Althura

Returned to the Capitol

Little has changed in the city since you left last. At the Weeping Woman you find rooms ready for your return. Showing you to your rooms, Ashva whispers “I heard of the terrible plague in Dormoor, your return brings me relief.” Bashfully, Dixit whispered back, “We cured them, I made a salve.” Walking up the stairs to the rooms, you pass a closed door flanked by two guards. Dressed in fitted leather armor of the darkest black, beneath black cowls their faces were covered by simple white masks. Eyes peered from the masks’ shadows but their mouth and nose were hidden beneath. Ashva notices your attention and explains “LadyLord has sent her representative for you to meet with after you’ve seen to your rooms.”
Not wishing to delay the meeting you returned to the guarded door shortly. At your approach you hear a woman’s voice call, “Enter.” Opening the door and stepping aside, the guards wait for the party to enter the dining room before stepping in and closing the door. A table is set before you with hors d’oeuvre and apéritif but your attention is drawn to the woman on the far side of the room. She too wears black, though robes and veil, and her white mask leaves her mouth uncovered.
“And what did you find for us, adventurers?” Black-painted lips form her question and her gaze impatiently awaits a reply. Gilrahad answered her request by emptying his bag of holding of the ruin’s spoils. A simple clay goblet finally lands upon the pile of platinum, gold and gems. The statue of a woman, half aged half youthful, the flowing golden cloth and opulent jewelry seem to hold no great awe with this woman. Gimble continues to struggle to remove the enormous rug from his bag enough to show her but she stops him.
“These are great treasures indeed and with these riches, adorn yourselves and better prepare for the tasks I will set you upon soon.” “Varis, there was one other thing.” Gilrahad said, looking to the half elf. “Right, I was just saving the best for last.” Varis replied, reluctantly removing the mysterious and quite magical card from his robes.
“Yes, this is what we seek. There are more, you have found one and so will the rest find you. You will give them to me.” Without moving ungracefully, between moments, she took the ancient card, painted with a ship’s wheel, from Varis and stood. “Continue to uncover the past, find more ruins and awaken their secrets. LadyLord will continue to nurture your powers and growth.” Arcane utterances from the guards shape light into a doorway behind the trio and the dark stone of deep Althura can be seen through it. Leaving the party feeling unfulfilled in the dining room of the Weeping Woman, the bustle returns as Ashva opens the door and invites them back into the common room.
Having been away from the city, the group made sure to clear up any errands and purchases. The Weeping Woman’s rooms felt particularly indulgent after the nights out in the world and the next morning came swiftly and noisily.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK “G’Morning sirs!” The voice of a young boy pitching into your rooms from the hall, “I’m here to fetch the adventurers, the ones that saved Dormoor.” You hear Ashva scold the boy for yelling in her inn as the first of the group steps out for the morning. Eager to escort you to the castle, the young boy waited to escort you. The Royal Keep is more a palace and sprawling across the small hills in front of the gates a garden of fruit trees and other edible plants is cultivated. Within the entry hall of the palace, you wait for a while, watching the palace business scurry around. Beautiful women flock and exchange news while young children dash about with missives and missions.
A stately man steps out of a hall and waves your way, “Thank you for coming, goodly adventurers, this way please.” You learn him to be the King’s Steward, Lenen. He is happy to share the King’s appreciation of their rescue of Dormoor but is even more eager to request a vial of the salve used. “For his wife, the ”/wikis/queen-andela-espern" class=“wiki-page-link”> Queen, still ill these years past. He recently hired another Royal Healer but hopefully it will be in vain for your magics." More thanks and platitudes were shared with the party but the King unfortunately was not there.
Another day of shopping and rest, pleasent after the trying adventure just finished, faded into evening…

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Dampened Spirits & Wild Magic
Grey skies hung heavily with rainclouds, steady rain and the muddy road

Somedays are made for sleeping in, today was one of those days. Unfortunately it was also the day the party decided to set forth from Dormoor on the return to Koltara. Gimbal rejoined the party after seeking a new ally, Turine, a panther. The night of heavy rain washed the dirt road into a mud trap and the party chose to travel along side, instead. The tall grass hushing the rain to white noise as they rode for the better part of the day. As the sun set, evidenced only by a steady darkening, an anguish, feral cry ripped through the curtain of water to send shivers down their spines.

“Fiends.” Gimbal and Xander agreed together, sensing the malevolent presence. Visibility poor, they watched the tall grass for movement. A hyena emerged first, but it was twisted by dark magic, a fiend. Powerful jaws and too many teeth, it ran in, bringing a pack of Krenshar with it. The Krenshar were as terrible as the fiendish hyena. One howled, piercing the air with a shriek and pulling the skin of it’s face back from the skull beneath. Quickly the party broke into formation, mounted above the tall grass while some shook of the fearful cry. Adrik and Xander slashed at the beasts while Dixit, Gimbal and Turine worked together. Gimble maneuvered about the fight to take advantage of every opportunity when suddenly Varis found himself surrounded. Calling upon his innate powers, Varis felt pure magical force answered his will. The simple spell of magical missiles rang clearly in his mind and as he directed the projectiles to the fiendish beasts the raw wild energy within him answered ten-fold. Ten brilliant missiles of force shot forth from Varis. A precipitant power left a fading glow to his eyes and skin. Struck down by the unexpected power and scattered, the remaining Krenshar fell quickly to the party’s might.

And still it rained. Varis slumped over his horse, exhausted and the party gathered to build a camp for the night. Once they were sheltered from the rain sleep swiftly found them. Like a blanket the rain tucked them into their shelter and most slept peacefully. Dixit and Adrik however tossed and turned with a sheen of sweat across their brows. Nightmares of withering forests, plagued cities and animals being mutated by foul magic fill their night. The monk and fighter wake as if they had not slept, feeling worse for the wear. Like a plague of its own the rain continued. Another day of travel quickly passed them by with only an unsettling sense of being watched to mark it from any other. No nightmares plagued them that night and no trouble found them as they slept another damp night away.

Morning came and with it good news, the clouds had stopped trying to drown them and the King’s Peace was only a half a day away. Still following the path trodden into the tall grass along side the road, rather than in the mud, the approaching forest gave the day’s ride an optimistic feel. As the afternoon began to dim to dusk the party was riding through the few small, sparsely forested foothills before the woods. Then rolling over the next hill came faint chanting, foreboding and full of malevolence. Creeping ahead, magic silencing his foot steps, Gimble peered through a tangle of fallen trees and brush. Just off the road in a clearing surrounded by a cluster of large boulders stood three robed figures. Their arms were outstretched towards one another to mimic the triangular etching in the ground at their feet. Adrik hurried forward, his attempt at stealth foiled by his armor, to join Gimble. Covering Adrik’s advance and hoping to gain arcane insight to the ritual Varis stepped forward revealing himself to the cultists.

“Hello there.” He greeted them jovially. “…” A glare from the tall woman nearest the fallen trees was joined by a witchbolt, answering his greeting clearly, the chanting uninterrupted. The rest of the party had crept up under the distraction Varis provided forming a semi-circle around the three cultists. Rage tightened the grip on his sword as Xander realized the cultists had sacrificed a young woman to cast this ritual. Sensing the rising fiendish power, Xander looked to Gimbal confirming what he felt. “We have to stop them, they are summoning something terrible.” Varis yelled to the party. “A fiend is on the other side.” Gimbal added. Determined, the party set to stopping the cultists from unleashing this foe. As they readied their attack a hand reached out from the rune on the ground as if to climb from below. A large, gorilla-like hand clawed the dirt straining to gain purchase before sliding back into the earth. Adrik roared and charged at the tall woman, throwing her to the ground within the marked lines. Her body stuck the ground and stuck part of the way into the earthen portal for a moment before the monstrous hand appeared again. Quickly the cultist was crushed in it’s grasp, pulled down into the portal and Varis winced as a flood of power widened the passage. Pouring their full wrath upon the evil mages, the party threw them to their own monstrosity one at a time.

“No, the portal has too much power, it won’t close on it’s own any longer!” Varis yelled, “Quickly, help me to dismiss it.” Xander and Gimbal joined Varis at the portal as the others pulled the poor woman’s corpse off to the side. Willfully they poured their arcane and divine mights into the fiendish portal and it collapsed with a quiet rush. Exhausted as if they had cast many spells relief rewarded them as they looked around.

The young woman had clearly been ambushed nearby and lost her life to summon the dark beast. The casters rested nearby and the party built a pyre for the girl, giving her a respectful rest. Worn from fighting and traveling the party again set camp on the skirts of the King’s Peace. Less than a day’s travel remains to reach the capital, an end to this first excursion in sight the group finds themselves pondering their road together. Destiny calls to each in its own way, will they band together for a greater destiny or set sail on different winds?

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Treasure and Mystery
Advance to Level 3!

After a quiet night of rest, the group found the bees and hive dead, rotting away. Gimbal’s inspection of the bees and their home found they had died of an unnatural sickness and were crumbling to dust.The statue they discovered changed also, what was once a black, glass-like cloaked figure holding a chest was now a clear, glass-like statue of an old, decrepit woman, her head tipped back as if crying out. Uncertain what to make of this, the party got back to what was easier, bug smashing. Quickly clearing the next room they opened the next doorway to find an opulently decorated room.

As if untouched by time this room glittered compared to the rest of the ruins. A huge rug, decorated with flames and waves played host to scattered gems, ancient coinage and other treasure. Collecting their reward, and hopefully artifacts to please their patron LadyLord, the group patiently waited for the gnomes to struggle the huge rug into their magic bag. Ready for rest in a bed and the chance to learn more about LadyLord, the party worked their way down the ruin’s halls, leaving the room of ghouls behind closed doors and exited into a finely constructed plaza.

The sun shone down on the confused party for a few moments as they considered this change. Carefully manicured landscaping artfully decorates the large paved plaza and frames fountains where the groups mounts are loosely tied to a post, waiting. Turning to inspect the faded carvings on the cliff face they found the carvings are fresh. Two feathered wings stretch majestically upwards on either side of the door to meet at a point above the opening. Resting just above the wing tips a large, open eye stares unblinking over the Upper Plains. Turning to gaze out over the plains as the eye did, Adrik noticed the herd of beasts had wandered nearby. Curious, and a bit envious of Neo the Bee, the fighter waded into the herd to find a choice mount. After a few frustrating failures to mount the dis-interested but thankfully tolerant beasts he returned to the group covered in their fur, which had come out in great tufts whenever he pulled upon it. It appeared much of the herd was sickly. Pondering possible time travel but agreeing at the very least about not sticking around, the group mounted and returned to Dormoor.

Travel was smooth and uneventful back towards Dormoor. Cautious of the treeants they had disturbed the first time through the small forest, the group was respectful as they travelled. Collecting traps after a night of rest, Gimbal found some of the forest life seemed ill akin to the beasts herd. Eyes on the prize they finished the short morning’s ride to find Dormoor flying the black plague banners. Smurg! grimaced and explained the black flag to mean the illness passing through this town is unidentified and deadly. Unable to allow the people of Dormoor to go without aid, they entered the town.

Visits to the Shiny Butterfly, an affluent inn and tavern on the upper crust of Dormoor, and to the Mayor of Dormoor, Arnt Talme, informed the party of the town’s situation. Loch (Smurg!) went in search of one of the ill and met with Old Bette, whose daughter Sara was in bed sick. Loch (Smurg!) decided to visit the girl. In the Shiny Butterfly they learned how the illness struck the town only two days back, but has been claiming lives, including the Mayor’s young daughter. Loch (Smurg!) spoke briefly with the sick girl and played a tune to lift her spirits before returning to the group. Gilrahad met with Mayor Talme and discussed the illness. He learned the town apothecary, Jon, had skipped town when he was summoned to help and that the Mayor himself was ill. Unable to stand by, the group offered Arnt a dose of salve recovered in the treasure and he was cured. Emboldened by this hope for his town and a refusal to allow another soul to pass as his daughter had, Mayor Talme sternly directed the party not to leave town until they found a way to re-create the salve they shared with him. Understanding his plight, they agreed to help and so he gave them his town key and directed them to the Apothecary.

In the two story storefront the group gathered the supplies Dixit would need to recreated the salve. Having spent years in isolation with her master during training, Dixit had learned to work medicines from scratch. Well supplied and motivated by the lives depending on her, Dixit skillfully recreated the ancient medicine. Realizing they would need a test subject, Loch (Smurg!) grabbed a guy from a pile of garbage, remembering Adrik having found him there earlier. They brought the unconscious sick man to the Apothecary and Gilrahad laid hands on him so that he might rouse and consent to the experiment. Eager to end his suffering Brad approved and applied the salve. They put him to bed upstairs and set to making places to sleep for the night.

The awoke in the morning the aroma of breakfast. A cheerful Brad waited for them in the kitchen, cooking as a thanks for saving him while chatting amicably with Loch (Smurg!). Excited to share the news with Arnt, the group took the elevator up to his home and told him of their success. They had been able to create enough salve to distribute to the townsfolk, store for any who may become sick and for the party to have as well. The Mayor was beyond impressed and after most of the party left with guardsmen to assist with distribution, Arnt asked Loch (Smurg!) to stay on as the town Apothecary and Gilrahad to take a letter back to the King regarding what had happened.

A letter to the King, ancient treasures from the forbidden past and the heroism of saving Dormoor set their shoulders straight and heads high as they left town for the capital, Koltara. Gilrahad, Adrik, Gimbal, Dixit, Varis, Xander, Cael, Gimble and Leoric may not know what brought them together but a greater sense of destiny seems to be twisting their fates together.

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Ancient Ruins

Varis placed his hand upon the door and felt the door hum, the runes filling with light slowly. Glowing brightly the door slid up to reveal an enormous hive. The vibration of thousands of bees filled their ears and several giant bees came to meet the group. Intrigued by the enormous insects, Dixit leapt upon the back of a near by Bee. It was not ready for this nimble gnome and flew about trying to dislodge her, until she calmed him and they landed on a pillar of honeycomb in the hive-room. Just outside the party swatted and speared the remaining bee warriors with vehemence. Dixit’s persistent but calm attitude won over the giant wasp, earning her it’s affection and trust. Gilrahad warily warned her to keep the vermin under control else he dispatch it himself. The rest of the bees seemed unconcerned at the party’s presence and casting a brilliant light, they investigated the enormous honeycomb structure. What had appeared to be a pillar of honeycomb was revealed to be a statue, covered by the bees. Peeling away at the honeycomb around the statue, the form of a woman, draped in a cloak was revealed. The cowl hid her face, the glossy surfaces reflected the light like glass filled with a black darker than shadow. In her arms, a small chest sat locked. Intrigued, they won open the chest and found a treasure of ancient coin, gems and jewelry. One object stood apart, a large card painted with a ship’s wheel and numeral X, Varis tucked the artifact away for continued study. Another doorway lead to a room where the floor seethed with insects, like the swarms killed earlier. Exhausted by their efforts, the party decided to rest outside the colony and deal with the insects later.

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Old Ruins Continued

It was a day of vermin, starting with the giant toads. Poor Dixit was nearly eaten by one of the monstrous toads before the party dispatched them. Here Xander meditated upon their quest for a moment, seeking artifacts of the past. He discovered a strong pull to the west, and more undead creatures to the east. Bravely, the party pushed on to the treasure! Splitting into two groups, they decided to enter the next room prepared to flank the great beasts within. Upon opening the doors they found the floor to be littered with poisonous snakes. With great gusto they took to chopping the snakes to pieces. It was here the party rested for a moment to gather their wits and wills before continuing on. The next chamber seemed to swarm with beetles and insects of all kinds. The swarms threatened to overcome the party when they realized their weapons were not traditionally effective. Thinking quickly, the shield bearers threw their shields down upon the insects and squashed the bugs. Spurred on by the objects they seek being nearby, another door was opened. An unprepared phase spider was just within but the barrage of attacks which met it once they entered swiftly spelled doom. Here the party has paused to collect their thoughts, and some poison, before investigating the rune-marked metal door here.

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Deeper into the Ruins

Having recovered with a night of sleep outside the ruins the party prepared to delve deeper into history when they saw a small figure running towards them along the plains. Out of the giant herd of plains-beasts was introduced Gimble, also a gnomish adventurer. Intrigued by the secrets of the Time of Ash this group of adventurers returned to the dim light of the ancient ruins. Vermin and undead creatures were scoured from the ancient rooms, charges of arcane power filling the air with energy as Varis and Cael wove their craft. Diligently seeking knowledge and artifacts, old coins were uncovered by Gilrahad’s insight. Just as a pack of giant rats was being finished, the group encountered Smurg! and two giant spiders. Smurg! offered words of encouragement to his saviors “You can do it!” echoing on the stone. Bolstered by his inspirational prose they handily disposed of the two spiders, the next room stank of the dead. Disturbed, and eager to further uncover this mystery, Adrik explored a hall to the South while the party searched the room. Finding the hall to loop back to a previously explored chamber, they moved to the western door instead. This opened into an area containing two ghouls and a more powerful undead, a ghast. Working together the foul creatures were defeated and a nervous eye was turned to a hall on the western wall. Scorch marks covered the stone on either side of this long passage just beyond the archway. Testing the way for dangers, Gimble, Gimbal and Dixit discover a u-turn back to the other door on the western wall of the room where the rest of the party waits. Just above this door the ceiling is lined with spikes, upon which a few unfortunate were impaled long ago. A locked door in the u-turn hallway proves to be no challenge for the new thief, what awaits the party on the other side?

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Exploring the Hidden Ruins
Defying death and gaining some real career experience!

Eager to explore the dungeon, brave Paladin Khak quickly advanced the party into the next chamber. There the party found a horde of creepy beasties waiting to satiate their hunger. Gilrahad and Adrik held the enemy line while they could, but Gilrahad became swarmed. Falling unconscious at the feet of Adrik, Gilrahad’s doom seemed inescapable. It was then, amidst the heat of Varis’ flames that Dixit pulled Gilrahad from the reach of the beast’s fangs. Not willing to let the line falter, Xander stepped up and held his ground while they wore the monsters a swing at a time. Suddenly, a flare of magic echoed Varis’ spell and the party found a strange wizard had helped defeat their foes. The newcomer introduced himself as Cael, a wizard, and told the party a gnome woman outside had asked him to assist the fight. Not sure who this other gnome was, and ready for a rest, the party left the ruins to set up camp beside the door. Unexpectedly, after the party had left the ruins, an old gnomish woman emerged and declared the ruins her home. Not certain how to process this strange turn of events, the party is camping to recover and learning more about Cael and this strange old woman.
*[Advance to Level 2!]*

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The Hidden Ruins
Follow the map to mysterious ruins, uncovering the secrets of the past...

The party discovered the ruins of an ancient door in the cliffs of the FoxHole Hills as marked on the map given by their patron. Accidentally, the keyhole for the door was discovered and Xander skillfully opened the long-sealed passage. Within they found narrow stone corridors dimly lit by phosphorescent growth on the walls. Turning right down a winding hall, the party came upon a trio of ghouls. We leave them now, in the first room of the ruins, sorting the plunder of their fight.

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