Darker days

Epilogue

The party look for evidence of Kararakos or anything of interest. Failing to find either they are urged to mount the ziggurat by Vanalis. The orb then recites a phrase for Torthal to repeat and the party is transported to the original portal to the Kararakos’s fortress.

They make their way back home, encountering little in the way of foes and no friends. On arrival home they notice the town having been rebuilt significantly while they have been away. Escorted into the explorer’s guide’s offices buy an unknown dwarf the come to a drastically aged Mackay Dordrien. He explains that he thought the group had died. When asked why he replies.

“You left 30 years ago!”

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Kararakos, Kararakos, Kararakos

The party rest to tend to their wounds and regather strength.

Further exploration leads them to a set of stairs leading up. There they find a set of three keyholes located within pattern. Using clues from the keys and the patterns, the party attempt to decipher the proper key placement. A failed attempt leads to 5 minutes trying to withdraw the keys. Reinterpreting the clues allows the second attempt to succeed. Behind the doors they find another set of stairs leading up.

This leads them to a room with doors to the left and right. They open the door to the left to proceed through, but before they can really do so painful magic erupts around them. Singed, dazed, and crying in pain the party find several half-orcs, all looking like Kararakos attacking from in front and behind.

Donga manages to shoot a couple down with his bow as Renmar and Torgeir move to the fore and engage the other Kararakos forms. Vanalis calls out that all the forms are Kararakos. As each Kararakos double dies rather than falling to the floor it disappears from view.

Receiving more bruises the dwarfs manage to put down the doubles leaving a moment’s grace. Renmar opens a set of double doors and is struck by a force missile. Torgeir moves into the room and the dwarfs find themselves facing nearly a half dozen more doubles. The room is a large square with a square ziggurat approximately six feet tall and 10 foot wide at the top. Leading up to the ziggurat are widely spaced steps. More doubles appear from the rear, which Donga and Torthal are forced to deal with as Aisling joins Renmar and Torgeir in the large room.

Donga and Torthal dispatch the doubles attacking the rear and run to aid the other dwarfs. Aisling rains her magics on separate forms as Renmar and Torgeir tag a double between their weapons. One form jumps to the top of the ziggurat and causes a radiant explosion affect most of the dwarfs. As the dwarfs start to tire they manage to cull the doubles down to a single form.

The form jumps atop the ziggurat and causes another radiant explosion, consuming itself in the process. Stunned the dwarfs realize that they are the only beings in the room. After a moment Vanalis quietly informs Torthal that Kararakos has been defeated.

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Much wailing and darkness is had. Kararakos

After resting the party head east and then south under Vanalis’ guidance. Despite urging the party to head south they do not find a way and enter a study of sorts. In the study are two statues of dwarfs in the near corners flanked by braziers, a curtained off area in the third corner and in the fourth a desk with a sitting halforc. Vanalis says that the halforc is Kararakos but the he cannot sense him.

The halforc rises from the chair and with a cry of “You will never take me alive” runs behind the curtains. Torgeir, Torthal, and Donga enter the room, only to have the braziers start emitting poisonous gasses and a magical wall of force prevents exit from the room. As Donga with Torthal’s help try to stop the gas Torgeir checks behind the curtains. He finds a cot but no sign of Kararakos, despite searching the corner. He returns to the force wall and starts trying to break it down. Donga and Torthal deactivate the braziers just as Torgeir destroys the force wall.

In the corridor Renmar and Aisling locate a door that leads south. They advance down the dark-shrouded corridor and come to a T-junction. The wall ahead of them contains the voices of screaming dwarfs that impinge on the mind of those travelling the corridors. A force pushes Renmar back the way he came and a banshee appears, attacking the pair. The banshee adds its wails to the lost dwarf cries. Another form, this time a multi-scimitar wielding skeleton appears from the other direction and attacks.

On breaking through the other three dwarfs hear Aisling and Renmar’s cries and head to aid them. A tight fight continues and Aisling is able to push the banshee away as Torthal and Donga kill the skeleton. With light the party can see the purplish-pustule like walls.

With the wailing dwarfs preying on their skulls the party decide to have a rest and consider their next actions. Vanalis continues to say the way lies south so they agree to try and head through the wailing maze. After their rest the dwarfs re-enter the maze.

The wailing again assails the party, and the first thing to appear is a scimitar-wielding skeleton. This is dispatched as two banshees appear screeching and another skeleton appears. Torgeir is forced to bolster their resolve. Fighting the skeleton on one front, the banshees on the other and trying to ignore the wailing dwarf voices the party destroy their foes but take several hurts in the process.

They quickly continue through the maze to a stone corridor at the end of which is a set of double doors. After catching their breaths they open the doors do spy a large room with black stone pillars, a black rock and a curtain with a tired tower in a web design on it.

Donga carefully opens a nearby set of double doors only to have them fling open and have some force drag Donga towards a dark pulsating disk. Renmar tries to cross the pass the doorway but is also dragged inside the room. Using brute strength more than anything the pair manage to drag themselves out of the room, allowing Torgeir and Renmar to pull the doors close.

Darkstalkers attack the recovering party, flinging darkness on to the party. Torthal manages to dispel the darkness but Kararakos appears to darken the dwarf’s sight again. Able to utilise the darkness the darkstakers hurt the party with their weapons while Kararakos uses his magics. As the darkness disappears the advantage swings back in the dwarfs favour, hurting Kararakos and killing two of the Darkstalkers. The advantage favours Kararakos and his allies as Torgeir is struck heavily by the halforc’s dark magic and is flung unconscious against the black stone.

Renmar manages to boost Torgeir, Donga, and himself, allowing Torgeir to regain consciousness. He quickly moves away from the black stone that saps some of his dwindling vitality. Covered on three sides the remaining Darkstalkers are put down and Kararakos flees through a door. The party chase him, and through focused attacks manage to bring him down.

After regaining their breath they search and find some money in gold coins and gems, a suit of hide armour and a key with “K” on it.

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Resting the undead, the party get a splinter

While resting Vanalis explains that the way to defeat Kararakos is to find and defeat three splinters.

Heading upstairs and continuing their search they come to a room smelling of death, displaying cloth covered bones in alcoves. Renmar cuts open one and finds the bones of a dwarf. When Torgeir and Donga move along opposite corridors the party discovers that they are in a circular room with two sets of double doors leading out. It is at this time that they are attacked. A Frightful Wraith attacks Donga and smelly Charnel Rats come out of some alcoves to attack the rest of the party. The Wraith moans, dazing and pushing those that succumb. Three Battle Wraiths, longsword wielding forms in plate mail but lacking heads attack Torgeir. Their attacks force Torgeir to stand in place and sap vitality from him.

The party changes tactics with Donga and Torgeir holding one corridor end battling two Battle Wrights and some Charnel Rats while the others try to deal with the Wraith, more Charnel Rats and a circling Battle Wright. The Wraith proves to be very annoying, dazing party members as it moves though the central column. Once the Rats are dispatched the party close ranks and concentrate more on the wrights while Aisling and Renmar try to dispatch the Wraith. The wraith is the final foe to fall, only because the entire party is able to concentrate on it once the Wrights are killed.

Behind one set of double doors the party find a number of coffins that might have held the Wrights, which provide gems and a magical warhammer to the party.

Heading into the darkness the party via the other doors locate another set of double doors. Donga claims that he hears chanting and the party prepare for another fight. Opening the doors reveals a room with bones everywhere, grasping pillars, grasping cages, and a low balcony. At the back beside a dark portal like structure stands a halforc with purple skin. Between him and the party are three large Bonecrusher Skeletons and two flying skulls. Vanadis yells out to the party to kill the halforc, but the party is engulfed by fire.

Singed but not out the party move forward and engage the undead and halforc, A returning salvo of ice slows, immobilises, and or dazes the not quite properly dead. The halforc takes to teleporting around the room and shooting the party with foul magics as Renmar and Torgeir bring crushing blows to the skeletons. Moving towards the halforc proves difficult until two of the skeletons are reduced to bone piles. Donga advances on the halforc but with it able to teleport away Donga is forced to snipe at it with his bow. Finally as the last skeleton is dismantled, one skull crushed, and the other skull retreating the party attempt to catch the halforc.

Finally Renmar is able to catch up to it and delays it so Torgeir can teleport there and land a telling blow. Surrounded and sniped at by arrows and magics the halforc is put down.

The completely dead allow the party to obtain a magically resistant cloak, gems, and a gold key. Inscribed on the key in dwarf is the phrase “Strength of Second”
(OOC: Is that all it said?).
The party take stock of what they have found.

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A cold reception and not wanted gift

The party continue the way they were going to go before they were interrupted. They move further into the complex along a long north-south corridor before coming to another set of double doors. Requiring Donga then Torgeir’s shoulder to open the doors the dwarfs come apon a elemental-ice covered floor the process too treacherous for Dona as he advances into the door strewn corridor.

The nearest door opens and blue coloured Eladrin spy the party and cry out in alarm before attacking. Donga says that they want to talk, and Torgeir whispers to Torthal that maybe they could barter for Venalis’ final gem or ask for its location. The Eladrin, by this stage 8 strong mentions that the dragon next door may have such an item, but they are denied advancement into the icy corridor. Under their breath Aisling hears that the dragon is accessible only through their area. Once again diplomacy fails and it is left to weapons to bring others to the dwarf way of thinking.

At a distinct disadvantage in the icy corridor the party try to entice the Eladrin into their corridor but fail to do so. An arcanist at the back take great delight in forcibly moving Torgeir back into the corridor. None the less they are able to bring down the soldiers with only a medicorum of difficulty. The leader, an arcanist proves more difficult as he is able to teleport around the while the dwarfs must navigate the slippery ice. After several attempts they are able to bring the Eladrin down.

Careful movement allows the party to navigate the icy corridor and find the path towards the dragon. As they approach the lair the air gets colder and colder until they locate another set of double doors. Pushing open the doors brings the party to the lair, a snow covered affair with two icy pools. Vanalis calls Torthal’s attention to the amethyst sitting in the dragon’s hoard, saying it is the last gem to be found. Torthal casts floating disk to allow the party to advance into the lair. As the party disembark onto the snow the dragon stirs and watches the dwarfs advance. They hear it speak.

“Come forward and present your gifts,” it commands.

The party approaches and Renmar attacks with the rest of the party quickly following The dragon replies to heavy blows by breathing it’s icy breath and attempting to bite and claw Renmar and Torgeir. Aisling and Donga shoot magics and arrows at it respectively, before Donga joins the melee.

Suffering from heavy blows the dragon jumps into the closest pool to regain some vitality. Torthal freezes the water to ice, pinning the dragon somewhat and allowing the rest of the party to bring it down.

While the party collects their spoil of coins, turquoise and a pearl, Vanalis is pleased that the last gem it needs, an amethyst has been found.

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Stairway to Fire and Stone, a unhealthy meal

Return to the room with stairs up surrounding a 20’ diameter home. As the party advance fire busts on the party as a harpy flies to the Runehammer brothers. It breathes on them, blinding Torthal.

Two gargoyles appear on the stairs and start attacking. Torgeir finds that the stairs are trapped, with one flight trying to toss you into the hole and another clamping the victim to the spot. As the battle progresses one gargoyle is pushed off the stairs into the central hole. After taking some hits they turn stoney and are exceedingly hard to hurt. The harpy continues to blow grit into the brothers’ eyes but is the first foe to fall. One of the gargoyles is killed and the other is left at the bottom of the hole. The party disarms the stair traps and climb to a door.

The door opens out to a dim corridor with leering 4 foot tall faces on the walls. They hear the three-foot wide mouths whispering “feed me.” The party decide to head down a side corridor without faces, but a big green (berserker) foulspawn, a small blue (mangler) foulspawn, and a small (grue) foulspawn appear and attack the party’s rear. The berserker foulspawn lashes out wildly even when being hit. The party are quickly embroiled in a hard fight as a second berserker and mangler join the fray, appearing out of one of the face mouths.

As the battle progresses the berserkers become enraged at their wounds and redouble their efforts against the party. However with tactics and powers the party are able to first immobilize their foes then bring them down in quick succession.

Renmar decides to acquiesce to the faces’ request and they stuff the dead foulspawn into the mouths, which are then devoured.

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No body to play with, Ice and Fire

After a rest the party heads northwest upstairs. The orb informs the arty that there are powerful weapons located behind a door covered in frost and guarded by cold minions. A scouting Donga finds the door. Figuring that fire magics would be useful but requiring him to sleep they decide to explore in a different direction.

Heading upstairs and west they come to a 4 pillared room with a headless body in a force cage. The dwarfs destroy on of the pillars to break the force cage and V goes into the headless body. Almost immediately it starts screaming that something is wrong and warns Torthal to get out of the way. A hard fight ensures with the dwarfs getting pummelled by the body. Donga heads of a corridor looking for the head as the fight continues in a roughly even battle Torgeir tries to cut the orb out of the body but fails to make much headway. They call Donga back from his exploring and combined they are able to free the orb by rendering the body useless. The orb ends up back with Torthal.

The bruised party decide to rest here.

Heading back to the frost-covered door the party enters into a freezing coll room with four ice pillars with humanoids in them. The party advance to the door at the other side and open it to reveal another, larger ice pillar with what appears to be a Mezzodemon in it. The pillars start to melt and a chill borne zombie exit each of the smaller pillars as the Mezzodemon also struggles free. The zombies exude bruising cold numbness and explode as they are brought low.

With Torthal’s fire magic the zombies are dispatched as it the demon. The dwarfs head back the force cage room to rest their cold bones.

After sleeping the party explore down the way Donga headed the day before. A ball of fire explodes amidst the dwarfs and three cambion devils attack, supported moments later by two Dark Ones. As the party meet the devils and Dark Ones magics from mirrors continues to pummel the party. Torgeir starts pulling the mirrors off the way to land face down before coming to aid the others.

After finishing the devils and dark ones they press forward to find a green flames scull that the party make short work of. They discover healing potion and a wand.

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Humans, Ooops, and unfavoured songs

Talking to V reveals that there are three levels to this dungeon. Some of the denizens are:
Upstairs: a large white dragon,
South: hedges with plant critters,
North & South: humanoids and a dragonborn.

Party heads north. In a 5 pillared room they encounter three humans who alert their comrades but then quickly fall under the weapons of the dwarfs. Three more humans with crossbows come from one direction and a dragonborn from a second direction. The crossbowmen start peppering the dwarfs, especially Aisling, as the dragonborn charges the fighters. Four more humans enter the fray from yet another direction, and the dragonborn orders them to release Graff. Donga shoots the humans as they try to move rubble from the door with Graff behind it, thought to be a large hound like creature based on its growls. As Torgeir, Aisling, and Donga finish the dragonborn and crossbowmen Renmar finishes the human trying to release Graff and replace the rubble holding it back, aided a moment later by Torthal.

The party decide not to find out what Graff is and head south.

They come to hear a ritual to Moradin that stops as they advance. They then encounter sobbing in a temple like room, coming from a female human in robes who calls out to the party “Help me I am trapped.”

After visually searching the room the party render the inscribed doors and candles inoperative. The woman’s form changes to show bat wings and she voices an evil laughter before disappearing (nice job breaking it heroes!). Searching the temple room locates a hidden chest within which is one of V’s gems, plus magical cloth armour.

As they continue they come across a room with a large brass mirror on a wall above a dozen leavers. Donga starts fiddling with the levers as the others look past the doors. A guardsman enters the room from one of the doors to be met by Torgeir and Aisling. Torthal and Renmar pass through the other door, and enter a room, which then is engulfed in a fireball as Donga pulls one of the levers. They push forward to be met by 4 crossbowmen behind a wall of crates waiting for them. Torgeir heads of down the corridor the initial guard came up but is teleported into the fiery room. He then charges into help the brothers as Aisling tries to help but is teleported like Torgeir. The fight descends into a tight melee with Torgeir forced to protect a twice downed Renmar.

It is only after resting that the party realise that they have not felt hungry. Unsure what to make of this the party merely shrug their shoulders and continue.

They come to a water covered room with rope bridges between several platforms. Three Harpies attack the party, with their songs enticing several members forward before immobilising them. Fish creatures, sahuagin rise out of the water wielding tridents and assist the harpies, their blows dazing those hit. Renmar runs forward and initially pins down the majority of the sahuagin but they use their swimming ability to move round under the platforms and bridges to gain better positions. Eventually the dwarfs let the last lifeless sahuagin body sink below the water’s surface.

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Ringing statues and wet shoes

The party continues through the door and spy a statue holding the symbol of Oghma with some type of writing on it. They move forward and a magical explosion rings out from the statue, and a second movement near it provokes another explosion. Via other doors screams are heard and three soldiers and a robe wearing halforc enter. The halforc fires a lightning bolt at the party and the dwarfs engage the soldiers in melee. The halforc creates a sword top attack Aisling with as the melee continues to rage. As the party start to gain the upper hand despite Torgeir and Donga suffering many cuts the halforc teleports away top leave its companions to continue the fight. Torthal and Renmar try to circle around the melee but are hindered by magical, clinging curtains. As the soldiers and dwarfs try to out manoeuvre each other the Oghma statue the statue again rings with force, growing larger as people stay adjacent to it. The soldiers fall under the blows of the other dwarfs despite causing many hurts to Torgeir and Donga. They advance into another room where the halforc is waiting ready with painful magics. With the Runehammer brothers coming from one side and Torgeir, Donga and Aisling from the other, the halforc is forced to teleport again. The party are able to chase the halforc, pin him and kill him.

Searching locates no other ways forwards but gains them an adamantine key, draconic writing, a Staff of the Storms, an ivory statuette, cut jade, coins, and a ritual.

After casting Comprehend Languages the writing is revealed to say “First in hardness, not in place.”

Backtracking to another intersection allows exploration to continue, where Donga hears twittering and a room covered in a fine white dust. Opening a door allows a wave of bones to wash over the party, making movement difficult. Further into the room charnel rats attack the first of the party to wander into their pile of bones. After several quick skirmishes the party kill all the rats but fail to fine anything of use.

Heading back in the direction of water the party come across a large room awash with water. Within the water are two large hulking reptilians with three smaller ones, Lizardfolk. As a prelude to talking Donga fires arrows at one of the large lizardfolk who then advance on the party while warning their brethren. Using the stairs as a platform the party down both larger lizardfolk and one of the smaller before advancing into the water proper. Despite the water hindering the dwarfs, they are able to down the last two.

Heading to the back of the room where the party had spied a platform they discover a locked door top a warm room containing the statue of an eldarin holding a spear and a moonstone. With many bruises and wet feet, the party decide to dry out their shoes and otherwise rest.

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Back to Meigle

Back to Meigle

The trip back to the seven pillared hall is quick via the teleporters. The dark light embraces you as you clamber back through the tunnels you have learnt about over the past few days. You minds wander back to the town of Meigle and the implied threats in the notes from Paldemar. The notes speak of the protection that the three runes of Moradin will give or not give depending on who the holder is, but still implies that there is a hidden threat growing nearby. Your steps quicken as these thoughts start to drive you home.

The trip back is slow, too slow with the group of Dwarves you are now shepherding back through the tunnels and into the upper mines. The upper mines are quiet and signs of battle lie everywhere. No bodies can be found however. Scorch marks are visible along the walls in some locations, but the piles of ashen remains look centuries old, not from folk who may be battling fire wielding foes. Still, the painfully obvious reminder that there are foul forces at play are everywhere and you hasten back as quickly as you dare with the others.

On arriving at Meigle, the township has seen better days. The walls are blackened on one edge, chunks are missing from the other edge. It looks as though two fronts are fighting. The graveyard outside the town walls is empty, very empty with mounds of dirt piled carelessly around forlorn looking holes of Dwarven size. It looks grim indeed.

After a quick challenge and the surprise that something is alive outside the gates, you are rushed in. The town gathers, looking beaten and worn, hushed voices talking and hoping that you bring a large force to reinforce the township. Their eyes grow mournful at the sight of the missing Dwarves, with the odd cry out as families are united.

You find out later that Meigle is a town on the edge. They are constantly bombarded by undead and from assaults of Duergar. What intelligence they have is scant but they know some force is driving the undead from afar, and any captured Duergar speak of a holy war against the ‘sun-kissed’ slaves of Moradin and soon die of starvation.

You also find that Mackay Dordrien (explorer guildmaster) lies gravely wounded and resists healing, the clerics of Moradin are stretched almost beyond their limit shoring up the township. One twist you expected is that the mage Anerin MacBlain has gone missing and was last seen leaving with a goblin.

You make quick work of settling back into the township. The clerics who can spare time are interested in the circle and help Torthal to complete the ritual. However, despite all efforts to the contrary, the portal looks like a one way trip and another way back will need to be found. You start the ritual and as you finish the final trigger words, things attack from the walls hissing “Death to those who oppose Karavakos”!

Roll initiative.

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