Legacy of Brutality

Swords and Deviltry in the Grey Citadel
A New Saga Begins

Our story begins around a campfire in the Stoneheart Mountains. A group of refugees have rested in their flight from the depredations of Giants in northlands. Finding shelter in the ruins of an ancient shrine to the sun and moon, they huddle together for warmth and listen to the baritone verses of the bard Rasputin.

Old Foes, Old Friends
The Orderly Brotherhood of Platonic Solidity chooses their own adventure

Now is the time to take stock and choose further adventures. What threats to the Dale remain? The wizard Bargle? Flocks of Kenku? Stygoth the Damned? Stephan D’Annunzio the Deathdealer? The Mountain King?

The Platonic Order of Solid Brotherhood decided to leave the Dale in order to confront the lingering menace of Bargle, and inadvertently crossed paths with the Deathdealer himself. Bloody battle ensued.

  • Meeting with King Caradoc. They speak of the Many Pillared Hall. Feasting with Lamdoman and speaking of routes and maps.
  • Interrogating the prisoner called Croaker, and the confrontation with the Kenku Flock.
  • A black tent in a forest glade. They speak of old betrayals, new intentions, and the fate of the dragon in the swamp.

Drunk at the Fair and that Crooked Vulture
Of Feathers and River
  • XP: 900 each
  • Great honor an notoriety for those who swam the Falls of Eamon.
  • Treasure and revelations in the buried Tomb of Winter’s Dark, from whence the Crooked Vulture was summoned. A further attack on the crown averted.
  • A pendant bearing the family crest of Harrowgrave inscribed in mother-of-pearl.
- The heavy smell of dust and blood hung heavy over the fair, filled the sound of steel against steel, the cries of the defeated and the roars of the crowd. This was the joust, anticipated for months, and the drama did not disappoint. Honor was humbled, fortunes made and lost, romance kindled, and political skirmishes waged, all along the lists to the sound of thundering hooves and rowdy spectators. All expectations were up ended when a rude warrior of the wastelands, an uncouth savage called Baldrick Deviltongue managed to unhorse Sir Shiloh Shaalesti the favorite of the court of Asgulan, who had himself defeated the zealous defender of Dale honor, Gaz of Mithras, in a personal challenge. Even as the crowd feted Baldrick, who walked away with a prized warhorse, trained and outfitted, and a heavy black banner carrying the very honor of the Black Eagle Castle itself, even so the mob turned its attention to a new, exotic distraction. It seemed that a visiting dwarf had been persuaded upon to defend his peoples’ honor at the lists, although this fearsome dwarf refused to ride any but his own mount, a wild boar of immense proportions, yet there was one who answered the brash challenge. This one was stranger still, a lizardman dressed in elaborate armaments, riding a warhorse, and carrying himself in a most regal manner. This dragon knight would surely test his lance against the dwarf called Thrag, if only because circumstances had conspired to keep the reptilian tilter from participating in the primary competition. There was a rush and a push, once, then twice, and as swiftly as it began, Thrag was rolling in the dust, victim to his own confidence against one he did not realize was a professional on the tourney circuit.
The dragon knight acted with great honor, presenting his lance to the newly crowned King Caradoc and pledging his fealty. The king accepted the honor and promised to place the knight in his household. And then he made a gift to the knight of a very special cask of ale from Balean Nakt, one of the few to survive a recent onslaught of orcs. The knight then re-gifted this ale to spectators in the stands, earning many huzzahs.
Meanwhile, the dwarven fan community made much of Thrag’s heroic failure, and they proceeded to carry him about the fair while plying him with spirits. The party grew in size and variety as many from the King’s entourage joined the celebration.
Drunken fools do many foolish things, yet few believe the story that is told of this night, when so members of the Brotherhood of Platonic Solitude drunkenly rowed a trio of hobbits across the Diamond Lake to the very base of the Eamon Falls. Then, some say, the whole group climbed a treacherous cliff and proceeded to swim the mighty falls, taking such a beating from the torrent that some barely survived.
Late in the evening, in the wee hours before the dawn, some certain Platonics saw a suspiciously beaked figure rushing between tents in the “managerie” part of the tourney town. arrived and the heroes girded themselves, drunk as they were, for mystery and mayhem. A thorough search revealed a missing goat and tracks leading to a strange mound near the lake where a hastily planted hedge sought to conceal the excavation of an ancient door, rimed with frost.
“Ach,” cried Iorweth Wolfsblood “The air of this crypt is cold as the bottom of Diamond Lake. I see a giant carp in my future!”
The group drank the last of their dwarven moonshine to fire their bellies, then descended the cold stair. Torchlight revealed a grim room decorated in the frozen manifestations of tortured souls. Three doors were framed by writhing stone bodies. This room stank of ancient fear. This was a place sanctum where the Winter’s Dark had never ended, a redoubt of the Imperium of Brutality. What horrors lurked beyond each door?
The heroes approached the door to their left. A voice resounded in each of their heads, thundering like a giant from the World Mountain. “Let those who embrace the darkness of ignorance walk forward, heedless of all knowledge. The blind and deaf fear no danger, for the Keeper of the Way shall guide their steps.”
“Perhaps this is not the right way,” offered Dyffyd Kinewatcher. The second door opened upon approach. As the heroes trooped through, the robed devils above the arch seemed to lean over and whisper into each man’s ear, “Your glory at the cost of another’s misery.” And so each knew exactly whose misery they had been cursed to inflict.
The Inebriates of Platonism emerged from the Gate of Treachery to an icy tomb. A central sarcophagus dominated the room. Before the sarcophagus were a series of ignoble burial sites, mere square pits filled solid with ice, and within, victims of sudden freezing cold. Behind it was a frozen fountain where sat a frozen idol of some mollusk god. Alcoves to the left and right hid shadowy figures, and indeed, Cedrics sharp eyes quickly picked out a half dozen of the bird-like criminals lurking about, bearing crossbows readied for ambush!
The battle commenced, and seemed to be going well until the idol in the back of the room came to life, manifesting as a carapaced slug demon that flash froze all in its vicinity, but the now sober warriors held firm and smote their foes.
Then they made to ambush whatever supporters might be lurking in the chamber beyond, where a great deal of chanting and squawking, and chanting squawks was heard. Some treasures were unearthed before the door was burst asunder by the arrival of shrieking bird from hell, a crooked vulture, and a cloud of buzzards followed.
The beast surged through the doorway, and landed upon the sarcophagus, where it unleashed a deafening shriek that seemed to push the very oxygen from the room. Gerard, Sword of the Sun was dazed by the onslaught, continuing to fight through a haze of ring ears and discombobulation.
The heroes closed in on that crooked vulture, even as it tore at them with beak and claw, and the buzzards made it impossible to see for all the feathers and beaks hurtling about. Then more of the black feathered skulkers arrived, one, an obvious mage on the wing, flew above the fray and unleashed torrents of hurricane winds beholden to the creatures esoteric commands. The other was a warrior of uncanny speed and grace, wielding a vicious sickle and chain weapon. Both fought with skill and tenacity beyond any kenku yet encountered, but even so, the intruders prevailed, the vulture was struck down and the wing mage skewered by Cedric’s arrow. The chain fighter attempted to escape, but was captured and offered to tell all in exchange for his life.
The kenku, who called himself Croaker, was a voluble bird. He described a robed and bearded man, a wizard of some sort who had gained influence over the flock and had directed them first to find the wayward prince in order to sell him to a “Mountain King”, and then, when that failed, word came that they were to steal specific items: drake eggs, goat bladders, the hair of old women, and so on. Then they came here, for the wizard had given the wing mage a book, called Mamuthek’s Tome of Summoning. The ritual was meant not to finish until the evening, when the court was at table, so that the full might of the demon could be unleashed upon the fair. Finishing the ritual early sacrificed control, and so the summoners were wiped out.
The heroes searched the summoning chamber and found the Mamuthek’s Tome of Summoning, as well as the bodies of a half dozen robed kenku. They also discovered a rough tunnel that ended in a log jam of debris. Thrag estimated that the end of the tunnel was directly under the refuse pile behind the lists, and that an exit by a fully fledged demon vulture into the midst of the tourney would have caused unbearable destruction.
Croaker the Kenku requested to make amends for his crime and called upon the mercy of Delver’s Dale. He told how the wing mages of his flock were corrupted by Bargle and drove the flock to diabolical lengths that they would otherwise never have considered. “Spare my life and I will tell my flock of your honor and persuade them to abandon their alliance with this skulking wizard who sends his missives by bats born in the roots of the Thunder Mountain.”
Dawn broke with welcome warmth as the Platonists emerged from the wintry tomb. All agreed that the door would be blocked and the miners of the Dale contracted to fill in the evil place.
Escape from the Prism of Shadow
The Nightmare Ends and a New Light Dawns

Gramercy: 800XP for each hero.
The Crown of the Dale also bestows each a purse of small diamonds worth 1001 gold pieces.

Prisoners of Shadow

How long they been locked in this accursed Prism of Shadows some greater mind only knew. Some of came of their own free will, a deal made with a dragon to pursue the nemesis that has alluded them for so long, Sondra the Witch, the Winter Fox, she who cursed the line of Daha. Others seemed to remember only a dream, or a dark closet at night, or a strange door in the cellar heretofore unseen. Whatever the case may be, this dream of shadows had become one of nightmares and confusion. Wandering lost, accompanied by strange companions, and strangers still, the very Head of Sondra herself, carried at the belt of the rude warrior Baldrick, who spoke clearly, warning of the dangers, and desiring only to escape this purgatory that seems to have been built to house some long lost lover of demons. The corridors of nightmare had been variously filled with bones and defended by two headed giants, watery, and home to lizardmen, or frozen and still, sometimes even like the inner flesh of some immense beast, or sometimes even arboreal like a garden of forking paths in the night. Long had they wandered, lost, forgetful even of battles yet fought and mindful of those yet to come, and now another chamber appeared. The companions had changed somewhat, and yet still they were familiar. What gods madness brought them to this place? And how to escape?
Two monoliths carved of ancient tree trunks were arranged around this large chamber. Great plumes of energy streamed out of the monoliths and formed a central wall of arcane force. The room was noticeably warm. Within the area sealed off by the monoliths, and in the squares just outside it, the ground was covered in dry brown grass that crinkles when trod upon. The energy emitted by the monoliths themselves felt like the heat of the blazing summer sun. In the center of the room lay the nearly perfect form of a sylvan Princess, whose beauty – even in death – was marred a bushy tail and an absent head. Sondra gasped at the scene. “My physical form is trapped within this arcane prison,” The Head of the Witch said. “Free my body, and together we can escape this horrid place.”

The Heroes of Platonic Solitude paused. The Finch narrowd his eyes. “You say o’ mouth of the Fox that this suspended corpse of yours will give you the power to break us free of this prison, but how are we to trust you, our nemesis of these long months, you who have kept a vow of vengeance nigh 100 years?”

“Oh men of Dale, know that though your enmity with me has lasted the winter months, I have felt the passing of centuries within this prison, my head has been severed from my body with no gift of oblivion. Now I desire only that oblivion, and I swear upon my eternal soul as the former Queen of Summer, the Witch of Winter, the Fox of the Dale, the enemy of men and their kings, that I will use what means I may have to free us all of this prison of deviltry, for to do otherwise would lead to some eventual encounter with the Lord Prisoner of this place, the old general of Danzig, Karavakos, whose ministrations will not be kindly for all their scattered attentions.” So saying, the fragment beseech-ed the heroes to free her headless corpse from the purgatory in which it dwelt.
Cedric the young forester came forward to carefully inspect these ancient trunks which seemed to focus the heat between them, searching for some sign perhaps of Rhiannon’s presence. Yet Rhiannon felt far away in this place, and the strange decorations formed on these wooden monoliths sparked to recognition in the youth. But his sharp woodsman’s eye did see the brittle cracking that latticed old dessicated wood, and he be-thought to draw his sword and perhaps strike this monument a buffet.

So mighty was this buffet dealt through the radiant shining blade Honor Among Thieves that the great trunk made loud CRACK and tumbled to the ground in chunks. The wall of pulsating heat winked out and the headless corpse fell to the brown sward. Baldrick stepped forward, urged by the Foxy lady at his belt, but even as he did, the Head of stripped from his possession by an invisible force that sent the Head of the Winter Fox hurtling towards the corpse, shrieking in terror. Indeed the head gruesomely buried itself in the torso of this strange form and suddenly jerked upright like a marionette pulled by some sadistic god of theatre. “HELP ME!” shrieked the captive skull, whose face was just visible amongst the folds silks that clad this corpse. Replacing the sweltering heat, a wicked wind whipped up from out of nowhere to surround the Headless Corpse, and stinging ice tore a the face of Baldrick and his companions.

What followed was a vicious fight that carried itself about the room, as the Headless Corpse unleashed the fury of Winter, blasts of swelting sirocco winds that knocked all from their feet and sucked the moisture from their bodies, and even resorted to it fists to pummel the heroes. All the while, the Head of Sondra the Fox screamed in desperation and occasional anger when a stray arrow or eyebite struck her by accident.

When destroyed, the Headless Corpse melted into formlessness, releasing the battered skull. Even as the companions, lay about, giving what succor they could to their fallen comrades (for Baldrick and Gerard the Soldier of the Sun had received grievous blows), the walls of the Prism of Shadows melted about them and they found them sitting not on dried dead grass but upon a lush spring meadow beside a bickering stream and a pleasant deer trail. Suddenly all were bathed in sunshine and birds were singing. As the eyes of the Platonic Brotherhood adjusted from the long gloom they beheld a procession wonderful and fair approaching along the path. Colorful pennants fluttered in the breeze, proud chargers high-stepped and snorted, as their riders sat tall and regal, garbed in shining armor with cloaks of softest silks. Their banners and heraldry proclaimed symbols of ships and dragons rampant and script of a flowing uncommon vocabulary. Behind the knights could be seen a train of pack animals and not least a silken palanquin born feather-like upon the air.

Pleasant Greetings

“Hail!” came greeting most courteous from the foremost among them, a helmed knight whose armor veritable glowed with scintillating facets of ingenious design. “I am Sir Shiloh Shaalesti, Herald and Knight of Duke D’Amon, 5th Seat to the Dragon Throne of Asgulan. We journey to the Delver’s Dale for the Tourney of Coronation. Which way do you travel?”
The Finch stepped forward at this and courteously led the southern knights of the high elven aristocracy of Asgulan to understand that indeed they spoke to one of royal blood as well, and the Brotherhood of Platonic Solitude no less. At this the elven knights were overjoyed for all their reserved manners, and gave them food and drink, and the duke himself came forward to greet them and hear of their adventures, which they gladly related. Cedric asked, “Why are you all traveling on this game trail? This is not the fastest way from Asgulan, and this path is too small for such a procession, and how to do you expect as you say, to arrive at the Dale by nightfall, for I see by our proximity to the Scarpthat we are some thirty miles distant through uncleared land.”
At this this elves chuckled in their way and answered him that indeed they had not taken the fastest route but for that they would indeed arrive when the did desire and not before nor later. As consolation they offered that they had been to visit the Lady of the Lake.

And so it was that the procession came to Delver’s Dale exactly when they meant to, though Cedric wondered at the paths they took. All were received with great celebration for both the arrival of long absent kin (The Duchess Helen was the sister of the sad Queen Vivian, who was seen to smile for the first time in spring upon greeting her.) and for the return of heroes feared lost in the hungry shadows of legend.

Return to the Dale

The day of the tournament approached! For weeks caravans had been arriving. Merchants and peddlars laden with their wares had been setting up stalls and tents. Herds of goats and pigs had been brought to slaughter in preparation for the feasting to come. Men-at-arms had come as well, from Dun Eamon and the Vale beyond the Stonehearts, from Asgulan and the southern climes, drawn by the offers of great prizes for the competitions of strength and martial skill. Even a circus has arrived! A great temporary city of tents had grown up in the fields along the banks of the Diamond Lake. The king’s men were hard at work as well, carpenters were busily building a wooden keep to house the lords and ladies in attendance while they enjoyed the festivities. In front of the keep were the Lists for the jousting to come, and beyond were the field of valor where archers will demonstrate their skill and swordsmen will test their mettle. Behind the keep and mountain of rubble and refuse had grown up, constantly scoured by the common folk for useful material. All were invited to compete, noble and common man alike, a rare leveling of the field that attracted ambitious men from far and wide.

At the Fair

That evening, some time was spent wandering amongst these stalls and speaking to merchants and travelers they met.

Gerard received a Blessing of the Peacemaker from Ahleena, an acolyte of Demeter.

Baldrick and Iorweth browsed the shops and spoke with the peddlers Lamdamon and Zappora, who sold Iorweth some instructional manuals for the making of obscure magics.

Cedric reunited with his family and many other brotherhoods and freemen with whom he was associated. The local folk were generally excited and pleased to see him, but worried that the great unkindnesses of ravens that swooped about in great numbers and seemed to be joined daily by buzzards as well.

The Finch prepared for the coronation by reporting to his father Caradoc, and by insinuating himself into the life of court as if he had never left. He was enthusiastic in his proselytism of Rhiannon. He learned that the Duke of Asgulan planned to stay in Delver’s Dale with his wife and retinue for some time after the coronation. There are some whispers that D’Amon has his own intentions toward the crown, and that this is a first maneuver toward that goal. Other whispers say they are glad for the friendship between the Dale and the Grey Citadel, for the dwarves of the Dale and the Arbuckle clan have an affectionate rivalry, and King Caradoc studied with King Arbuckle’s chief advisor, the Enchantress Belinda, and they are said to be good friends.


The Coronation was a grand affair. Dressed in the most gaudy finery, the entire court of Delvers Dale began its procession early in the day, making a long and stately walk down the winding road to the central square, for the King to be, in his munificence had decreed that he would be crowned before the statue of Mirana, Flower of the Dale, in full view of the people. The Platonic Solids were given places of honor in this, and were garbed magnificently. Cedric felt awkward in this finery but held his head high for his mother he knew was proud. Dyffyd Kinewatcher walked in the train of Mother Patria, and indeed had been entrusted to bear the Crown to the coronation. His hands shook with the honor. Twill Bell marched with the retinue of Sir Trousdale of Lorchester, alongside Aphra Behn Herald of Trousdale, Marquis D’Annunzio and Iorweth Wolfsblood, who stood out amongst the procession with his white tunic already soiled with dirt. Young Finch marched before them all, in a place of honor amongst the family, bearing the train of the widowed Queen Vivian, the Dawn of Dale.

The ceremony itself was swift. Mother Patria invoked the ancient prayers and Caradoc knelt before her. The crown was placed upon his head and the crowd went wild. People crammed into every ally and street, atop every roof and hanging from every gutter shouted their joy at the crowning of a new king. This was a momentous occasion! Finally the cheering faded as Caradoc stood tall on the base of the fountain. He raised his hand for silence and spoke with a thunderous authority. “I am your King, and I shall protect this Dale with every last drop of my blood. But now, in honor of my fallen brother, I would say these verses.”

“WOULD it were anything but merely voice!’ The No King cried who after that was King, Because he had not heard of anything That balanced with a word is more than noise; Yet Old Romance being kind, let him prevail Somewhere or somehow that I have forgot; Whereas we that had thought To have lit upon as clean and sweet a tale Have been defeated by that pledge you gave in momentary anger long ago; And I that have not your faith, how shall I know That in the blinding light beyond the grave? We’ll find so good a thing as that we have lost? The hourly kindness, the day’s common speech. The habitual content of each with each Men neither soul nor body has been crossed. Now your king has returned, in full flower of spring.”

A somber silence followed, but then the King spoke again, with a broad smile across his face, “Now, let us celebrate!”

Party with Birdmen

Suddenly jugglers and acrobats appeared amongst the crowd and a great whoop is heard as dwarven fireworks exploded across the sky. Slowly the royal procession made its way back to the castle where a grand feast was waiting.

The some of the Brotherhood of Platitudes stayed behind to revel with the crowds, and there by the fountain encountered a sad knight who wept. Baldrick promised to help him with his love life, but the knight responded that he would only accept that help if he were defeated in the joust. Baldrick happily agreed.

Then Cedric spied feathers dropping from the motley garb of a pair of stilt walkers. “KENKU!” A crowded melee ensued as the brotherhood attempted to apprehend the birdman ruffians. One was slain, but the other escaped.

Feasting and Challenges

The feast did not actually happen until late in the day. First came the Procession of Heraldry. The King stood upon the ramparts as every man with a banner or any sort of heraldry marched before him and declared his loyalty. This the King received gravely. There went Sir Bors, Sir Mordeln, Sir Gaz of Mithras, Erskine the Hoster, Novgorod Stone Splitter, Jory Cobblestone, the Dale Guardsmen, the merchants of the town, and even Sir Trousdale who seems to have decided to stay in the Dale. All were solemn and enthusiastic in their pledge. Then came the kings and knights and nobility of foreign lands: King Angus Arb of Dun Eamon with his companion, the Enchantress Belinda, Duke D’Amon of Asgulan and his wife, the Dale’s own Princess Helen, daughter of Vivian, and all the various knights and well known merchants who had come from Dun Eamon, and from Asgulan, far to the south. These notables honored the king as well.
Finally, the feasting began. What a feast it was! Geese stuffed with apples, golden breads of the Eamonvale, river eel caviar from Dun Eamon, fennel and almond cakes iced with each noble’s coat of arms, and wines brought from the fertile vineyards of the Angleheath where the Halfling of Heath spend all their days smoking pipes and tending their vines. Finally, there was a special drought of ale brought from the contested holy brewery of Balean Nakt, a single keg, most delicious.

Then came the Parade of Prizes: Aphra Behn called out, “See now the Wealth of the Dale, and rewards of Valor and Prowess. Before you comes the Prize of the Joust!”

Then came a squire leading a spirited horse, pure white and champing at the bit. “Now see the best weapons in the world, those of the Dwarves of Dale!” More squires entered carrying scabbarded swords gilt with gold and jewels, fine silver pointed lances, and a bow gifted by the Lady of the Lake, of a wood not known in this mortal world. “And the Final prize, beyond all earthly reward, Glory!!” And great black banner is brought forth, the banner of the Battle Standard of the Black Eagle. All in attendance are much impressed by these prizes and the young knights in attendance immediately fall to betting and challenges, and arranging their schedules with Steward Mordeln.

The Feast continued with Bardic recitals, and courtly dances. On the morrow would be the joust.

Knight’s Tales

Baldrick Devilock in the Prison of the Gods

ARGHH! I lost it all down below!

Pull the Plug!
Our Heroes Escape to Fire Mountain
The massive room, “Moradin’s Nexus” was essentially an iron plug for a the holy waters of the earth. It was there that the three soldiers in the service of Balean Nakt made their stand against the creatures of darkness.

Considering their numbers, one might have thought that some sneaky plan of approach would be broached around the campfire as the three prepared for their assault, but no, the cleric of Ziggurd was not interested in such fare. He swigged his barley wine and insisted on kicking down the door. Suntop and Kara did not seem to mind. And so the foolhardy heroes burst into Moradin’s Nexus with swords bared.

They were met by two large greenskin drummers perched on a high platform who beat one final beat of warning that echoed to the vaulted ceiling, then picked up their drums and threw them! The iron barrels crashed past the trio harmlessly. Orc warriors began pouring in form various side passages. Magnus rushed up the stairs, seeking to scale the twisting ramparts of the Plug. Suntop followed closely, covering the dwarf. Orcs raged upon them, shattering their clubs upon the dwarf’s shield and getting sent sailing off the ledge by the elf’s well placed arrows.

Meanwhile, Kara the Gladiatorran for cover and pulled a sturdy rope and grapple from his pack. This he tossed above where it hooked securely into the metal infrastucture of the dwarven scaffolding. Quickly he climbed the rope and came face to face with the orcish brutes who had taken up massive bolt throwers mounted on their plate sized belt buckles and proceeded to aim their black javelins at him while he was accosted by attacks of rampaging drudges.

Magnus and Suntop struggled toward the rope from the second level, hoping to follow Kara to the third level, but the dwarf was unable to heave his armor clad bulk up the thin cord.

From a passage emerged a massive, dread warrior garbed in armor made of the bones of tormented soldiers, flanked by a tall figure in a shadowy robe. The dread warrior wore a forbidding horned helm that masked his features and carried a darkly gleaming sword. He made haste to the melee. His companion hurled a black bolt of pure shadow that wrapped Kara’s head in darkness before hastening to follow the horned one. The gladiator could not see beyond his reach, but then, he had foes enough for his sword to taste without moving a step.

“Oh, man,” said the Horned One, with the a voice obscured by his helm but still accented with what could only be described as delicate, cultured tones. “With this obsidian blade, called Graefling, I will speed your embrace of darkness. Fie on on those who would resist and thus instigate the savage urges of Beast.”

The battle raged hither and yon, with Magnus trapped below, sputtering with rage, and Suntop pinned between an iron pillar and a deadly plummet, unable to avoid the blows of these dark invaders. Soon enough, both elf and man lay stricken on the ground, and the deathdealers turned their attentions to Magnus below them. But Magnus had only begun to fight! He called upon Ziggurd Moradinsonand bathed in that consecrating light, the two companions leaped to their feat, eager to join the fight once more, even as the wielder of the Graefling descended to strike the dwarf a savage blow.

But the kind favor of the dwarven pantheon had turned the tide of battle now, and the shadow-witch cried out as her leige was smote to the ground, his sword falling from limp wrist, and helm tumbling from sweaty brow. The bones of his infernal armor crumbled, and there lay a slender man, his pale grey angular face framed with white hair, his pointed ears revealing some distant heritage to Suntop’s people. In his eyes were burned the emotions of anguish and shame. “Forgive me… I never meant to go so far astray. Tunguska… that cruel horn… my love D’nae… FLEE!” With that he died, and his lover fled the scene dodging arrows sent by the merciless ranger, who took up the chase and likewise disappeared into darkness, but not before fiddling some knobs and causing the chamber to begin filling with scalding water.

Kara and Magnus caught their breath, but realized they had to make a decision quickly. And they did. Taking up the obsidian sword Graefling and liberating a necklace of onyx skulls, the pair rushed up the ramps and followed the elf, even as the room filled with steam.

A dim rush into who knew what followed. The passage seemed to wend ever on, up and around, over and down, now smooth, now rough, but always in dim shadows, following a sourceless light that was ever around the bend and just enough to see the next step ahead. And so following their headstrong noses, the adventurers tumbled out onto an entirely unexpected sight. They looked out from a cave in the side of a mountain.

The land before them was like nothing they had ever seen before. A wide plain of gray-green grass and stunted black trees spread beneath a sky scoured by fast-moving clouds. The sun was bright above but pale and somehow failed to cut the darkness that draped every rock and every blade of grass in gray gloom. This was the Shadowfell of legend and myth, that dark dimension of nightmare where children are taken by the night and by the changlings of the forest, where the dead ruled over the living, where the legions of Danzig never ceased their pitiless tread across the dusty remnants of civilization.

From the mouth of the cavern, a wide and well-traveled road ran in a curving line to the north. There, perhaps a quarter-mile away, a military camp spread. Buildings were scattered here and there, with tents and pavilions spreading between them. Torches and fires burned brightly against the ever-present shadow, and lone trees and tall stands of gray-green grass were whipped by a hissing wind.

Looming above it all, a rise of black rock to the west was rent by a seething volcanic rift. Black-streaked lava coursed from it to descend into a narrow channel, a gorge of slow-moving flame passing through, and a permanent pall of glowing red-black smoke rose above it. Over this molten flow, a great stone bridge arched. North of the bridge, at the edge of town, a tall castle heaved into the sky so that the entire encampment lurked in its shadow.

Magnus Magnusson brought his mug to his lips and realized it was dry. No beer. His god had never felt so far away. Perhaps this had been a rash decision…

When One Hero Falls, Another Steps Forward
Death and Hops Beneath the Holy Brewery

“And so, Zeb, who loved to fight, we give you to the bosom of the earth, which you loved so well…”

Hardly pausing for breath, the trio of triumphant orc killers followed the lusty lead of Zebidiah the Slammer of Moradin, down the great stairs of stone beneath Balean Nakt, now awash with orcish blood, and across the great natural cavern to wear an orange light reflected from out of an adjoining cavern. The heroes were met with a scene of carnage. A rough, uneven cavern spread about, broken by stone slopes and natural pillars, and strewn with the broken bodies of dwarves and orcs, now stiff with the stone weight of death. Beyond, a raging fire burned amidst the wreckage of a dwarven workshop, and there were silhouetted a party of raiders looting and feeding the fire and laughing at their prisoner, a soused dwarf, who grimly submitted to a huge, ogre-like orc who held the dwarf by his beard and dunked him repeatedly in a large vat.

Suntop, the Elven Archer quickly ducked into the shadows of the cavern and silently circled around, eying the detritus of what looked like a large distilling operation. Zebidiah “Z” Lamar, Soldier of the All-Father and Kara the Gladiator desperately searched to dwarven victims for survivors, but it was a fruitless search, and a reckless one, for of a sudden came a guttural hollar from an orc clad in the skins of a wolf, who’s burning eyes bore down on their position. He pointed to them with some strange demonical rattle and grunted in the primitive savage speech of the children of Danzig.

At first, some of the orcs were confused and looked at each other, but then the tall one, turned and saw as well. “Og!!” said this giant specimen of orcish-ness as he drew from over his shoulder a massive silver blade, curved and shaped with vicious sinuosity.

The knot of orcs jumped to attention now and fumbled with cigars and baubles at their belts. Then, as one, they tossed a fusillade of bottle-like objects at the dwarf and gladiator, which EXPLODED in a maelstrom of shrapnel and fire. The two warriors were tossed about and caught afire.

Then Og charged forward with his sword, and Kara stepped up to take the blow on his shield.

Suntop, meanwhile, crept down to a stockpile of large clay jugs, and finding one that smelled particularly pungent, lifted it and threw it at the bombadiers! But the jug was heavy, and his throw was short, shattering, and spreading liquid across the floor in front of the beastmen.

Now came the time of Zebidiah “Z” Lamar, Soldier of the All-Father, who, still burning, took a shot from a mystic vial he had found in the Hanging Tower of Morningfall Mountain, and ran forward to meet this explosive gang of marauders. He huffed and he puffed, and he blew out an immense gout of flame! The orcs were engulfed in a fiery tornado, which soon built upon itself as the explosive fuses about the belts of these maniacs also caught fire. It was a chain reaction that blew up in everyone’s face. Amidst the smoke the bombadiers fell and Zeb was staggered as the wolf headed shaman lunged upon him and grabbing him by the shoulders, gave him the evil eye! Zeb felt his very soul burned from him as he was smote by the mighty iniquity of DANZIG. And so Zebidiah the Slammer, Paladin of Moradin fell, in the caverns beneath Balean Nakt, his body a mere lifeless husk.

Lo! But how the mighty fall!

The surviving pair weree locked in desperate battle. With one fallen comrade, and the champion of Orcs hellbent on Kara’s destruction, Suntop felt quite vulnerable to foul curses of the Wolf Shaman another bomb throwing compatriot who appeared out of the shadows. The fight surged, and then help arrived! not from any newcomer to the room, but from the revived spirit of Magnus Magnusson, the poor dwarf who’s beard had been yanked and doused under the none too tender ministrations of the orcish invaders.

Perhaps it was Moradin who spoke in his ear, commanding vengeance for his fallen servant, or perhaps it was the voice of Ziggurd Moradinson, Patron Saint of Brewers, but Magnus leapt to his feet, and, grasping a nearby anvil hammer, leapt into the fray! Magnus layed about himself, dealing grievous blows to the hidebound shaman, who attacked him with his evil eye. This gave welcome respite to Suntop, whose arrows took their toll on the final bombadier, causing him to drop his lit fuse, and another explosion rocked the room! Og the Orog moved to support his spiritual advisor and put down the resilient dwarf, and made the fatal error of turning his back on a trained Gladiator. Kara followed his foe with hungry steel. Soon, all the orcs lay dead in this cave of carnage, and the heroes turned to mourn the fallen.

In the aftermath of the battle, Magnus told the surviving rescuers of how he had driven back the orc host and managed to trigger a cave in that slew many of them. However, his captors had spoken of a further, larger host mobilized from deep in the bowels of the earth, “and beyond”.

Whatever the case, it was imperative to shut off the approach. Magnus told of a natural labyrinth beyond the partially collapsed tunnel, a maze of twisting, treacherous caverns, which he himself had only navigated a handful of times.

It would be a difficult descent, but necessary, for below the maze was “The Springs of Moradin”, a place of great holiness wherein the hops were boiled were fermented by the benevolent power of Moradin’s forge. In these places the walls between worlds were thin, and so it had been in ancient times a conduit for the entrance of dark and evil things. Now the fool hardy dwarves had reopened the valves, but hardly had they brewed a single batch when this incursion had happened. “We must shut down the Springs!” said Magnus, and his new companions agreed.

The navigation of maze of Balean Nakt was an arduous task, requiring much luck, endurance and patience.

An encounter with a poisonous mushroom forest nearly turned them back, but eventually, they came out the other side.

Upon discovering the halls of the Springs of Moradin, the battle was joined, for not one but two sentries slept on duty. The first was slain instantly, but the second ran screaming for the entrance to the complex.

The heroes gave chase, and burst upon a large room misty with heated steam leaking from giant pipes. There was an angry band of orcs on the causeway and more swarming from all sides. Further, a strange hooded assassin joined the fray, tumbling about and striking with blades and arrows dipped in poison. This figure was revealed to be black bird-beaked man, “A Kenku!” cried Suntop.

The heroes fought through this knot even as their original quarry, the sentry continued to run, through a further set of doors. Then an explosion shook the roots of the earth, and black smoke leaked into the room. Bloody sworded, the defenders of Balean Nakt strode forward, into the smoke, to find themselves beset once again, but this time a cave troll left off its drinking of the holy hops of Moradin to wade into the scrum, its heavy handed claws flailing wildly, eventually picking up Magnus by his beard and sending him crashing into Kara. This beast had the vitality of stone in its veins, and it required all of Magnus’s prayers, Kara’s strong arm, and Suntop’s arrow to bring these beasts to bay.

Finally, it was over. The cave troll lay still with a smoking brand in its gullet, and as the smoke cleared from the altar of Moradin (revealing elaborate bas-relief murals depicting the battles of ancient dwarves to secure these holy springs, the great Waterworks that were used to harness the earth’s holy beer making potential, and, finally, encrypted beer recipes that Magnus resolved to study as scripture), the last three surviving kegs of hops were rescued, and the three weary warriors looked at each other and knew they needed rest.

  • Loot: 6th Level!!! 30gp, bronze torc(50gp), Black Keys of the Kenku, Dirty Brown Bag of Tricks, strange silver claymore(Og’s sword), 3 kegs of tasty hops(priceless), vial of poison.

There's Beer at Balean Nakt
Investigations and the Liberation of Balean Nakt Brewery
The Heroes of the Hanging Tower returned to Angleheath victorious! They had freed the land from the depredations of drakes, and put a halt to whatever fell plans were incubating in the ruined library of the ancient Eldaran city of Ustrenes. The heroes returned with loot, not gold and jewels, but rather books: histories, treatises, and arcane lore.

The vintners of Angleheath received the heroes enthusiastically, throwing a great feast in their honor, full of music and dancing. The trio was seated in places of honor at the Monastery of the Heath, near to the High Mother Esmerelda Baisse de Bordeuax, priestess of Demeter.
The next morning, with aching heads, the heroes visited Esmerelda in her study, where she had laid out the intellectual treasures recovered from Morningfall Mountain.
One of these tomes contain rituals such as “Towards the Sending of Crucial Communications Across the Lands and Beyond” and “On the Creation of Secret and Hidden Containers Unreachable by Mortal Eyes” as well as much magical lore. Some month’s study of these texts could be used to gain knowledge of ritual formulas, or even set out on the path of the arcane initiate. Other tomes were of a more sinister bent: “Circle of Set: Investigations of the Serpent’s Ring”, “Multiplicities of Shade: Questing the Shadow Dimension”, “Above the Clouds: The High Folk of the Second and Third Age of Faerie” and a newer book, “The Cursing of the Night’s Pillars and Scions of Darker Dieties: Notes Toward a Further History”
Finally, there had been discovered a second, older patent of nobility than the one found on the person of Bejik Vuthaner. Both patents traced the same lineage, but the second did not include the Vuthaner family name. The name of the ghost Vrak Tiburcaex is mentioned several times in the lineage books as a warrior who served in Ustraternes; the Vuthaner name does not appear in the books. Indeed, the eldar was no descendant at all, but a skilled forger who had managed to con a ghost!
But truly, these heroes cared little for such scholarship, for they were men of action. “Tell us, oh Esmerelda, petit childmother of the vineyards, where is this man your erstwhile protector, Jaeroon Lorrickson? For our church is curious.”

And Esmerelda replied, “He has gone these six months since the passing of the dark hour of winter, gone to do battle with those villains of his youth, a cabal of Set, a cult of darkness which lairs far from the hearths and homes of his people, those he swore to protect even after the promise broken by his father, Lorrick. Jaeroon Lorrickson is a stalwart of Mithras and a veteran of countless campaigns against the the Beastlords. During the winter, Jaeroon was visited by an old friend, Dajani the Magician. Now, he and a loyal group set off with Dajani to undertake a mission that strike a mortal blow at the heart of Set. The protection of this monastery was entrusted to his father Lorrick, and so he returned when the seat became vacant. But now he has fled like father like son. Jaeroon and four companions sought to take the battle to the heart of the cult. Set’s faithful are based in a great temple in the World’s Edge Mountains. The Pillars of Night, they call it. Jaeroon swore to break the cult by destroying its leaders.”

Esmerelda shows the heroes a box of send in which a message has been written at a distance: “My last contact with Jaeroon was a sending some months ago that placed him deep in the borderlands at the head of a trail he called the Black March. I have had no further word. Please, you must follow the trail of this wayward paladin and return our protector to us.”
“No problem little lady,” said Zebidiah, the Hammer of Faith.
“We’ll take care of the cult as well,” said Suntop, the Hunter of Beasts.
“Let’s go,” said Kara the Gladiator.
Having accepted Esmerelda’s mission and equipped themselves for a long journey, the party set out. With a last word of thanks and gifts of wineskins, Esmerelda and her compatriots waved good-bye. Their destination was west, down the Kings Road and across the Eamon River to the frontier of civilization. But first they would stop at Delver’s Dale.
The roads to the Dale were thick with traffic. All the land seemed to be mobilized in preparation for the Tourney of Coronation. As the trio approached, they saw a whole village being erected on the river plain below the town. The sounds of hammers and saws, shouting men and grunting beasts filled the air, drowning our even the roar of the Eamon Falls.

Everyone in the Dale was very very busy. Zeb was obliged to pull out his symbol of Moradin to get a single dwarf to stop and talk to him. Flint Firestone was helpful enough, in his way, telling of a brewery they should visit if they are heading into the wilderness, called Balean Nakt.
Finally, the party received an audience with a distinctly unfriendly Knight of the Dale, one Gaz Nine-Fingers, of Mithras. The knight was brusque and brief, but relayed the information that he had indeed shared a campfire with Jaeroon Lorrickson some months earlier. He expressed his distaste for the Magician, Dajani, and relayed that Jaeroon had planned to stop at Balean Nakt on his way to the Black March. He then excused himself to go to jousting practice.

The trio wasted little time in the Dale, leaving at first light the next day. They crossed the valley and entered the forest, heading for the Scarp. Suntop lead the way on a huntsman’s trail that seemed to have had much use this spring. At dusk that reached the base of the Scarp, an inclement arm of the Stoneheart Mountains that reached far south, before dying out in the Great Swamp. A steep switchbacking trail went up. They travelers rested and began the ascent the next day. In the afternoon, with the Dwarven Brewery nearly in sight and the thought of beer on everyone’s mind, the weary group looked around to discover that they were surrounded by a pack of wolves!

They stared silently. Then a large beast steps into the circle. Its shoulder was the height of a man. Its belt was jet black save for a white star on its forehead. ‘I am Blackpelt.’ growled the wolf. “What are you doing on the Scarp? For I claim this land, and it is only by my pleasure that pink skins such as yourselves shall enter.’”
The heroes found themselves tongue tied for a moment, wondering at this beast that spoke and yet did not feel like one of Danzig’s creatures, for this was one of the wolves of old, of the first pack to roam the land in time immemorial. Zeb tried to appease the beast, speaking to it with grave words of courtesy, explaining his mission to Balean Nakt and the World’s Edge Mountains.
“You are out your way if you journey to the world’s edge, dwarfling. You must descend and go around to reach that farther range. But you smell familiar, like one who needs must see a familiar face at this hour. Follow me.”

The trio followed with much trepidation as the old wolf led them up the trail so that they could see the squat stone square that was Balean Nakt nestled above the ridge. But the wolf took them to a thicket some distance from the building. There a noise was heard, like a man in pain. Rushing to the spot, the heroes discovered a very skinny dwarf, with a very very long unkempt grey beard that would have reached to his ankles had he stood and was he not sprawled on the heather amidst darkening pools of his own blood.
“They came from below,” gasped the old dwarf. “The Annals speak of perfectly pure subterranean streams and a strain of yeast so perfect, it practically brews itself. We were going to make a showing at the Grand Tourney… Magnus chased them off, but that only bought me a little time… I do not know if he still lives.” Zeb bestowed some of the power of the All Father upon the wounded Father Eftward (for it was he who had led pilgrims to this place of ancient brewers’ lore).
So the heroes rushed forth to battle these Orcs from the earth below, for perhaps Magnus lived, and in any case, there were dwarven lives to avenge!
Descending the stair beneath the Anvil of Moradin, they were confronted by an apparition of a Dwarven Legionnaire. “Name Your Fathers!!” called out this apparition. And so Zebidiah the Second dutifully listed his lineage dating back to the First Age of Elves.
“You may pass,” intoned the Legionnaire. The party stepped over the lifeless corpse of a green skinned orc and found themselves in an extensive sleeping hall. It was a scene of horror. All around, bodies had been tossed like rag dolls; the pilgrims lay in crumpled heaps, many still in their night clothes.

At the far end of the room a small group of green skins were heartily drinking from a keg of beer. Two orcs were holding another above a barrel, shouting and carrying on. Another three were laying about on the floor. Curled up on one vacant bed was a huge bristling Orc Boar, a savage creature of the wild kept chained in caves all of its brutal, violent life. This creature leapt to its feet and pawed the ground.
It was a quick and brutal fight. Soon all the orcs were dying upon the ground, although one had fled down a set of stairs beyond.
The impetuous heroes rushed in pursuit and found themselves at the top of an enormous staircase.

The vastness of the cavern echoed before them. Great stone stairs precipitated in several steep stages to the cavern floor over 180ft below. An arrow like a javelin whisked by, and clattered against the wall. There were foes on the stair!

This was precarious battle, as there were orcs wielding great “bellybows”, like personal ballista mounted against the Orcs’ belt buckles. These marksman caused great havoc as another wave of drudges attacked, followed quickly by a huge and menacing foe, well versed in slurs both common and exotic; and swinging a mighty sword of wicked curvature.
With the rocks many terrifying feet below, the heroes feared for their lives, but soon the might of their arms prevailed and they stood alone upon the stair, looking down at a faint but broad glow in the cavern below. Once again, the gladiator struck the final blow, this time with Vathune’s Shard. The black spear sent the final orc tumbling to his doom.

XP: 500 each

Fangs of Ouroboros
Beneath the Hanging Tower of Ustraunese

What fell ambition or nefarious command brought the Bejik Highhanded, last scion of House Vathune, to the ancestral ruins of Morningfall Mountain is still unclear, but what is now shouted from the peaks of the Floating Tower of Ustraunese is that such decisions were made under a wandering star, and so another Eldaran dream died on that great height, to the relief of the ancestral ghosts who had stood watch for a millenia.

It was Suntop, the Elven Archer, who saw the figure first. The big game hunter had caught up with Kara the Gladiator and Zebidiah “Z” Lamar, Soldier of the All-Father after their fight with the guardian ghosts of the valley. The prospect of hunting the ultimate prey(dragons) had lured him from his forest home.

As the defenders of Angleheath approached the wreckage beneath the floating tower of Morningfall, a sentinel was seen standing atop a column of basalt that leaned against a huge slabe of rubble that seemed like the top of a massive stone tower, half buried in the ground, and leaning on a second tower! He held a staff decorated with the sigil of Ouroboros. The sentinel was shod in the archaic armor of pre-Imperium Eldaran make, but Suntop could tell be the way it stood that this was no descendant of Faerie. A greeting was called out to the trio:

“Hail to you all! I heard fighting in the valley and feared that the undead had increased their numbers. I barely survived myself. They’ve boxed me into this forsaken place without food or water. Perhaps you can spare a little of both?” He pointed to the floating tower above, “In return, I’ll gladly share my temporary refuge.”

“Sure thing, we have food to share.” said Zeb. The trio came closer and discovered that although the sentinel stood upon a tall marble column beneath the looming shadow of the Hanging Tower, the various chunks of debris clouding the air were arranged just so in order to make a most precarious series of stepping stones, a veritable floating staircase leading to the column and beyond to tower, where a dark doorway loomed. The dwarf and gladiator began climbing this strange aerial trail whose stones shifted slightly under their feet, but Suntop hung back and his keen elven eye caught a gleam of metal in that high doorway above.

“Archer!” cried the elf. Even as he spoke, the sentinel shifted his weight as the dwarf approached. “Attack!” shouted the blackguard, and he swung his snake staff even as Suntop loosed an arrow at the sniper at the satellite above, striking true.

Everything became chaotic as the dwarf and gladiator jockeyed to shove a massive block of floating stone close enough for the dwarf’s short legs to clamber aboard the leaning ruin and bring the fight to this untrustworthy guardian who retreated up the slippery slope. Meanwhile, the sniper turned its attention to Suntop, who was soon bleeding from multiple arrow wounds.

A roar drew attention skyward, and the embattled heroes looked up to see a warwing drake, ridden by a lance wielding knight, come streaking down to rake its claws across the wounded elf, throwing him to the ground in a crumpled heap.

Kara moved swiftly. He whirled around on the floating island of stone, shifted his shortsword to downward trajectory, and launched himself onto the back of the drake in flight. He whipped past the slashing tail of the beast and buried his sword in it’s haunch, piercing scales, and sending all three, gladiator, drake, and rider crashing to the ground. A mighty display.

The fight devolved into a mad scramble amongst gravity defying rubble as Kara faced off against both drake and knight, while Z finally shoved his opponent off of a high ledge and leaped down the sky stairs to rescue the wounded Suntop, even as arrows rained about him. Soon, the drake and rider were slain, and all were obliged to take cover from the archer above.

Some diplomatic attempts ended in more blood, and soon the heroes were distracted by a discovery on the ground, an entrance to a chamber below the rubble. Descending this shaft brought the party to a corridor, where they managed to arouse a cloud of debilitating gas that sapped their strength. Moving forward, an ancient courtyard opened before them, sheltered under a roof of sundered marble and the mound of rubble above. Two now-buried stone towers had toppled against each other to create a precarious ceiling. The broken architecture supported the full weight of the ruins above, keeping an avalanche at bay. Lanterns flickered throughout the area, illuminating broken statues on the ground. The base of the tower opposite was closed off by wooden doors that appeared to be newly repaired.

Just then, a WOOSH of air, chill as the grave, rushed through the subterranean courtyard, extinguishing every torch. A mocking voice echoed through the dark:
“Welcome lost children. You chose the perfect time to visit my domain. Spirits of this ruin lend their ghostly might to my cause. Of course, you can no more see them than you can me. Indeed, my servants have already surrounded your position. But don’t fret. The darkness of the Wyrm’s Maw will fall upon you soon enough. Mwah ha ha!”

The heroes quickly set to lighting their own torches as Z created a circle of protection around himself and his allies. In the brief flair of light they could see a ghost descending from the ceiling.

Suntop sent an arrow through the apparition and ran of a flight of stairs, where he found himself on a crumbling enclosed balcony. Lighting a torch as his compatriots struggled with the undead below, Suntop peered out from a breach in the arcade in time to see the wooden gate burst open and an enraged drake and rider emerge. Two arrows went streaking towards the flying steed, causing much pain.

Bejik Vuthaner turned his mount towards the elf, and pierced him with a black lance of obsidian gleaming with eldritch energies, and the elf went to tumbling back into the relative safety of the corridor. Now Kara attacked, throwing himself at the beast and rider. Soon the drake was down and the two defenders flanked the Eldar lord, who asked for no quarter and received none, although, the gladiator thought he saw a plea for mercy in that ageless eye as he delivered the killing blow.

With the foe defeated and looted, the trio set about exploring the place. They discovered only one further room unfilled with rubble, and this an old summoning room, with a circle of sigils etched in the ground. Smoldering incense still lay around the perimeter from a most recent ritual. New chains of iron were bolted to the floor in the center of the circle. The paladin inspected the circle, but could not determine the nature of the ritual. Exploring further, a small pool of warm water was found, with a large egg resting in it. Satisfied that there was no more to discover, the three warriors left that precarious place, for, as Zebidiah noted, there was no telling how long that ceiling might hold.

Returning to the surface, the aerial sniper was nowhere to be seen. And so, after some rest, for they were wounded and weary (especially the elf!), the party made preparations to explore the Hanging Tower…

LOOT: Vathune’s Shard, boots, Talisman of Ouroboros(200gp), Bejik’s Book of Rituals (written in Elvish), one Drake egg, and a potion of healing(1st). XP: 500xp each

Ascent of Mount Morningfall
New heroes adventure in Neradia

Folk rejoiced as spring bloomed throughout Eamonvale. Blue skies replaced gray, snows melted, and flowers bloomed on the hillsides of high mountain valleys. Traveling minstrels strode the open roads singing lays of the “Prince Returned to Delver’s Dale”, and the impending tournament and coronation was the talk of every taproom and manor. Merchants, and herders, knights, and ne’r do wells were all on the move.

Amongst the bustling crowd in The Vintner’s Rest sat two sturdy souls, a dwarf and a swarthy, bearded man, listening intently to a pair of shepherds tell of ravaged flocks near the vineyards of Angleheath: “In years past, the Knight of the Manor, Jaeruun, would have sussed out the problem. He’s not called the Pillar of Light for nothing. Aye, but that lights gone missing. The Pillar hasn’t been seen about since first thaw. Maybe he’s training for the joust in the Dale this summer… maybe Danzig got ‘im.”

The dwarf grunted and tapped the hammer amulet that held his beard in place, “I begin to understand why Master Mallet sent me on this wine buying mission. Seems it won’t be so mundane after all! Har!”

“And perhaps I’ll earn that gold you slipped my way, oh dwarf” the swarthy warrior said as he quaffed his ale and wetted his jet black beard with foam. “Ah, but its good to get out of the Grey Citadel and feel the sun again. I’m afraid the winters chill will last through summer in that dour town.”

The day dawned clear and crisp as it does only when Spring is fresh and new, secure in place in the season. Clouds scudded up the valley to nest above the Grey Citadel along the flanks of the World Mountain, but that was far away. Here, in the lower end of the Eamon Vale, as the halfling town of Angleheath drew nearer, the sun did indeed warm the beards of the stolid travelers as they led their mule amongst the vines heavy with grapes and along a muddy cart track.

A scream rent the peace of the day and a small child burst through the hedge a few paces from the travelers. “Help! we are beset! Dragons from the sky! Father! Mother is in the house! Help!”

Cursing and grunting, the two warriors drew their weapons and followed the child to a small glen where two winged reptiles the size of horses terrorized this bucolic farm. A red drake atop the farmhouse tore at the thatch roof, while a green one stood athwart the small form of a halfling farmer. Somewhere, a pig snorted.
The battle was joined! Javelins flew! Prayers were sent to Moradin and mighty hammer blows punctuated them. The drakes were swift and elusive opponents, and their talons rent the boiled leather cuirass of the southern man, but nevertheless, these two hardened warriors soon slew the beasts. After a short rest, the two followed a pig to a neighboring farm where another drake pawed at another helpless farmer, only this lizard wore an elaborate saddle complete with saddle bags, and seemed to have no interest in eating or violence. In fact, it seemed fairly docile, so much so that the servant of Moradin attempted to mount the beast, which lead to a comical state of affairs involving a foot caught in a stirrup and a drake which flew away, leaving the dwarf left holding a saddlebag. In the saddlebag was an ancient dagger, elaborately exotic in design, and still smelling of the dust of a millenia. There was also a small vial filled with a very viscous fluid.
Finally, at the village, a mob children armed with rocks and pitchforks were sorely tempted to take matters into their own hands against a fourth drake who seemed to have crash landed in town. The children were dissuaded by the martial types who approached the lizard, which bore an iron collar, a brand of Ouroboros, and many, many scars of a life lived in torment. The creature seemed to be speaking some ancient language as it shook violently, spasmed, and finally lay still, a tragic creature laid to rest.
The townsfolk feted the two warriors for their brave defense and gifted them with a great many barrels of wine, now if only they would discover the source of these reptilian depredations! So the duo set early the next morn, still drunk from excess, hiking east, toward the singular figure of the Morningfall Mount. They discovered the be-saddled drake in a small clearing in the forest, dead now, at final rest at the foot of a strangely armored warrior whose crumpled form lay half buried in the loam due to the impact of some unimaginable fall. The corpse was that of an Eladrin (that in-bred race of fey who are most commonly found amongst the corrupt fleshpots of far off Asgulan), bearing arms of another age. Amongst the gaunt man’s effects were found ancient coins and a map of the region with the Morningfall Mount dead center.

“Well,” said the dwarf, “We’d better get climbing.”

The ascent of Mount Morningfall was an epic tale in and of itself, not one to easily be forgotten by any man, and a lesson in frivolous undertakings, for the Mount exacted its toll for passage. But the view was spectacular.
Finally the ascent was finished, and the heroes crested the ridge at a dizzying height, to find a wonder to behold. Suddenly, the name of this mountain took on new meaning. The bowl shaped valley that opened beneath their feet was littered with massive pieces of sundered marble and stonework overgrown with bushes, moss, and trees. the debris was not merely scattered across the ground but suspended in midair throughout the valley, as if frozen in place and weathered over a millennia. Not even the passage of time could disguise the catastrophic event that must have taken place here. Pieces of elaborate architecture, both embedded in the ground and hovering above it, radiated upward and outward from the lowest point in the valley. The most prominent edifice amongst the airborne flotsam was a nearly undamaged tower near the bottom of the valley but well above the surface. Descending into this valley, the dwarf discovered that chunks of rock as large as a table could be pushed as if it floated in water, and would even hold his weight. What strange sorcery took place here? A ring of statues guarded the final pitch into the center of the hanging vale. These statues were rooted to the earth. Each depicted an armored sentinel wearing armor of a similar style to the fallen rider. As the duo approached, an apparition appeared before them.
The phantom spoke in a town ancient and mournful, like a cold wind whistling on a barren heath: “This is no place for the breathing. It is a said tomb meant for the dead. My name was Tiburcaex Verak in life, but now I am something less. My soldiers and I mean to do you no harm, but our honor may require that preference to become meaningless if you persist in this place. We are duty bound to the last remaining scio of a once glorious house of warriors and scholarship. It causes me great torment to siphon the life of living things, and yet we must carry out the will of our new steward, even as doing so compromises the entirety of our noble history and brings the Worm that much closer to final victory. Such are the vagaries of honor. LOSo be it. This is your warning. Leave while you can or forfeit your lives to our necrotic swords. We can only stand idle a moment longer.”

The sorrow evident in the ghost’s voice led the scion of Moradin to believe he could reason with this honorable ghost, and so he attempted to parlay. The spirit answered some questions, and told a tale of the Last War of Autumn, when Danzig’s giants forced the Elder sky city of Urustranes to crash into this mountain, killing thousands and crippling the defenses of those who stood against the Winter Imperium. Gut all this availed the dwarf little, and soon enough he was convinced to make a break for it. Too late, elven spectres appeared about these heroes and so a battle with the chill breath of the grave began.

The spectres of ancient eladrin warriors unleashed the cosmic sorrow that had pent up for a thousand years, crying forth their anguish, driving the two warriors to their knees. Phantom swords clashed with hammer and spear. But soon enough it was over, for these ghosts had little of the fighting spirit in them.

Exausted, tired, and well spent in the favors of Moradin and Mithras, the two mountaineers looked down the valley at that hanging tower which had become their goal.


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