Tales of the Dragon Coast: A Forgotten Realms Adventure

Life is a Carnival
And Iseri's just been locked into the Tilt-A-Whirl

Following the successful navigation of the fortress of Raven’s Watch, the heroes of Sandpoint returned home to bandage bruises, polish their gear and trade stories and relax in the company of friends. After a short rest, Zephus again bid the coastal hamlet a fond farewell and rode for Westgate to report back to the Radiant Heart of his findings and receive his next assignment. Meanwhile, the rest of the crew took the time to hone their own skills, Set improving his footwork and gaining further knowledge of the wilds through a week-long sojourn, became able to move much more swiftly to aid in his marksmanship skills and also learned to survive comfortably in harsh environs with little more than the clothes on his back, while also perfecting his ability to hunt creatures that preferred to make their lairs deep in the earth. Nero practiced honing his senses to detect traps and also made use of some good natured drunks at the Rusty Dragon to become better at the art of sneak attacking unwitting foes. Elsbeth, through meditation and study, became more in tune with the power of the Morninglord, gaining a finer understanding of the nature of his magic and allowing the flow of divine energies through her person to occur more naturally which vastly increased her healing capabilities.

A traveling caravan also passed through town at this time, bringing the joys and games usually only found in the big city to a town grateful for a chance to engage in mirth and whimsy, even if only for a day’s time. At this point, Iseri was approached by the caravan’s leader: a particularly verbose gnome in an exquisite crimson cloak. He stated that he was acting as an informal ‘talent scout’ for Caites of the Swift-Fingers, the current leader of a band of thieves known as the Laughing Knives and that a fair sum of cash was promised to those enterprising enough to travel with them to the city of Teziir and make themselves known. Iseri, never being one to turn down a chance for more wealth took the job and also convinced Sumak to come along and provide extra protection. During the 5 day journey, the caravan experienced a slight hiccup and was attacked by wolves. However, Lady Luck seemed to smile on the 2 adventurers as they dispatched the beasts with almost disdainful ease. Arriving in Teziir, the carnival parked itself at the Lucky Drunkard tavern, where after an evening of food, wine and song, Iseri and Sumak were able to meet their new employer. Setting down to a meeting table in a hidden back room inside the tavern, Iseri and Sumak were laid out the parameters for success and payment. A schooner belonging to the Zhentarim mercenary army would be passing through port tonight with a special shipment rumored to be placed under heavy guard by the Cult of the Dragon. Seeking to cause a little mayhem and perhaps delve deeper into the Cult’s latest plots, Caites requested that the ship be boarded and anything of value brought back to him as quickly and quietly as possible. The duo agreed and were given directions to the docks as the late hour approached.

As the team made their way quietly along the docks, they laid eyes on a magnificent black schooner covered in black lacquer and trimmed with gold. 4 Zhentarim guards armored in black full plate and wearing skull shaped helms now stood guard by a single zip line, which allowed the ship to stay out to water in case a quick getaway was needed, with 2 rogues moving artfully back and forth unloading goods. Sumak created a distraction for a pair of the guards by tossing a rancid ham into the water nearby whilst Iseri snuck up from the opposite side. Seeking to find a way to create a further distraction, the paladin then used his flint and steel to light a pile of nearby crates to draw the other guards away, while Iseri used her crossbow to disturb some highly volatile casks of liquor which created a small bomb rendering 2 of the guards senseless for a short period. Making her way up the line, the rogue managed to get to the crow’s nest, where she was pounced on by a hooded figure with a massive schnoz and a poisoned stiletto blade. As the two fenced above, Sumak drew down on the 2 Zhent guardsmen. The battle proved to be vicious, these were no simpleton goblins or common hired thugs and only divine grace and Sumak’s armor and size saved him from being hacked to bits. Iseri bested her attacker and pierced his throat with her shock rapier. Looking down, she could see a Zhent wizard looking about furtively, trying to determine whether to cut the line and flee or stay and finish the job. The rogue happened to notice that the fool had placed himself in front of some very unstable boxes and that with just enough force, he would no longer be a problem. Meanwhile, Sumak had begun to lose more and more ground against the heavily armed Zhent fighters and had attempted to flee into the waters to gain cover. To his shock and dismay, there were no undercrofts in which to hide himself. It appeared as though the docks were crafted from a single piece of solid stone and while the paladin struggled to stay afloat in heavy gear, the mercenaries closed in for the kill. Determining that he should at least take one with him, the mighty half-orc seized one by the legs as they came to the docks edge to pepper him with arrows. It might have been the end at that moment, but for the timely arrival of Caites, who hamstrung one guard while tilting the other into the briny depths. As he helped the drenched paladin onto the dockside he sputtered incredulously “THIS is what you lot call a QUIET job!?!?”

Iseri’s plans had found a snag as well. She hoped to use the natural rhythm of the ship’s movements to aid her in toppling the unsteady crates but timing seemed to go against her at every turn and she was almost left at the mercy of the wizard’s magic. The clamoring of the town guard put an end to their battle as the wizard decided to cut his losses and make his escape. Iseri repaid his magical assault by lighting his cargo aflame and leaping into the water, relishing the song of his curses as she swam for the docks. The group was able to use the town guard’s arrest of the Zhentarim to their advantage: Sumak was tended to by the city patrol while Caites and Iseri made their way back to the tavern. Over a warm cup of cheer the next morning Caites found himself possessed of a good humor, and gave the 2 half of their promised price since they were unable to secure any goods or incriminating evidence, but thoroughly humiliated the spies of the Black Network. As a special reward for Iseri (as well as a possible enticement for future jobs) Caites bestowed the skeleton key of Ramsay Rotjaw. An unusual totem thats tip was shaped in the end of a small, skeletal hand. This tool was enchanted with a Knock spell that could be used twice per day. Very handy in a tight spot. Bidding them farewell, Caites sent the 2 back on their way with a small merchant’s caravan, wishing them well wherever they may go.

Raven's Watch: The Finale
Sumak arrives at last!

Sumak had finally caught up with the Heroes. As Zephus, Set, Elsbeth, and Nero were resting in the large entrance room to Raven’s Watch, the half-orc paladin stumbled in. The cast had just been taken off his injured foot, but he was ready for action. His first task, however, was mental rather than physical. The party asked him to translate the goblin script on the three northern doors. The northernmost was ‘Storage, and inside the adventurers found a few potions, a scroll, and most importantly to Elsbeth, an entire keg of the Rusty Dragon’s finest ale. After pouring mugs for everyone, the cleric proceeded to drain the rest of the keg herself.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party explored the eastern door, marked ‘Shinies’. After breaking down the door (successfully this time)and dislodging a strange red crystal, Sumak led the party into a large chamber. In this chamber, an array of the crystals studded the walls, floor, and pillars. Three were lit, and four were just empty sockets. The adventurers were looking for a more exciting encounter, though, and decided to leave the crystal chamber for later.

Turning to the western chamber, ‘Barracks’, the party met Bertha, the human guard captain, and her cadre of goblins. After a short but fierce battle in which Set took a throwing axe to the face, the Heroes prevailed. Bertha herself surrendered after her goblins were slaughtered, and provided the part y with some information on Vislak and his operation in exchange for her freedom.

Exploring the areas surrounding the barracks, the party found an armory where several of them added ranged weapons to their repertoire, and Sumak found a spare set of full plate made for Bertha but which fit him well enough. He also found an emerald by digging around in the refuse pile. In the captain’s chambers they found some documents about the facility’s daily activities, as well as some gold.

Finally it had come time to reexamine the crystal chamber, but they were still missing 2 of the crystals. Scouring the cells, they found one buried in a pile of straw. The last long eluded them, as they debated sending some hapless sacrifice into the pit and attempted to futilely remove an enormous boulder blocking a side passage. Eventually Sumak discovered the crystal in an otherwise innocuous cave-in.

At last possessing all of the crystals, the party set their brains to work solving the puzzle of the crystal chamber. Zephus was certain that this must be the place to use the rogue’s cryptic instructions, but struggled to fit his words to the crystals’ layout. The rest of the party focused on the color patterns, eventually discovering that the relationship between primary and secondary colors was the key to the puzzle. They quickly got each crystal to light up except one. This was the crystal that Sumak had inadvertently dislodged, but he solved the problem by standing in the doorway with said crystal.

With all the crystals placed and lighted, a secret chamber opened to the north, revealing a statue and a chest. The chest held a single item, the powerful Ring of Feather Falling, while the statue had a much greater treasure: a great sword of Torm. Zephus humbly accepted the sword and left his own in return.

After solving the crystal chamber, there was nothing more to explore in the Raven’s Watch. The Heroes left with few questions answered and several new ones to ponder. Where was Black Fang, how much more powerful had he become, and when would they encounter him again? How was the Cult of the Dragon planning on using him, and what were their designs for Sandpoint?

Return to Raven's Watch
Vislak makes his appearance

After a brief respite, the Heroes reexamined their focus for exploring the Raven’s Watch. Zephus thought they should return to the cells, as the kobold had mentioned a goblin friend that had also been imprisoned there. The group agreed, and they returned to the jail. Searching the cell next to the kobold’s they discovered the body of a goblin. He had apparently died while carving something in to the wall. On closer inspection this was another piece of the inscription they had found on the large double doors. Afterwards, they carefully examined the walls of the remaining cells while Zephus went to check once more on the texts they found in the office.

Zephus pored over the books, dismayed to found they were mostly written in code. He did, however, find two names: ‘Vislak’ and ‘Menrar’. With these clues he returned to the cells. While Zephus was gone the rest of the group had discovered a secret door in the kobold’s cell. It opened into a rough stone tunnel. They followed it until it opened into a wide chamber. There a bridge spanned a small pool of water. Set remembered that the kobold had mentioned something about a box of ‘shinies’ that had been thrown into water, and that this must be the place. Suddenly a small group of earth elementals emerged from the ground and attacked!

In the tight quarters, the group was hard pressed. Set the ranger was forced to abandon his bow as one elemental had him corned at one end of the tunnel. At the other end, Zephus and Nero worked on elementals attacking them. After a few frustratingly wild attacks, they finally calmed down enough to hit their foes, and the elementals fell. Then they proceeded to search the water for the shinies. Elsbeth cast light on a rock and threw it into the water where it revealed a chest. A strong swimmer, Set volunteered to dive down with a rope and secure the chest. Plunging into the water like a seal, he expertly tied the rope to each of the chest’s handles. Zephus, with help from the others, lifted Set and the chest up to the bridge. After satisfying himself that the chest was not trapped, Nero attempted to pick the lock. Unfortunately, the lock was so rusted that to open it, Zephus had to break the lock with the pommel of his sword. Inside was a trove of gems and coins!

Moving on, the group entered a narrow passage with several side paths. They took the first southern one, and emerged into a partially collapsed chamber. Impatient, they moved into the next. Here they found several large boulders flanking the path and a flickering light coming from up ahead. Zephus detected evil and they moved forward cautiously. In the next chamber was a patrolling Hell Hound and two ghoul buddies guarding a chest. After getting somewhat scorched by the Hound’s breath, the group dispatched their foes. This time the chest was trapped, but Nero had no trouble disabling it and opening the lock. This chest contained some coins and gems, but also a suit of leather armor, a potion, and a strange, dark red crystal that seemed to absorb light.

After their recent fights, the Heroes were understandably tired. They decided to rest, but in their exhaustion neglected to set a watch. Thus they were surprised when a small patrol of goblins came upon them. These were stupid goblins, however, and were quickly slaughtered by the party who resumed their rest (this time with a watch). After successfully resting, they moved on. Farther down the narrow tunnel, they came into a large, oppressively dark room. Even the light from Elsbeth’s spell was subdued, and Zephus felt a definite presence of evil. They found a desk in the room, with a book which contained some names (including Vislak). Also in the room was a series of gates and a statue of a knight, like the ones they had found in the passage north of them. They went back and forth between those rooms, and in a moment of inspiration, connected the strange hash marks they had found with the moveable fingers of the statues! Matching the hash patterns with the fingers, they soon had the large double doors open. The group cautiously moved into the northern part of the unnaturally dark room…

An evil laugh met them as they entered. ‘I am Vislak,’ said the voice, ‘Lady Tiamat desires your deaths, which I shall happily provide!’

Nero went first into the room, and Zephus valiantly followed. Unfortunately, the hapless paladin blundered into a tanglefoot bag trap and was stuck fast to the floor. He was powerless to react as the evil cleric and his goblin flunky slipped past him into the gloom. Frustrated by the stun and fear spells thrown at them by Vislak, the party slowly whittled down his ghoul allies. The party, battered by his evil channeled energy, nearly faltered. Nero slipped into unconsciousness from the evil force, and was only saved by the lucky proximity of the cleric Elsbeth. Slowly, and thanks in part to Set’s Oathbow and Zephus’ Smite Evil, Vislak and his goblin shaman fell.

On Vislak’s body the party found another dark crystal, purple this time, and a note cursing the Tormites. This note also mentioned the crystal in connected with the Northeast room, and that two crystals remained unaccounted for.

After their epic showdown with Vislak, the party decided another extended rest was in order. What awaits them in the rest of the Raven’s Watch, now that its master has been slain?

The Ruins of Raven's Watch
A descent into riddles...

Their successful venture into the ruins of Craftholme behind them, the Heroes spent several weeks haunting the Rusty Dragon tavern. Joining them was Zephus Evensun, lately returned from an assignment in Westgate. The proprietess, Ameiko Kaijitsu, forgave them their drunken behavior on account of their looseness of purse and ability to draw additional customers with tales of their exploits. The peaceful interlude was not to last, however, as one evening an elven ranger burst in just as the group was passing from buzzed into sloppy.

She introduced herself as Shalelu, ranger protector of the roads and farms around Sandpoint. She had tracked the group down to inform them that their nemesis, the dragon Black Fang, had been seen in the area once again, this time soaring away from an old ruin in the mountains. The next morning, the group (minus Iseri, whom they left still passed out in the Dragon) had mostly sobered up and followed the ranger to the ruins, known as the Raven’s Watch. The surface ruins being mostly destroyed, Shalelu showed them a set of stone stairs that led down inside the mountain. After debating who was the most expendable in case of a sneak attack, the Heroes descended.

Inside, the group was immediately set upon by a force of goblins. Easily dispatching most of their foes, the Heroes were yet unable to prevent one goblin from escaping further in to the dungeon. Ignoring the escaped goblin, the group pressed on Eastward, where again they met goblins. This time, they decided to pull back into the entrance room and let the goblins come to them. One unfortunate goblin was sniped by a well shot arrow from Set’s Oathbow. This tempered the unbridled fervor of the remaining goblins, who called upon their boss, the fearsome Orc Warden. He worked to counter the Heroes’ advantage by instructing the goblins to stay back and wait for clear shots with their bows. The Warden himself successfully drew out the paladin Zephus from cover, and several times nearly overcame him. After hammering to unconsciousness an overly ambitious Nero, the Warden was finally defeated by a devastating blow from Zephus. He refused to die, however, and had enough strength left to land one last brutal axe swing on Zephus before falling.

The Heroes then examined the Warden’s office, but came up with only a note written in orc tongue. They then investigated the Warden’s prisoners, a strangely gregarious rogue and a sullen kobold. The rogue offered them information for his freedom, while the kobold merely said he was lonely and wished to go home. The rogue was oddly as good as his word, providing the adventurers with a cryptic riddle about a temple door. The kobold was even less coherent, going on about a box of ‘shinies’ , a skull-faced man, and a dead goblin friend.

After releasing the prisoners, the group pressed on. Only, they couldn’t agree on where to press on to! They first examined the passage North from the first room, but were baffled by a set of three doors with untranslatable goblin script upon them. Eventually they decided to go south, and discovered what appeared to be an office/laboratory. Here they found a diary expounding the virtues of the Dragon Queen and an elixir she had entrusted to the writer that had strengthened Black Fang, and would again every 3 days when a new dose had been brewed. The group found what appeared to be another dose and purified it with holy water the cleric Elsbeth had been storing for emergencies.

Turning back into the hall, they discovered a large, stout, iron-bound wooden door flanked by three statues on either side. Examining the door, they found a strange set of markings that they were unable to decipher. Torn between solving the several riddles they now had, further exploring the dungeon, and with the cleric getting the DTs, the Heroes decided to take a break for a while, and return to the task with a fresh perspective later. What mysteries do the ruins of Raven’s Watch hold? Only time will tell…

The continuing adventures of Zephus Evensun

While his off and on companions went to investigate the lost city of Craftholme, Zephus Evensun of the Shattered Ankles wallowed in boredom. But as he sat at the bar of the Rusty Dragon, nursing his nonalcoholic mead, a messenger came to Zephus with a solution for his inactivity. Sir Devan Stoutheart, leader of the new temple of the Most Noble Order of the Radiant Heart in Westgate, had need of him. Paying his tab and taking one last, longing look at the beautiful innkeeper, Zephus left the Dragon to seek passage down the coast.

Once he arrived in Westgate, largest City-State of the Dragon Coast region, Zephus knew it was for no petty interview that he had been recalled from the field. Sir Devan met him in the temple with a young noblewoman by his side. She was Lady Alinna Silverblood, recently elevated to the ruling council of Westgate. Alinna’s father, a councilman, and the rest of her family had been mercilessly slaughtered in their own home, leaving only her alive. Now she was determined to, with Sir Devan and the Radiant Heart’s help, bring law and order to the chaotic region. But in order to do so, she would have to survive.

Zephus was instructed to escort the Lady to a reception in honor of her elevation, as an assassination attempt was almost a foregone conclusion. Almost on cue, a large force of goblins smashed through the front door of the manor house and attacked the party guests! Pushing through the crowd, Zephus managed to rescue Lady Alinna from a small force that had inexplicably made it far into the ballroom. Fearing more attacks, Lady Alinna led Zephus into a small study. There she knew of a secret passage that would lead them safely out of the manor.

Among the many branches of tunnel, the pair soon became lost. Several times they would turn into a dead end only to be set upon by huge, dire rats! In a rare moment of nervousness, Zephus backed away from a rat’s furiously gnashing teeth, allowing its mate to approach Lady Alinna unmolested. With a swift bite, the rat injected its poison into the young noblewoman. Quickly Zephus dispatched the oversized vermin and used his knowledge of the healing arts to purge the infected wound before Lady Alinna succumbed.

Eventually, Zephus and his charge made it to a larger chamber with a smooth stone door. On the door were several tiles, each of which had a strange symbol drawn upon it. Zephus quickly recognized the three symbols of the deities making up the Triad, and verifying his memory with Lady Alinna’s, was able to identify 3 of the other 4 symbols as those belonging to evil gods. Still, Zephus was mystified by the purpose of the symbols until he tried touching them. Finding that the slid along grooves set into the door, he soon had them arranged in two groups: one for the Triad under Tyr, and one for the evil gods under Talos. The door opened onto a foggy night…
And also onto danger! As Zephus and Lady Alinna approached the door, the sound of laughter halted them. A voice accosted them, and set two thugs upon them. Zephus easily overcame the impudent rogues, but the mastermind had fled. Examining the bodies of the rogues, Zephus discovered only a note with the cryptic phrase, ‘Meet the redhair at the night star’, written on it.

Back at the temple, Sir Devan congratulated Zephus on a good night’s work. He then sent Zephus back to Sandpoint, with instructions to look for a long lost temple to Torm that had been found in ancient writings. Before he left, Lady Alinna personally thanked Zephus for his efforts, and gave him the Horn of Glory, a powerful heirloom that had been in her family for generations. With that, Zephus returned to Sandpoint to find his friends and, hopefully, more opportunities to show the Order what he could do.

The Exorcism of the Ancients
Heroes don't fear the Reaper...

As the adventurers continued their journey into the long abandoned enclave of Craftholme, they found themselves possessed by a sense of both unease and wonder at the marvels of an age long dead. Iseri fished a stone out of her pocket that Elsbeth had blessed with a Light spell from the earlier part of their descent and tossed it beyond the stone doorway throwing a cascade of daylight into what looked to be the town square. The group was amazed to see the city had been almost perfectly preserved in the years since its creators were cast out by the gods. Beautiful golden brown sandstone paved the streets and the doors on buildings were made of fine steel with intricate, geometrically shaped locks. Four mighty pillars held the cave ceiling aloft, looking very organic, as if they had been grown out of the earth to reach up and grasp the vault of the cave. They also had thick veins of silver and gold laced throughout, to add to their visual appeal. Spying what appeared to be a jewelry depository to their immediate left, Iseri took the lead and beckoned the group follow her. Eager for a chance at glory and battle, Sumak’s zeal unfortunately worked against him. In his eagerness to heroically kick in one of the ancient dwellings’ doors left out 2 important factors: 1 being that they were forged of hardened fine dwarvish steel and 2, they opened outward…..
His broken foot soon made him aware of these neglected factors.

Following a bit of successful lock picking, the team found themselves inside of an old gemstone depository and after an encounter with a nasty pressurized acid trap walked out again with a fine array of semi-precious stones as well as a magnificent fire opal and 8 oddly cut stones that bore no relation to any form of gem on the surface, each one cut in a specific shape and colored as blue, red, green and yellow. Journeying to investigate other dwellings proved to be fruitful as well, but came with an increased risk: Whenever Iseri was unable to pick the locks on the doors properly, a mighty alarm would blare and animated statues in the likeness of dwarven warriors would spring to life in pairs to attack the group. Formed of hardened stone, with a grip like a vice, the team found themselves more than once struggling to gain the upper hand against the defenses of the old city, but through teamwork and luck, they were able to pull through… Though not without their fair share of bruises! Further investigation one them yet another fight with security and a fire trap as well as a pair of centipede watchdogs, but also left them a little richer and the old living accommodations provided a safe place for a night’s rest after their long journey.

Resuming their journey in the morning, the group found themselves in an ancient forge filled to the brim with half finished weapons and a few completed ones to boot! This was the mystical forge of Fenn the Fearsome, an ancient dwarf warrior-smith of some great renown, who according to Durkin’s journal entries, had been able to bind fire elementals to his forge to provide both intense heat and steel of unrivaled quality. To their delight, the team was able to procure a completed heavy mace, a fine set of dueling rapiers and a morningstar. Each of which had been crafted by the master himself and bore his personal crest: a shield overlain by an axe and sword. Removing these weapons came with a cost, as the last fire elemental that Fenn had bound to his forge, also served to guard his final works, but by quickly surrounding the beast, the adventurers were able to expel it back to its native plane. Journeying across the way brought the heroes to the Chapel of Gond, the prime site of religious ceremony for the people of Craftholme. This structure was unique in that it seemed to eschew Craftholme’s previous use of modern architecture and magic in favor of more traditional dwarf designs, including prominent homages to the dwarven gods Moradin and his faithful wife Berronar. Through careful investigation, Iseri was able to detect a hollow spot on the main alter and with a little muscle from Sumak, the team recovered an ancient manual explaining the method by which the Elemental Recombinator could be re-powered through use of the stones recovered from the gem depository. Elsbeth and Sumak also gathered some holy water from the baptismal font behind the altar and at last, the group made ready to venture into the Temple of Recombination.

The building was a mighty, towering structure, built in the shape of an anvil. It’s outer walls an doors were covered in artistry depicting the dwarves of the city as great heroes subduing the forces of nature, which were represented as fearsome monsters. Inside the central antechamber, the group found the great machine itself, a formidable looking rectangular shape with a metallic base and a stone top covered in holes with crystal jutting out from the sides. Flanking each side of the machine was a pillar as in the main square, but these each held a perfectly smooth, clear crystal sphere. Using the recombination manual, the team fanned out and used the strange stones to give new life to the Recombinator. Unfortunately, this too came with consequences. As torrents of elemental power swirled and forked in the air above them, the long sealed spirit of Bargast the Black was unleashed from his prison inside the device. Hurling accusations and threatening a gruesome death to all interlopers, the heroes readied their weapons and prepared for the fallen leader’s assault. Sumak called upon Lathander to bless his mace with heavenly fury and attempted to smite the apparition while Elsbeth unleashed a wave of blessed energy to stun him. The others tried to use their weapons to some effect, but found that without any form of enchantment, even the finest steel couldn’t harm Bargast’s immortal spiritual substance. Set’s sword, even with its draconic slaying ability proved to do less damage than was desired. Iseri and Nero meanwhile held back, Iseri using her wand of magic missle to contribute what she could and Nero merely providing room for the heavily armored fighters to work properly.

The grim specter’s necromantic touch nearly brought the party to their knees and it was only through a steady stream of healing magic that Elsbeth was able to keep everyone standing. At last Sumak spied an opportune moment and with a powerful swing of his now blessed mace, nearly pulled Bargast apart as his weapon phased through his substance, but holy power seared him from the inside out!!! The ghost gave a terrible wail and then fled even deeper into the earth, but rest was not to come yet. The elders of the ancient city appeared to them in that moment and begged the valiant heroes to help them expel Bargast permanently from their homeland as well as free their own spirits so they might finally be allowed to join their families in the afterlife. The group agreed and the elders led them into the catacombs hidden underneath the great seal of Gond the covered the central walkway of the city. There, the team journeyed down and past the sarcophagi of the honored dead where they at last laid eyes on the Soul of Craftholme. A mountainous crystalline structure that sat upon a small island and was bathing the entire room in an eerie blue glow. Sumak, Set, Nero and Iseri (Set struggling to stay afloat) each crossed to investigate while Elsbeth remained behind as back up. The dressed bodies of two ancient dwarves lay prostrate before the crystals one of which was dressed exactly as Bargast had been when he appeared before them. The ancient spirits entreated the heroes via telepathic link to free them from their bondage, but noted that their release could only be delivered by the hands of a healer. As the team pondered the meaning behind this riddle, a fearsome roar could be heard from behind them. As the rest of the group and crossed to the island, it seemed they had left Elsbeth to a fate worse than death: a Balor, the most mighty and ferocious scion of demon-kind materialized in the hallway behind her. Snapping its many tongued lashes of flame and brandishing its razor sharp lightning blade, the foe advanced, pure malevolence burning in its black, soulless eyes. Fortunately Sumak proved able to devise the meaning behind the spirit’s request and lay his hands upon the crystal, sending a pulse of energy through it. The Balor shrieked, clutching its chest and withered away to the small, sickly looking shape of Bargast. A river of rainbow light and souls then rushed through the room like a flood and carried away the howling ghost onward to his final fate in the other world.

Their mission accomplished the group set their sights towards home and ran into Zephus on the way, who had grown concerned for their safety and journeyed out to meet them. The townsfolk and Durkin received them with joy, and over a week’s rest the group relayed what they had found to Durkin and his team, while they busily sent out letters to distant kin inviting them to join in the rebuilding of the city. As a token of great esteem and friendship betwixt his race and the surface, Durkin used the magic of the Recombinator to bless Fenn’s final weapons with elemental magic to make them more useful for adventurers heading into dangerous places. And as a more pragmatic trade, he granted Set a beautiful composite longbow known as the Oathbow. Crafted with the skill and precision of elven folk, this bow would become thrice as lethal against a target of the owner’s choosing as well as being a fine bow in its own right. For this, Set was asked to relinquish his Dragon Bane sword, but found the gift of the bow made separation easier. With final words of gratitude and thanks, the new friends parted ways and the heroes awaited the time for when their skills would again be tested…

In Search of Craftholme
And Then There Were Six

Our heroes took a week’s rest to recover from their injuries inflicted on them by the Earth Elemental from the old mine, Zephus however, had seen the worst of the action and was still trying to repair his armor, as well as a set of cracked ribs. During this relatively peaceful interlude, Sandpoint was introduced to two new and unusual guests: a Half-Orc paladin devoted to Lathander named Sumak and an Elven rogue by the name of Nero. They had journeyed from lands unknown in search of the reward for Blackfang, but found that their prospects had already been chased off. Fortunately, Durkin, the leader of the dwarven mining expedition and one of its few survivors had a most interesting proposal for them.

It turned out that the dwarves chief purpose for excavating the mines was not merely to revive the gold trade, rather the gold was an ancillary part to their true intention: the re-colonization of the ancient dwarf enclave of Craftholme. Durkin took the adventurers aside at Mayor Deverin’s small estate and explained to them that Craftholme had once been a central outpost and kingdom for the mountain-kin. They crafted various wondrous goods and armaments and were an ingenious race who prized invention and worshiped Gond, the gnome god of craft at a level equal to (and in some cases surpassing) their own pantheon! Their greatest creation at the time of the city’s fall was a wondrous device, known as the Elemental Recombinator. This machine, the result of both science and ancient sorcery, was able to harness the power of the elements themselves to enchant weapons and armor, as well as supplying heat, electricity and free cooling to the entire city. Sadly, this ancient marvel was lost to time, when a member of the old kingdom known as Bargast the Black felt that this great power was for the dwarves alone and that if they merely were willing to show the nerve, the Recombinator could be used to place their kind as the dominant race of the Realms! Bargast attempted a deadly and untested ritual to harness the full destructive power of the machine as a weapon, but it backfired and destroyed him, along with most his followers. Their spirits were said to have been bound by the great god Moradin as a punishment for their megalomania and selfishness, doomed to an eternity of being bound to that which they had prized most in life…

Durkin requested that the heroes of Sandpoint pick up where his team had left off. To aid them in their mission to recover the lost city, he gave his journal to Iseri, which contained the bulk of collected information related to the now 500 year old legend and wished them luck. Iseri also took this time to purchase a crossbow and the following morning, the town saw the warriors off. Arriving at the site approximately a day later, the team was surprised by a band of orcs that were trying to lay claim to the abandoned gold. The battle was short, but fierce. Sumak proved himself to be a mighty foe with his inborn great strength and skill with both shield and mace, striking one of the usurpers down immediately after being set on by them. Nero too proved himself worthy of the silent and deadly skill attributed to the followers of Mask using his rapier to cut an eloquent swath through the foe. Iseri’s crossbow put the finishing touch to the orc’s gold-lust, taking the head clean off of their leader with a well aimed bolt. After navigating the troublesome pit barring them from the western portion of the mine and working their way down, the heroes were able to locate where the excavations had left off, in addition to some useful torch hats, which both provided light and freed up their hands.

About halfway down the tunnel, the group was attacked by a pack of giant centipedes, but again Sumak’s muscle and iron hide provided adequate distraction for a quick victory. Further down the pass, the team found the object of their search, the doorstep to Craftholme itself. A massive circular door which required steps to approach properly, it was crafted of beautiful white stone, covered in ancient warding runes and crowned with a clear, elegantly cut crystal which also doubled as a power source. Using Durkin’s journal, the group was able to determine that the runes were the key to opening the sealed city and that only the proper combination would grant them passage into the old realm. Here, Elsbeth was able to use her knowledge of both cryptograms and deciphering drunken gibberish to divine the correct password: Fortune Awaits For Those Who Dare! When the correct runes were touched in sequence the door rolled aside smoothly and noiselessly, and the team took their first steps into the lost city of Craftholme….

Trouble Under the Earth
Down, down to Elemental Town

Having taken a week long reprieve to bind their hurts and enjoy their celebrity status as the Heroes of Sandpoint, Iseri, Set and Elsbeth soon found themselves pulled by the call of danger once again. This time, by a small band of dwarven miners who had begun an excursion into a long abandoned gold mine, hoping to claim the forgotten wealth that had lingered under the dragon’s shadow. With Blackfang driven from the area, the dwarves had imagined that operations should go quite smoothly and that they would be able to renew a thriving gold trade. However, a week after their descent into the mine, all contact from them to the town dried up, as if they’d vanished completely from the face of Toril.

Sensing yet another bad situation, Mayor Deverin again enlisted the aid of Sandpoint’s mighty dragon-slayers, and asked that they investigate the disappearance of the mining crew. With the promise of more excitement (and of course a sizable reward), the team set out. After two days travel, the team found themselves again under the depths of the earth and at the crossroads of the abandoned mine. Scouting out 4 different directions indicated that a struggle of some kind had indeed taken place, but not one of the group could imagine what might have overtaken the crew. An encounter with yet another monstrous spider had left Set visibly shaken and a trip to the western hall yielded a break in the mine path. The south path having led them here, the heroes were left with only one other option and struck east…

Down the eastern shaft, they encountered one of the surviving dwarves. The stout, burly fellow had been nearly beaten to a pulp, but swift healing from Elsbeth was able to help set him right. Once roused, he spoke in hushed tones of a mighty golden dread that had attacked his fellows and scattered most of those it didn’t outright kill. Curious about what breed of monstrosity could have attempted such a feat, Iseri decided to scout ahead and determine the situation. What she found was far more than she had bargained for. A massive Earth Elemental, veined with gold had been making its nest here, when the dwarves came to mine, they had disturbed it and paid a heavy price. Now it seemed the unwanted prying of an elven rogue had also brought forth its anger. Heaving itself out of the gold and bellowing a terrible roar, the creature shambled forth, its gargantuan fists clenched in rage.

If Set had been nervous before, he was outright terrified now, attempting to nock an arrow and aid the rogue’s escape he fired, but his shots all seemed to go wild and in a panic, he suggested that the group flee. Elsbeth and Iseri shrugged his commentary off and decided to make a stand against the foe, and so they charged forth with weapons in hand to meet the creature. However, his rocky hide was as solid as reinforced plate armor and to their further horror; they found themselves on the receiving end of the creature’s fists as well. Elsbeth received a fearsome punch that slammed her into the back wall, but still the creature came forth, seeking to destroy those that had disturbed its slumber. Iseri proved the heroine of the day here, using her natural speed and lightweight armor to attack the creature and draw its attention away from her friends, while out-maneuvering the lumbering hulk’s massive strength. The team slowly made their way to the crossroads of the mine and tried to flee, but here Iseri’s distraction began to fail at last, as her effort to draw their attacker off had hemmed her into the closed off northern pass where the spider had made its lair. The elemental began to grow tired of constantly trying to close distance with a quicker foe and attempted to use a boulder throw to crush her, but her nimbleness again saved her (as well as fully ensuring the spider’s death). Options seemed to be running out, Elsbeth and Set mastered their fear and tried to provide healing and aid from a distance, but it looked as though the golden terror would soon be making this mine into their final resting place…

However, the forces of good smiled on the team that day. A voice called up from the southern entrance, and a young man in half plate armor with a two handed sword strapped to his back stepped up behind Iseri and Set. He claimed he had been passing through on his way to Sandpoint and that he was stopped by a squat little man tearing Pell Mel across the countryside screaming about a ‘golden death’. Laying eyes on the elemental and the cornered rogue, the warrior stated that introductions could wait, and drew his sword to curtail possible slaughter. He proved quite fast for a man in heavy armor and closed ranks with the beast attempting a powerful swing, but found his stokes were not as effective in close quarters. The elemental slammed down on him in fury, denting his armor and forcing him to his knees. Coughing up a clot of blood, the warrior grimaced “By Torm I will not fall here today!” pressing a gauntlet to his chest and unleashing a surge of healing power. His concentration had been marred by the force of the elemental’s blow. Fortunately Elsbeth was able to provide further succor and soon the warrior was back on his feet. Iseri and Set continued with the distraction to keep the elemental preoccupied, and seeing his chance, the warrior used a powerful wide slash the cleave away a fair portion of the creature’s reinforced hide. Iseri saw the chance to end the battle here and now. Leaping onto the creature’s shoulders, she spied a soft, mossy patch at the top of its skull. Using her rapier as a hold, the elf swung her weight full on into the creature’s midsection, using its bulk to effectively snap it in half!! As its body crumbled, the group found themselves in possession of 5 solid gold nuggets as well as some precious stones that the creature had absorbed, including a few choice turquoise.

The group returned to town to heal their hurts and report their progress. Over a mug of fine draft, the mystery warrior introduced himself as Zephus Evensun, a squire paladin sworn to Torm on a questing ritual for the Order of the Radiant Heart. He thanked his new found associates for a chance to prove himself in combat and aid them in their time of need and raised a toast to their victory and future ones to come!!

Out of the Dragon's Den and into the Mineshaft
The Adventure Begins!!!

The people of Sandpoint had been living in fear of a nameless dread. A black shadow which struck swiftly in the night, depriving them of the livestock that formed an integral part of the town’s livelihood. The people grew fearful that their small village would soon become another sad tale of the many towns swallowed up by the harsh nature of the Dragon Coast. The mayor, Kendra Deverin, began to fear that whatever beast had chosen to stalk them would soon grow brazen and begin adding members of the community into its gruesome diet and so the call was sent forth for those individuals skilled in the art of ‘pest control’.

A thousand gold reward drew the attention of a traveling elven rogue, while the telltale mark of a dragon’s fang grabbed the attention of a reclusive ranger sworn to the hunt against wyrm-kind. An apprentice half elf cleric sworn to the service of the Morning Lord, found herself tiring of merely reading of the great battle priests of old lore and took up arms to travel the world… Only to stumble to the humble hamlet in a drunken stupor after an evening of revelry. Tales of the black dread grew so great as to even grab the attention of the holy knights of the Order of the Radiant Heart in distant Waterdeep, who dispatched one of their newly apprenticed squire paladins in response to the mayor’s call for aid.

The former three arrived (the cleric after sleeping off a monstrous hangover) and took the job. Proceeding into the foothills, the ranger, a human named Set, was able to follow various markings to a vast hillside which looked to have at one time been a covert fortress. The team found themselves beset at once by a pack of goblins, but easily overwhelmed and dispatched them. Steeling themselves, the group continued into the depths of the earth, hoping they would be ready for whatever might await them….

The trek would indeed prove dangerous. A beautiful ruby was guarded by ancient booby trap of lethal cunning. But the rogue’s agility and natural good luck procured the group a fine prize (though the lass’ armor did take on a little smoke damage). A massive queen spider nearly had Set as its next meal, but together, through divine magic and steel, the team was able to put the beast to the boot! Though sadly, they were too late to save the pitiful goblin child it had devoured moments earlier. Further exploration led to an encounter with an old pillar, scrawled with ancient rune and various markings warning any intruders to avoid the dragon that made its lair here, especially its fearsome breath!! The pillar itself turned out to be magical in nature, granting the adventurers an unnatural affinity for aquatic travel which proved fortuitous for them when an ancient storage locker located at the far end of an underground lake drew them in with the allure of possible wondrous treasure. The cleric and rogue made the trek across the water (the cleric Elsbeth becoming quite water logged in the process) and upon reaching the other side were beset upon by a creature that seemed both serpent and crustacean. It grasped the cleric in its fearsome claws and hefted her up for swift decapitation, but her struggling was enough to ensure that she kept her head. a well placed arrow followed by a precision strike from Iseri’s rapier set the foul beast back to the murky depths from whence it had come!! As the heroes took a moment to recover themselves, they also took the time to investigate the storage locker that had caught their attentions in the first place. Inside they were pleased to discover a healthy sum of gold, a well crafted wooden toy dragon and two vials. The smaller of the 2 was made of crystal and contained a clear liquid the other was a clay flask which contained a cloudy solution. These were identified as potions of levitation and invisibility, but even these marvels paled in comparison to the final item. A beautifully crafted longsword in a crimson scabbard covered in golden scroll work lay at the bottom of the chest. It’s entire design seemed based around a draconic motif and the blade itself bor a dragon’s head spouting a line of flame up to the point of the sword. The ladies divied the gold and potions while Set took possession of the marvelous weapon. Further journeying brought the adventurers to the court of king Fatmouth and his goblin court. Iseri felt the situation would be best handled by a swift kill and attempted to plant a well thrown blade betwixt the goblin’s eyes… only to leave a massive welt when her throw was mis-timed and the handle struck the creature in place of the blade. With a shout, the chamber came alive with battle, which ended when the king’s soldiers were all slain and he was left quivering and begging for his life. The group released him in exchange for hs promise that he not trouble this region again and thus the former king took off like the wind.

Taking a moment to rest and recover, the team set off later that day for a small cliff which led deeper into the ancient fortress. Set was able to use the levitation potion to float to the top and lowered a rope to allow his compatriots an easier climb. Once re-joined, the trio found themselves in an old burial chamber, belonging to ancient warriors of some past king, whose spirits and bodies were still sworn to the defense of the site. Elsbeth took the initiative here, and with the power of Lathander, called forth a burst of holy sunlight from her morningstar, causing two of the undead to be rendered to ash and the third’s arm to burst. Iseri attempted a stroke with her rapier, but the light blade didn’t seem to bother the skeleton in the least and Set was able to use his newly acquired sword to cleave the skeleton in 2. The group continued on through the chamber down 2 flights of stairs into the very depths of the earth and there, they confronted the source of Sandpoint’s misfortunes…..

The young dragon Blackfang had been making its lair in this region, guarding a fair sized hoard and making off with livestock to grow strong. Greatly incensed at being disturbed by a pack of meddlesome would-be heroes, the beast reared up snarled and beckoned them to attack. Set came on first scoring a blow with his sword. The dragon roared in fury and unleashed a gout of vicious acid, that may have relieved the cleric and ranger of the better portions of their skin had they not been nimble enough to avoid it. Elsbeth then used that moment of confusion and pain to invoke a powerful Command spell, engaging the dragon in a battle of wills and forcing it into submission. The group took advantage, Set’s blade was aflame with a marvelous fiery glow and again scored a wound against the beast. Iseri and Elsbeth attempted to aid the ranger, but found that its scales were able to rebuff their non-enchanted weapons. The dragon finally shook off the effects of Elsbeth’s spell and used one of its fearsome claws to tear a massive rent into the ranger’s armor, before cursing the mortals who had wounded it so and fleeing through a crudely fashioned skylight. Their foe departed for now, the party took a moment to rejoice, the town could breathe easier and there was a wonderful little hoard to be divided!

Upon their return to town with the spoils of victory the group was feasted for two days and set up with fine accommodations in addition to their 1000 gold reward. They also received some fine magical items in addition to what they discovered to be a Dragon Bane longsword, which Set now treasured even more highly. Iseri recovered a Ring of Protection to grant her some additional protection from assault, as well as a wand of Magic Missile, a scroll of Fireball and an Energy Heart Gem, a wondrous jewel that was revealed to lessen damage from certain elemental attacks (such as dragon’s breath). Elsbeth gained a magically fortified light steel shield adorned with a silver dragon’s head and a wand of Cure Light Wounds as well as a magic scroll of New Life for future emergencies. There was also a fine suit of half plate armor, but since none of the team could endure such hefty protection well, they sold it to a local museum for its normal cost. The rest of the treasure was divided accordingly and at last the team was able to rest. At least ’til adventure came calling again…


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