Tempest Rising

Shopping Scree
Or-- What's behind curtain #1?

scree-night.jpgOur heroes began the afternoon around a table at the Lost Anchor — an open-air alesink off the flesh market of Scree. While drinking sour, watery beer, they kept a watchful eye on the Acero trading hall. After a few rounds of drinks, curiosity got the better of Saeren and Boomah and they went to get a closer look. Inside the pillared hall there was a platform for slave presentation, and several tables of trade goods. After looking around for a bit, they asked one of the many clerks if the Aceros bought as well as sold. The answer was a resounding ‘yes’, but when the ranger produced an enchanted suit of hide armor, the clerk had to call over one his superiors. The two haggled briefly, and settled on trading the armor for two diamonds suitable for wooing ladies (or casting restoration). They waited in his office while diamonds were procured, as the well-appointed customer lounge seemed to be occupied.

Socialite.jpgOther than a large number of burly guards with broad blades and hooked nets around the establishment, the only other person of note was a thin woman in a close-fitting black dress who came out of the front office, spoke to a guard and went back in.

As they left, they noted the waste stream that flowed out from under the flagstones, and considered where it might open to on the other end.

As the afternoon progressed, others wandered about the trade hall, watching an auction of fresh, young ‘house servants’ but not making any purchases. nor did they see any overt signs of cult activity.

There was a large auction in the flesh market, and several lots of working slaves changed hands. Our heroes briefly considered buying a goblin army, but ultimately opted against it.

Night came, and the portculli dropped over the trading hall. As the merchants left the markets in search of a warm meal and warmer company, the streets began to fill with a rougher sort of crowd— largely armed and looking for action. The group noticed the entry to the Acero hall off the Street of Measures was still lit. Boomah and Saeren went to check it out and found that it was an assayers’ office trading gems and raw metal for coin. Luckily, they had some unrefined silver ore looted from a previous adventure, and traded it for 40 gold coins. Seeing no obvious signs of an evil cult, they returned to the group.

They peered through the portculli on the way back to the Anchor, and Boomah caught a glimpse of some shadowy creature slipping between the shadows inside.

Stymied, out heroes started looking for alternate avenues into the Acero complex. Seeing the tower chamber that rose above the two-story, they considered trying to break in from above. With that thought, they paused for further reflection.

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Down, and down again
Or-- Here comes dah mayor

fat_king_by_grobelski-d6s0b8u.jpgAfter an evening getting the lay of the land from the wizard Melingar, our heroes set out in the morning down to Scree. They rode the elevator from the Hook House, and found themselves in the cramped, raucous outer environs of Gilt Hall. They quickly made their way to the Foggy Morn, a large tavern of ill repute.

Noting the large numbers of attractive young serving girls, Kallius sought out whomever was guiding their attentions. It did not take long unveil a hawk-eyed older woman who never left the end of the bar. After a brief bantering conversation, who was sent up the back stairs to achieve his goal.

He cast invisibility on Boomah for backup, and off they went. Unfortunately, they passed through an enchanted archway in the heavily perfumed halls and suddenly the goblin reappeared at his side.

This caused a but if an uproar, and since the duo refused to pay extra for watching, they were led before a huge black-blooded individual in his office. They plead their case about dragons and coming danger, but Gerr (for that was his name) was only interested in how this information could be turned to profit. The elf and the goblin showed a few lesser trinkets of their travels, but refused to offer any thing of rarity or extreme value. In the end, they could not find common ground and left the Morn unsatisfied.

After they left, they holed up in a small rental room and dug though their loot to make sure they did not overlook anything. They still could not unlock the secrets of the gold dragon statue, but they did discover the sigil go a near legendary wizard Sciao Si’ang. He is credited as one of the authors of the Anelectae Draconum, a book collected thousands of years ago.

In the end, they decided to return to Gilt Hall and speak to the dwarves.

• • • INTERMISSION • • •

As the group made their way out of Scree, they noted a beautiful elven woman selling alchemical candles and other small magic. She seemed to be paying close attention to them, so they decided to spring the trap and engage her directly. They told her their story, and Grila the Archandler mentioned that she knew another who liked ‘interesting stories’. They figured that it was Lord Mayor Bikkel, so they took the token she offered and returned to the Foggy Morn.

Showing the handkerchief to the barman, they were directed to a curtained banquette on the fringe of the common room. They settled in, and were only moderately surprised when a passage opened behind them. Two burly guards led them down below the tavern to a low, sprawling space underneath.

Lord Mayor Bikkel was a massively obese man in thin robes, lounging on a groaning chaise. The shadows were filled with all manner of creatures, including a tie fling and blue-black elf. They told their tale again, and asked for help gain access to the dwarves, and perhaps chase down the runaway wizard Menso. Bikkesl told them that he could indeed help, but they would have to do them a favor first.

Her sent them to a secret cult under the trade hall of House Acero. There has been an uproar with a group in the past week, and a few murders among the group known as the Curtain Call. He believed that it may be related to Mephitas, and even Menso. Our heroes decided to follow up and left the mayor to his revels.

They found the Acero hall on the fringes of the main slave market. Two pillared walls enclose the selling area and traders and customers were busily plying their trades. A long dark curtain along the back wall hiding the slave pens.

They set up in a drinking hall under a canopy, and decided to watch the hall before busting in.

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Taking the High Road
Or-- Up-town funk

1402191989-1.jpgOur heroes set out from the mine and made their way up the Ridge Road toward Gilt Hall. As the day went on and the road climbed, Saerin spotted a large lizard track in the mud on the road side. They found no others, so they decided to keep moving.

The road itself is of dwarven make and solid, but its maintenance seemed to be lacking. At one point a drainage culvert had been blocked by debris, and allowed the spring flood to wash over the road’s surface. This did not hinder the group, but it did concern them.

Within a mile of the gates to the Hall, the road split. One ruddy path led downhill to a ramshackle collection of buildings clinging to the ridge, and the solidly flagged road continued its climb. Asking a kebob seller stationed at this crossroad, they learned the lower city was called Scree, and was populated by those unwilling (or unable) to live under the dwarves’ rule. They also learned that slaves were not allowed within the Hall.

Choosing the high road, the group quickly came to the gate house manned by armored dwarves. They told the guards that they were merchants looking to take on cargo, and showed them a sampling of their booty as proof of their intent. They were given pass and directed toward the Hook House Inn, as evening was descending quickly.

The Hook was a cozy country inn, with a largely human clientele. A bard interspersed crowd-pleasing songs with snippets of local news, and winking attacks at the newly arrived Aerinorns. The group looked around, and Saerin noted an aging, bearded man in a tattered burn-scarred robe in a remote corner. They came on him in a group, and offered to share a beverage or two. They learned that he was an artificer who aided the dwarves with minor enchantments, and that he called the village home.

He explained that the Gilt Hall dwarves mingled very little with outsiders other than trade, and that any contact with them would have to be through the gatekeepers under the sign of the Maker. This is through a large bronze portal under a three-story carving of a dwarf holding a hammer, flanked by a female dwarf with a broom and a male with an axe. The Noxian novice Ennick pontificated that these were three major gods of a very large dwarven pantheon, and that most considered them aspects of Nox, Dendera, and Wott. He added that dwarven religion tended toward dualism, with each god having an opposing and equally powerful force vying for loyalty.

This closeness was not always the case, and he said the Gilt dwarves were very active in the early days of the Shattering Wars. But when the Nura dam collapsed, killing a large group of dwarves along with humans and invaders, something changed in the Hallita (leader) Jotahj, and he closed the doors to strangers.

The old man had no good advice on gaining admittance to the Hall itself, but suggested he knew a man who might. He told them of a man called Bikkel, who calls himself the Lord Mayor of Scree. He is a raconteur of the first order, and if anyone had an angle on getting to speak with the powers in the Hall, he would.

The group decided to seek this man out, and find out what he knows.

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Blood showers and mystic powers
Or -- Goblins from the grave

131490-BloodDemon-Final.jpgFrom the wreckage of the earth ship it was only a short hike to the pyramid base. The group decided to climb the stairs at the far side to avoid anything that might be around the fallen troglodytes. As they climbed, Celeste (and Murt’s weasel) noticed a slick of blood coalescing from inside the fallen rubble. Light was cast and our heroes looked on as the blood rose to a dragon-shaped pillar in a suit of archaic scale mail.

The shape looked down on them and sent out a shower of blood, covering the front ranks. The blood burned into them and sapped away at their strength. Murt ran for cover as Kallius and Luix stepped up to the attack. Dremahl stood his ground and began a prayer to aid the warriors.

The magus empowered his blade against the undead and slashed out, delivering a shocking grasp along with the blow. Luix tried to pummel the horror, but had difficulty getting past its protections. As Celeste worked to summon a pair of Archons, two slithering masses of bloody pulp appeared form the top tier and dropped down on the group. Saerin stepped up and slashed away at the blob. The creatures tried to merge with our heroes bodily fluids and fill them with their poison, but these attempts were thwarted.

The combined attacks of the northerner, the elf, and the lantern archons were taking their toll on the bloody draconic figure. Fearing defeat, it collapsed into a pool and oozed off the edge of the pyramid platform. But before it could escaped, Dremahl channeled the power of Nox into the pool and it sizzled, turned black and ceased its alien existence.

The other oozes were quickly bashed into oblivion as well.

Climbing to the top tier, the party found the high priest where he fell. They allowed Murt to use the spell they had retrieved and, drinking the fallen troglodyte’s blood, bug though its memories and found the secret rite to raise the dead.

Prying diamonds from the oversized crown, he cast the spell over Boomah, and returned him to the land of the living. Deciding that lingering was dangerous, the group turned about and left the cavern by the route they had descended.

On again on the surface, they set out for the dwarven stronghold of Gilt Hall in hope of finding the trail of Menso Ganto.

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Once more into the breach
Or- Is that a weasel in your pocket, or are you just glad to meet me?

eqn-cavern.jpgThe flight of the wizard put our heroes on edge, but as there was nothing they could do in the darkness, they chose to wait until the morning.

Once dawn came, they could not immediately find the trail of the wizard or his stolen booty. Looking over the remaining loot, they came across an ancient scroll that allowed a caster to take spell from the mind’s of dead enemies. They decided it was the quickest course of action to use this scroll on the fallen high priest in hopes that he had the ability to raise the dead. This beat out their fall-bald plans of asking the dwarves of Gilt Hall for assistance or trying to return to Wytchport.

Dremahl channeled the power of Nox to ‘see’ into the cavern below. He saw the winged troglodyte’s broken body atop the pyramid where he fell (ret-conned by editor). He checked the entrance to the mine as well, but could seen nothing moving about in the darkness.
The group gathered up their loot and the body of the fallen goblin, and took the trail back into the mine.

When they arrived at the entry they noted that the bodies of troglodytes slain here were no longer lying about. As they made their way toward the breach into the lower cabin, the noticed that other fallen enemies had been drug into the whole — but that it seemed to have happened nearly a day ago.

They once again lowered a rope and descended into the wide open cavern. Splashing into the muck at the bottom, they could not hear any immediate sounds of alarm or gathering enemies. The decided to move toward the mining machine and then to they the pyramid.
As they approached the wrecked craft a volley of javelins rained down around the ranger. Peering into the darkness, they noticed a trio of troglodytes lurking behind a ruined wall. The group charged, and crushed the guards under a flurry of flail, blade and spell.
Since they heard no evidence that these guards had set off an alarm, they continued on toward the mining craft. It had no signs of being combed over by troglodytes, but the Noxian acolyte Ennick knew where the plans to the craft were cached. He released the hidden clasp and pulled out the blueprints.

From here it is only short hike to the pyramid. Our heroes tried to take stock of their surroundings before pushing back into the heart of this dark. lizard-haunted expanse.

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Boomah, we harldy knew ya
Or-- Where there's smoke, there's pyre

PZOPATHGOBLINT-XL_500.jpgWith no enemies present for now, our heroes released the prisoners from the cage in the central chamber. One was a young man who claimed to be a priest of Nox, and the other a quiet forester named Murt. The were briefly questioned and deemed to not be a threat, and the group decided to beat a hasty retreat before troglodyte reinforcements arrived.

But first they chose to investigate the ceremonial chamber at the top of the pyramid. The small, square room had no roof, and the walls were covered in intricate frescoes detailing the coming of dragons to a primitive land, the rise of a great civilization and its collapse at the hands of evil-looking dragons and spiders. The last panel showed a small group of lizard men being led into a cave to escape the enemies and wait for the good dragons to return.

There was also a large blood-soaked slab table in the center of the chamber. They discovered a series of small indents in the surface of the table, with matching depressions along the walls. Placing the stones that the winged troglodytes were wearing into these depression released a kind of magic, and enchanted lines of some kind of power were connecting the stones.

It was quickly decided that these lines could make primal runes if placed in the proper order. Boomah descended into the chamber and set nine stones in the depressions on the table. Suddenly, the small room filled with a greenish-black smoke, and when it dissipated the goblin lay unmoving on the floor.

The priests looked him over, and determined it was beyond their power to heal him. Seeking for some answer, they sent Kallius down into the pit to create the dragon rune in a different manner. Using both the wall indents as well as the table, the magus brought the use into existence. The slab cracked and separated into eight even pieces, revealing a cavity within.
This small space contained some ancient scraps of paper, a platinum crown, a golden dragon figurine, and a folio made of some dried and colorless hide graven with an ancient mark.
They took the booty and the body of the goblin and fled. They climbed the rope they had left and returned to the mines above in hopes of resting.

During the first watch while the others slept, Saerin was suddenly attacked by the wizard Menso. The ranger shook off the first spell, and shouted to his comrades to wake. The wizard had grabbed up the folio from the loot, and fired another spell to stop the ranger. The left shook this off as well and moved to engage the wizard. With the others rousing themselves around the cave, Menso looked panicked and then vanished.

The group felt that they he could not have gone further than a dimension door, but did not know where to begin the search. Nor did they know what power the wizard had held back from the last fight. But since they were now awake, they weighed their options.

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Tipping the Scales
Or-- Upstairs, downstairs

c71928f65412d19075e673b3a1e6342c.jpgThe great red troglodyte stepped back from Kallius’ charge and tossed a clear gem over his head and down to melee below. It hit with a thundering force in the middle of our heroes, and left Dremahl trapped within a scintillating bubble. Luix and Boomah were undeterred, and continued their press against the blue lieutenant.

Saerin joined Kallius at the top of the stair and slashed out at the leader. The fiery lizard came to the underdweller’s side and breathed flames at the two before closing. The leader stared into Saerin’s eyes with a magical compulsion, but the ranger shook it off. His heavy black mace came down on the magus, hitting the elf through the magic of his duplicates.

The blue captain sent out a shock wave of electricity and closed on Luix. The two traded blows while Boomah looked for opportunities to drop bombs without injuring his allies. A heavy blow from the troglodyte sent the northerner crashing to flagstones, his life slipping away. Celeste stepped into the fray and brought him back.

Meanwhile, the mesmerized troglodytes defending the wall shook off their stupor and moved in to join the fight. Boomah was fighting toe-to-toe (but far from eye-to-eye) with the captain while Luix swung his flail from the ground. A loud pop sounded as the bubble restraining Dremahl vanished, although no one could see how that happened. He stepped up to try and his allies, hard pressed by the fight.

The scaled priest brought Kallius down with a blow, but was losing ground to the combined attacks of the elves. A healing surge brought Kallius back, but also healed the lizard at the leader’s side.

Boomah got to unleash his bomb at the charging troglodytes, causing a sufficiently fiery blast for the tiny goblin. Luix regained his footing (after much tending buy the priests), and finally brought down the blue, winged warrior.

Saerin was brought to the edge of death, and chose to drop down to the lower level to escape. The fall knocked him out, but the priests were nearby to heal him. A spectacular flashing slash with Kallius’ enchanted and charged rapier leaving a large rent down the creature’s chest, and soon the draconic priest joined his followers in death.

Soon, all that remained was the fire-stoked lizard hulking at the top of the stair. Saerin drank a potion of haste and the healers spent their reserves, as the group moved to face the foe.

In the end, it only took one more blow from Luix’ great flail to snap the creature’s back and put out its fire.

Looking around the scene of blood and mayhem, the party quickly gathered what loot seemed important. Boomah spotted other darker torches burning from across the cavernous plan — indicating that they were not alone.

Menso rejoined the group, and told them that the top level of the pyramid was open from above. Inside the blood-soaked chamber were a series of complex frescoes, and a giant slab table that seemed to have have soaked up the blood spilled on it.

But first they chose to investigate the chamber below. Inside they found a raised dais of black stone, a pallet for the huge lizard, and a large cage. Closer inspection showed a living form inside the prison.

A large metallic disk served as the only lock, and it opened at a touch from the magus. A filthy, frail figure came out, and claimed he was a priest of Nox. The group gathered around him, looking for information…

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Pyramid Power
Or-- How many levels until next level?

ziggurat.jpgUnfortunately, the small elementals at Celeste’s command were not capable of keeping the two aloft, and only offered a brief pause before the elf and the goblin found themselves falling again. But it did give them enough time for Boomah to pull a potion of feather fall and drink it before going splat.

They could see their winged foeman gliding away into darkness as the cave floor loomed up toward them. They landed in a gigantic cavern on a floor of what seemed like work stone, with ruined buildings under a shallow expanse of water.

drill.jpgThe others came down on ropes, and soon the group was reunited. Exploring the cavern, they found the wreckage of the Noian earth-digger crashed into the cave floor. Inside the found four seats and two corpses, with muddy taloned prints around the outer surface.

While they were leaving, Boomah spotted a darkvision flash from a rise across the cavern. They rushed toward and soon saw a four-tiered pyramid rising out of the rubble. Figures were moving about the second tier.

When they closed, a number of troglodytes rained javelins down on them. Four of the foes rolled out a large bellows and sprayed the base of the stairs with some kind of spore cloud.
Boomah raced up the stairs to face the enemy, followed by the magus and the big northman. Suddenly, a number of the troglodytes

Boomah raced up the stairs to face the enemy, followed by the magus and the big northman. Suddenly, a number of the troglodytes stopped attacking and simply stared into space. Assuming this was the work of the wizard Menso, they tuned their attention to those on the other side.

One of the trogs was larger and better armored than the others and led the defense. He slashed at the Boomah, he decided to find safer ground higher up. With his magical enhanced speed, he raced up the stairs, only two find two winged troglodytes coming out of a passage under the stairs.

The others fought bravely and eventually Luix brought down the frog leader on the lower level. Menso vanished from sight, but a lightning flash scorching the fascinated trogs led the group to believe he was still around.

Boomah ran from the duo and found another passage around the corner of the ziggurat. He ran inside and saw a richly appointed chamber with a large cage, but before he could investigate further he noted a large fiery lizard rising from a pallet.
Once again he ran, chased bty the lizard.

The others were working their way through the foes, slowly lowering the number of defenders. Dremahl climbed the stairs to provide aid to the wounded, and Celest worked her powers from the base of the pyramid.

Above them all, a towering, red-winged troglodyte urged on his defenders, and cast spells down on our heroes. Boomah rushed up from behind the leader and raced down the stairs to join his comrades. Seeing this, the other winged enemy from above — who turned out to be the blue-tinged leader from the mine above— used his stunted wings to drop down on the goblin to put and end to his mischief once and for all.

Kallius, in turn, raced up the stairs to face down the leader.

With the stakes higher than ever, we called it a night.

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It's in the hole!
Or-- Can elves fly?

Center-of-the-Earth-1000.jpegFollowing the battle in the passage, our heroes hunkered down in a dead-end passage and tried to get some rest. The warriors stood watch while the arcanists slept, and even the prirsts managed to get some rest as the afternoon and night passed above.

Celeste awoke startled, as if from a nightmare, but seemingly had no ill effects.

Noises from the down the echoing passage reached the group, and they sent the goblin and the ranger to check. As the crept back toward the mouth they spotted a group of troglodytes guarding the shaft that dropped down into darkness.

The returned to the party to strategize, and it was decided to have Menso dimension door a group into the hidden tunnel, and come out and fireball them from behind.

This was done, and the underdwellers soon found themselves surrounded. Warriors charged from both sides, and blade and spell made short work of the defenders.

The armored leader, now aware that this must be the group that had caused the carnage elsewhere in the mine, leaped into the hole to escape.

Kallius jumped, sliding blindly into the hole and jolting the warrior with his electric blade. Boomah followed, as did Saerin. The ranger, however, wrapped himself in a rope and gave one end to Luix before disappearing into darkness.

The winged trgolodyte tried to push away from the magus and the two tumbled down the increasingly steep hole. Boomah tried to control his slide but failed, and tumbled down behind them..

The magus stayed focused on the enemy, ignoring the fall and shocking the enemy again. The passage opened up and the two found themselves plummeting through open air in the darkness. Unlike the captain, Kallius does not have wings.

Saerin maintained control of his slide, and Luix wisely tied off his own rope to the ranger’s —extending its range. Boomah tried to drink a potion of levitate, slipped, and splashed its contents along the wall.

Finding himself in mid-air, Kallius tried to grapple the winged captain, and failed as well, continuing his plummet into darkness.

Celeste summoned a small air and told it to ‘catch’ her allies. It managed to grab the goblin as he dropped into the void. Boomah then cast adhesive spittle to stick the magus before he went splat.

Saerin, meanwhile, is hanging by a rope at the end of a tunnel, firing arrows at the fleeing draclodyte captain.

Celeste summoned another elemental, commanding this one to ‘fetch’. It swooped down to the strange gooey mass in mid-air, and we called it a night.

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Winning; whipped and weary
Or -- That which does not kill you, gives you XP

3LuPMVE.jpgThe lizards both pounced on Luix, dragging him down. Dremahl ran to his rescue and used his healing to keep death from consuming him. Kallius focused on the leader, channeling his remaining magic into his blade.

The black leader lashed out with his whip, which seemed a living thing. It struck Saerin, and its barbs tried to leech his strength from him.

Meanwhile, the wizard Menso cast an illusory wall to keep the enemies away — unaware of the group coming up from behind. Celeste summoned an obscuring mist to cover her escape, and moved away from javelin-tossing foes. Menso cast a spell, but between the darkness and mist, it was unclear what it was.

Slowly, the warriors beat back the lizards and isolated the winged troglodyte leader. To the end he fought, but he could not withstand their combined assault.

When our heroes returned to the illusion-blocked passage, they found one barely living troglodyte and several more that had apparently been strangled.

Bloodied but unbowed, they gathered what they could from the fallen. The leader was wearing an ancient suit of enchanted hide armor, his whip that rotted before their eyes, and three more of the strange wire-wrapped stones— ruby, sapphire, and gold. He also had a sealed bag of dried spores.

The others carried no wealth, but all were equipped with multiple oiled bags of strange molds and fungus. The group had earlier experimented with a healing poultice in a similar container, so they kept them.

With little strength and even less magic in reserve, the group decided it would be wise to try and rest. They moved past the night-black opening in the passage toward the dimly lit further corridors. There they found a few salamander-breath fueled lamps that had not been destroyed by the troglodytes and decided to hole up here.

Leaving the warriors to guard, and the priests to wait for dawn, the arcane-powered members of the group sought much-needed sleep. It is unclear at this point whether they will be any…

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