Cedarsmoke

The Fall of Char Kulumurn
Or: The Dangers of Introducing Dwarven Ale to Powerful Wizards

The strong smell of roasted owlbear permeated the hidden tunnels where the enormous beast had, until recently, made its lair. Enormous char-kissed chunks of its flesh lay strewn about on makeshift platters fashioned from the the remnants of Tanule’s shredded armor. Not for lack of flavor, mind you — it’s just that the creature was so damn big that even captain Ironsoul’s dwarven appetite couldn’t keep pace.

Half grunting, half roaring with triumphant effort, Tanule pried another mangled plate off of his layered armor. Now at least he would be able to wear it without the jagged, twisted edges cutting into his side. The dragonborn lifted a hunk of owlbear thigh to his mouth and tore the seared meat vigorously away from the bone.

Mouth full, he looked down at his handiwork and proudly proclaimed, “There! Now that’s what I call seasoned!”

Captain Ironsoul stared down the dragonborn. No one was quite sure whether she was offended or pleased at the comment. In any case, it turned out Tanule wasn’t talking about her cooking.

“Bit by a dragon, clawed open by an owlbear!” he continued, tracing his claws down the impressive damage. “Before, this armor was impressive… but now— NOW everyone who looks upon me will bask in the glory of the battles I have survived!”

The dwarf grunted appreciatively and the others murmured their vague assent. Tanule tore another bite of the owlbear away and banged the bone of it against his shield, “Now then, are we ready to visit more of that glory upon these dwarves?”

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An Interlude in Char Kulumurn

Pinned. It wasn’t the first time, not even the first time today — but it might be the last. Tanule glanced across the dimly lit tunnel at his companions and considered how they came to these circumstances.

Pinned. Most recently by the Owlbear, that ferocious Feywild monster that inhabited the tunnels beneath this dwarven fortress. The feral beast had sunk claws and talons into Tanule’s armor and pried it apart like a dwarf tapping a keg! The dragonborn looked down at the torn and twisted armor in his hands mournfully. He would have to make do with it for awhile, yet.

Pinned. Before the Owlbear caves, the wily swashbuckler had goaded him into using his superior strength to force the lid off one of the sarcophagi in a dwarven tomb. The reward? Two mummies. And, of course, the handful of wraiths that came out of the walls by the exit to flank them. Pinned.

The day… (Or was it night? It was impossible to tell in this underground place) …that came before was little better. Tanule found himself pinned between two crushing walls while saving that damn swashbuckler’s life. This place had traps, but really it was just one enormous trap to begin with.

Pinned. It had begun even earlier than that— they had begun by pinning, days before. Their adventure at Char Kulumurn began with the pinning of a dragon in the quarry between their dwarven adversaries’ ballistas and their own swords and spears. It went downhill from there; an uphill fight into the fortress against the dwarves’ carefully crafted defenses and then flanked by Vellraem’s army from behind.

As many days as they had spent within the fortress, clearing whole sections of it while trying to hunt down their dwarven prey, their situation had not improved. The tunnel they entered from had collapsed; a failsafe from intrusion when besieged. Pinned. Even if they could find another way out, Vellraem was a dragon centuries old — she was unlikely to give up the siege after mere days. And of yet, none of them had come up with a solution.

Tanule resolved to change that. “So, how do we get out of here?” he began, then added the most important part of all, “Alive.”

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The King's Court

The dwarf wizard is brought to the king. The party is met by an escort of royal guards and the king’s own high cleric presides over the interrogation. Tanule’s forceful treatment of the wizard wins him no points with the gathering crowd. After a faux-pas where the dragonborn makes it seem like he is trying to coerce the very words from the prisoner’s throat with talons grasping the wizard’s neck, the party is off to a bad start.

The wizard pleads his innocence and explains that the party of trying to sell him a false scepter. He then lays down several more accusations and begs the high cleric to bring a brazier of truth.

Under the white-hot glow, the party instinctively realizes that any lies will cast long shadows. The wizard seems to be unaffected and tells lies freely about the party trying to peddle a false scepter. “That’s bullshit!” Adris exclaims, “He’s lying!”

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The Hagwood Witch

The willow at the center of Lurielle’s grove was enormous. Like opening the way into a tent, the veil-like branches were parted by Leafwind but the elf paused to give the heroes warning.

“Your Wills are fragile, and so you must not look directly upon her, and you must leave when she bids you go. Be warned, enter only if you understand what I have told you.”

The leafy curtain gave way to a shadowy hollow beneath the massive tree, and as the heroes’ eyes adjusted to the dim, they found they could barely make out the silhouette of a woman leaning against the trunk. The silhouette was enough.

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The Heart of the Nearwood

The midnight hour comes and goes with the warlock tied to the tree. Thinking that perhaps the bait is not sweet enough to tempt the unicorn, Tanule slams his scaly fist into Sabellia’s nose. Bloodied and thrashing wildly against her ropes, the infuriated warlock’s display certainly becomes more convincing than before.

Still, hours pass without event and the party’s attention begins to wane. They begin to make preparations for camp and watch assignments, but the wary eyes of one of the elves catches sight of something in the ravine.

“That rock… was it so close, before?”

Suddenly, the ‘rock’ stands and reveals itself to be a mud-caked hobgoblin who has managed to sneak close enough to ambush to party! The tenacious creature lets several arrows fly before retreating back into the ravine.

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An Element(al) of Danger

“And above all, you must not tarry! The Feywild is a dangerous place for mortal creatures after dark, even in the safety of an elf town” -Elder Autumnbough

The old elf’s warning hangs unspoken on the heroes’ minds as they ride in silence down the river. They have survived the Feywild thus far, but their wounds are harsh and their resources low. There are precious few aces and fewer sleeves still to hide them in; it’s unlikely that the heroes will emerge unscathed from another attack from the vicious fey spiders.

Worse, Adrie’s keen eyes keep catching glimpses of something following them. Whatever it is, when the party passes through the sunset waters to exit the Feywild, the glimpses do not stop; this mysterious tracker is not content to merely wander the land of the fey.

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Spelunking for Apples

Having secured the silver bridle of Lillywyn, the party follows the trail that leads to the grove where they can find a golden apple. They come across a canyon that has become cave-like from the thick webbing stretching across its top and venture inside.

The heroes find a sharp drop to the lower part of the canyon within. Whatever the path that might have led safely down was, whether a side-passage now hidden behind walls of webbing, an elaborate tree-root staircase, or perhaps that fantastic staple of the Feywild, teleportation, is lost to the ravages of time.

Prepared for just such a situation, Adris secures his rope around a strong rock and his sister summons a floating lantern to guide them. The party begins the 50-foot climb to the bottom. No sooner do they begin their descent than a trio of spiders sets upon them.

MORE of them?” Tanule mutters, “Damn these phase spiders!”

“These aren’t phase spiders,” remarks Adrie as she catches sight of the creatures’ markings in the light of her conjured lantern, “They’re called, um… cuddle-fuzz spiders.”

Avaris and Tanule nod in slow understanding and Sabellia rolls her eyes. These spiders advancing menacingly are wanting to do anything but cuddle.

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The Wild, Wild Fey(Wild)

“I hate spiders,” Tanule growls as he surveys the temple.

Eggs lie in every alcove, between pews and aside trees, pulsing and quivering between the entrance and the altar. Thick strands of translucent webbing stretch from one side of the room to the other, marring passage in a different way.

Adrie’s eyes survey the room for only a moment before she quietly whispers about the danger of nearing the eggs, “See how they shudder and writhe?” With only take a single false step, she explains, they would be swimming in hatchlings.

“Then damn the eggs, we’ll go right through the middle!” cries Avaris as he charges forward, rapier in hand. The rogue brashly hacks and hews at the stringy obstruction and though he carves his way a few feet into the webbing, with no more than a few blows he finds himself stuck and trapped.

Worse, the spiders cease their busy scurrying and a multitude of eyes are now upon the party. With agitated chittering, they advance upon the web wall.

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Scrolls and Spiders

Their affairs settled, the heroes depart Riverthrough along the northern bank in the wee hours of the morning. When the sun rises, they are ready and make preparations to open the runed scroll case. There is no undead horde, no flash of lightning, and no questions answered; there are only more revealed.

If you have come by this and passed its seal, then I know you are not one of our dark foes. I dare not hope that you are the Prophet himself, fortunate though that such a wonder would be. I can but plead that whoever you are, you are not in service to the dark ones, and beg you, that if you are such cursed, to find the great will from what you now hold in your hands to cast off their chains and defy them this prize.

If by now I have your ear, I bet you to bend it farther still. I have a quest that carries reward enough to cause a djinni to blush, would that you complete it. Our lands have grown accursed since the vile witch Lysinda was vanquished from her towery throne. Steel nor blade would drive back her lingering legacy - and we have fallen deeper into her hell in our desperation to stave it off.

I know that there is but one, desperate spell as can free us from her magic. In Lysinda's reign, there was a Prophet who foretold a Doomspell and wove magic to counter it. She banished the Prophet from our realm when she could not wrest the magic from him with her spells and it is his magic we desperately need to save our realm.

Find this Prophet. Beg him to save us from Lysinda once more, and all the treasures of our kingdom will we lavish upon you for our rescue.
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The Freeing of Riverthrough
The Final Assault on Carvyre Keep

The heroes find little sleep after their first assault on Carvyre Keep. Through their efforts the stormy night previous, they managed to rescue the wolfsbane from the claws of Broxley the Beast and free the alchemists and healers the vile werewolf had kidnapped. The potionmakers work their craft tirelessly to distill a cure for the rampant lycanthropy infecting Riverthrough – with only one night before the full moon, time is a desperate and scarce resource.

By morning, Jamven Windsailor, the deposed leader of the wererat thieves’ guild and unlikely ally to the heroes has raised a mob. Infuriated by the revelation that the savage man who rose to the rank of Captain of the Guard and plunged the town into martial law is the very werewolf he professed to be protecting them from, the townsfolk storm the keep where he has taken his last stand.

Broxley did not spend the night unprepared. The keep has been reinforced by the remainder of his loyal guard – shifter soldiers afflicted with lycanthropy muddied in their bloodlines and an elite hobgoblin Blackfeather, a gift from his dark master in the Monster’s Alliance. In the midst of the assault, the heroes find themselves separated from the mob when the hobgoblin takes position in one of the keep’s towers, pincushioning anyone who dares break cover with its lethally accurate arrows.

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