Cerrunos

Chapter 5
The White Tomb

Episode 5: The White Tomb

Refreshed after a night’s sleep in the Goliath’s mead hall, the party set out for the White Tomb under the guidance of Skywatcher Ufrang. Along the way, Wylem and the Goliath Champion chatted amicably, with Ufrang sharing the ways of his people in response to Wylem’s many questions. As the day reached its end, the party found themselves at the Edge of the World, overlooking a vast expanse of sea.

Ufrang led them to a jutting outcrop of rock, just above sea level. Raising his arms in the air, he chanted the following:

“Hail to the keeper,
Hail to the watcher,
Guardian faithful
In reaches of night

Hail to the speaker,
Hail to the knower,
Death to the chaos
In Solas’ light”

Upon the completion of this chant, a longboat rose from the depths of the sea. The party boarded the ship, which took off on its own magical course, leaving the mountain and Skywatcher Ufrang behind them. After another day’s travel, their destination came into view- an ancient, smooth marbled structure rising out from the depths. The boat docked itself at the steps leading to the entrance, sinking back out of sight after the party had disembarked.

Just after entering the Tomb, the party felt an immediate unease. Delving further in, they found the resting place of the Goliath champions defiled, with words in a foul language scrawled on the walls. The party encountered several ghosts, and after a harrowing fight which saw many of the group age due to the ghost’s life draining magic, they managed to send their enemies back to their rest. Choosing to rest and recover for the night before descending the stairs that led to the depths of the tomb, the party slept outside the entrance, first spending a few moments to try and undo some of the desecration.

The next morning the party descended the spiralling stairs, finally emerging into a cavernous room, empty save for a massive greatsword embedded in the jagged rock in the centre of the room. Elyos noticed the symbol on the sword’s handle, which matched the one on his arm- as he took hold of the blade, it shrunk to fit his hand. The party heard a voice speak in their mind- Runa Skyborn, the titan guardian of the Tomb, had been trapped in her own sword.

She proceeded to tell the story: how a dark, blue black skinned man with pure white hair arrived at the island, along with the great black dragon, Sintharia. He wore armor of black leather, with obsidian raven’s feather details on the shoulders and legs. He was barefoot. On his face, and running down his arms, she could see silver-blue script in an infernal language, which seemed to run over his body. Two lines ran into his eyes, and the pupils were the colour of the script, which seemed to glow faintly. She did not know hear his name, but Sintharia referred to him as “Dubh Catha,” meaning “Dark Crow.” Runa referred to him as Godtouched, saying she did not recognize the magic he used to bind her there. The dragon ripped the tomb from the floor, and the two exited through a portal.

With Elyos taking the sword, the group returned and told the Goliath’s what had happened. The Champions handed the group The Horn of Valor, telling them to use it in their time of need. Z informed the party that he would be leaving them, and staying to learn from the Goliaths for a time. The party then made the journey (by gryphon) back to Caerlin, reporting to the King all they had learned. King Eldin requested their presence at a council to be held in the near future, offering to have the party stay in the guest quarters in the castle for the time being. The party accepted, and await the call to the council.

Game time: 12 days

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Chapter 4
Trials and Tribulations

Waking up refreshed, the party decided to go out and run errands in the city. Unbeknownst to them all, Ampelio, who still had the Oathstone, returned from his errands first (with a live chicken in tow) and decided to make use of the powerful object. Alone in his room, he activated the object with a wish, to found a great kingdom in the forest. As soon as the words were said, Ampelio’s soul was torn from his body, leaving behind a lifeless shell.

The rest of the party gradually returned from their shopping, electing to work on various activities. Z, who was waiting on the darts Ampelio had promised him earlier, went to check if their new friend was in his room. Opening the door, he found Ampelio’s body laid on the bed, still clutching the Oathstone, and the carcass of the newly purchased chicken, which had been partially devoured by Ampelio’s pet fox. Returning to the group with his bad news, the party crammed into Ampelio’s room, trying to decide what they should do with the body. A fierce debate ensued, with some saying they should contact the guards, others saying that letting anyone know would be suspicious, and might spread word of the stone.

As they were engaged in this argument, a knock on the door and the voice of Dr. Brandin startled them- while Musef went out to distract the Dr, Adama took off through the window in cat form, Z throwing her the Oathstone. She fled out into the forest, burying the stone and standing guard. Meanwhile, Dr. Brandin and Musef had come to a stalemate out in the hall, with Musef finally agreeing to let Brandin in, since he seemed to know what had happened anyway. Dr. Brandin, lamenting that none of this would have happened if they had given him the stone, turned the body of Ampelio invisible, and the group went out to the woods to bury him.

Some time later, Finn the chipmunk appeared back at the tavern with a message from Adama. After Z penned a warning letter in response, the rest of the group, Dr. Brandin included, followed him back to her location. After some tense negotiation, in which Brandin made a case for why the party should hand the Oathstone over to him, they decided to resolve the matter with a vote. Almost immediately, the party was split, with Z and Adama instantly against the idea, and Musef and Elyos agreeing to turn the stone over. The final vote fell to Wylem, who, after some deliberation, decided that they had proved themselves poor keepers of the item, siding with Elyos and Musef. Adama was still unwilling to give the orc the stone, however, a quick bit of magic on Dr. Brandin’s part changed her mind. Z, suspecting something, threw a dart at Dr. Brandin and missed- saying he was happy to let bygones be bygones, Brandin ignored this affront, and headed off with the Oathstone.

Returning to the Whistling Owlbear, the group learned that a royal summons had come while they were out- they were to meet the king the following morning for a late breakfast. Z, frustrated and upset, passed the night in the woods where Ampelio was buried, under the watchful eye of Wylem. Eventually, the party reformed and made their way to the castle to meet with King Eldin Elric. Over their meal, Eldin explained that the drow they had encountered were not the only ones in the area. He had groups working to discover the path to Laath Themar, the drow city, in hopes that the drow plan would be stopped. However, he had consulted with experts on the lore of the drow Goddess, and believed that a trip to speak with the Goliath’s was crucial to further their understanding. The ancient lore told the story of Yamara being defeated by Runa Skyborn, who was said to be a goliath raised by the gods to stand as one of their Titan champions. Runa sealed Yamara in a place called The White Tomb, a place the goliaths were rumored to know the location of, though it was not something they freely shared with outsiders. The group would need to undertake a long journey to Limberlost, the northernmost city, to find a guide able to take them to Farreach Hold. Agreeing to the proposal, the group departed immediately on the King’s royal (unnamed) gryphons, making the journey to Limberlost in record time.

In the city, they found their guide- a Goliath caribou herdsman by the name of Ingvar Stormwalker, and his kenku friend, Wombert. Ingvar and Wombert led the group to the base of the mountain, Etmir’s Hand, with Wombert enthusiastically promising to lead them all the way up (though he had never been there before himself). Ingvar instructed them to ask to speak to the Thane, and said that he would wait for their return. The trip up the mountain was relatively easy, as the weather remained mostly pleasant. The party had a dangerous encounter with a roving bulette, but defeated the beast and carried on.

Reaching the hold, which was built onto the plateauing top of the mountain, the group were taken to the Thane of the Hold, Balagard Skyson. He told them that they must prove themselves by passing the Trial of Valor, testing their might against a champion of their choice. The party were given three names: Mjordin Twice-born, Skywatcher Ufrang, and Hyrja Wolfcaller. Choosing Skywatcher Ufrang, the group were led down to the ring to fight, while the goliaths gathered to watch. An epic battle ensued, with the party fighting to prove themselves against Ufrang and his conjured wolves. When Ufrang shifted forms, turning into a polar bear, Adama met him head on in her own bear form- the group managed to break both of Ufrang’s transformations, with the goliath laughing in exhilaration as they did. With both of his wolves defeated, and half of the party unconcious, Ufrang stopped the battle, proclaiming the party worthy champions, and honoured guests of the Hold.

With their wounds healed by Mjordin, the group joined the Goliaths in their mead hall for a celebratory feast, where they sat in seats of honour at the high table, alongside the Thane and the 3 champions. Ufrang offered to guide them to the White Tomb the following day, and the party accepted- but for now, they were going to celebrate.

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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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