As Above - So Below

16th Day of Kythorn - 1489 DR
Living on Feywild time...

The party awakes healed, cleaned and supported by the village of TreestreamMayor Brynford Broadtree tells them that their presence is fortuitous and shows them a gray horse named Treetrot, he found during a violent hail storm in the woods.

 

OK….

 

Then he introduces them to Ruallin, a bard and fellow planar traveler, who is trapped here also. 

She tells a tale of forbidden love, a unicorn and a horde of Orcish Ogres. The tale ends sorrowfully with the unicorn cursed and separated from it's horn. She believes the horse is the unicorn returned, only without it's horn.

 

She proposes to seek out the tomb of the Sya-Negran(the Orc/Ogre invaders) leader - Tamaich. She believes if the party will find the horn, and reunite it with Treetrot he will transform into the unicorn. Who … is also known as Iriandel, Guardian of Portals in the part of the Feywild.

 

The party agrees, and digs around. Finding a group of horned Sylvan Elves to the south. Qelnef, their leader tells them "Go north for four days." 

 

So party heads north.

After the third day of traveling they meet a band of Ogres who try and communicate with them. Not attack or eat, but talk. No one speaks Giant.

After awhile they decide to follow the Ogres to where ever they want to take the group. 

An old quarry just to the east of the Knuckles area of the place they wish to go.

There they meet Yventhu, a slaver(?) who wishes to trade the Horn, because he knows where it is, for half of the gnomes in the village and 1,000 gp.

 

The party decides to pay him the gold, and they would find it themselves if he would provide a guide.

He gives them the feral looking orc, a tsryani as he calls himself, horned and brutish named Wuhlap.

Clearly not what he expected, he agrees to the terms and gives them the slave as a guide.

Leaving, Wuhlap agrees to lead them and destroy anything that gets in their way.

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15th Day of Kythorn , 1489 DR How much for that Gnome in the window
Of gnomes and portents of darkness.

The party awakes healed, cleaned and supported by the village of TreestreamMayor Brynford Broadtree tells them that their presence is fortuitous and shows them a gray horse named Treetrot, he found during a violent hail storm in the woods.

 

OK….

 

Then he introduces them to Ruallin, a bard and fellow planar traveler, who is trapped here also. 

She tells a tale of forbidden love, a unicorn and a horde of Orcish Ogres. The tale ends sorrowfully with the unicorn cursed and separated from it's horn. She believes the horse is the unicorn returned, only without it's horn.

 

She proposes to seek out the tomb of the Sya-Negran(the Orc/Ogre invaders) leader - Tamiach. She believes if the party will find the horn, and reunite it with Treetrot he will transform into the unicorn. Who … is also known as Iriandel, Guardian of Portals in the part of the Feywild.

The party agrees, and digs around. Finding a group of horned Sylvan Elves to the south. Qelnef, their leader tells them "Go north for four days." 

So party heads north.

After the third day of traveling they meet a band of Ogres who try and communicate with them. Not attack or eat, but talk. No one speaks Giant.

After awhile they decide to follow the Ogres to where ever they want to take the group. 

An old quarry just to the east of the Knuckles area of the place they wish to go.

There they meet Yventhu, a slaver(?) who wishes to trade the Horn, because he knows where it is, for half of the gnomes in the village and 1,000 gp.

 

The party decides to pay him the gold, and they would find it themselves if he would provide a guide.

He gives them the feral looking orc, a tsryani as he calls himself, horned and brutish named Wuhlap.

Clearly not what he expected, he agrees to the terms and gives them the slave as a guide.

 

Leaving, Wuhlap agrees to lead them and destroy anything that gets in their way.

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15th Day of Kythorn , 1489 DR Through a portal darkly
Down, down the rabbit hole...

Your body spills out onto damp earth. The smell of ozone, smoke and acrid arcane energies pervade your senses.

You’re through. 

Streams of misty energy swirl off of you.

The portal took you to apparent safety. It looks as if it placed you right back where you started.

The ancient giant archway looms behind you, crackling with eldritch energy. A snapping, grinding sound accompanies the pop-hiss-buzz sounds of that energy escaping the massive structure.

 

And so we began Season 2.

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15th Day of Kythorn, 1489 DR
The coils of the serpent cult draw in.

Recovering from the party split last week, we explored several of the dig site caves. Most were empty, but in on we found a trio of teenage troglodytes who attempted to keep a dead slave for themselves while hiding in a back room behind a barred door.

Not knowing what it was, Feng grabbed the flesh that was being cooked on a spit and helped himself to what he thought was chicken or something…not the forearm of a deceased slave.

 

Confronted the trogs cowered, all but one. That is until Skorri blasted him in the chest with a bit of fire magic.

 

Tying them up instead of outright murdering of the trio, the party explored the rest of the room and found this symbol etched into the wall.

 

 

 

Not knowing it's meaning, Kedwyn made a sketch of it.

 

The group decides to go incognito and take the fight to the slavers. Portraying themselves as the remaining group of Hobgoblin/Drow/Duergar/<wbr />Mindflayer, they made good use of implied looks and Kedwyn's disguise skills.

 

 

As they were preparing to leave, they were greeted by a girl, no more than 8, at the entrance to the cave.

 

She told them "they were expecting" them and that "they should come" with her. Taking Kedwyn in his drow hand and lead him and the others to the top of the site.

 

As they went they saw children at the mouths of the other cave entrances as well. Vrinne, hidden from sight, watched this unfold and saw that the other children moved to the top along the same speed as the party and finally paralleled themselves with the party, 3 kids on each side of the group. Each one taking the hand, or clothing of one of the party members.

 

The estate they were led to was overrun with weeds, and roots. Folliage form the jungle all but swallowed the faltering walls. Entering the large wooden gates they are greeted by a walled throng of people. On each side of the walkway that led to the main house, at least 4 people deep, slaves of various races lined up. Each blank faced and still. 

 

Once at the steps to the main house, again this symbol marked the doors, and the group is greeted not by adults or slavers – but by children.

A winding hallway was interspersed with children on either side every 5 feet along their way, and murder hole hidden in the walls also caught the attention of a few in the party.

 

Finally at the end of the snaking hallway, they are greeted by Misha  and her shield of children. She welcomes the group and offers them food and drink while they discuss terms.

 

The ruse is paying off, she appears not to doubt whom they are.

 

Entering a  snake statue guarded room, a large banquet table sits in the middle of the room being filled and prepared, again not by adults but by children slaves.

At the back of the room a dias with a two headed coiled serpent looms over much of the room.

Chandeliers of holding many candles each illuminate the large room, but even their light does not show everything.

Several of the members notice that in the corners of the room hidden mostly in shadow are 4 lizard like men.

 

Questions are asked of the party, Misha defers to the "interpreter" as she explains per the agreement, no telepathy or mental invasion.

All seems to go well until she begins to contradict the parties answers – she knows.

 

Skorri hastily throws a faeirie fire at her, she dodges it. "Interlopers! Your deception has failed!" She screams and combat ensues.

 

The battle goes back and forth, at one point she shapechanges from that of a lovely woman to a hybrid Yuan ti. Half-woman, half-snake(much like a lamia) and attacks Skorri. She wraps her coils around him, but not for long as shapeshifts into a large Black Bear and claws his way out of her clutches.

 

They children that were in the room are stopped in place as if in a hold person spell. Unable to move, speak or do anything to protect themselves, they are forced to watch and experience the violence around them.

 

Terse rounds go by and finally Feng cleaves the head away from Misha's body and instead of blood flowing – a hot stream of acidic blood bursts forth spraying everyone in range. The spray spares no one and several of the children die from the aberrant blood.

 

The pace picks up in the parties favor as Kedwyn blinds his attacker with his cloak and tosses the head of the Yuan Ti Lieutenant out in to the open bellowing "All who surrender will be spared!"

 

This panics two of the attackers and they flee.

The remaining attempt to hold out until their reinforcements arrive. But that is for naught as the reinforcements are all but destroyed upon bursting through a side door by Vrinne's magic and Feng's axe.

 

The party routes the yuan ti. They search Misha's remains and cover up the dead children. They other children as still frozen, unable to move but seeing everything.

Vrinne finds a holy symbol and one of the jade snake statues.

Kedwyn convinces Wanwhi'varn to try and use it again. Unsure if it is a wise decision, he tries.

They presence of Dendar the Night Mother is overpowering this time – "I command you. Do to your companions what you did to my servant Misha!"

 

Wanwhi'varn returns and attacks the party nearly killing Feng but not before the others subdue him.

 

Agast at what has happened, the party hastily attempts to destroy the small artifact.

It breaks easily enough, but then a horrid thing occurs.

 

Screams erupt as the heads of slave children begin exploding. A vile fail safe has been activated.

 

Covered in the blood and brain matter of the innocent, the party stands in shock. Quickly they comfort and free the survivors of their collars as best they can.

 

Kedwyn further pushed to his limits, makes his way outside to where the other slaves were fearing the worst. 

 

He is not wrong. The wails of familes and friends assault his ears as he sees a multitude of headless corpses and people cradleing the remains People flock to him asking for help, the heat of battle erasing much of his disguise. Stunned at first, he reacts pulling, twisting, straining at the collars until his reserve strength gushes forth and he release many. People continue to hover around him as the slaves now free their fellows from the nightmare.

 

He goes back inside.

 

Vrinne gathers as many children together as she can, and calms them. She explores the west wing of the estate and finds only dust and rubble. But behind a closed door she finds the rest of the kitchen staff. More children. Frightened beyond belief. She and Feng remove their collars.

 

Skorri begins to move the bodies of the dead, yuan ti and child into the east rooms away from sight.

He tosses a few yuan ti bodies up on the dias, when enough weight has been added – it shifts and begins to drop.

An elevator to somewhere beneath the estate.

Casting a produce flame he lets it drop down the shaft. 60 feet of carved stone with what appears to be a watery surface on the bottom. He then pushes the corpse of Misha down the shaft, with a soft splash his confident that the water is not deep.

 

Still agast at the outcome of attempting to safe people our heroes are shaken. 

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27 Day of Mirtul, 1489 DR
Green goo and you know who.
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26 Day of Mirtul, 1489 DR continued
Where we attempt to rest but only fight more
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26 Day of Mirtul, 1489 DR
To grell with you!

zb_orb.jpg The Orb seemed not to truly see the group.

Aemon turned to Ser Harkuren and whispered, "No. Not now. Run!"

Harkuren encouraged the former squire of Lady Saryiel to try his “newfound” abilities and confront the creature. Unsure of that, he agrees and moves forward to stop it. Bold as any knight, he call to the creature and it speaks.

A sultry woman’s voice says, “Ah there you. Stop running.”

Not sure if the voice was speaking to Aemon or the party, the group takes no chances and begins leaving, Wan’whivarn and Kedwyn forcing a door open, Dorn behind them, and Feng grabbing and carrying Vrinne.
Harkuren remained to provide support if needed.

“You are so naughty, you cannot keep running away. Come back.” The rotted beholder says.
“You cannot… " Aemon begins to break up, his voice hollow and distant. His form wavering and flickering in and out. “No” he cries, “not again. I will not serv…” and in a flash of light is gone.

Harkuren moves up to block the path. The voice speaks to him, offering him to serve “her”.
He refuses but speaks with the voice. Asking who she is and who she serves.
It replies, “Lareth, and I am servant to no man. I ‘work with’ Kalarel, that is all.”
She tells Harkuren that Aemon and his family are wicked and should be destroyed.
He asks her to explain but it cryptic in her response.

He flees as the orb flares out a beacon searching for the group.

Moving down a long disused corridor, the party has a choice right to another corridor or straight ahead to a set of stairs going down. Looking for fresh air, Kedwyn encourages the group to go to the stairs.

The stairs descend deeper into the complex, a cold breeze rushes over the party, and their breath is now visible. The stairs end in a corridor that turns into a large chamber. The chamber appears to be some sort of excavation site.

This place is very cold, and even the most insensitive can tell that the unnatural chill is a corruption in the air. A wide pit in the center dominates the room, its sides slick with moisture. A pulley has been affixed to the ceiling, and a rope descends from it, connected to four more ropes. These in turn are tied to the edge of a 10-foot-wide wooden platform, circular in shape, in four different places to provide stability. A lantern sitting atop a stool in the southwestern corner illuminates the chamber. Scattered about the pit edge are picks and shovels, and a strange statue rests in the corner farthest from the entrance. Against the north wall stands a large, round, flat stone about the diameter of the pit.

After some dancing lights investigations they decide to take the platform down.

Roughly 15 feet from the top of the shaft, indications exist that a stone plug was once placed here, then carefully mortared and sealed. Just above that point, a 4- foot-wide tunnel carrying an underground stream empties into the shaft, the water spilling down into the darkness below. A 2-foot-wide opening is visible just below the top of the shaft.

The water pouring down beside the descending platform creates a mist below, deepening the chill that you feel as you go deeper. Through that mist, you can see that the floor below is just over 60 feet from the top of the shaft. It appears very smooth and black, with veins of deep violet. The shaft walls spread out into the darkness, opening onto a vast cavern.

As they moved down, there was movement in the shadows. Using his wand of light to explore the cavern, Ser Harkuren scans the cavern and see a creature of nightmare float down towards the group, it’s barbed tentacles reaching out and grabbing Wan’Whivarn!

grell.jpg

The creature lashes out grabbing the Warlock and pulling him away from the platform. The party attacks as it it is floating away with their now limp warlock in tow, Vrinne blasts it with magic missile. The creature’s brain-like head erupts in places of impact and the grell drops like a rock – falling to the platform below with Wan’whivarn’s limp form making a sickening hollow sound as he lands on the black surface below.

Hastily, the party move the platform down. Harkuren jumps down before the platform lands, and rushes to his comrade.
Wan’whivarn’s breath is shallow and faint. Calling upon Bahamut, he lets the power of his diety flow into the elf.

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25 Day of Mirtul, 1489
A ghost from the past

Entering the lower portion of the moathouse proved, initially, to be like any old ruin.
Wet.
Cold.
Dank.
Slime infested?
Voices in the dark calling out to people who are not there?
Growls in the dark?

The sounds of undead gnolls garnered the attention of Ser Harkuren, as Dorn calls out to Wan’whivarn that something is on the ceiling. Slime. Green slime that drops and envelops him.
Yet this slime does not harm him. It coats his body, soothing and warm.

DD_GreenSlime2.jpg

The others deal with the gnolls, and Feng attempts to remove the slime with the help of Kedwyn.
A voice calls to Wan’whivarn’s mind – Serve. With all his willpower he replies no. The slime is no longer comforting, but burning.

Serve!

“No” he replies again, and had it not been for the efforts of his friends, he may have very well indeed joined the slime as one.

They explore a bit more, and discover that the zombie gnolls had tattered robes with a symbol of an eye. Wan’whivarn confirms that it is the eye of Ghaunadaur.

They enter a small room that was locked, debris and a pile of black clothing are piled on the floor. Water drips from the ceiling in a few places.
The clothing also bears the symbol of Ghaunadaur on it.

They find another door in this room, and upon opening it, Ser Harkuren is assaulted by magic!
Resolved in the face of thaumaturgy, he pushes ahead, with the rest of the party behind him.
The battle is fought in the tight confines of the small pillared room. 3 cultist and a foul undead creature who taunted Harkuren. After three of the four foes had fallen the last claims “yield”, but in her haste, Vrinne strike the cultist down with a wave of magic missiles. No information would be gathered today.

A group of cultist have made this place a reclaiment of sorts. The party finds a bed sheet laid on the floor with 4 items.

An iron torch with three black cones black_incense.jpg

A black scepter with violet gems Iron_Sceptre_inventory.jpg

A small black sphere Small_black_sphere.jpg

A black metal tube black_tube.jpg

While the others investigate these items, Ser Harkuren and Dorn discover a secret door. The open it and explore what lies beyond.

The hidden path stops at a portcullis that Ser Harkuren muscles up to get through, he thinks he may have broken the mechanism for it while doing so. Beyond the gate are is a Y section, both illuminated by torches.
He chooses to go left and in doing so discovers a strangely large room with 3 doors across from his entry point. He proceeds to investigate the doors, the first two doors are fake doors with brick walls behind them, the third one is a trap and portcullis drops behind him. In the noise and commotion, a pack of gnolls emerges from a room to the north of his position. They begin to cackle and laugh at him as they move forward to kill him. But not before Dorn charges into the room taking on all four of the beasts.
3 confront him while one remains in the back barking at the pack and firing arrows at him.

He delivers many strikes against them, but is flushed away to protect himself, and finally Ser Harkuren frees himself from his trap and engages the rest of the gnolls. The battle is swift and deadly with the lead gnoll spewing acid from it’s maw at the heroes. Once slain they examine the beast, it had at some point had sacs surgically sewn into it’s head that allowed it to produce this … foul liquid.

The two move to the gnolls room. Fur, fecal matter and worse fill the air. The heroes search the room, Ser Harkuren discovers a gauntlet identical to the one was given by Baron Ateos. Curious, the two begin to go to the other corridor.

Back in the cultists collection room, Kedwyn examines the items, he discovers the black tube to be a scroll case and inside an insidious descriptive ritual require all manner of sacrifices and spells beyond his means to summon or control something called the Black Cyst. As he reads, he begins to see shapes and movement from the room they came from.

He launches a crossbow bolt into the area, nothing.
He companions are surprised and questions him. He tells Wan’whivarn there is something out there. To which the warlock uses his otherworldly powers to “see” through Kedwyn’s sight. And he… sees nothing.
He uses his own sight, and nothing.
Paranoid, Kedwyn agrees with Vrinne and Feng that they should go find the others.

They catch up with the two warriors as they are making their way toward the second hallway. The group moves on discovers a large mishappen room with 4 doors, 6 misplaced beds(each with either a bag or chest at the foot of their bed). Searching the room Ser Harkuren hears knocking on one of the doors. He opens and finds a young man wearing armor, and wearing a brooch with the symbol of house Ateos.

The young man is surprised to find them, and they him. He asks if Burne sent them to find him? The group looks at each other and he replies “No.”
The young warrior continues on asking questions about Burne and Rufus, Lady Saryiel, Haestus and the rest of his companions.
Harkuren asks him his name and he replies “”/characters/aemon-ateos" class=“wiki-content-link”>Aemon Ateos, squire to Lady Saryiel."
Confused, more questioned are ask and finally years are in question. The man answers that the current year is 1465 DR. Harkuren tells him that, “No. It is actually 1489 DR. You, I am afraid, are dead.”

Taken aback, the man refuses quite profusely that he is not dead. That this must be a mistake. Some spell, or curse has been cast upon him. He was just with the others, and there is no way that he is some ghost or apparition.

To prove otherwise, Harkuren offers the gauntlet he found. The boy surprised, asks how and where he got it and then accepts it from the Knight of Bahamut. To everyone’s surprise it slides on. He then accepts a weapon, and agrees to accompany the group to determine what is going on.

They agree to have him along and help him finish what his group started.

The group goes to an adjacent room, and burst open a door where they find 4 large Bugbears gambling. The fight is quick and brutal. It is this fight that Aemon Ateos finally begins to consider that he might be dead, as a punch from to a Bugbears face passes through the creature, draining it of life.
Shocked, both step away, but the bugbear doesn’t get to go far as the companions take him down.

Ateos moves away from the rest of the group and passes through walls to get away, not even noticing that he is doing so. His gauntlet drops, as does his weapon.

The group finds him moping. He agrees that perhaps he may be dead, but he needs their help to find his body and end this.
He and Harkuren take watch and during Harkuren’s watch as the party rests – a shadow orb with several stalks protruding from it float past the hallway and doubles back. It has seen the group!

zb_orb.jpg

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22 Day, Mirtul, 1489 DR
A call for aid!

A meeting of the powers of Villane leads the heroes to investigate the abandoned Keep east of Villane.

With the sudden absence of the Knight of the Black Rose the barony is scrambling.
Baron Ateos has called a counsel session of his trusted advisers and allies, Lady Saryiel, High-mage Burne, Shield Lord Rufus, Aelyos the Younger, his Chamberlain and finally, his wife Lady Pilar.

Lady Saryiel summoned Ser Harkuren to the meet, and bade him wait outside until it was over.
He tried to listen, but only heard muffled shouts and shuffling of chairs.
This lasted less than a half hour. The doors flew open and Burne stormed out with the armored Rufus behind him. Rufus gave him a word of warning about the days to come and wished him well.

Lady Saryiel met with Harkuren after, she charged him with the protection of Villane until she returned.
She was ordered to make haste to Neverwinter and gather support.
The Barony of Bedegar requested aid. High Mage Taeus has gone missing. Burne was commissioned to investigate the disappearance of his former mentor, and attempt to learn what was happening with those who could wield magic. Rufus was given command of a small group of Ateos’ militia, as well as a handful of his own men to scout out a gathering of Hobgoblins at the Keep of Rend. An old ruined place in the lands of Bedegar.
It seemed to both of them that someone, or something was attempting to weaken the Barony by spreading it’s protectors to the four winds.

Burne requested the presence of Kedwyn and Ser Harkuren, while Dorn had been assigned additional emergency protocol practices. Whatever that meant.

Burne is packing, and from they can tell, for a confrontation.
" I need you to investigate these rumors of an archaeological dig at the ruined moat house outside of town. Both of you." They express their concerns and Kedwyn is a more than a little skeptical at the whole affair and a bit put off at what the fuss about another ‘barony’ matters to them.

Harkuren expresses his concern that “it seems the protectors of the town are being drawn to the four corners.”
Burne does not deny it, not address it.
But takes his magic backpack, and what appears to be a Calishite tapestry and leaves. Much to the surprise of the duo, he unfurls it and sits. Grabbing the sides tightly, he tells them he’ll see them in a 10 day and he and his tapestry take to the skies.


After a discussion of what has occured, Ser Harkurnen reveals that he discovered a foul shrine underneath the former Constable Greatheart’s house.
orcus_shrine.jpg

A shrine believed to be dedicated to the Prince of Undeath, Orcus.

The group finds more letters pertaining to Kalarel, Ninaran and a keep east of town.
Constable1.docx
Constable2.docx
Constable3.docx

Determined to find out what is going on in the abandoned keep and who Lareth the Beautiful is, the party sets out the next morning to find out.


Baerdin_.png
Along the way the find the dwarven miner, now courier of letters along the road. He appears to be heading toward the keep. The party calls out to him. Looking about, he glances at them and flees into the woods. In a quick display of thought and action, Dorn chased after him. He catches him, but manages a much more… abrupt means to subdue him.
They find
Once awake, the group interrogates the dwarf. He explains he is not in league with any of the folks they ask about, only that he was cooerced into delivering letters back and forth to a couple of places for some man who held his wife and children captive. Once he was done with those delivers he was told they would be free.
The group apologizes, Ser Harkuren assures him that they will find and free his family.
He leaves, unsure of his families future.


moathouse_corrected.jpg

They make it to the keep.
As they moved up the path, giant frogs emerge from a nearby pond. Hungry for food, they attack.
Ser Harkuren is swallowed hole!
The others battle off flying tongues, and it is Vrinne who changes the flow of battle. In an attempt to slay a frog, she casts a spell that goes awry! A fireball is cast instead of her other spell, and it begins and ends on her.
Fire explodes outward kill all but one of the frogs, and nearly killing Kedwyn as well. He was barely brought back to the living.
And Ser Harkuren was unscathed because he was safe inside a frog.

Moving across the ancient gate was treacherous, but accomplished.

The found the courtyard empty save the many piles of collected debris and the one lone figure moving toward the keep’s interior.

Harkuren called out. The figure turned slowly to face the party. A zombie equipped with excavation gear. screamed out a deathly call.
After a few awkward moments, nothing.

The party engaged it.
After dealing many blows that would have fell a normal man, the thing would not die. Finally, calling upon the might of Bahamut, Harkuren ended it.

Proud of their work, they gathered their thougths, and that was when the other undead emerged. 3 zombies and a minotaur zombie armed with a great halberd.
After several terse moments, they won. But again, it was not to be long. 3 Shadow goblins appeared. The party dispatched them just as quickly as they appeared. But the goblins left no bodies. They “popped” out of existence in wisps of acrid smoke.

The party moved forward, exploring.
They encountered a locked door in the disshelved keep. Breaking in, the encounter darkness, using a torch they scan the room, furniture pushed up against open places in the wall, and a giant intricate rune was drawn into the floor. No one recognized it, or could identify what it was used for. They moved away, not daring to engage a potential deadly event.

Deciding to move to the other side of the keep, Harkuren catches the glimpse of something moving love to the ground at the far end of the hallway before him.

That is where we ended.

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