Our cast of characters…
Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).
[20th of Readying, 578]
When we last left our group, they had slain a room filled with xvart-ghouls, and were preparing to venture through the door they
guarded. After checking the door for traps, Marcus swung it wide open, revealing a vast, oval shaped chamber filled with wooden crates. Each of these crates radiated dim magic to Tarqualan’s enhanced vision, as did the 12’ tall human (?) who stood near the far end of the chamber.
As the party approached the man, he called out to them in Bakluni, berating them for their lateness and demanding that they take up their tools and report to the first mine entrance for their assignments. A few of the party picked up the tools as they were instructed to, but Marcus attempted to slip past without doing so, and was stopped by the large man and asked if he were there to work or to fight. Sensing no evil from the man, Marcus elected to pick up a pickaxe and exit the chamber through the far exit, but he left it aside as soon as he was out of sight of the exit.
Farther down the corridor the giant had indicated, the group encountered a great cyst within the earth. roughly capsule shaped, it was 120’ in diameter, rising 15’ further overhead and dropping nearly a quarter mile beneath them. Along the sides a fairly wide ledge, roughly 20’ wide, corkscrewed counterclockwise down the inside of the cyst, over a dozen exits could be seen along the walls at various points, but it was the floor of the capsule that caught the most interest; it could be seen to swirl and bubble, even at their distance from it, acting much like lava but emitting no heat.
Following the instruction given them by the giant above, they follow the first cavern exit they come to nearly 500m until they come to a chasm that splits the tunnel, but the bridge built to cross it is broken. Tarqualan flies across to the far side where he discovers the skull of a xvart, but little else of interest. Returning for rope, a hammer, and pitons, he begins hammering to anchor the rope so that the rest of the group may cross; but as he does so he is attacked from behind by a quartet of mobats.
Tarqualan withstands their first assault, then teleports himself back to the safety of the group. As the bats turn and come within reach of the party, Marcus smashes one, Dracon casts a spell of control upon another, Kalik and Kendradell both dodge the bat swooping for Kalik (causing it to plow into the wall, stunning itself) but Milik is successfully grabbed and lifted high over the chasm. Before the bat has a chance to release Milik to fall into the chasm below, Milik grabs hold of the leg that is clutching him and holds on for dear life.
Nikolai sets his temporal spirit upon the bat, freezing it and Milik in a moment of time as Tarqualan flies out over the chasm to rescue Milik.
First he ties a rope around Milik’s midsection, then he severs the leg of the bat just above where Milik has it in a death grip. As he does this, the mobat under Dracon’s command attacks it’s fellow bat relentlessly, until it finally is commanded to smash itself into a wall. When Nikolai finally commands his spirit to release Milik and the bat, Milik blinks as he sees the bat above him lurch forwards as the rope around his midsection pulls taught (his hands still gripping the now severed hind leg of the bat for support!). As the bat begins to fall down towards the rocks below, so does Milik, at least until he begins to swing backwards from the point where Tarqualan holds the rope above him. As he is lowered to the ledge where the bulk of the party stands watching, he continues to stare at the severed leg in his hands, wondering exactly what has befallen him.
Eventually, the party crosses the broken bridge and travels another 300 meters before the ground before them becomes littered with bones, mainly those of xvarts. As the tunnel they are in eventually widens to the main mine head for this part of the dig, they find the floor covered in bones, and a forgotten ore cart lying in one comer. As the group surveys the dig, they find what was obviously the vein of ore that was being excavated, and When Milik draws near it, he begins to feel a strange warmth and tingling sensation the closer he comes to it.
A shard of a childhood memory swims to the surface, allowing Milik to identify the strange ore as ligablood, a fact which he does not share with the rest of the group initially, feigning ignorance while planning to return on his own in some year to do a little prospecting of his own. He does warn them that the ore is poisonous, which does not dissuade Nikolai from chipping off a bit to have analyzed later. The idea that this vein of ore is what the hundreds of crates above contained raises both concern and greed, but is lain aside for the moment.
Returning back the way-they came, the party listens closely for the sound of mining elsewhere; and those with keen ears can detect the sound of metal on stone far beneath them. The next outlet on their passage down seems quiet, to they continue downwards, and are rewarded by faint sounds emanating from this exit. After traveling nearly a kilometer down the well beaten tunnel, they hear the sound of a wooden cart coming from up ahead, and the group squeezes against the sides of the walls to permit it’s passage. The cart proves to be pulled by a half dozen xvarts with weary expressions, while a robed man rides atop it’s cargo of pottery jugs. This man, like the giant above, addresses the group in the Bakluni tongue, asking them their business, and upon hearing that they are not miners, demanding that they leave his master’s property. As he surveys the group, he seems to notice the small chip of ore Nikolai carries in his pack, and demands it’s return, cursing them all as thieves. Marcus, who detects the evil in this gentleman, finally has enough and strikes him with his axe; in response the man fairly explodes into a cyclone of dirt and stones.
Milik and several other party members immediately retreat before this onslaught, but Marcus stands his ground as does Dracon. As she runs for cover, Kendradell remembers that the Bakluni were famous for their friendship with the various djinni races, and cries out that the robed man must be some kind of dao! Dracon, hearing this, quickly chants out a spell of dismissal, which fails. The dao lashes out at Marcus, tearing his shield from his arm and inflicting massive damage. Stunned by the intensity of the dao’s attack, even Marcus retreats, finally rejoining the party on the stairs in the cyst.
Not knowing how closely the dao pursues, they quickly make their way upwards, only to meet a flood of xvarts pouring out the exit they originally came in through. One is scooped up and blurts out that something (or someone) identified only as Graz’zt has come, and that all must flee him or perish.
Nikolai, the only character with demonology (thanks to the books recovered from Iggwilv’s fortress) recognizes this name effortlessly, and informs the group of whom it doubtless must be. For her part, Kendradell remembers a bit of a ballad concerning xvarts, their god, and a demon prince he once served, just enough to convince the group to take care in advancing.
As they arrive in the great oval chamber that once held so many crates of ore, they all stare at the emptiness that now surrounds them. It is with hushed tones that they exit the complex, regain their horses, and ride back to the Olven Court to apprise them of the situation beneath Delvenbrass. For their part, the elves seem less concerned with the doings of ancient Bakluni sorcerers than they do in the presence of a shrine to Nerull, explaining that their have been recent clashes with agents of the Homed Society, and that it is disconcerting to discover a place of power for their enemies located inside their territory. Marcus is partially released from his geas, but charged to return when he feels he is equal to the level of challenge before him.
As the party rides south into Furyondy, Dracon bids the group farewell, expressing a desire to return to his people, having had enough of the troubles his time among civilized folk have brought him. He sells his interest in Kaverknoll to Marcus for 100 silvers, and rides northward with his wolf familiar.
Once in Furyondy, the group splits off into groups, visiting this friendly temple or that. Nikolai and Kalik return to the Temple of Pelor they had sought help from before, and learn much of certain old enemies, while Marcus visits a temple of Heironeous and is told that he might well be considered for advancement in the cult if he were to show equal zeal in his book learning as he showed in his combat abilities. A side trek to a nearby temple dedicated to Pholtus results in his being granted the use of an amulet that will provide him with a reflective shield against magic, as well as one service from a spirit friendly to Pholtus’s cult.
Once reunited, the group rode north once more into Perrenland, narrowly avoiding one of the final snowstorms of the winter to finally visit and inspect the keep they had been awarded for their actions against Iggwilv’s ancient keep the previous year. As they arrived at the gates of ‘their’ keep, however, they found the walls manned by guards not their own…
[24th of Coldeven, 578]