Stolen Paradox

Session 10
Time Loop Heroics

Ruby and Kalenthor, already having scaled the rope, were too slow to react as the two drow warriors raised hand crossbows loaded with poisoned bolts. Both adventures took a bolt to the gut, which then knocked them unconscious. The Matron Mother, angry that her plans were being interrupted, called upon the Spider Queen to send one of its agents to stop the intruders. A fearsome Yochlol materialized into being directly in front of Jord and brutally pounded the warrior into submission before dragging him the rest of the way off the window ledge. The drow wizard then reacted next and quickly made his way over to the ledge so see Cage and Maxim dangled on the rope. The wizard then gave a cruel grin and cast a lightning bolt spell straight down on top of them.

The jolt of electricity coursed through both of their bodies, leaving them barely alive. Cage could see Maxim’s grip on the rope slipping as his body convulsed from the electrical damage done to his body. He the soldier were to lose his grip, the fall would certainly finish him off. He then looked back up at the wizard as the drow began to weave another spell together. In order for the drow to have reached the window, it meant that something terrible had happened to Jord as well as Ruby and Kalenthor. Their plan to save Talthar had gone horribly wrong because of bad luck and he was about to be next.

The halfling then remembered that he was in possession of the Time Tear and could use it to avoid the fate he and the rest of the group had experienced. With one free hand, the halfling paladin pulled out the blue rock and concentrated back an hour to just before they were leaving their hideout to assault the mansion. He would need to convince his friends not to go and find some other way of saving Talthar.

Upon enacting the Time Tear, the world simply stopped and restarted within the blink of an eye. There was no fancy array of colors of blending of perception. Cage simply found himself back in his body at the hideout with the rest of the group heading out the door. The disorientation made the little man’s stomach churn, but he pushed the feeling aside and told the group to stop. When they looked at him curiously, he decided to just press forward and explain what happen.

When Cage was done retelling the failed assault, the group was confused, but they all knew that this would happen when time travel was involved. They accepted the paladin’s word as fact and then delved into further discussion about what to do about Talthar without a direct assault. After a long shouting match, it was finally decided that Ruby would go into the mansion alone, but under an invisibility spell. She would then use a bucket of water on the ground, activate the bone portal key and drag Talthar in before the drow could react. Without any other options other than leaving, Ruby finally agreed and headed out to the mansion once more.

Sneaking her way past the guards, Ruby made her way into the ballroom to find the four drow talking to one another while Talthar was quietly standing beside them. The rogue snuck up to standing directly behind the man before setting the bucket of water she was carrying, careful not spill any water or make any sound. She then put a foot in the bucket and then put the portal key in one hand. After a breath to relax herself, she activated the portal and then grabbed Talthar by the back of his shirt.

Now that she was visible, the drow reacted quickly to the situation. The two warriors pulled their swords and made two swings a piece at the gnome, but only scored light cuts along her outstretched arm. The wizard then cast a spell to try and blast her into oblivion, but Ruby dodged the witch bolt. The priestess then called out to the Spider Queen and the Yochlol answered her summon. The hideous melted appearance of the demon appeared and attacked, scoring only one hit across Ruby’s back, but still the gnome held her ground.

The portal finally finished forming and pulled Ruby down as she held onto Talthar, pulling the man into the portal with her. As the two came out the other side, they found themselves in the portal room within the Krast’amar tower and the rest of the group waiting. Kalenthor was quick to react, taking the finger bone portal key from Ruby and reactivated the portal with the runes of Sword Crown before the drow could pursue them. The portal closed and then reopened to reveal a new unknown location. Without waiting for the army to come to the tower, the group quickly made their way into the portal.

Emerging from the other portal, the group found themselves standing at the top of a hill surrounded by trees and lush green grass. Surrounding them was blue oceans and a string of islands as well as a large city and castle built into the side of the high reaching hills. Cage recalled that the location seemed similar to Caer Callidyrr in the Moonshae Isles, but he wasn’t certain.

The group then turned their attention to Talthar, who thanked them for rescuing him from the drow. When asked why he was specficially being sacrificed, he said he didn’t know, but Ruby was able to see through the lie. Something about the man was off and he was certainly keeping a secret that he didn’t want to share.

Session 9
Finding the Sacrifice

Knowing that they were in no condition to press on looking for Talthar, the group held up in an abandoned ruined building within the southern edge of Krast’amar for the day. While resting, they discussed what to do next. After a long discussion, it was agreed that they would try and find Talthar by stealth and then break him out without getting spotted. The hope was to do so without getting caught so they coudl sneak in and out without having to fight the entire Shadovar army. If they could, then they would make flight to New Tilverton as fast as they could to deliver the son and then warn Cormyr of the impending invasion.

When the group was finally well rested, it was nighttime again in Krast’amar. The moonlight was shining down onto the training field at the center of the city where drow and shade orcs continued their drills for the upcoming war. Relying on stealth, the group made a wide track around the training field to investigate the northern portion of the city. Once they were past the field, they began looking around for more clues about what was going on and where Talthar might be located. It was during their search that Kalenthor and Jord stumbled into a patrol of two orcs and a drow.

The battle was swift and brutal as the patrol was lax in their awareness having never encountered anything dangerous within Krast’amar during their stay. When the fighting was over, only the drow warrior was left living by the group. A few moments later, when it was apparent that no one else heard the sounds of their combat, the group dragged the wounded drow into an abandoned building and began questioning him about what was going on.

After some convincing, the drow explained to the group that Matron Mother Sirta of House Zivaar were the ones camped in Krast’amar and were responsible for kidnapping Talthar. The Matron Mother’s goal was to sacrifice the man for some greater purpose that he doesn’t know. He then told them that Talthar was being kept at the mansion on the northern edge of the city.

With the information gained, the group left the drow tied up and headed north to the mansion. Once it was in sight, Ruby snuck off to case the building and look for clues. She noticed the front garden area was filled with soldiers in formation as if they were undergoing inspection. On the first floor of the mansion she found a few drow moving about hastily as if preparing for something important. On the second floor she noticed a ballroom that held four drow as well as a human man. Guessing that the man was Talthar, she quickly left and headed back to the group to tell them what she found.

Fearing that the sacrifice was about to begin, the group quickly made their way to the mansion, making a long loop around to the back side of the building so they could scale the back wall and access the ballroom directly in order to avoid the soldiers out front. Yet, as they tried to sneak inside, Jord’s armor scrapped against the edge of the window and alerted the drow to the group’s presence. With Ruby and Kalenthor already inside and Maxim and Cage still on the rope, the adventures found themselves in a compromising situation.

Session 8
Veiled War Machine

Standing upon the green fields surrounding the ruined city that spanned a giant river, the halfling pondered for a long moment as to where the group actually ended up. It was the massive tall bridges that stretched across the river that finally unlocked the knowledge: the group was at the fabled fallen city of Zhentil Keep. Destroyed almost a century ago by the Shadovar for conspiring with phaerimm, the city was now mostly empty save for a few roving abominations and some sort of group inhabiting the portion of the city on the south side of the river with schooners and a few small frigates.

Using a fishing boat they found on the north side, the group made their way across the river to investigate the activity on the south side. Much to their surprise, they found a band of pirates calling themselves the Black Moon Brotherhood had taken up residence. They had turned the ruined city into a sort of pirate haven to sell and trade goods captures on the Moonsea. Not wanting to get entangled with pirates, the group decided against entering the haven and stayed at the edge of the river to discuss their next course of action. After a long discussion, they decided to use the bone portal key to travel back to Krast’amar to finally finish the original quest that had started their adventure.

Using the river as their source of water, the group stepped through the portal and found themselves once again in the familiar portal room and the bodies of the dead captives they could not save from the shade orcs. Jord noticed that there was one key difference about the scene, there was a set of overly large bloody footprints that navigated the carnage to the exit. Curious as to who or what it was that arrived, the group followed the tracks to the torture room at the end of the hall. They then led up to a wall and just stopped. Convinced that there was something more to the wall, Ruby made a closer inspection of the rough nature stone wall and found a catch that opened a secret door.

Beyond the door was a hallway unlike the series of rooms and hall behind them. This passage was or a finely worked stone blocks. Along the center at about chest height for an elf was a band of black and gold roughly a foot in width. At the center of the band was an old Elvish script. Upon closer inspection, Kalenthor began reading and much to his surprise, determined that the script was the Lisastril, an epic writing that retold the story of the Crown Wars.

Stretching down the full length of the hallway, the story told of the five civil wars between the drow and the high elves and how the drow were eventually driven underground more than 13,000 years ago. The story came to an end at a large set of double silver doors with gold embossed image of two elves locked in combat. Curious as to where the door led to, the group cautiously opened the door.

Beyond the door they found a massive cavern roughly a mile long that held a city with a dome roof that was fully painted with a mosaic of the Crown Wars. At the center of the dome was a crack that led out into the night sky of the Stonelands. The group then realized that the large rock they saw earlier from the tower was actually a dome cover for the city they were now standing in. From their end of the city, they found the most ruined portion with most of the building collapsed and unusable. Beyond, however, they could see and hear activity that announced the presence of someone living in the city.

THe group began their investigation, using the ruins to hide their presence. They decided to head towards a pulsing red glow to their left and found an open forge where four shade orcs were crafting weapons and armor. Assisting them were several slaves in chains. Not wanting to alert the orcs to their presence, the group left them alone and continued their investigation, finding several other workstations such as leatherworks, food, and some form of engineering, all of them worked by shade orcs with slave assistance. At the far right side of the ruins the group found the slave quarters that were mostly with the exception of a few slaves that appeared to be sick.

The realization that they handed stumbled onto a large problem, the group began to piece together that this city was housing something akin to an invasion army and the nearest target was Cormyr. Their fears were then realized as they pressed forward towards the center of the ruins beneath the large crack in the dome. This area was void of any buildings, apparently having been completely by whatever caused the crack. The open field now held a training field spanning the entire width of the city. At each end of the field was a massive column thirty feet high and roughly twenty feet around. Massive six foot long chain links hung from the top and ended at manacle that could encompass more than five men. Upon the field itself where shade orcs practiced formations and swordplay under the watchful eye of drow instructors.

The quest to find Talthar Everstone had uncovered something much larger than the group anticipated, but also left them with even more questions. Why was Talthar captured to begin with and why was he singled out? Why were the drow helping orcs and using magical items developed by the Shadovar? Why did they have shackles that were large enough to hold a dragon? Not having answers to these questions and with their bone portal key in need of recharging and thus no means of a quick escape, the group pulled back to ponder their next move.

Session 7
Time Tears

Once safely back in New Tilverton, the adventurers took a much needed break from their travels to recover and restock their supplies. Ruby headed off to Walthis Everstone to give him some money, while Maxim used his new found gold to purchase a small plot of land and began construction of a shrine to Tempus.

Kalenthor, meanwhile, began researching the finger bone portal key in hopes of figuring out different locations that it could lead to. Over the course of the day, he goes through several locations that lead across the entire breadth of Faerun, but none of them seem to be linked to the location of Talthar Everstone. Frustrated that he hasn’t found anything useful, he storms out of the library for a much needed drink.

At the tavern he runs into Ruby who is nursing a drink of her own. She asks him how his research was going and Kalenthor explained that it would take several tendays to research all of the possible locations. He then also lets it slip that doing the book work was tedious and boring and that what he really wanted to do was go to the places instead as it would be quicker than deciphering the runes. Not able to resist a chance of exciting adventure, Ruby agrees.

The next day, the group gathers together and Kalenthor explains to the group that they will be physically checking on the locations to save time. Jord, Maxim, and Cage are curious as to the change in plan, but decide to go along with the idea. When asked what location they should go to first, Maxim picks to runes at random and opens the portal.

When the group steps out of the portal, they found themselves in a ruined building of black stone. The sky was dark and a storm was brewing above their heads and the wind howled fiercely. As the group began to look around to try and figure out where they were, Ruby decided to climb up to the top of the building to get a layout of the area. What she found was a walled city that sat on the north and south sides of a large river. The north side where she was looked abandoned and completely in ruin. On the south side of the river was another ruined city, but there were also a few ships moored at the docks and lights could be seen in some parts of the city.

Ruby climbed her way back down and told the group of her findings. Still not sure where they were, they decided to explore the area. Kalenthor started with a Detect magic spell to see if anything interesting came into view. As he scanned over the area, he spotted something glowing across the street.

The group carefully made their way down the street to the glow and found the body of a half drow woman dressed in dark leathers. Something on her person was giving off the glow and upon further examination, they found a blue stone no larger than an orange that gave off. a mixture of Transmutation and Divination magic.

Before they could investigate further, a creature attacked from the shadows. It was medium sized green bodied creature that was roughly in a cone shape with several thin and bony legs and four spinally arms. Where the head should have been was just a large maw filled with rows of sharp teeth. It went for Jord first, raking him with claws and taking a bite out of his arm. Jord countered with a swipe of his axe. The battle was then joined as Maxim cast spiritual weapon to aid them while Ruby fired off an arrow. Kalenthor tried to use acid, but the creature resisted the magic.

WIth pain in his arm from the bite, Jord was unable to score a hit with his second swing as the creature pulled back. It then opened its large mouth and spewed a shadow laced fire over Jord and Maxim, burning them both and setting them ablaze. Unrelenting, Maxim swung his sword and missed, but opened up a flank attack for his spiritual hammer to strike true. The creature howled in pain, giving Maxim time to make a second swing, this time stabbed the creature in the body. Ruby then scored hit with her arrow, while Kalenthor decided to switch to more punishing magic and let loose a swarm of magic missiles.

With the battle in full swing, the group pressed harder, scoring several hits from blade, arrow and magic missiles. The creature tried to breathe another cloud of shadow fire catching only Jord, but it was enough to knock him to the ground. While Maxim focused on healing his fallen companion, Ruby and Kalenthor both focused fire on the creature with arrows and magic missiles until it finally dropped to the ground dead.

WIth the battle over, the group took a moment to catch their breath from the near death experience. Kalenthor then explained that the creature was a phaerimm, an aberration that came to Faerun about the same time as the Shadow Enclave. They were magical creatures known to be able to lay wastes to scores of soldiers. That said, the one they encountered must have been a child at best for them to have survived.

Not wanting to stick around for another of the phaerimm to show up, the group quickly departed after Maxim grabbe the dead half drow’s pack. Upon returning to the portal pool, Kalenthor went about fully identifying the stone. When he was finished, he discovered that it was called a Time Tear and that it held the power to rewind time for the wielder. Awed by the power the item held, he told the group what it was. At the same time, Maxim was busy looking through the pack of the dead half drow to find some loose coins and a silver holy symbol. When he held it up into the moon light, he saw that it was a circle with an hourglass. It was a holy symbol for the god of time, Kurstan.

Session 6
Unwanted Pregnacy

The group looked to one another as the horror of their situation settled upon their minds. Ruby and Kalenthor were impregnated by the slaad and the mage’s extensive but scattered memories could not recall what the solution to their problem was. It wasn’t until Cage remembered reading that slaad all had a gem buried deep within their brains that allowed a wielder to control them. Jord then pointed out that there were tracks of a slaad that attacked the caravan. Without the gem, Ruby and Kalenthor would surely die a horrible death within six hours.

Now with a mission at hand, the group prepared to set out to track down their only hope. First they went to the captives and sent them back to New Tilverton, promising them that the rest of the half day trip should be clear of monsters. The group then set off back into the Stonelands.

Their travels took them to a ravine five hours later where they found the red slaad busy consuming the remains of some sort of animal. Feeling nauseous, Ruby and Kalenthor insisted that the group hurry and get the gem as the time was coming.

With no attempts at being stealthy, the slaad noticed the groups approach and charge. While it covered the distance, Ruby took cover and fired off an arrow, while Jord and Maxim charged to meet the abomination head on. Jord hit the slaad with his axe, but not before it was able to strike Maxim with his infectious claws and then biting Cage with his large maw. Kalenthor then splashed the creature with acid, only to find that it had an inherent resistance to magic. Cage, on the other hand, found that his divine smite worked just fine and struck a mighty blow.

Switching tactics, Kalenthor picked up a crossbow and shot the slaad in the neck, but still did not topple the abomination. The rest of the group went to work, Jord and Maxime slashes away more flesh, while Ruby sunk an arrow into its thigh. Cage then called upon Mystra once again and smited the slaad chest. It raised its head and screamed at the sky, providing Ruby an open opportunity to put an arrow into its exposed chest, dropping it to the ground mortally wounded.

Without wasting any more precious time, Maxim quickly went to work to remove the control gem from the slaad’s head. Just as he started to crack the skull, Cage pointed out to the cleric that in order for this to work, the slaad needed to remain alive for the process. Now needing to be more precise, Maxim went to work carefully slicing opening the skull and prodding around for the gem. Seven minutes later, he carefully extracted the control gem from the brain and gave a big grin.

With their salvation in hand he tried to use the gem, but nothing happened. Kalenthor, now feeling the baby slaad inside him starting to move around, pointed out that it might be a magical item and Maxim needed to attune to it first. And so the group waited for an hour as the magic between item and user conjoined. Meanwhile Ruby and Kalenthor grew steadily worse.

When the attunement was complete, Maxim opened his eyes to see Kalenthor and Ruby both lying down and screaming in pain as their bellies were extended and moving as something inside them tried desperately to get free. Without wasting any more time, the cleric of Tempus raised the control gem and ordered the baby slaad inside of them to die. The movement in their bellies ceased and the two patients gave a sigh of relief.

WIth the crisis over, the adult slaad finally stirred from its near death experience as its body finally repaired the damage done to it from the fight with the adventurers. Quick on his feet, Maxim used the control gem to take control over the slaad and asked it what it was doing here. It responded that it was here to cause chaos. The group discussed the possibility of using a slaad slave to help them in Krast’amar, but ultimately decided that such a creature was better destroyed than kept around.

Since Maxim held the control gem, the slaad could do nothing as the group executed it. When the deed was done and its source dead, the control gem crumbled to dust.

Session 5
Escaping Krast'amar

The group rushed down the stairwell to the portal room realizing their possible mistake. Their fears were confirmed when they could hear the screams of the dying on the other side. A quick check of the door revealed that the captives had blockaded the door to prevent discovery from a normal patrol. Now it was their doom as it prevented their rescue.

A haze came over Jord’s eyes as he realized the situation at hand, “Not again!” he cried out and brought his axe down on the oaken door. He cried out again as he swung a second time and then a third time. The rest of the group watched in confusion as the burly fighter tore the door away piece by piece until enough of the door was broken that Maxim could push a crate out of the way so the door could open.

The room was more of a slaughterhouse than a portal. Eight orcs were gleefully slaughtering captives as fast as they could catch them. Without wasting a moment, the adventurers charged the room to try and stop the orcs as fast as they could. The battle would prove to be their toughest test yet.

The first seconds into the combat saw half the orcs take notice of the group and move to engage them in combat, while the remaining ones were still lost in the bloodlust of killing three captives. Even Jord was lost in his haze of remembrance and left his defense at the door as he took hit after hit from the orcs until he could feel his legs getting weak from blood loss. He was then forces to back off for a moment to consume a precious healing potion to stop the bloodletting. The rest of the converged around their teammate and pushed the orc line back, while an arrow from Ruby at the entrance dropped an orc trying to creep up on Jord from behind.

Realizing that he needed his shield if he didn’t want to die himself, Jord drew his sword and shield and charged back into combat. The group pushed the orcs back, now commanding their full attention. Cage dropped a second orc with his pick while Ruby picked off a third with an arrow. Yet, the remaining five surged forward at Jord, seeing him as the weak point in the group. Their combined assault pierced his defenses and a solid hit from an axe knocked him unconscious.

With their friend down, Maxim immediately reacts and calls upon Tempus to spare his soul from the afterlife. Yet, in doing so, he wasn’t quick enough to protect himself from the group of orcs who turned on him next with their axes. Their savage brutality stopped the cleric in his tracks and he quickly fell to the ground. Seeing his comrade fall, Cage surged forward with his pick held high to try and save Maxim. Ruby was quick with her bow and dropped an orc that was coming up on the halflings flank, killing him. Yet, she wasn’t fast enough on the reload to stop the second one as it rushed in and buried its axe into the paladin’s stomach, dropping him as well.

WIth only Ruby and Kalenthor left verse the remaining orcs, Kalenthor quickly casts a spray of acid before rushing into the room with his quarterstaff at the ready. Surprised by the wizard charging them, they were not looking at Ruby as she drew down on the orcs and let loose a flurry of arrows, dropping the last ones.

With the battle over, the two were quick to use a healing potion to revive Maxim, who then used his divine magic to heal Cage and Jord. The group then assessed the damage. Out of the forty five captives they rescued, only twenty seven remained. Their mission to save Talthar was now forced into a secondary concern. The living captives needed to be taken out of Krast’amar, but the question was now how to do that.

As they discussed, Ruby’s eyes got wide as she saw a demonic looking hand come out from the portal and grab the ledge. The gnome quickly rushed over and began stomping on it and yelling for whatever it was to go away. The hand then retreated, but replaced by a pair of massively large antlers. Thinking quickly, Kalenthor drew the finger bone portal key and chose two runes at random; Earth and Sword, to activate the portal in hopes that it would close the current one.

The trick worked and the portal closed on the antlers, slicing them off and reopening to an unknown location. Hoping that the portal would lead to someplace helpful, Kalenthor stepped through the portal to see what was on the other side. As he reappeared, he found himself standing in a large dome-like structure with open walls and elvish script edged into the stone. The elf then moved to the edge of the building and saw the sprawling magnificent city of Evereska. The elven city was far from where the group wanted to go. Also, the city was currently in the middle of a siege by drow and shadovar. Not waiting to be discovered, Kalenthor quickly retreated back through portal to Krast’amar.

With the portal not helpful and the portal key needing time to recharge, the group decided to escape by conventional means. They lead the captives up the stairs to the tower and then used rope to climb down to the ground of the Stonelands. Once everyone was out, Jord used the stars to figure out where they were and picked the southeast direction to begin walking.

At midday of the second day of travel, the group was ambushed by an owlbear looking for an easy lunch. The group was quick to react, striking the owlbear fast and hard. The beast was only to take a swipe at Jord and Maxim before succumbing to its injuries. The group then spent some time carving up the owlbear for meat to feed the many captives.

After another two days of travel, the group spots a column of dark smoke in the distance. Ruby volunteers to scout the area to find out what is going on. What she finds is a caravan currently on fire and twelve dead bodies spread out over the area. In particular, several of the bodies show that they died from something exploding out of their chest. The gnome then makes her way back to the group and reports her findings.

The group agrees to go and investigate further while Cage looks after the captives. Maxim takes a look over the wagons, finding a few items here and there, but nothing of real note. Kalenthor, meanwhile, takes a look the off chest wounds and surmises that the people died from slaad, an aberrant transdimensional frog-looking humanoid with the ability to shapechange. Jord then calls out that he found some tracks of creatures with four toes, which Kalenthor thinks could be the creatures. During their investigation, the group was attacked by multiple slaad tadpoles.

No large than a small cat, the fleshy slug looking creatures with a mouth of sharp teeth, the tadpole launched themselves with reckless abandon at the adventurers. All of the group except Maxim takes a bite from the slaad tadpoles, which then attach themselves and begin trying to burrow their way into the bodies. Unable to contend with the pain from two tadpoles, Kalenthor crumbles to the ground.

Maxim is quick to heal Kalenthor, while Jord moves over and starts hacking off the tadpoles with his axe. Ruby, meanwhile tries repeatedly to try and pry off a tadpole on her chest. She is able to finally remove it, but a second one burrows its way inside of her from her flank. Jord then quickly makes his way over to Ruby and uses a knife to dig out the tadpole and pull it out of the gnome’s body. The group was then quick to kill the remaining tadpoles.

Session 4
The Dragon's Nest

Deep within the bowels of Krast’amar, the group discusses what to do about the fifty some-odd captives held within their cages. Firmly believing that the captives should remain in their cages for now, due to no means of getting them safely out of Krast’amar, Kalenthor decides to step into the hallway rather than continue the conversation. Ruby, on the other hand, decides to try and talk to the people in hopes of finding information on Talthar.

While speaking with one of the captives on the bottom floor, an innocent looking suit of plate mail armor suddens comes to life on its own and quickly moves on the unsuspecting gnome. A yelp for help draws the rest of the groups attention to the new situation. Maxim and Jord made their way quickly down the stairs as Ruby barely dodged a vicious punch by the animated suit of armor. Cage, as the last one down, triggered a secondary defensive mechanism of four flying swords came up from behind a desk.

The battle was fierce as the flying swords swarmed over the group, slipping between the group’s defenses, while the suit of armor kept swinging as Maxim and Jord continued to try and find a weakness without much success. It wasn’t until Kalenthor joined the fight with his acid magic that the tide turned. The flying swords sizzled from the acid, making the brittle enough for the rest of the group to break them with their own weapons until all four of the swords were destroyed. Once the animated suit of armor was alone, the group quickly surrounded it and pounded the chest plate until Cage’s pick shattered it.

With the security defeated, the group decided to go ahead and let the captives loose as they were pretty sure that the orcs would take the intrusion out on the people. However, since they did not have a way out of Krast’amar, the captives were led into the portal room that the group arrived from. Maxim suggested to the freed people to barricade the door just in the orcs came looking for them.

With the people free, the group made their way back down the hall to continue to explore the remainder of the floor. Ruby took the lead, using stealth to explore the last room at the end of the hall. What she found was a large room filled with all manner of torture devices from racks, chains, and a variety of wicked looking instruments. A few of the tables held down a few people in various states of dismemberment. A one particular table stood a large ogre munching on a leg of a human.

Ruby quickly made her way back to the group and told them what she found. Horrified, the group decided to put an end to the ogre. With grim determination, the group charged the room with weapons drawn. The ogre was caught by surprise and could barely grab his spike club before the group was already swinging their weapons and scoring deep gashes across its stomach. Though several wounds were struck, it only seemed to enrage the ogre further and with two swings, Jord was knocked backward to the ground unconscious. With a man down, the group redoubled their efforts and made quick strikes across the ogre’s body, slowing it down long enough for Kalenthor to make the final strike with his magic to drop the monster.

With the ogre dead and no more doors to explore, the group made their way to the other end of the hallway to the stairs leading up. After climbing eight flights of stairs, the group found themselves at the top of a tower overlooking the northern edge of the Stonelands. A massive single rock was stretched out below. At more than half a mile long and a quarter mile wide, the Krast’amar complex was larger than any of them could imagine. At roughly the center of the large stone they spotted a fissure several hundreds of feet at its widest. Kalenthor pointed out that the opening could be wear the dragon could enter the complex.

Just before they could leave the tower to discuss their next move and possible secret doors they may have missed, a gargoyle peered over the ledge of the roof, catching the group by surprise. Despite the surprise attack, the group was able to easily regroup and put the gargoyle down in quick order.

Not wanting to wait for further attacks, the group started making their way back down the stairs. As they went, Kalenthor made the observation that if there was no normal means of entering the floor and that the only way in was via the portal room. Maxim then arched a brow and looked to the group and said that he told the freed captives to barricade the entryway from the inside. Now worried that guards could be coming after the death of the gargoyle, they raced the rest of the way down the stairs to the portal door. From the other side of the door, they could already hear the screams of people dying and no way to open the door.

Session 3
Stepping through Shadow

After a quiet evening spent recovering, the group regroups at the cave entrance and delves back inside in hopes of finding Talthar Everstone, defeating Rogar the Undying, and the caravan supplies. In the first cave they find the dead goblin bodies from yesterday. Pressing onward, they head straight to the third cave in the same area. Here they find several humans being chained together by four goblins and a dire wolf watching intently with hungry eyes.

The group makes no attempt at stealth and instead charge into the room. Jord moves in first to engage the dire wolf, while the others attack the goblins. Cage makes a solid hit on one goblin, while Kalenthor burns one of the goblins with acid.

The acid proves to be the tipping point for the goblin’s resolve. The dire wolf, distracted by its handler’s injury, takes a solid hit from Jord’s glaive. Ruby, having hidden herself within the shadows of the cave, makes a critical shot at a goblin that was just about shank Maxim in the back, putting her arrow through its head. Now free to move freely, Maxim engages another goblin, scoring a solid hit. Cage joins Maxim and puts his pike through a goblin’s neck that was trying to dodge out of the way of another arrow from Ruby.

Maxim then moves to help Jord, slicing the dire wolf along the flank. In pain, it snaps at Maxim’s leg and bite down and yanks out his leg from under him. With the wolf’s back to him, Kalenthor smartly casts magic missile, catching a solid hit on the wolf’s rear. Cage then sweeps in and puts his pick into the dire wolf’s brain.

With the enemy dead, the group quickly unchains the captive humans and then finds some treasure as well as a potion of healing. One of the humans, calling himself Ed, talks with Kalenthor about the situation. Ed explains that Talthar never came with them to the cave. Instead, an orc shoved Talthar through a portal created from a tub of water using what looked like a finger bone.

Surprised at the revelation, Kalenthor pulls out the finger bone recovered from Ratbane and shows it to Ed, who confirms that it looks like the same one used to teleport Talthar somewhere. Ed is then questioned about Rogar, which Ed gives a vague description of an orc with an axe who could be the orc leader.

Confident that their quest is near completion, they press on to the last cave. Ruby scouts the cave and reports back that she saw a big orc with an axe next to a desk as well as four goblins quickly packing crates with supplies. The group decides once again to just charge the room.

Jord rushes the room first and engages the orc, hitting with his glaive. He then calls on an extra burst of speed and scores a second hit. Ugrosh the orc draws his axe and retorts, scoring a hit on Jord. Kalenthor enters the cave next, standing just inside the entrance as he casts another splash of acid, hitting two of the goblins to his right. Maxim rushes in next to join Jord on the orc, scoring a guided strike. He then calls out Tempus’ name and strikes a second time for a another cut. Cage then enters, moving to the left to engage the goblins, dropping one in a single hit. The second one is hit by an arrow from Ruby. Lastly, the two goblins on the right try to rush Ruby and Kalenthor, but mis.

Ugrosh recovers from the onslaught, strikes a solid hit on Maxim. It proved to be his last act of defiance. Jord and Maxim coordinate their attacks, striking Ugrosh from both sides, killing him. Kalenthor then casts Thunderwave to push the two goblins in front of him. One of them breaks his neck on the ground while the other is pushed onto Jord’s extended glaive, impaling it through the chest.

A quick search of the room reveals a message written by Rogar to an orc named Ugrosh to bring the supplies to Krast’amar via the portal. Sadly, the group discovers that the orc they killed wasn’t Rogar after all. In order to finish their mission, they will have to go to the former lair of the Cult of the Dragon.

With the fight done, the group has a long discussion about talking the captives home or going to Krast’amar to rescue Talthar. Maxim wants to escourt the people home and Jord leans that way. Ruby, Cage, and Kalenthor want to go after Rogar. The group ultimately opens the portal using the finger bone and step into the portal. Maxim finally agrees, tells the captives they will be back before going into the portal.

The group appears in the conversation room of Krast’amar. It is a worked stone cavern with a door. A stone rimmed pool of 5 foot diameter. The worked flood has runes all over. The group opens the to find a hallway and they begin to go down the hall to a four way intersection. They open a door straight head and open it to find a storage room with the remaining caravan items. They then turn around and go back to the four way intersection and go down the long passageway.

The open the next room to find a two story prison room filled with people in cages. The ceiling has a seam that indicates that it opens up. Maxim wants to free the people, but Kalenthor points out that they don’t even know how to get out of Krast’amar.

Session 2
Goblins in the Rocks

Maxim wrinkled his nose as the group took a collective breath now that the goblins were laying still on the group. The shallow cut from the goblin arrow stung, but only a little bit and not enough to warrant magic. Pain from combat was good. It reminded him that he was alive.

As the rest of the group began plifering the goblin bodies, a voice called out from behind them, “There you are!”

The rest of the group collectively looked over to see an elf dressed in a long coat with a high collar that partially covered the lower part of his face. Upon seeing the elf, Cage gave a wide smile, “Kalenthor! Glad you could catch up.”

Ruby looked over to the halfling with a confused expression, “You know this guy?”

Cage gave a nod, “He’s my friend and a pretty good wizard. I mentioned that he was the one who was studying and would catch up later.”

The elf casually walked over to the group, but then stopped at one of the dead goblin bodies. As he looked over the corpse, a surprise look came upon his face, “Ah! Baby Slaad!”

Ruby arched a brow, “So what are you doing Kalenthor?”

Without looking away from the body, Kalenthor gave a frown, “Failing to prove my hypothesis.”

“What hypothesis? What’s a slaad? It’s um, just a goblin.” Ruby asked.

Kalenthor stood up and shook his head, “So it would seem. It wasn’t really important anyway.” he said and then looked to Cage, "So, what little adventure are we going on today?

“Saving a kidnapped kid and trying to find an orc named Rogar the Undying.” said Maxim.

“Sounds dangerous. I’m in.” Kalenthor said.

As a man of few words, Jord decided to take off following the goblin trail deeper into the Stonelands and Maxim soon follows.

Kalenthor turns to Cage, “Where did you find these guys?”

Cage gave a light shrug, “At the tavern.”

Kalenthor gave a wide smile, “You do like the classics don’t you.”

The rest of the group quickly moved off to follow Jord and Maxim. For several hours they followed the trail until they reached a large rock formation in the middle of the flat lands. A quick discussion determined that it was probably that the goblins were within along with clues or the people they were looking for.

Ruby volunteers to go down to scout. With a careful stride, she makes her way down the steep declining passage. At the base of the tunnel she found an alarm trap consisting of a string with tin cans tied at each end. She gave a chuckle at the simplicity of the trap and then went about disarming it with ease. With the first cave in front of her, Ruby took a look around. She finds the several crates with the Everstone symbol burned onto the side. From the items within consisting of apples and bolts of cloth, Ruby quickly determined that they were from the caravan. She then grabs an apple and heads back up.

“Well?” Maxim asked as Ruby appeared from the cave.

“Crates from the caravan are in the first room.” Ruby said confidently, showing the apple before taking a bite.

“Apples?” Kalenthor asked hopefully.

Ruby tossed the apple over to Kalenthor, which he caught with ease. He then takes a couple bites himself before tossing it to the ground. The rest of the group watched him curiously as he used some simple magic to move around the dirt to bury the apple into the ground.

“What are you doing?” Jord asked.

“Sometimes large changes just need a little push.” Kalenthor said cryptically.

With that, the group decides to head down into the cavern to see what else they could find. Once they reached the room with the crates, they all agreed that Ruby was correct; the crates were from the caravan and that further exploration of the cave system was needed to try and find the missing people.

As they talked, a group of goblins snuck up behind the group from the deeper passage and launched a sneak attack on Jord and Ruby, both strikes hitting true. The two goblins then disengaged and two more came up, but their attacks missed. Jord tries to strike back, but misses.

Ruby disengages and moves back. Three goblins move to surround Jord, but only hit once. The fourth skirts around Jord and attacks Cage, but misses.

From the back of the group, the goblin boss “Ratbane” then comes up, survey’s the battle and says, “I smell man flesh.”

Maxim moves to engage, drawing his sword. He then tells Jord to toughen up and then heals his wounds. Jord swings with his glaive and beheads a goblin. Cage attacks with his pike, but misses. Kalenthor casts acid splash, but the goblins evade.

Ruby shoots her bow at a goblin fighting Jord, but misses. The goblin on Cage swings and hits. THe two on Jord miss however. The goblin boss, seeing magic, charges and attacks Maxim. He attacks twice, but misses. Maxim counter attacks, but misses. Jord attacks the boss, but misses. Cage attacks his target with his pick, but misses. Kalenthor casts acid splash again at the same two goblins and hits both this time as he correctly guesses which way they are going to dodge.

Ruby shoots her bow at the goblin on Cage and misses. Both goblins on Jord miss as does the one on Cage. The boss on Maxim scores a hit, but fails to follow up. Maxim swings and misses, prompting the boss to say “I will drink the marrow from your bones!”

Jord attacks and misses. Cage scores a hit with his pike. Kalenthor casts acid splash again and one goblin pushes the other into the acid in order to get away, which kills him.

Ruby shoots and hits, killing the last goblin fighting Jord with a hit to the head as it laughed at his acid fallen friend. The goblin on Cage scores a big hit. The boss misses Maxim twice. Maxim misses, while Jord strikes true with his glaive on the boss. Cage continues to miss the goblin he is fighting. Kalenthor does acid splash on the one fighting Cage, but misses.

Ruby shoots the boss, but misses. The goblin on Cage misses his swing, The boss on Maxim misses the critical hit. Maxim misses the counter stroke, but sets up Jord to hit with his glaive. Cage finally hits the goblin in front of him and puts the pike in the goblin’s head. Kalenthor casts acid splash and drops Ratbane.

With the fight finished, the group quickly searches over the fallen bodies and finds some loose coins, a gold signet ring with “ES” eteched on the face. Lastly, they find a human finger bone tied together with twine. Upon closer inspection, Kalenthor notices that there are Netherese runes inscribed on the bones.

Ruby goes about scouting the tunnel. She finds two passages to her left, one of which she can hear what sounds like an animal loudly chewing on something. She pulls out a piece of chalk and puts a frowny face on the rock face to mark it as not safe. She then returns back to the group.

The group then makes their way further down to the first passage to the left that has a frowny face in chalk. They proceed down and find a lair of the pet dire wolf. Ruby fires an arrow and makes a solid hit. Maxim moves in and attacks, hitting with this sword. Cage races down and attacks, hitting the dire wolf with this pike. Jord moves up next, but misses. Kalenthor casts acid splash, catching only the back end of the dire wolf. The dire wolf then bites Jord, but is not able to drag the large man to the ground. Ruby then fires a second arrow and kills it wolf.

Searching the wolf den, they find a pouch with four quartz stones as well as a wanted poster written in orc. Kalenthor hands the poster over to Jord who reads it.

The wanted poster states to capture Talthar Everstone and the crates from the caravan and take it to a place called Krast’amar.

The group pulls out of the cavaran to take a long rest.

Session 1
A Whole New World

At the beginning of summer, 1479 DR, Ruby paused at the outer edge of New Tilverton and took in the view. Stonelands backdrop. Wooden buildings. Dirt roads. A halfway constructed palisade. Three hundred dust covered people. It was a frontier town in its truest form and it brought a single word to the smiling gnome’s mind. Opportunity. With a spring in her step, Ruby made her way down the main dirt road to the center of town. At the center of town was a large, stone encased water well providing the life line of the town. Surrounding it was the town market consisting of a general store, a few traveling merchants with wagons parked, and the local gathering point: The Stone Song Inn.

The two story Inn appeared to be the largest wooden building in town with a large first floor footprint to accommodate a large number of town residents. At the front of the main double door entrance was a message board with a single parchment tacked to the front with an iron nail. The notice showed a crude drawing of a dragon in charcoal and the name of Kavel. Ignoring the strange request, Ruby put up her own message stating “Strong arms and thick skulls needed. See Ruby →” with the arrow pointing towards the Inn. Within, the gnome admired the open floor plan, stone walls and grilling pit at the back. She made her way to the bar where an old grey scaled dragonborn named Meher served her up a mug of something “bubbly”.

Meanwhile, Maxim thanked the farmer who had given him a ride upon his wagon from Arabel. It was a long trip, one of a nearly constant bumpy road and a never ending dissertation on turnips from farmer Hannas. For the first order of business, Maxim proceeded directly to the residence of Ellis Ullman on the east side of town. The retired Purple Dragon officer welcomed Maxim into his home where they discussed a mission of importance for New Tilverton.

Ullman told Maxim of an orc named Rogar the Undying that has recently been plaguing the area with raiding parties. He heard of Maxim’s graduation from military school and decorated first year as an officer in the Purple Dragons and wanted him to help. Ullman implied that being successful would advance Maxim’s career. The young officer accepted and set off into town to look for a few adventurers to help him. His journey brought him to the best place to look; the Stone Song Inn.

In need of some drink and food after a productive morning of work, Cage makes his way down the street to the Stone Song Inn. The stone walls of the inn reflected heat from the indoor grill pit and the smell of smoked meat made Cage smile. He made his way to the bar where he ordered his usual from Meher before settling into his seat at the bar.

Off to his right, he noticed two new patrons also seated at the bar discussing the ability to track a person through the Stonelands. Amused by the conversation, Cage turns in his chair to join in.

The long bumpy road was starting to cause a sore in Jord’s backside. Thankfully, the turnip cart finally came to a start at the center of the town of New Tilverton. Jord hoped off the cart and immediately made his way towards the first welcome sight in leagues; an inn called the Stone Song. Before entering, however, Jord stopped short of the entry due to a message board with two messages on it. The one that grabbed his attention first was the one of a crude drawing of a dragon signed by the name of Kavel. The message was remarkably similar to one he had seen in Arabel about a dragon sighting.

With confirmation of his trip northward, Jord made his way into the Inn with purpose. Within, he found three people discussing quests into the Stonelands. Hoping that it would be in relation to the dragon, Jord made his way to the bar and introduced himself.

As the bold one of the group, Maxim suggested that the group work together to solve the various quests that were needed out in the Stonelands. All though the group were strangers, there was a sense of need to help from the four and all of the agreed to work together. Cage mentions that a friend of his named Kalenthor would join them later as he was currently finishing up some study with books.

The first step was to travel to the shrine of Chauntea were a druid by the name of Raven could usually be found. The hope was to gain some further information regarding the orcs in the area as well as the mysterious dragon poster on the message board. The shrine on the north side of town was a simple pool of water surrounded by natural stones as well as several natural stone pillars. Upon one of the pillars sat a black raven who watched the group enter the shrine and look around. After a few moments of calling out for the druid, the raven flew down from the pillar before shapeshifting into the form of a half-elven woman dressed in dark clothing with a black feather cloak.

The group asked the druid about Kavel and his message about the dragon. Raven informed the group that Kavel was a ranger who was working to try and clear the Stonelands of those that would bring harm. Two months ago, Kavel informed Raven that he had spotted a red colored dragon that he called a descendant of Nalavara, the devil dragon who slew Kind Azoun IV nearly a hundred years ago. Since spotting the dragon, Raven tells the group that Kavel had been acting strangely and erratic as if he was under the effects of some sort of lingering dragon fear. The last she had seen of him, he was out to the northwest in the Stonelands, possibly at a place called the Devil Horns.

With some uncertainty to the situation with the dragon, the group decides to look into a more immediate concern involving a a caravan to the northeast that was recently raided by orcs and the son of Everstone gone missing. After an uneventful trip along the main road, the group finally finds the remains of the caravan. The destruction of the five wagons was obvious with black wood arrows, dead horses, and several dead people.

The group goes about investigating the area, finding a supply manifest under a dead body as well as tracks of orcs and goblins that ambushed the caravan, that led off to the west into the Stonelands. With no further clues, the group decides to head west following the tracks. They do not get more than five minutes from the caravan when Jord yells out “Ambush!” to the group.

A group of four goblins appears out from behind boulders to the left and right of the group. The arrows, however, missed their marks. Jord immediately drew his glaive and descended upon the goblin to his right and scored a solid hit. To their credit, the fast moving fighter did not slow the goblins resolve as they drew and fired another volley of black wood arrows. Maxim took a nick to the arm, but it was the only one to land a hit.

The rest of the group exploded into action, with Maxim shifting to the left and hammering a goblin on the shoulder. Ruby shanked another, while Cage made a solid hit himself to help drop the goblin. Jord then gutted the goblin he was fighting and immediately began shifting to the other side of the field. With two goblins down, the group easily dispatched the last of the goblins.


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