A Curse from the Heart of the Dust

Final session and previous
Kill baddies ☑ obtain loot ☑ plunder booty ⬜

Dear adventurers, It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that we are parting ways for now. If you wish for me to aid you, seek me in Almas. I wish to give you perspective on why I am returning to my homeland alone. I will recount to you my experience so that you may see from my eyes.  When I happened upon the two party members Beatrix and Garreth they… You were in pretty bad shape I though I could prove my worth as a barbarian by courageously aiding them… You,  in the rescue effort. I thought that I had finally made friends and found someone to look up to, who's sage leadership and influence would lead me to be a glorious Barbarian. As we ventured into the nightmare that we found to be a druergar city the disapproving glances slowly brought me to realize that my presence was not very welcome and it was out of despair that I was permitted to remain. I still had hope that I could learn from Garreth. After our scuffle at the gates with the large choker and two druergar and us having to flee through what seemed to be a sewer in semi persuit of this creature grimshack that entombed us before my hope was beginning to dry up. When we finally got through the tunnel we exited to find cells filled with deranged druergar and a cell with grimshack. I was finally going to be able to prove my ability as a Barbarian. After a close call with grimshack almost escaping but failing due to Beatrix's quick thinking making the invisible grimshack visible again I wrangled him up and we began our interrogation. We bombarded Grimshack with questions and means of extracting them. Grimshack would not give an inch. Garreth wanted to trade mutilating his hand for answers from grimshack. I offered my own blood in place of Garreth's I wanted to protect my friend. Not five minutes passed after I offered my own blood until I was shot another disapproving glance by Garreth. I thought If I could not have a friendship maybe I would still be able to recieve guidance from him. Grimshack made us an offer to retrieve the stone and lead us to a captured party member if we released him. I wanted to kill him. It was so obvious that this creature if left alive would only bring pain to the living. Garreth freed the creature who led us to Doogie who was surrounded by four druergar and four chokers whom we dispatched with relative ease. Grimshack cloaked himself and scampered after the soul of the city… Or so we thought. Grimshack never returned to us. My trust in Garreth was faded. We followed the corridor to find that Grimshack had alerted the king to our intrusion. I had been deceived. Not by grimshack but by my hero Gareth who's leadership placed us in the king's surrounded by guards who were aided by grimshack. In other words,  mortal danger. I was done looking up to others I was going to follow my heart and take the consequences in stride. If I lived, I was never going to leave loose ends ever again. The king,  after refusing to hear our negotiations grew into a large being. I flew into a rage. I was not going to take my constrictor snake form. I wanted to fight as a barbarian. I wanted my foes to have my visage as a barbarian as the last thing they would see and I wanted to die a barbarian. I lept over the swing of the giant king's axe. The momentum carried through lodging the axe into the king's gut. I avoided  the swing of the guard and I went for grimshack who I would finally make Pay. I battled with grimshack and a few guards as the others took on the king and a few guards as well. Grishack and I traded devastating blows. I, with my axe and Grimshack with magic. The party members were weakened and about to be slain by the king. I was weak as well grimshack had thrown me back with the force of his last attack.  I knew the next blow I would be the last blow I would receive as it would kill me. I knew grimshack was worn as well. He was on the point of bleeding out. A guard stood between myself and Grimshack. I barreled past the guard in a spin knocking his hammer away as he swung. With the flat of my axe I struck Grimshack in the head. As I finished Grimshack, Beatrix with other worldly precision slashed the king with her blade killing him. Garreth stood in a stoopor for the space of an hour not responding. I wanted grimshack to suffer for his betrayal. I wanted a living testament to my ruthlessness. I would show the people of Almas I would show the surrounding lands.  I quickly severed Grimshack's arms and legs. I gouged his eyes with no hesitation. I then took his tongue. No. Loose. Ends.

 

Nick Dontist, Barbarian

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Session 5
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Session 4
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Session Two
Account of two wolves

2 of Doras, 3 cycle of Titanus, 507DC. Report, Myself and Bloodtaint after detecting the large disturbance in the afore mentioned ruined city, have halted the "ministry." Briefly mentioned before, we now travel with a diverse party including an Elven witch. Bloodtaint grows tired of her and the bond with him grows strained as he wishes to strip her bones from her flesh. He does not seem fully aware of his exile in the Eastern Drow Lands. He has been of great service to Mother he supports his burdens well. I am convinced he will bring honor to Mother in the near future. 

                      A member of this party that we shade, an unremarkable Dwarf, was taken by what I reasonably believe to be chokers perhaps in league with Duergar. Typical of unrefined subsurface dwellers. The being from the Phantasmal plane spoke of the source of arcane power that we felt. This source is said to be a stone which deems wealth to its possessors. There was never any question that we will ultimately possess it in the name of Mother. We have spent some time delving deeper into the mines in search of this stone as the others search frantically for the Dwarf. We have navigated various traps undoubtedly constructed by the feeble minded who worked this mine. 

                 We strode into the clutches of the chokers. The travelers, unfamiliar with underdweller fighting, spread themselves thin. We were outnumber and quickly incapacitated. A bold member of the party managed to stave them off long enough to administer aid. I think we will enslave him and and put him in the cage to take to Jezreach rather than give him the "gift" as will be the fate of the others.

                          Bloodtaint dreamed the wolf dream. When he awoke, he spoke to my soul and showed unto me his mind. He dreamed that he was running along a cliff toward the moon Titanus with all of his fervor. As he ascended a rise, Mother appeared to him in her glory, she beckoned to the West, to Jezreach and beckoned for him to follow. Bloodtaint understood Mother would soon have us separate. My soul howls as I know one of two padfoots that gave me life would be taken. I had began to feel quite endearingly toward my father, Mother take you swiftly my Father, my Bloodtaint, my Lupür.

 

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Session Three
Gareth

Gareth's mind was reeling. Up until this point he thought he led an interesting life. Grew up alone, no family, and he spent his days hunting men. Now however, within the space of just a few days he'd spoke with a Ghost who sent him and four other companions, along with a dogman on a quest to redeem his fallen city. After nearly being choked to death by strange, small, black creatures Gareth and his companions made their way deeper into the mine shaft. Through one of those weird garbage nests they found an opening into a huge cavern. Once they entered into the cavern Gareth realized Scar was missing. Somehow he had vanished. Before he had time to think about that the group were set upon by several large snakes. Making short work of them they moved on through the only path available to them into another larger cavern. As they made their way through, Gareth couldn't help but think about how peculiar one of his companions was. A short time ago complete strangers, now joined in a fight for their lives Gareth was traveling a mineshaft with a Drow.

As if a Drow traveling outside the void marshes or Cheliax openly wasn't strange enough, this one had some sort of companion/pet. A man, with a large metal cage on his back. This man clawed, fought and bit like a dog but walked like a man. It seemed to have the mind of a dog as well. Gareth could only wonder how this foul creature came to creation. In a way he pitied the thing. It however, was content to do his masters bidding. Lupür who most notably was suffering, or maybe benefiting from lycanthropy. The first time Lupür transformed, Gareth was startled. He didn't exactly have time to address it because it happened in the middle of a battle. Lupür's transformation proved useful in the battle which lead Gareth to believe that perhaps this ailment wasn't hurting Lupür, but helping him.

After the battle was done, nobody said anything. Gareth was thinking surely he wasn't the only one alarmed by this. As he considered however, he realized Beatrix was a witch. An Elf Witch. They live very long lives perhaps lycanthropy and Drow were not so foreign to her. Scar though, Gareth had to think Scar thought this strange. He however, said nothing. So Gareth didn't either. Gareth surmised that there was likely an unspoken agreement between everyone. That while lycanthropy is no joke, they couldn't afford to do anything about it. They needed the help.

As he pondered these things they entered the next massive cavern. Once in, they heard something large. . . eating. . . they looked down the shore of a small underground pond to find a massive Troll eating something dragged from the water. Gareth quickly coordinated with his companions and they decided the best course of action was to draw the creature to them, then flank it. As they commenced their plan, it didn't go accordingly. The Troll rushed Beatrix and attacked her. One claw nearly crumpled her. She retreated from the danger. Gareth began laying into the beast, the thrill of battle consumed him. This was where he felt he was supposed to be, commencing the work of death upon the dark of this world. It retaliated, the beast clawed Gareth, once, twice, then sank it's teeth into his pauldron. Despite his full plate armor this beast was about to make short work of him he felt. That's when Gareth saw him, Lupür charging forward, Brick his dogman in tow. Lupür began to lay about the troll with his arms. As the dogman fought viciously, something gleamed in the trolls eye. It spotted an opening, a chance to crush it's future meal. It swiped, and missed, swiped again, hit cleanly. Then everything seemed to go in slow motion. Gareth's mind worked slowly realizing far too late that Lupür had been badly hurt. Lupür staggered from the blow of the claw unaware that the beast lunged forward and bending down with it's massive, ugly, snout. Jagged yellow teeth gleaming with rancid saliva. Gareth screamed, "Lupür!" He looked as the beast enveloped his upper half with his maw. Crunch.

Shock assailed him. The beast lifted the body of the Drow into the air and began thrashing back and forth. The way the troll finally kills its prey. The thrashing motion causes the flesh to rend on the countless rows of awful teeth. Blood sprayed to the beasts left and right. It turned to face Gareth and spat out it's freshly caught meal. Gareth was taken back, back to the day his family was taken from him. He stood in shock as slavers dragged his mother and sister to the boat. An awful feeling of powerlessness eating him. He was seven less than half the size of these men. Gareth could do nothing. Gareth came to, feeling much the same right now. Doogie had been taken, and he was powerless. Lupür killed, and he was powerless to save him.

Rage filled him. Pure vicious awful wrath. He gripped his blade so hard it hurt. Raising it above his head then behind himself he screamed and flung the blade flipping end over end directly in front of him. Somehow he knew that this massive sword thrown like a dagger would hit exactly as he wanted. The blade made a massive swoosh sound as it sailed through the air then met its mark. Slish the pointed end of the sword lodged perfectly in the bridge of the snout almost to the hilt. The point of the greatsword sticking out the back of its skull. The creature dropped lifeless. Much, like Lupür. Brick immediately ran. Gareth turned to look at Beatrix. Her expression said everything. Five people entered these mines, two missing, one dead and two remained. An Elf with and a Human swordsman. Alone in the middle of an abandoned mineshaft in a dead city.

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Session One
The trail

The cities of Kerse and Almas, while dwelling in different provinces, they are in a similar region and any diplomatic relations through trade or otherwise need to be handled by traveling a long path that leads directly through the Five Kings Mountains. The trek is long and sometimes dangerous so the people usually try  to travel in large caravans to avoid being attacked. That is where our heroes are found, in this vast caravan headed for Almas.

The trek was calm and steady moving with little excitement then they reached the Five Kings Mountains where the paths become narrow and it is more likely to get lost, separated, or cornered. After a while of traveling through the canyons and ridges the caravan passed by a lone city built out of the side of the rock's edge. As it passed music and chatter could be heard coming from inside the walls. They were the sounds of a festival of great celebration. The singing and laughter reached the very hearts of our heroes as well as a few other travelers beckoning them to come join. The caravan could not stop however. They needed to reach the valley by nightfall for the safety of the people but the leader did agree to allow these select few to join the party and meet up with the rest of the caravan in the morning.

Our heroes rushed in to embrace the activities and their hearts were filled with excitement and need to engulf themselves deep in every part of the festivities. They partied late into the night until they were too exhausted to do anymore. A few rooms were rented at the local inn and they drifted to sleep fully satisfied with the fun they had. 

The following morning our heroes were hit with great surprise to find the entire city abandoned and in shambles. Walls were crushed and entire buildings reduced to nothing but rubble with erosion to imply that the city has had to have been in this state for hundreds of years. Thick layers of dust covered every surface and every item showed its age. The other travelers, after seeing this destruction without explanation, ran for their lives out of the city walls. Our heroes however desired to get to the bottom of their curiosity. The names of these valiant heroes were the following: Beatrix Bubkins, an unsettling elven witch, Gareth Blackwood, a couragious human fighter, Scar Moonwalker, a rough halfling hunter, Doogie Bubbletrousers, a holy dwarven cleric, and finally Lupür a mysterious drow inquisitor.

While there was a thick feeling of unease in the air and many of this party thought it best, dispite their curiosity, to leave and meet up with t he caravan, Lupür immediately blocked the way and insisted they all stick together to uncover the mystery of the city. The rest agreed and they began to search the town. They quickly noticed that throughout the city there were transparent bodies going about their daily lives as if nothing was wrong. It was clear that while our heroes could see them, they were utterly oblivious of the living beings staring at them. The party made its way into the center of the city searching every building for some clues to what had happened to these people. In one of the small shops that could only be believed to be the book shop they found a journal on the counter with only a few entries but these entries revealed that a mysterious yet some-what dark happening had occurred. (for full transcript check the media library)

In exiting the shop and gathering in the center of the courtyard our heroes discussed their next point of action. After a small discussion it was decided to head to the castle at the highest point of the city to see if the steward who was long since dead, had left any hints towards the strange happenings. Just as they began to leave the courtyard a small pack of three wolves jumped in their path, snarling and looking toward their next meal. As vicious as these wolves might have been, our heroes made quick work of them and continued on their way. 

They reached the castle and cautiously entered. As they reached the center of the large room noticed that hung upon each wall was an enormous tapestry. This tapestry depicted a dwarf standing upon a hill holding a small object above his head that emitted great light and at his feet was a gathering of what could only be interpreted as humans looking up at him. While they stood examining this tapestry, to their surprise, a giant black widow spider dropped from the ceiling and began to engage them. With great tactical prowess our heroes surrounded the spider and killed it within seconds but little did they know, its baby had dropped as well in an attempt to save its mother. Without fear the party killed it as well and both threats were equally neutralized.

Seeing as there was no other dangers the party ascended the stairs to the throne room. The room was empty and quiet with no manner of evidence to be seen that could answer their questions. Gareth in his disappointment sat himself in the throne to think and without warning came a voice billowing from the silence. "Get off my throne!" Another translucent being appeared before him. In the shock of seeing this sudden apparition both Scar and Lupür were startled and they ran for cover. The others however were unmoved, Gareth least of all. He looked at the being and simply asked, "What happened here?"

With great remorse in his face, Lord Frederick Redbow (the spirit of the steward of Orrinshire), explains, "It was all my fault. Greed is a dangerous thing. It's a shame I had to learn that lesson too late. I took too many things for granted and it made me lose sight of what is most important. Orrinshire used to be a great and wealthy city and I was a key part in making this city so great. Long ago a small group of dreamers along with myself came from a far away land in search of wealth and riches. We had each grown tired of our lives in the lower class and dreamed of something much greater. Knowing that the Five Kings Mountains are primarily inhabited by dwarves we decided to risk it all because we also knew that the dwarves in this region were extremely successful in the building of their civilizations due to the plentiful nature of the ground under the mountains. We put two and two together and decided to move and ask the dwarves if we could attempt to start a new life in their lands. 

To our surprise, the dwarves graciously invited us into their lands with open arms. They lead us right here. Along with their unexpected hospitality, the leader of the dwarves at the time named Eristor, handed me a stone of amber with a glowing red center about the size of my palm. He looked me straight in the eye and said, 'This is the key to our success and it will be the key to yours. Keep it safe and protect it with your life. May you forever grow and prosper.

The stone was called, The Stone of the City. At first I was skeptical of its power. I thought this stone was nothing more than just a token of some kind but nevertheless we got to work and started mining. As we dug deeper we all noticed that with each day that passed we would grow less and less tired. We would work later without fatigue. The hunger to find more grew as well and we found ourselves spending all of our free moments in the mines. No matter how long we dug the precious metals and valuables never depleted. It almost seemed as though the ores were replenishing. Sure enough our city  grew and word spread about our success. The fact that a settlement of humans was prospering in the Five Kings was unheard of but extremely enticing to other humans and many came to join in. The city grew in size and we grew in numbers. It was like every person that came fell under the same spell and began to work tirelessly to build the city. It became clear that there was something to this little rock. 

As the words of Eristor echoed in my head from that day I knew the stone deserved great respect and care. In an effort of thanking that great dwarf the citizens of Orrinshire set apart one day a year to celebrate the giving of the stone. We called it Eristor's Day. The whole city held a great debt to Eristor and for his extremely generous gift. 

As time passed on our human nature began to take over and the greed of gaining more wealth began to cloud the judgment of each and every person living in the city limits. We became obsessed with gold and precious things and a certain level of contention surfaced as each person coveted the belongings of one another. Whatever we had was never enough and we always wanted more. This my friends is why I feel it is my fault for what happened. 

I lost sight of what was most important and I took for granted the amazing gift I was blessed with and on one fateful Eristor's Day my guard was down as I engulfed myself in the festivities happening in the city center. While we were all distracted the stone was stolen from the chest it was locked in that rested in the storeroom. I carelessly assumed that hiding it in a common place would be enough. I was foolish and because of my foolishness we lost everything. 

As soon as the stone was gone we  began to notice the effects immediately. The city itself began to wither away and crumble. Entire buildings would begin to crack at the foundations and even sometimes fall. The gold began to turn to dust and the precious stones and gems lost their color and beauty. Even the people were aging fast and dying left and right. If they didn't die on the outside they died on the inside as their morale began to diminish. The people died but their spirits continued as though nothing had happened at all. As I am sure you saw, they wander forever in the in-between, stagnant in their mediocrity. 

After many years of pondering, the only thing I can determine is that it seems as though the stone took back everything it had given along with the very souls of those who reaped the benefits it gave so plentifully. Every year on Eristor's Day the city is restored only for the day so that we must relive the day in which we lost the stone. I believe that I have been cursed to watch the subjects of my mistakes and neglect suffer for eternity without end. It is all my fault."

Gareth looked at him after listening to the dark tale and asked, "So would you say that if we were to find the stone and bring it back, would that put thing back to normal?"

"With the return of the stone our souls will be released to the afterlife." Lord Frederick replied. "The city would have to be rebuilt if anyone wanted to return it to its former glory but I am afraid that the time for my generation has passed. We have been trapped for so many years that all we need is to pass on to whatever comes next." 

"Where would we start?" Gareth asked.

"There wasn't much evidence to tell us who stole the stone but it was commonly believed that whoever took it had to have come from the mines and only could have escaped through them as well. I just do not understand how because only those with access to the mines were those within these very walls and all of them died hundreds of years ago. However, if it were me I would start there. If needs be you may rest here and gather your strengths and enter in the morning. No one has entered those mines in centuries so there is not telling what may reside in there."

Therefore the party rested.  

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