Karthan 07 - New Domain contd

Vampyre's combined Rolemaster ICE / D&D 3.5 fantasy campaign.

Moderators: Paul, vampyre, Enigma


Postby vampyre » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:27 am

K714 2Thardeth11: The mine: death in entrapment

Looking at her Time Keeper, Elloise saw it was the 2nd hour after midnight.
“I am getting cramp.” Venra muttered. “Why are we still here?”
“Did you have anything else planned.” Vallaois retorts. “Just think of that silver down their Venra, that should make your mouth water a bit surely.”
“I am more worried about what is down there at the moment…just what he is right now.”
“Just remember we have the gargoyles to protect us.” Vallaois stated, touching a amulet around his neck. “Don’t worry, if this benefactor endangers us with this form changing then he will be dealt with. Just remember we do have protections against the undead…vampires included and that includes he cannot charm and influence us as others of his kind can. We have other protections as well, not the least is the agreement itself.”
Venra nodded sighing. “Yes…yes, I quite forgot that.”
Palnarin had reported back saying an encampment lay due NW. Surdoss was watching safely concealed. “They are perhaps two hours from here and seemed camped for the night.”
“Return and take watches with Palnarin.” Vallaois nods and Palnarin departs.
“Well our benefactor has been silent for a while.” Kheraff muttered. “Just might be promising.”

Indeed, Kam had been quiet, contemplating his encounter and seeing the remains of the stone shattered all over the floor, the pedestal damaged also. Looking at the two shafts now revealed to him, he takes the left and it goes straight for about 400 yards Kam surprised that the silver veins do not affect his urge to rage and change. He has to discipline himself, but the rage is there within him but deeply so, the urge is there, but he can control it. Along the walls he sees the veins here have not been worked on at all, the entrances concealed by illusionary magic for what reason, later return by the miners, to conceal their discovery from others. He did not know. Reaching the end it branches left and right and in a large recess is a shaft descends downwards. Above the shaft is suspended a wooden platform surrounded by five foot wooden walls with a gate in front. It is seemingly of new construction and is connected to a pulley by four chains angling up from each corner. Below he hears voices…and senses the presence of undead, though of what kind…he did not know.

Kam explores the tunnels and investigates the 5' wooden walls and sensing something undead deeper down, decides to go down the shaft and uses a pulley system to move a platform to descend 60' to the bottom. He thinks his vampric vision and heightened senses are being countered by something. Everything looks gray and the ground crunches beneath his feet as he walks. He sees skeletons and human bones littering the ground. The skeletal remains are clothed and still clutching tools.

Whispering voices can be heard ahead. Kam approaches and sees 20' ahead that there is a rockfall with skeletons on the ground before it. Two more at at the top of the rockfall where a hole has been made. A feminine voice calls “Free us, oh free us.” A dozen spectral figures emerge through the rock, bringing with them the emotional feelings of despair and retribution.

“What stops you leaving?” Kam hisses. “You already seem free.”
One figure moans “We have yet to journey beyond, we have yet to be released.”
Another female spectre wails “You must destroy that which you see, for that which you see binds and holds us here.”
“I can only see yourselves, is that what you wish to be destroyed?”
“Tell me how and it will be done. What will destroy you?”
“We are to go to the halls. We must have a cleric.”
“I see. I care little for clerics but I know where to find one. I shall bring her to you. But first tell me what else is down here. Is there treasure or any artifact that lies waiting to be uncovered. What caused your demise?”

“So many questions.” One intones.
“You ask so much when our need is so great.” Another moans.
“The others have long promised and still they do.” Another spectral figure says, moving through him.
“What lies beyond…is a meeting place of those who wish to guard their secrets and evil deeds here.” A male voice moans.
“A secret order…” A female wails.
“…one who wishes to guard their secrets from the eyes of others.” Another moans.
“Name this order and who leads it.” Kam asks.
“You ask us…such…look for yourself when your promise is done. Now gather your cleric before we have a change of heart concerning your promise and retribution will come unto you.”
“You threaten me…you cause me harm then who shall bring a cleric when I know one that is so close.”
“We do not threaten, time is against us…to speak is limited by our curse…already we feel the change and one we cannot control.”
“Very well I shall get you your cleric…but on my return you must name the order and its leader.
Kam turns and stalks off back to the platform.
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Postby vampyre » Wed Nov 09, 2011 3:28 am

K715 2Thardeth11: The mine

Kam returns to the surface climbing the last shaft to where most of the party are waiting for him, albeit rather cautiously…especially Venra.

“I return with interesting news … there are restless spirits that beg for the help of a cleric. I have promised it on the condition they tell me who lies deeper within. They have already said that an ancient order exists here, the reason for their demise. The spirits seek peace which I care little for. But if they get a cleric then we get information. Elloise, will you go down there?”
She nods and says “I must do so.”
“Excellent , then let me lead the way. I have fought other denizens when I entered so there is no other danger any more. The path is safe. Follow me.”
Kam leads with all the others following, except for Palnarin and Surdoss who remain guarding. He takes them to the cave with the shattered stone and observes the others smiling and looking to Elloise at the sight of it. He says nothing and goes to the shaft, noting that he can feel no effect from the silver within this mine. Oddly, he feels in control and not needing to change. He moves the group down on the platform in two loads. “Watch your step,” he warns. “There are human remains on the floor.”

Elloise looks at Kam “Why do you care for bones and not the spirit.”
“Who says I care for the bones. I was simply telling you to watch your step. I would hate to see you fall among them and get your pretty robes mucked up.” He says sarcastically.
She returns a withering look and says she senses the spirits have been entrapped because of a tragedy.

“I have brought you a cleric,” Kam shouts out.
The shaft is bringing down the other group while ahead there are about forty spectral figures emerging from the rockfall and they invade the group with pleas for release.
Elloise begins to pray.
Kam shouts out “Tell us the name of the ancient order. You have your cleric. Give us the information before you depart.”
One of the spirits shouts “the Kara-tur”
Kam glances to the others and shrugs. “Does this name mean anything to any of you?”
Vallios looks at Kam “Shut up … there is a time to talk and a time not to.” He is rather annoyed.
Elloise completes her chants and prayers three times, causing a ring pendant around her neck to glow each time it is done. The effect makes Kam feel uncomfortable but he is unaffected while the spirits all disappear. Her last words are “now may they rest in the halls of Kelarein.”
Elloise says “the task is done and their spirits have been released.”
“Most impressive work,” Kam says. “Made me tingle inside. Now our path is unimpeded. Somewhere beyond this place are the Kara-tur, whoever they may be.”
Venra pales at the mention of that name.
“is there a problem, Venra?” Kam enquires.
Venra shrugs and shivers. “What's in a name?” he says unconvincingly, but he looks scared.
“I don't know, but it is a name that seems to trouble you. Not the others. That makes me curious. I have never seen you worried before.”
“Oh I thought it was a profession. If I'm worried then I think we all should be.”
“Could you enlighten us further. Who are the Kara-tur?”
“Word is hard to come by about this group. But there is talk amongst the guilds of their existence. It is becoming a bit more open now because one of their affiliate groups is being targeted by the Imperial Crown. What I have heard is that they were responsible for assassinating the Imperial family.”
The others look shocked at that.
Vallios comments “No, it was Darkness Claw. He was responsible for that.”
Venra replies “that is what is commonly known but another organisation uncovered information that implied the Kara-tur's direct involvement, hence the recent targeting of their so-called legitimate concern.”
“Intriguing,” Kam laughs. “And we have apparently located this powerful group holed up in a mining cave.” His tone is mocking and not really believing of the Kara-tur status.
Venra says “If the Kara-Tur are about then this would be an ideal location to hide. It was the Sharofal who uncovered them. And one thing you cannot hide from is the Seer Elementalists, trained as they are.”
Vallios nods at that “their reputation is formidable. They are servants of the Grand Duchess of Zeray, a Free City to the north of here. They know everyone who enters and leaves the city. I know something of recent moves in targeting a merchant concern for treasonous activity.”
“that was their front,” Venra nods. “What this means is that because of being compromised they have sought places like this to continue their activities. This is of value, but it means the Kara-Tur is operating in this area." he looks around for a moment. "It is too late to conceal our part in this. It will not be difficult to divine who is responsible." Therefore he says, his face brightening somewhat, "...that what we find beyond may have monetary value to the Imperial authorities.”
“So the question is … why would they believe you? Are you in the good books of the authorities?”
Vallios says “we try not to break the laws. We are free men. We tend to band them and we know that to harm the hand that feeds you is to isolate yourself from your surroundings. And we do have a loyalty, of sorts, to the empire.”
“Then let us see what we can uncover so that we may make good fortune.”
They scramble through the top of the rockfall and about 100 yards beyond they come to an area that is divided into storage areas, as the base of a mining operation. Venra has a good look around and tells Kam to wait and do nothing, while he examines everything. Kam is impatient but waits regardless.
“This is very recent. They have not laid any traps or magical wards of any kind.” Venra says. “I would deem that they bring their protections with them and set them up before they conduct their plans. This is a hallmark of them that I have heard about. They have no particular base of operations and tend to create them as they go.”
Vallios adds “that could mean whatever the do they take with them. They would never want to leave evidence here.”
Venra nods in agreements “that is probably the case. I will go in and check each of the rooms.”
He returns after some time and has opened the curtained rooms and alcoves. There are work benches and storage areas with a number of small metal wagon carts. Two have been converted into seating areas. From one of those he brings out two scrolls. He found them beneath the fourth leg of one of the tables where a loose stone gave it away. “It was trapped but I disarmed it. “
Elloise endeavours to decipher the script while Kam looks over their shoulders.
She determines it is the rune paper that has created the cipher for the text. The person wrote text normally and the rune paper itself changed the writing. It is a code. After six attempts to decipher the text she is successful.
During the casting Venra says “he would expect the text to be ciphered as well.”
As it turns out, the text was hastily scrawled and Venra comments “this was clumsy.”
The text says “word of the success has reached us. The agent has been met and will be met again in ten days for a further task and payment.”
Elloise is then able to date the writing as being five days ago.
The second text was written two days ago. Three attempts are required to decipher it. “Task and payment due to arrive in five days. Meeting should be here.”
Venra says “I just remembered something. Late last month the Mayor of Garithron was assassinated. Two nights later they began targeting the Dragon-Eyed Merchant Koster. A number of people were arrested. I can't think of why the mayor would be important but given that the merchant koster is the front of the Kara-tur he may have unveiled some of their activities. I don't know (shrugs) but it was his murder that led to the reprisals against the Kara-tur.”
Vallios says “they are going to find out their sanctuary has been compromised very quickly when they arrive. If we are going to encounter or meet them, we should be where that pedestal is and meet them when they enter, perhaps blocking the entrance out.”
“Yes” says Venra “we can find out what their next task is and sell it.”
“An excellent plan – let's do it. For selfish greed and the Empire!”
Vallios smiles “we don't mind taking from scum like these people.”
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Re: Karthan 07 - New Domain contd

Postby Enigma » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:50 pm

Kam contemplates what would happen when the Kara-Tur returned to the surprise that their hideout was uncovered. He decided they meant nothing to him ... when they returned he would take no prisoners. They are supposed to have vanished already ... nobody would miss them anyway. Taking prisoners would only be a burden.
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Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 7:10 am

k716 2Thardeth11-16 The Sorcerer

Postby vampyre » Sun Mar 25, 2012 2:52 am

K716 2Thardeth11-16: The Sorcerer

Vallaois considers the plan and says. “I think we should try and capture them…for interrogation. What we do afterwards, well considering who they are, killing them would be the best option.”
“Very well.” Kam says. “Just see to it that none are left alive.”
“We may need you to assist with the interrogation.” Vallaois adds. “You would easily induce fear into them, far more that what we could.”
“Agreed.” Kam nods.

A watch is maintained over the mine, the party encamped nearby in a crevasse of a narrow wedged gorge. Venra and Surdoss investigating the gorge on the 5th day notices cave openings along the south side of the gorge about 30yards from the ground. “I wonder if anything lives in them?” was Venra’s first reaction. “You know…something big, hairy and nasty.”
Surdoss smiles. “Probably and if we keep talking it may hear us. Palnarin would be able to find out.”
Using the ring, Venra contacts Palnarin and he joins them ½ an hour later. He communicates with birds who have nested in the area for some years and informs the others that no creatures has inhabited the caves and they do not fear the caves, indeed some of the birds have found nesting material inside the caves. “I wonder if there is anything up there?” Venra muses.
“I will climb up at check the closest of the caves.” Palnarin suggests and he does so without too much effort disappearing into the cave for some time before the others see him reappear at the opening. “The caves are inter linked and there is a shaft at the end. We will need rope.”
“Let’s tell the others before we do anything.” Surdoss suggests and the others nod, Palnarin climbing down to join them. They return to camp where the others are informed and Palnarin thinks the cave he entered was hewn out of the rock not a natural feature and that the cave seems to link with others where a shaft descends he thinks about 80yards.
“Is this separate to the main mining operation.” Kam asks.
“I think so, but the caves do head in the general direction of the mine, south east.” Palnarin replies. “The caves in the mine were generally heading eastward and given our encampment location if the caves continued further and descended they could intercept.”
“Like an alternative way of entering our location.” Kam suggests.
“Could be…but we found no other entrances within the mine.” Vallaois contends. “But there were shafts we did not check of course as they were presumably made while mining for the gold.”
“Then we must be vigilant to watch in the other direction while we wait for the Kara-Tur to return.”

That night, while Kam watches over his companions, Palnarin also on watch nearby, he hear a slight sound behind him and sees for a moment a shadow passing into the gorge…his night sight far superior than those of the group and even enhanced as his sight was, he could JUST see the shadow and for but a moment. Using his enhance speed Kam finds Palnarin and tells him to watch while he investigates possible intrusion into the camp.

“We are not alone. I am going to investigate a shadow that I saw move in the gorge.”
Kam does so... Move silent 19, Perception 38. He observes a cloaked shadow briefly, noting a humanoid figure stealth into one of the caves that is 20 yards (90') or so above him. The cloak's effect appears to be magical. There are six openings into the rock up there. Kam calls on his ability to leap and lands at the cave entrance. There is no evidence of footprints or a trail to follow. No movement and no sound. Using his heightened senses, Kam searches out any different scent and discovers nothing other than the cool fresh night air. Kam enters the cave.

The cave is straight and at the end (80 yards) it ends at a T junction which is where the other caves may intersect with it. Kam goes left. He passes two more cave entrances and tunnels that lead back to the gorge and finds a dead end. Perception 43. It would seem to be a false wall. He searches for a mechanism to open it. A jagged rock can be moved and the wall opens. Beyond is another tunnel which goes for 20 yards where stairs lead upwards into a room with wooden barrels stacked on top of each other against the wall. A lot of dust and musty air is here. The odour of wine that has gone off and soured is very strong here. A door at the far end is made of solid iron and it is open. Stepping through, Kam sees another set of stairs that go up. He follows them. At the end of the stairs is a T junction. Kam goes right. He passes three doors that are fixed into the left wall and and the end is another open door. He steps through into what looks like an armoury. The room is large, at least 100 yards long with weapon racks lining the walls, with shields, swords, crossbows and longbows. However, a large ballista dominates the room (of about 30 yards in length) and on the wall beside it are some tremendously large bolts that it fires. The area around the ballista is lit by lamps. The cloaked figure is working on the mechanism of the ballistae itself.

Kam approaches the cloaked figure quietly. Move silently 17. The figure turns and thrusts out its hands aggressively. FORTITUDE 29. Kam finds himself held in place, unable to move except for his mouth and eyes. Kam regards the figure coldly and watches as it steps down from the work platform and approaches. The figure is human, 5' 11” and its robe has many silver runes emblazoned on it. A magic user of some kind. He stops about 5' away and regards Kam for a moment.

“A vampire, no less,” the figure says with some mild surprise.
“Yes, I am … “ Kam replies. “It seems unusual to find a weapon as big as that inside a cave. Why is it here and what is your name?”
“It was either stored here or brought here to be repaired. Above us is a shaft which is presently sealed and that shaft leads to the ruins of a tower that once existed. The tower was purely built to operate the ballista.”
“I see … a remnant of an older age. Who are you?” Kam asks.
“My name is not important,” he replies. “I am here to perform a task and then I shall be leaving.”
“Who do work for?”
“I work for my lord and master ...” Knowledge Arcana 14.
“Who is your master and does he pay you well?”
The cloaked figure laughs and finds Kam's question highly amusing. “My master rewards those who serve him well.” He moves back to the ballista and retrieves some tools from a bench. The bench holds a small grey box that has some runes on it that are red. He continues with his repairs. The ballista is mostly made of wood, except for the mechanism that fires the bolt which is made of metal.
Kam calls out to the man “I would like to know more about your master, he must be a reasonable man. I am reasonable … if you free me then I will forget this even happened. I am not here to harm you, merely curious.”
The cloaked figure finishes what he is doing and looks at Kam. Kam finds himself free. “My master has allowed this,” the cloaked figure tells Kam.
“I am … thankful,” Kam replies. He moves closer to the see the work on the mechanism. “What is the purpose of the grey box?” Kam asks casually as he observes the repairs.
The cloaked figure says “Open it and see, but don't touch.”
“Don't touch what? The red runes or the contents?”
“The contents,” the figure replies.
Kam opens the box on impulse to see what it contains.
The box holds three cannisters that are magically suspended. They are made of a clear substance, like glass. Inside the cannisters is a green liquid that bubbles. The liquid looks quite thick.
“What are these?” Kam asks. “They look unusual.”
“They are indeed,” the cloaked figure replies. “They are inserted into the bolts which have been specially made for these containers. On impact, the containers break to release the acid. The acid is poison. And should we say one of my master's gifts to the empire.”
“So you are here to make this weapon operational again? What is so important about this location? Why does it need to be protected?”
The cloaked figure says “This is one of a number of locations that I have worked on where these particular ballistae have survived. The idea is to repair the ballistae and leave boxes of the vials with instructions for people to find it. The right sort of people.” Kam senses the cloaked figure does not think he is the right sort of person.
“What is the target for such a weapon? I imagine there are not many enemies that such a weapon could be aimed at. “
“Every city and walled town has ballista towers but they do not have ballistae like the one you are seeing now. Unfortunately advanced and powerful though the empire's ballistae are, if they were to be fired in anger then their strike would only be a minor annoyance. Hence this and others like it. Designed by man, except the firing mechanism was designed by Tordagh and the containers hold something that only these were made for.”
“And the empire approves the use of poison on such a large scale?” Kam smiles.
“In this regard, yes.”
“So the empire is fully aware that this is what they have or will be getting?”
“They did know once but that knowledge is lost. Now it is time to be found again. There is only one creature that the ballista is designed against. That is a Zhan.” Kam interprets this as a dragon.
“You speak as though Zhan are coming to confront the empire. Is the empire aware of this?”
“They are aware at the highest level. However their knowledge of the previous war has been lost to them and for the chance of that knowledge to be found again takes unique individuals. Special individuals. My master calls them 'wild cards'.”
“Sounds like a game to me,” Kam says. “I thought such special people would be called heroes, if such a thing truly existed. Its more a case of being the right person at the right place in the right time. Or maybe its just dumb luck that puts an expendable person there.”
“It is never dumb luck,” the cloaked figure tells him. “And these wild cards are moving and slowly revealing the past, including yourself and your alter-ego.”
Kam stares at the cloaked figure coldly and demands “What do you know of him? He is weak.”
“He may be weak but he is learning far more than you. He has been to places and has seen the past. His road will be an interesting one indeed.”
Kam starts feeling angry “I'm doing just fine … who the hell do you think you are to tell me that I'm not learning. I have gained great power.”
The cloaked figure says “That you have. You are a unique individual. And power you have, although it is localised. And my master knows that you and your alter ego were lazar's own personal choice.”
“I do not believe I was ever chosen,” Kam tells him.
“You were, back on Ebberon. But only your alter ego knows that. Do you really think that our meeting here was just circumstance. Of course it is not.”
“What … you planned this conversation? Unlikely. I saw a shadow and simply followed it. I could have chosen not to. Where would your plan be then?”
“I wanted you to see me and follow you did … so any other conversation pertaining to this is meaningless. “
“So we apparently have the same master … if you know who I am then tell me your name. I demand to know it.”
“I will give you my name and do not think that this form is weak. It is a form that I have adopted. My true form would truly stagger you. I am the one known as the dark sorceror. I brought the wild cards into this world, not including you. You were recruited by my agent … however he decided another means of bringing you here. That means was intercepted by the gods and you were separated into two. My other wild cards have not faced that fate. Indeed, even as we speak your alter ego is actually with another of my wild cards.”
“Then if I am not truly yours will you not share your power with me? Give me a taste of your blood so that I may truly belong to you. I will accept your word if you do this. Give me strength … I will do your bidding , rather than that of your agent. “
The cloaked figure laughs at that “My power lies not in my blood, vampire, but in my spirit and I share it with no-one. If you wish to serve me then benefits you will gain, as do all my servants.”
“What benefits might those be? I have a group that follows me … if I were to serve you then I would bring them with me. Would that please you?”
“That does not concern me,” he says.
“Then what do you want?”
“I want to know whether you wish to serve me?” he says as he goes down the steps.
“I will serve you if you show me your true self … your true form … I wish to know who I serve … I have done the same for my own followers. If you reveal this to me then I will believe in you. I would serve willingly, a rare thing for me to offer.”
The figure nods. “You have been warned.”
The room goes dark and then lights slowly returns and the cloaked figure is about 40' away whereas it was only a few yards earlier. It is still humanoid but is now more like blackness in a human form. In the blackness are streaks of silver that course along its body. FORTITUDE 16. Kam feels an incredible wave of pain in his head. Like being stabbed with needles inside his head. He can't control it, it dominates him and spreads through his body like successive electric shocks. LOSE 3 CON PERMANENTLY. LOSE 3 INT AND 3 WIS PERMANENTLY. The pain continues until Kam is near death then as the cloaked figure form is adopted again, the pain recedes dramatically and Kam falls to the floor exhausted and weak.
“I was once human but I am no longer. I have consumed myself with the true power of this world. That is what you saw and that is what you felt. If you were a mere human you have burned upon seeing my true form. But human you are not.”
“I I I acknowledge your power and I will serve you. What is it that you require?”
“I want you to gain in strength and power. Seek the places of old in this region and learn. In the coming war your task will be here. The war will be raged on three fronts. Two will lie to the west but the third will be here in the Garthang Ranges, for that is the home of Darkness Claw and it will be he that you will face, along with your companions. But I deem that you will not face him alone. Therefore you must open yourself and be tolerant of those around you. Especially those who serve Elenmire here. But know this … I do not serve the gods and nor will you. I am outside their fate and so are you. But when the time comes one must be prepared to work alongside to defeat the common enemy and we do share a common enemy. That is Kharagh.”
“Could you not reveal yourself to Kharagh and defeat him?”
“I believe in the thousands of years that I have lived that there is only one power that can destroy Kharagh. And though I lived thousands of years this power has lived since the beginning of time. I have but minor mastery over the true essence which has consumed me but this power is a master of it.”
“Then I will do my best to serve you.”
The man gives Kam a ring that is made of black stone with a silver gem set into it. “This will allow you to communicate with me. There is no reason for the others to know of your new allegiance.”
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K717 2Thardeth16 Eksharan Forest

Postby vampyre » Sun Mar 25, 2012 4:47 am

K717 2Thardeth16: Eksharan

Stormwing, in her beautifully seductive Sulthalion form was in a meditative trance communicating with her children in the Quowhon region of the continent, the northern ice wastelands and home to her Calnizhan (Cold (Ice) dragons). There were 51 Brood Lines with her own children presiding over their respective broods. It was the Sarth-Fharnasoth brood she was presently communicating with and after a report of brood numbers, those who were in hibernation and reports of occurrences within their domain Stormwing asked “What have you been able to determine in regards to the Sarth-Korann and Sarth-Shenna broods.”
The brood mother, Fharnasoth replied telepathically. “Two of my brood daughters have awakened from hibernation and they were at the Sarth-Korann when they took flight. From them I have determined that both broods responded to a summons, by whom we do not know. They were…compelled to respond. But it was not only they, the Sarth-Rakkoth and Sarth-Quosor broods also answered the summons. We thought they were lost during the last War of Might but it seemed they joined the other two broods. The broods were not summoned by their own kind nor by any of the other Zhan brood races. All four broods were the youngest we had in Quowhon, they may have been directed to aid in the War of Might more directly than our Domain Rule decreed. All I see when I visit the brood caverns is silence, I can not reach back that far.”
Stormwing nodded. “Thank you my child. The Domain Rule will change for this upcoming war. We will be involved directly and I will require you to be represented at the next council of the Quiseraen.”
“I will be there Stormwing...to serve you as our First Mother.”

The communication ended and Stormwing appearing in the Crystal Gardens where Alnuathor was in counsel with a number of Sulthalion. Once completed the Sulthalion took their leave and Lianna joined her father seeing Stormwing approach. “I have news concerning my little wild cards. Kam has entered an alliance with Khios…just a few moments ago. He used a rather elaborate setting...it was all an illusion but Kam fell for it. it seemed Khios wanted to show him the ballista that were effective during the last War of Might...including the poison used. It would seem he intends for this technology to be used again."
"Yes." Stormwing replied bitterly. "Some of my children perished by the use of the acidic poison. Which explains why he put on this scene...it was for us to see more than your wildcard. He knows that we are watching the movement of your wildcard and that you have assisted one of them especially recently."
Lianna nodded. I saw the Dark Sorcere's true form...the True Essence was prevalent. I did not know he had become consumed as he put it.”
Alnuathor replied. "This was to be expected. Now Khios thinks he has half of your wild card after failing to have Mak brought to him. Kam is rather more of the half that he would have found to his liking."
“Khios allowed himself to be taken by the True Essence soon after he became immortal.” Stormwing informed Lianna. “In that his entire physical body was destroyed and his spirit imbued by the true essence into what he is now, physically embodied of the True Essence, given to him that which controls the Earthnode, on which he has shaped the Dark Tower over millenia.”
“Do we know who or what controls that Earthnode?” Lianna asks.
Alnuathor nods. “It is one of the few that we were unable to control.” He said. “Soon after our arrival a number of Sulthalion mages visited the earthnode situated in a blue crystalline cave that now forms the foundations of the Dark Tower. The Earthnode is presided by a guardian of the Iccan race. For Khios to have transformed as he has successfully done implies that he won a battle of wits and magical prowess against the Iccan for that is the only way the Iccan would have permitted such to happen.”
“An Iccan father…surely you could have taken control of the Earthnode, they are well…weak.” Lianna said.
Alnuathor looked at her with an expression of admonishment. “It was my counsel with this Iccan, Forsaen-Maerin, that opened the way for his race and those of the Raenar and Nenime to join the Founding Council which would become the Quiseraen. Yes, I could have easily taken control but in this matter and others, counsel with the future in mind was more important. We needed allies on this world for we were but strangers here seeking sanctuary and shelter at the time. He made roads available to us that we could not have done.”
“And it was through Forsaen-Maerin that I learned of the arrival of the Silvarana.” Stormwing added. “And thus first contact began between myself and your father.”
“Oh really…now that is something you two have kept from me.” Lianna said musingly. “But surely father Forsaen-Maerin must be having a fit of doubt after all these millennia after seeing what Khios has become. He must feel, well betrayed.”
“He communicates rarely and when he does, does not speak of this matter with Khios. His own kind know what has happened but have not exiled him, continually accepting his counsel. For though Khios may control the Earthnode, Forsaen-Maerin uses it at will as the Dark Sorcerer has agreed to this and his of his own mind, Khios cannot control the guardian.”
Lianna nodded. “Khios told Kam that he would be facing Darkness Claw. He is to grow his power in the Malduin Hills.”
“Darkness Claw.” Stormwing said surprised. “This is interesting…his first strategy move.”
“Yes and one I had thought he would pursue.” Alnuathor informed. “There are a number of reasons for this, but if Khios is to move against Kharagh then it is against Darkness Claw for it would be an equal conflict.”
“I sense that Lasgalen and Darkhold have something to do with this as well.” Lianna added looking at her father.
He nodded. “One of the Five Heroic Champions, Valadorn, has become a vampire and presides in Darkhold. I believe that perhaps if Khios can get him involved using Kam who is his childe through his former master, then the other heroic champions may become involved. And one of the Heroic Champions, Alarris, has become champion of Elenmire.”
“Hence his reference to Elenmire.” Lianna stated excitedly. “And to tolerance towards her.”
“Possibly.” Alnuathor replied thoughtfully. “But this means Khios is laying his own strategy for a number of the Sentari. A very bold move by him.”
“Perhaps as bold as what we are planning.” Stormwing remarked. “Khios was involved in the last War of Might but very much in the background, assisting the empire to survive the Solisse…not much more. What is changing his mind this time?”
“His wildcards for one I believe.” Alnuathor replied. “And that he must be involved…Kharagh’s forces will be the strongest and most numerous of any previous War of Might. And Khios knows Kharagh poses a direct threat to him. The Lord of Chaos has lost patience with him after the last War of Might. The empire survived because of him and Kharagh wants more than any other human realm…Karthan.”
“Why?” Lianna asked. “He is seemingly obsessed with Karthan.”
“That is right my daughter, because in it’s various stages of geographical and historical evolution Kharagh has never been able to defeat the kingdom that directly borders his lands.” Alnauthor replied. “If he did, then he would surround Eksharan forest and attempt to destroy our homeland by breaking through the dimension shields.”
“And force us to openly commit.” Lianna said.
Alnuathor nodded. “But what Kharagh does not know my daughter, is that we are committing out…and we will sacrifice to protect the empire and other kingdoms throughout Elithaan.”
“As we will be.” Stormwing added quietly.
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Postby vampyre » Sun Jun 10, 2012 4:31 am

K718 2Thardeth16: The encampment

Kam returns to the encampment and around the fire Venra and Surdoss are playing a game with 4 dice, Kheraff and Nuidar on watch. Venra looks up after taking a gulp of his ale. “Welcome back. Our former benefactor enjoyed the night as you do, always walked around the place. We kind of got use to him disappearing and reappearing, sometimes literally.”
Kam smiles at that. “Yes I have been doing some exploring. Found something rather remarkable too.”
“Oh treasure perhaps.” Venra asks hopefully.
“More than that. A gigantic weapons cache hidden in the caves.”
“Really.” Venra replies surprised. “Imagine what they could be worth…what did you find and how much and was any of them magical?” He asks.
Kam describes, swords, shields, full sets of armour, longbow, composite bows and more. “But what was most impressive was the giant ballista. It was let’s say shown to me and its purpose explained.”
“By who?” Kheraff asks.
“By the robed stranger I followed in the shadows.” Kam replies.
“What stranger…was he near the encampment?” Kheraff asks concerned. “And he talked to you…who was this stranger and what brought him hear, the mine perhaps?”
“He did not tell me his name, he would not reveal it. But what he did tell me was far more interesting indeed. He told me the purpose of the ballista and he told me that it was once housed in a tower that sat atop of the rock. The ballista is a special weapon designed for targeting Zhan. He also told me that there are places in this region that have yet to be discovered. I have chosen to find these place and these places hold great treasure.”
“Oh really…want a hand looking?” Venra asks inspired by the word treasure.
“Absolutely. I myself am not interested in the treasure, you can keep what you find…you are more than welcome to join me. I am a generous benefactor. My prize will be the knowledge of these places.”
“And how do we go about finding the places you speak of.” Vallaois asks awakened by the conversation. His wife awakens next to him.

“I think perhaps they will reveal themselves.” Kam replied. “I have not been given any specific information but it is my belief that these old ruins or underground strongholds exists in the hills around us.”
“Just how does such a location reveal itself.” Vallaois asks. “The Malduin Hills is sparsely populated indeed, only travelers and merchant trains go through this region and outside Darkhold and Lasgalen, the locations of which keep many away from the region anyway, there is no local knowledge of any other such places. I do know of a few ruined manor houses close to Haradwain, abandoned 100 or so years ago by the residents as the land could not be worked for some reason but that is all.”
“Perhaps we could investigate there…you say the land could not be worked for some reason. Do you know why?” Kam asks.
“We have searched these places and indeed three of them are used by us as shelters when we are in the area. As for the land itself, there is rumour that the influence of Darkhold and Lasgalen has spread throughout the hills and that includes plants and trees. The closer you get to both ruined cities the more twisted, banal and dangerous the flora becomes.”
“And the more poisonous.” Venra adds.
“ I see, so the land itself would appear to be blighted or cursed by those locations.”
Vallaois nods. “But it is very slow, as much of the Malduin Hills looks and is indeed healthy but slowly that is changing. In the case of the farmers who tried to work the land...I think there was more to this…only the area around them was blighted, something from Darkhold or Lasgalen may have been responsible.”
“And Evil Druid I would say could do this.” Tharamaen adds.
“Are such common?” Kam asks.
“Druids are common within the Daeostherim (Woodmen), Nanatherim (Northmen) and Karnirutherim (Barbarian) cultures. But Evil Druids are very rare and are deemed to be possessed by evil spirits. The idea that a druid could become evil of his own accord is something these cultures do not accept. It is the same with their Shaman, the equivalent to our clerics. Such people are held in high esteem so for any to pursue an evil is just unthinkable.”
“A druid is one of the few who exclusively can control and manipulate plant life.” Tharamaen says. “There are some spell lists that other professions can use to do similar and indeed one who can summon and control the undead could blight the land using the decayed flesh of his servants. I can recall reading of such a happening in Lethrai some years ago, though the necromancer was found and burned alive by the local lord.”
“A great focal point for a party.” Venra says gulping his wine. “Though the smell of burning flesh would spoil the fun.”
Vallaois says. “If there were places to be found I would say there would be adventuring parties looking for them. But only Darkhold and Lasgalen are known to exist and only the most daring and some would say foolish would visit those places.”
At that Kam smiles. “So has anyone from this group been to any of those places.”
“The closest we have got is the edge of the swamps that now surround Darkhold.” Vallaois says. “We ventured no further.”
“I see…have you experienced misfortune there. Or was there something that kept you away?”
“We felt a dreadful evil presence.” Tharamaen replied shivering at the thought. “The swamp was alive with creatures that would have torn us to pieces if we ventured further.”
“Oh you are right on that one.” Venra nods. “But there is a rumour you know that there are paths that can be taken where the danger can be avoided, it is just a matter of finding the right path.”
“Interesting.” Kam says. “It is possible our exploration may take us there. If that happens then I am sure that someone like myself could find those paths. So for the time been we should content ourselves with the safety of the mines and explore these further.”
“Well there is still a branch we have not checked out.” Venra says. “Sounds like a plan…I mean we are here so why not fully search the mine out.”
Vallaois nods. “Why not. We can proceed with this tomorrow.”
“But what about this weapons cache you have found.” Kheraff asks Kam.
“Gladly I will show you. When would you like to see?”
“How about tomorrow.” Kheraff replies. “Before we go to the mine.”
“Very well, I will show you what I have found.”
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Postby vampyre » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:00 am

K719 2Thardeth17

The next morning as the camp is packed up, rain begins to fall and it gets heavier as they prepare to enter the narrow gorge. Once ready Kam leads them to where the caves are located and using rope the party scales the side of the gorge and enter one of the caves. “Well, at least we are sheltered from the damn rain.” Venra mutters who like the rest of his companions were wearing thick overcoats from the weather. Kam leads them to armoury activating the doors as he did so last evening and the party is surprised by what they saw.
“Enough to equip a company of soldiers at least.” Vallaois says, looking at the racks of swords lining one wall.
“The armour is well made.” Kheraff remarks after assessing full sets of chain and scale mail breastplates.
However the ballista and the box of poison containers is not here, the space where he saw it and encountered the robed stranger is empty.
Kam looks up and gestures “I am told there is a shaft on which the platform would have raised the ballista and would have positioned it in the tower that once stood above us.”
Venra looks up for a moment and nods. “Yes I can see where it is, about 40 yards in diameter.”
Vallaois says. “So the tower above would have had a hollow shaft as perhaps it’s center and living quarters around it…I have seen such designs before. Such towers are common on city walls.”
“I know what I saw here and believe me it seemed very real. Of course the stranger did not reveal much about himself. But he did stress the ballista was very important.” Kam gestures to the wall. “On this wall were the bolts that the ballista fired.” He sees the bolts are no longer there, but the mounts where they were hooked into are as well as the tools to work and repair it. Kam looks at the work benches against the wall and tries to assess whether it was used recently. It appears that no one has used this for some time, dust covering the benches and tools cluttered on them. Kam looks surprised. “Perhaps I was tricked…the ballista was not real at all. But of course the weapons seem real. It does not matter let us explore further. There are corridors beyond which I have not been through.”

The first of the corridors leads to a spiral staircase that goes up and reaching another level above the party finds it strewn with rocks that have collapsed from the ceiling above. “This must have been the way down from the tower perhaps.” Elloisse suggests.
Vallaois nods. “Yes, no lift shaft it would seem. If that is the case then it would have been crowded trying to move up and down the stairwell…it is a bottleneck.”
“Unless they used the platform for the ballista.” Kheraff suggests.
“Most likely.” Chennor agrees.

“I am curious as to what happened with the ballista I saw,” Kam says. “But even if it wasn't real then at least this structure is. So there was some truth in what the stranger told me. The odd thing is he disappeared shortly after I spoke with him. He seemed to know a great deal about this region and it is through him that I have learnt there are other old places to discover amongst these hills. Whatever we find that holds value it is yours. I only ask that you believe that old places are real. We just have to find them ...”

Vallaois says “You meeting the robed stranger seems more like a chance encounter. Why did he give you the information that he did?”

“I get the sense he was deliberately looking for me,” Kam says. “There was no chance in it. He told me as much. He told me I had no choice but to see and follow him. There was a special quality about him …”

“What special quality was that?” Venra asks.

“Oh … he is a very powerful magic user. He spoke of the importance of finding the old places in these hills. I do not know why, but it enough to say he said they would be important. He said this region would be important. He did not say why. But he said I should find these places.”

Pelnarin rubs his beard and says “Look. You meet a robed stranger here who turned out to be a powerful magic user, or you think he is one, you have admitted this was not a chance encounter and this stranger has told you of places that supposedly exist from the past and it would seem from what you said that he wants you to find them. Why would he want us to do this? If these places are so important why does he not seek them out himself? I mean … are we being set up here?”

“Perhaps. But I also get the sense this stranger is either not able or is not permitted to find or enter these places himself. He needs champions who can do so for him. This is our chance to become champions, if indeed these places are real. And think of the treasure. Old treasure, just sitting there and waiting for the taking. If these places are so old then it is unlikely that they will be defended. After all, who else would know about them? They are difficult to find as it is.”

Elloise says “Well your robed stranger knows about them. And if he is a powerful magic user as you say and he cannot get to these places as you say, what makes you think we can?”

“Let's call it a hunch,” Kam says. “I think this group has some remarkable skills. And I think that if we can locate even just one of these places it will worth the effort. And who knows, that stranger just might show up again.”

“Yeah, I can just imagine it. We do the dirty work and he claims the treasure.” Venra says.

“I'm not so sure about that. I don't think this stranger had any interest in treasure. He seemed more interested in making sure that other people could find these old places. And by other people I mean us … nobody else. Perhaps there is a clue in this old place, after all who knew this existed? Maybe there is a map or something to be found here. Let's look around ...”

The others look to Vallaois who considers what has been said. He says “Alright, I'll agree to this. However, if we find no clue as to a possible location of one of these places then we will have to discuss this matter further.”

“Naturally ...” Kam says.
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Postby vampyre » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:48 am

K720 2Thardeth18-24 To the Crystal Lake

The following morning the weather had cleared and during breakfast Vallaois and Venra are in deep discussion while Kam covers himself in a cloak to protect against the glare of the sun. Vallaois comes over to Kam once he sees him emerging from his resting place. “We have been talking about an area that may interest you, though the others are divided about going there for the same reasons as they are with the thought of going to Lasgalen or Darkhold. North of the ruined cities is a lake, known as Crystal Lake and not many have been there, primarily due to the regions infamy. Some say the lake and its environs are haunted by guardian spirits that has driven those who visit the region to flee or to uncertain fates. There is a similar lake on the other side of the hills to the west which is surrounded by the Encircling Forest. Those who have survived have documented nightmarish apparitions and malevolent spirits that hindered their explorations.”
“Well that sounds deeply fascinating.” Kam says. “I will go in if you are unable. I do not think the spirits will trouble me.”
“And perhaps not us with you in our company given what you are.” Vallaois agrees with a wane smile. “I will speak with the others.”

An hour later Vallaois informs Kam that the other members of the party have agreed and camp is disestablished. “I think it will take us about 5 days to reach the southern most shore of the lake.” Vallaois says.

“And what lies between this location and that one?”
“More of the same terrain. The Malduin Hills stretch for over a hundred miles. It may take a little finding as we have not been there before.”
“And what creatures might we encounter in these hills? Other than ordinary wolves.”
“Just the wildlife. Some of it is weird too. Considering we will be not far from Las Galen, we could encounter denizens from the ruined city. Other than that Darkness Claw's Ozgeyr and Azgeyr.”
“And are these men prepared for that?”
“We have encountered them before. The Azgeyr are more dangerous and there is some discussion that Darkness Claw's minions are more disciplined than those of Kharagh's because Darkness Claw's minions lack the chaotic effect that Karagh's possess. The Azgeyr are more dangerous because they are stronger and more intelligent. Therefore they are more capable magic users.”
“That is good to know. We must ensure the men are ready for that. If necessary, we can retreat from those encounters and hope that the enemy does not pursue us. I would rather reach our objective by going around significant obstacles rather than try to battle enemy encampments and go through them. The more subtle we can be then I think the more successful we will be.”

The group sets off with Vallaios leading the way with two rangers flanking ahead. There are no forest trails so the movement is impeded by overbrush. The elevation constantly changes over the hills and valleys that are traversed. There are no encounters on the first day and camp is established that night on a clear starless night in a defensible area.

Venra returns from scouting and says there is another encampment about a mile or so away. There is a fire over the ridge that is visible. Vallaios sends Palnarin and Nuidar, the two rangers, to go and look with him.

“Is it likely our own fire could be seen from that encampment?” Kam asks.
“No,” Venra replies. “Or I would have extinguished it.”

The others return after about 3 hours and don't look particularly happy. Vallaios says “The fire that we see is coming from a large furnace. There is a large Azgeyr encampment and it looks like they are building defences. I estimate perhaps 300-350 are there. Since this area is rarely travelled, it looks like they have been working on this for two weeks or more. The fortifications are advanced.””

“Are there any clues as to what attracts them to this area, other than an unknown strategy of their Master?”

Vallaios replies “I would say it is strategy and occupation. Darkness Claw is obviously making use of the fact that this region is not settled.”

“Is it even remotely possible that the empire would care about that?”

“Yes, they would do what is necessary to destroy the occupation. The nearest Star Crusaders are some distance from here.”

“Do they patrol regularly and is it likely they would discover this themselves?”

“No. They will not discover this. This is why adventuring parties are so important to the empire because of the information that they can bring. They won't know unless we tell them. And then it will be up to the Imperial Army and the local lord to muster forces to be able to deal with it.”

“So we note this development and report it at the next available opportunity. But for now I think we should give those Azgeyr a wide berth so as not to be targeted by them.”

After the evening meal is cooked the fire is put out for the rest of the night and a watch is maintained. Kam remains awake and aware throughout the night. The following day it is a clear day and slightly overcast. The group continues on, avoiding the encampment. They move carefully and slowly to ensure they are not jumped by anybody. There are no Azgeyr patrols.

“It would seem they are not worried about being discovered. I would have expected some form of patrol, even it were just a token gesture. Clearly they believe nobody is even here.”

Vallaios says “they would be patrolling, but only very close to their fortifications.”

“Then it good to know we are safe here.”

They move throughout the day without any encounters. The rangers scout that evening but find nothing and a fire is lit, then a hot meal is cooked. The rangers have caught wild game (rabbits) which are very welcome. The night passes uneventfully.

The next morning camp is disestablished on a another clear day. The party continues. PERCEPTION 45, 33. About two hours in there is an area encountered that contains less growth. Not too apparent but it goes in a tangent to the path and it would appear to be ground containing broken stone. Kam points this out to Vallaios and Venra. “This could be interesting, possibly some evidence of an old road or an ancient wall construction?”

The others prod the ground with their swords and Vallaios nods saying “it could be one of the roads that connected to Las Galen and Dark Hold.”

“Is the direction it seems to go consisent with that?” Kam asks.

Vallaios thinks about it for a moment and says “both cities do lie in the general direction of the road.”

“Perhaps we should mark this on our map for further exploration when we come back. As you say it may just be the old road to those locations. It might be possible that it leads to something else or perhaps passes by an outpost from those times. It might be interesting but we'll stay on course for the Crystal Lake.”

Vallaios agrees and has the location marked on the map by Venra, who has those skills.

The group continues on without any further occurrences that day. Set up camp again and the scouts return with an all clear that there is nothing around. The fire is lit and another hot meal is cooked from the fresh supplies that are carried and supplemented with foraging by the rangers. There is some wildlife activity through the night but none that approaches the camp site. Kam makes the effort to rest in the hours leading up to dawn.

The following day progress remains slow across the terrain of the hills. The rangers report a trail that is very well marked. They say the tracks on the ground are Azgeyr and Ozgeyr. The most recent activity could be 5 hours old. It runs from the east and turns to the south.”

Vallaios says “South is where the new fortification is being built. East is where the hills go into a forest called Drachenwood and from there to the edge of the Garthang ranges. The Drachenwood is four days from here and beside the Garthang ranges is one of the major trading routes. And where the trading route passes through the hills it is heavilly fortified by Star Crusaders.”

“Then we should mark this trail on our map as evidence of the Azgeyr's movements. This is probably a supply and reinforcement trail given that it has been heavily walked on,” Kam nods to Venra. “Let's move on our original course in case some of those Azgeyr return this way soon.”

Later that afternoon they enter a valley and the rangers report there is another well worn trail used by the Azgeyr and Ozgeyr that starts from a glade or clearing. On the ground of that clearing there are strange runes. On investigation they can see where the trail begins and there are six runes that have burnt into the ground in a circle. Each rune is identical and is about six yards wide and six yards high. Elloiise, the cleric/bard/ranger studies them and declares the runes are from the dark language and she thinks that – given their remoteness - they are an arrival point for arrival or teleportation.”

“This is extremely significant. We must also note this on our map. If I am not mistaken, this is exactly the kind of information that would be invaluable to the Star Crusaders, yes?”
“And any number of magic user guilds,” Vallaios replies. “They will be needed to destroy the runes.”
“Is our presence here likely to be detected, even after we are gone?”
Surrdos says “Possibly, but we can try to cover our tracks.”
“That is good. I think we should do that as quickly as possible. I wouldn't like for us to be here when the Azgeyr step through.”
That night the groups rests and all is quiet. The following day there is light rain but they continue. Vallaios believes they are nearing the Crystal Lake. “We might arrive there today or tomorrow.”
There are no encounters during the day. Rangers report all is secure with the area and they once again rest for the night.

Kam approaches Vallaios “Tell me more about what we may expect to face at the Crystal Lake. Is it just rumours and superstition designed to frighten men away, or is this substance to the stories that are told?”
“There are documented encounters.”
“Consistent with the nature of encounters with spirits and undead?”
“Encounters with spirits. I don't think undead have been encountered there.”
“Then if they are restless it may be possible to reason with them. Much as I did in those mines. Perhaps ending their torment may make Crystal Lake safe to explore once again. Of course, it may just be that the spirits don't care for the living and nothing will satisfy their needs. That is why I shall go in first. I am less likely to be harmed than yourselves and I'll do my utmost to make sure you will not be.”
“Go in where first? We won't know the lake until we see it. And we could be right at its shorline at that point.”
“Well, when we reach the location I'm sure that will become obvious. In such a case it might be wise to retreat maybe a thousand yards and leave me to my own devices to scout out ahead.”
“Fine by me.”
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Postby vampyre » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:49 am

K721 2Thardeth24 The shaft

While discussing what to do when they reach the lake Palnarin and Nuidar return from scouting and report that the shore of the lake is about 2 miles ahead of them. “We also found the remains of an encampment.” Nuidar said pointing towards a copse of tall trees rising from the dense wild undergrowth they were travelling through. “We think the encampment was used perhaps a year ago at least and there are some tools there as well, pick axes, shovels and the likes. It would make a good camp for us.”
“Take us there my friend.” Vallaois says and the two rangers lead the way into the copse of trees where on a rocky rise beneath an overhang the party finds the remains of a campfire surrounded by a circle of stones, ash harden over time. Beneath the overhang is found three pick axes and four shovels as well as spikes and rope, all left by who had camped here before.
“The over hang offers good shelter.” Vallaois remarks. “It extends out above us by about 10 yards. I can see why they camped here, defensible and with height as advantage. But I do wonder about the tools…were they prospecting for minerals perhaps, or looking for something. There is no evidence here of any digging.”
“We still have 3 hours till darkness.” Kheraff says. “Why not a few of us look around while the rest establish camp.”
Vallaois nods. “Good idea, make use of the day while we can.”

While camp is established Palnarin sets animal traps nearby and Nuidar, Vallaois, Surdoss and Kam begin a search through the undergrowth beneath the trees that towered over them, some over 300 feet tall with massive foliage of bright scarlet and orange leaves. Two hundred yards from the camp they reach the rise of a small ridge and see a gaping hole before them, cleared of undergrowth around it, the square shaped hole about 3 yards wide. The edges are line with smooth stone and across it is a beam of wood on which is tied a thick rope that descends into the darkness below.
“A mine shaft perhaps or a well.” Vallaois remarks thoughtfully.
“There is fresh water nearby.” Nuidar says. “A small stream runs eastward on the other side of the trees.”
“Well this bears investigation.” Kam says. He picks up a stone and drops it into the hole and waits…till he hears clacking sounds of the rock impacting against something below. Kam suggests why not pull up the rope and see if anything is attached to it.

Nuidar reaches across and begins to pull up the rope, covered in lichen and moist to the touch and the rope is gathered beside him by Surdoss and it becomes a thick pile as over 300 feet of rope is brought up, with the a step stone attached at the end. Nuidar and Surdoss test the strength of the rope and says it can still take weight.
“Lower me down.” Kam says. “I will check what is down there. I wonder why they left their tools there. Surely the prospectors would have taken those.”
“Considering we found nothing else…one would think they left the camp perhaps hoping to return at some time. The tools might have been more of a burden in leaving.” Vallaois says.

Kam holds on to the rope and is lowered into the hole. With his vampiric ability of enhanced sight and hearing he is able to see without the assistance of light. Vallaios offers a torch but Kam declines, saying “my eyes have grown accustomed to the darkness so that is unnecessary.”

As he descends he sees that the walls of the shaft have been hewn from rock and the sdes are smooth. Every 15' he finds an area where the edge of the walls have been cut in and large thick wood has been placed in. The wood has been chipped and cut and split. Kam thinks these may have extended out, possibly as platforms. When he reaches the fifth one, he finds that most of the wood section is intact. It is solid and about 1' thick, with a hole that has been smashed through it. Perhaps the platform might have been a cover. 15' further on he discovers another mostly intact wood platform just like the other.

He continues to be lowered down. He continues to find more of the platforms as he goes. At about 180-190' he reaches an area between two of the platforms where there is a strong smell of salt. The walls themselves are covered with crystalline salt. Kam thinks this is odd for a fresh water inland lake. He recalls earlier in the day that Vallaios remarked to his wife that it is said the lake is one of the few that does not freeze over the Solace. Tharamaen remarked “this may be the result of the spirits.”

At about 250' the rock changes colour and is observed to be a reddish-blue. Kam continues until he reaches the bottom, only to find that the bottom is a platform of solid wood where a portion had started to be broken into. There are chips of wood all over the place. There are a couple of picks and double-bladed axes lying on the floor nearby. The rddish-blue colour of the rock, on closer examination, appears to be veins of colour through the rock itself.

“Are you alright?” one of the others call out.
“Yes,” Kam replies. “But this rock shaft is very unusal. There are the remains of wooden platforms every 15' and the bottom appears to be an intact one. Someone has tried to start breaking through it but they stopped and there are old tools still down here.” He thinks that a mage could have done this much faster, so why did people spend so much time and effort to break in manually? “Something else is different down here … two things actually … one is an area of salt and the other is the stone changes colour to reddish blue. I don't know what that means. Perhaps someone else could come and check this out?”
Vallaios calls out “this is normal. It is just the type of rock at that depth. Do you want us to bring you up?”
“Well … I am curious about this last platform. It looks like they tried to break through but apparently gave up. Or maybe something stopped them. Bring me up and I'll tell you more.“
The group pull Kam up. It takes some effort.
“Thanks. Does anyone have magic that could break through solid wood? I really think it would be interesting to see how much further the hole with the platforms does go.”
Vallaios asks “so you think each of these platforms, as you call them, was split open using tools rather than magic?”
“Yes,” Kam replies.
“I wonder why they didn't burn through it?”
“Don't know. There's no evidence of fire. And no evidence of where all the wood they removed has gone either. It's a bit of a mystery.”
Nuidir says “well we can answer that but it adds another mystery to the mystery. The stream nearby has been dammed with the wood. And I cannot think of any reason why they would want to do that.”
Vallaios points into the trees and says “yes, its just over there. And I can't think of any reason why they would do that. It is certainly easy to cross without needing assistance.”
Nuidir says “the dam will probably collapse over time. That might be soon as it has lost its effectiveness.”
“And if the dam fails, where is the water it holds back likely to flow? Would it come near this hole?”
Nuidir says “the dam is over there and the stream does go around and behind us. Then it heads south.”
“Maybe they needed to dam the stream while they were digging the hole? I dodn't see any openings in the rock, but maybe the hole floods? Maybe that is why there is no evidence of burning. Maybe the wood was under water when they were digging. Does the wood in the dam show any signs of old water damage.”
Nuidir says “yes, that is why it will fail. But if it does the stream will just follow its own course. There is no chance of it flooding here as we are on a rise.”
“Then I am puzzled,” Kam says. “In any case … do we have the means to try breaking through the bottom platform? It is solid wood, about 1' thick and it is already partially cut into. It may just lead to more of the same.”
“Well we can just count that this is a mine shaft so if it is not that, what is it and where does it lead?”
“Perhaps it leads to one of the old places I have been instructed to search for? If the platforms are designed to impede access then they have certainly been doing their job.”
Vallaios thinks that no members of the group have spells capable of penetrating the wood. “Perhaps we are very much like those that were here before We may have to resort to the very tools they used.”
“Is anyone willing to try this?” Kam asks. “If we just break through the final platform that we can see now, then maybe we'll achieve something that the others did not. Perhaps they gave up too soon. Whatever is down there may be just out of reach and we'll never know unless we try to get to it.”
Nuidir shrugs and says “I've chopped wood before. I can do it.”
“Anyone else?” Kam asks.
Vallaios says “It will be dark soon so I suggest we go back and tell the others. We can discuss the matter over a meal.”
“A wise idea,” Kam agrees. “We must ensure the group is safe, given the reputation of this lake. We'll come back tomorrow morning.”
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Postby vampyre » Thu Jul 19, 2012 10:52 am

K722 2Thardeth24-25

Kam and the others return to the encampment and there find everything set up and a good fire burning with a large pot in which a stew is cooking. Vallaois turns to Venra and asks whether he brought any vials of acid with him and Venra nods saying he has 3 vials on him and asks why. Vallaois looks as Kam.

Kam says. “Well if you have acid then it may prove useful with our discovery. We have found a shaft with a wooden platform at the bottom we have to break through. The wood is very strong and the acid may weaken it. That will make our task of cutting through it easier.”
“A shaft.” Venra says curiously. “Out here in the middle of nowhere.”
“Yes.” Kam answered. “There were platforms every 15 feet and all have been broken through save one. We are curious to see if it is truly the last.”
“How far does it go down.” Kheraff asks.
“300 feet.” Kam answers.
The party looks surprised at that. “That is some distance.” Kheraff remarks. “As Venra said why way out here…mining perhaps.”
“There is no evidence of actual mining activity.” Kam replies just this hole of broken wooden platforms.”
“Very strange.” Elloisse says.
“And no ladders, just a rope.” Kam adds.
“And if it is indeed true that this encampment was used a year ago by those digging down the shaft…wonder why they have not returned.” Venra remarks.
“Yes why indeed.” Vallaois agrees.
“Perhaps they tried and were caught by the Azgeyr.” Kam suggests.
“Or the spirits took them…their lives I mean.” Chennor grunts.
Vallaois nods. “Or forced them to flee.”
“But why would spirits care about a hole in the ground.” Kam asks.
Vallaois shrugs. “Who knows. Spirits are common throughout the empire, nearly every village has one and they are known by many names, but collectively are known as the Faerie, or the Earth People.”
“And belief in their existence is condoned by the church.” Elloisse adds. “But that does not stop the rural folk especially from revering their local spirits, whether water, wood, field or other such kind.”
“Well I saw nothing to suggest a spirit lives down there.” Kam says.
“Perhaps so but the lake itself is known to have spirits and we are just 2 miles from the its shores.” Elloisse says. “I am not sure whether you have determined this but I have found this area lacks the wildlife I would expect in such locations. The woods should be teeming with life, but I have not seen a bird since we have arrived here. And Palnarin was just plain lucky in trapping some brenna (Rabbits) today.”
Nuidar nods. “Yes, we did notice getting closer to the lake that the wildlife became less.”
“So that definitely indicates that something is wrong in the area.” Kam surmises.
“Perhaps or it may mean that the wildlife over time have been warned not to inhabit this area.” Palnarin adds.
“So what do we do?” Kheraff asks.

Kam says. “Well, can you Elloisse cast a spell that can protect us against the spirits and tomorrow we will revisit the shaft and break into the last platform. I am hopeful it will give us access to one of the old places…or alternatively it may lead to some treasure, although it seems an extreme measure to do so, covering it with so many platforms.”
“I can protect the encampment from evil.” Elloisse says. “To a limited extent…but that would mean you will have to be outside the effect.” She says looking at Kam.
“Well, we will do that. We have got to try. After all we have trekked for 5-6 days to get here and it would be a shame if it was a wasted effort.” Kam says.

Kam leaves the immediate encampment, Loiesse casts a protective spell that radiates for 100' to protect it while Kam remains outside of its area of effect. The group posts guards. Kam patrols during the night between the encampment and the shaft in the ground. He will do so for several hours before finding a sheltered location where he will rest and meditate before the sun rises for a new day.

PERCEPTION 31, 41, 50

The nightlife is very quiet. There is some movement but not very much at all. About half a mile away in a other rock outcrop there is a den of six legged wolves. Two are on watch and Kam senses their scent before they see him. Their fur is a scarlet colour and they are large. He takes care not to disturb them. The night goes quietly otherwise and Kam takes the opportunity to scout towards the lake shoreline.

The trees end about ten yards from the lake and grass leads from them to the lake edge. He finds himself at a small inlet, or cove and the lake extends out of sight. The water is an orange hue under the light of the moon and is very smooth. It is very quiet and still.

Kam looks across the lake. He sees no outcrops of rock or islands that are visible. Just a large expanse of water. He will follow the shoreline east for about a mile to see if there are any signs of ruined structures. The lake is surrounded by tree covered hills that reach close to the shoreline. He stops and looks. He experiences a sensation of shifting across the water at great speed, almost like flying. The extent of the lake is huge. Way to the north, perhaps 100 miles, there is a large island covered in trees. At that point he feels stopped and dragged back, as though he is flying across the water. Kam has no idea how that happened.

He looks at the ground he is standing on, to see if it is marked or unusal in any way. It isn't. He is standing on grass. He looks to the nearby trees and scrutinises them to see if he is being watched by anyone or anything. PERCEPTION 49. He does not think so.

He continues east following the shoreline for another mile, again looking for anything unusual. PERCEPTION 37. He gets the sense he is being watched. He stops and calls out. “Show yourselves. My friends and I are only curious. We are not here to cause any harm.”

There is no reply. Kam shrugs. He turns and proceeds to follow the shoreline back to the west. He then returns in the direction of the encampment, where he will stay a safe distance from the protection and rest.

The remainder of the night passes uneventfully. The rest of the group wake up and have breakfast. The cleric removes the protection. Kam returns to them once the spell is lifted and tells them of what he saw. He mentions the vision of the lake and the island some 100 miles away. “I do not know what it menas, but it seemed important. Also, I sensed that something was watching me but it remained hidden from sight when I called out a challenge. There is very little wildlife by the lake, although I did see a den of six legged wolves.”
Nuidir says “they are not uncommon in wild lands such as these.”
“I basically did not encounter any trouble. So our effort with the dig should be safe enough, I guess, unless we disurb something.”
After breakfast, Surrdoss, Kheharff, Nuidir, Venra and Vallaios accompany Kam to the shaft.
“Now … getting down will be easy enough but climbing up might be more difficult. Do we have any other rope, perhaps to tie off a second line in case the first experiences some failure?”
Nuidir nods “Yes, we have enough and we have it with us. He ties off three 100' lengths of rope and ties it to the beam, a couple of feet from the other older rope.”
“Ok … do we want someone to stay up top while the others descend?”
Surrdoss and Venra say they will stay up top. Venra hands the acid vials to Vallaios.
“Good … we're ready to start then.” Kam says. “I'll climb down in the first group, who's coming with me?”
Vallaios confirms he will be. They climb down, Kam guides Vallaios as they descend. It takes some time to reach the wooden platform. Vallaios lights a torch and places it into one of the torch holders that is down here. He shouts for the other two to come down. Nuidir and Khehraff join them after some more time passes.
Nuidir takes out a sharpening stone and works on the blades of the axes that were left against the wall. Vallaios pours one vial of acid in a circle, about three feet wide, producng an acrid smell as the acid burns into the wood. It burns through and the lump of wood actually falls and hits something with a dull thump below. It sounds like wood on wood. “Did you hear that?” Kam remarks. “It sounds like another platform exists below.”
Vallaios puts the torch into the hole. He confirms another platform below it. “Shall we try going further?” Kam asks. Nuidir shrugs. “We're here anyway, so we might as well.”
More rope is attached to extend their reach. Vallaios goes first with the torch. “The air is acrid, pull me up. We may have to wait a while before fresh air gets down there.”
“Is it the acid we used?” Kam asks him.
“Does this make any sense?” Kam asks. “Have you ever seen anything constructed like this before?”
Vallios replies “No.”
“It's probably because each of these platforms produce an airtight level.”
“And there are no markings on the walls to indicate the purpose of this shaft either. Someone has taken a lot of trouble to do this. I wonder why?”
Venra says “That is presuming it is someone and not something.”
Nuidir says “these axes have good blades now. They will suffice if we need them.”
After a while the air clears below and the companions descend to the next platform. The circular piece that fell through is moved aside and another vial is used. It sizzles through the wood and that drops through with the same effect below. Another thud.
“Another platform?” Kam asks.
“That seems likely,” Vallaios nods.
“We'll wait until it clears and then try again.” Kam suggests.
The companions agree. Nuidir drops the axes down and then everyone follows. They use the final vial, wait and again there is another thud as the circular piece breaks through.
“This is beginning to feel like a joke,” Kam remarks impatiently.
“Some joke,” Nuidir grunts.
“They must be wantng to protect something very badly. Either that or keep something in. Shall we continue? Maybe just one more platform. We might be lucky.”
The others look at each other and Venra says “Perhaps he is right. It could be a prison to keep someone in. If we keep going, we're going to let it out!”
The others are silent.
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