Dalun

The Final Encounter
Part 2 of 2; the End

The party discussed their options, they knew they did not want to risk endangering the lives of the folk of Tradekeep, but they also felt that the crown should not be turned over to the Others. Larkspur donned the crown and Daylen handed him a god-stone, the party gathered round and the halfling ranger attempted to join the power of the crown with the god-stone to teleport to four places at once. The plan was to use the stone and crown together to duplicate the party and teleport them all to the interior chambers of each of the four flying fortresses and destroy their power cores simultaneously hoping that Drael’thuzaad was right about sending the Others back. However, the magic of the god-stone was only so powerful and the party was not duplicated four times over and instead they teleported only to the center of one of the flying fortresses, so they had to act fast.

The interior of the flying castles of the Others was vast and felt somewhat empty. The insides of the fortresses were mostly constructed of a web-way of interconnected bridges leading to a central, glowing power core. Goltheiron and Solgrin engaged a pair of other-wordly guardians within the core of the fortress while Daylen and Aegishand used a short-range teleportation spell to reach the power core. Larkspur dodged past a few Others and tossed the crown over to Aegishand hoping the crown and the core might interact. When they did not and Aegishand came under heavy attack from the Others (since he was now holding the crown) he had no choice but to strike the core of the fortress with his trusty dagger, Iron Feather. The entire castle shuttered with a thunderous quake, the core burst with lightning and ectoplasmic energy and the structure began to fall to the earth below. Without any more time to think the party split up or the entire city would be crushed.

Goltheiron used a dimension door spell to teleport to the ground and began running to the northern most flying fortress. Solgrin ran down the length of the nearest bridge and leapt out of the castle, landing on a nearby Other drifting down to attack the city. Gylek grabbed Larkspur and cast a planeshift spell, but the spell didn’t work quite right and they wound up in the mountains of Drasguard… Daylen and Aegishand, meanwhile, successfully teleported over to the western-most fortress.

Solgrin made it to the ground safely and summoned his horse and caught up with Goltheiron. Gylek and Larkspur used another teleportation spell and blinked back to Tradekeep. Daylen and Aegishand disabled another castle core, but frustratingly their next teleportation spell attempt unintentionally shunted them to the edge of the city. The party managed to destroy the two remaining fortress cores by using teleportation and dimensional spells. In doing so the four fortresses flickered for a moment like they were simply going to vanish, but then flew together like opposite ends of a magnet and with a massive kinetic slam they joined into one mega structure suspended precariously over the city.

The magic supporting the massive fortress was failing though, as all four of the fortress cores were damaged and hemorrhaging power. The floating otherworldly castle still posed a threat to the city, in fact, as it sank through the air it collided with Coinhold crushing part of the battlements and collapsing the northeast tower. The party reconvened inside the now joined fortresses and made their way towards the center which was guarded by four massive Guardian Others. Solgrin charged the monstrosities drawing their attention. Larkspur nimbly rushed past the fighting with the crown in his hands aiming for the central core of the fortress. The four guardians were protecting a steel column with a ring shaped recess matching the size of the crown. The halfling ranger threw himself on top of the pedestal and jammed the crown into the recess.

A shockwave of energy rattled the entire fortress as it winked out of existence above Tradekeep leaving the realms of Dalun for good. The party awoke sprawled out on a steely platform seemingly suspended in the night sky. As they rose they looked about and saw shimmering portals at the end of a complicated network of bridges connecting to other floating platforms. A humanoid approached and explained to the adventuring party that they had arrived to the fabled Gateway. He also explained that their vessel was not welcome to say adrift over the Gateway, however. Looking behind them they saw that the massive joined-fortress structure had traveled with them and in fact had collided with some invisible barrier surrounding and protecting the portals and bridges all around. The humanoid appeared to each member of the party as a one of their own kind, the same race, similar style of dress, accent, complexion and so on. He called himself the Gatekeeper and said that it was his duty to maintain this place. When the party explained that they were simply trying to protect Tradekeep from the Others’ attack the Gatekeeper used his power to dismiss the Otherwordly fortress “sending it back to its home” he said. The massive vessel slowly disappeared without a sound.

Daylen was taken by the beauty of the starry realm and shared with his allies that he’d always dreamed of coming to this place, unsure if its existence was true or myth. Aegishand asked Goltheiron to cure him of his blindness so that he too may look upon the magnificence and mystery of the place. The adventurers had a look around and the Gatekeeper explained that at the end of each bridge lie a portal which leads to another world. They saw strange men in armored suits, monstrous beings and other bizarre creatures all coming and going to and from different portals traveling in an instant to not only different worlds, but anywhere within the multiverse.

The party discussed what they would do next and where they would go. Daylen was eager to begin exploring the rest of the realms, it was clear that there was much more than simply the world of Dalun out there. Larkspur said that he at last would be able to rest and let his journey come to an end. The halfling did not keep it a secret that he wished to return to a normal life after all of this and he was determined to make that happen. Gylek too wished for a bit of normalcy, but wished to stay in touch with his allies. Solgrin and Goltheiron expressed their intent to continue adventuring, their work was not yet over. Solgrin had a house to return to in Burnordraath, centaurs and bandits run unchecked throughout the Bregohar and the black blade of house Drothspell had not yet been fully redeemed from its dark days. Goltheiron intended to found a chivalric order, the Knights of the Sword and Sun, one even mightier than the Ainugrand of Noruld. Aegishand would return to Eltgaard and possibly risk getting involved in politics there or perhaps simply enjoy the carefree life of nobility.

The Gatekeeper guided the adventurers back over to the portal that would lead to Dalun. As they passed other portals they peered into their worlds seeing curious cities of steel and light, worlds of limitless ocean and other strange places. The bridge-way connecting Dalun’s portals to the rest of the platform was a little wobbly, not unlike a wagon wheel rattling loosely on its axle… the Gatekeeper performed the necessary repairs and thanked the adventurers for bringing the damage to his attention. They walked out across the now sturdy platform to a tall swirling portal and one by one the adventurers stepped through, vanishing and returning home for a long deserved rest.

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Arrival of the Others
Part 1 of the end

Daylen and Gylek traveled back to the Grinning Goblin after being apart from the group for a time. There they caught up on each other’s travels, drank and played music. As the music flowed through Daylen and Gylek cheered him on a great green shadow befell the city. The music stopped and the rest of the city quieted down as townsfolk took to the streets to see what happened to the sun. In the sky the onlookers spotted four massive flying shapes looming over the city. The objects resembled giant black diamonds and from them a green field of crackling energy stretched outward in all directions over the city. It didn’t take long for panic to set in and commoner and noble alike began to run for cover, to their homes, to the docks to sail away, to the gates to flee, but all were trapped. Daylen and Gylek had a look around and observed that the city gates were blocked by this mysterious green energy, no one could come in or out.

Sailing Eastbound upon the Silver Scale, Erel, Larkspur, Goltheiron, Solgrin and Aegishand saw flashes of green light over Tradekeep. They tightened the sails and made as best time they could to hurry back to shore. They saw the terrified folk of the city attempting to sail and swim desperately from the harbor to no avail, the green energy barrier surrounded the city and the docks, there was no escape. The adventurers took a rowboat from the Scale and paddled ashore while the crew pulled the ship back, but staying in the area just in case.

The party reunited at the docks despite the crowds of frightened peasants and mercenaries attempting to keep order. They briefly discussed the coming of the flying objects and if they were somehow connected to the recovery of the crown from the temple below the sea. Solgrin produced the crown for Daylen and Gylek to see, but immediately stowed it in a leather pouch when a great presence shifted its attention upon the party, like the eye of an invisible god from the heavens. The weight of its force was palpable and in that moment it was clear that whoever or whatever these things were they desired the crown. The party quickly made a plan and headed towards Coinhold to consult with Baron Vaustburn, the lord of the city. Daylen used a knock spell to bypass the castle gate and the party, along with a number of terrified commoners, rushed inside. They were greeted by a group of mercenaries guarding the entrance, but were able to slip past unnoticed in the commotion. They made their way to the court hall where Vaustburn was meeting with Drael’thuzaad Ardeenon, archmage of the Dalnorum.

Drael’thuzaad explained to the adventurers that the Dalnorum’s diviners scried the diamond-shaped objects in the sky and deemed that they must be fortresses of some kind. These floating castles are garrisoned with mysterious beings that appear poised to attack the city. The wizard also explained that each fortress has a central font of power keeping it in the air, if the power source is disrupted then the fortress will fall crushing anything below. However, based on the way these beings arrived from across the planes, each fortress appears to be linked to another, so it may be possible that if the fortresses is disabled simultaneously then they may teleport back to wherever they came from. The party discussed the possibility of evacuating the denizens of the city to the sewer tunnels below to minimize casualties as well as the possibility of attempting to take down the western-most fortress, as it is located above the harbor area and would likely inflict the least damage upon the city should it collapse.

Ultimately, however, the party decided that they needed to know more about the crown. The adventurers explained to the baron that they are in the possession of the crown that was stolen by Erel. Vaustburn shared what little he knew of the crown’s past, it has no known origin, allegedly, but every ruler of Tradekeep has held the crown. Baron Vausburn admitted to wearing the crown in the past, but claimed that it did not have any magical properties. Solgrin handed the crown, concealed in a leather bag, to Larkspur who slowly drew the heavy crown out of the pouch. Again the light shifted, the air came close and with it came an unsettling feeling of “being watched.” An instant later the room was filled with eight silent beings in a rapid flash of green light.

Each of the beings, the Others, were clearly not of this world. Their bodies were composed of a dark, steely metal, lusterless and almost black in color. Atop their broad shoulders were featureless dome-like heads. Their arms were short and terminated in three-fingered claw-like hands clutching silver rods “topped” with floating green gems. They did not have legs, but instead the bottoms of their torsos contoured into a point where magic propelled them off the ground. The Others resembled the effigy that the centaurs were worshiping during the rescue of Perrin and the weapons they wielded were undoubtedly the same. The Others had arrived and they “spoke” through the minds of their listeners with booming telepathic voices demanding the crown be turned over to them. They made it clear that failing to cooperate would spell doom for the city.

Faster than lighting Aegishand hurled a dagger at the nearest enemy aiming directly for its neck. What would’ve surely been a killing blow for even a mighty beast or construct did not seem to phase the Other. Aegishand’s knife flickered as though it were an illusion and it passed harmlessly through his target, sinking deep into the wooden frame of the door behind it. The newcomers took this to mean that the party would not relinquish the crown and attacked.

The battle was fierce; Gylek kept his allies well with healing, Daylen launched spells, the warriors held their ground while Larkspur gave his foes a chase. The Others targeted Larkspur with great fury, likely because he carried the crown, but he kept moving and firing arrows. The bodies of the Others were not completely immune to harm, but they did turn more than one blade throughout the course of the battle. After sustaining enough damage the body of the Others would collapse to the ground into a dormant state and then a few seconds later it would burst into an explosion of energy. The party prioritized destroying the Others that fell to prevent further damage. After a long and trying exchange the party proved victorious. After the dust settled the party took a short rest and discussed their next move.

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Westward and Beyond

The next morning each member of the adventuring party woke with a letter waiting for them that read:

“My friends,

It seems like so long ago we met at the Grinning Goblin and took up arms together to defend its proprietor. And I marvel at the way we’ve kept the pact we made that day. When we fought our first contract for Erel we took up arms with the Bravaullian Scouts against Goblins… I never thought we’d fight Devils, Demons, Dragons and… Angels, but we’ve bested them all. Somehow, through many trials and sacrifices, we’ve managed to keep our hides. On my worst days I just wait for it to catch up with me. On my best days I dream of putting all the wars away. But this world has chosen us to fight for it. Its in danger, and we have to.

A year ago Erel told us about an artifact he’d been searching for of great power and significance. A crown that had been cast off deep beneath sea to the west, to be lost beneath water, sand, and time. He said that there were many powerful entities fighting over that relic before it was lost. I wonder if that is what has drawn the eye of the power-hungry creatures of the lower plains, and the ire of the angels to Dalun… I think we need to go back to where this all started in order to finish it."

The letter was signed by Aegishand Bennudin-Grimlove and one by one the adventurers reunited at the tavern before leaving once more, possibly for good. They traveled west along the Green Way trade road for a few weeks before encountering the metropolitan city of Moerth where they stopped and rested a day. Moving on their road turned north as they passed into Caelildran and on up to Tradekeep, their destination, arriving about a month and a half after they left Bynornuen.

At the Grinning Goblin they met Erel who was doing business with a group of mages when the adventurers arrived. He was delighted to see them and they caught up on all of their goings on, including the bloodshed in the upper planes. Erel admitted to never having traveled the planes when he was an adventurer, so he did not judge them for their actions. The party spoke for a little while about one of Erel’s former allies, Avendrin. The retired rogue explained that Avendrin was the one who never quite fit the party mold, he was fiery and difficult to work with at times, but he hadn’t seen him in about ten years. A while back Erel received warning from a friend of his, Kathrol, saying that Avendrin was going to hunt down and kill their former adventuring companions in some veil ritual-like ceremony to recover the lost crown from their last adventure. But no one had heard from Avendrin for quite some time and so Erel said that he assumed that he had given up on the crown or been killed attempting to find it.

The party was not so sure that Avendrin was out of the picture yet and they determined that they would need to locate the crown to put all of this to rest. Erel claimed to remember the precise location where he and his allies threw the crown back into the sea, so he and the adventurers boarded a ship called the Silver Scale, helmed by a friend of Erel’s, and sailed west. The journey took a day and a half, but eventually the retired rogue looked back at the coastline and announced “this is the spot; this is where it happened” and described how the horizon looked then and how it looks now. Larkspur used a magic scroll to allow his allies to breath water and they leapt into the ocean.

The adventurers swam downward using alchemical sunrods to light their way as they got deeper. The water was cold and the pressure great, but their magic kept them comfortable while they searched the seafloor. After what felt like hours of picking through coral beds, sand, seaweed and dodging sharks and schools of fish the party spotted an oddly angular shape. They investigated and determined that there was a sunken building on the floor of the ocean, partially buried in sand. They worked their way inside the main entrance and found a vast underwater temple. The structure appeared to have been built long ago and likely by giant humanoid creatures as the doorways were taller than a man and the ceilings were very high.

They were attacked by a massive eel-like monster whose body crackled with electrical bolts of energy. The beast swallowed Aegishand while Larkspur, Goltheiron, and Solgrin hacked at the thing. Some of the temple collapsed during the fighting and the party took some licks, but eventually the dwarf cut himself out of the serpent and the party finished it off. At the end of a long corridor supported by many columns the adventurers discovered a vast chamber within a large pocket of air. At the center of the chamber they found a mysterious stone disc with a pair of curved stone shapes looming over it, like a pair of claws, but not quite touching. The disc emanated a peculiar amber light which intensified if anyone stood upon it.

The party assumed that this must be some sort of portal, but could not get it to work until Solgrin located a pale yellow gemstone in a nearby room. The magic stone activated the magic within the portal with a whirl of light and energy. They felt a great surge of force preceding the coming of a mighty being, an Empyrean. The Celestial giant announced itself as “Dalun’s doom,” and that it was a titan of destruction and that the mortals before it would be is first victims. Battle was joined and it was indeed powerful; it’s terrible trident stunned whoever it struck with static thunder and quaking pain. The titan launched bolts of power strong enough to cut through any magical resistance and had the ability to summon fire and seismic waves of energy. The temple shook as broken stone, frigid water and scorching flames began to flood the chamber hall, but after a furious several minutes of battle the party bested the titan through force of arms. The portal from whence the titan came was still held open, the party briefly discussed stepping through and then proceeded.

On the other side of the portal the adventuring party found themselves standing in a bizarre realm which resembled the a cloudless midnight sky. Stars streaked overhead and distant worlds twinkled like colored lights in the distance. Seemingly random objects drifted about the space such as a castle atop a small island, ancient monsters and items of forgotten power and significance, but most terrifyingly of all Dranoth loomed overhead. The banished god’s eyes burned in the sky peering down on all that moved; his voice boomed forth telepathically entering the adventurers’ minds. He tried to convince them to take him back to Dalun offering rewards of power, but of course they refused. Before them stood a shadowy humanoid being which seemed at home in this place and it explained that they were standing in a realm for things that no longer belong. A world between worlds for leftover entities that ceased to exist within the multiverse, but were not totally destroyed. The titan who stepped out of the portal on Dalun, for instance, was sequestered here for ten thousand years by a band of desperate heroes attempting to save Dalun from an ancient threat.

The shadowy figure offered to trade the crown they sought for the shard of the time crystal that Larkspur carried. The time stone was destroyed at the Battle of Northwater and none of its fragments should have been left behind, but somehow a single piece made its way to Bynornuen and had gone unaccounted for until now. The crown’s origin remained a mystery, the creature of shadow offered no explanation for its past or present purpose. The party had little choice, but to agree to the trade and when they accepted the crown they were instantly returned to the deck of the Silver Scale. Erel exclaimed that it appeared that they fell from a dark spot in the sky. They showed him the crown, a heavy iron thing, and he confirmed that was indeed the one.

Just as they were turning their heading back to Tradekeep they spotted green lights, like low hanging stars, begin to appear on the horizon…

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The Last of the Quest
The party meets an old friend

With the rescue of Solgrin’s brother, Perrin, the last member of the party had completed the quest that the adventuring group had sworn to complete back at The Grinning Goblin all those days ago. And after the recent bloodshed in the celestial realms the party agreed to separate for a time. Gylek entered a state of solitary contemplation, weighing his faith in Iess against his dependence on the malicious being, Reblithar. Larkspur headed north to wander, hunt game and enjoy the wilds. Aegishand returned home to Eltgaard to see to his wife and kingdom; there was an important vote to be had concerning rulership when he left. Solgrin had a lot of catching up to do with Perrin and also a great deal of rebuilding and recruiting if the Drothspell name was to survive. Goltheiron wished to found an order of warriors to protect Dalun the way that the Ainugrand defended his home world of Noruld, so he headed out to begin his work.

Three months later, while Larkspur was wandering through the mountains, he encountered an old ally… Mogroth. The half-orc explained that he survived the collapse of the Silt Lord’s realm and after the death-like experience he needed time to reflect on his quest and what he and his allies were really doing. He spent a great deal of time wandering and fighting monsters for the folk of the Green Country when he eventually decided that it would be best for him to return to his allies and help them uphold their oaths to each other. He was pleased to hear that each of the other adventurers had completed their personal tasks and hoped that if they helped him complete his, then all of this could be put behind them and they could all move on.

One by one Larkspur and Mogroth rounded up the rest of the party, meeting with Aegishand, then Solgrin and then Goltheiron. Gylek continued to remain in contemplation for his faith had been badly shaken. The party mounted up on their steeds (or in Aegishand’s case, the Grimelove stagecoach, driven by his man Hodges) and headed south where Mogroth believed the golden belt he sought all those days ago was. He explained that Maura, the woman he was to marry, was killed by a bandit while under the thrall of a wealthy lord he believed had become a vampire who was residing in the city of Bynornuen. The party entered the city and began their investigation down at the docks with a shipbuilder named Ganeram, a man who Mogroth suspected was using his business as a cover for the vampire-lord’s illicit dealings.

Ganeram was a sly, greedy businessman who was careful not to divulge too much, but while interacting with him Larkspur and Aegishand were able to glean that his master was very likely this vampire who desired Mogroth’s golden belt (among other “items of innocence”) to restore himself to mortality. Meanwhile, Solgrin and Goltheiron pursed a thief leaving a nearby warehouse. They chased the thief into a busy street and tackled him as he attempted to enter a boarded-up shop. In his possession was a diamond-like crystalline shard which looked uncannily like a fragment of the shard of time the party used to carry. They were perplexed as to how this shard could exist at all as they believed they had gathered all of its pieces, reforged the gem and after releasing its power to right the wrongs of Dranoth it should have been utterly destroyed. They confiscated the gem and dismissed the thief.

The party investigated the boarded up shop the thief attempted to enter and descebded into the a cellar which lead to a tunnel that drained into the storm sewers below the city. After walking a ways through the dark, narrow corridors of the city’s underside they encountered a vast chamber of muddy water with a treasure chest partially sunk into the muck below. As Aegishand and Solgrin climbed down the side of the pit towards the chest a massive sea creature burst through the loose ground, bringing a surge of filth-water with it. The mighty creature had control over the movements of the water around it and crackling bolts of lighting shocked the adventurers as they did battle with it. The beast swallowed Aegishand whole who had to cut his way out while Larkspur fired arrows and Goltheiron and Solgrin hacked away at it with their mighty swords. Ultimately they slew the ancient beast and its corpse sank back into the darkness of the pit. Inside the treasure chest was a deed for a large estate of land located within the city.

The party climbed out of the sewer system, cleaned themselves off and saw to their battle wounds. Afterwards they went to the city archives to discover the exact location of the plot of land listed on the deed, as the deed itself was written up so long ago that the street names and landmarks it referenced were out of date and unclear. As they had expected there was a handsome mansion seated on the deed’s property and was guarded by unfriendly-looking mercenaries. Larkspur crept ahead and poked his head into the estate-owner’s coach house, noting that one of the coaches was made of iron and lined with lead… furthering their suspicion that its owner was a vampire. The party decided to purchase a wagon and disguise it to appear as one of the vampire’s and used it to get close enough to the estate so that the rest of the party could sneak out and enter the manner’s cellar.

In the cellar below the mansion was a small chamber holding dry goods and casks of ale and so on, but also a secret passage that lead to another chamber. Inside the hidden chamber the party observed a casket occupied by a wealthy-looking man. Judging from his dark attire, high cheek bones, and short fangs he appeared to be the vampire they were after. All around him were items of various worth and significance including Maura’s gold belt, the item Mogroth swore to find. They adventurers rushed in to retrieve the belt, Goltheiron ran his holy sword through the heart of the vampire and Solgrin hacked the hand off an obstinate servant when they refused to relinquish the belt. Seeing the misery and bloodshed over what seemed like an honest attempt to reverse their lord’s vampirism, Larkspur reached into his pocket to use the fragment from the time stone to reset reality to just before they entered the chamber.

This time the party allowed the house servants to complete their ritual and restore the vampire-lord to life, but shockingly he rose out of the coffin and immediately drank the blood of the nearest servant. Seeing that the servants from the prior instance of reality must’ve been lying about returning their master to “life” Larkspur used the time crystal once more to try again.

Time rolled back a few minutes and the party rushed inside the chamber, grabbed the gold belt, didn’t wait around to see what would happen to the lord of the house and escaped. Aegishand jammed the lock to the secret door on their way out to buy themselves time as they fled to the surface. The party returned the gold belt to Mogroth who thanked and congratulated them. He explained that the belt itself was really more of sentimental value, but its return means that he can take it to the graves of Maura and her father and perhaps bring their anguished spirits to rest. Furthermore this means that truly the last of member of the adventuring party formed at the Grinning Goblin had finally completed their task.

The party has come a long way since the beginning of their adventure and they spoke briefly of breaking up the group for good and going their own ways, but the hour was late and they turned into their inn rooms to rest for what was left of the night…

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The Descent of Heaven

After returning to Castle Drothspell and seeing to a few things as its rightful new ruler, Solgrin and Perrin, along with their allies, entered the vault below the keep. Only a Drothspell could open the gate and within they found the interred dead of the Drothspell line. Of course an entire generation was missing from the catacomb, as the murderous Causwolds were not about to bury those they betrayed within the mausoleum. At the far end of the vault was the Black Blade of family Drothspell, a weapon and heirloom of great power and significance.

As Solgrin took up his ancestral weapon and was explaining its history to his allies a messenger entered the doorway of the vault to say they had a visitor. The party went outside to speak with a man who appeared ragged from his journey. He was covered in blood (though Gylek quickly discerned not his own) and spoke only fragmented words, the man had lost much attempting to deliver his message. Ultimately he did convey that some majestic being wielding great power descended upon his village and destroyed everyone and everything in sight. Disturbed and curious the party gathered their supplies and headed out.

At their arrival to the humble village the party did not find corpses, ruins or any sign of battle. Instead the village was oddly quiet. There was evidence of perhaps a sudden exodus, discarded belongings left in the street, front doors left ajar and so on, however the only person in sight seemed entirely calm and likely not from the village itself. In the open stood a man wearing a simple grey robe and wearing a holy chain of Ies. Larkspur could not find any tracks around the village to explain what might have happened, but Aegishand thought he smelled bad magic in the air. The party approached the monk cautiously who explained that he was a messenger from the higher planes who had come to Dalun to summon the adventurers to speak with his masters. They questioned him about the village and why an angel would want to speak with them and he simply said that it was not his place to say and it was his duty only to bring them to the heavenly realms. They agreed and gathered round, the monk’s form changed into that of a planetar as golden rays of light shined down from the parting clouds.

In an instant they were brought to a Celestial realm and escorted towards a great marble palace. The angelic domain was utterly magnificent, a marble city suspended in the clouds with flowing falls of water, growing green plants and ivy, columns of stone and angels all around. Celestial warriors drilled with their captains in an open forum nearby with silver weapons while scholars of wisdom debated ancient lore on the steps of a great white university hall. The party was taken to the central palace and stronghold of the realm where they were bidden to speak to a solar, the mightiest of angels, the lord of the realm.

There they were “offered rest” as the solar explained that, for the good of Dalun and those they love, the party was henceforth to remain here. The group discussed the solar’s concerns and the conversation sounded oddly similar to the one with Melikir regarding the doom of Dalun. The solar asserted that eventually each member of the adventuring party would lose his way and turn to madness or inadvertently cause the destruction of themselves or others in their never ending quests. The party disagreed, arguing that they have defeated great evils, traveled the planes, fought dragons and banished devils; they argued that they do have the courage and wisdom to wield their own power and ultimately refused the solar’s offer for eternal imprisonment.

At this point the angelic lord had no choice, but to summon a guard of celestial devas to escort the unwilling adventurers to their new confines. Larkspur spoke, asking “did you ever think the blood of angels would be spilt here?” and battle was joined. The solar’s dancing sword was mighty and each arrow it fired carried with it the promise of death. The adventurers had fought through the hells and back and were not about to be defeated now. Seven angels were slain and as more celestial warriors rushed towards the palace Gylek opened a gate to the domain of an old ally, Reblithar. The being took shape as a nine foot tall humanoid whose form was entirely obscured by flowing blood. The ever hungry monstrosity dug its fangs into the flesh of the angelic warriors. The party did not wait to see who would win and escaped the heavens with a plane shift spell.

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Centaurs' Wrath
Solgrin learns the fate of his kin

As the demonic realm A’quiron collapsed Solgrin used a godstone to safely teleport the party back to Burnordraath. The magic of the stone took them to where Solgrin wished to go, the place Locstir Causwold claimed the lost Drothspell son, Perrin, would be. What they found, however, was the smoldering ruin of what appeared to be a monastery. The party spoke with a band of Road Wardens who explained that they spotted smoke while patrolling the Trade Road and hurried to investigate. When they arrived they saw little more than centaur tracks and rubble. Poking around the stones of the ruined monastery revealed that the centaurs must’ve had help; the damage was too extensive to be caused without the aid of powerful magic and centaurs are not known for their magic prowess.

Larkspur lead the group away from the ruins to the North East following the centaurs’ tracks. They traveled all day and through the night, stopping only to take brief respite. Several hours after dawn the party entered the rocky Lonely Hills, a region of the Steppe said to be so haunted with evil that no man or monster would ever dare tread foot there. Nevertheless the tracks continued into the hills and in fact the party stumbled upon a lone centaur seemingly having lost its way. The frightened and angry creature snarled and attacked the party. Oddly, the centaur’s flesh appeared to be joined by pieces of armor, as though some twisted armorer had grafted plates of steel to the centaur’s body. It also wielded a powerful scepter-like weapon made of a slender grey metal capped by a floating pale emerald gem, the centaur was able to launch blasts of energy from the rod with a flick of its wrist. Despite the beast’s bizarre powers the party was able to defeat the centaur and keep going.

After a short while longer of hiking through the Lonely Hills the party came to a rise in the rock and then to a bowl-shaped escarpment with a group of centaurs running in circles around a wooden effigy. The figure the centaurs were circling appeared to be a legless humanoid shape standing upright on perhaps a tail. Beside the crude wooden sculpture were three prisoners, one of them was no doubt Perrin. The party engaged the monsters in combat, not being foolish enough to think that diplomacy would work. Larkspur felled a centaur with a pair of arrows and Solgrin and Aegishand waded into melee. The battle became protracted and bloody, as these centaurs too were well armed and wore the same grizzly flesh plated armor as the previous beast. Their magic scepters launched deadly bolts of caustic energy.

In the chaos of the fighting the three prisoners fled, one was knocked down and another incinerated by a centaur’s magic scepter. However the party got out of the Hills alive and caught up with Perrin. At last Solgrin learned the fate of his younger brother. Apparently the Causwolds sequestered the young Perrin within a monastic order under the protection of the Causwolds. The monastery was far enough off West, just along the coast of the Nornuen, to keep him out of the affairs of the Horselords. Tannoc Causwold wanted to keep an eye on the scion of house Drothspell, but he did not want him to have any knowledge of what occurred between their two households.

Solgrin told Perrin the truth of what happened to their family and Perrin shared a brief account of his own story. Perrin was raised in the monastery and learned nothing of his lineage beyond that he was a allegedly a ward of the Steppe and was left with the monks of the order. There he studied religion and history, but also listened to the folk lore stories brought by traders and visitors to the monastery. Solgrin gave him the choice to follow him back to Castle Drothspell or to go his own way and pursue his own desires. With nowhere else to go the young Drothspell chose to follow Solgrin back to their home, at least for now.

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Through the Abyss
The party takes on an archfiend

The party stepped out of the rapidly closing portal taking them from the battle in Burnordraath to the demonic realm of A’quiron. Larkspur began the difficult task of tracking Locstir and his men across the Abyssal wasteland as the ground trembled and the landscape moved as though the very earth could not decide how it wished to settle. The party endured choking fumes and blinding sandstorms. Their first impasse was a one hundred foot wide chasm over a river of tar hundreds of feet below. As Aegishand and Solgrin began to climb down the canyon looking for an alternate route or passageway the party was attacked by a group of winged fiends. The halfling ranger fired deadly arrows from his short bow and Aegishand swiftly dug his climbing piton into the canyon wall to free up his hands to fire his crossbow while clung to the rock. After defeating the flying monsters the walls of the canyon began to suddenly converge; the fighter and the rogue quickly scrambled to the top as the canyon slammed together sealing the divide.

They traveled further on and encountered a mysterious temple-like structure, as they investigated the interior they were ambushed by a pair of baalors. The fighting was fast and deadly, in the chaos of battle the temple sustained too much damage and collapsed. The adventurers ducked outside before being crushed by falling debris.

A few more hours of travel and the party found themselves before some kind of grisly burial ground. There were hundreds of grave markers made from the skulls and bones of various creatures, mostly humanoids. A thick brown-gray colored fog rolled across the graveyard obscuring the tracks Larkspur had been following. While attempting to find a path through the party felt the ground rumble from the footsteps of giant creatures approaching. They ducked down and hid while the massive beings lumbered overhead, they appeared to rely on their sense of smell as they stooped down and began sniffing and snorting around amongst the grave markers. The adventurers smeared grave dirt on themselves and held their breath… the giants walked on without noticing the party.

Their last challenge before confronting the master of A’quiron would be to barter with an old man tending to a raft at the bank of a vast lake of tar. He identified himself as “the boat keeper” and demanded a price of blood to satisfy the souls of those trapped under the lake. The party was not pleased to hear that they must make such a wretched offering particularly in a place like the Abyss. Ultimately Solgrin offered to pay the price as he was the one responsible for bringing the others to this accursed place. The dark warrior cut his hand and allowed his blood to fall into the lake. The boat keeper took the party aboard his humble vessel and slowly paddled to the center of the lake. Spectral faces of the dead loomed near the surface of the tar, but did not reach for the living travelers. After a time the boat keeper ceased his rowing and allowed the craft to drift across the viscous waves of tar. Then a whirlpool formed, rushing and swirling. From the bottom of the whirlpool a mountain of bone erupted forth surging a hundred feet into the air.

The party climbed out of the boat and scaled the mountain of bone; skulls, ribs and other dead things crunched under foot as they ascended the mount. At the top they faced Melikir who stood looming over them like a god. The arch-demon explained that Dalun is on the verge of losing its way in the cosmos. He likened the mortal world as a wheel on a wagon rocking loosely on its axle and some day soon it will break off and the whole thing will come crashing down. He did not take credit for Dalun’s foretold doom, but admitted to hastening its destruction by sending his demons forth to kill and pillage the relatively unspoiled world. Melikir delighted in describing the fate that he foresaw with his powers of divination: a world conquered and looted savagely by a race of beings whose might surpasses even the gods. Ultimately Melikir stated that he would have to destroy the adventurers and battle was joined.

The arch-demon proved to be a worthy foe nearly dispatching the party with his mighty sword and fire magic. It took all of their strength, but Gylek, Aegishand, Larkspur and Solgrin were able to defeat Melikir. In his death throes the arch-demon brought about the destruction of his Abyssal realm. The party raced down the mountain of bone and used some of Gylek’s last reserves of magic to walk along the surface of the lake to circumnavigate a rift in the ground. Reality itself was being undone as the sky fell in fiery chunks and cracks opened up across the surface of A’quiron revealing a starry immaterial void beyond the Abyss.

At last the party caught up with their quarry, Locstir Causwold, who was standing alone above the corpses of his honor guard at the bottom of a short cave. He was holding a bloody sword and a tome in his hands and said something about completing a ritual. Solgrin grabbed the Causwold knight and demanded that he tell him the fate of his youngest brother, Perrin. Locstir said that if he tells Solgrin what happened to the Drothspell survivor he would lose his opportunity for vengeance. Solgrin let go of Locstir, lowered his weapon and asked again. Locstir told the dark warrior that Perrin is being held at a monastery on the eastern shore of the Nornuen. Just as the words left Locstir’s lips reality ceased, A’quiron collapsed and Solgrin activated his last god-stone returning the party to Dalun.

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A Siege of Angels
A clash between heaven and hell

The fiend formerly known as Ellaryk summoned the adventurers to his cell in the dungeon below castle Illyre to treat with them. He offered that by freeing him he would take them to his malefic lord, an arch-demon named Melikir. He even offered to fight at their side to overthrow the arch-demon to free himself and lift their curse. The party deliberated only briefly and decided that it was too dangerous to work with a baalor and turned down his offer.

The party decided that it would be best to pursue Lord Aginar’s plan, so they headed up to the roof where the ceremony would commence. The plan was to shackle the baalor to the upper parapets of the castle tower and attempt to commune with the heavens. Aginar’s men spent several hours praying, making burnt offerings, begging, and crying out to the skies, but it wasn’t until Aginarbold himself dropped to his knees and implored the gods did an angel descend from the clouds. The skies parted and rays of golden light shined down upon the steppe. A green-skinned Planetar with a white robe and silver sword addressed the gathering explaining that the angels above will fight the demons who’ve come to Dalun, but they will not intervene in any other affairs. The baalor attempted to escape, but the swiftness and wrath of the Planetar was terrible and the demon’s severed head hit the ground before it could get away.

Aginar marshaled a host of warriors and marched to castle Drothspell, the greatest of the Causwold’s holdings. After the death of Tannoc Solgrin had taken a dour mood, feeling that any hope of completing his mission and learning the fate of his kin had been lost. But on the eve of battle with his family’s hated rival which was to be fought over the stones of his old castle his demeanor changed. It was not hope that he felt, necessarily, but at the least a sense that he had a second chance.

A few days later Aginar’s forces arrived and immediately began their attack. Catapults launched stones and burning ordnance. Archers stepped forth and rained arrows upon the walls and beyond. A siege tower was erected and marched into position along the enemy wall. The heroes chose to lead a group of brave men in a frontal assault with a battering ram. Larkspur used a magic scroll to fire a disintegrating beam of energy at the castle gate which broke a large hole in the doors. The siege tower became stuck, so Solgrin ran out from under the hood of the ram to help the infantry. Goltheiron ordered the ram to advance, bashed through the gate and ran inside only to be met by burning oil poured through murder holes overhead. Solgrin and a second wave of infantry ran back to the gate to bring the ram inside and batter down the interior door, but were again stymied by a magic wall of ice conjured by a Causwold sorcerer.

When Aginar saw the front gate breached he sounded his cavalry to charge, but in the chaos of battle he failed to see the sheet of ice blocking entry to the castle. Many men were slain attempting to enter through the gateway as well as by scaling the siege ladders flanking the gate. Solgrin hacked his way through the ice with his flaming axe and the warriors charged inside. Aegishand slew the crewmen of a ballista on the wall and turned the weapon on the defenders.

Once the wall was claimed by the attackers the Causwolds had little choice but to turn to their abyssal allies. A fiery portal opened up and a trio of baalors surged forth along with a host of lesser demons. At this moment the silver trumpet of the heavens was sounded and the angelic champions of the higher planes descended with gleaming blades and singing arrows. A greater battle Dalun likely has never seen. The party slew one of the baalors while a mighty Solar whirled its heavenly blade downward and began a ritual to seal the demonic portal.

In the final moments of the battle Locstir Causwold took his honor guard and made for the rapidly-closing portal to the Abyss. Solgrin hesitated for only a moment, looking to his allies for affirmation, there was a brief exchange and then they leapt in. When they landed the portal back to Dalun had been sealed. They found themselves in a dusty wasteland of barren rock and sulfurous dust – this is no doubt the realm of Melikir, the arch-demon.

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Capturing a Devil
The party takes a devil captive in Burnordraath

After returning to the surface from the one winged dragon’s lair Larkspur and Gylek agreed to guide the rescued prisoners back to Rorain. A young knight of House Illyre asked the party about their story, as he thought that they fought valiantly against the dragon and its horned devil allies. Aegishand explained that they have been pursuing a cult responsible for calling demons and devils to Dalun. They revealed that it was themselves that slew Hydratha of the House of Unrequited Might and they intend on slaying as many of these extraplanar evils as they must. The knight was pleased to hear this and explained that his master, Aginarbold, is working on a plan to level the playing field against their rival, House Causwold. The knight told his own story of how he came to the dragon’s lair; he and a band of fellow warriors were attacked by a demon summoned by a Causwold sorcerer. They had little hope and were defeated, he survived and was dragged down into the dragon’s dungeon. He also relayed that he overheard quite a bit of the dragon’s discussions with various humanoid agents, mercenaries and spies that worked with the red dragon for some evil purpose.

Ultimately the party decided to hear out Aginarbold to see what his plan is and if their goals would align with his. The party traveled southeast across the steppe following Solgrin’s lead, as he knew the terrain the best of the group. Upon arriving at castle Illyre the party saw that Aginarbold was preparing a war band for a coming battle. The party met with Lord Aginar in the keep of the castle, exchanged introductions, and then got down to discussing the battle plan. Aginar revealed that he wishes to attack the smallest of the Causwold’s holdings and hit them hard enough to force them to call on upon a demon for aid. The party debated the likelihood of success and pointed out the obvious risks, but in the end they decided to help the Horselord.

It took a day longer to prepare the men for combat and then two more days to march north into range of the Causwold castle. There Aginarbold commanded his men to assemble a catapult to throw stones at the castle wall, it stripped away a good deal of brick and mortar, but failed to bring the wall down. Once the siege was underway a group of villagers fled the nearby lands towards the castle, but the Causwold men took no chances and not only kept the gate locked but began firing arrows on their own serfs. Those who did not run were killed and worse yet a necromancer animated their corpses and sent them to attack Aginarbold’s men. Aginar’s archers spent many of their arrows, but they managed to knock down the advancing zombies before they reached the siege line.

Running out of options Goltheiron suggested that he and his allies approach the castle and demand an audience with the master of the hold. He, Solgrin, and Aegishand rode up to the gate and called out to the castle guards. Eventually a knight named Sir Elyak and a sorcerer came down to treat with the paladin, warrior and rogue. Both sides were confident of their victory and refused to accept the other’s offer for surrender. A fight broke out, the sorcerer was killed and the knight-captain of the Causwolds fled back to the castle. Solgrin and the others gave chase, the gate slammed closed behind them and they were met with a hail of arrows and a wall of spears inside the courtyard. They fought their way into the tower where Elyak had fled, battled their way past a group of soldiers and finally confronted the knight on the battlements above the castle.

During the duel Elyak transformed himself into a pit fiend while standing on a red glyph of power. The party was able to defeat him despite his infernal gift. Remarkably Solgrin stayed his hand from a killing blow even when Elyak taunted him for not being able to save his family. Instead the warrior knocked the devil unconscious and they dragged the beast out of the castle. The defenders of the fortress made way for the victorious adventuring party, too frightened and too awed by what had just happened to stop them.

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Devils and the Dragon
The party finds a red dragon under Burnordraath

A few days after the death of Tannoc Causwold the party reconvened at a rural tavern on the trade road outside of Rorain to catch up on each others’ doings and plot their next move. It was a busy morning and the party had to share a seat with a traveling wizard named Stueceous who told a tale about encountering a devil-creature out on the Steppe. The wizard explained that he was traveling back to Rorain through the night when he spotted some torch lights and heard chanting coming from a nearby ruin. The steppe-lands of Burnordraath are marked with numerous fortifications, both still standing and others crumbling to ruin, and it is not uncommon to find travelers, bandits or monsters using them as shelter. The wizard explained that he is an accomplished adventurer and agent of the Dalnorum, so he decided to investigate the ruin. It looked as though a group of cultists had summoned a devil, lost control of it, and it slew them all. Stueceous then attacked the devil, defeated it, and beheaded it. He was surprised to see that the body did not vanish and return to the Hells, so he kept the severed head for observation.

The party asked Stueceous to take them back to the ruin, so that they might see firsthand and perhaps learn more of this demonic incursion upon Dalun. The ride took half the day and when they arrived the party found evidence that corroborated Stueceous’s story, including the decapitated body of the devil he killed. Aegishand found a trap door leading into a subterranean lair beneath the ruin. Inside the party encountered a demon and a trio of hound-like monsters. They fought their way through, dispatching other foes including animated skeletons as well as a group of angry otyughs. The first level of the ruin appeared to be what remained of a barracks from likely over a hundred years ago, but connected to the ruin was a vast underground chamber that was joined by a tunnel dug by the otyughs.

At the end of the otyugh tunnel was a cavernous room of raw stone, stalagmites and stalactites. It was a bumpy journey through the dark, but eventually the party found an ancient stone door marked with archaic dwarf lettering. The doors were not sealed, so the party stepped inside and discovered an abandoned subterranean dwelling belonging to the nigh-fabled race of dwarves known as “the deep ones.” The settlement was completely devoid of any form of life and had been looted of valuables long ago, so the party continued. They eventually found their way to a tunnel that led on to another dwelling, this one was attended by a pair of deep dwarf guards. Aegishand attempted to use diplomacy to admit his party to pass, Gylek tried coercion, the guards became defensive and when one reached for his war horn Larkspur put them both down with a pair of swift arrows. Furious, Aegishand tackled Larkspur and chastised his allies for being so rash when lives are at stake. Goltheiron and Solgrin helped smooth the party’s tempers, they spoke for a short while and decided to go around the dwarf city wall and avoid any more contact with the Deep Ones.

After traveling for hours longer the party made their way into a stone chamber lit aglow with flame and open rivulets of magma. At the center of an island of obsidian was an elder red dragon with only one wing, the other missing from an old injury. The dragon roared and blasted the party with tremendous waves of fire. As battle was joined the red dragon unshackled a pair of evil horned devils that were bound to its service. By spell and sword the party slew the dragon. Once their master was smote the horned devils fled by way of teleportation magic, presumably back to the Hells. The party collected as much gold and treasure as they could from the dragon’s vast horde and rescued a number of prisoners locked in cages suspended over a pool of lava. With the dragon’s dying breath it cursed the name “Reblithar” for not giving him the strength needed to obtain his revenge.

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