Dalun

Reunion, Recovery and Regret
Eltgaard: a stage for politics and bloodshed

The party returned to Dalun, specifically to the dwarf city of Eltgaard, to see to its recovery and reunite with Larkspur. The adventurers had spent some time questing alongside Goltheiron on his home plane of Noruld, but the halfling chose to remain on Dalun. When they rediscovered Larkspur he looked a little worse for wear and was quieter than normal. Aegishand gave his friends and allies a tour of the newly renovated stronghold, the home of Aegishand and his wife, Lady Grimlove. New additions to the hold featured laboratory space for Gylek, an archery range for Larkspur, a chamber for prayer and meditation for Goltheiron and a stable and field for Solgrin’s horses.

After exploring the stronghold the party discussed the political situation in Eltgaard. The noble houses of the city have decided that a vote must be held to determine a successor. Golthos the Tyrant slew high king Eldukar and the entire royal family during the siege, so a successor or new form of government must be chosen. The vote is to be held tomorrow, but a number of current events have the nobles’ thoughts distracted from the issue at hand. The group decided to split up and investigate these matters hoping to restore a bit of hope to the people and focus the nobles on this critical vote.

Gylek met with Kurnli, master of the stonemasons guild, to plan the reconstruction of the king’s bridge that once connected the main keep to the rest of the city. The party funded the project with ten thousand gold and Gylek offered to use his magic to help shape the stone needed for the bridge. They discussed the name “Giant’s Fall.”

Solgrin and Larkspur tracked down a dwarf named Aedrik who has been rallying disgruntled commoners to his side and has been advocating for the end of the monarchy in Eltgaard. Aedrik and his riotous gangs wish to “return to the old ways” and abolish all class, rank and government altogether. The party was a bit divided on what to do with Aedrik, but ultimately decided that his type of thinking was too dangerous for the city’s future. The two went to meet with Aedrik who was actively ranting in the streets to an angry crowd. They approached him, some of Aedrik’s following stopped them, so Solgrin and Larkspur threw a couple of things at Aedrik causing a fight to break out. The dwarven rioters were no match for the veteran adventurers even without their weapons and eventually the crowd made way. Aedrik fled, so Solgrin and Larkspur gave chase. They eventually cornered him and dragged him inside an abandoned shop. Larkspur’s interrogation quickly turned to torture and when he took his knife to the dwarf’s scalp Solgrin killed Aedrik out of mercy.

On the other side of the city Daylen and Aegishand went incognito as traveling merchants and infiltrated the noble house of a powerful claimant to the throne, a self-proclaimed prince by the name of Rogohr. There are other dwarf nobles of lesser repute and renown laying claim to the throne, but Rogohr is the mightiest. Daylen used his wit and charisma to befriend a household servant and got him talking meanwhile Aegishand crept away. The servant let slip something about Rogohr’s father and with the context implying that he was not King Eldukar – which would kill the “prince’s” claim. Aegishand unlocked a safe in Rogohr’s study and found letters signed by Rogohr’s real father who indeed was a wealthy noble, but no king. The two scoundrels exited Rogohr’s estate and discussed their findings.

The party reconvened at the stronghold and decided to hunt down an enemy of the dwarves, a frost giant by the name of Zagash the Mighty. Folk are saying that Zagash is “Golthos come again” and morale is sinking with every attack against the city. During the journey through the subterranean roads Gylek’s mind was seized by some invisible hand. His eyes rolled back in his skull and his animated limbs cast a spell to raise undead beings from the ground. The party attacked the creatures unsure of what was happening, but when they realized that the dwarf cleric had some measure of control they continued on. Gylek became laconic, simply saying to move forward when asked what was going on, so with little other choice they party continue. At one point the party encountered a group of dwarf refugees looking for healing, but Gylek was unresponsive and regrettably they were unable to help. Eventually Gylek regained his faculties and explained that he was visited by a being of immense power who he knew must have been Reblithar, the blood god responsible for giving Gylek his abilities.

It took many hours of travel and tracking, but eventually the party found Zagash’s lair in the tunnels below the Dungardt Mountains and did battle with him and his numerous lackeys. Daylen used a powerful enchantment to fool some of Zagash’s agents while the party engaged the ogres and ice troll protecting Zagash. After slaying the ice giant the party pulled back into the tunnels to regroup and discuss their next move.

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Realm of the Slaad
A portal opens inside the fortress

After the death of Al’iikbad a number of parties have arisen to lay claim to the Fortress of the Darkened Sun. Zadesh, archmage and former associate of Al’iikbad, wishes to turn the fortress into a stronghold for spellcasters and rule the realm as a magocracy. Archmage Zadesh desires to take control of the remaining armies and make them answer to a mage court which he will preside over. Conversely the resistance group who challenged Al’iikbad’s rule wishes to create a “peoples’ council," tear down the Fortress of the Darkened Sun and disband the men-at-arms. They plan to rule for the people by voting on issues in an open forum.

Alternatively the party discussed the possibility of handing the fate of the Fortress and the city over to the Ainugrand, Malmöl or perhaps Goltheiron. Solgrin voiced his opinion that giving control over to Malmöl or the people would bring about weakness and would invite outsiders to take the Fortress of the Darkened Sun for themselves. Aegishand supported Goltheiron as choice for ruler as well, but ultimately both the fighter and the rogue deferred to the paladin. Just as Goltheiron was announcing that he did not feel right becoming the new leader for the people Lady Golhina stepped into the room to deliver some news.

Apparently an extraplanar gate has opened inside the necromancer’s fortress. Al’iikbad was known for conspiring with otherworldly forces as an avenue to power and the group quickly learned that this gate led to the domain of a Slaad-lord named Khallum. A being that Al’iikbad sought an alliance with to overcome the Ainugrand, but now that Al’iikbad is dead Khallum has set his eyes upon Noruld for himself.

The party agreed that for the safety of the people and for the sake of winning their favor in the coming debate over governance they would need to close the chaos portal. Solgrin, Aegishand and Goltheiron strode into the magic gate which took them to Khallum’s sanctuary within the first layer of Limbo. The Slaad-lord’s castle sat upon a floating stone island filled with water that orbited a molten sphere of fire and lightning. The Slaadi castle was mostly submerged within the interior “ocean” of the stone island though the caverns below were accessible by a central spire that stood above the surface.

A group of red and blue Slaad attacked the trio of adventurers, but were cut down on the causeway before the main entrance. They descended the spire into the core of Khallum’s watery sanctuary. Within, the Death Slaad-lord Khallum stood with a pair of grey Slaad guardians. The heroes did battle as newly birthed Slaad pulled themselves from the nearby spawning pools and the fighting intensified. Ultimately Solgrin, Aegishand and Goltheiron slew Khallum and his cohorts, but were surrounded by innumerable Slaadi reinforcements. They broke Khallum’s sword, whose pommel held a god stone, and escaped the Death Slaad-lord’s sanctuary sealing the portal behind them.

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Death of a Lich

After the prison break the adventurers were attacked by an evil desert djinn and a band of soldiers. After destroying the genie, a Dao, the party questioned a surviving soldier who confirmed Goltheiron’s suspicion that Al’iikbad had not truly been defeated in their last encounter. It would seem the Necromancer had mastered undeath and transformed himself into a lich.

The party set about defeating Al’iikbad’s servants, guardians and minions to undermine is power before the final battle. They recovered some treasure from the fortress vault including the “Ruby of the Desert” a powerful fire gem. After a few exchanges with soldiers, escaped prisoners and the occasional servant or apprentice the party did battle with a dracolich. The undead dragon had blue scales and shot lighting from its mouth. It proved to be a powerful foe, but Goltheiron mounted the beast and slew it with several well-aimed smites. The dracolich was custodian to a “shard of midnight” which was said to be a piece of the moon that fell to the ground during a solar eclipse before the fortress was built. Gylek and Solgrin destroyed the shard.

Confident that his powers were diminished by destroying the shard of midnight and looting his treasure trove the party confronted Al’iikbad in his main hall. The necromancer’s inner sanctum was a chamber wrought of solid gold with silk rugs and a tall-backed throne. Al’iikbad was guarded by a cadre of mystically animated suits of armor. These helmed horrors were brought to “life” by the unwilling blood sacrifice of a half a dozen innocent servants whose bodies littered the gold chamber.

The battle was brief, but bloody. The animated suits of armor were destroyed and the lich was finally defeated. His phylactery was crushed and he was unable to assume another form. At last Al’iikbad Zhal met his bitter end.

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Shadows of the Sun
Fortress sneaking and a prison break

The party reconvened after their escape from the Fortress of the Darkened Sun and discussed their next move. It was decided that there was unfinished business inside the fortress and speculation that Al’iikbad had not truly been slain, Goltheiron suggested that the evil sorcerer had become a lich. Daylen and Aegishand got to work securing a supplies wagon scheduled for delivery to the fortress. After a scuffle with the local garrison and a brief chase the party eluded their foes and made off with the supply wagon.

The following evening the party used stealth, magic and deceit to re-infiltrate the fortress. They were guided inside and taken to a lower level where the supplies would be offloaded by a handful of servants. Solgrin, Malmöl, and Goltheiron sprang from their hidden positions in the back of the wagon and slew the nearby enemy soldiers. The party then crept on ahead, taking the soldiers’ uniforms as disguises, and made their way to the dungeon.

They had to relinquish their weapons before entering the prisoner holding area, but it was worth the risk because they made contact with a resistance agent. A human male who had been taken captive for “seditious activity” revealed himself to be a member of a resistance movement with aims to disrupt Al’iikbad’s rule. The party decided to rescue the agent and motivate a prison revolt to provide cover… and perhaps a bit of justice.

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Bad Blood
Goltheiron takes his revenge

After stepping into the abandoned warehouse the party was confronted by Lady Golhina and Goltheiron’s former squire, Malmöl. The encounter was tense at first because Golhina was not convinced that Goltheiron was genuine. She and Malmöl explained that there were rumors after Goltheiron’s death that he had abandoned the Ainugrand and joined forces with Al’iikbad. Of course this was totally untrue, but Goltheiron’s story of awakening in the Silt Lord’s realm after this death on Noruld, fighting his way out, and coming to Dalun was difficult to comprehend. Ultimately it was decided that the paladin’s coming actions would determine his allegiance to the Ainugrand, to Noruld and to his mother.

Lady Golhina, Malmöl, and the rest of the party formed a plan to infiltrate Al’iikbad’s castle, “the fortress of the darkened sun” with a clever ruse. Malmöl and Goltheiron allowed themselves to be bound and gave their weapons over to their “captors.” Daylen, Gylek, Solgrin and Aegishand played the part of bounty hunters bringing prisoners before Al’iikbad seeking a reward. It took a lot of smooth-talking and a bit of luck, but the party made their way through the main gates.

The party was escorted inside the fortress and made to wait in a central chamber while the guard captain announced their arrival to Al’iikbad. While they waited Goltheiron experienced a vision of sorts. It was like an out of body experience, but he saw from the perspective of another… he stood in the body of someone else, a very familiar body… He found himself standing in Al’iikbad’s throne room, at the sorcerer’s side, and he saw the soldier enter the room to herald the capture of Goltheiron and his squire. At that moment Al’iikbad turned to Goltheiron and said to him “they are coming for you, my son.” At that very instant the paladin realized that somehow Al’iikbad had reanimated his slain body left on Noruld despite himself coming back to life on Dalun.

Battle was joined, Daylen used a spell to make the guards flee, and the rest of the party engaged a massive animated beast summoned from Al’iikbad’s twisted dungeons. After destroying the beast they moved into the throne room where Goltheiron squared off against his undead self. The moment his undead form was struck down Goltheiron collapsed and he experienced another out of body episode. He found himself before the gates of heaven having his actions and sins read back to him. Ultimately the guardian at heaven’s gates deemed Goltheiron’s work incomplete and rejected his soul sending him back to Noruld. When he returned, Goltheiron’s undead form had vanished as though reality had decided which Goltheiron would remain.

Finally Goltheiron rose, took up his sword and declared judgement upon Al’iikbad: death. The party engaged the sorcerer who had many magical augmentations in place and wielded powerful death magic, but was ultimately slain. When his body collapsed to the ground his physical form broke apart leaving behind naught but ash. A smokey light of energy escaped from the smoldering remains and spiraled towards the ceiling where it erupted in a dark flash. The party searched the chamber for valuables, didn’t find much, and chose to escape before reinforcements arrived.

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Portents & Portals
More of Noruld is revealed

Upon arriving to the stone gate and tower at the mountain pass the party quickly learned that whoever is supposed to be manning this passage has vanished. Aegishand and Daylen snuck ahead to have a look and using magic discovered a vile glutton spirit had taken up residence in the fort. The two engaged the creature, but quickly called for help. Solgrin and Goltheiron needed to lift the bars of the great gate so that they could get through while Daylen cranked the gate winch on the opposite side. Once the party surrounded the creature they were able to take it down. Goltheiron banished the remaining spirit with his newly won holy longsword, Qel’alas.

After investigating the redoubt the party discovered a flag belonging to a group of warriors known as “the Peregrines,” vassals of Lord Kallad. Goltheiron explained that while the Peregrines were not part of the Ainugrand they had common causes and it was uncharacteristic of them to simply have abandoned their posts. There was no sign of a battle, great use of magic hanging in the air or any indication as to where the warriors would’ve gone. Ultimately the party decided to open the gates of the pass and continue their journey North.

Daylen questioned the travelers as to where they came from and where they were headed. They explained to the bard that they hail from a Southern territory and every year they make a pilgrimage of sorts to Airunal. This year they are bringing a gift called “the Cloak of Winter” which is said to be a magical cape with the power to manipulate the seasons. The party also learned that the acting commander of the Ainugrand has apparently changed since Goltheiron was last on Noruld, but the travelers from the South did not know the new commander’s name.

Later that night Gylek offered to use magic to divine the location of Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina. Goltheiron agreed and the scrying spell was cast. Just a moment later the two were looking into a pool of holy water beholding, Goltheiron’s mother, Lady Golhina hiding amongst some rocks in the desert overlooking a mighty city. Goltheiron identified the city as Ghazdeshdar “the fortress of the darkened sun,” the seat of Al’iikbad’s power. The party gathered round and discussed their fate here on Noruld and it was decided that with tomorrow’s light they would teleport to Ghazdeshdar and meet up with Lady Golhina.

The party did just that and when Daylen completed the teleportation spell they arrived in, rather, above Ghazdeshdar. They fell to the ground hard and were immediately set upon by Al’iikbad’s men. A battle was joined in the streets of the city and many enemies were slain; any who tried to run were struck in the back. After the fighting the party made off into the nearest alleyway to take cover. They evaded a number of guard patrols and moved to hide in a nearby abandoned building. Upon entering they were discovered by none other than Lady Golhina herself.

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The Countess and Noruld
Doors are opening for the adventurers

Shortly after their return from the Abyssal realm of Thanatos the party saw to identifying the nature of the recently acquired magic items recovered from S’zorek’s demonic vault. They came across a scholar and countess named Eleniar. From her vast collection of tomes and equally impressive knowledge of the planes and the relics found across them she was able to identify each of the items they recovered. As she realized there was a collection of powerful artifacts laying on the table in her study she also realized that the men who brought them to her were equally powerful. They began discussing planar travel and during that conversation it was revealed that she had portal access to the realms of Jajemerin and Noruld. The party did not take much time to decide it best to travel to Goltheiron’s home world of Noruld to see what the fate of that realm had become after his death.

It took a day for the countess to secure a stable portal for the party and they took that time to provision and prepare. They convened at a public forum not far from her manor where a trio of mages open a vast purple-colored energy vortex which teleported anyone who entered the votrex’s threshold to a spot on Noruld. The party found themselves in a humid jungle deep within the wilds. They set off to the north where they were attacked by a pack of displacer beasts and a massive reptilian carnivore.

After dispatching their foes the party made its way up into the mountains where they discovered a somewhat level path through. At the mouth of the mountain pass, however, they encountered a stone fortress surrounded by a small gathering of travelers. None among the adventuring party could see any banners or devices, so it was unclear if this was some kind war party, a band of refugees or something else…

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To the Abyss and Back
An unexpected demonic encounter...

After the adventuring party returned to Trundor they gathered in a nearby tavern to talk things over with Daylen and Baylen. Daylen divulged that he got caught up in a deal gone bad with a demon named S’zorzek in order to obtain a magic rock called a god stone. In order to secure a god stone Daylen agreed to bargain with the demon, however he did not keep his end of the deal and made off with the god stone. Baylen, then, began filling in the gaps of the story with details he picked up from his captors. He explained that S’zorzek sent men to capture Daylen and get revenge for stealing from him, but in their haste the bounty hunters grabbed the wrong Gempf. Daylen finished his tale by saying that he still needs a god stone because the one he stole from S’zorzek he had to destroy in order to open a portal strong enough to take him back to Dalun and rescue Baylen.

Baylen announced his decision to enter the priesthood of Iess, something he’s always felt he should do, but could not until now. He said his goodbyes and left. The party agreed to help recover the god stone for Daylen because Baylen was a friend and also because once S’zorzek comes to exact revenge on Daylen he will likely kill anyone who is with him. The next move was to figure out how to obtain another god stone. As fortune would have it, Aegishand had a cousin named Burnladder, living in Trundor, who took up spell and alchemy over thievery and warfare. So the adventuring party sought him out.

The dwarf alchemist was a bit of an odd fellow, but he helped them determine that there are two ways to obtain a god stone: to steal one from the Keepers or to return to S’zorzek’s demonic monastery in the Abyss and rob him again. The party decided that it would be best to not make enemies of the Keepers of the city and to instead risk going into the Abyss to retrieve a god stone from S’zorzek. The party gathered in a circle in Burnladder’s basement and opened a small planar gate to reach the Abyss.

After the spell was cast the party found themselves standing in the Abyss, a wretched place of despair and misery. As they traveled the black plains and scaled the ashen slopes they discovered that they were a layer of the Abyss known as Thanatos, the realm of Orcus, Demon Lord of the undead. Littered about the black realm were mausoleums, forests of plague creatures, and countless undead minions wandering aimlessly in the black, cold land. After a time the party found a subterranean tunnel entrance, so they opened the brass doors and descended into the grounds below. Within the tunnels Daylen used a magic eye spell to perceive demonic creatures tending to the dead buried there, repairing their tattered and sundered bodies and preparing them for necrotic reanimation.

They did battle with many lesser demons and a few more powerful ones, but eventually found their way to the lower levels of a demonic monastery with S’zorzek’s vault locked safely underneath. The party used a charm spell to distract a number of deranged cultists allowing Aegishand to pick the lock of the vault door. Within the party found a number of angelic and mundane artifacts as well as a small pile of god stones. Just then S’zorzek appeared and threw himself at the party in a furious anger. It was a harrowing battle, but they slew the demon once and for all.

After looting the vaults Solgrin declared that he would not leave this place until the demon’s prisoners be freed. There were indeed about a dozen innocent humanoids languishing in the halls above the vault; they were shackled and tortured and surely if the party left they would die and be risen as mindless demonic minions. The party agreed to help the bold fighter, so they began cutting the wounded prisoners free of their bonds. A horrific demonic serpent bashed its way through the front entrance of the monastery just as the last prisoner was freed. They smashed one of the newly seized god stones and teleported away back to Trundor with the prisoners.

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Planar Travel

Upon stepping into the city streets of Trundor the party witnessed a bizarre extraplanar event unfold before them. A magic rift opened in the very fabric of reality, out came running a group of unsavory-looking humanoid warriors who grabbed Baylen Gempf, a recent ally and friend of the adventuring party and then made off. A magic golem-like creature, a Keeper, intercepted one of the plane-travelling warriors, killing him just before his allies escaped through another portal, dragging Baylen with them. Immediately thereafter a bard in colorful attire identifying himself as Baylen’s brother, Daylen, called out to the party to give chase. The group and their new ally ran after Baylen, heading through the rapidly-closing portal.

The adventuring party found themselves standing in a dark canyon on an alien world which was most certainly not Dalun. Larkspur could feel it in the air and Daylen confirmed that they were on another world located on the Pintle Rim on a plane of existence called Telegira. The rock of the canyon was a rich purple color, the soil was nearly black, and massive blue and white spotted mushroom stalks sprouted from the sides of the cliff walls like trees in a mountainous forest. A thick cloud of pollen dust hung in the air stinging the eyes and nostrils of the adventurers as they acclimated to this strange and foreign land.

Unfortunately the interplanar bounty hunters that grabbed Baylen must have been using powerful teleportation magic or benefited from some kind of planar time flux because when the adventurers arrived their quarry was already several miles ahead. They hiked on through the rocky canyon and found a navigable path to flat land above and were able to pick up the pace. After a time they entered a “forest” of towering mushroom stalks and were assaulted by a hungry pack of spider-like creatures which hopped about and lunged about harrying the party. After all of the creatures were slain they found their way to a river which they followed until they reached a tavern.

Upon arriving at the tavern they discovered a group of beings which resembled humans and elves, but they dressed oddly and did not speak common, elvish or any other language they knew for that matter. Eventually the adventurers were able to discern from grunts, broken common phrases, and hand signals that the kidnappers made off with Baylen towards a settlement out in the rocky country beyond the tavern.

After another day or so of travel the adventurers caught up with Baylen’s kidnappers who had him tied up, incapacitated and slung over the saddle of a horse. Daylen created a diversion with song and dance while Solgrin and Gylek ran into the crowded street the bounty hunters were attempting to navigate. They got into a brief scuffle, but managed to grab Baylen and escaped by casting a teleportation spell.

To their dismay Gylek’s teleportation spell was countered and the party found themselves standing on the edge of a volcano. Boiling up from the caldera below was a harsh green acid which burned anything that fell in. The adventuring party quickly engaged the enemy spellcaster and his minions, but during the fighting a massive, serpentine, worm-like creature burst forth from the acid volcano and began viciously attacking the party. Despite the dangerous terrain and powerful foes the party was able to once again grab hold of Baylen and teleport back to Dalun using a plane shift spell.

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Escaping the Hold
Part 2 of Zokan's Hold

After taking rest the party got back on their feet and pressed forth, clearing several additional rooms of monsters and traps. The magic of the place seemed to intensify as the group encountered larger and more exotic “rooms,” some of which may not have been on Dalun at all. They crossed windswept canyons, flaming caverns, and lastly a elder dragon’s den. Finally the group found themselves in a small meditation chamber with a mysterious crystal ball floating in the center of the room. Around the crystal orb were a number of soft cushions scattered about the floor. One by one, starting with Aegishand, the party approached the crystal ball and peered into it’s depths.

The magic within the orb showed the viewer a spectacular sight of the night sky with thousands of twinkling star lights. The orb quickly submerged the viewer’s conscious mind into a sea of mystic sights showing worlds far away. It was like nothing any of them had ever witnessed, a thousand worlds with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants on each of them. It was a bit of an overwhelming experience, but also deep enriching and enticing. Once each of them awoke from their trance like state they composed themselves and made for the exit.

The door of the humble meditation room opened and they found themselves on the streets of Trundor, the city of portals.

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