Cerrunos

Chapter 3
The Kingsroad

Daybreak renewed the group’s discussions of what they should do next- reluctant to say too much in the presence of Charles, they were all able to agree that they would at least like to have the stone identified further, before deciding whether or not to give it to Dr. Brandin. Elyos mentioned a personal contact of his, Durvan Gall- leader of the Explorer’s League. A dwarf deeply interested in the study of dragons, he might have heard more about the stone, or perhaps know more of Sintharia, the black dragon the stone had supposedly belonged to. Agreeing to this plan, they set out for Modan, a journey that would take them roughly 10 days. However, they had scarcely started when they encountered something odd- what looked to be a small man burst out of the trees and came running towards them, pursued hotly by a group of Drow. Somewhat confused, but without much time to process, the group jumped into the fray, fighting the Drow and their leashed Hook Horror. Two of the Drow escaped back the way they came, while the party defeated the rest.

Their new acquaintance introduced himself as Ampelio, explaining that he had been in the area looking for seeds when the drow jumped him. The group briefly pondered chasing down the two that had fled, and had ultimately decided against it when Wylem took matters into his own hands, chasing after the drow on his own. The others decided to follow, and after a few minutes came across what appeared to be a man-made tunnel. Delving inside, they discovered what had been the campsite of the drow- confirmed when they encountered the Drow captain, hiding in his room. After a tedious battle, the captain fell to Wylem’s arrow. Musef read through the log book in captain’s room, and the group learned that this tunnel was one of many. The drow were creating them as a way to funnel prisoners back to their city, Laath Themar, where they were to be sacrifices in a ritual to free “The Lady”. Spending a few minutes to recuperate, the party then headed down the rest of the tunnel- where they found themselves in a dangerous negotiation with the final drow, who held one of the prisoners hostage. As the drow tried to bargain for his freedom, Wylem took a risk and shot an arrow at the drow- while it impacted, it was not enough to slay the drow, and the consequence was dire. The drow immediately killed the boy it had been holding hostage, and fled to the back of the room. After a brief combat, in which Adama accidentally attacked the hostages, and Charles was slain, Elyos managed to slit the drow’s throat, completely severing his head in the process.

Seeing to the prisoners, the group was surprised to find they recognized three of them- the Tiefling Bard, Erath Vatiss, and his fellow troupe members, Drunny the dwarf and Nathenril the half-elf. They had been captured on their way to Strathmore. The final prisoner was a young boy, around 10 years old. Visibly distressed at the death of his friend, Wil, the boy was calmed and looked after by the party, eventually revealing his name to be Theron Elric- Musef instantly recognizing his last name as that of the ruling family of Caerlin. They decided to abandon their previous plans, in favor of escorting Theron back to Caerlin. On the way, Elyos and Theron bonded over a mutual love for creatures, while Musef entertained the boy with his pie summoning and colour changing abilities.

A group of guards met them immediately at the city gates, and escorted them to the King and Queen. Eldin and Iselda Elric surprised the group by talking candidly with them, thanking them for the return of their son, and explaining that they had been hearing of similar cases in the area. The King dismissed them, saying he would be summoning them again in the near future to talk more about the drow. In the meantime, he requested they visit the Arcanum, and speak with Wynnifred, the head researcher there, who was working on the same issue. Upon speaking with her, the group (minus Elyos, who was kicked out due to his rude comments) learned that the drow were trying to bring back Yamara, a great Old One who had once plagued the earth, until she was defeated and sealed away by Runa Skyborn, a Titan created by the gods to combat those primeval beings. Wynnifred was also able to identify the cube they had found as The Oathstone, an artifact supposedly created by Sinestra, the goddess of magic herself. In order to activate the stone, the holder had to swear a solemn oath- paying with their death immediately upon the oath’s completion. If the oath was sworn, but never finished, the soul of that person was considered forfeit, and would remain trapped in the Oathstone forever.

Deciding this was too dangerous an item to give away, the party decided to try and deceive Dr. Brandin, pretending they believed a different object to be the one he had requested. Returning to Brandin, they told him their story, handing over the flaming sphere they had found in the mansion. While Brandin remained calm, he seemed mistrustful of the party’s story, noting the powerful magic objects they had recovered for themselves. However, he allowed them to leave seemingly without incident- while Musef tried to quickly read his thoughts on the way out, he was unable to detect them. The group decided to spend the night at The Whistling Owlbear, agreeing to take Ampelio along with them wherever their next adventure might lead….

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Chapter 2
The Eye of the Beholder

The group made their way through the rest of the mansion, with several interesting encounters taking place along the way. Taking up much of the party’s time was their meeting with the somewhat deranged Spectator, Grimbol. Set to guard one of the final skulls by a crazed Malserus, Grimbol remained faithfully guarding his bathtub- regardless of the party’s efforts. Finally, Z decided it was time to act, and attacked Grimbol, throwing the party into a combat which saw many of them immobilized, terrorized, or even turning on their comrades while under Grimbol’s magic. Musef and Elyos managed to avoid the worst of the Spectator’s eye beams by darting in and out of the room, with Elyos finally landing the killing blow, running Grimbol through with his glaive. Moving through the rest of the house, the group finally collected the rest of the skulls, setting them in their proper order. A secret compartment was revealed, containing a key and some treasure. Together, they headed up to the attic to seek out the item they’d been hired to find, finding some treasures of their own in the dusty room.

Inserting the key into the moon-shaped lock, the group gained access to Malserus’ study. Rushing in, Adama, Wylem, and Z immediately vanished, to find themselves on another plane with the shambling corpse of Malserus. One blow from Adama crumpled the once-powerful wizard, and the three reappeared in front of a somewhat bemused Elyos and Musef. Going through Malserus’s desk revealed a small, stone cube- the supposed wishing stone they’d been sent for.

With their task complete, the party returned to the servants, finding the curses that had affected the mansion ended. The servants decided to remain at the mansion for the immediate future, and the group departed, spending a night camping outside the manor gates while they tried to decide what to do next…

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Chapter 1
Dr. Brandin's Magical Menagerie

Their reasons their own, five adventurers found themselves near the great human city of Caerlin, just as the famous Dr. Brandin’s Magical Menagerie and Travelling Circus was in town. A disagreement with Dr. Brandin’s staff over the ethics of caged animals brought Elyos, Adama, and Wylem together, while Musef tried not to get involved. After being barred from the menagerie, and nearly expelled from the fair, the group decided to make their way through the various games together. It was during a pie eating contest that they encountered Z, an earnest fellow who, unfortunately, was unable to keep his pie down.

The contests passed, with each having a moment to showcase their skills, and Musef impressing Elyos with his surprising strength, and ability to seemingly predict the future. Adama and Wylem insisted on going their separate ways at the end of the day- Musef, Elyos, and Z spending the night at a local inn. In the earlier hours of the morning, everyone awoke to find a strange coin in their pockets, inviting them to share breakfast with Dr. Brandin himself.

Somewhat surprised to be meeting up again, the group entered to find a lavish feast set before them, Dr. Brandin seated at the head of the table. A charismatic but abrasive orc, Brandin explained that as a collector, he was interested in this unique group. He gave them a task- to recover a treasure from Darrowmere Manor, a once splendid place that the locals considered haunted. The treasure, it was said, had the power to grant a wish. Their payment would be anything they found in the manor, as Dr. Brandin was only interested in one thing. The group deliberated, and decided to take Brandin up on his offer.

Setting out with Brandin’s homunculus, Charles, tagging along, the five made their way to the manor. Upon arrival, Adama and Wylem scouted the property, noting the unnatural plant growth and other oddities. Inside the walls, Adama encountered a strange, dark beast, though no one else saw it. The group entered the mansion seemingly without issue, and the doors slammed shut, locking behind them. As they cautiously made their way through the first floor, they found several skulls with moon phases carved into the forehead, and a room with headless skeletons around a table. Z found a potion, and upon drinking it fell instantly in love with the first person he saw, Adama. Shortly after the party encountered a room of stone animals, who upon being touched, sprang back to life. Before any of the creatures had the opportunity to move, Z attacked to defend his beloved. The group, to the protests of Adama, slew three of the creatures, before the great owl shouted at them to stop. Thanks to the abilities of Musef, the party learned that these creatures were the remaining staff of the manor, having been cursed years before. Perhaps, if they made their way through the house, the group would be able to somehow break the curse…

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