After tending to their badly injured and unconscious companion, Altain, it was decided that one of the groups valuable potions should be used to revive him. Wolven carefully poured the strange concoction down the eladrin’s throat, and then sat by with the others and patiently waited. Finally Altain began to moan and cough before his eyes slowly opened. After he was alert and ready the group prepared to continue west from the dark tower. The information they had gathered had once again given them a direction in which to pursue, and something known as the “Queen’s Stone” apparently stood somewhere to the west, so westward they went.
It was raining heavily in the misty, fog filled swamp. Visibility was down to a mere fifty feet. Then within the hour a small shrine was spotted up ahead, little more than a small and dark silhouette in the thick fog. The group pressed ahead wondering if it might be the “Queen’s Stone”? Soon they were met near the small shrines entry by two dragonmen guards carrying swords, and their shields were emblazoned with the now all too familiar symbol of what the companions were now referring to as a rising sun. After a short exchange of questions, and sarcastic remarks, conflict broke out. The companions had little trouble dispatching of the two dragonmen guards, as they quickly overwhelmed them with their superior numbers. A note was discovered on one of the guards and it was in the draconic script. Fin stepped up to decode the strange symbols. It said the following:“The preparations have been completed and the ceremony will go ahead as planned.” -Exemplar Koltue
What the note meant none could be sure but it was another clue, and a possible connection to the paper work found in the dark tower earlier.
Once inside the small shrine the group found a water basin that magically refilled with fresh water, and Fin discovered a black obsidian symbol inset into the top of an alter. The symbol reminded Fin of a starfish with five legs, but was not certain on what it might represent. Then he discovered that each one could be pressed down until a small click could be heard. As he pressed each of the five segments down, the alter began to slide forward revealing a descending spiral staircase. With a torch now lit the group descended into the darkness below. There they discovered a large chamber with runes engraved in its stone floor, but it was a ten-foot pyramid of bones and skulls that really got the groups attention. Fin began making a rub of the engraved runes, while Mongo inspected the morbid pyramid of skulls and bones. Mongo’s inspection turned out to be anything but subtle however, as the carefully placed bones and skulls of the pyramid suddenly came crashing down. But with this mess came the ability to carefully inspect many of the bones. Many of them revealed bite marks on the long bones, and many of the skulls contained large holes. Whatever had made the marks must have been larger than anything the group had ever seen!
Later that afternoon the group had once again taken to the swamp and headed west. Wolven and Altain seemed sluggish as the cold and wet conditions took hold, but they pressed on. Nearly two hours later the group spotted human silhouettes in the distant fog. Altain moved ahead hoping to get a better look. Twelve heavily cloaked monks walked in two rows. They were headed westward too, and it was decided that they should be followed. The strange cloaked figures said not a word over the next several hours, they just continued to walk silently straight ahead without even a glance toward their right or left flank. With this, the companions felt comfortable following the apparently unsuspecting monks at a relatively close range of fifty-feet.
Finally as dusk began to fall on the cold and wet marshlands a series of large ruins could be seen jutting out of the distant fog. Large groups of lizardmen and hooded figures could be seen moving about the ruins. The group decided it would be safest to remain about fifty-feet offshore to just observe. The lizardmen were beginning to kneel and pray before a large stone pillar, paying homage to what the companions could only assume was some sort of unseen god-like figure. Then the hooded men also began to take a knee and bow their heads. Silence fell upon the area as a lizard-priest began to lead a human captive up to the top of the towering stone pillar. The captive was chained in place before a short ritual was begun. Then the lizard-priest stepped down and took his place for the religious ceremony. Thoughts of attempting to rescue the man rushed through the minds of many of the companions, but the number of lizardmen attending the ceremony were just too numerous. Not to mention the fact that whatever was being worshipped by these countless throngs had yet to appear, and none wanted to get caught in the middle of whatever was about to take place.
Then suddenly something exploded from the murky waters. It was massive, and as the water rushed from its body the creature’s form became obvious – a huge black dragon! Having never seen such a mythical creature before, many in the group felt a pit in their stomach, and an urge to flee as fear washed over them. But the moment was too mesmerizing, and many were quite frankly too scared to move! The huge dragon moved towards his sacrificial meal, and its long neck lunged forward to feast. It opened its gaping maw and moved for what was sure to be the killing blow – then suddenly the dragon vanished! Then reappeared a short twenty-five feet back, and mistakingly tore into one of the lizardfolk!! Panic filled the area as confusion flooded the minds of the reptilian men. Then the bloody corpse of the hapless lizardman was carelessly tossed to the ground below. Altain continued to watch from afar, safely standing over fifty-feet away and hiding out in the swamp waters, satisfied by the results of his handiwork. But the nightmare was not over for the now terrified man, as the dragon moved towards the “Queen’s Stone” once again, and then ripped the poor victim to shreds with its piercing teeth, before swallowing the shredded remains. Blood rushed over the elevated stone platform and poured over its edges as the huge black dragon took flight, hovered for a few short seconds, and then dove into the marshes murky waters to the north.
Fear and panic were prevalent throughout the ruins. The lizard-priest and his assistant then moved to the top of the “Queen’s Stone” to get a better view. Wolven watched carefully from a distance, hoping that that the mayhem below might provide him with the opportunity to take a shot at the priest. Drawing back his bowstring he released an arrow, and it proved to be straight and true. The lizard-priest roared in pain, the arrow protruding from its chest. But the decision would soon prove to be an unwise one, as countless lizardmen began massing on the shoreline as they tried to locate the shooter. Soon many began to point in Wolven’s direction, and then took to the water. Only twenty-five feet away from the shore, and much closer to the ruins than his companions, Fin sensed the impending danger of the situation and quickly decided to submerge, disappearing from sight. It didn’t take long before the companions found themselves surrounded by throngs of lizardmen, and the situation began to look dire indeed. The companions fought valiantly, but as the group continued to cut down one enemy after another, the realization began to set in that there were simply too many! Wave after wave, the lizardmen continued to wade into the marsh to attack their once hidden foes, often taunting the group with the threat of “The Great Lizard King” in a broken attempt to speak in the common tongue. The dark swamp water had begun to turn crimson-red as the situation grew more and more dire. It was becoming clear that Wolven’s final shot may have been a mistake, and it had more than one companion wondering if this in fact might be the end?…