Mind Over Matter

A Father's Request
Introduction

As the group enjoys the food and drinks provided and wait patiently, a tall man dressed in fine furs and dyed leather breeches enters the room. He speaks through a heavy beard, “The Duke of Soravia, Duke Sergei Shemov and his guest, Falstrag the Grand, a druid of great renown, approach. Please rise.”

An aging man over 50 winters with closely cropped grey hair and a thick mustache enters. Apparent crests of nobility are emblazoned upon his cloak and etched into the heavy walking stick he uses as he crosses the room to the head of the table. Following him is a much older man of similar height but hunched somewhat from the burdens of age. His attire is less impressive and worn as if seeing many years of travel. When he passes, his deep green eyes draw your attention and his ashen staff strikes the floor with every other step.

“Please be seated friends, I have a tale and a personal request to share.” After allowing those that wish to sit time to do so, the Duke takes a seat and speaks again. “I will start from the beginning and be forthright in the events that have led to this moment. A few months ago in the latter days of Eleint, my court received word from Cutrock, a small mining village against the upper Giantspire Mountains. They reported that trade from the dwarven hold of Skywatch had stopped.  Within two tendays, similar reports reached me from another small mining village known as Howser’s Mine.  Concerned for my people, I tasked my second son, Grigor to lead a small force to determine the cause of the trade disruption and settle the matter.  He reached Cutrock on 28 Marpenoth and his reports over the next 20 days gave great concern as they suggested the dwarves of not only Skywatch, but also their brethren in Ironmantle, had stopped all interaction with the surface.  Usually the dwarves traded heavily the months prior to winter and my son failed to make his standard report time in late Uktar.  Knowing the Cold Lands to be unforgiving, my concern gave immediate cause to send reinforcements to Cutrock.  I also sent word for my old friend Falstrag.” The Duke raises his gaze toward his companion still standing against the heavy staff. The druid simply nods as if consenting to continue the tale.

“The reinforcements reached Cutrock in mid-Uktar as the snows began to fall and discovered that Grigor had just returned from the remnants of what once was the village of Howser’s Mine. The description of the ruins suggested that the village of some 50 hardened miners had been attacked and none remained. A few bodies were found crushed and mangled and tracks that could have only been made by giantkind were all over the area. Grigor pursued, but did not return. The reinforcements remained at Cutrock to defend the village and its nearly 200 inhabitants. As the snows continued to fall, I sent word to the Damaran court for aid. This request fell upon deaf ears as Soravia is neither the heart of Damara nor the largest trade producer. Falstrag’s efforts to gather information proved more effective and we now know that Skywatch has likely fallen to an unusual alliance between goblins, ogres, and the Stone Giants of Rockholme. Though Rockholme has dwelled peacefully in the Giantspires with a mutual agreement of avoidance with the dwarves and a sporadic trade agreement with Soravia, yet there is no doubt that they are among those that have besieged Skywatch.”

The Duke sighs heavily and his eyes lower as if the next words weigh heavily. “Several days ago I received a message wrapped in a blooded banner carried by my son. The words clearly stated that my son was a prisoner and would only be returned alive in four moons if I resisted any further incursions into the Giantspire Mountains until then.” The duke straightens and his jaw hardens as he continues, “I cannot trust such words nor allow my personal feelings to place my lands and my people in jeopardy. Since Damara’s rulers and guilds refuse to acknowledge this threat, I am here to ask your aid. I fear the recent events are but a beginning of great woe and continued bloodshed if not addressed immediately.” The duke sits back and nods toward Falstrag.

The old druid coughs heavily to clear his throat before speaking, “You have all been chosen for your skill and I hope you will accept the Duke’s mission. An uncanny and dark alliance grows and I believe I can assist you in penetrating Skywatch in hopes you can rescue Sir Grigor and any other survivors whether humans or dwarves. The remaining words I have to share are for those that accept this quest and I will meet you beyond the walls of Heliogabalus at noon on the morrow, at the largest oak upon the first crest to the west.” The Duke stands and adds, “If you are successful, you will have my gratitude that I will share across Damara.  For those that seek wealth, knowledge, or lands, these are also within my power. Please enjoy the remainder of your feast and the comfort of the Towering Pine this night.” Falstrag steps back and follows the Duke from the room. The man that entered before the Duke stops at the door and turns to add one last comment, “Those that meet Falstrag should be ready to travel lightly and without mounts.” He turns and closes the door behind him leaving you in each other’s company.

The next day, all of you showed as requested.

“I applaud your heroism and may Silvanus bless you in the endeavors ahead. Skywatch has fallen and is a well-fortified dwarven stronghold. Luckily, an anomaly to dwarven culture became a friend of mine. The dwarven druid, Homrig Mossbeard , made Skywatch his home and fused his sanctuary within Skywatch to a portal in the feywild  known as Briarspire to further his natural studies.” The druid opens his hand to reveal a smooth green crystal. “Once in the feywild, this keystone will lead you to Briarspire. If carried into the pool atop the spire, it will open the portal for a few moments. You will simply need to submerge and you will emerge inside the sanctuary. As for navigating the feywild, some of you have experience there, but I imagine the journey will likely not be safe or simple. Getting in will certainly be difficult, but getting out if discovered will be impossible without aid. These two scrolls have a teleportation circle spell inscribed and should allow a swift escape for you and anyone you find.”

View
Into the Wild
Dire Roots

As you enter the oak, a pungent smell of lush vegetation and musty bark overwhelms you as the silent darkness rushes forward. Your senses return with a mild disorientation. A thick canopy allows dancing light to touch the vibrant plants and grass around you. A large stone moves slightly in the shadows and you identify the elongated neck of a tortoise peering at you from beneath a moss covered shell. Small birds flit about, pausing long enough to acknowledge your presence and then dash into the heavy foliage.

Once in the Feywild, the party hastily followed the keystone's guidance in the hands of Throg. The group entered dense spongy forest terrain.

Thick trunks laden with heavy moss and surrounded by ferns dominate the forest as it starts to thin. A putrid smell wafts in the air and a rustling can be heard in the distance.

The very foliage took offense as four large shambling mounds and a dark treant attacked the party. The treant animated another large tree, but the party proved deadly as they quickly destroyed the plant creatures and continued their journey.

View
Into the Wild-1
The Summer Court

The forest gives way to rolling grasslands where a perpetual breeze ripples across the tops of the waist high golden grass. Bright purple and yellow flowers dot the thick fields ahead and dark distant pillars can be seen when cresting the hills.  You notice small fairies buzzing about the grasslands beyond your reach. They appear curious at your presence and watch you while chittering in their high-pitched voices. Their speech rises and falls but they continue to pace you across the fields.

The group discovered a change in the glade.

The fairies appear to have vanished, yet the grass continues to rustle in the breeze. A fair voice breaks the solitude, “You trespass within the Glade of Sighs. This land is well known to be protected by the Summer Court."

The group finds themselves surrounded by strange wood elves and stranger feline creatures. Through diplomacy, guile, and some luck; the party is able to negotiate passage across the glade with the druidic elf leader.

View
Into the Wild-2
The Dark Spire

After exiting the golden grasslands of the Glade of Sighs, the keystone pulses with verdant green light and pulls at the bearer’s consciousness. The path lies ahead through a forest of thick twisted trees with enormous roots that break the surface of the ground. The spires visible upon the glade are now hidden beyond the canopy of warped limbs and heavy moss. Time passes slowly as you wind through the limbs and trunks. A damp musty odor fills the forest floor and shadows deepen in the recesses of the large trees. The keystone leads you to the base of a huge earthen spire covered with tangle vines and twisted brambles. It appears to rise at least 80ft above you and is equally as wide.

The party recognizes the threat of decaying vegetation near water-soaked areas. They scale the spire using various methods to avoid the tainted regions near the lip.

Cresting the spire reveals a circular plateau surrounded by a series of decaying trees and diseased vines. A dark pool stretching 15ft across is centered in the plateau and rivulets of sluggish water spread to the plateau’s edges.  As you move closer to the pool, two large moss-covered hillocks near it shudder to life and twist about. Earth and water tumble to the ground as the hillock stands and unveils a giant humanoid with a cruel and twisted form. The closest tightens its grip on a thickened tree trunk and yells a guttural warning. A slender figure rises from the pool, its features hidden by a tattered dark green cowl and strands of withered cloth. The sickened plants surrounding the pool recoil and wither further at the figure’s mere presence.

A battle ensues as the group faces two fomorians able to misshape their opponents and a dark fey nymph with blinding beauty, a defiling touch, and druidic spells of significant power. The party eventually slays the pools guardians, but realizes that the pool has been corrupted by her presence.

View
Defiled Sanctuary

As you surface in the pool, an unbearable stench assaults you as the blood-thickened water clings to you like a thick gel. Dim light from high above barely pierces the darkness, but you can’t help but notice the carnage that surrounds you. The remnants of dwarven bodies are strewn about this 30ft chamber of smooth stone and float about you in the 10ft wide pool of butchery. It is impossible to determine how many dwarven corpses are actually here as their remains are spread throughout the chamber. A narrow natural stair ascends the wall to a ledge some 20ft above the pool. As you reach the ledge, it opens into a long room 20ft wide and 40ft in length. The carnage below is mirrored here as the floor is bathed in congealed blood and viscera. A distal door of heavy wood and iron bands is visible on the distant wall flanked by two low burning braziers.

Beyond the heavy door lies a circular chamber with a door in each cardinal direction. Obviously converted for use as a prison and torture chamber, several manacled dwarves are connected by heavy chains hung from large pitons driven into the stone walls at a height of 10ft. Many are limbless and all are covered in dried blood with obvious scarring from deep burns. A low burning brazier is in the center of the room and has several brands resting in the embers. The stench of blood, burnt flesh and sweat fill the room.

The group find a dwarf barely clinging to life and are able to heal him enough to gain his aid. They discover that the dwarf is Toogrod Silverhelm, a minor priest of Moradin, who has had his tongue, his thumbs, and his forefingers removed. Toogrod communicates through writing and leads the party to a small sanctuary to reveal what he knows about the intruders composed of duergar, stone giants, goblins, and ogres.

View
Captors and Captives

The mangled dwarf leads you to a set of large double doors and begins shaking his head and lifting his arms to give warning that danger is beyond. After everyone stops moving, you can clearly hear a muffled ruckus through the thick doors as if many creatures are on the other side.

Peering into the room reveals a huge dining hall with several long tables and two large hearths ablaze with an iron cauldron hung in each. At least a dozen goblins are at the center of the room jeering and arguing in their guttural tongue while two hulking ogres sit along the right wall near one of the hearths watching the commotion. An additional set of double doors is along the left wall near you and a smaller door is across the room flanked by what can only be two stone giants with granite grey skin and gaunt features.

The party ambushes the mess hall full of enemy and realize that the giants wear large iron collars with an inset gem within (at the base of their neck) and that the duergar wear iron crowns inset with a different gems (upon their forehead).  The group quickly find the captives to reveal that sir Grigor and two noble dwarves, Kibik and Lodrik Goldmantle, were taken to the Great Hall by the duergar.

The party discovered the following captives. A total of 16 dwarves and 4 humans, all shackled in what once was a large pantry.

 

(9) dwarven females (minor injuries) [Daglarul, Keshra, Unla, Belba, Yari, Yurna, Ranala, Frita, Nola]

(2) dwarven females (unconscious due to beating) [Gani, Uada]

(1) Tirras Thunderblade – female warrior (broken right leg and left eye burnt out]

(1) Orra Ironhand – female warrior (amputated right hand, badly beaten)

(2) dwarven males (unconscious due to beatings and brandings) [Garin, Grongus]

(1) Banthic Steelbeard – male smith (both eyes burnt out, vocal chords injured, must whisper]

 

(2) human fighters (hands mangled, smashed by hammers, beaten badly) [Gustav, Harald]

(1) Kaare Kampen – male archer (numerous broken ribs, broken right ankle, three fingers missing on left hand)

(1) Jobban the Young – male knight (a 1 inch hole burnt through each palm, beaten badly)

 

Rune uses one of the teleportation circle scrolls to evacuate the survivors. However, Toogrod remained to guide the party to the Great Hall.

View
The Long Hall

The long hall before you has stone pillars carved into the deeds of dwarven heroes spaced at 15ft intervals along its 90 ft length. The pillars are 15ft from the walls allowing a large 20ft central approach to the massive iron doors at the halls far end. It is obvious that a large battle took place here, but the remains of the fallen have been removed. The pillars have been marred by the intruders leaving small chunks of rubble strewn about. Most pillars have a magical flame burning within a sconce on the pillar’s inner facing 15ft above the floor; illuminating the long hall and its arched 30ft ceiling. A troop of armored duergars and two stone giants stand vigilant guard before the iron doors.

The party rushes the iron doors of the Great Hall to defeat six Duergar Stone Guards, two Stone Giants, and two Duergar Darkhafts (the suspected controllers of the giants). They then siege the large doors to the Great Hall and were able to muscle their way into the Hall.

View
The Great Hall

Beyond the heavy iron doors lies the Great Hall. The massive room spans nearly 100ft long 60ft wide and some 60ft high. Raised balconies to the left and right would allow an additional audience to view the throne at the distant end. Four large pillars centrally spanned support the carved stone roof honoring the dwarven pantheon. Upon the throne sits a long-bearded duergar cloaked in heavy furs with a warhammer across his lap. To each side, a nearly 20ft tall giant with dark skin and red hair suggesting a fire giant lineage stands in plate armor and grips a heavy blade. Each wears a thick dark iron collar and watches you with malice. A shackled man with long brown hair is prone before the throne. He appears to be stripped of any clothing and severely bruised. A naked male dwarf hangs upside down from each pillar closest to the throne. between you and then enemies beyond are another two stone giants and six duergar stone guards. The duergar speaks in a low growling voice, “So the Duke prefers to send more of his kind to their doom! I accept your sacrifice and will send him a rug made from your heroic skins.”

The battle is savage and some of the party fall unconscious dying only to be saved just before succumbing to death. Throg is dominated by an unseen enemy and causes significant damage to the party. He shakes the domination just in time to turn the battle, joined by Rune's giant ape form, and a reinvigorated party.

The dwarven body hangs immobile and a small pool of blood lies beneath. Strangely, a series of holes is noticeable throughout the dwarve’s scalp.

The unseen foe is revealed as a female duergar using mind magics. Somehow, Throg and the giant ape resist the creatures mind blasts and Myst crazily disembowels the tentacled creaure.

The party defeats the collected foes and find Sir Grigor barely alive but unconscious beneath the throne. They bar the door against the approaching intruders and make their escape through the last teleportation circle.

View
Epilogue 1

As you enter the teleportations circle, a slight disorientation sweeps across you and then you stand in a large stone room. A ring of hardy fighters dressed in furs and dark dyed leather armor with metal studs surround you. Their crossbows are raised at the ready and the sight on you. A voice booms, “Hold!” You look to the voice to see the Damaran that accompanied Duke Sergei Shemov at the Towering Pine. He nods politely to your party and upon seeing Grigor, motions his men to collect the Duke’s son. “Worry not adventurers, those you sent first are in the infirmary and we have healers prepared for Lord Grigor and you if needed. Come, and we shall see your wounds bound in preparation to relay your tale to the Duke.”

            The large Damaran realizes the two dwarven corpses and Toogrod Silverhelm among your circle. “Good dwarf, please accept the aid of Soravia and our sorrow for the loss of Skywatch and your brethren. We will honor your dead and prepare them for what rights you wish. Your kin sent before you are receiving the best care available.” He scowls as he sees the dead duergar and the strange tentacled rubbery skinned creature in your midst.

            The large man looks at your bloodied and battle weary party before continuing, “I am Gennady Petrov, Commander of the Snowguard and War Counselor to the Duke. My men will secure those bodies for later investigation. Please follow me to the infirmary and then we will speak more.” He turns to lead your party from the room as his men carefully secure the corpses of the Goldmantles while others simply drag the duergar and the strange creature by the heels from the room. You wind through some corridors and ascend a flight of stairs to the infirmary where you see those you rescued being tended. Toogrod quickly runs to the dwarven female, Orra Ironhand, and begins speaking to her rapidly in dwarven. She begins to cry. Gavel speaks lowly to the group, “He has told her of the death of Kibik and Lodrik Goldmantle.”

            Commander Petrov turns to you, “Please allow our healers to bind your wounds with clean bandages. I will inform the Duke of your success and prepare a room for you to share your findings within an hour. If you choose to rest and bathe before, you will have the chance.” The commander turns and leaves the room.

            Shortly after an hour, each of you are summoned and led to a grand hall. The Duke of Soravia stands as you approach and walks toward you. He takes the time to personally clasp each of you by the hand and thank you for returning his son. He then asks you to be seated and share your tale since last you met. Over the next hour, Duke Shemov and Commander Petrov listen to your tale and ask many questions about the adversary now occupying Skywatch. They show particular interest in your belief that the giants are being controlled somehow by the duergar using the collars and crowns you describe. The duke relays that he has researchers attempting to identify the tentacled creature as it sounds like this creature was directly supporting the duergar general. After the discussion about Skywatch and your successful mission to extract his son and the other survivors, the duke changes the subject. “You will forever have my gratitude and I will share your heroism and duty across Damara.  I would also ask you to enjoy the comfort of my estate while we wait for Falstrag to return or report. Meanwhile, I would ask you to consider a reward for you valor and deeds. I have access to wealth, knowledge, and land. I am prepared to honor you with what you choose.”

View
Epilogue 2

Throg quickly takes a step forward  and grumbles, "I have no use for your money!  And you can keep your land and fancy titles. But I could use your help finding someone I seek." Commander Petrov scowls at the half-orcs tone and takes a step forward, but the duke holds his hand upward to stop the man and then answers. “Master tracker, you will have what knowledge and aid Soravia provide to the fullest. I would ask you to write your request with as much detail to ensure we are able to find what you seek.”

            Myst steps beside Throg  and grins widely, "My services are always at your disposal and I'll graciously accept any trinkets or titles you throw my way. But I work best in the shadows, and any way you can assist with that would be beneficial for us both.” The halfling exaggerates his hand motions to reiterate both by one being placed on his chest and the other extending to the Duke. “Either way, our current contract is fulfilled."

            Sten walks before the duke, “Here is the Warhammer of the Duergar Chieftain. May this hammer always remind us of his defeat, and may it symbolize the forging alliance between our houses.” Sten kneels before the duke and raises the hammer above his head. The Duke takes the warhammer and hands it o Commander Petrov. Sten stands and takes a step backward before he continues, “Yet, I am not a diplomat. I am a warrior. I hear Soravian steal is legendary in quality and to wield such a shield or blade is a great honor. I offer my steal and my strength to protect Soravia until the Duergar are defeated and the Dwarfs of Skywatch are avenged.”  The duke smiles and responds, “I am honored to call House Dormythyrr an ally and have always approved of the strength and sincerity of the people of Brandiar. My eldest son has spoke fondly of you and I accept your gift. I will find something of value to bestow upon you my noble friend to reciprocate such an alliance.”

            From beyond the group Cerelea walks just before Throg and speaks, “I feel I could further serve Soravia and Damara as a whole if I could have just a minor title bestowed upon me. I need no lands, or wealth, just something that allows me to serve the current lords and ladies of Damara in a more official capacity.”   The duke raises an eyebrow as if his curiosity is peaked and then strokes his beard a few seconds before replying. “Mistress Cerelea, many tales surround the court of your beauty and influence. Most titles require either land ownership or fealty to a patron or lord. If I bestow a title upon you, it would bind you to Soravia and to Damara as you suggest. I believe I could find a suitable position for your talents but will allow you to think upon it to ensure you contemplate its bonds. I would grant you the title of Lady Cerelea, Emissary of Soravia for the Damaran Court and Foreign Affairs. This position would require you to gather intelligence and carefully wield influence to benefit both Soravia and the peoples of Damara.”

            The duke looks at the remaining heroes for their requests. Eyes turn toward Gavel, Egan, Rune, and Griffon.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.