Pointer-left Investigator__male_2_thumb
Posted by the GM
Per Multiversum
Chapter 1 — Moonspinner Keep
~ 1st of Tarsakh, The Year of Rogue Dragons, Moondark
Barony Nadjar, County Monteshi, Tethyr

"Keep your enchanted eyes out for the dragon," Leokas said in the Elven tongue. "I shall watch the ground."

   "The skies are clear, my friend," answered Belvin, "I assure you."

   It was the darkest hour of the night, yet it was the turn of the month, so the moon was full, and so Selûne's glow illuminated much of the landscape of southern Tethyr below them. The two elves stood on the main deck of the spelljammer Frihet as Jayce's magic kept the ship aloft. The elves had joined the rest of their companions only a few days prior, having been picked up from the shore of the River Arran, west of the great Chondalwood, Belvin's home, where they and the minotaur Kytharrah had been dropped off months before that.

   Leokas' concern was the blue dragon Yrevkethend, the one who had sacked the keep under which their friends Mythlos and Rinald and many others were now trapped. The forward ballistae and the rear catapult were loaded and manned in case they had to defend themselves from an attack from the air.

   It was warm for an early Spring night — the equinox was only a tenday ago — so the end of the first watch was pleasant for the two elves. Kytharrah was also nearby patting Leokas' new white wolf, Sif. The wolf was fun to play with, and Kytharrah had spent a good deal of time playing fetch and racing with the dog, though he was always expecting it to turn into a woman like Leokas' last wolf friend had done. One of the sailors — a red-haired man who looked similar to their new friend with the silly-looking glasses and smoke-making thing in his mouth except without the glasses or the smoke-making thing — was telling Kytharrah about his travels to different lands, but Kytharrah was not paying very much attention. He preferred physical activities over excessive talking.

   "I've heard that there are centaur tribes in the Chondalwood," said the sailor. "Did you meet any?"

   "Centaur?" the name sounded familiar to the minotaur. Was a centaur a kind of minotaur? The words sounded alike at the ends.

   "You know, like horses but with human upper bodies instead of horse heads."

   Now Kytharrah understood the question. Indeed, he had had great fun with many centaurs at a big party in the woods on their first night there. There had also been goat-men, like the one Belvin sometimes made appear for brief moments. They had horns like he did, and they played happy music and liked to dance. And there were big, bald elves, as big as their giant friend who had traveled with them over the desert when Hakam's magic had been broken. There was lots of food and lots of drink that made him feel silly, and he learned new games of rock-throwing and knocking over things while dancing — although Leokas told him that that one was not actually a game — and he wrestled and raced. The big, bald elves were tough to beat at wrestling, and the horse-men were very fast, even without magical shoes like his, but he beat some sometimes.

   Kytharrah laughed at a little goat-man who had charged at him, and Kytharrah had tossed him through the air after locking horns. Belvin had to fix him with magic, but the goat-man thought it was funny. The sailor looked at him expectantly, and Kytharrah realized that he had not answered the man's question. "Oh, yes; they eat a lot of food. I also got very, very hot and fell asleep, and my friends had to drag me out of the cave."

   "Centaurs live in caves?" The sailor was confused at the minotaur's seemingly random change of topic.

   "The cave was smelly," said Kytharrah.

   "We took him to a vision cave," Belvin explained to the confused sailor. "It is a tradition of my people to seek visions within the intense heat of steam from natural hot springs. This young minotaur had a vision of his own."

   "A little guiding light," said Kytharrah. "It talked too much."

   "Belvin, the sky!" called Leokas.

   Belvin scanned the horizon in all directions. "Still clear," said the wild elf. He then spotted something below them. "I have, however, found some clear evidence of a dragon." He pointed.

   They were directly overhead the northernmost portion of the Forest of Mir, flying roughly west. Belvin was pointing to just past where the trees of the forest ended. A village was approaching, but the village had been leveled flat, the timber of every last building scattered in a mess of wood.

   "The village of Stonethrow," said Leokas somberly, "or what is left of it."

   "It was not scorched," said Belvin. "This was the work of a blue dragon, not a red."

   "I shall let the pilot know that we are close." The wood elf moved to the aft castle of the galleon, and Sif followed at his heels. The night's pilot, a dark-skinned Turmish man with dreadlocks, stood at the wheel. "Rimardo, we have spotted our destination." The elf pointed out the village to Rimardo, who nodded, adjusted the wheel, and called out orders to the sailors who were manning the sails. A message was passed down to Jayce, at the spelljamming helm, to slow their speed and reduce their altitude. The vessel adjusted course and began descending gradually.

   Leokas returned to Belvin. The wild elf pointed to another spot below. "And there is our moon elf's keep."

   Leokas, even with his elven eyes, could not yet see the ruins, but Belvin wore magical lenses, which allowed him to perceive a pile of rubble that was once a keep.

   "Not a tower remains standing," said Belvin.

   "Yes, now I see it," said Leokas. "The keep has indeed fallen."

   The other members of the adventuring party were woken and congregated on the main deck.

   "Mythlos claims that the dragon is now lairing in the cave tunnel south of the keep, the original entrance to the dwarven site, from which we exited last year." Hakam explained these details to his companions. "If it emerges, we will have only a mile distance between it and us."

   "I shall continue to watch the skies," said Belvin.

   "Do we have any idea where the dragon is now?" asked Oma.

   "It has resisted all of my scrying attempts," said Hakam, "and I cannot scry on a location, only a creature, and I hesitate attempting again, lest it figure out who is trying to scry on it."

   "I could send a magical sensor to examine the cave," said Solisar, "but it would be little use without a source of light."

   "I suggest that we wait this out a few more days," said Hakam. "Each day we can carefully approach from the north and see if we can find any evidence of the dragon's presence. Mythlos may have to be our eyes from the ground, however."

   "We are going to need a place to land," said Solisar. "Jayce cannot keep the spelljammer aloft forever."

   "The River Ith is twenty miles to the north of us," said Leokas, "or we could head back to the Lake of Steam; it is only a few hours now that we can fly so much faster."

   "The River Ith is swift, if I recall," said Belvin, "and would attract unwanted attention."

   "Was not there a sizeable pond near Stonethrow?" asked Hakam. "We could stay there."

   "I fear that that is too close to the dragon," said Leokas.

   "Ah, but it already sacked the village; it would have no reason to go that way again. It may be especially safe for us there."

   So, for the next few days, the spelljammer spent most of its time floating in a pond south of the former village of Stonethrow. Hakam used his magic to send messages to Mythlos, who scouted down the exit tunnel to where the dragon had barricaded it with boulders. He could not confirm whether or not the dragon was on the other side. During the day, however, Solisar was able to scan the cave, during one of the hours where the sun was at the right angle to provide some light. The cavern entrance was indeed empty, but there were clear signs of the dragon's former habitation — the carcasses of consumed cows, claw marks on the walls, strangely shaped glass, and scattered golden trinkets. At the far wall, the stone bricks of the entrance to the dwarven tunnel had been torn away, as the dragon had clearly been trying to widen the tunnel, ripping the stone supports away and digging at the rock and dirt of the natural walls and ceiling. This destruction continued for some distance until it appeared that the dragon had given up and resorted to barricading the tunnel instead.

   In the ruins of the keep itself, it was found that the former elevator shaft to the dungeons below was likewise completely blocked with large stones. (They considered using magic to shape or move the stones, but they did not have the means to reconstruct the elevator itself.)

   They repeated these scouting visits for the next two days, but there was no sign of the dragon. On fourth-day, they decided to risk the rescue. They had had the several days to work out the details of their elaborate plan.

   Oma helmed the spelljammer and took it to a position about half a mile south of the keep and north of the cave entrance. They found a position between some hills and with tree cover, so that they would hopefully not be immediately noticed from the air. The sailors removed the white sails to help reduce their visibility. The young Calishite wizardess brought the craft as low as she could, and the party of adventurers was lowered to the ground in the rowboat.

   It had been arranged with Mythlos, that he should come half way down the tunnel. Hakam was able to determine Mythlos' exact position below them by using his divinatory magic to target the silver elf's moonblade. Belvin then summoned a thoqqua, a tunneling worm-like creature from the Plane of Fire, to dig and melt a tunnel directly down toward Mythlos' location in the tunnel underground. While they waited, Solisar cast several defensive magics on the group, including the ability to detect if the dragon attempted to scry on them.

   Once the creature of fire and earth reached the tunnel, they heard Mythlos' voice call a greeting up to them. This filled the group with hope, but nervousness still filled their hearts, as they feared the dragon might return at any moment. Szordrin had a rope in hand, in case he needed to create a magical escape route into an extradimensional space.

   Belvin commanded the thoqqua to now return to the surface, this time melting a tunnel at a climbable angle. It took nearly all of Belvin's magic to summon the extraplanar beast enough times for it to complete the escape tunnel with dimensions wide enough for humans and a minotaur to utilize. Then, they had to wait for the tunnel to cool.

   When it had cooled, Leokas and Szordrin led the way, descending quickly down the steep earthen and stone slope. Leokas held Kytharrah's everburning torch, and looked around. They stood in the middle of the old dwarven road. The tunnel floor was smooth and straight, with a gentle decline to the north. It was fifteen-feet wide and ten-feet high. Stone brick archways supported the ceiling every 20 feet.

   Mythlos, however, was not there to greet them.

   "Where did he go?" asked Szordrin.

   "These are his footprints," said Leokas, crouching low. "He went back toward the dwarven settlement. There is another set of humanoid prints as well."

   Hakam now joined them, shield magically aglow and covered in dirt.

   "Where is Mythlos?"

   "That was my question," said Szordrin.

   "I am out of sendings," said Hakam.

   "Something is not right," said Leokas. "Why would he have left this spot otherwise. Let us hurry."

   They moved as quickly as they could in the darkness down the dwarven tunnel. After fifteen or twenty minutes of hustling, they could see the flickering of torch light up ahead, where the tunnel pinched to a narrower opening. Leokas cringed, knowing that at that very spot last year, an ancient dwarven trap had crushed him and sent him prematurely to the Fugue.

   "There must be an override mechanism here somewhere," said Szordrin.

   "Mick, someone who traveled with us for a brief time," said Jayce, "found a hole in the wall on the other side with a release mechanism."

   "I shall fly over there and check," said Szordrin. He did so, after casting the appropriate spell. With the tip from Jayce, it did not take him long to find the release switch hidden in the wall. "You will have to give me a moment, but I am sure that I can disable it. I learned how traps like this work while spending some time in the Muzad...." He took a kit of tools from his pack.

   "Muzad?" asked Solisar.

   "Calimport's undercity," explained Hakam.

   "There," said Szordrin. "It will no longer activate. It is safe to come over."

   "I am still going first," said Leokas. As he had learned personally, the trap had been designed to drop after a delay, such that the first person crossing it was able to pass with no issue.

   Footsteps approached them, and a skinny youth appeared with a torch. "Thank Torm! You have come at last. And it could not have been at a more needed time. Our food is gone. Rinald is poisoned. Sir Mythlos has chased after the drow. Come on!"

   "The drow?" asked Szordrin, clutching his dagger.

   Kytharrah sniffed for danger.

   The young man had already turned to go, but Hakam stopped him. "How do we know that this is not some elaborate trap? Tell me, how did Mythlos, your master, win this keep?"

   "Sir Brygolf — may his soul rest on the shores of the Silver Sea — he told me that Sir Mythlos won the keep from Sir Gorgon."

   "You had best not be leading us into a trap," Hakam replied.

   "He is telling the truth," said Jayce. "We are wasting time. Take us to Rinald, son."

   They entered the large cavern. The ceiling was only fifteen feet above them, but the chamber was about 50 feet in radius. The majority of it was filled with a massive pit. The young man led them to the beginning of the winding ramp that spiraled down into the ancient mining shaft.

   "This is where I found my buckler," said Belvin, glancing around the cavern.

   "A giant?" asked Kytharrah. He had spotted a large figure in the center of the deep pit, standing on a narrow stone bridge. It was a roughly humanoid construct of wood and stone.

   "Is that a shield guardian?" asked Solisar.

   Jayce answered in the affirmative.

   "Do not play with it!" said Szordrin.

   "Do not even talk to it," said Hakam.

   The stone path was narrow — so narrow that Kytharrah had to be especially careful traversing it. It had been carved like a screw to spiral counterclockwise down into the shaft. There were several openings in the wall, and they followed the youth into the first one, which they reached after ten yards or so.

   They stepped (or crouched) into a low room about 30 feet square. They were immediately greeted with excitement.

   "They are here!"

   "We are saved!"

   "Do you have a priest with you?"

   "I am a cleric," said Hakam, answering the teenager who had asked this.

   "Please come right away, father has been poisoned."

   "I did not pray for such powers that can help," said Hakam.

   "I can neutralize the poison," said Belvin. "Where is he?"

   They were led through one of the three other doors in the room to another of the same shape and size. On a bedroll on the floor lay Rinald. Hakam approached cautiously, still having his doubts about the situation.

   "What poisoned him?" he asked.

   "Drow crossbows. They climbed up the walls like spiders." The speaker was a young woman of about Szordrin and Jayce's age. She knelt beside Rinald. Belvin joined her at his side and examined the wound.

   "Where are the drow now?" asked Szordrin.

   Kytharrah sniffed the air, but he did not know what a drow smelled like.

   "Father cast a spell to defend us," said the boy who had brought them to the room. "They fled like cowards, but he had already been struck with the bolt."

   "They had shown themselves once before, but between Sir Mythlos and father, they were scared away. There were more of them this time." This speaker was another boy, slightly older. Both were older teenagers, perhaps past the age of majority. There was also a second woman in the room, but she stood off a ways in the shadows, weeping quietly.

   "Torm,... my brother, sent me to get Sir Mythlos right away," said the younger boy. "I ran up the tunnel to get him. That is why he was not there to greet you."

   "He used his magic sword to teleport behind the guardian and pursue the drow deeper into the dwarven ruins," said Torm.

   "You tended his wound well, woman," said Belvin.

   "Miri," she replied. "Thank you. I thought it best to pull the bolt all the way through the other side, since it is barbed."

   "Yes, that was wise." Belvin than began a feral chant, causing Miri to jump back in surprise. Power flowed through Belvin's fingertips and into the wound, and it closed before their eyes. A second chant caused Rinald's eys to open.

   He then sat up with a start. "Drow!"

   The woman in the corner of the room rushed over to hug Rinald tightly.

   When she was convinced that he was fully healed, she released him.

   "My friends, you came at last," he said, rising to his feet. He did not look as useful as he had the last time that they had seen him. Now, he looked far closer to his actual seven decades in age. He still sported the large white moustache and the long hair tied back in a ponytail.

   "I apologize that we could not come sooner," said Hakam. "All of us were scattered over various regions of Faerûn, and we also had to ensure that the dragon was absent."

   "We should discuss the dragon's behavior later, but were is Mythlos?"

   "He pursued the drow who shot you," said Leokas.

   "Always reckless," said Rinald.
Session: 101st Game Session - Wednesday, Apr 18 2018 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Viewable by: Public
Tags: Chapter 1 , Recap , Tethyr