Legends and Lore

A Mysterious Journey (Episode 26)

After meeting with the sage in Hommlet the companions began to once again make their way westward. Tordariche Nem had told the group of a small town to the west of the Feywood Forest called Winterhaven. It was there that the group hoped to discover whether passage upon a ship could be obtained there, or anywhere nearby in a coastal town? Tordariche had made it clear that the group was to be on the lookout for a mountain range to the southwest, and to skirt to the northwest in order to locate this place called Winterhaven. It was ten days into this lengthy trek, while skirting these very mountains, that the group spotted the ruins of a small village behind an ancient curtain wall. Above the wall and village ruins a caved-in temple could be seen standing upon a nearby hilltop. To the west and south the curtain wall ended abruptly, as the steep hillside created a natural barrier of protection. In the shadow of this wall the ruins of Gardmore Village could be seen standing like lines of broken teeth. Among the sagging roofs and toppled wrecks of houses, throngs of savage orcs made camp in filthy tents clustered around small, smoking fires.

The companions knew they needed to keep a low profile, or risk being set upon by what appeared to be hundreds of orcs. The gatehouse was then chosen as the groups point of entry. If all went well the group hoped to enter the gatehouse, defeat what they hoped to be a limited number of orc guards, and then make their way along the shadows of the interior curtain wall until they reached the tangled expanse of forest that covered the southern end of the village. Luckily their plan played out as they had hoped, as four orc guards met the group inside a raised portcullis. But there was one large surprise, as a ten-foot tall ogre also guarded the interior gatehouse! This opponent was only the beginning of the unexpect twists however, as Robyn and Mongo suddenly found themselves seperated from the melee when the raised portcullis came crashing down behind Fin and Altain. Robyn and Mongo then found themselves assaulted by a barrage of arrows that came from the top of gatehouse towers. The battle turned out to be more challenging than originally expected, but eventually the group disposed of the occupants before raising any outside suspicions.

Once the group was reunited inside the gatehouse the group made its way along the shadows of the curtain wall. It was then that they spotted a deserted courtyard nearby. The large open space seemed the perfect place to pitch a tent, yet no orcs were present, but why? After a short discussion they decided to investigate. It wasn’t long before they noticed a pile of crates and barrels near a set of ten-foot tall double doors that lead to a large keep. But as they approached they spotted an enormous two-headed giant with its back against the doors to the ruined keep. The eyelids of one of its heads were half-closed, and it was picking its teeth with the grisly bone of a recent kill. Thoughts of once again ducking into the shadows ran through the heroes minds before they suddenly realized they had been spotted. The two-heading giant yawned, then asked for a password. Shocked by the sudden question the group paused as the ettin rose to its feet.

Then the head on the right spoke, “Just give ‘em the reminder Spike, so we can get back to our nappin’.”
“Fine Bruse,” Spike grunted, then recited the following riddle: “A box of white bones, never empty nor full, though it ever leaks treasure inside. It holds safe all you’ve got, unless you’re a sot, when its locks with wine may be plied,” Bruse said.
“Smash it in like an egg, but what do you know?” said Spike, “They’ll not find the treasure you hide.”
Fin and Altain exchanged worried glances, before Fin finally gave his answer – “a skull.” With that the ettin suddenly stepped aside, allowing the companions safe passage through the large, wooden, double doors and into the keep.

Inside lay what appeared to be a great feasting hall. Arched and columned galleries overlooked the entire area, the emblazoned shields of its mighty defenders lining the walls. Some were now missing, and others pierced by raven-fletched arrows, and yet others defaced by gobs of filth or scrawled graffiti. At the far end of this reeking chamber, two curving stairways rose to either side of a landing where the galleries met. An ornate door could be seen leading off from the landing. But all this was secondary to what stood before the stairway, two orcs armored in the piecemeal remnants of Gardmore’s former defenders, a crude mockery of the paladin’s solemnity. Beside them stood two dire wolves – steeds no doubt for the savage knights of the orc chieftain. Two more orc warriors stood at the ready only twenty-feet from where the companions now stood. An orc sporting thick dreadlocks beaded with humanoid finger bones could be seen leaning over the balustrade at the far end of the hall. He raised a totem capped with a human skull, and began barking orders…

The Three Sisters (Episode 25)

Finally after resting the group headed back into the surrounding snow covered forest. They headed west hoping to find some sign of the three sisters. They needed to find the three oracles of the Feywood Forest in the hopes of discovering the location of the legendary lost scrolls. Soon a thick fog soon rolled in before the group spotted three large silhouettes standing in the distance, but it was soon discovered that these were not the oracles for which they sought but instead three trolls. Quickly the three disgusting creature were defeated, along with a small critter with two incredibly long arms capable of latching onto and strangling a large sized man.

The next day the group found themselves surrounded by an elven ghost army, but the group managed to negotiate passage through the frozen woods when Altain pulled the enchanted blade “Moonfire” from its sheath. The elven spirits apparently recognizing the weapon then parted in reverance, allowing the heroes to pass.

Finally the group came upon a small cavern entrance as dusk began to fall. The light of flickering flames could be seen upon the caves icy walls. Inside two women could be heard bickering amongst one another. Carefully the companions made their presence known before slowly entering. Negotiations then began before the third sister finally made her presence known as she appeared from a tunnel at the far end of the cave. Finally after a long and tedious discussion an agreement was finally reached. In a shocking turn of events the Paladin of Bahamut, Fin, agreed to relinquish his enchanted blade, Slayer, to the three hags in return for the coveted information! It was an act of selflessness few would have been willing to make, and it was undoubtedly a result of the Paladin’s deep faith. It was then that the companions learned of the “sunken city” of the Turathi Empire known as Bael Turath. It was there that the lost scrolls could be found in a long lost library. But this information also came with a stern warning of danger, as the sisters spoke of an infernal presence known as the guardian. Soon after the heroes departed and began their long trek back through the frozen woods to Hommlet.

Once back in the occupied town of Hommlet, the group once again looked up the sage Todariche Nem. They shared what information they had learned, before kindly offering the sage an escort north to Timbervale. But Todariche had to refuse the kind offer, as he had unfinished business to attend. It was during this stay that Robyn decided to get some much needed rest at the Welcome Wench Inn. Already on edge from a nearly successful assassination attempt less than a week earlier, the half-orc felt the need to sleep with one eye open. Then a knock suddenly sounded at the door. Terrified, Robyn began tearing apart his dresser before finally hiding inside its empty shell. Then he heard the quiet click of the lock, and the nearly silent footfalls of an unkown individual. Then the assassin suddenly struck! Robyn was sure he would soon meet his end when the dwarf, Mongo, suddenly appeared. The assassin broke for the second story window, and quickly disappeared into the night. Once again Robyn realized his good fortune, and he couldn’t get out of town fast enough!

Soon the group departed the small town, and as it faded into the distance Robyn could be heard mumbling under his breath how he truly hated the place. He had the disturbing feeling that soon his luck just might run out…

"Moonfire" (Episode 24)

After leaving Hommlet the heroes headed south as quickly as possible in order to avoid detection. It was during these early morning hours under the moon-light that the group heard the flapping of wings from above the trees, and then everything suddenly fell silent. The group froze in place as an undescribable fear gripped the group. Not wanting to draw the attention of whatever it might be, the group listened for any signs of trouble. But it wasn’t a noise that grabbed the groups attention, but the massive shadow that glided over the group, as the moon-light was suddenly eclipsed by a massive winged beast above the treeline. Unfortunately the companions were unable to clearly identify the winged beast however, as it appeared no more than a dark silhouette outlined in the moon-light above the trees.

The remainder of the day was relatively uneventful, and the group finally set camp in a grove of nearby trees.

The group continued south the following morning. It was on this second day of travel that the group was suddenly attacked by a large, white ape-like creature with four arms that leaped from the trees, and landed amongst the companions. Initially the four-armed ape inflicted several significant wounds upon the group with its sharp claws, but things quickly turned as the heroes banded together, and quickly disposed of the beast before more harm could be done.

Later that day the group finally spotted the Feywood Forest in the distance. Carefully they entered the woods unsure what to expect, but the forest appeared no different than any other. They pressed onward deeper into the woodlands as the sun began to set over the horizon. Finally at dusk the group decided to set camp yet again. They were now two days into their journey south, but none were really sure of what they were looking for. All they knew was that three sisters known as the Oracles of the Feywood Forest were somewhere, anywhere, in these woods. As each drifted off to sleep that night they were left wondering exactly who, or what, these three sister were exactly? Their imaginations did the rest, as throughout the night each of the companions dreams seemed to be filled with the varying possibilities.

The third day of travel brought the companions into the thickest region of the Feywood Forest, and the feeling that the group was often being watched. Yet never was there evidence found to explain the uneasy feeling, so the group continued to press onward until dusk once again began to fall across the snow covered woodland. It was on this third night that the group noticed the yellowish-orange flickering of light in the distant woods. It appeared to be a campfire, but just who’s none could be certain? The companions could only hope that whoever it was hadn’t discovered them first.

Fin wasted little time, as he began moving in the direction of the flickering lights. Quickly Altain followed. This gave the rogue, Robyn Graives, little time to react, but the fleet footed half-orc somehow managed to work his way ahead of the group. Knowing that his companion weren’t far behind Robyn knew he needed to act quickly. Soon he spotted a large canvas tent with campfires burning around its perimeter. Then he noted two individuals talking near one of the tent’s entrances. One wore a dark green cloak with his cowl pulled up over his head and face, the other was a dragon-man with wings much like the other dragonmen the group had encountered in the Misty Marshes last fall. Perhaps worried that the group would soon give away the element of surprise, the rogue prepared to strike first. Carefully he aimed his enchanted silver dagger known as Triflik’s Blade. His aim was perfect as he struck the draconian, dropping him dead in his tracks, but the cloaked individual quickly disappeared inside the tent to sound the alarm.

Surprised at Robyn’s sudden attack, the companions raced ahead to see exactly what the commotion was all about. The sight was a shocking one, as draconians filtered out from three visible exits of the large tent structure, while others came running from the backside of the huge forty-foot by forty-foot tent. It was as though Robyn had disturbed a beehive!

It was during this initial strike that many of the companions picked up on the sound of leathery wings flapping from somewhere up above. Fin’s sword pommel then suddenly began to warm, and the blade began to release an ever so slight humming vibration. Then the all too familiar silhouett eclipsed the moonlight above the treeline, before disappearing mysteriously to the west. It seemed like an ill-omen for them all, but there was little time to worry now that the beehive had been disturbed.

As the battle was engaged the group suddenly came under fire from an unexpected direction, as draconian scouts in the surrounding trees began to rain poisoned arrows down upon the companions. Then as the battle wore on, a large blue rhino-like beast was released from behind the tent upon the hapless group. Lightening coursed along the stormlizard’s horn as it charged headlong into the fray. Once again the companions had visions of the past fall season, and the nearly deadly encounter with a beast such as this. But things continued to get worse, as a robed draconian soon exited the tent with two armed draconian guards. It was the last thing the heroes expected to see, just when things seemed they couldn’t get worse, a draconian spellcaster! Soon explosions of fire filled the northern side of the encampment as the spellcaster chanted his deadly words. Then Fin suddenly began to act strangely, as he disengaged the enemy and then suddenly attacked his companions! Each of his companions knew that the evil sorcerer most likely had something to do with the strange behavior, and quickly began to plot how to take him out.

Meanwhile, the group was making quick work of the small armies regulars. But as the enemies numbers began to diminish higher ranking draconians began to engage the heroes, slowing down their progress. It was then that Fin spotted a four-foot tall green humanoid figure standing amongst the trees west of the camp. The short dog-like creature could be seen holding what appeared to be a staff, or spear, in the faint moonlight, and wore what appeared to be some sort of small dragon skull upon its head. Several in the group charged in the general direction hoping to catch the small creature, but hidden in the trees nearby was a sight that turned everyones blood cold with fear – a massive green dragon! Shocked and terrified many were unsure of their next move, well aware of the fact that a wrong move could be their last. Recognizing the surprise upon the companion’s faces the small dog-like creature’s cheek bones rose ever so slightly, revealing what might have been a knowing smirk. Then the huge dragon began to inhale deeply before releasing its poisonous breath amongst the heroes. Many began to choke, unable to breath as their lungs filled with the toxic gas. Struggling to remain conscious many stumbled from the noxious fumes in an attempt to gather themselves, while others continued fighting the fumes as well as the enemy. Then things took another turn for the worse when two of the kapak draconians fell, but instead of turning to the familiar stone statues the group expected they instead burst, spraying acid all around before pooling where each creature last stood. As fate would have it Fin and Robyn found themselves last standing at that exact location. One second proud of their hard fought victory over the reptilian creature, and then the next second unconscious and lying in a pool of acid! Quickly Mongo pulled the paladin, Fin LaVie, from the sizzling pool before looking up hopelessly at the rogue and expecting the worst. But amazingly Robyn began to pull himself up with hands dripping of melted flesh, and began to stagger from the vile pool! It was what many would consider nothing short of a miracle, and a much needed one during those desperate moments.

Meanwhile, as the companions fought on, while others tended the most badly injured, the small green kobold disappeared back into the forest. A strong wind then buffeted the trees as the huge green dragon began hovering above the nearby tree tops with the small rider upon his back, and then flew overhead releasing another cloud of poison on the struggling heroes below before vanishing to the east. Yet the companions continued to put forth a valient effort. Finally the draconian sorcerer fell, along with the large blue stormlizard, and the group made a run for the interior of the tent. Luckily they made it just in time, as the dragon could be heard once again straffing the area, before once again disappearing into the distance.

Inside the large tent an excavation site was discovered. The snow and ice had been removed in some way to expose the earth floor beneath the tent, and a small stairway near the east entrance led to the dig site nearly five-feet below the surface. It was at the center of this dig that a beautifully crafted stone sarcophagus lay with about a foot of it’s upper surface protruding from the soil. Wedges were now in place around the lip of the lid, and it appeared that the draconian army was close to revealing what was inside. But as the companions moved in for a better view something else caught Altain Moonfire’s eye. Inscriptions along the top ledge were prayers to Corellon. Not only was this an ancient god the eladrin once worshipped, but the name Arthuuse Moonfire also appeared on the front side. The date of passing was clearly legible, and was dated 15 years earlier. Anxious to confirm his hopes and fears Altain gave the group permission to open the heavy stone lid. Inside the group discovered an old tome upon the corpses chest, and an elegant blade resting with its pommel under the unmoving hands of the deceased. Carefully Altain removed the elegantly crafted sword. Upon touching the blade it began to glow with the soft-white light of the moon. The curves of the blade were an unmistakeable clue to the blades craftmanship by the long lost culture of the eladrin people. But it was the tome that provided what Altain had craved the most, an answer of what had become of his long lost father. It confirmed what the eladrin had feared, this was in fact his fathers grave. He had passed fifteen long years ago in a battle against a dragon known as Emerald. It was on this very battle ground that his father had been laid to rest. His bravery agaist the draconic beast had become legend, but in the end Arthuuse Moonfire was no match against a creature so powerful as a dragon. But there were many questions left unanswered by this text as well, where were the people of the Feywood Forest who had buried him? How big was the battle, or was it simply Arthuuse and Emerald? If so why hadn’t anyone come to his fathers aid? Unfortunately there were no answers however, just more questions.

The Prophecy (Episode 23)

The companions had settled down outside of Hommlet, and now prepared to wait out the remainder of the day until nightfall. It was then that they decided that they would attempt to make their way into town under the cover of darkness. But just as darkness fell across the snow covered land voices were heard emanating from nearby. The voices were in a hushed tone, but it definitely seemed to be that of the common tongue. The heroes quickly attempted to take cover, but several soon learned they had been unsuccessful as the approaching guard called for them to show themselves. The confident dwarf, Mongo, was the first to respond as he stepped out from a small grove of trees nearby. Six human guards, all bearing the symbol of the setting sun, were being led by a dragonborn captain who immediately gave the order to apprehend the dwarf. A short discussion followed before the captain lost patience, and the two sides drew their respective weapons. From the trees Mongo’s companions quickly stepped fourth to engage their enemy. The battle was quickly won, and the companions began to realize that it would only be a matter of time before someone realized the guard had gone missing.

Quickly the group began to make their way towards Hommlet, but once again found themselves hampered by two short humanoids lurking in the distant trees. Perhaps they were spies, none could be sure, but it was obvious that the two small draconic figures were diliberately keeping to the shadows. Luckily the group had spotted the pair first, and once again disposed of them before the city guard could be alerted.

A short time later they finally managed to sneak into town under the cover of darkness. It was now past midnight, and the group knew they need to find a place to stay without drawing undo attention to themselves. Stealthily the group made their way through the strangely quiet streets of Hommlet when they suddenly heard the footfalls of the approaching city guard. Quickly the companions took cover while Robyn stood at the crossroads with a puzzled look upon his face. It didn’t take long for the four guards to take note of the lone straggler. It was apparently past curfew (one in which the heroes knew nothing about!), but the quick witted rogue had a simple explanation for his indiscretions – his wife had kicked him out of the house once again and he needed a place to stay the night. Robyn’s ability to think on his feet paid off, and he was escorted to Terrigan’s with a stern warning to not be caught out at such a late hour again. The companions followed a short time later, and joined Robyn in one of only two rooms available at the ramshackle tavern.

The next day the companion departed Terrigan’s and joined the bustling crowds to try to get a better picture of exactly what was going on in the usually sleepy little town. Guards were seen on nearly every street, their armor baring the symbol of the Queen’s Army of the setting sun. Unfortunately no one could tell the group who exactly this so called “Queen” was? There was also no sign of Rufus and Burne, and nobody seemed to have seen the pair in some time. Finally the group decided to pay Todariche Nem, the sage of Hommlet, a visit. But once they arrived at the sage’s home he refused to open the door and let them in, and instead gave them a stern warning to leave and that he would find them at a later time. Quickly he asked where they were staying, in which they answered the Welcome Wench Inn. With that answer he then suddenly closed the door.

That night, as the companions surveyed the night life of the taproom of their newly chosen place of rest at the Welcome Wench Inn, a sudden commotion from upstairs turned an uneventful evening into chaos. Robyn had gone upstairs alone to rest, when suddenly two daggers flew through an open window striking the unsuspecting rogue! Very quickly the apparent poison upon the blades began to cloud Robyn’s vision, and his sight began to blur. Panicked, the nearly blind rogue scrambled in the general direction of the door, before making his way into the hall. There he screamed for help, while the attacker silently pursued its prey. Thankfully Fin heard Robyn’s desperate screams, and rushed up the narrow stairway to the second floor, then rushed past the nearly unconscious Robyn to charge the darkly cloaked ‘would be’ assassin. But the mysterious individual seemed uninterested in taking matters further, as he quickly retreated back into Robyn’s room and leaped through the open window, disappearing into the winter night. Meanwhile, Robyn made his way downstairs to the taproom where Mongo began to treat the rogues serious wounds. It had been a close call, and Robyn knew he was lucky to still be alive. The event had shaken many in the group, and it was decided that they should turn in for the night before they drew any more attention to themselves. Robyn, understandably unnerved, decided to stay in Fin’s room, choosing to sleep under the paladin’s bed for the remainder of the night.

Then several hours before dawn, and well past mandatory curfew, Todariche the sage arrived at the Welcome Wench Inn. Quietly he made his way up to the second floor where the companions slept, and knocked ever so slightly on their door. Nervously the companions checked who it might be, still nervous from the nights previous events, before opening the door to let the sage inside. It was then that he told the group of his uncovering of an ancient prophecy that had apparently begun. The first sign of which was that “the chosen one will rise again after darkness falls”, a clear refrence to the born again Paladin of Bahamut, Fin LaVie. But he was unable to find anything else that might expand on the mysterious prophecy. There was only one known source that might contain such answers, the Lost Scrolls. But the sage had little idea of where the Lost Scrolls might be located in the world today, or if they even still existed at all? But he believed he knew where some answers might be found – the Three Sisters of the Feywood Forest. It was Todariche’s hope that the three oracles might know something of the ancient prophecy, and perhaps the location of the Lost Scrolls. But the sage quickly warned the group that the three oracles would not part with such highly coveted information so easily, and that there was often a great price to be paid for such knowledge. Then the sage spoke of the great danger of being discovered in the groups presence, before wishing them well and departing into the silent streets of the night. Each could only hope that they might soon discover exactly what it was that they were up against.

Before daybreak the group once again made their way to the northwest edge of town, and under the cover of darkness disappeared into the great unknown. They began their trek southward towards the mysterious Feywood Forest.

Winter's End (Episode 22)

That winter the paladin of Bahamut, Fin LaVie, proved lucky as he had hired enough dwarven masons to complete his Temple of Bahamut before the heaviest snows fell. “The East Wind” as it was called, was a beautifully constructed temple to Bahamut, southwest of Timbervale. It had risen from the forest covered ruins of an ancient temple of a bygone age, and it was believed to have been a temple to Bahamut during the previous age as well.

During the building of The East Wind one other companion offered his assistance as well. Altain had always taken an interest in the acquisition of knowledge, and especially the reading of books. During the two months of renevation, and rebuilding of the temple, the swordmage turned scribe. Altain began to scribe by hand each and every book he could get his hands on from the community of Timbervale, including a few of his own rare texts. It was a huge undertaking, but the eladrin was driven, and it was a contribution he was more than happy to make in order to fill the temple’s new library.

Then in the third month of the new year rumors began to spread through the smoky taverns of Timbervale. Apparently many were now hearing talk of mysterious hooded figures south of town? Some even spoke of strange beasts of burden?? The rumors were whispered and bantered about in hushed tones, but it was obvious that they were having an affect on the locals. No longer did people roam the streets after dark, and a sense of nervousness permeated throughout the community. It was starting to look as if the long, and quiet winter months were coming to an end.

The locals were spooked, and the heroes had a feeling there might be some truth to the rumors. The Heroes of Stonefang Pass knew what needed to be done, and they began to prepare for the trek southward. Winter had yet to loosen its grip on the northlands, so the companions knew they needed to prepare for the elements. It was during this preparation that Lady Sevrym learned of the groups plan to head south to investigate, and offered any supplies the companions might need.

The heroes headed south early the next morning. It was a bright and sunny day, and the snow had begun to crust over. The companions were filled with the hopes that an early spring might soon arrive. On the second day it began to snow. As the snows deepened the trail south slowly became more difficult to transverse, and any tracks the group hoped to discover most likely began to fill with snow. On the second night as dawn approached, the group suddenly found itself under attack as a pride of lion-like cats circled the groups tent. But these were no ordinary big cats, as they displayed the unique ability to peel the flesh of their faces back revealing their facial muscles and skull! It was an unnerving sight that caused an individuals blood to run cold, causing an uncontrollable fear. Once again however, the companions proved that when roused from a deep sleep they still had an innate ability to rise to the occasion. The battle wasn’t without significant bloodshed, but the group banded together to protect their camp, as well as one another.

Snowfall continued throughout the fourth day as the group continued south towards Hommlet. The temperatures had begun to fall throughout the previous night, and its effects were now beginning to take hold on the group, and in particular Altain. But the Eladrin Swordmage pressed on, even though a bit under the weather. It was as if something unseen was driving him forward. The snowfall continued to increase throughout the afternoon, and the temperatures continued to fall, when the group finally discovered caravan tracks heading southwest. The tracks were quite old, and they had begun to fill in with snow, but were still plain to see. The group pressed ahead invigorated by the new discovery. Then as dusk began to fall the earth beneath the companions feet began to rumble, and then suddenly burst open! It was some sort of large armored beast, with razor sharp teeth, and a mouth that appeard capable of swallowing a man whole! It was a burrowing creature to be sure, and reminded many of stories heard referencing a creature known as a land-shark. But after the strange creatures initial surprise the companions took the battle to the armor-covered beast, and soon sent it burrowing for safety. But the companions had no intentions of letting the creature escape, only to swallow one of them whole in the future, so they gave chase and followed the tunnels until the bulette finally fell under their relentless attacks.

The next morning, the town of Hommlet finally came into view, as the group spotted smoke from the many chimneys of the town over the southwestern horizon. The constant snowfall of the past several days had finally relented, and many in the group looked forward to the more hospitable conditions of a local inn or tavern. Guards could be seen standing near the towns entrance, inspecting an incoming wagon. Thinking little of the sight, the companions headed towards the entrance to town. But when they finally reached the city limits the guards stepped out to intercept the newcomers. The companions began to explain that they had been to Hommlet before and that they didn’t understand the hold up? The captain of the guard politely explained that this community was one of peace, and that weapons and armor were no longer allowed within the city limits. Then the guard asked for the companions to please turn their belongings over so that they may enter. With a bit of hesitation, Fin asked to see Rufus and Burne (the town elders). He was quickly refused, and was told he could see them later, and in turn Fin refused to turn over his weapons. The situation was quickly growing tense, as many a scenario began to race through the companions heads. Then Fin suddenly noted the crest upon one of the guards armor – the symbol that Fin had often referred to as “the setting sun”. Fin knew something just wasn’t quite right with the situation, but he needed to think. Carefully he nudged Altain to take over the conversation, while he considered this unexpected development. Outnumbered by a three to one margin the group tactfully offered to depart peacefully, and turned to leave. It was then that the captain of the guard wished the group safe travel before casually adding that there were “many dangers out there, and to be careful”. The comment sent chills down the back of the Paladin’s neck, but Fin continued to walk away, he needed to think about the situation. He had a funny feeling they would be back.

Stonefang's Rise (Episode 21)

Upon returning to Stonefang’s Pass the companions made their way towards the Pit of Doom as quickly as possible. Once they arrived the sound of stone scraping against stone could be heard, as a gust of hot air rushed through the tunnels as if something just exhaled. Then near the center of the shrine a rocky hand could be seen grasping the lip of the pit. The magic circles around the pit pulsed with light and sparks as the earth titan began to climb upwards!

As Stonefang emerged it became obvious that one of his arms ended in a jagged, broken wrist, but a ghostly hand extended from the stump. The titan was also missing one eye, but an orb of fire replaced it. Additionally, a deep hole was noticeable in Stonefang’s chest, but a heart of red smoke could be seen beating eerily behind a shimmering rib that filled the horrid gash.

Seeing the companions entering the chamber Gwandar and his companions quickly began to act. Gwendar moved towards the purple circle with the stone hand in his possession. Then he placed it at the center of the enchanted circle, and uttered the simple phrase: “Stonefang, I bind you to the Pit of Doom!” The circle began to emit a high-pitched keen, and Stonefang’s ghostly hand began to fade, leaving a stump. Stonefang roared angrily as he pulled himself from the deep pit. Meanwhile, Gwendar’s devoted apprentice, Serka, made a move for the green circle with Stonefang’s Stout Rib. Quickly, she plunged the stone rib into the earth at the circle’s center and it began to vibrate with a rumbling peal. Then she too uttered the simple phrase, “Stonefang, I bind you to the Pit of Doom!” The titan’s shimmering rib collapsed, undermining his defenses.

It was obvious that the binding ritual was taking its toll on the titan. The companions needed to act fast however, as it was evident by the titan’s huge size that the companions were in the presence of a power much greater than themselves! They needed to complete the binding ritual to have any chance at defeating the earth titan, Stonefang. Altain was the first to act as he charged toward the pit and prepared to fey step (teleport) to the opposite side in an attempt to reach the orange circle with the Eye of Stonefang. But as he neared the pit two huge fists came crashing down upon the swordmage nearly killing him, but then his enchanted leather armor began to flare a crimson-red before he suddenly vanished from the earth titan’s sight. The dwarf, Mongo, realizing his friends peril moved to engage the elemental beast with his trusty battleaxe, Skull Cleaver. Altain then suddenly reappeared twenty-feet away, near the enchanted orange-circle, and placed the eye at its center. The magic within the circle began to emit a fiery flash, and then the eye went cold and dark. The flame replacing Stonefang’s eye snuffed out, and the titan began to flail about, his sight afflicted.

Meanwhile, Robyn Graives made his way quickly towards the red-circle and placed Stonefang’s Heart at it’s center. The red-circle began to ripple like a pond disturbed by a stone. The smoky heart within Stonefang’s chest began to pour out and disperse, causing him to clutch his chest and he visibly began to weaken. Yet the earth titan was far from done, as he continued to slam each of his enemies as the opportunities presented themselves. Many of the companions struggled to remain on their feet as the moved about the battlefield looking for any advantages possible. It was then that the group realized that the red-circle contained healing properties, but it wasn’t long until the earth titan recognized the same. The battle was proving to be a bloody affair but the companions continued to put on a brave fight, unwilling to relent, and apparently willing to pay the ultimate price. Then Mongo was struck with two massive slams of Stonefang’s fists, but luckily he managed to avoid two others that would have surely killed him, but the bloody dwarf stood his ground. A few short seconds later the battle suddenly shifted as the companions began to land multiple blows to the titan, and then one last well placed dagger from the Robyn ended the epic struggle. Stonefang screamed in anger, or perhaps it was agony, before being suddenly pulled towards the Pit of Doom. The pull of the titan’s ‘prison to be’ was undeniable, as the titan screamed in rage before vanishing into the pit. Then the screams began to fade as the earth titan was absorbed into the earth at the bottom of the pit.

With no time to spare the leader of the Shadow Chain Cult, Gwendar, then suddenly emerged from a nearby cavern tunnel screaming what sounded like words of warning?! But as Gwendar neared the pit his words became more legable. Apparently he needed to perform one final ritual of binding to prevent Stonefang’s escape. As the dwarf completed this final ritual a magic field flashed into place over the top of the pit before slowly turning invisible. Stonefang was once again imprisoned.

Gwendar and the others then offered to keep watch as the companions rested for the night, but the companions suggested they share the watch. The two parties also agreed to return the Timbervale after a good nights rest. Gwendar, and his dwarven companions, could only express their sincere gratitude for what the companions had done for them and their people. But the dwarves also expressed a need to keep the whole ordeal with the earth titan secret, as apparently no one knew of the creature’s prison deep below the Ironwall Mountains, nor did they know of where Stonefang Pass had actually gotten its name. It was a secret that had to remain closely guarded.

The next morning the two groups returned to Timbervale. There the companions received a heroes welcome, as Lady Sevrym organized an impromtu celebration in the town square. With nearly all the citizens of Timbervale present, Lady Sevrym spoke of their unmatched bravery, and willingness to make the ultimate sacrafice. She also announced that from that day forward they would be considered heroes of the land, and welcome to stay anywhere in town free of charge. The Lady then gave up the podium to Rangrim the dwarf, who awarded the group with a chest full of gold, and his deepest condolences for the loss of the groups beloved companion Wolven. Once again the four remaining companions received a boisterous ovation from the large crowd as another dwarf took to the stage. Thane Harvak echoed the sentiments of his previous speakers, and then offered his own kind words. The Thane then ended by announcing that all four heroes would officially be recognized as honorary members of the Glintshied Clan, and that Wolven would receive the honor as well posthumeously.

The festivities and celebrations continued into evening before the cool night air of the coming fall forced many inside. The next morning the heroes accepted an invitation from Lady Sevrym to remain in town as long as they liked. It was a welcomed moment of relaxation for the group. In fact it was decided that they should wait for the winter snows to begin melting before they headed out. This also gave the paladin, Fin LaVie, an opportunity to begin a project that burned within him. He hoped to find an old set of ruins outside of town in which to renevate. He now felt the calling to serve Bahamut, and hoped to erect a small temple to honor the god somewhere nearby. Lady Sevrym was more than happy to help the paladin realize his dream, as she connected him with a group of dwarven engineers, and masons, to help begin the project southwest of town. The project was to take two months, as Fin hired a dwarven engineer to organize the project, and six dwarven mason to reconstruct the structure. It was an eight month project, but Fin had managed to scrape together a skilled group from the local population, and now hoped to have the project completed before the heart of winter fell upon the northern lands.

Rescue and Recovery (Episode 20)

After a short rest the companions pushed onward through the doors of the one-hundred sixty-foot towering citadel. Inside they found the first floor to be abandoned, but discovered a stairwell on the western side of the citadel. At the top of the stairs, down a short twenty-foot hall, a set of iron double-doors was discovered. The doors were found to be unlocked, and opened easily enough, but frustration quickly grew when an alarm suddenly sounded upon opening them. Their cover had been blown, and two doorways suddenly flew open, one at the far end of the hall and another in an adjacent room. It was in this hall, and it’s two adjoining rooms, that the companions fought five very unusual orcs. Each orc seemed normal enough at the outset of the battle, but thing took an unexpected turn when the orcs were badly injured, as each orc screamed in agony as it’s arms would began to flex and ripple. Seconds later those very arms would suddenly tear in half before fusing back together to form four arms! The group could be thankful that there were only five.

In the two nearby rooms, one was found to contain a cage with four dwarven prisoners locked inside, in the other sitting atop a small table was a hollow geode with fiery red smoke seeping like blood from several holes. The companions quickly recognized the unusual item to be Stonefang’s heart. Their attention now turned to the dwarven prisoners who were noticeably exhausted, injured, and starving. The dwarves were understandably greatful for being rescued, and their apparent leader, Thane Harvak, thanked the group for saving him and his family. Fin immediately recognized the name, it was the leader of the Glintshield Clan. The Thane (leader of a clan) then alerted the group to a trap door in the floor where eight other dwarves of the Glintshield Clan were imprisoned, and soon these too were granted their freedom.

It was here that the group decided to set camp for the night. During this rest they talked with the dwarves and learned more of their story, while Altain studied the strange heart the group found on the small table nearby. Finally after nearly an hour of study Altain stood to announce what he had discovered. The heart was indeed enchanted as many expected, but it’s healing properties were a pleasant surprise. He explained that the item was believed to contain the power to heal more than one individual, and he asked that everyone huddle around him. He then began to concentrate. Suddenly a brilliant white-light flashed from the heart, and everyone adjacent to Altain found their wounds suddenly healed! Unfortunately five of the dwarves were not close enough to the heart to receive it benefits, but still the dwarves were stunned. Divine magic such as this had been lost to the world for over three-hundred years! It was the first sign to their people that the legends of old were in fact true! Elder’s of their people had spoken of a time when their parent’s had reportedly witnessed such divine power, but many in their clan now questioned the accuracy of these legends – but here before their very eyes they witnessed just that, the true divine power of healing!

Nearly eight hours later the companions prepared to move out. They promised to return for the dwarves before leaving the tower, the dwarves agreed to wait, knowing that many of them were still in no condition to fight. The group then began its upward climb through the spiral stairwell. To their surprise the next several levels appeared to be uninhabited. Then they finally reached the towers top level, and there they found what they had been looking for. The spiral stairs climbed to a chamber that encompassed the entire upper story of the citadel. A medal ladder lead up to a shuttered skylight in the center of the roof high above, and a large orc wearing a green dragon skull mask with rivulets of liquid running across its surface stood waiting. Two other orcs carrying scimitars and adorned in wolf pelts stood across the room. The masked orc clenched his greataxe tightly in his right hand and issued a threat: “let the spirits grind your bones to dust!” Unsure of exactly what the threat might mean the group closed rank at the top of the stairwell and prepared for the attack. Quickly the masked orc charged ahead as the two orc wolf-shaman began some sort of strange incantation. Suddenly two animal skull spirits appeared above a pile of animal skulls in the far corner of the chamber, then they too moved towards the companions. The battle for control of the citadel had begun.

The masked orc proved to be a powerful adversary, while the orc wolf-shaman began firing lightening bolts from a distance. The energy of the bolts proved dangerous as each bolt arched from one companion to another. But Fin had saw a hole in the enemies defenses. Quickly the Paladin of Bahamut made his move around the charging orc, and closed in on one of the orc wolf-shaman. The shaman’s eyes widened with surprise as Fin brought his blade down upon the orc with all his might, and quickly disposed of the wolf-shaman. From there the companions once again proved their battle prowess as they skillfully spread out and took the fight to their enemy. Soon both wolf-shaman were down and the orc leader, Hyrkzag Dragonskull, was left to stand alone. Mongo the dwarf had found himself toe to toe with the powerful orc for much of the battle, but now outnumbered the orc leader soon fell in a pool of blood as blow after blow came crashing down upon his battered body.

It was during this heated battle that Mongo witnessed his axes mystical powers, as he once again struck his enemy with a massive blow. But this time the runes upon the battleaxe’s blade glowed even more brilliantly than previously noted, and the axe blade cut more deeply and with less resistance! Then as the sounds of battle finally died away the dwarf noted the faintly glowing runes still upon the enchanted blade. It was becoming obvious that the battleaxe’s power was growing, and Mongo couldn’t help but wonder what other secrets the weapon had yet to reveal?

After the battle a small chest was discovered sitting atop a large table sitting near the stairwell. Inside a spherical gemstone that burned with a fiery orange light was found. It was undoubtedly Stonefang’s Burning Eye, the last of the four missing fragments of titan that were needed to complete the binding ritual. The group quickly descended the citadel’s spiral stairway to reunite with Thane Harvak and his dwarven companions. But upon meeting up with the dwarves attention quickly turned to Mongo’s enchanted battleaxe. Wide eyed, the Thane slowly approached in a state of awe. He whispered the name “Skull Cleaver” in what seemed a disbelieving tone. Then he slowly looked up to meet Mongo’s stare. Mongo confirmed the Thane’s suspicions, it was indeed the legendary axe known as “Skull Cleaver”. Thane Harvak began to question the dwarf about its powers, but Mongo admitted that he knew little of the legendary axe. The Thane asked to see the weapon more closely, and the dwarf politely allowed Harvak to inspect the battleaxe more closely. Thane Harvak promised to research the weapons history in the ancient dwarven libraries of his people when time permitted. Mongo stated that he too looked forward to such a day.

Reunited with Thane Harvak, and the other surviving members of the Glintshield Clan, the group agreed to a short rest before departing the citadel. They needed to make their way back to Gwendar, and his dwarven companions, that now stood guard at the Pit of Doom. They need to get the four fragments of Stonefang to the dwarves as quickly as possible so that each could be placed in its proper binding circle. It was during this short break that the companions decided to attempt to use the sending stone that Hadarra had given them in the hopes of locating her late cousin Flinka’s sending stone. To their amazement they sensed the presence of the stone somewhere in the tower?! A more thorough search found the stone hidden on the orc leader Hyrkzag. Finally Flinka’s death had been avenged, and the companions looked forward to presenting Hadarra with the two stones, and news of the death of her murderer.

The Citadel (Episode 19)

That night as the group of companions rested in the red-binding circle in the chamber containing the Pit of Doom, Mongo suddenly rose from his sleep and began walking toward the caverns northern exit. Altain, who was currently on watch, wondered what his friend might be up to? Mongo, not one for conversation apparently, simply told the swordmage he needed to go for a walk.

But what Mongo didn’t share was that he was awoken by a whispering voice in his head. When he awoke the voice was still present, and seemed to be urging the dwarf to get up. Mongo not wanting to alert the others decided to follow the mysterious voice through the northern passages to the dwarven tombs they had discovered earlier. There Mongo discovered a secret passage amongst the bas-reliefs that covered the chamber’s walls. A long stairway covered in bones led to a small landing dimly lit by a flickering torch that must have sat somewhere beyond a doorway located in the landings left wall. Then the voice began to mutter the question “are you worthy?”, in which Mongo confidently replied “yes, of course I am!” Carefully the dwarf descended the stairway and discovered a large chamber illuminated by numerous torches, and bones littering the floor. Intact skeletons of orcs also lay near the center of the chamber. It was beginning to look as though the dwarf was being lured into a dangerous situation, and Mongo finally decided to return to the camp to share what he had discovered with the others.

Upon waking his companions it was decided that the group would follow the dwarf back to the secret staircase. However, once they entered the dwarven tomb they discovered that Mongo had apparently been meant to follow the voice alone, as the staircase’s secret door had mysteriously disappeared? Mongo once again moved toward the sarcophagi that contained the secret mechanism (the hilt of the sword moved) that revealed the door, but the mechanism couldn’t be found!? It was with this unexpected revelation that Mongo’s companions decided to wait in the hall. Mongo then entered the chamber alone, and to his amazement the sarcophagi’s sword hilt once again moved to reveal the secret door! Once again the dwarf followed it downward alone, and then made his way towards a stone doorway on the opposite side of the room. Suddenly he heard the clanking of bones, and as he spun around he found himself flanked by two skeletal orcs! The skilled dwarf made quick work of the first two, only to have another pair suddenly rise, and then a third pair! But the dwarf knew they were no match, as he made quick work of them all. Then he opened the stone doors to reveal a short twenty-foot wide hall with a strange blue haze hanging in the air, followed by a stairway flanked by two massively large dwarven statues. Mongo didn’t hesitate, as he walked confidently staight ahead through the haze, and up the wide stairway. The dwarf continued to believe that he was in fact worthy (as the whispering voice had asked numerous times) and he now walked as if to prove his point. At the top of the stairs the dwarf discovered another massive chamber with two thrones positioned at the top of a raised dias. Once again the dwarf walked confidently forward until he stood at the base of the raised platform. It was then that he noted the skeletal remains of a dwarven individual laying near one of the thrones, a strange mist emanating from it’s skull. Then the strange mist began to take the form of a ghostly dwarven figure! Shocked, but still confident, Mongo listened as the ghostly figure began to ask him a series of questions – apparently checking whether Mongo was in fact “worthy” of the honor that the ghostly dwarf was prepared to bestow upon him. Then as quickly as it had all begun, the mist suddenly vanished, and a beautifully crafted battle axe with a fire opal set into its hilt lay in the ghost’s throne! It was then that Mongo once again heard the whisper of the dwarven ghost one last time, “take care of the legendary Skull Cleaver – an ancient weapon of the dwarven empires of the past in which only those found worthy are honored to possess.” Mongo returned to his companions above and shared his unusual story, along with the ancient battle axe. Robyn seemed most surprised by the dwarf’s amazing story, but after listening intently he simply walked away muttering to himself, apparently somewhat confused by it all.

Finally the next day the group broke camp and returned to the main corridor of Stonefang Pass. The passage continued for at least another hour, or more, before the group finally spotted light at the far end of the pass. There they discovered an expansive courtyard. A tall waterfall created a stream that bisected the courtyard, which in turn was crossed by an old stone bridge. Across the stream, a tower loomed high above, looking like it was hewn from the mountain. Orcs with bows watched the courtyard from atop several smaller structures, and others armed with handaxes prowled the ground level. Standing in front of a wide entranceway under the tower an orc sat mounted on an enormous boar. This orc was missing one of his eyes and carried a stone maul. The companions wasted little time and quickly exited the pass, crossed the old stone bridge, and immediately went on the offensive. They quickly made work of the savage soldiers as their skills in combat proved superior. In fact the battle seemed to be a simple affair early on, as the companions pressed the advantage against several of the archers positions as well. It was then that the lead orc upon his trusted steed (a large boar) charged into the fray. Then a second charge was executed a short time later. The companions suddenly found themselves on the defensive, and pinned against the raging river behind them. Struck by the charging boar, Altain suddenly found himself nearly floating downstream towards another waterfall nearby, but managed to pull himself from the frigid waters. Soon Fin found himself thrown into the rushing waters as well, but luckily he too made it back to shore. Then Mongo was struck by a massive blow from the charging boar and was thrown into the raging waters unconscious! Wolven was next, as he fell unconscious near the bridge’s footings, and was subsequently pushed into the fast moving waters. Robyn stealthily moved about as his companions fell one by one all around him. He knew he needed to act fast. Luckily, Mongo’s body caught on an outcropping of rocks near the top of the waterfall, allowing his companions to quickly rescue the nearly doomed dwarf. Unfortunately Wolven was not nearly as fortunate however, as his body cascaded over the edge of the falls at nearly the same moment that Mongo was pulled to safety. It was the third member to parish from the group that originally set out from New Haven, but there was little time to contemplate the loss as the remainder of the group still found themselves in great peril. Perhaps it was a rush of adrenalin brought on by Wolven’s tragic end, or perhaps the group’s luck had just finally turned, but no matter the cause one thing was certain – the battle finally turned in the companions favor. First the large boar was finally put down, and shortly after the creature’s orc rider fell too. Then the two remaining archers were eliminated as well. Near the small stone bridge the ground was now saturated with the blood of both groups, but the party had managed to avoid what had nearly been an all out slaughter. True, they had lost yet another of their beloved friends, but each of them realized that the price could’ve been much greater.

Downtrodden and exhausted the group looked up to the towering citadel that loomed above. It was time to pay it’s occupants a visit, and perhaps time to extract a little revenge as well.

Meanwhile, Mongo looked down at the enchanted battle axe he now possessed, and reflected upon the glowing red-runes that had suddenly appeared upon it’s blade as it savagely tore into his enemies flesh. The runes were now mysteriously gone! He had no explanation for why they had appeared, or what the runes may have been? There were no answers, just questions, but the dwarf hoped that someday he might learn more of the weapon his ancient people once knew as “Skull Cleaver.”

"Stonefang" (Episode 18)

As the companions carefully made their way down the spiral staircase the decorated walls of battle between dwarves and giants fascinated them. Especially those involving an apparent titan that suffered four specific injuries to the eye, hand, rib, and heart. What it all meant they were unsure, but yet made a point to put the information to memory in case it was needed some time in the near future. It would prove to be a wise decision.

At the bottom of the staircase two piles of dead bodies flanked the exit, eight dwarves and ten orcs. It was a grisly sight and the group quickly moved down a dark tunnel where they discovered a rough-hewn cavern tunnel. It was down this dark and twisted tunnel system that they soon discovered an encampment of orcs. An orc shaman appeared to be the leader of the group, and was accompanied by some muscle as well – a large ogre! The orcs seemed to be investigating a massive chamber where a large pit was flanked by two stone alters at its center. Two braziers flanked each of the stone alters illuminating the chamber in a bright light. Adding to this unusual scene were what appeared to be four binding circles etched into the cavern floor, each glowing in a purple, red, orange, or green color. Thankfully the companions had gained the surprise as the orcs seemed unaware of their presence, and they took one guard out quickly, while a second tried to escape badly injured. But the orc shaman quickly rallied his troops, and soon a heated battle raged nearly eighty-feet below the Ironwall Mountains. Then the ground began to shake as another earthquake suddenly struck. Footing became difficult to maintain, and at certain times it appeared that the companions had lost their edge, but they somehow managed to pull through badly injured but victorious.

After a short rest inside the red binding circle, where the companions were able to magically heal their wounds due to the circle’s enchanted nature, the group began to scan the premises for anything unusual (or of value). It was then that they discovered several camps strewn with animal furs with a small fire burning nearby. One such camp contained a small iron coffer containing rare gold pieces, with a scattering of an even more rare coin, platinum! Meanwhile, Fin found his interests drawn to the alters. Quickly he demised that one belonged to the ancient chain god known as Torog, and the other to Moradin. Both gods had been well known to be silent for over three-hundered years, and exactly what kind of ceremonies might have taken place there could not be discerned. It was time to press onward into the tunnels beyond.

The rough cavern walls soon gave way to the more beautifully designed walls of the dwarves. It was here that the group heard the faint chanting of voices nearby. Unsure of what to make of the unique sound they proceeded ahead with caution. The dark hall turned to the left just a short distance ahead, and light could be seen emanating from the far end where two braziers burned brightly. Then a gruff and deep voice suddenly cried out, “be wary, whoever you are! The orcs lie in ambush!” A second look down the hall proved the voice to be accurate, as two orc archers could be seen behind the braziers hoping to ambush the unsuspecting companions. As the group now moved ahead quickly combat was soon engaged with the two orc bowmen. But it was Fin who discovered that the situation was in fact more than it appeared. He charged ahead in an attempt to close the distance quickly, but upon clearing the double doors to the brazier’s chamber he learned that it was much larger than he had first believed. But what made matters worse was that numerous orcs lay in wait both to his left and right, and soon they all descended upon him in full force. Others in the group scrambled to help the unsuspecting paladin. Once again the group fought bravely, and in a few short minutes managed to clear the area of nearly a dozen orcs.

Finally able to inspect their surroundings more closely, the group discovered a dwarven tomb with several sarcophagi, and walls adorned with religious bas-reliefs dedicated to Moradin. Another chamber contained cages and cells dedicated to Torog. But what caught the groups attention from the very beginning was the dwarves who warned them of the impending ambush. These dwarves stood in an outline of what appeared to be some sort of glowing magic circle, with one dwarf constantly chanting while all four interlocked hands. It was obviously some sort of ritual of protection. Once the dwarves were informed that their orc advesaries had been disposed of they finally let down their defenses and ended their mysterious chant. Then the lead dwarf, Gwendar, bent down to retrieve what appeared to be a stone rib from the center of the enchanted circle. Then he stepped forward to thank the companions:

“Thank the gods you’ve come at last! Now that the orcs are all dead we can seal in Stonefang forever. Quickly, give me the rest of the titan’s body fragments. He struggles to escape even now! We have little time.”

But the companions appeared nothing, if not confused. After a short discussion disappointment became apparent upon the dwarve’s faces. They had thought that their rescuers were from the citadel at the far end of the pass, but soon discovered that in fact they were from the opposite end. It was then that the companions began to paint a picture in their minds of what was taking place. It all went back to the “stone hand” they had discovered at the beginning of the pass, and the bas-reliefs back in the spiral staircase they had recently descended. The dwarves were telling them the story of an earth titan named Stonefang, and his attempts to escape his imprisonment deep below the Ironwall Mountains. The dwarves were racing against time to prevent just such an escape, but needed the eye and heart of the titan to complete a ritual designed to secure and bind the creature. The dwarves then explained that the remaining two parts of the earth titan were most likely located somewhere near the citadel at the passes far end. It was now obvious that Stonefang Pass was more than just a name for an underground passage through the Ironwall Mountains, it was named for a long dormant creature imprisoned beneath. It was this titan now seeking its freedom, that was also causing the recent earthquakes that now shook the region. They now needed all four fragments to rebind the titan.

The dwarves also explained more of their history, as they enlightened the group on their infamous civil war. A war that began due to an ignorant member of the clan discovering the secret chamber holding the Pit of Doom, and then taking Stonefang’s Stout Rib! War erupted over the accusations of sacrilege against Moradin.

Finally the companions agreed to take up the cause (major quest: 1250 xp). They needed to return to the “Pit of Doom” with the two remaining pieces of Stonefang. This in turn would allow the dwarves to complete the ritual, trapping the titan deep below the Ironwall Mountains once again.

But first the companions needed to return to the red-glowing enchanted circle, located nearby, to rest. Once again looking at the large pit at the center of the chamber, with its two alters sitting at opposite ends, they couldn’t help but see the whole area in a new light. There seemed to be a new manevolence about the area, be it real or imagined none could be quite sure, but it now seemed all too real. They now knew there was a great danger lying beneath the “Pit of Doom”, and they knew they needed to act fast!

Stonefang Pass (Episode 17)

That night while the party rested in a nearby side passage, Altain Moonfire and Fin LaVie heard an unusual noise emanating from the darkness of the tunnel known as Stonefang Pass. It sounded like the chirping of a small bird? Could it be, or was this some strange trick of an unknown creature of the darkness? They peered out of their side-passage rest area, but their torch spanned the darkness for only a short distance. Then suddenly a little yellow canary appeared from the depths of the dark corridore and into their torch light. Altain speculated on the likelihood that the bird was perhaps used by miners to inspect the tunnels for poisonous gases. But were there miners in this abondoned pass, and if so where? It seemed unlikely, but it was well known that canaries were often used by miners for that exact reason. Meanwhile Fin silently speculated about another possibility, but quickly dismissed it as it seemed too fantastic. There the two companions sat quietly, as the little yellow canary circled in their torch light before settling down upon the blade of Fin’s longsword. It sat there for a few short seconds before suddenly taking flight, and then disappearing into the darkness from which it came. Confused, and curious, the two companions decided to follow the small yellow bird deeper into Stonefang Pass. But the small-yellow bird was nowhere to be found.

After a good nights rest the companions prepared to continue their journey in the dark passages deep below the Ironwall Mountains. Later that day, in the gloom ahead, the group spotted a massive stone slab blocking the tunnel. An orc’s arm and a pool of blood emerging from beneath the obviously thick and heavy slab. It was obviously the stone slab the dwarves had spoke of previously, which they were forced to drop in order to escape the pursuing orcs. Moving it looked impossible, but Rangrim spoke of a gatehouse nearby that supposedly contained a mechanism to lift the massive stone slab. As the companions approached, a broad set of stairs came into sight to the groups left. The wide stairway climbed up to a massive set of double doors. To the right of the stairway, next to the giant stone slab, the group also spotted a lever. Next to it, a one-foot wide square channel could be seen running straight up into the ceiling. At the base of the channel, a large circular impression contained a round nub or iron that was flush with the wall. Speculation, and a quick test, proved that the lever released the round nub inside the channel to lock a chain into place. The chain was most likely located in the ceiling of the passage, but the group still needed to locate the mechanism that would lift the heavy stone blocking the pass. They headed up the broad stairway to the massive doors above.

The large set of doors were unlocked, and the group moved ahead ever so cautiously. It was then that they spotted numerous pressure plates throughout the twenty-foot wide passageway beyond. It was time for Robyn Graives the rogue to show his skills. Carefully he proceeded along the left wall disarming each of the pressure plates. This in turn disarmed the crossbow bolts that were sure to fire from the numerous arrow slots that lined the hall’s left wall. A passage turning to the left could be seen at the far end of the hall nearly seventy-feet away. Fin moved carefully along the left side of the passage and peered around the corner. What he saw brought both alarm and confusion. It was a snake, a cobra to be exact, but unlike any other he had ever heard of before. The snake had a reflective quality to it, like it was possibly made of some sort of metal!? Then as he considered what to do next several other companions made their move towards the end of the hall. Suddenly three of the companions came under a mental assault, slowing their movement and creating confusion amongst the group. Quickly arrows were let loose, and daggers were sent spinning towards the strange serpent. The sound of metal striking metal rang through the narrow ten-foot corridor. The iron cobra moved in to strike. Suddenly a portcullis dropped from the ceiling above blocking the passage, and seperating the iron cobra from the companions on the other side. The cobra retreated to the far end of the passage, disappearing around the far corner on the halls left side. The dwarf, Mongo, knew the portcullis had to be lifted in order to pass, so he quickly moved up and began lifting the heavy iron barrier. Altain stepped up to assist. The group quickly moved through before the portcullis was allowed to lower back into place. Three iron cobra’s then moved from around the corner to attack, but the companions were able to take advantage of their superior numbers. It was during this battle that the group also witnessed something that none expected (including Fin). The moment occured when Fin was engaged with the first iron-cobra and landed a well aimed blow with his beautifully crafted longsword. But amazingly upon the swords exact second of impact a brilliant white light flashed from his blade! Fin felt a warmth flow through his hands as the sword sliced into the iron cobra with surprising ease. The blade was suddenly, and surprisingly enchanted! Amazed, but with little time to ponder the sudden development, the battle continued until the final serpent fell.

At the end of the ten-foot wide passage a lever was discovered, which was soon used to raise the portcullis. Around the corner of the hall sat a set of iron double-doors. One again unlocked, the doors were carefully opened. Inside, the earthquake-damaged room was far from empty. Four armored turrets stood near giant arrow loops on the left, and two man-sized metal constructs whirred to life near the far wall. Each had a huge hammer for one hand and a wicked-looking clamp for the other. Between them, a thick iron lever jutted from the floor. Fin moved into the large chamber quickly in order to intercept one of the constructs. But as he engaged the first construct the second moved to block the chambers entrance. One again however, the groups superior numbers made all the difference as a combination of ranged attacks, mixed with other members skill with the blade, proved too much for the enemy.

Inside the large chamber another set of massive double-doors was discovered along the southern wall. Beyond these doors, inside a twenty-foot wide chamber stood a hulking form. It looked like a male dwarf the size of an ogre but made out of dusty, rusting steel. The massive construct was clearly designed to move, but it currently stood inactive. Beneath the dust Davek runes could be seen etched into the construct’s metal skin. Naturally the dwarf, Mongo, could read the davek script of the dwarven race. The runes described a ritual to awaken the large construct, and then explained that the automaton had the strength to engage the lever to move the stone slab. Mongo performed the ritual bringing the automaton to life, and soon it was used to move the stone slab up in order to open the pass. Quickly several members scramble toward the main passage to engage the lock mechanism inside the chains channel. It was then that they heard a mass of individuals racing up the stairway towards them, orcs! At the top of the broad stairway the battle was engaged, and this time even outnumbered the companions fought brilliantly together as they dispatched sixteen orcs.

Finally the group was able to secure the massive stone slab in place and pass beyond. A short time later the group spotted a strange angle jutting out along the left side of the passage. It was a door-sized portion of the wall projecting outward, and lying at its base was a body of a female dwarf. Someone had unceremoniously used her corpse to wedge open a secret door. Beyond the door was a chamber containing eight dead orc, and six fallen dwarves. But what truly caught the groups interest was the faint flickering light emanating from a doorway forty-feet across the room. Silently the group made their way across the chamber. Beyond the doorway were three orcs whispering amongst one another, with torch-light flickering in nearby sconces on the wall. They appeared to be arguing about how to split the belongings of their fallen colleagues. It was just the distraction the group needed. Robyn carefully took aim and released his enchanted dagger, dropping the first orc right where he stood. The other companions quickly followed the attack with their own deadly attacks, and the remaining two orcs barely knew what hit them.

The group collected the coins and jewelry before making their way towards a large spiral staircase to the right of the door. The wide stairs descended around a central pillar four times before exiting nearly eighty-feet below. The entire length of the stairs were covered in blood spatters, and the walls were decorated with scenes of battle between dwarves and giants. One enormous rock-skinned giant was a frequent participant in many of these carvings, and was often depicted slaughtering dwarves by the dozens. Each cycle of the stairs showed a different part of the rock-skinned giant being cut away by dwarven heroes. First a spear caused the titan to lose an eye, then he lost a hand to an axe. Later, a dwarf broke the titan’s rib with his hammer and pulled it free. Then on the final level, the stony titan had his heart cut away by a sword, but incredibly he fought on!

At the bottom of the stairs, two piles of dead bodies (eight dwarves and ten orcs) flanked the exit. The decorated walls, combined with the grisly scene below, had many in the group wondering what might lie in wait deep below Stonefang Pass…


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