release himself to Shar, otherwise he will kill Cesa Alera.

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The Dread Mansion (cont'd)
The Final Battle with Ralg

The Golden Saviors, again following Santos, lugging about the decaying corpse of Zan, find themselves walking down a corridor toward the Divine Augmenter. One wall is lined with what appear to be four beds and bizarre looking control boxes. The end of the short hall leads to a small chamber. The guidance of Santos’s deity seems to shut down just as it points him to a pool of fairly viscous liquid in the center of the room. The duskblade’s understanding of the arcana lead him to believe that this is some form of essence.

Looking around the room and the pool, the Saviors see four pillions made of coils and wires around the lip of it and a leaver. Sensing nothing else about the location of the Divine Augmenter from his god, Santos lays the body of Zen out of the way and begins to remove his armor. Knowing not what else can be done, the cleric reaches his arm into the fluid in search of the relic. As he does, the pool begins to bubble and churn. A large arm reaches out of the dark liquid and toggles the lever, bringing to life the towers of coils and sending electricity to the beds. Seeing the sheets of the beds begin to rise, and thinking that nothing good can come from it, Traavor bends the wall of stone behind them to crush the four being beneath and pin them for a time at least.

A large and stitched creature rises from the dark of the pool. It appears as though it has been sewn together from many difference beings. There! There in its chest is the Divine Augmenter. In the chest of Ralg! With the dark opalescent goo dripping from him, Ralg begins to monolog. The gnome, not really interested, charges his little body into the lever to switch everything off. Sadly, this doesn’t happen. “Fine, we’ll just have to skip to the end and bring about your deaths that much quicker,” says the franken-Ralg.

Santos, unarmored and unarmed uses the gnome’s distraction to cast Righteous Wrath of the Faithful to bolster his allies and giving Darious the fortitude to step forth and swing at Ralg before him. Taran begins to cut the wires running between the coil towers, receiving a shock. Using some magic to close to the pool, Jeric’s head begins to swell. And swell.. And swell… His head, now a perfect target, Ralg lays his palm on it and Jeric suddenly can feel his heart stop. Too willful to go down looking like a bobblehead, Jeric all but commands that his heart start to beat again and is able to fight off the brunt of Ralg’s touch before vomiting, but remain standing and ready to fight.

Filled with piss and vinegar, Jeric calls the ground under the pool to piston up to the ceiling, pinning Ralg between the two. Realizing that the coils seem to be recharging Ralg somehow, likely through the Augmenter buried in his chest, the crew begins to destroy them one at a time. Taran, hacking away at one, receiving shocks for his troubles. Jeric repeats the earth piston trick again and crushes one. Traavor shifts to his ape form and readies Giant’s Wrath.

Behind the heroes though, the creatures begin to break free of the wall that kept them temporarily from the fight. As two break out, the Saviors notice that the smaller and less Augmentered versions of Ralg have plaques around their necks and one reads “Wargrave.”

Another Kansas Click, and Taran is a speed freak once more. Doing some “quick” mental math for his best course of attack, he takes a short step and unleashed the many strikes of his blade on the first of the body-doubles, the ronin turns it into a pile of flesh as he lops piece after piece from its bones.

Wanting to quickly take out another of the things before the others can rise to join the fray, Hollysharp lets fly another Flame Strike on the creature marked Tallbottom (for some reason this should matter, he feels, but the notion escapes him). As the column of fire pours over it, however, it seems to shed it like water with no effect. This is disappointing for the little man as the two remaining break free, exactly as he hoped wouldn’t happen. The name plates seem to indicate the names of the form samurai and the cleric.

As the commotion grows, Darious is taking swings at Ralg and cutting flesh off in chunks. Unfortunately, they seem to be regrowing almost as fast with ever burst from the coil towers. The Savoirs need to take them out and quickly. Jeric, once more realizing this, crushed another against the room’s roof and Santos, still fairly naked tosses a magic’d Flaming Acorn at a third. Leaving only one damaged tower reaming.

Disregarding the possibility of electrocuting himself, the ape-shaped gnome charges forth putting his full weight and mass into it crushing and disabling the device. With nowhere else to draw his power, Darious and Taran let loose on Ralg until he is no more than a heap in the pool. As Ralg is dropped, the remaining animates fall with him. The room is cleared and everyone can breathe once more.

The heroes, beaten and exhausted, gather up their gear and Zen once more and head out through the secret tunnel hoping to never return here again.

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The Dread Mansion
The Path to the Devine Augmenter

“Oh Gods! They’re everywhere!” Darious as a horde of townsfolk enter the room (already filled with undead). Leaping from his seat and attempting to calm the people, Santos casts Turn Undead on the rotters around the table, however, even though the spell is launched successfully it has no effect on its targets.

The young Sigfried moves to a door at the back of the room, pausing to show the Saviors his hand. Pointing at his five out stretched fingers, he opens the door and the path beyond emits a blue glow before he steps through and closes behind. Almost all at once, the heroes make for the back of the room leaving Traavor and his companion to scurry under the table and join the group. As Santos attempts to open and follow the young version of their former ally, the little gnome lights up the table with a casting of Flame Strike, striking down a number of the not-so-undead with flames. In an uncharacteristic move, the cleric panics at the thought of being cornered between the locked door and the remaining attackers from the table, drops his mace to the floor forcing him to go into a fully defensive stance. At the sight of this Darious, always ready to lay his life on his line for his spiritual mentor (and anyone else truly in need), raises arms and fells another of the creatures.

Suddenly, the mansion and everything in it begins to grow fuzzy and begins to fade away as if it was never there. The Golden boys find themselves back outside to the patio outside the home’s main door. Fer is quickly seen surrounded by Shadows out in the grass and in need of help leaving no time to discuss what just happened. “Help me!” screams Fer from the ground.

“The Light shall send you back to whence you came!” rings from Santos as he calls from his god to dispatch and disperse the Shadows haunting the helpless Fer. From his palm, Jeric releases a Seeking Ray at the last remaining specter, pounding it squarely in the chest. “Finish him, Taran!” he yells.

Clicking his heels like a girl from Kansas, Taran enables his Boots of Speed and runs to the Shadow, unleashing his Kiai Smite attack, yet ultimately unable to finish the job as requested. Leaving himself open, the Shadow attempts to return the favor, however, the ronin-scout’s magical armor turns the attack away. Feeling this target is beyond its skill at the moment, turns on the small statured druid. With a single strike, the Shadow is able to sap nearly all of the strength from Traavor to the point he cannot even stand under his own power and the gnome falls to the ground as his limbs shrink as if the muscle (what little there was to begin with) underneath his skin was never.

The dark Cleric of the Light, finally steps forth and is able to banish the Shadow with Holy Light before anyone else can be harmed. After, helping Traavor remount Barker, Darious is able to repair most of the damage done to the little guy with a spell he learned fairly recently.

Fer, undaunted by what has just transgressed and detirmed to get to his son, Rooter, begs the Golden Saviors to enter the mansion (once again?).

The group, entering the main doors, notice the large room is the same as the one they just left, albeit, much more rundown and destroyed then when they were in it moments ago. They are also overtaken with a feeling of unease and a strong desire to not be here anymore (some more than others). The table in the center seems to be burnt, as is most of the rest of the interior. After some investigation and discussion about young Sigfried’s five finger meaning, Santos uses the power of his deity to divine the path needed to find the Divine Augmenter, thus leading the group room by room to five runes etched into the floor at the four corners of the dreaded place and a fifth in the middle hidden under the table. This task, however, is not easy as they some of the runes are protected by horrible and hideous beasts. Fortunately, the Saviors are able to destroy the creatures without much harm done to most of them and what damage is done, the cleric is able to heal once more with the aide of the Light.

All beasties removed and the ground level secured, the heroes split up to active the runes, each selecting and standing on their own. While everyone goes and finds his own, Darious and Traavor make their way to their respective in the rear of the floor. As Traavor steps on his, facing the cleric’s follower, he sees that a dark version of himself, with malice in its eyes, climbing up the back of Darious. Not wanting to see any harm come to his compatriot, Traavor strikes out at the doppelganger and casts Produce Flame to lash out at the thing. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a trick, an illusion, causing the gnome to do exactly what he was attempting to prevent by burning the neck of his friend instead. Apologizing and using his wand, the gnome explains himself and returns to his rune.

Once all are stationed on the runes they light and sound of gears begin to fill the chambers and the door once used by little Sigfried is opened to the Saviors. Inside the door, a little platform and stairs spiraling down into the darkness is found. The landing, however, is not empty and the spirit of the corpse lying there reveals itself. The spirit is that of Zan, the mansion’s butler in better times, pleads “Help me… Remove my body from this place…” Santos, not one to leave a soul asking for help behind, lifts the corpse of Zan and agrees to free him from this foul locale. Once again, still under the guidance of the Light and lugging Zan, Santos leads the way down the stairs to find the Divine Augmenter.

The bottom of the staircase opens to what appears to be a lab of sorts with papers and bottles scattered among a table in the center of the room and bookcases lining the walls. Taran bags a couple of the bottles as Traavor shoves some of the scrolls and spellbooks into his sack for later examination. The room seems to give the impression of a necromancer’s workspace and further chills fill the heroes’ spines as they continue to follow the path. From the dark, three grotesqueries crawl out to impede the Saviors once more. What appear to be boneless sacks of skin and muscle with no frame reach out to strike at the group. With everything that has happened up to this point, the heroes make fair work of the flesh bag things, striking at them with lightning, swords, and bunny magic with mostly just Barker taking the brunt of attack.

The dust settled and the skins put down by the shirts, with bunny screeching in the air, Taran and Fen go into a side room off the path to the Augmenter to look for Rooter. Quickly, they both dark back out asking for help. They heard him! As the group pile into the room, the boy’s voice can indeed be heard. From the back wall for the room, an outstretched arm and the face of Fer’s son emerge, reaching for his father. Without warning, the distressed father grabs his son’s hand before anyone can stop him. Santos attempts to stop Fer from being pulling into the wall as his grabs the man’s collar, but the wall’s arm is too strong and rips Fer into itself to forever unite him with his child once more.

Feeling defeated at the loss of Fer, the Golden Saviors have nothing more to do but to carry on with their own task and leave the father and son to the horrors of this places walls for all eterinity or at least until they are consumed.

Stay tuned for the Final Battle of the Dread Mansion.

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Grave Concerns
Home is Where the Horror Is

The group starts their fifth day headed to Oakdene setting camp in the wilderness on the boarder of Maccordia. A contemplative Taran takes care of the horses while Traavor plays his dog AS a dog. Watch is set and all hope they will get a reprieve from danger. Santos summons a celestial creature of great radiance to help protect them. Taran looks at the angelic creature with a new sense of wonder. The angel demands a heavy payment in exchange for her divinity. Negotiations continue between Santos and the angel…until no agreement can be reached and the angel takes her leave.

Santos casts a less potent spell to surround the camp with protection…to little effect it turns out. The group is awakened by the sounds of clanging, fighting and female voices. Vy and Alera, Jeric’s would-be assassin, engage each other as the others are bound by magic leaving them helpless on the ground. Taran and Santos have a bad feeling about this scenerio but cannot do anything or say anything in their current state. The assassin takes a blow from VY. In response, she reveals a spellcasting ability the Heroes had not yet seen in action, knocking Vy down. Traavor attempts to entangle Alera but she escapes the growing grass while some of the heroes are thwarted even further by his spell. Jeric, being one of the only warriors free, dimension hops behind Alera and grasps her. The Samurai breaks free of his hold and readies for battle but Alera produces a powerful dagger and pierces it deep into Jeric Worgrave’s leg. Green liquid drips off the edge of the knife as she twists it deeper into him causing the Duskblade immense pain. The Cleric dazes the assassin and the Samurai flies at her with full force. But Jeric, for some unknown reason to the group, flies away with Alera – escaping a surely deadly blow from Taran. “What are you DOING!!!” screams Jeric the moment before he takes to the air. Racing past him then suddenly stopping and turning back, Taran looks upwards towards the fleeing Jeric and exclaims, “What are YOU doing?!”

After the scuffle, Alera is subdued but snarky with the group. Taran holds her guard with his sword while Traavor keeps attempting to use the wand he discovered on the ground to no effect. VY remains unconscious. The Duskblade addresses Alera: “You may have had the best strike, but I won the battle.” Jeric escorts her off, bound by his chains. The exchange between the two of them is hard to dicipher from the others in the distance, but it is clearly heartfelt. After Jeric releases her and she vanishes before their eyes, Jeric takes a solemn knee.

Vy is revealed to be victim of a doppelganger who has purported himself as Berek along with many others along our Heroes’ adventures. The villain serves a dark lord, exclaiming the Gods are leaving this world and soon all the world will be doomed. Enraged at the treachery, Santos and Traavor deliver strikes of lightening until the wretched creature is obliterated.

The group somehow manages a restful night and wakes with a reflective tone about them. Santos casts remove fatigue on Darious and Taran who kept watch over the night.

DAY 6:

Taran and Santos press Jeric with questions about the red-headed assassin, her connection to Talarra and the news she shared with him. Jeric reluctantly spills his guts, revealing that Talarra has taken his mother for his own and keeps Jeric’s sister as a slave. Taran and Jeric agree Talarra will have his day. Even the Lightbearer states, " Sooner than later will be best." The group realigns their travel plans for destinations after their time in Oakdene in which they hope to gain access of the true Divine Augmenter.

Towards the middle of day six they encounter a walled path as a hooded figure approaches them. After healing him and offering him gold, he demands their credit wands and summons a group of undead ogres. #Great

Darious charges forward on his horse, toppling the assumed necromancer, Ferris. Santos immediately sends shattering light into the ogres and two of them instantly explode in a green gooey mess. Traavor, in his Rhino form, encases the bandit leader in stone. The Ogres retaliate by wailing on Jeric and throwing boulders at Santos. One of them topples over the cliff and lands face down while the remaining three encircle the Heroes.

Santos fires off a spell from the Light that harms them all, leaving one of the undead ogres in a pile of ash. The Heroes all join in and start to hack the remaining ogres to bits as they flee in terror. They are quickly hunted down and dispatched.

Crossing the border of Maccordia into Traindur, they find a small provincial town harboring a modest Church of Light and a bank. The Heroes make a deal at the bank (utilizing some heavy convincing) for a favorable exchange on their credit:gold ratio. Afterwards, they are promptly turned away from the church as Santos’ reputation has quickly spread. They set up a small camp and Day 7 actually goes off without a hitch (for once)

DAY 8:

Traveling through a thick forest path, they make their way to a Hill Giant guarding a bridge between a giant chasm and the Golden Saviors. Of course he wasn’t just a hill giant guarding a bridge they needed to cross, but rather a Hill Giant Were-Boar. Jeric’s attempt to cast a spell was vanquished. The Samurai, in a regal charge that was both riveting AND ferocious, landed devastating blows only to be completely mauled by the gruesome under-estimated creature. Santos and his Light begin to dismantle the beast but not before more violence comes their way. Darious cuts into the beast after joining the fray but this giant has healing powers that prove to be fearsome. They continue to try different tactics to take this awful thing down but it transforms into a full were-boar and charges down Santos. The Cleric is knocked over as Traavor stumbles his charge and, in an actual cliffhanger, Santos delivers a fatal blow to the beast slaying him on the bridge. Collecting some treasures from the werething and healing everyone with Santos’ Light, the group sets forth for…

DAY 9:

A crossroads forces the adventuring party towards a path through caves because giants have ruined the other way. Bad idea because Santos or his horse are never quiet (#RolledaOne) causing some crazy-lizard Behir creatures to come flying and screeching down from the rooftops of the cave. OH and then another one comes from the cave in front of them. This is a creature closely related to blue dragons and is not to be trifled with.

Facing this thing and another on the way, Santos and Traavor unleash fire at the beast. They scorch it while Jeric tries to add to the carnage by wrapping his chain around the beast. This first Behir is looking worse for the wear but it unleashes a bolt of lightening at the Samurai sitting on his horse. It rips through him but the magical armor absorbs most of the hit and the beasts retreat in fear.

OOOPS. Taran almost figured it out but got scorched while scouting. He discovered one in the cave up the hill to the front of them and, unfortunately, one hovering above the cave in which the Heroes were currently standing. Santos, with his power of the Light, heals Taran once again and they start devising a new plan to attack these unwanted dragon-like creatures.

Of course, the Behirs were still hanging outside of the cave waiting for them. When Santos channels his Light he kills one beast only to have it collapse on him and his mount. The other carries Darious into the air and Traavor grapples him. The beast clamors away in fear. The Heroes plow through the rest of the caverns and find themselves in the modest town of Eden. An odd, and well-armed town. #Bizarre

DAY 10:

Early AM. The Heroes saunter into town and are first dismissed by the townsfolk and then really dismissed when the black cleric asks for help. Luckily, they are pointed towards the inn and make their way there. The innkeeper seems wary of them but lets them in on a known secret: Oakdene is a death wish. He comments, “Before you go, Stock up if you can and if you dare.” The innkeeper also suggests Fer Arenmer as an option for help before they depart…

After getting ripped off at the potion store, the band of adventurers go into the general store. After Taran intimidates the small, feeble clerk they quickly retreat into the town square to be confronted by the local guards…again. They then retreat back to the inn. They find Fer, sober him up and pay his horrendous bar tab. Taran also buys him a horse. Ralen Mayswire appears from Valencia and tries to strike a bargain with the Heroes in their attempt to retrieve the Divine Augmenter. Obviously, this offer is refused and they set off to Oakdene with Fer. Before departing, Ralen warns the Heroes that they have made a terrible mistake in denying his request.

At the arrival of the crossing of the feared Oakdene, the horses are boarded at a place where they will be safe. The Heroes slowly make their way into this seemingly dead and abandoned town. The dead aimlessly walk the streets and the stench is potent but Fer helps guide them about…

Approaching a huge manor, Fer leads them to the steps and pleads they find his son while he stands guard. The group slowly makes their way forward into a certain-to-be-perilous situation. Oddly, they are granted access by a very live butler. The scene is a glamorous dinner party in honor of a young Sigfried (and perhaps his father). Dodging a clever rouse, the warriors opt to not eat their soup which turns out to be deadly for the dinner guests. The manor is suddenly set upon by angry townsfolk while the seemingly dead dinner patrons rise to engage them. Caught in between both sides are the Golden Saviors. It is a very grave situation for them all…

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The Long and Winding Road
Goodbye Wyldshire, Hello World

A commotion inside the Temple sends people scrambling every which way. The Heroes, AKA the newly-appointed Emissaries of Wyldshire, all make their way towards the epicenter. There, all eyes are focused on the dwarf, Vy, who is on her knees cradling another dwarf with Santos standing over them. There are whispers of shock and awe, but before those new to the scene determine exactly what is going on the crowd starts to pave way for Ruger and an entourage of Templars.

The dwarf laying on the ground is named Norin – he is Vy’s brother. As he begins to weakly stand, he whispers he must speak with Santos and Vy, gesturing for them to follow. Maulik, noticing Ruger approaching in the distance, reaches out and takes a hold of Santos’ arm to alert him of Ruger’s presence.

Santos barely has time to notice Ruger when an escort of Templars surround him. Norin, ignoring what is happening, continues to walk away until Ruger commands him to stop. Santos attempts to speak – explaining how he healed this man – when he is cut off by Ruger. “Blasphemer!” shouts the Archbishop. The Templars begin to move closer to Santos, but Ruger commands, “Let them be for now.” Meeting Santos’ gaze, Ruger continues, “The power to resurrect has not been granted by the Light.” Maulik steps in front of Santos and exclaims, “I was there, I felt the Light’s presence. This man was gone.” Ruger gestures for Santos to approach and explain himself; which he does by stating the facts as he saw them. Ruger refuses to even process the explanation and immediately excommunicates him; angrily ordering him to fulfill his quest. “Show that you are still one of the faithful,” he challenges. With murmurs erupting all around, Santos simply replies, “Light be with you.”

Unwelcome in the Church, the group begins making preparations to leave. Norin asks Santos about what happened. The Cleric admits he did indeed raise him from the dead. Since the Church is not a place to talk freely anymore the Heroes gather and head to the Overlook Inn.

The group reconvenes in Jeric’s room, as it’s decided that’s the best room in which to watch Jeric get assassinated. There they begin to finally hear Norin’s story. “Furnok lives!” exclaims the dwarf. Norin excitedly continues to spill what he was dying (and died) to tell: that Darmordir is in flux. Furnok’s brother has done a poor job of keeping the kingdom in order and it’s in a constant state of war since the Mage Rebellion. Norin continues, stating he had a spiritual awakening and the Gods are leaving. Norin picks up on a shared look between Santos and Jeric, pointing a finger in their direction. “You know!” he says. They both nod at him to continue. “Furnok needs help to ascend to Godhood. I assume you know of the Prophecy too?” Again, Jeric and Santos react by nodding. Norin explains, “You, Lightbearer – you’re the Beacon! The other who was with you – the Ranger – is the Avatar!”

Norin then states the purple-robed cultists, officially known as the Cult of Adramelech, are purposefully going out of their way to find the “Champions” slated to replace the Gods. More worrisome is the fact that the cultists are wide-spread throughout the world. Norin calls the Champions the “Chosen of the Essence.” When the cultists and their demon lords are brought up, Santos mentions he and Traavor researched a name Traavor overheard some sinister individuals use in the sewers below the city. The name was Seiradal, a known succubus consort to Adramelech himself. It’s agreed by all she should be avoided right now.

Norin further stresses that these “Chosen of the Essence” need to be protected at all costs. With that, he produces a flyer – an advertisement for arena combat. The arena is in a desert city of the Plainslands called Oasis. The flyer depicts an unkempt and wild-looking dwarf in various battle poses. Norin’s eyes light up as he says, “Furnok is here. It’s him. I know it in my heart.” When everyone glances from the flyer back to Norin he clears his throat, “He has no memory. He doesn’t know who he is. I believe if we get him his shield, the Shield of Darmordir, it will return his memory. And from there put him on the path to Ascension.” Norin tells the group the shield is located in the ancient, cursed dwarven stronghold of Glamgish. None who have tried to retrieve it have returned.

This prompts a discussion with which the group is all-too familiar: what to do next. During the course of the discussion, Santos reveals a letter he received from the Heroes’ old, traitorous “friend” Alexander. The letter scrawls a dire warning: “In the ziggurat, we were seen by His eye. We’re marked now, all of us. He’s coming while They’re leaving. He’s everywhere.” It begs the group to come to Magehelm before “they do.”

So: Oasis, Magehelm, Glamgish …Oakdeen? The Cleric wants to go to Oakdeen. It’s assumed Ralg can be found there and with him, the real Divine Augmenter he stole a month ago. Santos insists that securing this artifact and keeping it out of the hands of the Cult of Adramelech should be the top priority. Since Santos is black and likely has gang-ties nobody disagrees with him. Norin decides to head to Oasis to scout ahead and confirm that it’s really Furnok. He plans to keep an eye on him until the Heroes eventually arrive.

Preparations are made, shopping gets done, mins are maxed and the group procures horses to set off from Wyldshire. As they approach the city gates, someone notices a flyer on one of the city walls. On it is scrawled the phrase We Need A Man Like Worgrave. Once the flyer is noticed, all eyes turn to Jeric who only shrugs and smirks to himself.

Events of note on their travels to Oakdeen are:

A victorious defeat of three huge air elementals. Although Taran dies in this battle he is raised from the dead by Santos; again displaying the amazing feat that led to the Cleric’s banishment from the Church. The experience seems to have a deep effect on the Samurai.

The group gains an advantage against a herd of Gorgons thanks to Traavor’s clever use of earth bending. He forces them all to trip over a conjured wall which leads to an easier than expected victory.

The group displays an act of kindness by feeding and providing water for some elephants in desperate need.

In another very tough battle the Heroes felled three chimera.

And the last battle during this portion of the journey was against a group of elder earth elementals. They tried to take the group by surprise; attacking them as they got in close to investigate the presence of magic detected in two broken-down, decrepit caravans. The elementals were defeated and magic loot was obtained. A second attack by usually passive elementals makes the group wonder further about the changes in the land reported throughout Majeria of late.

Battle-weary but determined, the Heroes continue on the mission to get their shit back. A journey to Oakdeen that’s not even halfway over.

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Raxis' Rage
The Dragon Onslaught of Wyldshire

The battle continues! Taran draws his bow, and, fearing change, decides to miss twice. Jeric knows that if he can just free Crolin Orcslayer, the battle will be won. He attempts, in his vomit induced state, to take his cloak and knock over the orb that has Crolin entranced. *Squeak Squeak*

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Though, upon touching the orb he is also thrown into a trance. Taran screams at the Duskblade to be more useful, missing the irony of situation. Sigfried decides to do some good and immediately crosses to one of the dretches and cuts through him like butter, practically in a cloud of smoke, seemingly banishing him from the plane. The Demon crashes his fists into the ground, crying out in a fearsome croak, as if summoning the Abyss to rise from the floor. The blast instantly breaks apart the room into a swirl a lava creating a portal to the Abyss from where the Demon hails. The Heroes within the blast are suddenly weakened and Darious and Travaar are paralyzed. It is not looking good for our Heroes. *Squeak Squeak*

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So…in the swirling vortex of lava…sucking the heroes down in the endless pit of destruction and hell fire, they are on platforms of the broken room literally surfing the fire. Everyone’s new favorite action sport. The dretches start attacking the Heroes, unable to be very effective against even those that are dazed. In fact, one even falls down in front of Santos. Travaar’s dog jumps up to attack the Demon, but is overcome by its horrendous smell and vomits, then proceeding to eat it. Taran is much more effective in this fiery underworld and dispatches his dretch. Santos stumbles to the Demon and, casting a crown of holy flame around him, calls out the Demon to strike him. Barker Louis whimpers back to Travaar. Taran leaps across the field of lava to aid Jeric by destroying the dretch around him, turning it into black goo. The Ranger begins to hack at the dretches around him with Redemption and his short blade, covering Santos’ back while he engages the Demon.

The Demon attempts to slow down Santos, but his connection to the Light and sheer will power allow him to not die from the face-shot of energy. The last dretch begins to attack Darious and chews on his neck, slowly killing the newly-knighted Templar. Jeric, meanwhile, is having a battle of the mind and seems to be winning as Crolin Orcslayer comes out of his stupor! Santos, knowing that his friends will be in certain danger while paralyzed, casts dispel magic on Travaar and Darious freeing them. Back on his feet, Darious jumps up onto the platform above to avoid complete annihilation. Taran helps Jeric as he tries to get the chains off of Crolin. Rhino Travaar gets up onto the platform above and gores the Demon near to death. But it is not enough! The Heroes realize they have made a horrible tactical decision and suddenly know they are going to swirl down into the inferno that shall be their grave.

The Demon, nearly gored to death, decides he must escape… but not without a captive. He grabs Sigfried and teleports away. Suddenly, there is a flash of light. Before the Heroes can count their numbers, they are back into the room in which they originally started. Crolin breaks free of his chains and Ruger is lowered to the ground. Taran rushes over and takes the Archbishop in his arms, not really in a great way, as Crolin also rushes over to Rugers aid. Before the Heroes can congratulate themselves on the epic victory, there is a shuddering of the earth.

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The dragons have come…*Squeak Squeak*

The heroes run outside and see the carnage that has already begun. Everyone is immediately terrified of the hundreds of dragons laying waste to the city. Only Santos, Crolin and Ruger are able to hold onto their composure. The giant red dragon, Raxis is perched now on the Dome of Heaven, incinerating the once-pristine look of Wyldshire. Before the Heroes can do anything, Crolin is pinned by a large black dragon. The black dragon growls at Crolin, “You’ll not ruin this for Lord Raxis.” Crolin tells the Heroes to stop Raxis with the orb that once held the Guardian hostage.

Before the Heroes can put a plan into action, a seemingly berserker female dwarf charges out of the chaos and does a running leap-jump with a giant war axe, burying it into the back of the dragon. Before the dragon can acidify the mad dwarf, Crolin jumps on it to keep her from an untimely end. Also, Santos is black. The dwarf introduces herself as Santos casts air walk on Jeric so he can get up to Raxis without the danger of falling. Travaar transforms into a dire bat to help Jeric get up the side of the Dome even faster. The others look on and see that, believe it or not, Jeric is walking on air. While they are watching, the heroes are attacked by a green dragon.

Santos takes the time to recite from the book of the Light and all members of the party feel emboldened. The dwarf, feeling particularly empowered, charges the dragon as only a mad warrior could and buries her war axe into the monster. Taran takes the time to drink his potion of bull strength, getting ready to fight a fucking dragon. Barker Louis charges into battle while Bat Travaar flies upwards! The green dragon unleashes his acid breath on all of the Heroes, scalding them. Jeric looks down at his companions and, not wanting to miss out on any dragon-slaying, rains down fire from his bat jet. Taran charges up his most mighty charge of the Spartan Samurai (to which he apparently now belongs) and leaps to slay the dragon. It almost seems like Taran is going to miss, but some magical energy, something that smells like wet dog, boosts Taran and he strikes the dragon with such force that he regains a small amount of honor. Santos deals searing holy damage to the green dragon, while Darious sadly loses his weapon.

Not to be outdone by shitty situations happening to them, a blue dragon is diving full tilt at Jeric and Bat Travaar. Seeing it approaching Jeric unleashes a bolt of fire into the blue dragons wing. The green dragon, unable to breath his acid breath again, begins to swipe wildly at all of the Heroes. Hitting them all, the dragon does a good amount of damage. Bat Travaar tosses Jeric away to try and split off thus forcing the blue dragon to choose who to kill first. Just before Jeric has to make a tough decision, a floater comes by and picks up the Duskblade. In the floater is Cesa Alera pointing a crossbow at his face and making it very clear they’re “even” now. The floater begins to fly towards Raxis.

Bat Travaar rains down lighting from above, dealing serious damage while the new dwarven lady warrior swings her axe and lets it hit the ground, quickly picking it up. Taran, displaying a moment of extreme viciousness, slices the dragon’s head off. He then gives his try at a new catch phrase, letting the group know “Lunch is served”.

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The Blue dragon unleashes a terrifying string of lightening.

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Instantly killing Santos and Darious.

No serious. They just die. Archbishop Ruger suddenly snaps into action and heals the party, bringing Darious and Santos back from the brink of death. The blue dragon still tears towards the Heroes who realize they have been saved only to die again. That is until Lord Raxis, the very villain who was just destroying thousands of lives, reaches down and snatches the blue dragon, ripping it to pieces, thus saving the Heroes. *Squeak Squeak* The orb seems to have entranced Lord Raxis who is now under the control of an unseen power.

Jeric and Cesa bid their not-so-fond farewells and Jeric rejoins the party. Crolin returns letting the Heroes know soon Raxis won’t be a problem as the Gold and Amethyst Dragons appear, deciding to put an end to all of this chaos. They command Jeric to release Raxis. Jeric does so, but Raxis instantly dives at the Heroes. As he does, the Gold Dragon orders Raxis stop the violence. The dragons then accuse the Heroes of using ancient violent weapons (the orb) against them. Madolyne Elias arrives and informs everyone Eleak Dragonsbane was responsible for the orb. She also confirms his access to the sphere of annihilation, Oracle and summoning chamber. These revelations lead those present to believe Dragonsbane was responsible for the kidnapping and the demon spawn.

Raxis vows to always remember the crimes against him, cursing everyone – but especially Jeric who wished he had said his name was Sigfried. Ah missed opportunities. The dragons take their leave, letting the onlookers know the dragons have returned to Majeria. The Heroes walk to Peacekeeper Headquarters with Crolin. He pays Jeric and the other Heroes a very kind respect, hailing them as true heroes. Jeric asks Crolin about Furnok, unfortunately Crolin has no information on that. The Heroes tell their stories to the Peacekeepers and then retire to the Temple of Light. There they meet Maulik, who the Heroes learn is cousins with Vy, the female dwarven warrior who crashed the dragon-slaying party.

The Heroes wake the next morning and, sitting around a table, talk about the untimely fate of Sigfried and the possibility of his being teleported to the Nine Hells. The morning’s feast is well-deserved.

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The Heroes are treated to a ceremony later that day as thanks for recovering Ruger and Orcslayer. There they are awarded the titles of Emissaries of Wyldshire, an honor not bestowed on anyone since the Heroes of Crossroad City. The Heroes learn at this time that Vy is a lesbian dwarf…so that’s nice. The Heroes are honored with many gifts. For Jeric, a ring of wizardry. For Santos, a vibrant purple ioun stone. For Taran, boots of haste. For Travaar, a very nice set of wild armor. For Darious, a scabbard of keen edges. For Vy, a restorative ointment.

The Heroes are then alerted the Peacekeepers have gone on strike. Their protest is in reaction to the loss of their brethren during the dragonstrike. They wish to send a stern message regarding the tensions between the arcanists and clerics. Before the procession can leave, Taran stops Ruger to ask for him to remove the geas cast upon him which Ruger does without question. As the Heroes walk through Wyldshire they are congratulated by the throngs of people willing to come out of their houses. They have averted the unimaginable onslaught of dragon fire. However now they must face a task that, although is not as destructive as the breath of a dragon, is all the more potent, complex, and deadly; keeping a city from turning on itself.

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Destiny
Darkness at the End of the Tunnel

An awfully tough battle in the common room of the inn concludes with the one remaining ogre disappearing from the fight and making his escape. In the bloody aftermath, the bar is on fire and Sigfried and Jeric both waver as in a trance. Santos comes over to steady the Ranger while Taran lightly shakes Jeric asking him if he’s okay, snapping him out of it. Jeric answers that he was having a vision where he was speaking with his dead father, but that it’s not important right now. Sigfried, sweating profusely, is not at all forthcoming about his trance.

Traavor uses a spell to end further threat of the fire while Taran pays restitution to a pretty pissed off innkeeper. As the heroes make for the exit, Ferim enters the inn. He knows where Sebastian Falconcrest is! Ferim explains that he’s been spotted at a warehouse near the floater factory. Falconcrest’s dealing with a shipment of goods and he only has two of his men with him. It seems a better chance to meet Falconcrest and get answers on their own terms there will not be.

Santos does his best to heal the group’s wounds as they make haste for the seedier parts of the city. After a long discussion about the best way to approach the warehouse, the group decides to climb to the roof of the adjacent building to get a better look. Looking across the way, Sigfried can clearly see that surrounded by many large boxes is a tall elf matching Falconcrest’s description. He’s in a heated discussion with two humans.

While the party is still debating how to get the drop on Falconcrest, it is Traavor that comes up with the best idea. The gnome casts wood shape. Everyone watches as the wood from the roof becomes malleable and magically extends across to the top of the other building, creating an impressive bridge.
A light rain turns into a heavy thunderstorm as the party makes their way across to the warehouse.

Sigfried finds a window that will make the perfect entry point as it provides cover from the boxes in front of it. There is no way to open the window from the outside, however, so Jeric dimension hops and opens it from the inside. Using the cover of the boxes along with the sounds of the rain and thunder, the party is able to climb inside. That is, except for Santos and Darious who are too cumbersome to quietly fit through. Santos volunteers to stay behind and keep lookout. Jeric, realizing the importance of having him with them for this crucial meeting, surprises the Cleric by wordlessly reaching through the window and teleporting him inside.

Inside and behind cover, the Heroes plan to use the element of surprise to take out the two humans and confront Falconcrest at the opposite end of the warehouse. A kind of scratching noise can be heard coming from the boxes but the group takes little notice of it during their battle preparation. The Druid wild shapes into a large brown bear while the Cleric summons three black bears and holds them at the ready. Finally it’s time, (“Release the bears!”) and all four bears charge to the other end of the warehouse. But…

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“Took you long enough,” says Falconcrest with a wry smile as the bears approach. The two human guards grow and transform into towering werewolves. The boxes scattered throughout the warehouse magically disappear revealing almost thirty armed henchmen.

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The bears stop in their tracks and Sebastian calls for the rest of the party to join him in a “civil” discussion.

Sebastian starts things off by inviting Gyliam to come out of the shadows. Revealed now as a traitor, the Darkbringer comes face-to-face with Sigfried and says, “You do not deserve the sword.” Gyliam extends his hands to accept Redemption from him. Without breaking eye contact, with a face as stone, the Ranger unsheathes the blade from his back to hand it over…and with one lightning-quick movement cuts Gyliam in half from shoulder to waist. Sigfried re-sheathes his sword as the Darkbringer crumples to the ground in pieces. Falconcrest simply raises an eyebrow at this and says, “Now, let’s get down to business.”

The Underworld Gentleman requests a later-to-be-named favor which will serve to wipe the slate clean for the Heroes killing his men in the streets. He indicates this favor will oppose the Valencian Council of Elders. The party agrees to Falconcrest’s terms. Thunder rolls in the background as Santos shakes the Crime Lord’s hand, sealing the deal.

Falconcrest tells the group the search for Ruger should start with a woman named Madolyne Elias, a wizard whose company Ruger favors. He states getting an audience with her in the Dome of Heavens at this time of night would be seemingly impossible, however the sentry on duty safeguarding access to her has a weakness for spirits. Falconcrest also mentions some answers can be found by seeking out Head Peacekeeper Garret Barnes. He flips Jeric a key and says it will open the door to the Peacekeeper armory. The heroes humbly retreat from the warehouse and make their way to the Dome of Heavens.

An exquisite bottle of spirits and 700 gold pieces later, the Heroes meet with Madolyn Elias in her chambers. A gracefully aged and seemingly genuine woman, she welcomes them and indulges the group’s questions about Ruger. Although she won’t say how it came into her possession, she hands over a letter (supposedly) from Eleak Dragonsbane. It seems authentic as it includes his official seal. The letter, inferred to be about Ruger, reads, “I must remove the thorn in my side. We must act quickly. Meet me at Brewington’s on the full moon.” She then shares her own theory that Ruger and Orcslayer are in the catacombs below the Dome of Heavens, a little known area accessible only to the Lord Senator. (Something else happens here but the Scribe botches his spot check and has no idea what he is supposed to type.) The meeting comes to an uncomfortable conclusion when the Ranger asks about an injury on Elias’ arm, offending her.

The group heads to Brewington’s via the Essence Rail. Upon exiting, a challenge rings out in the air. The dwarven samurai, backed by his entourage, has returned and he won’t leave until either he or Taran is dead. Taran obliges and the duel begins. Whether it’s because he’s in a rush or because it’s a battle of Samurai honor, Taran is simply masterful. After the first few precise and powerful strikes, it’s obvious the dwarf is embarrassingly outmatched. Taran gets the dwarf on his knees, a katana up against each side of his neck and offers to provide an honorable death. Pleas for mercy from the other samurai and (even some of Taran’s own companions) are about to fall on deaf ears until Santos steps forward and wills Taran to stand down. The Cleric heals the dwarf before he bleeds to death. The dwarf slowly rises to his feet, he takes two wobbly steps towards Taran and slumps to his knees again. There, he draws his katana and offers it up to the victor. Taran accepts the blade effectively ending the duel.

They continue on and arrive at Brewington’s, an old and run down potion shop. Walking through the door, there is an appalling smell of death. Upon a search of the shop the Ranger and Druid find a hidden door from where the horrid smell is emanating. The group enters the hidden room and it’s like walking into a nightmare. The walls are caked with gore and bloody pentagrams. There is a charred body of a small child on an altar in the corner of the room. It’s pretty obvious what gruesome act has taken place and the overturned furniture suggests that someone left in a hurry. Jeric picks up a purple cultist robe like the others they’ve seen and Traavor finds a broken Peacekeeper staff.

Sigfried abruptly pauses in his search. He states he feels a presence “between the planes” and in the very next moment a loud cry of “Mommy” spooks everyone. Moving quickly, Santos consecrates the altar and the Druid uses a spell to start purging the symbols from the walls; working to cleanse the room of its evil aura. “Mommy” again echoes throughout the room, seemingly to come from everywhere, and then a ghost of a young boy appears. The ghost himself doesn’t seem evil or threatening. He says his name is Kaiden Wyvenshire and he is looking for his mother. The heroes wrap up the body to take it away from the horrid room making a promise to the ghost to find his mother. The last items picked up on their way out is a parchment with strange runes along with another parchment with a list of names. All of them are crossed off including Ruger and Orclsayer. Madolyn Elias is the lone remaining name on it that is not crossed off.

The group makes their way through a crowd of distressed citizens to find Garret Barnes at the headquarters of the Peacekeepers. He solemnly accepts the body however he won’t share info on how to find the mother – he states it’s a Peacekeeper matter. Barnes also confirms Ruger did meet with Madelyn Elias often. The exchange of information continues as the Heroes hand over the broken Peacekeeper staff found at Brewington’s. They get a look at the official Crime Scene Report. They read in the report that Ruger and Crolin were last seen outside Evocations Cafe in one of the more affluent parts of the city. Detective Praetor (relative of the famous Vynss Praetor) discerned powerful conjuration magic was used just prior to their disappearance in that area. Jeric tells the group that teleport spells would fall under conjuration magic.

Running out of options, the Heroes think they may finally get some answers down in the catacombs below the Dome of Heavens. Peacekeeper uniforms might prove helpful at some point so the Ranger leaves the rest of the group in a bathroom while he stealthily (and successfully) procures uniforms from the armory.

Walking along the exterior of the Dome of Heavens, the Heroes scout for…something. In a mostly deserted area, the group finds a sole Peacekeeper seemingly guarding nothing. Thinking that there might be something worthwhile here, the Heroes move out of sight and huddle up. Reviewing their inventory, Jeric discovers the symbols on the parchment found at Brewington’s look like entrance runes that would be used for a magical door. The decision is made they will approach the guard with Dragonbane’s letter, the parchment of runes and the Divine Augmentor and …and that didn’t work. Huddling up again, plan B is for someone to dress as a Peacekeeper and try to relieve the guard of his post. The rest of the group hides and watches “Peacekeeper” Sigfried (hah!) approach and converse with the guard. One tense minute of conversation later and the guard leaves.

When the rest of the party joins Sigfried on the scene they find runes on the wall of the Dome. Guided by the parchment, they are able to activate the runes in the correct sequence, opening a hidden door. Now in a hallway, the group makes their way carefully and quietly to the three doors at the other end. After listening and checking the doors for traps they enter the right door first and step into a room. The room is filled with runes and in the center sits a young boy bald and with a blue arrow on his head who is imprisoned in what looks like a giant gem. When questioned, he says simply he is the Avatar “Oracle” and that the wizards brought him here long ago. The imprisoned boy offers the party a choice: he can grant an answer to any question the party could possibly ask or they can free him. There was never any debate. The boy explains the group just needs to have a man pure of heart strike the cage. Moments later, Santos wordlessly steps forward and takes a wide swing with his mace, shattering the crystal cage. The boy looks up and whispers a thank you as his physical form fades. Without much time to ponder any of this, the group exits the room.

The sounds of machinery can be heard in the distance beyond the left door and this is the room they enter next. In the middle of the room is a small, floating black orb. It emanates immense power. The Cleric says the item is a Sphere of Annihilation. After describing what it does, the group decides to leave this powerful, but unusable, item alone and exits the room.

The group enters the last remaining door where they see Ruger and Crolin Orcslayer in the back corners of the room. Ruger appears trapped inanimately in dark energy prison. Crolin, chained to a pillar by his neck, seems held in the thrall of an ornate globe set at his feet. Finally, the means to save Wyldshire, right in front of them! That… and a massive hulking demon!

Santos is the first to approach the creature. He is assaulted by black miasma forced down his throat, taking heavy damage. Sigfried steps past the Cleric (“Out of the way, faggot.”) wielding Redemption and connects with an ultimate strike, seriously hurting the demon. Jeric moves in to attempt to flank the creature but his stomach betrays him and he has to move away. The room fills with magic as Traavor casts call lighting to no effect while Santos casts holy storm. Jeric, too sick to wield his weapon or cast spells, slowly makes his way towards Crolin Orcslayer. The demon teleports out of the storm and summons six smaller demons to the fray. Taran tightens his grip on his swords and…

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Countdown to Destruction
Impending Fiery Dragon Death

The trio of ancient dragons leave the city of Wyldshire in a destruction fashion. The Heroes quickly put their heads together to figure out a plan of action to retrieve Crolin Orcslayer, demanded by said dragons, and in turn, find the whereabouts of Archbishop Ruger. Just as the Heroes decide their best efforts will be served at the Temple of Light, Jeric’s medallion begins to react wildly and pull upward. In the same moment, an arrow of magical qualities nearly strikes Jeric. The Heroes look up to see a shock of red hair blowing in the wind on top of a high building: Cesa Alera, the assassin from Valencia here to finish the job.

The Heroes immediately give chase. They quickly find themselves in crowded streets and must dismount their horses. Santos takes charge of the mounts while the rest of the Heroes attempt to close the gap. They use all of their specific abilities to keep the chase close. Traavor rides Dioge and keeps on top of Alera, able to navigate through peoples’ legs. Jeric uses his expeditious retreat and flying to close the gap although it attracts the attention of many Peacekeepers. Darious is unable to keep up in his heavy armor and begins to tire from the long journey. Sigfried climbs to higher ground, able to keep an eye on Cesa with both his own eyes and his hawk Talonious Monk. Taran, having been to Wyldshire before, thinks he knows of a shortcut and takes that route (unfortunately not as certain as he had hoped).

Talonious Monk is able to hinder the red-headed assassin allowing Jeric to close the gap even further. Santos and Sigfried, an unlikely team, begin to heal the people that have been damaged and slain in the streets due to the chase. Traavor and Dioge close in and tackle the assassin but she is able to fend off the dog. This distracts her long enough to allow Jeric to cast a damaging bout of electricity, scorching the red haired woman. Just as he does though, those near Alera hear a odd voice.

Meanwhile, Taran is unable to help who a man who may be drowning in a river of Essence; he MUST keep chase. The man was knocked off a bridge by the fleeing assassin. The cries for help go unheeded by the Samurai as he focuses on his quarry.

The odd voice that Jeric and Traavor hear belongs to a Lizardman who seems to be in charge of a gang of thugs which includes a Minotaur. He insists that Jeric and Traavor leave the would-be assassin alone, saying “they’ll take it from here.” It seems like they mean her harm. The gang proceeds to beat the woman for stealing the Lizardman’s floater, and the Minotaur starts to take her away. Jeric goes invisible and, while the Lizard man threatens Traavor, Jeric lays in wait. It seems the gang intends to rape the woman before killing her. Jeric decides he can’t let that atrocity happen (he only intended to kill her…without the rape) and begins to move to try and help. Despite the magic of invisibility and the loud sounds of the city, Jeric manages to step on a perfectly placed piece of trash, alerting the gang members and now in plain sight. In legends of the event told later, the stories would say that the trash looked like the visage of a Samurai. Some said it was a takeout box that ruined the Duskblade’s chances. Regardless of the happenstance, everyone believed that day that through mystery and magic a Ronin had somehow thwarted Jeric’s ability to stay invisible (For the second time of the day, Corn cursed Al to roll a one….asshole. And therefore was subjected to order the sandwiches).

Battle quickly ensues. Traavor uses his mount, Dioge, as cover as the gang members begin to try and hit the diminutive gnome (yes that’s redundant). Jeric chances an attack of opportunity in order to dimension hop the large Minotaur on top of his Lizardman boss. Both non-humans fall to the ground in pain while Cesa Alera begins to crawl away trying to avoid the large number of attackers she has accumulated. Dioge latches onto a gang member while Jeric attacks the prone gang leader and his muscle, all the while making sure Alera knows who spared her…THIS time. Jeric, Traavor and Dioge do their best to defeat the gang and seem to be evenly matched. Things begin to not go so well for Traavor. That is until Jeric levels the playing field by wrapping the Minotaur with his spiked chain and electrocuting him. The Minotaur returns the favor and begins to dig into Jeric’s flesh with his battle axe. Inspired, a bear-transformed Traavor mauls one of the gangsters attacking him. Dioge tries to follow suit to no avail.

Taran finally arrives on the scene. After observing the scuffle, he swipes at one of the gang members next to Bear Traacor, cleaving him in two. He quikcly brings his blade around into another unlucky thug. The Lizardman, gaining his footing, begins to move away from the battle. Darious also arrives on the scene as the remaining thug begins to escape with the Lizardman and the Minotaur. The Heroes, now with better numbers, are able to finish off the last thug thanks to Darious’ arrows and Taran’s beheading. The Minotaur and Lizardman continue their escape. Just as the heroes are about to round the corner, a floater jets out at an alarming rate with Cesa Alera behind the helm, nearly running down the Heroes. She apparently already hit the Minotaur and Lizardman. The two humanoids seem to be done with the fight, but that does not satisfy some of the more bloodthirsty members of the group. They thusly stab the Minotaur as he carries his Lizardman boss to safety. Sigfried and Taran repeatedly slash at the man-beast. Just before the Minotaur can make any movement, lightening courtesy of Traavor strikes the Minotaur. The rest of the party begin to close in on the him.

Santos has the horses…and heals some people.

The Minotaur, realizing that he is severely outmatched, simply covers his boss and tries to convince the Heroes to no longer harm them. Sigfried has decided he has had enough and begins to turn away making ugly faces at onlookers. Taran wants answers from the Minotaur who decides he would rather choose death than being a snitch. Taran happily appeases him. Jeric finds a tracker on the Lizardman’s body that would allow him to discern the location of the floater that Cesa Alera stole. Jeric needs more answers however, and continues to ask onlookers. The fearful city dwellers do not want to help them and Sigfried suggests cutting off fingers to gain some information. Jeric and Sigfried go to take the Lizardman’s body, but then decide he’s too fat and kill him anyway. Onlookers once again are horrified at the acts being performed by the “Golden Saviors.”

The “Heroes” decide they will continue to the Temple of Light and head directly to the Main Cathedral. Santos gives them all a guilt trip (of course) that does little to change anyone’s opinions because he wasn’t there anyway. Upon entering the Main Cathedral the Heroes find the floor of the Temple is cracked in certain parts. From the holes, shrieks and screams of the Labyrinth can be heard below. Santos is reunited with a Dwarven Templar, Maulik, and a Human Templar, Father Liam. Both of them seem unlikely Templars or even friends of the Cleric but they are able to help the Heroes and point them in the right direction, handing Santos a book as well.

Before getting to business, Santos performs last rights for Berek’s funeral, offering sympathies to his mother. It is a somber moment in the garden courtyard. Finally, before heading out, Santos, Darious and Taran attend the ceremony to make Darious a Templar. As Santos says the words of the ritual a light shoots down from the heavens; a bright light, brighter than many have ever seen. Maulik tells Santos that it is special, and not only is Darious special as the receiver but Santos is even more important as the giver of the ritual.

The Heroes next head to the scene of Orclslayer’s and Ruger’s disappearance behind the Evocations Cafe. They find many Peacekeepers and Investigators are already there looking over the area. Two shadowy figures approach the group and address Sigfried as The Avatar. Gyliam and Ferim, two Darkbringers who seem to regard Sigfried with high esteem, speak of “Redemption.” The party asks the Darkbringers what all of these cryptic things mean, but Sigfried tells the pair not to say anything. Sigfried seems less appreciative of their help. The party pries to get some information out of Sigfried. The Ranger tells them that demons were behind the abduction of Archbishop Ruger and Crolin Orcslayer; demons like Kal’Shzzk, the beast from the woods where the heroes first met Traavor. Sigfried, after being fed up with not having any sense of direction, throws down his cursed sword and tells it to tell him where to go, resulting in horrible pain that wracks his brain.

The Heroes realize that searching Ruger’s chambers might be useful and head in that direction. Santos is able to gain entrance to the room alone. After receiving guidance from Light, Santos finds a letter with a falcon seal on it . The letter thanks Ruger for assistance and says “let light be with [him]”. It is signed “SF”. He also uncovers an appointment letter for the Dome of Heavens granting Ruger access to the famed wizard Madolyne Elias. The meeting took place a few days before Ruger went missing.

Ferim finds the Heroes to tell them of Sebastian Falconcrest. The information relates to the SF initials and the emblem on the letter Santos found. Ferim goes on to tell the Heroes a lot about the city: how it is being rebuilt with the Essence Rail, the coming festivals and the current state of the tensions between clerics and arcanists. They also hear more information about Flaconcrest, Elias and other politics.

The Heroes go to a Norms to discuss some very important Majerian history and a message given to Santos by an Angel. Ultimately, Sigfried and Santos relate that a dark Demon, Cathist’s father, is trying to re-enter Majeria in the same manner he attempted during the Mage Rebellion. The Heroes also think about fencing the fake Divine Augmenter to bring Falconcrest out of hiding. Gyliam sheds some light on the prophecy, stating that Santos is in fact the “Beacon” mentioned by the Angel Ezekiel:

The Beacon shall see Redemption on its way,
The reluctant Avatar sets Ascension in motion.
The Child chooses its Champions,
The Parents retire once more.
The Pantheon rises.
See that the tortured soul fulfills his quest.

He also states that Lord Cathist’s father is a Dromelic.

Just as the Heroes are about to gather information in the town to try and find Falconcrest, a Dwarven Samurai arrives and instantly calls Taran a traitor in the open street. Taran takes the high road and does not submit to the Dwarf’s challenge. Taran decides the needs of Wyldshire is much more important. It is, however, revealed that Taran has a fairly dark past with his people being destroyed and him doing nothing according to the dwarf.

The Heroes determine they do need more information about Falconcrest and go to a tavern. Santos magically reads the thoughts of the tavern. He finds five ogres that begin to walk towards them with the intent to attack. After a fruitless negotiation about payment, Santos magically orders the ogres to sleep which they do. The Heroes realize they don’t know what to do with five sleeping ogres and end up wasting their time arguing about it. Ultimately, they only tie up one thanks only to Traavor. Battle begins!

The ogres quickly tear into the heroes with Sigfried taking the brunt of the damage. The Heroes learn meeting them head on was not going to be the best option. After some quick spell casting and using the bar to their advantage, the Heroes are able to light the ogres and the rest of the bar ablaze with both fire and lightning. The ogres are dispatched although one invisibly escaped.

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