The Edge of Empire

A Keep to Charge I Have

With Hosvir obsessed with securing his lab and the Jade Eye against further intrusion, and Finn and Crexis working hard to build the temple, the work of the Company fell to Angiledhel.

For Gil, this meant tying up a particularly vexing loose end regarding the Otherworlder.

For a thousand years, Gil reasoned, the Jade Eye was stored in the Keep just north of the Scepter Tower, and down on the plain below. From this spot, the Jade Eye kept the Otherworlder imprisoned behind a portal. This was the Eye’s only use until the ancient wizard Skoulus, the Otherworlder’s lieutenant recently returned from the dead, attempted to revive his old master by taking the powerful jewel.

Since the Company defeated the Otherworlder, pushing it into an otherdimensional space Hosvir created using the Jade Eye, Gil’s worry had been that their victory was not complete. To have the Otherworlder’s prison truly secure, Gil reasoned, the Jade Eye must be returned to the Keep.

Naturally, Hosvir did not agree. But Gil decided to venture to the Keep and examine the place where the Eye was kept.

Ikar accompanied Gil, having vowed not to leave Gil’s side until the matter of the assassins from Myth Drannor was solved. They made the brief journey to the Keep, only to find the flag of Waterdeep flying above it, indicating that the Keep was now the property of the large city-state of Waterdeep, far to the southwest.

Gil used his reputation and that of the neighboring Scepter Tower to gain audience with the Captain of the Guard newly in charge of the Keep, one Captain Wellborne, who approached the interlopers with a mixture of condescension and suspicion.

Captain Wellborne explained that he was sent by his superior, Baron Perenon, to station his troops at the Keep in order to reinforce and maintain it as a bulwark against an attack from the North—a last defensible position far from Waterdeep in case Netheril decided to invade.

After some debate, including a few threats from the Captain involving the future of the Scepter Tower and Spellguard, Captain Wellborne was persuaded to allow Gil and Ikar to inspect the chamber where the Jade Eye did its work of containing the Otherworlder, lo those many centuries.

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Heavy the Head

Having disappeared from the Loudwater area after fighting the Otherworlder, then having disappeared from the Prime Material Plane after an explosion in the Seven-Pillared Hall, the Company had been missing for months and were presumed dead.

Their return to the Scepter Tower was cause for celebration, and they were welcomed as heroes.

It wasn’t long before they were embroiled in local politics.

Goeban, the minotaur who accompanied Mama Nettles back to Spellguard, had no experience with human society. Crexis (the gnome who had caught a glimpse of Hosvir’s lab as he accompanied Hosvir and Finn home after their adventures in the Abyss) approached Goeban about what was in the lab, encouraging him to try to find out.

Goeban finds out immediately by breaking into Hosvir’s lab and gravitating right to the Jade Eye, where the entire population of the tower is shocked to discover a powerful connection between Minotaurs and the Eye. Using the Minotaur’s very life essence, the Eye activates, temporarily, displaying a three-dimensional map of the cosmos in Hosvir’s lab. Hosvir angrily demands justice for the minotaur’s break-in.

Finn learns that there are dozens of pilgrims waiting to see him, believing that he is the head of the Church of Lathander, due to his possession of the Standard of the Morninglord. He’s soon involved in the planning of a temple to Lathander, with Crexis as his architect.

Dozens of others have come to seek the counsel of the Oracle or the assistance of the Company, including Pria, a native from the primitive tribes who still wander the vast plain to the north of the Tower that separates the area from Netheril.

Hosvir, Angiledhel, and the other surviving original members of the Company are asked to join the Council of Spellguard to help deal with the day-to-day operations of the village: Taxes, property disputes, treaties with nearby city-states, etc.

The first Council meeting they attended featured items ranging from the tedious (disputes about supplier contracts for the ongoing improvements to the Spellguard area) to the contentious (a difficult argument about what to do with Goeban), to the deadly (the last person requesting an audience turned out to be an emissary from Myth Drannor asking if Angiledhel was indeed the eponymous treasonous coward who escaped Myth Drannor after an attempted coup. A fight ensued, ending with the emissary’s death).

Each member of the Company grew busy with his own affairs, as the businesses of building a new temple, understanding the Jade Eye, and dealing with issues from the past overwhelmed each in turn.

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Return to the Scepter Tower

Each member of the company, in time, found a way to return to his home plane and to the Scepter Tower.

Gil returned via the “Moon Door,” a portal in the nearby town of Moonstair, where he befriended the Deva known as Ikar, who claimed to have been created with the memories of Samir. Ikar came with dire warnings involving the goings-on in Gil’s homeland.

Hosvir’s connection to the Jade Eye led him to return to his chamber in the Scepter Tower, Finn and Crexis in tow.

Mama Nettles, having witnessed the disappearance of the Company at the Seven-Pillared Hall, returned to the Scepter Tower through more conventional means: a covered wagon containing Goeban, a minotaur she’d found wandering in the caverns after the disastrous events there.

They returned to find that their absence had been quite long, and the environs had changed quite a bit:

  • The Oracle now appeared somewhat regularly to people, on the condition that they served some time in service to the Tower or the Monastery.
  • A village of sorts has sprung up around this proposition. With people coming from everywhere to spend some time in service and have their audience with the Oracle, serving those people with food, drink, and supplies has become a sustainable business proposition. The village is called Spellguard.
  • Corvyr has become Captain of the Guard at Spellguard. Lo’Kag has become lead guardian of the Scepter Tower. Sister Cherra runs the small shrine for the devout to meditate and pray.
  • Allendi chairs the Council of Spellguard, a small governing body that operates the village.
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Pebbles, and the Resulting Rockslide

Myth Drannor, earlier this year

Leaves abound in the City of Song, all the colors of autumn contesting as the wind swirls them about the feet of elves unhurriedly making their way across the city. Riotous oranges and reds compete to drown out reserved browns each time the wind unsettles the city’s leafy seasonal carpet.

“… the evergreens seem to belong most of all.”

In the midst of the motion and chaos, a tall figure, more slender than even the elves, moves seemingly without deliberation or forethought around the square. The Deva stepped without touching a single leaf, and a careful observer would note he did so with his eyes closed.

“Surrounded by change and movement, so casually unaware of the passage of time. They rest at the center of a great circle that returns to its place of origin time and again. So like your people, so like their City. Don’t you think so?”

Arenwen flared hot in response, “I certainly hope not! The trees are passive, immobile… and the world needs action! The People cannot stagnate, Ikar, lest we fall again, as we did in the Weeping War, this time with no hope of return!” As the refined tones of courtly Elvish strained to contain her tempestuous passions, she gestured emphatically with a clenched fist, “We must expand our holdings and undo the errors of the past while we can. Our opportunities are not infinite!”

The soft thump of her fist striking her palm amidst the hushed silence sent a handful of birds up from their perches above. Passing eladrin barely veiled disapproving glares at what was, by the standards of the Court, an explosive outburst. Sunlight worked its way through the now abandoned branches to dapple his skin with its light. Alternating patterns of purple and chalky grey stood in sudden contrast.

Properly chastened, she continued in a whisper, “We are not all destined for unending rebirth.”

A dozen breaths passed. The first of the birds settled back into the branches.

“Perhaps you are.”


Later in the season, a crier declares news at the estates of Ingerhol

“The exile – the illegitimate Angiledhel, of the dissolute House of Findwallae – is known now to be dead. Those brave and skillful elves who took part in the pursuit to bring the criminal to face justice shall be rewarded by our Lord Ingerhol as befits….”

“The people welcome this news, my Lord. Your son’s patrimony is further secured with the death of the pretender.”

Ingerhol’s snort seemed incongruously dwarven coming from his svelte elven frame. “You are a skilled wizard and wise counselor. I will say what you think but cannot utter aloud – that my son was never concerned for Angiledhel, except that Arenwen would use the boy’s corpse as a stepstool to surmount him in the succession.”

The smooth glide of wood on fitted wood interrupts their council. A door opens, and an unmistakable figure glides forward in silence.

“I wonder why you use doors at all.”

“You called me to see you, Lord Ingerhol. I am bound to attend to your request.”

“That is not what I meant and you know it perfectly well, Ikar. It is a wonder my daughter is able to benefit from so many answers that are not answers.”

“She benefits a great deal, and is more talented than she herself knows in perceiving hidden truths. Her progress would be even greater, but she is distracted of late.”

A knowing smile creased the corners of Ingerhol’s mouth at the oblique criticism. “You believe that by directing her training to preparing for this pursuit, it has been impaired before this news. I should have let her grow into her own sky, perhaps?” His impression of the Deva was practiced enough to draw a raised eyebrow in response.

“Walking in a straight line, placing one foot ahead of the other with each step, she will reach a destination.”

“Exactly…”

“… but will she ever dance?”


Later in the evening, in the Lords counsel chamber.

“Repeated divinations – mine, and that of priests of the temple – reveal no new information. Angiledhel is not alive. That much is certain. He is also not dead. That is clear as well, my lord.”

Ingerhol’s brow furrowed as he considered his vizier’s confusing answers. “That makes no sense. How is it possible – he is no wizard to cloak himself against so many rituals.”

“He may not have met his end – whatever it is – on this plane. We can make contact with otherworldly creatures to seek more knowledge,” the vizier hurried his words as he saw displeasure cloud Ingerhol’s features, “I do not suggest demonology, unfit for any elf, and banned in the City as it should be. I would recommend a more subtle approach, calling upon the substance of the Chaos, hoping to draw knowledge from creatures that passed away under its influence. I doubt we will find any specific information, but there is a small chance that some being acquainted with Angiledhel passed away recently enough.”

“If only all his companions found that fate sooner, we wouldn’t have had to spend years pursuing him. Perform the ritual, let us see what we can learn.”

“Very well my lord, although I suspect the most likely result is no result at all.”


The next evening, as the ritual is completed.

Bare wooden walls frame what is the closes thing to a perfectly round room in a building created from a living tree. The walls are unadorned except for four hooks, evenly spread across the wall. Two identical robes frame the objects that dangle from the East and West hooks. A suit of embroidered leather armor occupies the North hook, with the arms folded to rest at precisely identical angles. On the South hook, an unadorned scabbard hangs by the exact midpoint of its belt.

A single pallet occupies the floor, on which a painfully slender figure rests in perfect immobility. The tiniest degrees of movement by his ribs indicate that he draws breath. He produces no other sound or movement, as the faintest wind stirs the chamber, bearing the ozone smell of a storm expending its last.

And the sleeper, awakens.

“I have to find you first.”

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Scattered

Gil, Hosvir, and Finn passed through the Elemental Chaos and fell into the Abyss, each awaking in a different plane.

In his own words, Gil tells of his time on the Plains of Rust.

Finn awoke as a slave in the City of Brass, working to construct a large meeting hall. Separated from his Deity, Finn was without his power. Each day, they would wake early to work and work until late at night. He was befriended by a gnome, Crexis, who was something of a “foreman” among the slaves, though still a slave himself. They were watched over by a Minotaur slave-driver and a strange humanoid creature of crystal kept high in a cage far above the construction site.

Finn was able to realize that the crystal creature was keeping their minds weak and subjugated, with help from headbands that each slave was forced to wear, but had no idea what to do about it. One night, with help from Crexis, they were able to sneak from their barracks. Finn found a storage room, where the slaves’ items were kept. There, his banner told him “Spread my name among these people”.

So Finn began talking about Lathander and about his own faith. A measure of his power returned, possibly from his time with the banner or possibly from the faith of those around him. In time, he was able to use his power to heal those injured on the site.

Many days’ hard work later, it was revealed that the meeting hall they were building was actually a temple to Shar. Since worship of the gods is forbidden in the City of Brass, the building of the temple was being done in secret. The slaves who built it were to be killed.

Hastily, Finn, Crexis, and others staged an uprising. They managed to escape their barracks and take to the streets. They found an underworld sort who was willing and able to remove their headbands, for a price. The price, however, was too high.

Fortunately for them, Hosvir showed up, fresh from his own adventure, about which he has said very little. It is known only that he no longer carries Yamin in tow, is no longer deformed, and is no longer blind.

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Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

In the green fields outside a peaceful halfling village on the surface

The great bronze statue lies broken in the dirt, half buried and covered with here and there with lichen and vines, having long since fallen from its post over the teleportation dias. Halfling children duck and find cover behind the statue, the bushes, in a ravine, as a great rush of wind bursts from the dias – the air displaced by the arrival of a bizarrely mismatched pair. A short, slender human wearing a black cloth mask drags the bruised and beaten form of a naked dwarf along the dias to the grass.

“We have arrived, it seems, at the horizon – wherever that is.”

Slowly drawing himself up to sit against the statue, Adrik pulled together just enough presence of mind to quote an ancient dwarven idiom passed down through the centuries…

“Hmph! More nonsense!”

The children peer around the legs of their parents as a small crowd gathers, Una standing in their midst, embracing his mother and reuniting with lost friends. A great babble of news and stories flow between the returning hero and the Halflings of the village…

“… a green dragon? Was it big? Were you scared uncle Una? What about the …”

“… and this is my second, hopefully at girl this time, although husbands always want boys…”

“It’s good to have you back, we could use you in town, ever since the village reeve fell ill last year it’s been one thing after another…”

“Elves and humans and dwarves and … genasi? We’ll all catch all manner of disease with anyone keeping that sort of company! I do insist that you drink your castor oil and take a milk bath at once…”

“…. yes mom, a bath and… well I might not have any castor oil on me so maybe we can wait on….”

Ussan smiled at the buzz of gossip between the village children and doting mothers. He bound Adrik’s wounds, and handed the dwarf his cloak with a cocked eyebrow, “It is the best kind of nonsense, my friend. Now put this on before you warp these impressionable children forever.”

Adrik fumbled to make use of the cloak sized for Ussan’s slender frame, finally turning it lengthwise as a – barely adequate – kilt. His bushy eyebrows knit into a single bar of hairy displeasure as two young halfling girls chuckled and pointed, “… so tight, looks just like what my sister wears when the tanner’s son comes to call…”

“Bah! You’re one to talk! Last I looked, you were looking quite grim yourself, or didn’t you notice in all the excitement,” his glare melting away as a single eyebrow rose mockingly, “that you’re still dressed like you’re here to gather all their little heads in a sack?”

Ussan peeled off the mask that marked him as a servant of the Lord of the Three Thunders. The incongruously sheepish expression on his face drew a great stream of guffawing laughter from the dwarf, drawing in the children and their parents.

“In the morning we part ways, but for tonight…to the village! For beer, meat, and a decent pair of pants!”

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The Demon Gate
  • They were in an old temple to Baphomet more recently defiled and rededicated by a group of gnolls to Yeenoghu.
  • The wizard Paldemar was deep within the temple, his purpose still unknown.
  • Una’s mother and friend may yet be alive.
  • Reaching Paldemar would require passing the tests devised by the temple’s originators.

The tests were a series of brutal and blood-soaked traps. The Company, assisted by a demon-hunter named Adrik, and with hints from a ghostly trio, managed to defeat the lesser tests, and were finally confronted, each, with a great fear given real form:

Angiledhel again faced Naargash, the dragon.

Ussan faced Hosvir’s familiar, Yamin, but grown to the size of an Ogre.

Una faced his freinds’ betrayal.

Hosvir’s nightmare is known only to him.

In the end, they each defeated their own nemesis and passed through to see Paldemar’s creation and learn of his plan.

Paldemar required the sacrifice of innocent blood to re-create a dormant Demongate that once operated at the heart of the Temple. Una’s friends, far from innocent, were spared because of their value as informants to Paldemar’s Netherese allies.

In opening the Demongate, Paldemar’s planned seemed to be the ultimate betrayal of the Mages of Saruuun, who operated the Seven-Pillared Hall, and all the other protectors of the Hall—drow, duergar, gnome, and other races and those surface elements who traded with them. Depopulating the hall and its surroundings, like the Horned Hold, would make the it a perfect staging area for an underground invasion of Cormyr.

Already, the gate was working, though a bit unstable. Demons had already come through, and were imprisoned by a set of runes. Battle ensued, naturally, and Paldemar’s released the demons. The Company was losing. Paldemar offered a truce: the life of the pure and noble Adrik for the rest of them.

Adrik placed himself on the dias for sacrifice, hoping this would buy his friends some time to escape.

But a large demon burst through the portal, disrupting it. Too powerful for even Paldemar to control, this demon swept through the room, attacking and destroying anyone in his sight.

Una used this opportunity to untie his friends and make for the room’s teleportation circle. He activated the circle and-with some prompting from his friend Finn-said the word he had deduced from the riddle told to him by Lady Saharel lo those many months ago: “Horizon”. He vanished with his loved ones.

Adrik and Ussan also managed to escape by this means, but the others were not so fortunate. As the Demongate folded upon itself, it created a vortex of chaos—the same vortex that had destroyed Samir.

As his Netherese ally vanished, Paldemar was sucked into the vortex, as were Hosvir, Angiledhel, and Finn.

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Samir's Fate

As the battle in the dome comes to its conclusion, a lone adversary bolts for the teleportation circle.

Samir hurdles a corpse, sidesteps Una as the halfling guts another tiefling, and mounts the dais a step behind his quarry.

“He’s running away!”

No, wizard, he’s a tiefling – the descendant of men fearless enough to sit at the table with Devil Princes and offer them a deal. He’s not afraid of getting killed. He’s withdrawing to pass information on our numbers and disposition to his masters.

As the tiefling places another coin on the dais, Samir hears a whispered word as he draws his sword back to strike.

Too late!

Samir and his foe appear on a teleportation disk amidst a scene of horror…

The downstroke of his sword opens the tiefling’s back from shoulder to hip, sending him stumbling off the dais into a dozen of his waiting allies… Squads of warriors, demons and monsters turn weapons and sorcerous implements in his direction. Across the chamber, innocent slaves suffered the ministrations of blasphemous rites, and a channel dug into the stone ran with blood toward a crackling circle of arcane energy forming along the far wall.

The battered tiefling spat with contempt… “You may swing a sword and know a few tricks, but against all of us, they will avail you little. You were a fool to come here.”

Lightning poured from the genasi’s sword, sending the warriors surrounding the tiefling to the ground in twitching spasms. The gathered army hesitated for a moment in shock, with none hearing the rueful whisper that accompanied Samir’s charge into their midst.

“Somehow this is all Una’s fault….”

In mere moments, two Gnoll soldiers bring a bloody Samir to face his ultimate captor, restrained by massive conjured hand of force.

The crippled tiefling thrust a finger of his remaining hand in Samir’s face “He lies! None of his allies know the word to transport here, and he travels with the Company!”

Bleeding and mangled, and still has plenty of energy left for spite and slander. His ancestors would be proud.

The wizard at the center of the great ritual addressed them both, “My servant seems to suggest I should not believe you, genasi. But let us test this allegiance of yours to Houze Azaer.”

He casually floated to stand over a familiar figure on the table and raised his dagger above her.

“A daughter of House Azaer. Hers will join the river of innocent blood that must be spilled to open the Demon Gate.”

A smile played along his lips as he eyed Samir, expecting bargaining, begging, despair and curses. Hearing none of these things, he continued.

“Once the Demon Gate is open, Baphomet’s Horde will come. We will use the Teleportation Circles to invade the Seven-Pillared Hall, the Horned Hold. House Azaer’s holdings here and above will be forever lost, as this ancient buried city becomes the platform for my Patrons conquest of Cormyr.”

Only a single raised eyebrow greeted the threat.

“Calling my bluff, under these conditions? Perhaps she” he gestured to the girl on the table, “is not the only one with a little tiefling in her.”

Samir’s expression became briefly thoughtful, as the dagger’s downward plunge seemed to slow to a crawl. The long road that brought him here unfolded, and he recognized little of the genasi who first began the journey…

As the river reaches the sea, it cannot help but recall its headwaters.


Seven years ago, in a safehouse outside of Airspur, capital of Akanul, a young Vahid-na strikes a bargain with an earthsoul genasi…

Brown skin and golden energy lines hidden in the shadowed alcove, the Steward delivered one last warning, “I know you’ve faced bloodshed before, but this will be different. You will have to do things that will make you uncomfortable, to win a place in House Azaer. Difficult things.”

A younger, brighter Vahid-na countered, “I know, my Steward. My commander often tells us that ‘If you want to hunt monsters, you have to go where the monsters live’. I’ll do what I must, if you will do this for my wife and children.”

“They are not yours anymore. Vahid-na of the Howling Season was never born. Shaudran who was never born is his uncle, and they share the burden of their crimes with each other and no one else. By the authority vested in me by the Queen, I declare a sentence of Samir upon you.” As the deal was set, the Steward drew a mithral-coated stylus and a small vial of acid from his cloak, “it is not official without the brand. Uncover your chest.”

Moments later the smell of burning skin filled the room.


A pathetic, gurgling scream pulled Samir from his reverie as the dagger drove into Fatima’s chest.

I was wrong, Steward. It isn’t enough to go where they live. To hunt monsters you have to become a monster.

“Not even a word, then? Your blood will prove of little use in this ritual, it seems.”

With Fatima’s unexplained death, and the rumors of her defilement, House Azaer will fall to bickering and recriminations – easy prey for the other houses of Calim. The infighting will hold their numerical advantage over Memmonar in check and keep the Skyfire Emirates evenly matched. Not the stunning collapse the Steward had hoped for, but success nonetheless.

“One more innocent death, in a river of so many. No call for tears or curses – and I thank you for your service. You have been a most useful tool, wizard.”

The mangled tiefling lurched closer to Samir, his face twisted in outrage, “Paldemar is tool to no one! We must kill him for….”

That’s close enough.

Gripping his sword by the guard, Samir loosed a silent pulse of force in all directions, shredding the hand that held him and buffeting the tiefling away. Samir fell into his shadow a heartbeat before a storm of spells and arrows destroyed the spot where he stood. Stepping out from wizard’s shadow with his sword in mid-swing, Samir saw the crippled tiefling’s body, crumpled on the ground with his neck at an impossible angle.

He smiled as a wave of magic erupted from the wizard’s hand.

“I would send you to the Abyss, but the Gate is not yet ready. It is only chaos, yet, but the chaos alone will tear you to bits!” A burst of eldritch energy swept Samir away from Paldemar and into the swirling, crackling portal.

The genasi’s scream was brief, but it had a nice gurgling quality that was satisfying to Paldemar. It seemed to resonate throughout the nine worlds, and Paldemar fervently hoped they heard it in Hell.

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Calamity

“Dis is not good. Not good a-tall.”

On a platform of rock only slightly above the chaos and devastation of the Seven-Pillared Hall stand four figures, each a bit larger and more peculiar than the last.

There’s Rendil the halfling, a familiar face in the Hall, who stands on the platform, one hand on his hip, the other scratching his head, bewildered, muttering the occasional bemused comment to his cohort.

There’s his friend, a black-skinned woman holding a broom in one strong hand and drawing arcane symbols in the air with the other, cursing under her breath with each apparent failure.

There’s an armored human, cheery-faced and large, standing immobilized in a field of arcane energy, his countenance frozen in an expression of faithful resolve.

And, troublingly, there’s a large bronze statue of a minotaur, no longer standing on its pedestal keeping eternally still watch over the wizards’ Teleportation Circle, but frozen in a battlefield posture, its axe halted, mid-swing, mere inches from the armored human’s neck.

“I’ve never seen that statue move. What happened?”

“Paldemar. I guess de wizards know how to bring dese statues to life. He set it up so de statue would disrupt de teleport.”

“Looks like it only worked partway. They were too fast for it.”

“But he got Finn in hot water. De teleport is stuck, since it can only do t’ree at de time an’ don’ know which to take. But if I stop de teleport, it’s an axe trough Finn’s neck.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Dis kind of t’ing is very delicate. It requires study, and experimentation, specialized equipment and de creation and performance of a complex ritual.”

“Do you…do you have those things? That knowledge?”

“No. But I can try.”


Since the curse, there is no day or night in the underground Seven-Pillared Hall, only a dull glow from the orbs that once shined bright as day or extinguished to simulate the night. But the survivors of the curse still somehow know, as a whole, when it’s time for them to sleep.

The Inn is quiet. The ogre enforcer rests. Only one being disrupts the stillness: a halfling on tiptoe, waving a hand in the air.

“Can you see me? Can you hear me? Do you know we’re here? Well, if you do, don’t worry. Mama Nettles is back in the cellar at the Inn and working hard to find you a way out of this mess.

You probably can’t hear me, anyway, but you know I never really thanked you and your friends for saving me. Twice. Three times, if you count the Ogre, which I’m not sure you should, because I think we had that under control.

You know, I’m not much for the Gods. Seems to me, spending too much time on them takes away from what’s really important—family, friends, adventure. The Gods are too busy with their own business to worry much with us, and I think it’s only fair that feeling should be mutual.

But when I brought you up to the surface and watched you stand there, letting the sun shine on your face…well, I’ve never seen anybody so happy.

I don’t know if you can pray, in your condition, but I’m sure you would if you could. So, tell you what: since no one is looking, I’m going to go ahead and pray on your account.

Ahem. Dear, um…

Dear Lamplan…

Dear Old Sun God that Finn Prays To…

I’ve seen you do some pretty incredible stuff for Finn, so I know you’re out there somewhere, and I know you pay attention sometimes. So I’m thinking now would be a really good time to look over here, because your servant Finn (who talks you up ALL THE TIME, by the way. Seriously. I mean, you have NO IDEA) is in real trouble. I don’t know what to specifically ask for, here, but we need something in the neighborhood of a miracle. So. Um. That’s it.”

The halfling opens his eyes, unclasps his hands, and looks around expectantly. After a moment, sheepishly, he sits on the stone platform, looking up at the immobilized man. “Well. It was worth a try. Maybe Mama Nettles will come up with something. And if she doesn’t? Well. I have a back-up plan.”


The events below are referenced and beautifully detailed on Angiledhel’s page.
The Company, or most of it, appeared inside a large, half-dome structure and stepped down from the teleportation circle, away from the giant minotaur statue. They were standing in ruins, that much was clear, and the lack of sunlight suggested that they were still underground. Behind them was a wall of collapsed stone and ceiling, presumably the remains of the half of the dome that no longer stood. Before them was the half of the dome that remained, with no door in sight, only slits in the stone positioned about five feet apart.

Suddenly, a blast came shooting through one of the slits, hitting Samir. Chaos ensued, as the members of the Company, minus Finn, tried to get a sense of the number and nature of their hidden attackers.

Gil threw up a wall to provide some cover, but there was no safety to be found, once the minotaur statue came to life and attacked the group from behind.

Yamin ran away. Samir and Una separated from the others, attempting to take the battle to the hidden foes, who were eventually revealed to be magic-wielding tieflings.

Eventually, the Company prevailed, destroying the minotaur, discovering a secret door out of the dome, and leaving only one tiefling, who attempted to escape by means of the dome’s teleportation circle.

Samir pursued the tiefling, hoping to kill him before he escaped, not expecting the tiefling to lay down his coins, whisper a word, and activate the portal.

And, with that, the Company’s number was pared to four.

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The Curse of the Crystal

The Company journeyed down into the underground ravine to the Sahauguin settlement and found a scene of carnage.

The Sahauguin guarded and worshipped a large, green-glowing crystal. Around the crystal were arranged several tables containing the remains of human subjects.

Battle began immediately. The Company made rather short work of the Sahauguin guards, but their leader, a larger, more unwieldy one, did not easily go down. He summoned the entire village to protect the crystal.

As the villagers rose from the depths of the nearby river to swarm the area, the Company decided to destroy the crystal, calling down lightning to shatter it.

But it did not shatter. It glowed still the brighter, activating its curse against all who had touched the very dust of crystals shorn from it.

Una, Hosvir, and Samir began to change, and began to attack their own. Una ran, lest a quick turn of his own knife slaughter his allies.

While a number of the group arranged themselves in a line to slaughter and otherwise hold off the swarming villagers, Gil, Hosvir, and Samir attempted to deactivate the crystal through magical and natural means. Meanwhile, Finn ran after Una, hoping to save him from permanent harm.

Eventually, the Company was able to deactivate the crystal and return its members to their natural states.

They returned to the Duergar fort, where they found a scene of slaughter, as the dark dwarves had fallen to the curse. After a brief discussion with some survivors, the Company procured a set of papers indicating that Paldemar was the source of the demand for slaves, that Paldemar had means and reason to aquire more slaves, and that Paldemar could be reached through a Teleportation Circle. The documents also contained the codeword to reach the teleportation circle.

The Company returned to the Seven-Pillared Hall to find another scene of mass slaughter. They helped to restore peace and then searched the area to discover the Viceroy of House Azaer dead, Oronotor the Mage of Saruun dead, and many others dead. Mama Nettles survived and assisted the Company in preparing themselves to teleport.

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