Tales of the Dragon Coast: A Forgotten Realms Adventure

Into the Eyes Compound
Another adventure of Zephus Evensun

Immediately upon returning from the Ruins of the Raven’s Watch, Zephus Evensun made ready to journey once again to Westgate. There he reported to Sir Devan Stoutheart of the Order of the Radiant Heart. Sir Devan listened intently as Zephus told of his adventures, and accepted the coded text Zephus had obtained in the ruins. Then Zephus showed Devan the sword he had found. Devan immediately recognized it as the sword of Sir Ovral the Falcon, a knight of the Order generations removed. Upon further research, Devan had found that Ovral had left Athkatla to spread the teachings of the Order but had disappeared years later. Perhaps it was Ovral who founded the Raven’s Watch…

That line of thinking would have to wait, however, as Devan had a much more important task for Zephus. The Eyes of Justice, an organization of Torm worshippers, was already established as the administrators of law and order in Westgate. Ordinarily the Order would be content to serve and support such a group. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the Eyes, Westgate has no law and order. The Order suspected corruption, and sent an operative there soon after their arrival. Now that operative, a Lady Myrna Felsof, has communicated that she has found evidence of that corruption. Zehpus was tasked with retrieving that information as painlessly as possible. He was sent under the cover of working out a diplomatic arrangement with the Eyes on behalf of the Order.

Arriving at the Eyes compound, Zephus found that he was fooling no one. The Eyes leader, Tevar Brightstar, once a promising member of the Order himself, saw right through his actions. Tevar promptly had Zephus jailed. While in jail, Zephus made contact with other prisoners, all former Eyes members. One of these, named Devlin, wished Zephus to lead a revolt of prisoners against Tevar. Another, a surly, unshaven man named Gruf, argued that course would be folly. Luckily Lady Myrna soon arrived with another option: she would escort Zephus to Tevar’s office herself, as if he had decided to reveal his true mission. There the two of them would find the evidence against Tevar and escape. Zephus was eager but Myrna first had to serve her guard shift.
Zephus decided to get some rest before the following days exertions and went to sleep. His rest was interrupted, though, by the clang of a cell door opening. Two guards were roughly extracting Gruf from his cell. As he tried futilely to escape their grip, Gruf shouted out, “You see Zephus! This is what they do to-” before he was knocked unconscious. A bit upset, Zephus still managed to get back to sleep.

In the morning, Myrna arrived as promised. She explained to Zephus where the evidence was hidden in Tevar’s office and then led him out of the cell area at swordpoint. All seemed to be going well until they reached the stairs up to Tevar’s office. The doors ahead opened, and Tevar himself appeared. Beside him was Gruf, who had only been a plant of Tevar’s all along. Myrna made a show of placation by putting her sword to Zephus’ throat, but let him escape at his earliest opportunity. Leaving Myrna to fend for herself, Zephus rushed up the stairs and into Tevar’s office.

Thinking wisely, Zephus first retrieved his sword. Then he scooped up the evidence, a note written by Tevar, but before he could read it Gruf entered the office. Zephus had no time to curse himself for not barring the door as Gruf drew his sword and attacked. After several nasty hits from the Eye, Zephus finally succeeded in incapacitating his foe. Zephus then made his escape by lowering himself to the ground by the downspout. Safely out of the building but not willing to leave Myrna to Tevar’s tender mercies, Zephus sought to enter the compound again. Everywhere he went, though, he found only more alerted Eyes. He was at last able to confirm Myrna’s safety by contacting Devlin through his cell window, and decided the time was right to report back to Devan.

Back at the Order, Sir Devan acted quickly with the note Zephus had brought. It had been written to one Menrar, a known agent of the Cult of the Dragon, regarding payment for looking the other way on Cult crimes. Devan rushed it to the City Council which happened to be in session. He told Zephus it would be several hours before they could move on the compound, and it would be best to rest. Zephus did so, despite his desire to settle matters with Tevar.

Several hours later, Devan awakened Zephus and they traveled to the Eyes compound with a full contingent of Order knights. Devan told Zephus to free the prisoners, and so he returned to the cells from which he had recently been liberated. There he found a badly shaken Lady Myrna. Before escape could be rendered, however, a bitter and ruined Tevar leaped out at Zephus. Snarling and cursing the Order, he attacked. Despite Tevar’s greater skill and experience, Zephus easily outmatched the Eyes leader. He was perhaps aided by the sword of Ovral the Falcon, which seemed angered by the treacherous and traitorous Tevar. It shone out with a blue light, and sheared right through Tevar’s parry and into his shoulder.

Back again at the Order headquarters, Devan congratulated Zephus on a job well done. He had successfully uncovered the corruption of the Eyes of Justice and avoided any loss of life. For this Devan awarded Zephus with the rank of initiate of the Order of the Radiant Heart, along with the cloak of Torm that went along with it. Devan also told Zephus that Menrar, whom Tevar had been corresponding with, was based out of an estate on the outskirts of Sandpoint, in case Zephus wished to investigate further. Before Zephus could leave to rejoin his friends, Lady Myrna found him and awarded him a suit of full plate in gratitude for saving her life from the vengeance of Tevar. All in a day’s work for a paladin of Torm…

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Into the Labyrinth
Sacrilege on hallowed ground!!

Continuing deeper into the lighthouse’s inner sanctum the heroes found themselves confronted by a massive stone wall that stretched clean up to the ceiling. With only one mode of entrance available, the team found themselves in what appeared to be a maze, designed to deter any who would seek to make their way to Bayard’s mausoleum. It proved to be a quiet trek for the most part. Iseri exhibited an almost paranoid caution in being mindful for traps and snares, managing to locate and disarm a pit trap in an otherwise plain room and a saw blade in a dead end passage. One room was covered in ancient hieroglyphics that appeared to detail a Lathrandran priest’s journey into the afterlife. A particularly strange carving represented a man crossing a suspended bridge upside down on his hands. The team pondered what this could mean, but were unable to make a consensus on the matter. Coming to another portion of the maze led to a 40 ft. long gap which contained a sharp drop to some nasty looking spikes below. Elsbeth used a Light spell on one of Set’s arrows to determine if there was perhaps a release for a bridge on the other side, but the only thing there looked to be a lever. Set suggested that Iseri swing across with a grappling hook, but the ceiling provided no safe place for the elf the get a purchase with her hook. Deciding to re-examine the glyph room again for clues, the rogue was able to locate a small, circular switch hidden in a sun motif. A rumbling noise could be heard, followed by the sound of something dropping from the direction of the bridge echoing through the chamber.

The switch had opened a previously unknown passage. The heroes milled about hesitating on marching order and were greeted by a rumbling voice “Hurry up and come inside before you let a draft in!!” Moving down a narrow passage as the door closed behind them, the explorers soon came face to face with a towering Cyclops!! Sitting casually and stirring a stew of some kind, the creature introduced himself as Kytos and bade the heroes join him for some supper. Though uneasy at first, things became more amicable as the Cyclops talked at length of himself and inquired of the heroes as to their own story. Kytos had been a friend of Bayard during his days amongst the living and now served as a caretaker of sorts for the labyrinth. He also warned that the adventurers were not the first to pass through this way and that Kytos had caught the scent of goblins and lycanthropes. To aid the heroes in exchange for driving the interlopers away, the creature enchanted their weapons with a strange substance known as pseudo-silver, stating that such stuff would make were-creatures easier to slay. After a pleasant good bye, the team came back to the pit, where a primitive set of monkey bars allowed Iseri to cross over to the other side of the bridge and raise a platform for her less agile friends. Travelling up a winding path brought the team into conflict with a magically un-disarm able dart trap, but Iseri and Nero proved able to trigger it without being made into pin cushions and then guiding their allies through. At the other side of the pass, Iseri was able to stealthily spy on a small camp of hobgoblins, led by an ogre known as captain Regnath. They wore primitive armor that carried the Zhentarim mark and appeared to be engaging in food & song. Iseri hoped to gain a fast kill with the use of a fireball scroll, but a lack of magical talent caused the spell to fizzle and the hobgoblins to be alerted to their presence. Shrieking and bellowing brought the beginnings of a fierce battle. These goblins proved to be far tougher than their lesser kindred and Regnath bore a wicked club that may as well have been a tree pulled straight from the earth. More than once did Elsbeth have to heal her compatriots after a blow from Regnath’s club, but through strategy and a few vicious strikes of their own the team managed to beat back the crude mercenaries. Regnath himself fell to a Command spell followed by a vicious beating. The heroes then took the opportunity to camp out in relative safety in Kytos’ chamber, who was impressed after hearing of their trial.

A night’s rest brought healing and energy and the group decided to finish their exploration of the labyrinth. Moving past the goblin campsite, the heroes came to a triangular shaped chamber which contained three globe sized orbs filled with an unstable looking red energy. Iseri sensed no trap so she and Sumak went ahead. The room then sealed shut and a statue of an Imp holding an hourglass timer began the countdown to what seemed certain doom!! Iseri searched and could find no mechanisms for release, no secret pass leading out, no hope of escape!!! Deciding to give herself more time, the rogue used her crossbow to shatter the hourglass, which turned out to be the key to passing the room! Passing beyond this room, the group came to a chamber flooded with the same golden light as given off by the shrine at the upper level. Here they found Bayard’s lost crypt and three others. A tall, lanky man with long greasy black hair and a squat, balding rat like fellow searching the hierophant’s crypt for valuables. A short distance from them was a man in black full plate armor, richly enameled busting open a curio cabinet with a ferocious looking two-handed Morningstar in the shape of a holy symbol of Bane. He wore the vestments of a Banite priest over his armor and a blood red cloak. His entire presence carried an aura of something foul and he greeted the troupe in a smarmy, condescending fashion. “So these are the heroes of that pitiful beach side hovel?” he sneered. “I’d heard there was a Tormish knight amid your ranks as well. Did I scare him off? What a pity. I was looking forward to cracking his skull like a walnut!!” The group quickly tired of the evil knight’s theatrics, but he escaped their wrath via a teleportation spell. His subservients, Berbycus and Jolch, revealed themselves as a Werewolf and Wererat and thought to slay the team. Thankfully, the pseudo-silver provided by Kytos helped to overcome their natural strength and Sumak’s smiting power laid the beasts to rest. Following the battle, the group explored the main burial chamber and while reading the cleric’s epitaph inscribed on a golden tablet, Elsbeth was granted a vision. The saint appeared and informed her that the ones who desecrated his burial site were not there for treasure, but for his ashes. More important though was the urn that held his remains, as it was made of Orichalcum a material like unto Mithral, but as of gold in appearance, three times as rare and highly sought after for use in powerful magical rituals. The saint could not begin to guess for what use they intended of his urn, but feared the worst. To aid the heroes he directed them to a secret compartment in the base of his tomb that held a full account of his journeys with the heroes of the Silver Company that could be used to aid the people of Sandpoint.

Kytos appeared via a secret passage at this point and after a final moment’s respect for his friend Bayard, decided to leave the solitude of the lighthouse and aid in the retribution against those who would defile his friend’s resting place (not to mention he was also out of dried vegetables!) The people of Sandpoint were wary when the heroes returned, but Kytos was able to assure that he meant no threat. Abbot Zantus was able to provide a healthy sum of gold and identified Elsbeth’s bracers as part of a suit of armor once owned by Bayard! With a secret ritual he was able to unlock their full power and informed Elsbeth that he would write to fellow members of the church of Lathander to see if their histories contained any more knowledge of other pieces of Bayard’s gear. In private, he also told Elsbeth that he wished her and Sumak to join him in the re-birth of the militant arm of Lathander’s church for this region and to serve as emissaries to other such temples to gather other willing fighters. He also offered to take up Elsbeth as a student and train her further in the ways of divine magic at a later time should she wish it. Finally Zantus requested that he be allowed to peruse Bayard’s journals, stating that he would outline any pertinent information and help give the Sandpoint adventurers a place to start in what was looking to be the beginning of a long and dangerous journey!!

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The Quest of the Hierophant's Hold
The Plot Thickens!

Following their return to Sandpoint, Iseri and Sumak took some time to update their friends on their latest travails. A short 4 day rest allowed them time to rest and refine themselves in the manner as their peers had done. Iseri continued to invest her time and energy in a better understanding of the larcenist trade and Sumak devoted himself to combat training to be more mindful of holes in his defenses. Lathander also extended further blessings to his chosen soldier, proofing him against fear, bolstering his constitution against supernatural afflictions and vastly improving his healing powers, as well as giving him the mercy of removing the shaken status from those cursed by other worldly fear.

After time had passed, the team was approached by the abbot of the Sandpoint temple of Lathander, Abstalar Zantus. He had come to beg the favor of the mighty heroes in investigating a vision granted to him by St. Bayard the Blessed, a great saint in the Morninglord’s Church whose final resting place lay underneath an old lighthouse at the outskirts of the town. The abbot explained that Bayard had appeared to him in a dream-vision, wherein he warned that dark forces were seeking to commit an act of sacrilege against his hold and that they must be stopped in order to avoid an even greater catastrophe to come in the future. Sumak and Elsbeth felt naturally inclined to go in defense of their patron god. The abbot promised to find a suitable reward for the others and provided them with the keys to enter the lighthouse grounds. As they prepared to leave, Zantus urged them to gird themselves well for battle, knowing that whatever could draw the attention of spirits from the after-life must be of a fell nature indeed!

A half day’s journey brought the team to the lighthouse around afternoon. Upon entering they saw they had 2 choices, to either travel up to the height of the tower or to travel down and further inwards. Attempting to detect evil, Sumak could sense no immediate threat, but found that an unpleasant tingling sensation would not leave the back of his head. The group chose to travel down and after a careful trek through a dark, narrow hallway, found themselves at a juncture between 2 doors. One was made of round stone and possessed a mosaic of Bayard which looked back at them. It seemed to roll back, but not one of them was able to move it, even the mighty half-orc. The other door was opened with the aid of Zantus’ keys. This appeared to be a sort of common area, with braziers positioned around the room to provide light. Another mosaic of Bayard graced the central floor here. Taking time to carefully search, the group found that this place was treated as both a shrine and sort of historical landmark. A back room contained a reproduction of the study where the cleric spent a great deal of his time working against the machinations of the evil lich Szass Tam of Thay. They also located a small kitchen area where the maintenance crew for the place usually dined, in addition to a small chapel to Lathander and the saint’s private meditation quarters. Searching carefully, the team located a prophecy penned by Bayard predicting the rise of what Iseri suspected to be a draco-lich, while the chapel held censers filled with blessed oil. Elsbeth recognized the substance from her training days and realized that it could only be lit by use of a Light spell. Testing her assumption filled the room with brilliant golden light that made the coals of the braziers appear dim in comparison. Pocketing a flask of oil and leaving a hefty donation to the church in exchange, the team continued their searching. Iseri struck pay dirt when she uncovered a secret pull switch in Bayard’s main desk which opened a secret passage in the meditation room leading deeper into the hierophant’s sanctum. Set nearly wound up rolling down the steps at this discovery, but quick thinking and lightning reflexes saved him a trip!

Deciding to explore the upper expanse before moving deeper below, the group again puzzled at the mosaic door and how to open it. The 2 rogues were unable to devise any kind of mechanism and seeing no other option, Sumak appealed to Lathander for guidance. A soft voice whispered into the paladin’s mind, telling him that only by releasing the power of one’s inner light could the chamber be accessed. Thinking on this, Elsbeth tried casting a Light spell on the door, but to no avail, it remained shut. Journeying up the stairs, the group came to the top of the house, which ended in a three pronged terrace which looked out upon the shining sea. The 2 side prongs merely functioned as viewing ports, but the central platform housed a very precious relic indeed! A wide, round well shaped structure made of smooth gold, covered in celestial runes known as the Well of the Sun. As a cauldron would be to an arcane spell caster, such was this tool to Bayard. It greatly amplified his naturally impressive healing abilities and also allowed him to cast mighty defensive wards upon the town in times of war. Thinking on the words that Sumak had heard, Elsbeth filled the well with oil and cast her Light spell again. The runes came ablaze in an other-worldly glow and a blinding flash exploded from the chamber. Far below, a rumbling could be heard…

Going to investigate, the team found the mosaic door had swung back revealing a small room with three odd chests made of alabaster and polished brass. Inside 2 were a small fortune in gold and precious stones, while the third held far more interesting things. Elsbeth was given a beautiful pair of gold and steel vambraces which were covered in a sun based motif inlaid with red garnet stones. Strapping them on, the cleric felt a rush of divine energy but couldn’t place the exact nature of the effect. Nero came across an unusual pair of old leather shoes. Sumak thought to try them on, but was shocked as they began to protest mightily to being placed onto such large (and poorly kept) feet. They begged to be given Iseri’s dainty toes as their new living space, but the rogue was hesitant to wear such talkative footwear. In the end, Nero stored them in his pack to chatter away at one another while they determined what to do with them. Finally, Set uncovered a vial of what Elsbeth determined to be Dust of Illusion, which the ranger eagerly pocketed for later use.

Deciding to continue downward, the team passed across a row of sarcophagi, passing them lead to a narrow bridge which over looked a large chasm. Feeling emboldened by the relative safety of upper levels, Set plunged forward without light or caution and soon found himself at the mercy of a very unexpected person. A massive creature, with the body of a hulking brute and the head of a ferocious bull snarled and swung at the ranger with a lethal great-axe. The blade cut a massive rent into Set’s armor and flung him back, bleeding profusely. Deciding again on discretion being the better part of valor, the ranger pulled back and drew up his bow, while the rest of the team flanked him. Set launched an arrow straight into the creature’s chest, but it scarcely seemed more than irritated at the wound. Sumak and Elsbeth mended their companion’s wound while Sumak took to the front guard to engage the beast, calling on the Morninglord’s aid to strike down the foe. The Minotaur also took this time to invoke it’s own unique powers and summoned a crew of 6 burning skeletons with scimitars and longbows to back him up. Elsbeth proved the specialist in this case. Invoking the power of her god, a brilliant burst of light erupted from her morningstar, while her new bracers also shone with light. Half of the skeletons were immobilized by the fearsome light rays as they ripped through their corrupt physical substance. The others tried their best to back up the beast that summoned them, but found themselves unable to slow the heroes after such a heavy dose of divine wrath!! Iseri and Nero easily managed to take out 2 skeletons while Sumak wrestled with the bridge guardian, though even with his great strength, he had trouble competing against such a foe. A second blast from Elsbeth polished off the undead rear guard, and a successful Command spell left the minotaur virtually helpless as the team quickly surrounded it and pounded him bloody, before Elsbeth summoned a spiritual mace composed of magical force to stove in its head. Seeing nothing else of use on the body and the weapons of the skeletons having being immolated on their second deaths, the team crossed the bridge and prepared to travel deeper into the complex…

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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.

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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?

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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?

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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…

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Meanwhile...
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.

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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…

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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….

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