History: The Third Age
Thanks to the player of Zaida for typing this up; Also note sometimes I didn't pronounce names clearly, so some might be incorrect in the writeups. :) Blame me, not Zaida!
Index of the Seven Gems of Tatadoxi Campaign Game Sessions
1. Welcome to Tarn (1/11/2004)
Four traveling strangers found themselves in the city of Easlen. The city itself was very much law-based. Most areas were immaculately clean and polished, and over-all the citizenry seem to view themselves as superior to outsiders. There were even reports that outsiders were being rounded up and arrested with no explaination or reason. All four of the strangers noticed signs for those seeking employment. The signs directed interested parties to seek out L.A. in the Turning Point Tavern, located in the North West (merchant) quadrant.
The Turning Point Tavern was the last building on the street before exiting the city. Inside there was a large Mahagony bar, and glass shards could be seen below the fireplace. The bartender told the strangers that the first drink was free, and took their orders in turn.
Zaida, a short and some-what scraggly looking human, asked for the tallest mug of ale the house served. The bartender explained that they did have giant visiters from time to time, and Zaida changed his order to the tallest mug for non-giant visiters. The bartender gave him a wooden mug, as Zaida was new here and "did not know the rules." Boris, a rather tall human, ordered a citris drink. The bartender squeezed some fresh fruit, and asked if Boris wanted the drink spiced up. Boris agreed, but did not seem to enjoy the clear liquor the bartender added. Amirus, an elf that looked very out of place in a city, simply ordered ??? (sorry, forgot what you ordered, Chuck). Jubakumbi, a dark-skinned, dark-eyed human with many bone talismans asked for what the bartender himself drank.
At the time, there were three other patrons in the bar. A man and woman were sitting together talking softly. Zaida could only make out the name Caelith from their hushed discussion, but they looked upon the strangers with obvious contempt. There was also a man sitting over in the corner, studying many books and papers. As the strangers drank, the man with Caelith stood before the fire, and made an impassioned speech about how outsiders were bring their filth and demons into the city. But the Vanguard was in Eastland, and it would drive out the out he demons. At the end of the speech, he threw his glass into the fire place. All of the glass shards remaind in the fire.
The bartender confirmed that the man in the corner was L.A., and Jubakumbi and Zaida approached him. L.A. mentioned that many people had visited him about the posters throughout the day. Amirus approached too, and L.A. seemed surprised that three total strangers would arrive at the same time. Boris too joined, and L.A. muttered that this was perhaps a good omen. L.A. asked for introductions and what they all sought. Zaida said he was a traveler from the Glacia, and that he was seeking glory and fame before returning to his people. Jubakumbi revealed that he was from the south, and sought profit. Boris did not like Jubakumbi's appearance, and stated as much without a second thought. Zaida asked if Jubakumbi spoke to the spirits like the shamans of his tribe. Jubakumbi said that his powers worked differently. Amirus admitted that this was his first time to leave the woodland to the east, and he was seeking adventure. Boris too was from the North, and wanted to know what made L.A. think the other three were worthy to assist him in his quest for fame and power.
Jubakumbi and L.A. appeared to both share a similar tatoo marking on their forheads, but L.A.'s was lined in gold. The talked about servering "Her," but when Zaida inquired they only refered to this her as the "Unspoken." L.A. admitted that She was not too pleased with him at the moment, but that the mission he had in mind for the four was related to her will. L.A. spoke of an ancient rumor of seven gems that mages used long ago to extend their life. She struck them down for their arrogance, and distributed the gems to her followers. Over time the gems were lost or stolen. They are rumored to contain great power along with their life extending abilities. L.A. has heard that a Goblin King posses one of these gems, and would like it recovered. He described the gem as a shiny piece of metal that fell from the sky. As all but Jubakumbi said they sought glory, he took a small pouch from the table, and said that Jubakumbi would be reward for his efforts. The rest would have all the glory and treasure they say fit to keep. As a parting gift, L.A. gave the group a small, pink stone. He said that the one whom is least likely to die should take the gem, as it will bring them to L.A.'s study. If anyone was greatly injured, L.A. could perhaps heal them. Several of the strangers noticed that the man and Caelith scowled frequently at L.A. during the converstation.
The question of leadership came up almost immediately. Boris assured the others that he was a natural born leader. Zaida commented that Jubakumbi "spoke good" and should perhaps take charge when they encountered other people. Amirus was very much at home in the wilderness, so it only made sense for him to lead there. Boris boasted of his martial prowess, so Zaida suggested he lead them boldly into battle.
Jubakumbi said that to use his healing magic, he would need some small piece of each person for his medicine bag. Amirus and Zaida did not seem to mind, but Boris resisted. He admitted that he did not trust this strange man and his foreign ways. Jubakumbi assured him that once in the pouch, the items were only usable for helpful magics. To harm someone, Jub would places pieces on his staff. Zaida tried to convince Boris of the validity of this concept, showing his own small totem pouch and stating that it was the spirit of the swift mountain cats that claimed Zaida as its own. Boris was of course familiar with the concept of totems, but simply said to worry about healing him if he was injured.
As the group left the Turning Point Inn, they passed a board of notices in the ante-chamber. They spotted a call for help from Kindermore, which was being raided by goblins. The message said to contact the sherif or mayor of Kindermore. Boris approached a guard to ask for directions to Kindermore. The gaurd was very aggitated with Jubakumbi's appearance, and stated that the Empress had declared outsiders forbidden in the city. The four managed to prevent a situation by stating that they were leaving the city, hence the need for directions. The guard said to take the road north for a few days, and then follow the east road to Kindermore. It turned out that only Jubakumbi had a horse, but since the distance was not too far they would walk for now. Amirus left to purchase travelling supplies, and the four stuck out. After challenging Boris to a race, Zaida was appointed point.
Around mid-day, Zaida saw two figures stumbling forward. One was armored but quite injured, and realied upon the robed man for support. The robed man muttered that he should have stayed in the tower, were as the other lamented that he should never have left the farm. They paid little heed to the four, until Jub cast a spell at the robed man. The spell appeared to have little effect, and the man simply glared for a moment and mumbled that he had no time for distraction.
Zaida inquired if this was perhaps the way among mages; challenging each other to prove their worth. Jubakumbi admitted that he had noticed a large coin purse on the man, and thought him easy prey. This was Jubakumbi's concept of profit. Zaida only commented this could be dangerous should others view the four as an easy source of profit.
In the very early morning, a hunter approached the camp. He offered to trade freshly killed rabbits for rations or the like. Jubakumbi asked the hunter about the village of Kindermore, and the hunter told them they could save a day by travelling through the forest.
The first day in the forest was uneventful. The next day, however, they encountered four goblins waiting in ambush. In a fierce but swift battle the goblins were defeated. Jubakumbi had yelled to spare one of questioning. Jub asked the captive about their king, leader, and other terms, but it quickly became apparent that the goblin did not understand. They followed the goblins' tracks back to a small camp where they found a book of spells. Zaida took the caine teeth of the goblins he had downed, and Jubakumbi took the skull of one to place on his staff. Jubakumbi made a necklace of goblin fingerbones for Boris, but Boris said he did not want to get his fur lined cloak bloody. Jub said that if Boris did not want the necklace then he must throw it into the fire.
The four approaced Kindermore the following evening. The small inhabitants seemed very skittish and uncertain of the strangers. Boris knew of Kinders, and advised that everyone watch their possessions at the Kinder had no sense of personal belongings. Even the buckle of Jub's saddle was taken when it caught one Kinder's attention. The sherif did not know much about the goblin raids, and sent for the mayor. The mayor chastized the other Kinders, telling them to give the strangers their things back. The mayor knew nothing of a King, but revealed that the attacks often came from the North East. Jub asked which part of the goblins to return with as proof of the fours efforts, and the mayor simply showed the group several gems and said to return in two weeks. If there were no raids in that time, then they could have the gems.
The group set off immediately to put some distance between them and the strange Kinders. Jubakumbi found some tracks to the North East, and the next day they followed them. The tracks lead to the edge of a mountain. As night approached, they heared movement in the bushes ahead. There appeared to be at least two seperate groups. Unsure of how to procede, Amirus and Boris snuck ahead to investigate. The low murmurings were occasionally interrupt with gutteral yeals of "shut up." At one point, four Hobgoblins lept up and ran up the trail away from the group. Unsure of what was happening, Zaida and Jub crept forward, finding Boris. They discovered a small clearing with a dice pit near a log. They attempted to hide and wait for the hobgoblins to return. Amirus had also discovered a group of several goblins that appeared to be frightened of something. Jubakumbi sprang his ambush as the hobgoblins returned, and a fierce battle ensued. Along with the goblins, three more hobgoblins joined to fray. Amirus shot one goblin that attempted to flee to gather more.
I think all involved will agree last week is much more ... humerous from Boris' perspecitve :)
After the goblins and hobgoblins were defeated, Amirus and Jubakumbi searched the area for tracks. Finding no good leads, they headed in the direction that the one goblin had ran. Amirus discovered some tracks leading along the mountain side. Someone had obviously taken the time to try to sweep over the tracks. Jub also "found" some tracks that lead in another direction, but the ended abruptly, so the four followed the tracks along side the ridge.
After a while, Amirus discovered a hidden enterance in the side of the mountain. Boris stood gaurd over Jub's horse as the other three snuck towards the enterance. No one appeared to be at the enterance, so Jub suggested they take a short break to rest. Jub told the rest to awaken him in four hours, and began to recharge his mystical energies.
A few hours later, Amirus and Zaida noticed two goblins emmerging from the hidden enterance. They appeared to be heading towards the encampment encountered earlier. Zaida went to awaken Jub, but Amirus stopped him. Amirus shot one goblin dead, but the other gave out a cry and ran towards to scouts. Zaida chased the goblin down and killed him. After a few tense moments, they decided that no one must have heard the cry. Amirus dragged the dead bodies next to Jub.
Concerned that they might need to make a hasty exit, Boris stood guard at the enterance. After a few minutes, Boris thought he heard something. But surely it had to be his mind playing tricks on him. After all, the plan was for the other three to sneak in quietly and check out the place...
There it was again. This time Boris was certain he heard a thump followed by some low cursing. What was going on in there? He unsheathed his blades and croutched down in wait. And wait he did. Time seemed to drag on slowly. Every now and then Boris could hear some sound echoing from deep in the cave.
Several minutes later Boris heard the sound of rapidly approaching foot steps. "The horse, bring the horse," Zaida cried out. The short man dashed from the cave with the still, bloodied body of Jubakumbi slung over one shoulder.
"Quick, quick, we need some distance between us and here," Zaida yelled as he frantically placed Jub on the horse. Amirus appeared momentarily, and they began to rush
"What, what happened, what's going on?" Boris inquired.
"No time, might be more, need to use gem," Amirus gasped out.
About a hundred yards from the cave they stopped and Amirus buried the gem. Boris was no physician, but even he could see that Jub was pale and barely breathing. Just then, a large orc burst from the cave enterance.
"You! You killed my servants!" he bellowed as he charged forward, brandishing a large mace. As he rushed forward, they noticed a chunk of strange stone hung around his neck. As a purple gate appeared, Amirus left fly with an arrow. Boris took one last loot at their prize dangling from the orc's neck, and seeing how quickly the brute was closing the distance, dove into the gate. He found himself in a small, enclosed The gate was to small for the horse, so Zaida took Jub in one arm, grabbed his backpack, and ran through the gate. Amirus took careful aim, and let another arrow fly. Much to his displeasure, the orc reached back and threw his mace, striking Amirus squarly in the groin. Amirus fumbled around for the mace as he dove for the gate, only to see it reappear in the orcs hand with a flash of light. As Amirus dove through, the gate closed.
What Happened Inside
Despite claiming to be from an underground culture, Zaida almost immediately walked squarely into a stalactite. Stumbling about in pain, he tripped over a stalagmite, his iron braces banging noisely on the cave floor. Amirus and Jubakumbi just shook their heads as the three continued on in the distance.
The passage lead to a large opening, and as Zaida snuck ahead he was almost impaled (in the groin, wouldn't ya know) by a spear from the dark. What followed was a brief game of cat and mouse in the dark as Zaida attempted to find his attacker. Jub and Amirus threw their torches into the room, but Zaida heard footsteps retreating down a side passage. A large passage lead into another chamber. Amirus though he heard voices approaching from the second chamber, and Zaida heard at least two sets of feet approaching down the side passage. They took cover behind the stalagmites, preparing for the approaching foes. Zaida gave chase down the side passage, only to have a Hobgoblin stab at him as he rushed by. The retreating Hobgoblin turned around and rushed to help his the fight against Zaida. Jubakumbi injured one of the hobgoblins, but turned his attention when the torch in the distance went dark. Jub and Amirus readied as two more hobgoblins rushed into the room. Jub managed to take one down, but fell himself when a fifth hobgoblin joined the frey. Amirus managed to dispatch one quickly, and once Zaida had incapacitated the rest Amirus rushed to heal the fallen mage. Once Jub's bleeding was stopped, Amirus and Zaida decided to retreat and try their luck later.
As the four looked around the strange room, Lazvon suddenly appeared. Glancing down to Jub's body he asked, "Is he alive." After examining Jub briefly Lazvon commented that Jub was in a coma, and placed some strange fruit in Jub's mouth. After a few moments, Jub came to.
The four explained to Lazvon that they had seen the rock around the Orcs next, so they were certain that they were on the right track. Lazvon simply asked if the would return with the gem the next time. As many of their possessions were lost, the group wanted to try to resuply before leaving. Lazvon said that he would return at the same time the next day, and told the four to make certain and dig up the gem upon their return.
Zaida and Boris left to buy supplies. The building they were in had several floors, and eventually the two came to an elaborate tavern on the bottom floor. Most of the women were covered almost completely, except for the dancers. There were no casket of ale or wine behind the bar; only iced milk and various fruits. They approached the bar tender, who fortunately spoke their language. He recogonized them almost immediately as Mr. Acrasaki's guests. When they asked about supplies, the bartender suggested they try the weapon dealer Jaron, who spoke their language. Jaron's brother could get the other supplies, but he did not speak their language. The bartender explained a few local customs, such as they should not look directly at another woman (except for the entertainment, of course). Boris wanted to know the word for thank you, but the bartender explained that that was a foreign concept. In this land, no one would go out of their way to help anyone else, especially strangers. They paid the bartender for the information, and set out into the street.
The streets were quite busy, and the two noticed that many of the men carried large, curved blades. Following the bartender's directions, they found Jaron's store. Jaron said that staves were very rare in this land, and finally settled upon a price of 2 gold. In a hushed voice, Jaron said he would also trade for wine if they happened to have any. He made a list for them to take across the street to his brother Abdul. Abdul also wanted 2 gold for just a few provisions and clothing. Boris and Zaida said they would return, and headed back to the tavern.
Upon their return, Boris and Zaida advised against going out into this strange land. Amirus wanted to know more about their employer, however, and headed down to the bar. Jub took some of Zaida's spare clothes and headed down to the bar as well. The bartender described Mr. Acrasaki as a librarian, sage, and assassin. Jubakumbi exchanged coinage, and Amirus discussed "fire water" with the bartender in hushed tones. It appeared that Lazvon had traded a casket of "fire water" for a month at the top floor. Rooms on the top floor went for 10 gold a day. The bartender explained some of the local laws:
Jub and Amirus decided to head out one it turned dusk to try to find supplies. Jub climbed out the window, but Amirus simply walked out the front. Zaida decided that there was little honor in cowering in a room, and left to join the rest. Unable to find a headway into the shadier dealings in the city, Jub returned to the room.
The next day, Lazvon appeared at the appointed time. The four found themselves exactly where they had left. As Amirus dug up the gem, Jub wistled for his horse. His faithful mount shortly appeared. They headed back into the caves. The packs at the enterance were missing, but Jub's staff was still on the ground. While Amirus and Zaida discussed sneaking down the side passage, Jub picked up his staff and marched deeper into the cave.
Jub drew the attention of several hobgolbins, one of which knocked him unconscious with a spear. Amirus and Zaida rushed down the side tunnel towards the sounds as Boris waited to ambush the approaching Hobgoblins. The hobgoblins were just defeated and Jub revived when the group heard footsteps approaching again. The orc burst into the room bellowing "You did it again." After a fierce battle the orc was defeated. When Amirus attempted to pull the necklace from the orc's head, it wouldn't move. The necklace had to eventually be cut off, leaving bits of flesh still attached to the chain. The four scowered the caves, collecting all the treasure they could find:
The four discussed their next move. Boris and Amirus wanted to return to Kindermore to collect their reward and purchase wine. Amirus suggested taking the heads of the hobgoblins and orcs as proof since the two weeks had not elapsed. Zaida finally took the gem an buried it in the ground. All four ended up going through the gate, finding themselves in a completely different room. Lazvon appeared, and upon examing the gems muttered, "All the legends are true." Lazvon asked the group if they were interested in further employment. There were six more gems to be found, and each gem returned would result in greater rewards. The possible rewards were gold or knowledge. Lazvon explained that the gem would lead to a different area each time, and even though he had made himself redibly available, that would not always be the case in the future.
Amirus said he wanted to return to his homeland for a short while. He would meet the rest in two weeks time at the Turning Point Tavern. Alternatively, they could leave word there for where Amirus could find them.
The remaining three gathered the Orc and Hobgoblin heads in a bag, and headed towards Kindermore. Along the way, Boris and Zaida saw a strange creature with the head of a man and the body of a lion. The creature did not seem aggressive, and simply said that it had a message for four people. Since there were only three, this was obviously not the time to give the message. The creature seems uncertain that the four he was expecting where not present, but would only say that it went where needed to deliver the messages it was given. It would not reveal where these messages and information came from. After the creature dissolved away, Jubakumbi said that the creature might not have even been real.
That night, during Jubakumbi's watch, he spied a man taking a piss on a tree. The man became startled, and took off into the dark. Jubakumbi awakened Boris and Zaida, and Zaida gave chase. Zaida found a small camp, and heard someone cry out "He's over there" as six men rushed off in a different direction. Zaida returned to their camp and told Jumakumbi and Boris about the now abandoned camp. The three snuck to the strangers camp. There were six bed rolls and three large back packs. Jubakumbi told everyone to grab a pack, but an arrow landed in front of Zaida. A voice said to drop the packs and leave. They wouldn't attack us since we did not have sun shields (the sign of the Easlen army). However, Jub called upon his magic at the mention of the bows that were trained on the three. Along with five archers, there appeared to be a mage in the group. Jubakumbi and Boris were injured, and the mage yelled for them to drop the packs and leave or they would be killed. They three retreat to their camp, and head on to Kindermore in the morning.
As they approached the village, the three noticed that the entire village appeared to be battened down. Boris was volunteered to enter the village with the bag of heads. No one came out of their houses, but told Boris to go to the center to find the Mayor. The Mayor seemed very paled and sickly. He told Boris that a black cloud entered the village yesterday, and the Kinder became sick. Half of the village had died already. He gave the gems to Boris and said nothing mattered anymore because all the Kinder were going to be dead. Fearing a plague, the three quickly headed on their way.
After five days travel the three reached Easlen. They had no trouble entering the city, but the guards did ask if there were any Kinders with them. At the Turning Point Tavern the barkeep was glad to see they had made it back, and told them his name was Tanlee. They purchased three single rooms for the week, and began to think of their next move. They learned that across the lands the Kinder were dying, and Tanlee confirmed that some claimed to see the "black cloud of death" in the city. In the tavern, Zaida began to tell of their exploits, glorifying himself. One of the patrons became interested in the tale, and paid to write it down. After some drinks and a meal, the group decided to try to sale some of their spoils. Tanlee looked over some of the items before they left, and mentioned that the hook was from the First Age and possibly valuable to a collector. Tanlee tells them of three armor merchants, but warns that selling the armor outright might be difficult.
The first merchant they head to seems to be rather upscale. Most of his wares were decorative and ornate. His assistant verified that the armor is of great quality. The merchant offered 500 in store credit, or he would attempt to sale it on consignment for a 20% fee. The merchant said he could probably get 1500, but that could take months so the three should decide on a minimum price. The three decided to check the other shops, and Jubakumbi returned to Turning Point to see what Tanlee would pay for the armor if he was buying.
The second shop appears to be much more functional, but the shop keeper was still interested in the armor. He examined the armor in much more detail for sturdy construction. The other merchant offered 500 in store credit, or a 10% fee for consignment. Again, the merchant thought it could take a few months to sale the armor. The merchant brought a customer over to view the armor, but he could only offer around 700 gold. However, this causes them to hit upon an idea, so the three agreed to hold a silent auction for a week to get their money quicker.
After arranging the auction, Boris returned to the tavern while Jubakumbi and Zaida headed to the library. The librarian mentions that the only other place for research in Easlen would be the Tower of the Magi, which is controlled by Caelith. They spent several hours at the library; Jub looked for information on crafted items of magic while Zaida attempted to figure out the location of their treasure map. They returned to the Turning Point Tavern, and Jubakumbi asked Tanlee about finding someone to do research in the mage library for the group. Tanlee said another possibility would be to go to Teziir. It was a one day journey by quick-coach, and then a two week journey across the ocean. Another possibility would be a mage that appears at the shrine close to noon every day to teleport people to other places. Tanlee warned that this was very expensive, however. Jubakumbi bought a round for the house before retiring.
The next day, Boris, Zaida, and Jubakumbi discussed their next step. Boris did not hold Caelith in the low opinion that Jub did, so he approached her in the Turning Point Tavern. Boris asked if should would research the seven gems of Tatadoxi for them. She agreed so long as they would not use the knowledge for evil. The Tower was only for the Magi's use, but Caelith suggested Boris get in contact with the Foundation (a group of foundling mages) if he wanted to one day join the Magi. She told Boris she would return to the Tavern in a few days with the information.
While talking with Tanlee, Jubakumbi and Zaida learned that there is another mage that could search the Tower for them, a member of the Renegades. This was the mage from the earlier altercation, but Tanlee said the mage was a forgiving sort. The three left to head to the temple, and along the way Jubakumbi was accosted by the bigoted guard from a few weeks earlier. Jubakumbi refused to yield, and eventual Timmy was told to drop it and carried off by a couple of other guards. The Temple of Light was near the city square, and the mage appeared with two travelers. The price for passage to Teziir would be 25 platinum per person. Given the high cost, the three decided to wait, checking on the auction from time to time.
After a couple of days Caelith returned to the Tavern. Her research had yielded some success, and she explained that the seven gems were described:
Tatadoxi poured some of his life into each gem. They were used in fashioning a crown, and Tatadoxi's soul was placed into the crown, allowing him to become a lich. The Unspoken One sent her servants to destroy the lich, and then cursed the gems to never resurface. Caelith had information on the location of one of the gems, but she would not share this information unless all swore to never use the gems. Jubakumbi refused under the grounds that they new nothing of the gems powers, and he would not blindly make an oath to his goddess. Caelith left, but they overheard her telling Tanlee that she would be gone for several days.
Jubakumbi took the gem and planted it in a flower bed to go see Lazvon. Zaida recovered the gem, and buried it in a potted ficas plant. While they waited, Zaida asked Tanlee about trustworthy cartographers. The cartographer said the treasure map looked like somewhere in middle Estlen, but he did not know the area. Zaida had a perfect copy, minus the X, commissioned. Zaida also bought several more ficus plants to conceal which one had the gem. When he remembered that magic did not work in the tavern, Zaida asked Tanlee if he could place the plants on the roof under the guise that they were not growing well in the room. Tanlee agreed to let Zaida place the plants up there. The armor ended up selling quit low, at only 892 gold.
While they waited for Amirus to return, Jubakumbi found himself in an overgrown jungle. He waited for a week before Lazvon arrived. After Jub related what had happened, Lazvon said he should have taken the oath. Lazvon warned that the gems were far too powerful for Jubakumbi to attempt to use. When they returned to the roof of the tavern, Lazvon removed the jungle location from the gem, saying that it was no longer a safe locale to wait. Jubakumbi found that the others were preparing to leave and hunt down the mage with the Renegades in hopes of gaining access to the tower. As they started to leave, the group was surprised to see a rather disheveled and angry Caelith stumble in.
With the whole group finally back together again, they decided to head north to search out Rastlin. They bought horses and supplies and set out. The first night outside of the city their camp is approached by Elysian Guards. The Guards warned the four to be weary of the Renegades. Everything north of Estlen was under threat of Renegage activity.
The four returned to where they had first encountered Rastlin, and Amirus began to search for tracks. He discovered the hidden tracks of six people headed to the west. The tracks appeared to be only a day old, so the group set out with haste. Later that evening the voice of Rastlin called out to them. He wanted to know why these "thieves" had returned, and his voiced seemed to move around constantly. They explain to Rastlin that they need information from the mage tower that Caelith would not give to them. Rastlin wanted to know what oaths Caelith had wanted and why the four were seeking the gems. Jubakumbi said that he was recovering the gems for his goddess, and obviously would not attempt the blasphemy of becoming a lich. Zaida commented only that the pay was good, but would not elaborate on whom was paying.
The group offered Raistlin 45 platinum for his time. Raistlin replied that he was very busy assisting the Renegades, so the price for his services would be 60 platinum and the four had to assist the Renegades in his absence. Zaida warned that he had heard tale that the Elysian guards had magical means of conveying information about wanted criminals. Raistlin agreed that they could be of assistance in covert manner. Since the Renegades relied largely on herbs for medicine, Jubakumbi offered his services as a healer. Furthermore, he promised that if he could not find information on the gems locations in a week, the cost would only be 30 platinum. Raistlin disappeared in a flash of purple, and the four were left to wait.
An hour later, five men approached the camp. They wanted proof of Jubakumbi's power, so he healed a back muscle injury that one of the men had sustained. They asked if the rest would assist in the upcoming attack, or if they would simply wait to protect the healer. They were told that the Renegades where heading out in 6 hours to break prisoners out of a small outpost. The Renegades were expecting some where around 20 to 30 guards at the outpost. Zaida attempted to chat with the Renegades while the waited, trying to find out why they fought. Most seemed to believe that "goodness" could not be forced upon others, and that everyone at least had the choice of how to live their lives. Some had been fighting all of their lives. The prisoners that they were freeing was a family (father, mother, and child). The father had been supplying them information for years, but was finally caught.
When the time came, the Renegades snucky stealthily upon the outpost and killed all the guards inside. They sustained some minor injuries that Jubakumbi easily healed. The father had been a tax collector, and did not know what he would now do. The Renegades were going to take the family to one of their hideouts until a new life could be found for the man. The trip was a two day ride, and the Renegades stop the four a half day from the destination. The family was blindfold and continued on with the Renegades while the group waited.
When the Renegades returned, they said the next plan was to ambush the a patrol along the East Road. Zaida showed the copy of the treasure map the Renegades to see if any recognized the area. The tracker knew of the place, but said it was hard to describe if you had not been there before. He mentioned that several of the tress were dying. They set an ambush a ways from a know camp spot on the East Road. This time the four agree to help the Renegades directly. However, neither Amirus nor Zaida were to adept at remain still for long periods of time, so they were told to back away from the road. After 30 minutes of waiting, a small caravan passed by. Another half hour passed before 10 riders with the crest of Elysia approached. These riders did not carry sun shields, however. The ambush was sprung, and this time the Renegades suffered some sever wounds in the fight, but nothing that Jubakumbi could not heal.
Raistlin returned, and unfortunately Caelith had locked all the books related to the gems in her personal study. However, Raistlin did know where Caelith had travelled: the Islands. The party could continue heading east down the road and catch a boat to the Islands. Before parting ways, Zaida showed the tracker the real treasure map. He admitted that they had know idea what was there, so the tracker accepted a 10% cut of whatever was uncovered for leading the four to the location. It was a three days travel back west. Along the way, the strange human-headed lion appeared again, and delivered his cryptic warning since all four were present. They eventually reached the location on the map, and began digging. Amirus used his magic to detect a poisonous trap. They dug more carefully, uncovering a bladder filled with a poisonous gas (Edellin). When they uncovered the chest, Amirus checked again and detected a needle trap. Inside the chest was a strange large tooth. The tracker chuckled, and then headed on his way, leaving the four to ponder this "treasure" they had uncovered.
After a few days travel back to the east, the group came across another camp some ways from the road. Amirus snuck up, and saw four armored men setting around a campfire boasting about their fights. They were all dressed in plate mail and had two-handed swords at their feet. Zaida and Jubakumbi goaded Amirus into returning to the camp and looking in their tents. Unfortunately, Amirus was noticed the second time, and when the men leaped up, he rushed towards the other three yelling, "Orcs." A fierce fight ensued, and during several noticed a child running from the men's camp. Two of the men were dropped, and the others yielded. One collapsed almost immediately from blood loss, and Zaida kicked the others sword away. One of the men came to, cussing the group as damned thieves. Jubakumbi demanded the man's money, and said he should be glad that Jub was feeling generous and let the survivors live. The man reached into his armor, but went for a dagger instead. Jubakumbi deflected the blade with his magic, and at the start of another scuffle Zaida dispatched the remaining fighter with one well placed kick to the chest. Jubakumbi crushed the man's skull, and they four searched the camp. Amirus discover a small wooden boat, which Jubakumbi confirmed was magical in nature and would grow when placed in water.
The group attempted to make it look like the armored men had turned upon another as Amirus attempted to cover their tracks. They headed down the road for another hour and then set up camp again. The next day they encountered a wagon with a bunch of stove pipes. A black man dressed all in white hailed the four, proclaiming that he had the "best food on Tarn." Eager for some fresh meals, all four ordered some food and talked with the cook while they ate.
It seemed that he was heading to a cooking convention at Cove. The convention itself started in a week. The prize was 10 gold, but the chef considered the fame of wining the main reward. He had not one yet, but he felt good about this year. He told the four to just call him Chef, as that's what everyone else called him. Chef used to be set up in Estlen, but he decided to travel around a while back. As Zaida boasted of their exploits, the Chef was interested when he mentioned they were heading to the Islands. Chef had some spices that he wanted to send to his brother back in the islands. If the group would deliver the spices, Chef would make them meals on the road to Cove.
As they traveled, Amirus noticed a small child watching them and fell back to check it out. When Amirus went to investigate, he could find no trace of the child except where he had been standing. Amirus returned, pulled Jubakumbi aside, and explained what he had seen. Chef also mentioned that he had seen a kid sneaking around a day before he encountered the group. When they stopped to eat, they all called out to invite the child, but he never appeared.
The next day several of the travellers noticed the trees were shaking, as if something was approaching. They stopped, and soon heard a commotion as a 30' tall man walked carefully down the road. Chef called out to the giant, addressing him as Henry. Henry was glad to learn that the four had been killing goblins. He said that the goblins hurt the forest. Boris mentioned Zaida's desire to drink with a giant, and Henry amusingly agreed to a contest during the convention in Cove.
When the group arrived in Cove, Jubakumbi started looking for some unsavory types to man their ship while Boris and Zaida looked for lodging. While wandering the bars and taverns on the docks, Jubakumbi meets a short man called Timmy. Timmy mentioned that his wife had just had a baby, so he missed shipping out with his usual crew. Timmy also mentioned that he was a mercenary and could handle himself in a scrap, if that was what Jub was looking for. Timmy was very pleased about getting some money up front, and agreed to help Jubakumbi find some more suitable sailors. That evening, Jubakumbi lead Timmy a few miles outside of town to show him their ship. Timmy looked over the ship to see what all they would need for the journey.
Meanwhile, Boris and Zaida had lucked out and managed to find a vacancy that just opened. An old women had just had some guests cancel. The price was exuberant, but Zaida gave the crone a platinum to be "discrete." The women does not want any trouble or commotion while they are staying, and the only meal that she serves is breakfast. Only Boris and Zaida stayed in the room the first night.
The next day the four set about buying supplies, including food and water for six weeks. The ship is not large enough for their horses, so they sale them. They purchased the most current charts they could find. Timmy mentioned that they would need to get charts for the Kahiki Islands as Simbani in Astabula. Boris bought five hams from Chef and some of Chef's special dry rub. Boris asked Chef about traveling, and Chef said his usual profit was four gold a day. Timmy returned to tell Jubakumbi that he had triplets that were willing to sail out. Hewy, Dewy, and Louie could handle themselves in a fight, and for the most part Timmy trusted them. That night the entire group headed up the coast to sail the ship into town so they could dock and supply it. The harbor master mentioned that the ship has no name, and when Jubakumbi is touching the ship several names flash past. Amirus noticed several couples that appeared to be wealthy on one of the galleons at the dock. Zaida moved his supplies to the ship, and all four spend the night on the ship.
The third morning the group awoke to find several small ships at the docks and a large number of sun shields moving about the town. Jubakumbi sent note for the sailors to be ready to leave by 7:00, and possibly quite hastily. Amirus and Jubakumbi debated stealing from the galleons, but Jubakumbi warns Amirus to lay low until they know why all the guards are about. Timmy mentioned that the guards were unusual; in the past mercenaries were used to keep the peace during the convention. Timmy managed to learn that the guards are looking for people that haven't been to the convention before. This caused the four to become uneasy, so Boris returned to grab his supplies. The old woman seemed very nervous and wanted to know why no one stayed that night. She said that the guards were looking for four people, and told Boris to leave immediately. She said that she would not lie for them beyond this day. When Boris demanded a refund, the woman used her ring to fly to the ceiling and shouted for him to leave immediately.
Timmy managed to find out a bit more information. The guards were looking for an Elf and three others that had waylaid and killed four undercover agents. The agents were attempting to infiltrate the Renegades, and the attacked had been witnessed by a small child. Unwilling to back down from his challenge, Zaida sent a message to Henry for them to have their contest as soon as possible. Zaida did manage to drink half a cask, giving Henry a good chuckle at the attempt. As Boris helped Zaida back to the ship, he noticed they were being followed. The two bump into Chef, who gives them the spices to deliver to his brother.
Hewy arrived shortly before 7:00, and Dewy was chased to the ship by several guards shortly after that. The guards were yelling, "They're with the murderers!" as Dewy attempted to push the ship off. Amirus heard someone swimming towards the ship, but it turned out to be Louie. A few shot were exchanged, and Boris yelled about the old woman, but the ship escaped to the open sea. Timmy assured the group that their wives would be safe, and that this was not the first time they had to pack up and move suddenly.
The first several days were largely uneventful, but Boris did not take well to travel on the sea. The sailors were incredulous when both Boris and Zaida admitted that they did not know how to swim. They encountered little beyond an uncharted reef, kelp fields, and such. On the fifth day they noticed a small outrigger approaching in the distance. There was a lone man, dressed in a voodoo outfit, paddling incredibly fast. When he noticed the ship, the man stopped, chanted something, and began to swim away with dolphins. On the tenth day they encountered a school of flying fish which the sailors took as a sign of luck.
The trip remained quite until the seventeenth day, when a large, sea-weed covered boulder flew out of the water towards the ship. Jubakumbi managed to deflect the boulder as Zaida noticed a large man treading water some 200 feet away. A female giant attempted to sneak up on the ship, but was blinded by sunlight reflected from drying cookware. A cat and mouse game ensued as they four would take shots at the giants as they appeared to hurl boulders. The giants slowly closed after hitting the ship, and Zaida leapt and grabbed the male's head as it attempted to bash the ship. When the female struck the ship, Boris attacked her in melee. They managed to drive the giants off momentarily, and Jubakumbi leapt in after Zaida whom was floundering as he attempted to reach the floating cork Amirus had thrown.
Once he recovered from Jubakumbi's magics, the male grabbed Zaida, breaking his hip. Zaida landed a vicious counter-attack, however, sending the giant sinking to the kelp beds. The female grabbed both Jubakumbi and Zaida, so Borris leapt into to water. Somehow Borris was able to breath the water, and attacked the female. This allowed Zaida to break free, both Jubakumbi was drug to the watery depths. Borris grab a few treasures from the male's body, and returned to the ship.
After the giants' attack, the ship was in pretty bad shape, but still sailable. The crew managed to patch the holes below deck. There was some uncertainty as to how the damage would affect the ship's ability to shrink, so a test was devised. When they were only a few hours out from port, everyone boarded the long boat. Zaida was able to shrink the ship, and when it was returned to full size the damage and repairs were still present.
Once the boat was docked, it was decided that Boris and Zaida would look for a guide to Simbala village while the rest over-saw the repairs. Another ship was docked at the harbor to exchange cargo, so they had to anchor a short ways out and take the long boat in. There were many small huts in the cove, and since it was noon, Boris and Zaida looked for some place with several fires (assumedly an inn or the like). After trying the local cuisine, they asked the innkeeper about transportation to Simbala. He said to check with the harbormaster.
The two were approached by a gnome that gave his name as Uhman. Uhman had been sitting on a box reading a book about magical transport when he over heard Boris and Zaida inquire about finding a scholar or lore master in Simbala. Uhman seemed really interested when Zaida mentioned that they were looking for lost magic items. Uhman seemed to have the ability to perceive magical auras, and Zaida and Boris tested his knowledge of herbs. Zaida mentioned Lazvon and the gems of Tatadoxi, but Uhman had heard of neither. Uhman agreed to take an equal share of the treasure as pay for his services. When Zaida mentioned that they have a magic book on the ship, Uhman immediately offered to give up his first 100 gold in exchange for the book.
Uhman left to find passage to Simbani, and once he was out of sight he used his magic to appear as a native. At the harbor he overheard Timmy talking the harbormaster down to 12 gold for the repairs. The harbormaster told Uhman that the ferry from Simbani should arrive some time that evening. The trip was two days day, and then one day back. Uhman reverted to his normal form and decided to teleport to the ship while the others rowed back. Hewy drew his knife upon seeing the gnome, and would not let his guard down. Dewy, however, fell in his haste and injured his arm in the process. Once the rest were on the boat, Uhman was introduced to everyone. Timmy had also bought some maps of the islands that were a few months old. They group mentioned that they had run into some trouble in Estlen.
A flat boat arrived from down river late in the evening. The pilot told them that he left promptly at 7:00 the next morning. Boris, Zaida, and Uhman took the boat to deliver the spices to Chef's brother. Zaida asked about creatures in the area, and the pilot warned him about the piranha in the river. That evening they stopped at a small hut on the banks of the river. The three remained in the boat, and the pilot told them to keep a small fire to keep the monkeys and other animals at bay.
The pilot started out very early the next morning. Zaida asked about the local legends, and the pilot mentioned the great apes. Supposedly the great apes had once ruled over men, but they had left Astabula for the Kahiki Isles. They arrived at Simbani village in the afternoon. The village itself was mostly tree houses, and the population seemed to include wild elves along with the native humans. The common tongue did not seem to be spoken by most. Boris and Zaida immediately recognized the smell of barbeque, and found Chef's smoke house. This Chef was very thankful for the package, asked about his brother Barry. Boris asked if Chef had any special rub like his brother had sold to him. Chef seemed very interested in trying to figure out what was in the mix.
Chef warned the three to watch out for head-hunters in the Kahiki Isles. He said that they were powerful voodoo priests with ape servants. Zaida's described the strange man they had seemed in the out-rigger weeks before, which Chef said sounded like one of the voodoo priests. Uhman asked about the tribal council and any books of knowledge that they might have, but Chef said that their tradition was verbal. Chef does mention the Arconi nomads, but he did not know much about them. He also mentioned that there is one island that even the headhunters avoid. However, there was plant that grew only there that he wanted, and Chef would pay well for it's root.
Upon their return the next evening, the three learn that the repairs will take a couple more days. They asked the locals about the cannibals, but they seemed to discount them as legends. The harbormaster asked for the name of the ship for his logs, so Zaida made the name Profit appear. Timmy mentioned that he was concerned about getting enough supplies for the trip there and back. The harbormaster claimed to have some way to make clean water from seawater. He wanted 100 gold for it, and if it was not a scam it could save quite a bit of cargo space.
Uhman left to talk to the harbormaster, but wanted to go alone. Boris attempted to follow him, but was easily spotted by the gnome. Boris gave up and returned to the ship, but not without catching site of Uhman changing to look like a native. Uhman talked to the harbormaster, but he insisted that the device was for the strangers only. The harbormaster said the spirits had told him that the item was for the strangers, and he would only deal directly with Timmy. As he returned to the ship, a woman appeared to Uhman. She said that his fate was tied to the gem seekers now, and warned him that they were not to be trusted.
When Uhman relayed the message, Boris, Zaida, and Timmy went to speak to the harbormaster. The harbormaster said that he was paid well to sell it only the group. People had come to him saying that this device would revolutionize travel some day, but for now it was to go to "the great travelers with the magic ship." Based on the sudden appearance of a name on the ship, he could only assume that it was intended for us. Otherwise he could sell it a year later. The name on the ship suddenly disappeared, seeming to confirm it's magical nature. The harbormaster explained how the device worked, and the water seemed safe enough to drink so they bought the device.
As they talked about which island to try first, Uhman said they should go to the furthest island. He seemed hesitant to reveal why he though that was the correct island, but the group decided to take his advice. The four-week journey was largely uneventful. As they approached the island, Zaida thought he saw a monkey face carved in the side of a volcano. Timmy and the triplets stayed behind to guard the ship as Uhman teleported the rest to the base of the volcano. There was a group of large apes near a cave entrance, and they began to sniff the area as the group appeared one by one. Once Uhman arrived, the largest ape pointed in their direction and began screeching.
The Apes began to throw rocks at the group. As Zaida grappled with the silver back, Amirus dashed into the cave. He ran into man, and as Amirus started to attack he received a sudden vision of the man stopping the apes from attacking. Amirus held his attack, and true to his vision the man rushed from the cave and settled the apes down. The apes surrounded Zaida, Uhman, and Boris, but refrained from attacking.
The man wanted to know why we were on the island. He said he had lived here for 20 years, and did not have the gem. The group could look around the island, but the man said the caves were off limits. The man mentioned the name Jubakumbi, and said he felt sorry for him. The man was in fact the one that they had seen towards the middle of the sea voyage. He said only that his goddess had told him to stop Jubakumbi. When the man described this goddess, it fit the description of Caelith. The man said that she made the mountain come out of the ground. Uhman argued that this person was no goddess. However, he also believed that Caelith would never do anything so sacrilegious as to impersonate a goddess.
Unsure of their next move, the group returns to the ship to rest. As they prepared to return to the Island, one of the triplets spots a dark ship in the distance. Despite the holes in it's sails, the ship was approaching very quickly. They had the crew beach the ship, then shrunk it so everyone could run into the cover of the jungle. When the ship eventually sailed away, the group could see the name: the Black Pearl. Furthermore, there was a large indention above the name where a round object could be placed.
The group discussed whether they should look like apes, or try to sneak in invisible. Uhman ended up changing everyone into the appearance of the giant apes, and they approached the "face." They found some step-like structures on the side of the face, and proceeded to climb up. Amirus noticed that some of the steps had a slick substance on them, and showed the rest which steps to avoid. At the top of the head, there were actual carved steps leading to the rim of the volcano. The volcano appeared to be crusted over, but heat could be felt rising from the rocky floor.
After returning to the top of the face, Amirus, Zaida, and Boris climbed down the vines to the right eye. Uhman teleported once the others reached the entrance safely. Inside the group found a spiraling passage that lead deep into the volcano. As they made there way down, some managed to hear something running off in the distance. The group continued to follow the passage down until they came to a large opening near a lava pit. An alter with a large black pearl was balanced precariously over the pit. There was also a jeweled amulet upon the alter.
As the group tried to find some way to recover the items from the alter, Uhman discovered to his horror that his magic was not working. Something was sucking away the mana as he attempted to draw it forth. Amirus and Boris continued to look for ways to get to the amulet and the pearl. Zaida followed Uhman back up the passage way. When they were about 100 feet from the opening, Uhman attempted his magic again, turning into a giant eagle. Uhman flew back and snatched the pearl from the alter. The moment he did this the platform collapsed. Uhman attempted to grab the amulet before it fell, but was unable to save it. As the alter collapsed, the group could hear screams and curses in the distance. The voice and the ape screeches seemed to change somehow, and faint wisps could be seen going into the pearl.
Uhman gave the pearl to Zaida, and they all dashed back to the top at the eye cave. Boris, Zaida, and Amirus attempted the long climb down on the many vines. Once the pearl was away from him, Uhman used his magic to teleport to Timmy and the triplets. As the other three descended, they saw two skeletal apes at the bottom of the face. One more exited from the cave mouth. Boris dropped stealthily to the ground, but then ran screaming from the apes. One of the apes followed, but the other two remained. As Boris attempted to get lower, one of the apes spotted him. He fell screaming, and also ran wildly into the jungle. Both of the remaining undead apes gave chase, so Zaida waited a moment, then leapt down himself. As Zaida ran towards the redevous point, he noticed that the apes appeared to stop about 100' from the cave.
Once everyone had gathered together, they discussed what to do next. Uhman did not want to be anywhere near the pearl. Zaida volunteered to take the gem and some food through the gate and wait on Lazvon. However, Uhman thought it might also disrupt magic items, so they were uncertain if it could pass through the gem gate. With some trial and error, they were able to determine how far the pearl could suck mana. After some discussion it was decided that it should be secured to the mast above. However, this still left the question of how to contact Lazvon. As wanted criminals in Elysia, the group had limited options for travel. Finally, they decided to shrink the ship and have everyone enter the portal.
They interred the portal, and were surprised to find Lazvon present but otherwise occupied in bed with another woman and man. After some initial confusion, Lazvon's guests left while the group explained what had happened. As they were in Mordavia, they warned Timmy and the triplets to not wander. Lazvon reaffirmed that Uhman's fate now seemed tied with the group since Jubakumbi's demise. Lazvon warned that if the pearl was not given freely, the group's souls could be ripped from them if Lazvon forced his will upon the pearl. Whomever controlled the pearl could then draw from the mana that had been stored in it. Apparently the island man and his apes had been feeding mages and items to the pearl for years.
Stating that this was a very valuable find, Lazvon asked what the group wanted as payment. The group took a day to debate and think over their possible rewards. Both Zaida and Uhman wanted knowledge, while Boris and Amirus sought more tangible rewards. Uhman learned that his footlocker had once belonged to Lazvon's son. They also discussed the possibility of having their appearance permenantly changed so they could move freely in Elysia. In the end, Boris opted for a small keep, Amirus wanted a magical bow, Uhman took several tombs of knowledge, and Zaida received an amulet to improve his stamina and a magical device to teach him greater Martial Arts abilities as he trained.
With their rewards decided, Lazvon game them a hint from his recent research: Torm had recently recovered something of great value to him. All returned through the gem portal, only to find themselves surrounded by undead pirates as the Black Pearl awaited in the cove.
The undead sailors approached, demanding, "Give us the black pearl." Zaida yelled, "Don't let them touch you," before dashing into the jungle. Boris and Amirus followed suit as Uhman backed up slowly. The undead did not follow far, and continued to demand that the black pearl be returned to them. They said they knew whenever some managed to steal the pearl. The group admitted that they had managed to steal the pearl, but no longer had the pearl
While they talked, the group noticed a normal facing peering from one of the port holes. When the person noticed other living beings, he began yelling for help, and then demanded parley with the pirates. When the captive was brought ashore, the deliberations resumed. Zaida attempted to give the white pearl they had found, utterly failing to fool the pirates. The group finally admitted that they had sold the black pearl to Lazvon Aracosi in Mordavia. This seemed to satisfy the pirates, and they left the captive behind.
The captive, Durg, related how he had been captured a while back by the pirates. The cell they placed him in somehow prevented his magic from working. Durg was able to heal Zaida's broken collar bone, so the group agreed he would be helpful to keep around. While waiting for the pirates to sail off, one of the triplets suggest they walk to the other side of the island to sail from there. The crew wanted to return to Cove to see their wives, but when they learned that the group wanted to reach the Dwarven lands they told that there was a quicker way. The trip would be several months longer, but they were willing to go for a pay increase to 5 gold a month.
The winter air grew colder as the ship headed north to Galacia along the western side of Elysia. The trip was mostly uneventful, save for two ships that warned of the Minotaur war starting in Galacia. When they reached the northern port, Durg and Uhman were sent to buy supplies, as no one had gear suitable for the northern winters. One other ship was docked, and the triplets decided they would return to Cove on it. Boris wanted to see his keep, so he planned to take leave of the group while they headed to the Dwarven lands.
At the local inn, the inn keeper seemed to mistake Uhman for some deceased gnomish royalty. Uhman said to keep "his" presence secret. The only other traveler present was a merchant that planned to head north to trade with the minotaurs whenever he could find an escort willing to head there. The dockmaster tracked down the group, and they paid for the ship to be docked for the evening. That evening, Uhman snuck out to the ship while invisible and shrunk it.
The next morning Durg talked to a local guide about ways to get to the Dwarven lands. The guide said no one had seen the dwarves in a while, as they only traded during summer. However, the guide claimed to know a secret path a few days to the south that would lead them straight to the dwarven lands. After a couple of days travel, the group runs into the aftermath of an avalanche. Durg thought that there would be another avalanche before long, but the area should be safe to cross for now. When they reached the far side, they could find no signs of the trail markings the guide had told them to look for. When Durg spoke to the rocks, they told only of trails that existed before the mountains rose.
That night, Durg heard the sounds of a bear while on watch. Knowing that bears should be hibernating, he awoke Uhman and then set out to find the bear. Durg came across a bear trapped in the cave in caused by the avalanche. Durg turned into a bear, and was able to free the creature, heal it, and lead it to a safe cave to hibernate.
Boris continued on the road south as the group headed back to the village the next morning. While crossing the debris, Uhman say an avalanche starting in the distance. He quickly teleported the group and one of the horses to safety. The group decided to wait until the next day so Uhman could safely teleport them across the avalanche area. The group arrived at the inn a few days later, and had the inn keeper send for the guide. The guide seemed confused by the directions Durg told, saying that the only way to the dwarven kingdoms is north along the coast. The inn keeper vouched that the guide is the best in the area, and would not intentionally give bad directions. The group begrudgingly let the guide leave unharmed. Uhman noticed a strange floating jester head shaking in the corner during the conversation.
The next morning the group replaced the lost supplies and headed north along to coast. To keep the travel time short, Uhman would teleport the group 12 miles in the morning, and then they would travel for the day (covering about 10 miles on foot). The journey was uneventful until the tenth day, when a troll ambushes the group as they appear. Durg manages to temporarily calm the troll as the group fled to gain some distance and recover. The troll gave chase and was defeated in a brutal but brief battle. After the fight, the group rested until the evening when Uhman teleported them again to cover the lost distance. The next day they hiked into the mountains, looking for a way into the dwarven lands.
Durg talked to the rocks, and was told that the dwarves can be found two ranges to the west. Uhman teleported them there, and Zaida thought he say something briefly from above. The group rested, and Durg learned from the rocks that they are being watched by a group of dwarves from above. That evening, eight Dwarves approached the camp and demanded to know why the group was there. Uhman said that they were traders, but the dwarves insisted that they only traded in the summer. The dwarves said the group could cross the mountains to the southern boarder, but they would be watched the entire way. In an effort to prove that they were traders, the group began to show some of the spoils. Many of the dwarves lowered their crossbow at the sight of the large white pearl, and were impressed that the group had managed to kill a troll and a sea giant. After seeing the magical leather armor also recovered from the sea giant, the dwarves agreed that the group did have items worth trading for. An escort would arrive the next morning to take them into the dwarven kingdom. As the dwarves were leaving, however, screeching was heard from above as three giant eagles dove to attack.
More Eagles and more Dwarves joined the battle. Uhman used his magic to listen to the battle, and the eagles where screeching "Die Traitors!" The Dwarves were easily defeated by the eagles. as the group searched for survivors, they heard one dwarf cry out, "I only followed my brother, Torm forgive me." All the dwarves had a patch sown onto their chests with a red R.
Only one other dwarf was still conscious. He explained that some dwarves believed Torm was some kind of undead. He had ruled over the dwarves to long to be normal. The dwarves had rebelled and set out to form their own colony. The eagle that were sent to kill them were allies to Torm. Before dying, the dwarf warned the group that they could not trust Torm, and asked that his people be set free.
The true Dwarven kingdom was four days march to the west, marked with a "W" shape on the top of a mountain. The group devised a cover story that Zaida was here to challenge Torm to prove his worth. They headed a few hours east of the carnage to rest for the evening.
During Uhman and Durg's watch, Uhman saw a brightly colored egg suddenly appear. The egg did not appear to be magical in any way. Uhman carefully approached the egg and took it. It seemed to simply be a painted, hard-boiled egg. After discussing this strange occurrence in the morning, Amirus decided to keep the egg.
When the group teleported, the egg disappeared from Amirus' pouch and Zaida appeared to be colored in the same pattern. The paint could be flaked off, but did not hamper Zaida's movement in any way. Some spotted another egg in the snow, heading south. Both Amirus and Uhman were keenly interested in these strange objects, and headed after them. The eggs seemed to be placed about 100 yards apart, heading further south. After finding a half dozen eggs, Durg tried to talk to the rocks, but they would only laugh at him.
The group continued on until they found eleven eggs. In the distance they could see a berm with some with some bones and ruined armor at the bottom. Near the top of the berm, they saw cave, a small rabbit, and the twelfth egg. Unlike the other eggs, this egg appeared to be jewel encrusted. Uhman saw that the egg had an overpowering magical aura. The smell of chocolate drifted from the cave. Zaida was going to kill the rabbit with his sling, when Durg yelled for him to stop. Durg had remember some ancient legend about a deadly rabbit. He believed that the rends in the armor were made by rabbit teeth and not weapons. After some quick discussion, Amirus wanted himself and Zaida to rush the rabbit. Zaida hesitated, and Amirus was mortally wounded in the blink of an eye.
Fortunately, Amirus fell back, and the rabbit did not seem to cross the top of the berm. Durg was able to quickly heal Amirus' wounds before he died. As some contemplated leaving, a sudden blizzard appeared, trapping them in. The blizzard did not encroach upon the berm, which remained relatively warm. With no were to go while the storm raged, the group set about trying to find some way to get the egg. Amirus wanted to shot the egg, but Uhman did not want to risk it. Zaida came upon a desperate gambit. Since he appeared like one of the egss, Zaida wanted to see if the rabbit would attack him. So he stripped down to his undergarments and tied a rope around him. Amirus was ready to jerk Zaida back, and Durg was ready to heal any injuries he might sustain. The rabbit hesitated and sniffed the air for a moment, but attacked Zaida anyways.
Running out of ideas as the blizzard encroached ever closer, Durg tried to talk to the rabbit. He said the rabbit was very evil. It wanted the group to stay away from it's land. The rabbit offered the egg to one person, but only if it could dip the other three and chocolate and eat them. Uhman tried several times to knock the rabbit unconscious with his magic, finally succeeding. Amirus fired at the rabbit, but the egg revived the it quickly. The rabbit hopped up to the top of the berm, but once again would not crest the top.
When Durg mentioned that the egg had revived the rabbit, Amirus immediately drew another arrow and fired at the egg. The rabbit leapt to protect the arrow, but something went wrong. The rabbit fell to the ground twitching as the egg was struck and shattered on the ground. Suddenly the god Grok appeared, very angry that the group had ruined his "prank." He ranted for some while, then demanded to know if they knew the rules. Uhman replied, saying that they were owed one wish. The four discussed their options for some time, finally decided that they wanted a book that all four could read that had detailed maps of the locations of all the gems of Tagadoxi. Grok made each person repeat the wish, assumedly looking for any slip that he could then exploit. Still annoyed, the god disappeared as the book appeared. The group found that they could only open the first third of the book.
As Grok and the blizzard dissipated, the group was left to ponder their next move. One option was to teleport directly to the entrance to the Dwarven kingdoms, which was about 20 miles to the east. Uhman suggested that they might also try teleporting directly to the room with the gem, which was about 5 1/2 miles west of their current location. The book would not go into Uhman's magical case, so Amirus carried the book. The group decided to teleport 2 miles outside of the entrance to the Dwarven kingdom, which was unfortunately on the side of a slope. Uhman quickly teleported to the bottom of the slope as the rest struggled to get a hold. Once he steadied himself, Zaida made a quick rope traverse so that the rest could get to a path to the bottom.
Durg warns that a storm is growing, and that they should seek shelter soon. The group spends an hour looking for shelter before Uhman discovers some faint writing on a stone. No one could read the runes on the flat piece of rock, but it appeared to be some kind of door into the mountain side. Durg talked to the stone, and was surprised to find it to be quite intelligent. The stone revealed that it was made by the dwarves, and one of the dwarves below heard the knocking and was heading to the surface. The stone said that a secret, magic word was needed to open the door. Zaida was able to open the door, at which point the stone revealed that several more dwarves had joined the first.
The group waited outside the door until the dwarves appeared. The dwarves were lead by Torm himself. Torm would not accept the large pearl as payment for Zaida's challenge, but he would accept it as payment for shelter until the storm passed. Torm boasted that he was the strongest of the strong and would easily rip Zaida's arm off. Zaida simply said that great ones did not fear such things, and the challenge itself was more important than winning or loosing. They all proceeded down for several miles, crossing a cavern that Torm said was bottomless. Zaida also made mention of the ancient hook they had discovered long again, and Torm said it might be acceptable. Torm said they could discuss it further at the evening's feast in a few hours.
While awaiting the feast, the group discussed what to do next. Amirus wanted to try to kill Torm while he was arm-wrestling Zaida. Uhman simply wanted to grab the gem and run, but Zaida was concerned that this would only lead to Torm (or his eagles) changing the group through the storm up-above. Durg suggested talking, but beyond that had no plan for how to convince Torm to give up the gem. Durg talked to the floor, which spoke of the "Mother Heart" and the "lava representations" that guarded it. The later was interpreted to mean elementals. Torm had found the Mother Heart 10 years ago. Each year, on the anniversary of discovering the gem Torm would return to the room. The elementals were to kill anyone except Torm that approached the room.
As the discussion wore on, Uhman grabbed the book and teleported 100 feet from the room with the gem. As he approached, a row of Dwarven runes glowed. About twenty feet out, Uhman saw a fire elemental approaching through the lava field. The elemental flung a bolt of flame, scorching Uhman severly. Uhman held the book in front of him and screamed "sent from the gods." This cause the elemental to retreat into the lava field, and Uhman returned to the rest. Amirus set himself on fire trying to help Uhman, and as soon as Durg had healed Uhman's wounds he returned. Unfortunately the elemental's second attack proved fatal.
Moments later ten dwarves beat on the door, and took the remaining three to the brig. Torm eventually appeared with the charred remains of Uhman. He said that he had been listening the entire time. Zaida said that they were tasked with finding several powerful gems, and book given by Grok showed the locations. Torm could not open the book, so he wanted one of the three to do so. As Zaida opened to book, Torm demanded to see the earlier pages which showed the way to Lazvon's hidden vault. Torm had an ancient dwarf brought to confirm the maps. The dwarves immediately began preparing to march, and Torm said that he would return to free us in a few days once he had assaulted the vault.
Once the rest had left, Zaida tore off a metal leg from one of the cots and began to gouge out a small holes in the floor: one outside the bars, and the other close enough to reach from outside. After nine hours, the holes were deep enough to bury the gems, and the three escaped their imprisonment.
The underground kingdom was mostly deserted, and Amirus and Durg wanted to get the rest of their supplies back. The see one guard, which Zaida rushes and kicks in the groin. As the dwarf rolled around on the ground wanting to know why the he was attacked, Zaida simply commented, "we haven't been fed yet." Strangely enough, the Dwarf seemed glad that the group had enraged Torm with their attempted burglary. After soom coaxing, the Dwarf admitted that he also thought Torm's rule was unnatural. However he did not necessarily believe Torm was an evil, undead force as the renegades had believed. When the Dwarf was able to open the book (at least to the current location), Zaida said it was a sign that the guard was to take up Uhman's place. Due to their encounter with the sphinx long ago, the group believed that they needed four. When the group said that even Torm could not open the book, the dwarf decided to help the three recover their possessions and escape.
The guard knew of a room that Torm used to travel great distances quickly. There were two guards to the room. Amirus shot one, and Durg used his magic to clam the other. Unfortunately this did not keep him from raising the alarm. The four rushed into the room, and used the gate to Mordavia. They discovered themselves in underground tunnels, and were quickly challenged by a group of dark elves.
Zaida and Amirus realize that the one of the dark elves was the woman from when they had interrupted Lazvon earlier. The woman likewise recognized them, and opened a portal to a safe place so they could explain the situation. The group explained that the Dwarves had found a way to Lazvon's vault and that Torm himself was leading an assault. The woman said that this will undoubtedly lead to a huge war, and told the four to wait until she or someone with her signet ring returns.
The dwarven guard, Kazak, leaves to buy supplies. He stopped a kid from picking his pockets, and asked the bartender where he could buy supplies. The bartender explained that since Kazak was obviously not from Mordavia, he had not paid taxes, and thus would need a tax stamp to purchase anything. The bartender offered to sell him a tax stamp for 100 gold, but Kazak simply returned to the rest.
Shortly later, an irate Lazvon appears. Lazvon also warned that millions would die because of this, but the group suggested that he blame the dwarves instead as they were the ones actually doing the assault. Lazvon wanted to group to return and try to steal Torm's crown to give him some leverage to stop the dwarven assault. The four lead Lazvon back to the gate they used, where Lazvon inscribed a symbol. Lazvon said he would know when the four returned.
There were four armed and armored guards waiting in the gate room. After a fierce battle the guards were defeated. Counting on the fact that no one knew that Kazak had helped the rest escape, Kazak pretended to have Zaida bound. Amirus and Durg snuck along behind. Kazak stopped to talk to another guard and distract him so Amirus and Durg can sneak by. Kazak said that he had captured Zaida and was told to leave him in the throne room until Torm returned.
Once inside the throne room, the group begins to search for the crown. Amirus went to close the door, but was knocked unconscious as soon as he touched it. Kazak searches the thrown, and finds the crown hidden in the head rest. Fortunately the spider hiding with the crown was not able to fell the hearty dwarf with it's poison. Zaida suggested that they also grab the gem while they are here, but the book shows that Torm is wearing it on his armor.
As they head back for the gate room, the guard noticed Durg sneaking about. The group chased him down, and after knocking the dwarf unconscious, they threw his body into the pit.
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