Cerrunos

Chapter 13
Bird's the Word

Having prepared their plan during the day, the party had the children of Strathmore gather to sleep in a large barn on the edge of town. With the parents waiting down the street, the party kept watch outside- except for Creed, who told them to wake him up if anything happened. After a while, something did happen- the darkness became darker, signifying that something had entered the barn.

After some tedious attempted combat in the dark against an invisible teleporting creature, it was finally revealed that they were fighting a grossly obese Nycaloth, who had been feeding off the fear of the city’s children. Ignoring its offers of power, the party managed to slay it, keeping the children safe. They accepted a small but heartfelt reward from the townsfolk, and decided to head back to their home.

On the way, Adama decided it was time to teach the elderly farmer she’d chastised a serious lesson. With the party following, they made their way to the ramshackle house where the old man lived with his two sons. After yelling at the man, Adama set his fence on fire. As the old man cried about contacting the guards, Creed, Wombert, and Sharpe helped him put out the fire. Creed gave him a generous handful of gold to apologize, and the party headed back to the road.

After a few days, they were close to home, but decided to take up their final quest- aiding Kelvin the farmer with the “derned big burds” that were causing him trouble. Kelvin turned out to be a stooped, elderly man who lived in a cozy cottage not too far from their own home. He invited them all in for tea, and explained that his sheep were being carried off. He used to have 6-now only 3 remained.

After hatching a brilliant plan (and locking the baby owlbear in the woodshed), the party headed into the forest. The following morning, Adama turned into a sheep and bleated loudly, which succeeded in attracting the giant eagle on its way to steal another of Kelvin’s sheep. It had barely got its talons around her, when it was promptly destroyed by Creed. The party celebrated by cutting off various bits of the eagle, with Sharpe beginning to cook some tasty eagle meat breakfast.

Suddenly, a second eagle flew overhead. The party began to panic, rushing back towards Kelvin’s house- Sharpe stayed put, continuing to cook breakfast. Just as they arrived, the eagle was taking off, with a sheep in its grasp. They chased it back through the forest, with Sharpe giving up on breakfast and joining them.

They came out into a clearing, where a hill with a giant, dead tree rose out of the ground. A huge nest with 3 baby giant eagles (who were devouring the sheep) loomed before them. After a long and confusing encounter, in which Wombert was thrown out of the nest for pretending to be a featherless hatchling, Creed murdered another giant eagle, Adama spent a lot of time bleating, and the party learned the importance of rope, they headed back to Kelvin’s cottage, with three baby eagles in tow…

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Chapter 12
But What of the Children?!

Having successfully escorted the dyes to Hartfield Estate, the party (minus Wylem, who retreated to the forest) spent two days being fitted and prepared for the upcoming masquerade, where they were to act as Lady Davoness’ models. The grand reveal of her new colour, ETERNAL EBONY, was a great success, and the party returned home with some sweet new outfits.

Going over the letters they had received, the party decided to head to Strathmore, where a woman in town had written them, saying the children had been reporting sightings of a green monster. Wylem had been having a bit of an existential crisis while everyone else was out modelling, and as the party prepared to leave, he slipped off, leaving a letter (which was heavily retconned by Mystogan) as his only farewell.

Continuing on, the party started the journey to Strathmore. A few uneventful days passed as they traveled on the Kingsroad, but as they woke on the third day, a strange encounter took place. A small, elderly gnome came shambling out of the bushes. He introduced himself with many different names, but said that they could call him Sharpe. He had been sent to find the Heroes of Caerlin, although he wasn’t specific on who sent him or why. All he knew was that it felt right. The party tried to leave him behind, but had no luck. So Sharpe joined the party for the time being.

The rest of the journey included a fight with two ettins, where Sharpe found himself used as a club against the unfortunate Creed, and Creed retaliated by slaying both ettins almost single-handedly. They came across some farmers who were on the lookout for an owlbear, but they were pretty sure they’d managed to shoot it. After chastising them, Adama ran off into the woods while everyone else kept walking, and found a baby owlbear. Taking the little creature with her (and chastising the farmers again) she caught up, and the group arrived at Strathmore.

They concocted a plan, with the help of the parents- the children would have a big sleepover in one of the barns, while the party and parents would keep watch from nearby, ready to jump in should the creature appear…

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Chapter 11
Fashion is Danger

Having successfully hired on their staff, the party took some time for a much needed rest. A month passed as they followed their own pursuits, until Wesley presented them with a handful of letters at breakfast one morning. It seemed that several people had written requesting the party’s help for various different jobs.

After reading over the letters, the party decided to take on the request of one Lady Fiona Davoness, who requested their presence at Hartfield Estate as soon as possible- she believed an incoming shipment of hers was about to be waylaid. The party headed off for Hartfield Estate, and arrived after an uneventful trip.

Upon their arrival they were greeted by an immaculately, rather than practically, dressed servant. As he led them to Lady Davoness, the party noticed several other servants struggling to go about their days in similarly impractical attire. The party were ushered in to a large, black room, where Lady Davoness sat at a round table, cutting fabrics. After some brief introductions, Lady Davoness filled the party in on the dire situation. As the party should know, her name is widely recognized as one of the finest when it comes to fashion. Her looks are all the rage. It would be the UTMOST tragedy if her new colour, ETERNAL EBONY ™ was stolen and released to the world by her rival, Quincy Archer. She’s heard that Quincy plans on hitting her shipment arriving the following night, and will reward the party if they accompany her caravan and ensure that doesn’t happen.

Somewhat annoyed at the seeming triviality of the quest, the party accepted and were even more annoyed when they met the guards they were to travel with. Chad, Brad, Chett, Brett, and JD were nearly identical, with differing hairstyles being the only way to tell them apart. After some hacky sack filled travel, the party met up with the other caravan, and completed the trade seemingly without indecent. That night, however, the party was rudely awakened by a band of villains, intent on stealing the dye shipment.

A masked man with two rapiers seemed to be leading them, however once combat started he immediately tried to flee the scene. A hectic battle ensued, in which Adama mauled multiple bandits in her sabertooth form, Wylem was killed trying to climb on top of the wagon (and promptly resurrected thanks to Mystogan), and Brad, Chad, Brett, and JD were slain having accomplished nothing. While Chett mourned the loss of his comrades, the party interrogated the masked man, who turned out to be Quincy Archer himself.

After some terrible negotiating, the party decided it would be best to just tie Quincy up and bring him back with them. Quincy, not keen on this plan, tried to bargain his way out during the night. Creed turned down his deal, but Mystogan accepted, thinking he could easily recapture Quincy. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and after freeing him Mystogan could only watch helplessly as Quincy dimension doored into the night.

Now initiated into the cutthroat world of fashion, the party head back to deliver the dyes to Lady Davoness…

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Chapter 10
Heroes and Hiring

As the Amadan Duhr fell to Wombert’s rapier, a blinding light burst forth from the sword Wylem carried. With the death of their foe, the curse on Runa had been broken. After healing the party, she told them she would take care of Yamara, her ancient enemy- it was, after all, what she had been created to do.

The party, with Syldrin still travelling in their midst, began their escape from Laath Themar. Keeping to the shadows, they managed to avoid any further conflict on their way out of the city, though they passed through scenes of chaos. With Wylem leading the way, they headed towards Ardenstone, where Seven and members of The Reach had opened a portal back to the surface. As they caught up to the rushing mob of former prisoners and slaves, the party did their best to aid anyone they could, expending what limited resources they had left.

Once they made their way through the portal, they found themselves in the wide fields on the outskirts of Caerlin. In the general chaos of the scene, as Mystogan had his first encounter with the surface world and its sun, the party lost track of Syldrin, who slipped away. However, there was no time for a search, as they were summoned to the castle to give their report to the King. After they told the King what had happened, he thanked them, and requested their presence at a royal address the following morning. As the party headed to their chambers, Musof stayed behind and confessed a secret to the King- his true name was not Musof Lythalion Cebee, but Creed Blightwood…

The following morning, the party (minus Wylem, who watched from the crowd) stood in front of the assembled citizens of Caerlin, who cheered on the heroes who had ended the drow threat. The King bestowed titles on each of them, as well as deeding Darrowmere Manor to them. The party decided to head to their new home for some much needed rest.

However, running a home is a big job. They needed to hire some staff, which took some considerable thinking. After some observation and interviews, the party hired:
• Captain of the Guard- Galreth
• Head Chef- Russek Evermead
• Steward- Wesley Cauldwell
• Guards- Lana Axehand, Tura Kreel, Draka, Brani
• Groundskeeper and assistant- Sajax, Tuck
• General staff for cooking/cleaning- Cella & Tilly
• Stable hand – Norris Aldren

The other downside to being a hero is that people start to come to you with their problems, something the party is beginning to learn…

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Chapter 9
Face to Face

Having succeeded in their attempt to free the prisoners, the party stopped for a moment to catch their breath before heading on to the Slave Pens. Strapped for resources, and having exhausted much of their spells, they were still determined to liberate the slaves before the day way done.

While they were heading to the Slave Pens, Mystogan mentioned the interesting story behind the Slave Master. Once a respected member of the Gloaming Court, he took an inappropriate interest in one of his slaves, a human female. She escaped, leaving him disgraced and ruined, sent to live among the slaves he oversaw. When the party reached the gate to the slave pens, they were met by Kynan and Seven, who explained the situation. While the prisoners had taken the guards by surprise, the Slave Master, Syldrin, was holding a respected gnomish elder, Cella, hostage in an attempt to protect himself. The party agreed to assist in resolving the situation.

As they confronted Syldrin, who demanded assurances of his own safety before he would relinquish his hold on Cella, tensions escalated as Wylem revealed the truth behind the situation- Arya, the human woman who had escaped from Syldrin all those years ago, was his mother. Once Syldrin had sheathed his weapons and been restrained by Mystogan, Wylem attacked in a rage. His companions attempted to come between the two, and eventually succeeded in preventing Wylem from killing his father. Leaving Syldrin in his house, the party settled down for some much needed rest.

The following morning, the party continued to finalize their plans, intending to head to the heart of the city to meet its leader in battle. Kynan continued to lead strike teams through the city to draw off attention, while the great crystal dragon, Saphiron, created havoc from above. Heading out, they discovered that Syldrin had vanished in the night. With no time to lose, they made their way through the city. Just before they reached their target, they encountered a group of drow guards, including Syldrin. Thanks to Musof’s magical abilities, they were able to slip past unnoticed.

There, before them, they saw the White Tomb, with a figure standing before it. A steady stream of blood pooled over the top of the tomb, and to the floor below. After a brief exchange, the party threw themselves into a long and arduous battle with their greatest foe, the Amadan Duhr himself. Though she was still bound to her sword, Runa supported the group with healing and divine magic, enabling them to fight beyond their means. Yamara lent her powers to the Amadan Duhr, the White Tomb radiating dark and sinister effects. The battle was joined by the drow Musof had incapacitated earlier, though Syldrin turned against his own kind and fought on the party’s side. Throughout it all, the party managed to stay strong, and Wombert, who had suffered the most throughout the fight, finally striking the killing blow. They had defeated the Amadan Duhr, but the White Tomb loomed above them, the city was in chaos, and they were still deep in the Underdark…

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Chapter 8
Insurrection

After spending the night in Mystogan’s safehouse, the party was introduced to Commander Elvina Arkenth, the granddaughter of Velen, and a resurrected military leader in the city. She outlined the plans to see her grandfather assume control of the Gloaming Court, and pointed out targets of interest in the city. She would divert some of the forces in the Laath Themar to another area, ensuring that the party wouldn’t have to deal with the full military might of the city.

First on the party’s list of targets was the tower of the First Arcanist, Thalryssa. As she was the one upholding the anti-magic wards on the prison and slave pens, it was crucial to find where her loyalties were. With Mystogan pretending to be bringing interesting subjects to Thalryssa to study, they were granted an audience, and quickly escorted up the tower by the slave, Belwin. After a tense conversation, Thalryssa declared she was quite busy, and needed to be about her errands. She invited the party to stay and see if they could find anything useful. While not an explicit offer of support, the party caught on to her meaning, and searched through the tower after the First Arcanist had departed. Reaching the top floor, they found a large crystal being used as a focusing lens of sorts. After some terrible sneaking by Musef, and a poorly placed fireball (courtesy of Adama) that knocked an unfortunate Wylem unconcious, the party managed to destroy the crystal. Sensing that the magic had been dispelled, they made haste to the prison.

Once again posing as prisoners, the group made their way through the outer defenses, escorted by a somewhat bemused guard. Bringing them to the locked doorway leading to the cells, the guard went to get Vandros, the Warden. Upon seeing the group, and confirming they were the ones sent by Elvina, Vandros slew the guard- and handed his keys to the party. Telling them to “make it look convincing,” he got a bit more than he bargained for when he was promptly mauled by Adama in her bear form. Heading in to the prison, the party fought their way through the guards, and began busting the prisoners out of their cells. Descending to the lowest level of the prison, the party discovered the chained form of Saphiron the Brightweaver, a large, crystalline dragon. Stating his hatred for the race that had imprisoned him with cowardly magics, the dragon agreed to fight alongside them, Together, they helped free him from his bonds. After a rousing speech from Mystogan, the prisoners began to surge out in a more organized fashion, knowing that this was their only chance at survival. Arming themselves with what they could find in the storage rooms, they spilled out of the prison, heading towards the slave pens as directed. The great form of Saphiron bursting through the roof of the prison behind them.

Exhausted and injured, the party stopped for a brief moment of rest before they too headed on, towards the slave pens. It had been a long and trying day, but there was still much to come…

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Chapter 7
What Lies Beneath

After an uneasy night’s rest, the party continued on, heading ever deeper into the Underdark. Making their way around the black lake, careful not to disturb any more of its residents, the party came to a tunnel that split in two directions- holding true to their “right is right” strategy, it was an easy choice which one to follow.

The tunnel lead on for quite some time, before opening out into a chamber of sorts, containing two statues and a large bronze door. Seven and Elyos were amazed at this find, suggesting it could be the long lost city of Ardenstone, which had fallen many years ago. The city was somewhat of a legend on the surface world, said to have great technology seen nowhere else. Seven informed the party that a remnant of the race that had built the great city still lived in Laath Themar as slaves.

Wandering through the city, the party found several feats of craftsmanship, from the floating lights that still lit the empty city, to an ethereal star map and a workshop full of unique creations- though they spent most of their time in the city admiring the underground Conservatory, a grove which contained a number of unique animals and plants, much to the delight of Elyos and Adama.

However, not everything in the city was as pristine and calm as the grove. One wing of the city seemed to be enveloped in a vast spider web, where the lights that floated through much of the city had been shattered and extinguished. Making their way through the webbed tunnels, the party found themselves in a difficult battle with a number of large spiders, an ettercap, and finally a drider- a dark and twisted creation of Yamara’s, combining drow and spider into one being.

The battle was fierce, with many party members brought low, struggling to stay up during the vicious onslaught. After felling the spiders and the ettercap, only the drider remained. In a frenzy, it struck at the unconscious form of Elyos- and though he managed to hold on for a few more moments, in the heat of battle his allies were unable to save him. Musof tried in vain to bring some sign of life back to his friend, while the rest of the party finished off the drider, a well placed arrow from Wylem finally bringing it down.

The party were at a loss of what to do next. Their friend and travelling companion lay lifeless before them. Was it better to continue on, or divert the journey to attempt a resurrection? Through Seven they had a way to Caerlin and back without much time being lost, however those precious hours could be the difference between their mission succeeding or failing. Finally, they decided it would be best to lay Elyos to rest in the grove he had so enjoyed; finding a spot under a large tree, close to the stream, they lowered Elyos into the ground. During the burial, many of the creatures gathered around, thanks to the urging of Adama. Two large fey creatures, half wolf, half plant, emerged from the trees, coming to sit by the grave. They promised to watch over the resting place of Elyos Vakata, just as they had watched over the grove.

After some time, the party pressed onwards, determined to succeed in their goal so that the death of Elyos would not have been in vain. Exiting the city and entering the mines, the party discovered the remnants of a brutal battle. Ancient corpses, large and small, were strewn across the wide walkway connecting the various mining shafts. Remains of constructs and strange creatures could be seen amidst the wreckage- evidence of the fall of Ardenstone all those years ago.

Eventually the party came to a small, ramshackle cabin tucked away in the shadows. Standing at the door was a hooded figure, who Seven identified as her contact, Mystogan. The figure soon turned out to be an illusion, with the real Mystogan stepping out from behind the party. He had been shadowing them for a while, stating one can never be too careful. In order to lead the party safely into Laath Themar, they would have to pose as prisoners, trusting Mystogan not to lead them astray. Though tensions were high, they agreed- Seven and Mystogan disguised Wylem so that he would pass as a full drow, the party were tied in a slave line, and they headed off into the city, leaving Seven behind.

Taking them through back streets, Mystogan managed to avoid arousing any suspicions, despite the mounting anxiety gripping Wylem. Arriving at the safehouse, he released them from their bonds, and the party prepared to spend their first night inside the city of Laath Themar…

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Chapter 6
Into the Underdark

Having spent a few days resting in the castle, the party was called to attend the council. Upon arriving, they saw a few familiar faces- King Eldin, Knight-Captain Alvard, and Wynnifred Reed. The King introduced them to the remaining council members- Brom Battlefist, the ambassador from Silverdeep; Rhovull Vrakryn, the ambassador from Rimefell; Darron Thurlo, High Priest of the Four; and Mara Vollan, Master of Secrets.

Musef related their findings to the council, and Mara presented the recent information she had gathered- her contacts in the Caerlin chapter of The Reach had a way into the city. They had a contact in place who knew the city, and who had worked closely with drow before. They reported that there was dissent beginning to grow within Laath Themar, some who didn’t wish to see Yamara returned to power.

After a lengthy discussion, the party decided to act as Caerlin’s eyes on the ground, and head to Laath Themar to assess the situation. The Reach transported them to their access tunnel, and the party ventured into the Underdark. Walking through the dark, ever downwards, the party encountered a “village” of plant creatures. Unsure when they would encounter opposition, they decided to pose as Wylem’s prisoners until they were in the clear. They continued single file, tied to a rope, with Wylem leading them down the path ahead. After what felt like hours of wandering through the darkness, they spotted a fire ahead with a hooded figure seated nearby. Awkwardly stating that he had prisoners to deliver, Wylem was surprised when the figure laughed, removing her hood and introducing herself as Seven Sixclaw, their contact.

With Seven joining them, the party continued ever downwards, encountering the strange creatures and sights that lurked far underground, hoping to find their way through the many twisting tunnels of the Underdark…

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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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