The True Dreamers

Enemies and Friends at the Gate

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Sixteenth Entry

This awakening saw the facing of their single largest foe as well as the unmasking of the inner demon of their smallest member. The core group of dreamers awakened; Reille, Corik, Tinnyen, Jaythier, Darkel and Sammael. I once again hid them from watching eyes on their dream walk to the summoning chambers. As soon as all arrived I returned them to Arastia

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They began, facing the door into the mountainside with the missing handle. The door gave to their firm push and in they went.

“They saw a stairway going down and the forward into a large hallway. Ahead they saw the hallway expands into a great entrance hall. The craftsmanship of the dwarves is evident everywhere. So too unfortunately is the disuse of the Trolls as all manner of filth and destruction seems to have been visited upon the stonework in these halls.”

They pushed on, down the stairs and into the long corridor ahead and into the large entrance hall.

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“Something smells wrong, foul. There is a taint everywhere, a yellow barely breathable fog covers this room. Something like the foul mess they encountered outside the gatehouse but far more immediate, more fresh, if such a word could be applied to so toxic a presence. Before them the hallway falls away and they see a giant entrance hall. A great stone door glowing slightly blue can just be seen through the fog on the opposite side of the great hall. There are no pillars holding up the roof. Some Dwarven artifice must keep the ceiling from collapsing without obvious support. To the left there is a large pile of rubble and the smell of air both fresh and foul. To the right the hall is mostly undisturbed.”

They started across the room. Only to be charged by a fully adult green dragon much larger than the one they fought the day before. It cried out upon seeing and smelling them.

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“I smell the blood of Antharosk upon you. Thanketos will make you pay for the slaying of her daughter.”

And with that she breathed out poison vapors upon them all. Nearly all were slowed by the poison. They fought Thanketos bravely with all of their usual tricks but the feeling was brewing that they might be outmatched. Then the little Gnome darkpact warlock summoned her strongest magic, failing she also accidentally alerted the demon (Xtrasin) who provides his darkpact powers, a mere 1 in 100 chance.

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Xtrasin appeared and called out the Gnome (Darkel) to give himself up as promised in the Pact. The dragon refused to give up the gnome to Xtrasin. The Demon and Dragon set upon each other. The Demon controlled the party to attack the dragon. And the three sided fight continued at a fury pitch. The party decided to try and add a fourth side to the fight and open the door to the Dwarves. Unfortunately the Dragon would not allow it and blocked the door. Doing so she gave up on the gnome.

Xtrasin called out once more for his pledge. The Deva (fallen angel) and servant of Torm Deity of the Forgotten Realm said no, and offered himself instead of Darkel. Torm was so moved by the sacrifice he heard the pledge from across the multi-verse.

He spoke through Sammael, his Deva servant and said. “It will not be so.”

The demon was instantly banished. Torm took the Deva with him to serve as his personal Exarch. Sammael the fallen angel of a thousand lifetimes had ascended to be by his Deity once more. But Sammael was also a Dream avatar of Anthony. Anthony’s Avatar reformed as his dream self-image rematerialized. A new Sammael was created, an echo of the first, who had to immediately choose a new Deity. He chose Kultha-at Freltor (the silver): God of justice, liberation, defense, war, righteousness, law, discipline, fairness and civilization of Arastia. This all happened in the time between the blink of an eye.

But there was still a dragon, to fight, somewhat wounded but not yet close to bloodied. Darkel had lost his abilities and retreated into a corner as he communed, deciding where to align his warlock powers, out of the fight for a time. Kelsey of Earth recreated her Avatar Darkel as a feypact Warlock. It took some time for her Avatar’s abilities to form as they rewove themselves to fey.

The party fought Thanketos against the gate wounding it further. Then they brought forth the gate key; an orb and talked about using magic to move the dragon long enough to open the gate. The dragon heard them, took flight and swallowed the orb whole as it flew by Sammael. That option down, they fought on.

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Tinnyen decided to go after the dragon’s hoard. He and Darkel headed for the hoard. Darkel began to scoop it up into his bag of holding. The dragon was incensed and flew directly to them, its wings almost touching the roof of the great hall. It fought Tinnyen and hurt him badly. But the party hounded it in the now cramped space of the broken cave just off the main entrance hall, blooding the dragon. The fight continued as character after character dropped. Only to be brought back to the fight by Reille the Paladin, Corik the Dwarven Ranger and his bandolier of healing potions, Sammael the Divine Invoker or Jaythier the Artificers magical healing infuser. Soon the potions were depleted, the healing surges nearly so, the Paladin had no more used of Lay on Hands and Sammael had used the last of his Invoker divine healing. They faced Thanketos and fought on refusing to give up. But they began to fail with no recourse left to them. Corik fell. It looked grim. Darkel drew fey power against the great green dragon and it wavered and fell.

They rushed to Corik side and used their healing skills to stabilize him. They collapsed utterly exhausted. After they regained their strength they picked through Thanketos hoard and found many items of great magic, befitting their triumph. They cut the orb carefully from the belly of the beast and now before them was only the great door.

“The great glowing stone door is sealed and nigh on indestructible. It cannot seem to be teleported through nor moved by magic. On the left door is a bas relief of a Dwarven craftsman, his smiths hammer pointing towards the right door and the on the right door there is a relief of a Dwarven fighter pointing his axe at the left door. Where the two implements nearly meet is a small hemispherical depression.”

Tinnyen placed the orb in its place on the door between the bas relief dwarves.

“The reliefs suddenly moved. The smith’s hammer and the fighter’s axe moved upwards over the heads of the dwarves and the doorway split apart. They saw a long great hall before them. A large contingent of Dwarven warriors in shining filigree armor had gathered at the door. Perhaps as many as a hundred axes and hammers rose as one and made a flourish toward them. They were not sure if it was a salute or a warning, perhaps both. A single dwarf in golden robes with a rod topped with a small hammer head speaks in a booming clear voice.”

The Dwarf speaks

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“I am Thardgrim, Warden of the gate. Who has broken the seal and where is Thanketos Wyrm of the green death, sealer of the mountain? Be ye friend or foe ye best speak quickly.”

Sammael used his knowledge of religion to notice, Thardgrim’s robes had an embroidered, stylized, silver hammer indicating that he also worships Kultha-at Freltor.

Corik spoke first telling them they had slain Thanketos and indicating the body in the distance.

Thardgrim repiled, “That dragon is the last thing my brother and I saw when the gate was last opened ninety-seven years ago. As I dragged my bother back from the battle with the Troll Lord a great dragon appeared. We barely were able to close the gate. The great eye staring through the crack as it closed was a memory that is carved in my heart to this day. You have done us a great service by slaying it and marked yourselves as Selakor Selthannad; Friends of SilverSlag. And you are my friend as well for the poison of the beast finished off my ailing brother.”

Tinnyen attempted to step up and be a speaker with his gifts at diplomacy.

Thardgrim interrupted him, “Fancy words and silvered tongues will not avail you now. Speak the truth unvarnished or speak not”.

Corik continued, convinced Thardgrim the party spoke for LongShadow.

Thardgrim repiled, “Well the Dwarves are not the only ones with Iron in their blood. By the Silver Hammer to have held out so long with nothing but their wits and determination. I’ll say that the Dwarves of Selthannad could do worse for Allies. But then we have been allies before.” Corik asked if the alliance of old could be reforged.

Thardgrim repiled, “Alliances are forged in deeds. One such was done this day as you carved a path to our gate through the green death itself. But more must be done. Two peoples will face battle together and win and alliances can be sealed. Let us speak of other matters until the day our two peoples are victorious in battle.”

Corik, Reille, Sammael and Tinnyen’s insight lead them to understand The Dwarves would not forge an alliance without fighting side by side with their potential allies and tasting their mettle. And that they are a warrior people who would fight without an alliance if it is one of their own foes.

Corik asked plainly for their aid in the coming battle.

Thardgrim repiled, “You are Selakor Selthannad; Friends of SilverSlag. You have proven yourself worthy and as such I alone can vouch that a force be sent. But let us speak of what you need and what we can do together. You have comported yourselves well here today. Who can say what will come of it. Come it is night and the door must be sealed for now against the night foes. Tonight we dine on dragon’s breast and the sweet mead of dragon’s blood. Let us retire to the dining hall Selakor Selthannad; Friends of SilverSlag.”

The party agreed.

The dwarves set to the dragon with axes and pull much of it in the hall before closing and sealing the door. They took choice joints of meat off for roasting.

Thardgrim took them to a waiting area with stone benches outside of a great feasting hall, not far from the entrance. They smell the tangy smell of the dragon meat being prepared and cooked as he speaks to them.

“While we wait let me tell you my story.

I and my brother Tharth are Nobles of Selthannad. In the days of my youth we set ourselves great deeds and the greatest of these we thought would be clearing of the halls. We took our loyal retainers and borrowed ourselves a Master Orb. We drugged the guardians of the Gate and opened the way.

A Troll band and their Lord awaited us. We twenty fought them only to see them arise again and again. One by one we fell as they returned to life. We were young and foolish luckily it was my brother who saw that a torch burned them. With half of us down we pulled out oil and began dosing the Trolls as we butchered them. We set them alight, certain that we had won the day. But one escaped. The Troll Lord himself had seen our skill and sent for aid. As we feasted our success and drank of victory that night the Troll Lord returned and challenged us. Myself and our eight companions faced him down and did slay him though my brother took a grievous wound. The Troll Lord cackled as he fell and we did not know why he at first but then we heard the great flapping of leather wings.

It was then Harak Thatonk (Green Death) had arrived. Even as we fled he breathed upon us. Half our number fell. I made the gate dragging my brother, Sathak. I thought we were safe as I slid the Master Orb in place. The great gates slowly closed. But the creature rushed the gates. Even as the gates closed I saw that baleful eye regarding me, taunting me. It was only then I noticed I’d been dragging a corpse. The Dragon had rend my the lower half of my brother away from me. We’d failed. I’d failed. I faced great punishment from the king and spent my life atoning for my brother’s death that night. At last I was trusted with the task of guarding this gate. To see the dragon slain and the chance to set things aright makes my old heart burn brighter in the hearth of my soul.

You have done much this day more perhaps than you know. Even if the king would refuse you I alone would join my families forces with yours. But I will persuade the King yet, fear not.”

A young dwarf enters and nods to Thardgrim.

“Ah the feast is ready I see. Come dragon slayers let us toast your mighty deeds.”

After the feast there is drinking and merriment; tales of battles of old against Orc, Troll and Giant. At the end they hear the slaying of the Green Death woven into the long ballad, the party’s own deeds.

And so it ends. They are given places to sleep in the feast hall that night and told a Dwarven force of some sort will march to the gate of Long Shadow no more than two days behind them. The True Dreamers have defeated the dragon long separating LongShadow and Silverslag and freed the safe house towers between. The way was opened once more, aid for the siege was guaranteed and a chance for the old alliance to reform. This was a night of the True dream. When great beasts are slain and good company is kept. Could any ask for more?

- The Portal Master.

Serpents and Trolls

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Fifteenth Entry

These last few chapters of their journeys have taken the longest to put to pen. The decisions they took changed the outcome in this part of Arastia and my analysis of the impact made by these dreamers is still ongoing. As is what awaits them if they return in days hence. But this chapter of our story awaits and it is time to tell it.

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They begin where they left off. In the third tower between LongShadow and the Dwarven mountain hold Selthannad (Silverslag). Below the ruins of the tower lay curled the sleeping green dragon they had seen before. Lyra was not with them on this sojourn.

They discussed various options including lowering someone down to place the greater ward into the plinth and then leaving the dragon alone. But as the dragon was curled about the plinth and a small but useful hoard was in evidence they determined a coordinated surprise attack would be the best bet.

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The spell casters set up around the trap door directly above the dragon. The remainder of the party circled around to the ruined stables and lowered themselves down from there. The ruins below had two distinct rooms amidst the rubble; the area under the stables and the area under the tower. The ruins under the stable were partially collapsed leaving bad footing and a large obstruction in the middle of the space they had to maneuver around to get to the dragon. They got in place and made their surprise engagements. Most simply used their surprise to get into a favorable position. Jaythier, Tinnyen and Darkel got off early damaging volleys while Corik and Reille directly attacked the young adult Green Dragon. Sammael created useful areas of fiery damage and then healing. The Dragon awoke immediately, breathing its green poisonous breath out into a fog hitting Corik, Reille and Sammael while Darkel stayed behind cover.

The dragon taunted them and moved about getting free tail attacks on any within range while biting, clawing and chewing his way through the party below. Soon Jaythier and Tinnyen could no longer see the dragon from the vantage of the trap door as she had moved entirely into the rooms below the stables. They lost precious time maneuvering around. The dragon knocked down Reille who promptly stood up with her magical boots. Corik continued to strike at the dragon, cutting deep gashes in her side. The Dragon decided to defeat them in detail and flew up out of the ruins to find the irritating spell-casters who had been casting freely at it. She didn’t see them immediately and turned to attack Sammael. It successfully breathed on him twice. Sammael was feeling the pain of the poison seep into him. But his sacrifice did not go unrewarded as Corik and Reille climbed up from below and attacked the dragon from behind. Darkel continued to attack when she could while retaining safe cover. Jaythier and Tinnyen got around the side of the ruined stable and continued blasting away.

The dragon was bloodied and breathed on the all but Sammael, Tinnyen and Darkel. The dragon once again showed it’s cowardice by jumping back down into the ruins below after Sammael. Sammael backed into the room below the tower and Jaythier and Tinnyen returned to their vantage at the trap door. Corik and Reille climbed down again while this time Darkel elected to fight from the Trapdoor above. All of the dreamers now concentrated their attacks and magics upon the dragon. Bringing to bear their strongest abilities knowing that they would likely be exhausted and unable to draw upon their strengths again that day. Tinnyen obscured those fighting below in a purple haze confusing the dragon and making it miss many times. Jaythier placed a watchful floating eye that allowed all to see the best targets on the now bloodied dragon. Reille and Jaythier rallied the party with their healing so that not even once did they succumb to the battering of the dragons teeth and claws. And it was Darkel casting the final spell that ended the wounded dragon’s life but not before it uttered its name and a warning.

Antharosk will be missed. She will not abide my death mortals. Your death will follow quickly enough. May Tiamat grant me your souls to torture…”

Then the one remaining eye closed and she spoke no more.

In her hoard the group found items from a previous adventuring party. This proved difficult to divide because some of the items were from magical sets. Such as the Gadgeteer Googles and Deep Pocket Cloak. They found a compromise as some were willing to pass this time and split the items between them. Corik, who had fallen too often in previous battles had taken potions and a potion bandolier to both heal himself and be a third healer. They placed the greater ward in its rightful place on the plinth and slept the night safely protected in the ruins of the 3rd tower.

At sun’s first light they started out with a lively pace. They ate as they walked and didn’t slow down for anything. Ahead was their goal, the mountain hold. Before the sun dipped too close to the horizon they saw ahead of them that which they sought.

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“As they curved ever right around the mountain the foothills grow ever higher until finally they saw an end. The path stopped at a ruined gatehouse with two Dwarven statues still guarding the intact door. The ground around them stank of some long saturated toxin that had killed every living thing and stained the ground and low hills a greenish-black. As they got closer to the keep they see the statues are not the only thing guarding the entrance. Two green ogre sized creatures with wiry black hair, long noses and sharp claws and teeth keep watch on either side of the doorway.”

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“Trolls” said Corik. “Figures.”

The party girded itself for another fight, rapidly closing on the trolls. As they grew close the trolls banged heavily on the door and then attacked. Jaythier placed his watchful eye. Sammael placed fiery runes that burned the trolls, stopping their regeneration for a time. Tinnyen obscured his friends with his cloud of purple haze. Reille charged amidst them and heaved her weapon against their unctuous skin. Corik and his bear charged the other and soon the battle was in full swing. Darkel stayed a safe distance, blasting whatever part of the trolls he could see behind his friends attacking. Jaythier through down a magical blade and it began animating attacking the trolls. Sammael directed the power of holy light into the creatures again and again. The Troll fighting Reille became bloodied from all the damage while not being able to get at Reille through her new Armor of Sacrifice she had acquired from Antharosk’s Hoard. But then the door to the ruined keep burst open. A larger Troll obviously in charge with acid dripping from its slobbering mouth joined the Fray. It began to damage Corik who was having difficulty taking on two opponents at once.

The rest of the party concentrated attacks and magics on Reille’s Troll until it fell. Luckily Tinnyen’s orb had been acid based, keeping the Troll from rising again. Reille shifted to the Spitting Troll. Corik was finally bloodied but because of his Dwarfish nature he refused to succumb and shrugged it off. Jaythier infused him with healing from one of his many artifices and it was as if Corik had never been hurt. Reille battled bravely against a the leader almost twice her size. Sammael, Tinnyen, and Darkel now concentrated on Corik’s Troll and soon it was lying twitching at his feet. Tinnyen gave it an acid orb for good measure and then the entire group fell upon the Spitting Troll leader.

It never stood a chance. Concerned acid may not end it, they burned it down. The Trolls carried nothing of value on their odiferous bodies. They were unceremoniously placed in a heap and both melted and burned until nothing so much as twitched.

The party stepped into the ruined gatehouse.

“The gatehouse roof had collapsed but it still led to another large doorway against the rock of the mountain. The handle of the door has long been broken off.”

Weary and battle worn the dreamers elected this moment to release their avatars and return to their beds. Not knowing that a much larger threat faced them in the mountain itself.

- The Portal Master

3rd Tower or Greensworn

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Fourteenth Entry

It had been long weeks in their world since the last true dream. But tonight they entered the dreamweave restless and roaming. I shielded them one by one from the watchful eye and drew them in to dreamer’s portal. Darkel drew a friend into the dreamweave and I brought her in with them. When they had all gathered I sent them together to Arastia to the moment they had left. And then something extraordinary happened.

Time did not move forward for them. They remained fixed. Only a golem moved in all Arastia in those frozen moments. That same golem walked over to Lyra, Erica’s Avatar and scooped her up and took her to the tower. She was beyond my knowledge then as they once had been while in the tower. Apparently she was immediately tested as the others had been before her. Because in moments she returned and time began flowing normally. I find this tower and it’s master extremely intriguing. He seems to have knowledge and power beyond what is apparent.

Lyra’s Test

The adventurers treat Lyra as if she has always been there and they continue on down the path toward the third and final tower. They travel until about noon and eat their hard rations on their feet, marching along. As the afternoon begins they see a large green bird flying ahead of them in the far distance. It seems to be flying away from them. It never gets close enough to discern details and finally disappears somewhere ahead.

Before long they come to the ruins of the third tower.

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As with the first tower they see Kobolds scurrying around the ruins. They see a line of five Kobolds along a intact stairwell on the second story of the crumbling tower, one wearing robes. Two larger Kobolds wearing green scale cloaks seem to be leading six Kobolds in the ruins below. There is scurrying in the rubble revealing unseen enemies as well.

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The dreamers have faced Kobolds before and attack immediately. Corik and Reille charge in and set up the forward line. Lyra shoots at the dragon like Kobolds scoring a hit. Tinnyen, Sammael and Jaythier lay down their various zones of obscuring, light and watchful eyes, respectively. The Kobold hurlers began slinging poison vats down upon the group form above as the part moves in. The two cloaked Kobolds rise of the ground and fight above the line, hurling spears. Corik notes that these Kobolds seem both stronger and more organized than the ones they faced in the first tower. The Horde Kobold front line fights on against Reille and Corik who are both taking damage from the poison pots hurled on them earlier. A Kobold Wild Mage above begins hurling bolt spells fire, frost, lightening and yet more poison, ducking behind cover after every bolt. Tinnyen and Sammael target the hurlers above and the mage but miss due to the exceptional cover. Darkel uses cover himself and hurls dark fire at the front lines of the Kobolds.

The green scale clad Kobolds seem to be near dragons themselves and breath a poison cloud on the front ranks successively. The party is near bloodied and no Kobold has yet fallen. Their resolve does not break as Sammael makes a concerted effort to get to Kobolds above. The hurler’s continue throwing down pots of poison. Tinnyen, Lyra and Jaythier concentrate now on the line of Horde Kobolds. They bloody several of them. Corik twin strikes and drops one and then another next round. Reille drops one herself and the tide seems to be turning. Then the green clad Kobolds begin firing poison spit down on Reille and Corik. Corik is bloodied and Reille soon after.

Corik critical with two strikes and drops two more of the Horde in rapid succession. The Hurlers seem to have run out of poison above and begin using the pots more typical of Kobold Hurlers; fire and glue. Sammael has moved up but all reassess the threat as being chiefly from the Dragon like Kobolds. All fire is concentrated first on the one who seems to be referred to by the other Kobolds as Durk. It takes several rounds but they are able to bloody Durk and it seems to undergo some sort of transformation. Reille and Sammael are dazed as the Kobold becomes even more Dragon-like. The wild mage bloodies Tinnyen with his bolts. Darkel and Lyra get hit by the hurlers and both are on fire.

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Corik is having none of it and uses a bold strike to fell Durk in three blows. The tide has shifted again. Reille and Sammael recover. Everyone except Sammael and Jaythier redoubles their efforts on the second Dragon Kobold the one called Yook. Darkel is struck by the wild mage with lightening and knocked unconscious. Jaythier uses his infusing gadget to bring him back from near death.

Sammael moves up to the pillar and is immediately set upon by three Kobold slyblades waiting in the ruins. The party spreads out a bit to avoid further area attacks as they bring Yook to bloodied and none are dazed by his transformation. Jaythier fires a bolt into the final Horde Kobold dropping him. Reille stays on Yook while Corik slides forward and ends the lives of two of the three slyblades in as many strokes of his ur-gosh. Tinnyen concentrates acid orb after acid orb on Yook finally felling him.

Reille, Corik climb up the rope Sammael has found and finally begin ripping through the hurlers that have been such a menace from above. The wild mage teleports down in the ruins somewhere. Sammael beings looking for him but Jaythier finds him first, landing the first hit with his dancing blade. Corik and Reille fell two of the four hurlers in two rounds. The wild mage flees Jaythier and runs into Sammael. Sammael has been bloodied by the slyblades and now takes a hit he was not expecting from the mage and falls unconscious. Tinnyen finishes the wild mage with yet another acid orb. And Jaythier, Darkel and Tinnyen run to save Sammael who is bleeding and dying. Corik kills one with another twin-strike. Leaving a single Kobold Hurler, out of ammunition and facing half the party. The Kobold throws down his sling and surrenders. Reille accepts his surrender.

Jaythier and Darkel have no success with Sammael and he continues dying. Tinnyen arrives and uses his healing knowledge to stabilize and recover Sammael from the very brink of death. Corik questions the Kobold sternly and the Kobold begs for his freedom in exchange for important knowledge. Corik and Reille reluctantly agree. The Kobold warns them that a Antharosk, a young adult green dragon sleeps in the ruins below the tower and barn, and is very tired from days of scouting. Corik strips the Kobold of all weapons and the party sends the Kobold up into the mountain away from any groups they know about. The Kobold scampers quickly away and soon disappears from sight.

The party recovers and plans their attack of the dragon that will have to come in a different true-dream. The dream dissolves as the dreamers return home.

- The Portal Master

The Test of Crystal

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Thirteenth Entry

Here a chronicles extracted from the dreamer’s journey after they returned from inside the crystal tower. For while they were in there I felt them not. The tower must be proof, somehow against the very dream weave itself. For I had no power there. I knew some had entered unconscious and others dying. One by one they returned the next morning. As they did it became more clear what happened. Each was placed in a cradle, healed and sent on a dream journey. A dream within a dream. Each treated the experience a little differently although some dreams began the same and faced the same obstacles. Here are their journeys.

Reille’s Test
Darkels’ Test
Tinnyen’s Test
Corik’s Test
Jaythier’s Test
Sammael’s Test

The Dreamers all appeared outside the tower again that next morning. They shared their stories with each other. Some were pleased, some confused and a few disappointed. But to a one none had dishonored themselves or their companions. They now had a safe barrier against the night walkers.

Here is where their dreams ended this night.

- The Portal Master

The Fall of Night

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Twelfth Entry

I, The Portal Master, continue now with some reluctance for this was the dream journey where I lost my charges. For the first time in a dream journey they went beyond my reach and understanding. It is only now that I have pieced together what happened.

It began as they journeys have of late. They awoke in the dream. While the entity reached for them I slipped them away to the dais in the hall and laid them each in stasis until they had all gathered. When all were there I sent them ahead to Arastia.

Once again they were in the council hall, speaking to the elders, deciding what to do. It was quickly decided that the right dwarf, Thark Dryfoot was somewhere past the first tower and if there was any hope of rescuing him it would need to be soon. The party agreed and noted again that although the council seemed to recall the party freeing the missing dwarf that they also knew that Thark was still out there. A paradox woven within the dream. A knot in the weave that could only be weaved around until the true dwarf was recovered. The council agreed to send more guards for the first tower immediately.

The party retired to the Truesword for a some relaxation before the journey ahead. Tinnyen went to learn a ritual with the time available. Darkel returned to her gnome friends and a restful night was had. This time they forgot to request rations from Thespa so none where waiting in the morning.

They set off with only their trail rations on a journey they would not quickly return from. They left as they had before, by the Northern gate and set a lively pace. They ate rations still walking at noontime and once more found themselves at the first tower. Repair of the first tower was well underway. The door and forward wall had been rebuilt and they Dwarven masons were busy working on the second level while carpenters toiled repairing the adjoining stables and barracks. The greater ward was in place and nothing happened that night to disturb the rest of anyone. They set out at first light.

The party marched, curving around the mountain until nearly noon. They came to fork in the road. One went slightly left and one slightly right. There were tracks everywhere of various humanoids making the choice difficult. A Dwarven stature with a broken hand sat on a pedestal between the two roads. The party examined the statue and found it to be magical though damaged. Digging, Mozu found the hand nearby. It was placed on the statue and the statue healed itself, becoming whole. The question was asked. Where lies the second tower and the statue twisted and pointed down the right path before returning to its original position.

They continued on down the right path. Not long after they came across a Orcish slave driver. It was a lesser Orc, not one of the Black Orcs who would have been wounded by the bright sunlight. He drove to goblin slaves before him. It seemed they were escaped slaves as they bore the marks of his brutal treatment and they were in worn clothing. The party used Gorkle’s name to get the goblins to turn against their slavemaster. The party quickly parlayed with the Orc who knew he was outnumbered. He agreed to leave the goblins and flee. The goblins were given the location of the new Goblin cave and sent on their way to join Gorkle.

The party hurried, on racing the sun to the next tower location. They arrived a few minutes ahead of twilight. Before them lay the tower, surrounded by a barrier.

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The tower before the party is unlike any other towers they have seen and any structures witnessed from the area. It is a featureless silver metal cylinder. It seems to be sitting atop the ruined foundation of another tower long since destroyed. The newer tower is several hundred feet high. Tinnyen and Darkel can make out a crystal top that resembles nothing so much as a pointed crown sitting on the very apex of the cylinder. There are no windows, no doors and no openings of any kind. The metal of the tower appears to glisten and have a light radiance to it. It seems almost translucent as if it could be looked through and the contents seen but the thickness of the walls seems to belie that. Surrounding the tower 30’ from its edge is a shimmering wall of force. It seems completely impenetrable. Even being near the barrier gives mild discomfort. A ring of bones, and humanoid body remnants lies just on this side of the barrier. It is almost as if the whole bodies had been dragged off for some purpose but the parts left to bake and bleach in the sun. Inside the barrier you see a large golem made of iron and a smaller made of stone. A guardian made of both iron and wood also seems to watch the party. As the sun nears setting the tower seems to lose some of its glow.

The party tries to get through the barrier and is able to throw a rock through but nothing living seems able to pass through. As they try to get in the sun sets.

The sun has been down for a few minutes. They hear the sounds of movement all around. Large goblinoids and undead emerge from the trees and charge their position. They also notice the golems move closer to edge but remain on the other side of the barrier.

In the first few minutes the larger Goblinoids and Orcs hang back, sending the goblins and cracked skeletons forward. The party tries to parlay with the goblins, using Gorkle’s name again but this time they are well controlled by their Orcish masters. Forced to attack, the party quickly joins battle. Mozu and Reille hold the minions in place and develop a battle front as Tinnyen, Jaythier, and Sammael are able to use some area effect attacks for good measure and these minions fall. Darkel begins charging curses and using eldritch attacks. As they are finishing the last of the goblins, Orc regulars and newer skeletons charge into the fray. The fight continues. The party holds the line of battle in two groups around Mozu and Reille. But is only able to dispatch half of the next wave before a 3rd wave of Orc Elites and zombies charge in and move their lesser soldiers out of the way to get at the party.

Darkel calls her darkest fire and is noticed by he who must be avoided. A clay scout appears near here and begins to attack. During this wave Darkel falls. After she falls the clay scout attempts to take her but is attacked by an elite Orcs, who swats the scout like a fly. While this is happening something else has taken an interest in Darkel.

A golem steps through the barrier, ignores both sides of the conflict and picks up Darkel. One of the skeletons has hold of Darkel but is ripped apart as the golem strides back through the barrier and walks to the wall of the tower. It hesitates for a few seconds and then walks through the tower wall as if it wasn’t there, taking Darkel with it. Another golem walks right out of the tower wall, replacing the one who entered and moves to the edge of the barrier near the fight

The party makes progress but Mozu falls once only to be healed by Reille and Jaythier. The battle continues. Two of the elites have fallen, nearly all of the regular Orcs are dead and only one skeleton remains when the Orc lieutenants and ghouls join the battle. The party begins using up its largest attacks. The last regular Orc and skeletons are obliterated. A few elite remain but the lieutenants begin carving through the party. Tinnyen falls and a golem takes him through the barrier into the tower and is replaced by another golem of the same type.

I can no longer sense Darkel or Tinnyen. Their presence is gone from the dreamweave. They are beyond my ken. With each minute they strength of the party ebbs and the number of their foes grows. Reille is completely surrounded and fights for her life but to no avail and she falls as the Orcs drive her to the ground.

The Orc General arrives on the field with elite zombies. Sammael falls back to rock. Mozu fights over the fallen form of Reille until a Stone Golem pulls her through the barrier. She passes through the tower and is no more. The leader engages Mozu. Brave Mozu finishes one of the last of the Orc Elites but cannot hold against the lieutenants and the general. Mozu falls. Jaythier who has used the last of his healing and has been supporting the fight is quickly surrounded but somehow survives a few minutes of combat despite the odds.

Grasping Zombies and Ghouls climb the rocks and reach for Sammael ripping the life from him. He feels another in a long line of deaths he has felt before. This time Golems stride out grasping him and tearing him away from the feasting ghouls and zombies, striding back through the barrier the Golem destroys several zombies pieces of them strike the barrier. Mozu is scooped up and pulled through as well.

Jaythier stands alone. Alone his fate is sealed. The general strikes him down and then he too is dragged into the tower. And now they are all gone from my sight. No more can I guide them. Whatever they face be it death’s hallow rest or something even worse I cannot know. All I know is the dreamers and their avatars have no returned home. They are trapped somewhere else beyond. Something else has them. I wonder what now will become of LongShadow.

- The Portal Master

The Wrong Dwarf

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Eleventh Entry

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The party gathered again on the Dreamer Dais. The Portal Master concentrated and enveloped them all in some form of protection. He reached out and gave a strong mental push and the Avatar’s awoke, with the True Dreamer’s dormant once more in the place they last left; in the Embalmer’s Hall near a trap door surrounded by a half dozen surprised acolytes.

Some explained to the acolytes that they had cleared the mausoleum and it was safe for burial once more. Others concentrated as the True Dreamer’s pushed their Avatars to use new found powers. More acolytes gathered and the party made a quick exit into the early evening. They sought the Council still in session and informed them that the mausoleum was cleared of the undead made up of the former members of the a theives guild called “The Sundered”. That two of the town’s greatest heroes; Thar Darvelon, and Goerlin first paladin of LongShadow after the fall had guarded treasures stolen by the guild. They released these items to the party and were undead no more, free to move on to their final rewards. This cheered many of the council and they urged the group to speak with Thespa about her father Thar.

The party asked about the whereabouts of Sukkor. They ignored The Portal Master‘d advice and warned the council that he had tried to kill them, collapsing the lower mausoleum onto the dungeon stairs. The council was immediately skeptical of this, especially Nalia Trellius. The council said they trusted Sukkor as he had been a resident of LongShadow all of his life and defended the wall and scouted for them many times. They mentioned he was leading a small force of guards and stone masons to rebuild the first tower now that it was warded. They were free to help the rebuilding effort out if they wished by the council made it clear they believed the party was mistaken. The council reminded the group that they were free to choose an unoccupied residence within the city as their own. Darkel wanted no part of this. The council said that if they wished a noble house would be made theirs if they as a group wanted it. The group agreed, save Darkel. The party took its leave of the council.

All but Darkel went to the True Sword and got their usual room. They talked to Thespa about their father and she was both sad and relieved but certainly grateful to know. She agreed to have 3 day’s rations waiting for the group when they awoke.

Darkel slipped off to the gnome house. Were old and long retired gnomish tailor Marlo Thesterfush and his daughter and her husband lived. She took her meal with them and slept in their guest bedroom.

In the morning the party ate and took their wrapped rations. Sammael once again searched for Darkel and finally found Thesterfush Hall and knocked asking for Darkel who was cowering under a table at the knock. When she saw it was Sammael she went with him. The party set out through the North Gate as they had on journeys before. The sun rose higher as as they briskly walked along the faded path to the first tower. The stopped only for a quick lunch and made the tower at sunset.

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As they approached the sight of the Hobgoblin ambush Tinnyen released his hawk. The area was clear. The Hawk flew ahead and saw the tower and through it Tinnyen knew that the Dwarves were at the tower. They moved forward. When they were within sight of the tower they saw figures lying down. They moved closer. Now they saw clearly, six Dwarves and two humans lay unconscious or dead on the ground, arrayed around the broken doorway to the tower. Standing in that doorway was a familiar dwarf. Darkel tried to sneak up and climb a tree but failed and fell down. The dwarf turned and laughed at Darkeland seemed to signal to someone.

Too late the party noticed foul orcs charging them. They were surprised. A Rage Drake ridden by Orc Pyromaniac, an Orc Battlerager, an Orc Terroblade and and Orc Stormfury were suddenly amidst the party attacking from the side and the rear. Corik’s bear, the party mascot, took the brunt of the attack. First the pyromaniac threw a jar of burning pitch which struck most of the party and covered them with burning spatters. Tinnyen was also struck heavily by the Stormrager. The Dwarf reached out with his mind, used his Nightmare Weaver powers and stunned Reille.

The fight was on. Sammael created a light bathing the entire group, save Darkel. They were bolstered by this. He called forth an Angel in the party’s defense and placed it between some of the foes and the party. Tinnyen cast seeds of flame outward and ironically struck and killed the Orc Pyromaniac. Corik pushed the orcs back and healed his bear. Reille shook off the Dwarf’s attack and fought the Battlerager before her. The Dwarf continued to try to stun her but missed. The Stormfury managed to strike Joel who retaliated with acid orb. Darkel used his powers to strike at various foes from a distance. Sammael commanded his angel to stike the orcs while he tried to focus on the Dwarf and urged the party to foucs on the Dwarf as well. Tinnyen brought a shroud of darkness into being and the dark purple haze enveloped most to the party making them very hard to hit.

Half the party was blooded and not one of their foes was, athough the lowly Pyro Orc did lay dead. They listened to Sammael and some changed focus. Reille charged the Dwarf. Sammael summoned a dancing weapon of radiance near the Dwarf to fight him. Corik killed the Rage Drake and then joined the fight against the Dwarf. Round after round they pounded the Dwarf who continued to try and stun both Reille and Corik who succeeded only once, briefly stunning Corik. The remainder focused on the StormFury blooding him. But he took strength from his fury and surged, shaking off many of the earlier blows. The Party sighed but fought on. And then they caught a break as the Dwarf Nightmare Weaver fell unconscious from the concentrated attacks.

All of the party rushed to be within range of their dreamer powers and each began to use them to interrupt his dream and break the connection between Avatar and Dreamer. At first they had little success. Sammael concentrated again and the link was broken, the Dwarf faded from existence. As they turned to face the remaining Orcs they noticed a broken flask on the ground and the acrid smell of poison gas nearly dissipated. The three nearby Dwarves were dead but the other three and two guards were breathing shallowly, still alive. The bear had been holding off as many as he could for too long and finally fell unconscious, one blow too many. This seemed to infuriate the group which concentrated first on the Stormfury finish it, then the ‘rager and finally surrounded the Terrorblade and ended its miserable existence.

The party woke the living Dwarves and guards. They found Gloves of Storing and a Bloodguard Shield on the ground where the Dwarf had been. Inside of the Gloves of Storing were Gloves of Admixture and the Crystal Sphere of Dark Warding the Dwarf had just stolen. The Stormfury Orc had a Circlet of Second Chances in his bag. And bracers of Respite were worn by the Battlerager. Corik pulled out his rope, tied off and descended into the basement of the broken tower. He quickly placed the Crystal Sphere of Dark Warding in the plinth and the radiance of shielding could once more be seen, protecting the tower and its immediate surroundings. They stayed the night. The Dwarves were taken home to be buried. The council believed them now but had difficulty remembering the Dwarf at all and only did so because they were reminded by the party. The True dreamers broke the dream while still in the council chambers.

The party breaks, have faced and been victorious against there first dreamer foe.

- The Portal Master

Dream Interlude One

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Tenth Entry

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Michael falls asleep in his bed, sure tonight is the night he will True Dream again. But, instead of awaking in Arastia where his Avatar was before. He comes to on a raised dais surrounded by statues of an elder age. He is once more in the dreamer’s hall. Before him The Portal Master smiles, his disarming half smile, but a tightened brow gives away his worry.

Anthony, for many nights has not dreamed the True Dreams of Arastia or elsewhere. Now he begins to think of Arastia as he drifts away. Just as he settles in expecting to awaken there, he is wrenched firmly away. Once more he is in on the Dreamer’s dais before a worried but calm The Portal Master.

Joel, is tired when he falls asleep. He drifts off realizing he feels the True Dream coming on. Just before it does he sees a reflection, a shadow, something not him but connected to him somehow. He hears a disembodied laughter and sees hands that are not his own, or his avatar’s cutting a goblin and laughing as it tries to squirm away only to be held by Orc allies. As the goblin dies a gentler force takes him firmly and pulls him away. When his eyes open he is in the dreamer’s hall. The Portal Master’s eyes are wide, Joel knows that The Portal Master as seen what he has seen.

Nancie, is in much anticipation of a night of the True dream. As the world of her birth slides away from her and she project her fragile conscious into the maddening gulf of the multi-verse she feel a tightening as if someone is playing the thread of her spirit like the cords of badly tuned instrument. Something unfriendly has become aware of her. It turns from some grisly task it has just performed, green blood everywhere. She sees only a laughing face in her mind. A cruel smile and wicked unfriendly eyes mock her. A floating silver dagger appears in her nightmare. She feels it reaching for the connection between her and Earth. It is then that a familiar presence invades. The darkish nightmare is driven back and the dagger evaporates as if it was a reflection in a pond and a strong rock disturbed it. The Portal Master draws her into his fold, she awaken in dreamer’s hall. She is not alone. Others are already there.

Kelsey, falls asleep, deeply. But immediately she senses something is wrong. She feels the expansion into true dreaming but it is wrong, all wrong. The way is usually pure and straight. Like a perfect pitch held for an eternity that she follows through the great void until you reaches the symphony of which her instrument is a part. Now all she feels is a cacophony of tortured sounds. She is just barely able to make out which one represents Arastia. She pulls on that place. Not drawing it to her but her to it. Even a world as dark and fraught with peril as Arastia flared like a beacon to her in previous true dreams. Now there is a cancer upon it. She think perhaps it was always there but it hides itself from her no more. It seeks her. Its corruption fouls the Dreamscape and tendrils of it reach out seeking her. The vision of Arastia fades as she throws yourself this way and that avoiding the grasping tendrils. For the first time she is lost. She can go neither forward nor back. The tendrils become engulfing darkness. All around her now reaching in. There is nothing and she feels her essence fading. Is this how it ends she think, in a place between the places within none to see but whatever hunts her. There is a flare like a star suddenly birthing before her. The darkness is cast away and now she senses only the familiar spirit of the The Portal Master guiding her to his way station in the hall of worlds. She awakens on the Dreamer’s Dais.”

The Portal Master speaks, “My friends and fellow dreamers I am sorry to intrude on your Dream Walk. I know you have much ahead of you to do but it is necessary now to draw you out and warn you of a great danger. Will you take your ease with me in the room of preparation while we discuss this new threat?”

The group nodes and follows.

As he walks he says “The hall of worlds is in time out of time. Nothing will transpire in Arastia or on Earth for that matter while you are here. For now you are safe here. Please come with me and let yourself be appraised of the threat.”

The party arrives at the room of preparation.

The room is different than the last time they saw it. This time there are no piles of equipment nor items of interest from Arastia, merely a warm, crackling fire in the hearth with the hint of sandalwood and pine in the air, familiar and comfortable chairs around the great table and their favorite drinks waiting for them. A few pieces of choice fruit and sweet rolls await to nourish them. Each has a feeling of comfort, safety and warmth. They are with friends and in a peace that they have not felt in some time.

There is a pause as everyone relaxes and then he speaks. If not for the calm extruding from him and the peace of the surroundings they’d be more alarmed.

“You are not the only dreamers from Earth. At least one other has found his way to Arastia. While he is connected to you because of your shared origin he has rejected the fellowship of this hall and your company. I wish that were the worst of it but it is not. Some of us, given access to the Dreamscape see it as a chance to lead lives we have not or cannot in the place of our birth; to take risk we otherwise would not. While this can be liberating it can also be dangerous. While you have thus far chosen to serve the world you visit another must see it and its inhabitants as mere playthings to be toyed with. I have studied your world and much has changed since the last survey. Apparently you have a weave semi-analogous with the Dreamscape . A place between places and in no place at all where the dreams, nightmares and the utterly ordinary compete for attention. In this place as with the Dreamscape the visitors are anonymous, and unknown. Free to express their innermost thoughts and desires. The whole of your psyche is laid bare in this thing you call The Web. And even more so it is with the Dreamscape because the palette of the dreamer is even greater. More can be done for good or ill.”

He takes a drink and looks out at the gathered heroes.

“When you first came here I told you that what you do was your choice for good or ill. And while that is true I would not have opened the way for you had I known you would treat Arastia as some sandbox you could casually kick down and mangle at your pleasure. I sensed you would take seriously the roles you would find yourselves in within Arastia and you have. You have brought hope to a community on the verge of falling forever silent. Though the threat to them remains because of your actions it begins to diminish. Your actions remain yours to take. But because you have chosen fellowship and service I may aid you and can and will do so. ”

He smiles warmly at all and then sighs.

“So that brings me back to the threat itself. He is a creator of Nightmares. He cares not for the beings he toys with nor the damage he does in fact he revels in destruction and in undoing your work. In your world he is little more than poacher, a fisherman who takes your great fishes even though their hunting is proscribed. He would be quite content to take the very last of a kind, to cut short the thread of life not merely for a single animal but for the entire line. Where others would justify this as they weren’t taking the last one or merely trying to make a living and shield themselves from what they are doing. He revels in it and would do it for merely for the sport of it. In the Dreamscape he is far, far worse. He has followed your threads and found himself in a place where he can do as he wishes without consequence to himself. Or so he thinks. He knows about you if not who you are exactly. He thinks he acts on his own behalf but as I am here to guide you carefully there is a counterpart dark and malignant force that recklessly whispers the secrets of the Dreamscape without care for whether he is ready or capable of handling the powers taught to him. What guides him deludes him into thinking it is merely an aspect of the Dreamscape revealing itself to him as a mastership grows. He doesn’t yet know that there are costs for what he does. He is losing himself to it and at some point his essence will suffer for it. ”

He looks pained.

“But it cannot be your task to save him. For his redemption is within himself or not as he chooses. With each step down the path of darkness he is farther from both light and hope. You need to know that he can sense you. He knows when you are in the world. Something within you that need to understand, As true dreamers you use your perception to sense other dreamers and if you truly discern them before you, you can sense their world of origin. When you are in the world you can get a dim sense if other dreamers are in it and if sensed well, whether they are close or far from you. You already know that you have the capabilities of inserting yourself in the place you left as you left it. But there is one more feature I have had to keep from you until now. You can sever the link between Dreamer and Avatar. When facing a dreamer’s Avatar if you render the Avatar unconscious you perceive the link, then you use your will to sever it. The Avatar fades and the Dreamer is sent back and may only return with a different avatar at some future point. If you succeed greatly then the dreamer connection to the Dreamscape itself is severed. Know also he can do this to you and will if given the chance, be wary. ”

His surety fades.

“The greater force that dogs all our efforts is the thing, that deludes the other dreamer. It is what sought you. Even when you saw the dreamer’s face it was the shadow that acted to allow him to see you. It is the shadow that attempted to snare you before you arrived in Arastia. I can shield you from it as you come and go for now. I will guard your comings and goings as long as I am able. I will do my best to answer any questions you have.”

Player: Who is this?
The Portal Master, “I think you already know who he is. He was a Dwarf you ‘rescued’ and he is no such thing as well. I have found his Earth name. He is known there as David Bakanoff. Offshore fisherman, off season hunter and wanted poacher.”

Player: How do we find him?
The Portal Master,”You will find him in the world. Ask those who seem to know him where he is but don’t trust that they will see him for what he is.”

Player: How can he be stopped?
The Portal Master,”Find him. Knock his Avatar unconscious and sever the thread that binds him to his Avatar and if possible to the dreamscape. ”

Player: Is he the only one?
The Portal Master,”From your world he is the only one at this time. But the shadow that works against us may draw others if it is able.”

Player: What do you know about the shadow that works against us?
The Portal Master,”It is a mystery to the Council who it is but we think it is either a fallen Portal Master or the Exharch of a dead or dreaming god. Perhaps it is both. Uncovering it and stopping it will be much harder. You do not yet have the power to face something with the powers of a Portal Master . For now find clues about what or who it is and what it can do. As you grow in power one day perhaps you will be strong enough to face and finally stop it. Let hope and courage guide you more surely than I ever could. ”

Player: How do we get safely into Arastia.
The Portal Master,”Now each time you begin your true dream I will draw you here. From here we will send you safely to your destination, directly from the Dais. It is within my abilities to shield you during this. ”

He asks permission to awaken Darkel from Kelsey.

She agrees.

The Portal Master, “Darkel You have made a pact with a being of the Forgotten Realms. His agents have come calling, their blood and broken forms dot the entryway. There are a dozen dead creatures of various strengths from Imps to Clay Scouts that seek you on its behalf. I have blocked their transgressions but mine is not the only portal hall or connection to Arastia. There are others. Eventually you will be found. Be prepared.”

He turns to face the group.

The Portal Master, “I have not trained you as I should. I thought you would have time to learn gradually the ways of the Dreamscape. But it is obvious now I was mistaken. Let us begin.”

The Portal Master, “Pick up a fork in front of you. Concentrate on the fork and make it a spoon.”

Darkel speaks first after concentrating for a few minutes, “I was unable Master.”

The Portal Master, “In order to change the fork to a spoon you must realize there are infinite worlds and in some you hold a fork and in others a spoon. Use your Dream Weave talent to feel the worlds in which you hold a spoon. And weave the spoon into this one.”

And so the training continued for many hours, until finally they understood. At that time the following handout was given.

True Dreamer Class (Media Share w/ads)

What Lies Below, Part 2

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Ninth Entry

The whole party of dreamers arrived. All dreamers were present. They closed the door to the ritual area and discussed their options. It was decided to attempt to get into the secret room across from the zigzag corridor. They did so stealthily and Darkel was able to open the lock in the secret door without the key.

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Inside they saw three large chests, one overflowing with silver pieces. Two specters flowed from the walls and stood between the party and the treasure. They look expectantly at the party waiting for something. Soon all but Darkel entered. One specter made a gesture and the door swung shut. The party was alone with the two beings. They did not immediately attack and their guise was of an unspeaking noble knight and a human warrior who did speak.

“I am what remains of Thar Darvelon and the specter behind me once was Goerlin first paladin of LongShadow after the fall. He and I are served too long and were not able to completely avoid the curse. We choose this form to guard the treasure looted by “The Sundered” from their betters, the good people of LongShadow. If you were seeking it speak now your case to us to walk from here or face our wrath.”

the party took a moment and decided what to do. Darkel searched for any traps or trouble outside the secret room, unable to enter but all he found was an unfortunate cockroach who had obviously been reanimated with the other dead creatures in the hall. It made a dry, disgusting crunch under his boot. The party began speaking to the Specter of Thar diplomatically. First they pointed out that the council had sent them to this place.

Then their recent gained knowledge of LongShadow history was employed. They spoke of their recognition of Thar and his deeds at the east wall. Noting that they too served LongShadow if not yet as bravely as Thar.

The Specter of Thar smiled wistfully.

Then religion was used. The specters were informed that the curse that befell them already is chanced by the party based on their service. That the party would learn from their example and work to benefit all.

The specters nodded and seemed pleased by this.

Then an attempt was made to bluff the Specters. Immediately they reacted harshly. Thar speaking, “We do not fear anything about you. You speak to those who have died for others. Have a care or face the wrath of the fallen.”

Tactfully diplomacy was used again, they parted assured the guardians that they wished to use the items there in service and not for personal gain.

Finally Arcana revealed that the guardians were being held here and once they met their obligation they would be freed at last and haunt the world of mortals no longer.

They smiled and agreed. The party was welcome to the treasures stolen by the long dead thieves. The guardians made another series of gestures and the chests unlocked as well as the secret door. Then they faded completely, gone it seemed, forever.

The party found various treasures, Baldric of Tactical Positioning, Sunblade, Onyx Dog, Master’s Wand of Dire Radiance and much of value: 750 Gold, 1800 Silver, 2 Rubies w/50, 1 Sapphire w/150, 1 Diamond w/250, Ornate Silver Mask (Halfling/Gnome sized) w/75.

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They quietly divided this and prepared for the encounter across the way. As they did, first Reille clutched her stomach and faded out as her dreamer grew too sick to continue. And then Jamin who had temporarily been inhabiting the avatar of a Wizard rubbed his avatar’s eyes and faded out as well. The dream weave whisked them away and the remainder of the dreamers looked at the foes waiting for them across the way with trepidation and reservation. Two Corruption Corpses, Two Chillborns, A Gravehound and presiding over then an Animated beholder, dripping pus where it’s many eyes once were.

The party also saw that a pair of statues in the first alcoves were trapped with an fire activated by a pressure plate. The group wisely made their stand in front of the pressure plate. The undead seemed aware of the trap and tried to avoid it but they were pulled ever closer to it. Darkel slipped around the plate and made her stand behind one of the statues. The Beholder hovered slowly towards the party slowly, methodically as the Corruption corpses threw necrotic filth at any who presented themselves. The chillborns engaged Darkel who blasted them round after round, until finally Tinnyen hit them with an acid orb. One exploded, destroying the other and both showered frost down on Darkel and the fire trapped statue. The stature broke into tiny pieces of rubble. Darkel was wounded but fought on blasting the Beholder coming down the passageway again and again. Tinnyen joined in. Jathyier took a few shots with mixed success.

Corik stepped up and impaled one of the Corruption Corpses with his spear and pulled it onto the pressure plate where it was destroyed in fire. The gravehound crossed the pressure plate with ease, not setting off the trap and fought against Corik who managed to miss it many times even as it tore into his legs. Jathyier finished off the other Corruption Corpse as the Animated Beholder arrived. Corik was bloodied and badly wounded and shifted away, allowing the bear to face the gravehound and beholder. Sammael turned and gave the final blow to the pile of bones and viscera that was once a hound. The entire party concentrated fire again and again on the Beholder. It was driven back into Darkel who was so startled she missed it with her blast. In the next few chaotic seconds it was finished , falling into a pull of pus and goo. But a moment later it arose again weeping pus and gore but fighting on. The exhausted party fought like demons and in a few more strikes the beholder was reduced to a large pile of diced flesh and gore.

They searched and found only a blue key that fit in the secret door lock, already opened. They took a short rest and bound their wounds and fortified themselves for the task ahead, escape.

Corik searched the rubble on the stairs but there was too much of it. Without the proper tools it could take him weeks to dig the party out. Darkel looked for another way. He opened the only remaining door near the original entrance and found instead a room filled with various ghouls and a stench so foul it was overwhelming. She snuck in and the ghouls saw her. There were four horde ghouls, once orcs they now slavered with insane hunger. Three other ghouls capered with madness from behind pillars while a plaguedtouched ghoul and stench ghoul watched over it all.

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Darkel went invisible and slipped past the Ghouls, seeing a pit running the length of the far wall. Tinnyen blasted the plaguedtouched backwards and into the pit. It climbed out angry and charged down the hall. The Horde ghouls spread out, climbed the pillars and walls and waited for someone to come into the room. The ghouls hid behind the pillars as did the stench ghoul, awaiting a chance to pounce. The plaguedtouched ran into the hall. Corik faced it down. Darkel found a secret door on the right wall and quietly and carefully picked the lock. The doorway opened to a passageway beyond, leading to two flights of steps turning left and going to a trap door. Escape could be had at last, if they could defeat the ghouls.

Unfortunately one of the ghouls saw the door open and perceived Darkel charging, another nearby joined in until she was surrounded and being clawed. Darkel’s blood struck the wall and floor as the ghouls clawed at her. Corik fought bravely and the rest aided him. The plagued touched healed himself with each attack, erasing Corik’s effort. Corik hewed into it again and again with a double bladed axe. Jathyier healed him as he could but Corrik strength was ebbing The ghoul grew cocky and sensing Corik’s weakness it went for the kill. Using it’s claws instead of the great maw in its chest. It missed. Corrik and the others threw everything they had, it worked the plaguedtouched was killed in a single coordinated attack by the party. Only Darkel fighting alone was unable to help. As she fell to the ghouls, disappearing just before she fell.

Sammael slipped down the hall and saw the Horde ghouls in wait. He blasted them with radiant light and they were all destroyed. Tinnyen ran into the chamber and right by the stench ghoul to save Darkel. They stench ghoul was so surprised by this it missed him. Tinnyen fought the ghouls near Darkel and they turned from feeding on her to the new threat. Darkel’s heart beat erratically as it pumped smaller and smaller amounts of blood. Tinnyen ran in and engaged the stench ghoul, blood streaming down his beard and along one arm. One ghoul fell but another bit into Tinnyen paralyzing him. He used his new robe to teleport away. Darkel’s heart pumped adrenaline thorough his body and he awoke. Darkel moved away running up the stairs. He summoned courage to hit the wounded ghoul with his eldritch fire. One of the ghouls fell but the other ran up the stairs and dropped her again. Tinnyen sighed, reached within himself and blasted the ghoul from across the room. Pieces of it splattered against the far wall. Darkel was down but breathing shallowly.

Corrik was struck once too often by the Stench ghoul and fell at its feet. An avenging angel in the form of Sammael drove into the Stench ghoul, hammering it with radiant power. Tinnyen fought against the last remaining ghoul as the bear now screamed his hatred and anger and struck at the Stench ghoul who wounded his friend. Tinnyen quickly dispatched this ghoul and joined, Jathyier and Sammael against the stench ghoul. Raw power arcane and radiant flowed into the Stench ghoul from Tinnyen and Sammael, as Jathyier continued to fire on the creature. It fell. The party bandaged its wounded, rested and then opened the trap door. They were in Embalmer’s hall. Safe and free at last.

What Lies Below, Part 1

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The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Eighth Entry

The party sits around the table at the Truesword Inn discussing their options. Darkel is not in evidence and neither is Vaah. Reille warns them that the dwarf they rescued is not the one they left to get and yet this seems confusing because the council and the townsfolk recognized and accepted Sukkar as the missing scout. Where then is Thark Dryfoot? And who is Sukkar anyway. After discussing the options they decide they have left the mausoleum problem go for too long. They agree to tackle this undead menace first thing in the morning.

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Tinnyen decides to speak with the priests immediately about the problem. He goes to the temple and waits as the acolytes of various deities wander about. Finally he is approached by a young lad in white vestments. “How can the servants of Vatella serve you brother.”
“I want to ensure that the dead are properly prepared and kept from a dark fate.”
“A most unusual interest. Please follow me.”
Tinnyen is left in a vestibule for over half an hour before a higher priest finally comes.
“We know the proper rituals. The dead are handled as is appropriate to each.”
Tinnyen seemed eased by this even though little information was exchanged. He thanks the priest and leaves, returns to the inn and joins the party in sleep.

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Before the rest awaken Reille is awoken by a page of The Lion’s Paw. She has been summoned. Thankfully, she has recently polished her armor to a burnished glow. Together they walk to a fair sized building near the north gate; the headquarters of The Lion’s Paw. Waiting outside is the current master trainer for OldTown Militia Theo Trellius. He opens the door. Inside the paladins of The Lion’s Paw await with their weapons held in an arch. It is a large hall but only sixteen members await of various ages from barely seventeen to over forty. Theo escorts her to a raised dais. Welk Trellius enters from an antechamber. The paladins turn and holster their weapons. Theo Trellius, a warrior, bows and departs.

Welk Trellius turns and faces Reille. She sees that s gleaming suit of enchanted plate mail is set artfully into a stand near the dais. On the breastplate is the engraved filigree head of a lion. She can only assume that this was armor of a former group of paladins for their current symbol is the Lion’s Paw.

Reille Paige you have performed in the service of good above and beyond the call of the warriors of Long Shadow in breaking the nightly siege and throwing down the goblin fort. Do you seek to join the Lion’s Paw and continue your service of the light?”
“I, Reille Paige, seek to join my cause with that of the Lion’s Paw.”
“Will you set aside ambition, avarice and avow for now and always that you will strive the path of righteousness, serving justice and providing mercy as called upon by all the good gods? That you will do so with humility of spirit and without leading others into the dark?”
“I will.”
“Until the curse is lifted, we of the Lion’s Paw serve good as we may. Soon will the Lions of Mandastia be called home again.”
Welk Trellius indicates the armor and tells Reille to take off her current armor and put on the new. All in the hall turn away from her as she does so. He places a beautiful red and white sable cloak with two golden lion’s paw as clasps around her neck. Reille has never looked so noble.

“Brothers and Sisters of the paw, welcome Reille Paige as a Paw”
The paladins cheer and they shake her hands and give her hearty clouts on the shoulders and back as she passes through them once more.
Reille looks relieved to say, “I would stay with you but I must begin immediately. The members of my team, are set to clear the mausoleum this very morning.”
Welk smiles, “Do not let us keep you then sister. Go with the full support of the Paw.”

Reille rushes back to the inn blushing. She hurries to her room and packs away her old armor and the sable cloak. She heads downstairs. Only Sammael is waiting. The others gather and they eat a perfunctory breakfast. Thespa has packed their usual rations. They decide that the first step will be to visit Embalmer’s hall, where the dead are prepared and currently stored.

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A young acolyte with a shaven head invites them in. “you have dead he asks?” No they are here to see someone in charge, they say. They walk a long hallway. At the end glass doors show light shining down from the domed room ahead. The glass is only partially translucent and the party cannot see in. They are told to wait here. Very quickly an older man with a 1 inch line of hair around the middle of his head. “I am Sebel of the Preparers of the Way. What do you seek?” The party indicates it’s worry about the dead rising and speaks of a ritual that prevents this. Sebel stops them. “We already know a form of this ritual you speak. Rest assured that none of the dead here become that which you fear.” The party as a whole is not reassured. Sebel grows impatient, “Listen, as you surmise there are those for whom the greater curse effects. Despite our best efforts they rise but none of the prepares is surprised. These unfortunates are cremated and nothing of them remains to trouble the living.”

“Now, you must promise not to be spreading this around. Specifically, because it is those who serve LongShadow most who seem to succumb to the curse upon death. It would further demoralize the people if they knew the best of them suffers a worse fate in death. ” The party generally agrees although there are some notable hold outs who try to continue to the conversation. Sebel grows visibly annoyed. Come with me. Sebel opens the door. The great room has a glass domed ceiling. There are bunk beds everywhere three levels high. In each is an embalmed partially mummified corpse. The smell of death is present here, but over powered by lilac and other less savory concoctions. Near the center of the chamber is a table on which rests a corpse tied carefully down. Twelve men in brown red robes sit vigil upon it. Sebel indicates them, “So you see you have nothing to worry about here, except where we are going to stack the overflowing dead.” the party indicates that they will be clearing the Mausoleum. Sebel seems relieved. “Then these former vessels of the passed on will find rest at last. Good luck.” He shows them out.

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The party goes around the corner and through the garden path to the Mausoleum. A stone slab has been mortared over the door. They decide that they have to get help to open it. They visit the council who seem surprised the party didn’t ask before this. They send for the Dwarven Masons. Before the party is even back the Masons are at the door awaiting the party. A young page they have seen before waits for them bearing a silver key with a skull on it. The dwarves use their tools and in a few minutes the slab falls backwards exposing the door. The page hands them the key and almost forgets to tell them a message from the council but he remembers just in time. “The council knows that you serve LongShadow. As such they give you leave to take anything that you find and may need so long as you leave the undisturbed dead alone.”

The key is placed in the lock and slowly turned. Click, the iron door is opened.

When the seal on the door is broken open light pours into the musty room. Four opened tombs lie empty. The walls have likewise been looted of the bodies of the dead. Like some perverse grab robbers the bodies are gone and the garments and items of the dead lay scattered about as if without thought or care. A stairway down to the crypt below lies to the right. Death is a linger faint odor here, present but musty.

Corik notices, one of the garments discarded is an especially fine robe. Upon examination it is discovered to be a Robe of Contingency. Tinnyen is told to take it as he is the only one who is strictly a wearer of cloth. A further search proves fruitless. The party heads down into the next level.

As with the room above this crypt has been looted of bodies, rotten clothing and what can only have been floral arrangements lie strewn about. One large tomb lies partially closed. Hanging out of it is a the lower half of a figure in rotted cloaks of brown and gray.

Corik notices, The only clothing not rotted on the half corpse is a pair of fine gray boots. He also notices that the upper half of the corpse is missing and has been gnawed on. He sees that what is below this is not the bottom of a tomb but a stairway going down.

The stone here is dissimilar, carved by different, cruder hands. The workmanship is not as good or deliberate. The stench of death is much worse here.

The boots are determined to be Sure Foot Boots and as they help their wearer stay upright it is determined Reille can best benefit from them. She agrees reluctantly and puts them on. The party moves aside the slab and half corpse and heads below. They enter a small ten foot by ten foot room with a single door opening towards them.

Darkel finally catches up with them. He waits nervously in the back behind the bear unnoticed by all. As they open the door they see trouble immediately.

The party seems to have entered a darkened den of decay. They see devices and dummies that were once used to practice the arts of thievery on. Here the corruption of avarice is complete. The thieves of this once bustling place lie bloated and dead everywhere. To horror of all they begin to arise.

Combat begins in earnest. Corik throws himself into the fray. There is a bloated abomination bearing an Urghosh who appears to have once been their leader. Three former female rogues now shuffle as zombies and in each of three of the four corners a Skulking Zombie awaits. Corik causes a small hurt to the Abomination which in turn wraps its own intestines around him restraining him. the party moves carefully into positions around the room, except for Reille who charges to the front. Soon she is surrounded. Some of the zombies and skulks are also on Corik. The rest use range powers and weapons to plink at the zombies. The abomination squeezes Corik and with the combining of attacks on him he falls, released by the abomination. His bear howls in rage and fights over him, keeping the rest of the zombies at bay. Reille shines in her new armor and at first none seem to able to hit her. With Corik down the rest converge on her and she begins getting hit. Sammael is able to create a divine blast hitting numerous targets.

Darkel snuck in and found a wall to fight against and begun blasting at the zombies. The first of the Zombies goes down. Jathyier uses his healing device on Corik and he is up, and quickly downs another zombie. The party concentrates attacks on the Abomination and it takes two full rounds to even bloody it. Now it has restrained Reille. Sammael finishes off a bloodied Skulk. While another slips behind Corik and strikes him, knocking him down once more. Again his bear refuses to allow him further harm and bravely fights in his stead. Reille reaches a hand to Corik even as she is held by the disgusting intestines of the abomination and lays the power of healing upon him. He is up again. Darkel and Sammael each drop a Skulk and the last remaining Zombie falls.

Much of the party is wounded at this point but only one skulk and the abomination remain. They fight on. Jathyier uses his thundering armor to good advantage. They continue blistering attacks on the abomination which absorbs their punishment. Tinnyen sends another blast into it and finally it falls. With one skulk before them it is momentarily quiet. Then from behind they hear the sound of the stone slab crashing down. Rubble fills the top of the stairway. And the laughter of a familiar dwarf is heard, “Sukkar!” Cries Reille. There is little time to considered what has happened as the abomination reforms in front of their eyes. A sigh escapes the lips of everyone. Its tendrils reach out and grasp Reille once more. The skulk takes the opportunity to get behind Corik and strike from the shadows again. Corik is down for the third time. The bear is incensed with rage.

The party yells at Tinnyen to finish the skulk. With a well timed prismatic orb he is able to glance off it. The badly wounded skulk is at last destroyed. With Corik out and no other enemies, all focus on the abomination again. It squeezes Reille and she finally falls. Sammel focuses the will of Torm upon the abomination and it is sorely wounded. The Bear roars with rage and takes a mighty swipe with its claws, eviscerating the abomination which explodes in a cloud of putrescence. Sammael adds Corik to his feat and Jathyier aids Reille. The party examines the choked stairs behind them. They are trapped with no obvious way out.

Darkel goes a but insane and runs down through a far door looking for a way out. She very nearly trips a pit trap but her diminutive size aids her. She sees a trapped face in the other direction. Moving on, she finds a room with two side rooms. Flesh is heaped in one and bones in another. In the bone room she spies a secret door. She moves on. Spies another secret door and a long zig-zaging hallway. She sees a floating, decaying beholder at one end with a rotting hound guarding it. Along the way four undead guard the hall. A stature trap is in the first pair of alcoves. She is about to attack the first zombie like creature when she thinks better of it. She carefully backs up, rejoining the party. Corik tries and Jathyier succeeds at spiking the pit closed. The party is able to walk past without triggering it.

They open the portcullis to the bone room and pass unharmed through it Sammael is slightly unhinged at this point as well and charges in. Inside is a long passage and at the end lies a Skull lord with three skulls circling his bony head. He is likewise surrounded by three skeletal warriors. The party follows in to the narrow hallway. Corik switches to his Barbed spear, hitting the skull lord and pulling him to the party. The party drops 2 skeletal warriors in quick succession. The Skull Lord fights back as beams of power shoot from the skulls circling him. One strikes bones in his ritual circle behind and another skeletal warrior arises. they realize that killing the skeletons is having little effect so they concentrate on the Lord. As they hit him the skulls begin to crack. First the flaming one explodes, then after raising another Skeleton that one is destroyed. The party with grim determination finishes off the final skull, cheering they break the last warrior to broken bits of bone. The destroy the ritual circle and find themselves a valuable golden skull and magical Skull Bracers. Jathyier takes the Skull Bracers. With at least one source of new undead gone they release the dream weave, returning exhausted to their homes.

Breaking the Siege, Part 1

The Book of Deeds, Earth dreamers. Seventh Entry (second part of session)

The party awoke. Darkel had prepared 15 satchels of explosive alchemical fire, per party request. The party decided to see Gorkle who had once been a slave in the Goblin fort. Thespa gave them a packed lunch as before and they left by the north gate. Soon they were standing outside the former badger lair looking at two sleepy goblin guards. One went inside and returned with Gorkle .

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The party worked together to convince Gorkle . That with his help they could free the remainder of his people, that they could succeed, and that it was in his best interest to help them. He was barely convinced but he agreed. Gorkle suggested that they go free goblins during the next siege which was likely to be the next night. He would take the freed goblins and march the party weaponless into the fort. His people would infiltrate the camp. Wait until late dark and then throw them the weapons while freeing them. They would kill the orc general and his loyal goblin followers and the goblins would leave with Gorkle .

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The party left and headed to the field of the fallen, arriving at night. A siege had begin. Gorkle snuck around freeing goblins. He was able to get 7 survivors and they took the party’s weapons and headed to the fort where they were greeted as heroes. The whole party was thrown in with three militia. All had been abused, one had died recently and left to rot. Sammael used his newest ritual “Gentle Ripose” on the dead militiaman. Gorkle and some of his loyal goblins relieved the guards near the wooden cells. Darkel tried to escape on her own but was unable. Gorkle had a heated discussion with one guard and killed him when he would not agree. True to Gorkle ’s word he freed the party and returned their weapons. They took a single one of Darkel’s satchels and snuck it near the Orc’s hut. When it blew it killed the general, his loyalists and waking the entire camp. Gorkle spoke. A magical flaming crossbow was blown upwards out of the hut but was not destroyed. Tinnyen caught it and gave it to Jathyier.

“Here me goblin brudders. You can fight deys hummies or you can join me and leave dis place as free gobbos. Choose quick.”

None of the goblins struck a single blow. They left with Gorkle as their new leader, nearly thirty strong.

The Party returned once more to LongShadow with the mobile militia and carried the dead one between them. They were greeted as liberators if not yet heroes. The continuous siege had been broken, with no goblins to hold the ladders for the undead. The town still faces the threat of the Drow and Black Orcs without, and the Mausoleum within. So all is not yet done. The members of the party also have the sense they are missing something. That they should review what is given here of the weave to discover more.

- The Portal Master


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