The Exploration Of Faerun

River Gate, Dagger Falls

The next morning the Shadowdale Four say their goodbyes and promise to return again, because of the great nights sleep and overall comfort they received at Anathar’s Dell.

The sun is approaching its zenith, on the 6th day since departing Shadowdale. The party can now see what they hope must be Dagger Falls, a few miles ahead of them.

As they cross the river they come upon some buildings that are located on the eastern side of the relative safety the wooden walls provide. They estimate there are roughly 20 to 30 buildings in total.
The party approach a sign that proclaims to be the River Gate of Dagger Falls. Stood at attention by the gate are five guards in chainmail armour, clutching halberds with a long sword sheathed at their hip.
Condar notices that the guards are wearing the livery of Zhentil Keep. (A white skull on a dark purple sunburst.)Which he knows is an evil human city to the East where the citizens worship Cyric, the Mad God.

He quietly whispers this information to the others and informs them that they must all be extremely wary from now on as many residents will be spies for The Zhentarim and will sell them out for as little as a copper piece.

The party are stopped by the guards and are asked to state their names and business in Dagger Falls. After they state their names they inform the guards that they are here as they are weary from the road and want nothing more than to rest and eat. Ultyr asks the guards if they know of anyone called Kessla as she is an old acquaintance of hers and would like to visit her if she still stays in Dagger Falls.

Ultyr is told that Kessla does indeed still live here and that she owns The Red Rock Tavern to the North of the town.

“You are to keep you’re weapons sheathed at all times. Unlawful exposure of a weapon will result in arrest.” Explains the guard. He continues, “The Teshford Arms to the south of the river is the only inn open for business, I tell you this because if you are found sleeping on the streets you will be arrested. In fact any conflict of any sort and you will be arrested in the name of Content Not Found: Constable-Tren, tried and executed in less than 24 hours.”

The guards let you pass and tell you to head North through the town until you come upon the Forest Gate, exit there and follow the path and you will reach The Red Rock Tavern.

As the party are walking through Dagger Falls they see it looks like a small, walled town of stone buildings with steep slate roofs. They have heard that steep roofs are necessary as snow loads can be fearsome during winter. Its streets are cobbled in some places and dirt or corduroy elsewhere.
The size of the town leads the Shadowdale Four to believe the population cannot be more than 1000 in total.
The citizens all have wary looks upon their faces. They also seem fearful and do not waste their time with small talk when buying their goods. It is as though they want to get off the street and back in doors before attracting the attention of the guards.

As they head further onward, they exit the gate the guards mention and follow the path leading North. It is not long before they come upon what they think must be the tavern. It is a ramshackle building, bigger than the surrounding houses. It is made entirely of poorly maintained wood, giving it the impression of a dismal, dull, drab, dreary dive.
A sign has fallen from its hangings but it is to worn to read. They are confident that this must be the place the guards described, yet they are beginning to wonder what sort of person Adoven was to have ever been here.
They push open the door and are immediately struck by how busy it is given the time of day.

There are maybe 15 people currently inside, mostly males but there are a few women. They all seem to be mingling freely with each other as though each one is a personal friend of the other.

The tavern itself is as they first thought, tables are broken, chairs are shoddily repaired, the tankards all look dull and dirty and they highly doubt any wine glasses are served here.

As the door slams closed behind the party, the atmosphere in the room instantly changes. The four all notice more than a few stares being directed their way and the noise has dramatically decreased. They get the impression that their party is the new hot topic of conversation but are not invited to partake in it.

They continue onwards towards the bar and the three male party members are suddenly taken aback when they glimpse the half-elf behind the bar.

Stood washing empty tankards and bowls is the most beautiful woman they have seen in many a year. She has the features of both her human and elven parents. She has striking blonde hair which as it falls past her shoulders begins to twist into slight, wispy curls. She stands 5ft 9inches and is of a slender build. She is currently wearing a red apron over a thin white chemise and (A loose shirt which covers the body from the neck to the thigh or mid-calf. It may have long or short sleeves.) a pair of black hose which are tucked into her black boots.

“Hi” she says while smiling warmly. “My name is Kessla and this is The Red Rock Tavern. What can I get you?”

After the party mentions Adoven a flash of anger quickly crosses her face. She calls over a human male who is collecting tankards and tells him to mind the bar while she has to deal with some unfinished business.

“If you have word of Adoven then follow me through to the back room” she instructs.
The party all follow her through and are barely through the doorway when she turns on them,

“What do you know of that foul, abhorrent, no good waste of a man?” she spits venomously.

The party inform her that Adoven is dead and they see her gasp and begin to shake. She looks heartbroken and sobs quietly for a few minutes. When she composes herself she asks the party a few questions. She wants to know how they know that Adoven is dead, why they have come to her and what is their relationship with Adoven.

Ultyr Ravenwing takes the lead and tells Kessla everything that has come to pass since finding Adoven dead. She asks Kessla what she knows of Border Forest and does she know why Adoven would require their help.

She informs the party that all wildlife in and around Dagger Falls started vanishing two weeks ago. Any cattle, horses, poultry, cats, dog’s even rabbits that were not fenced in, locked up or tied up bolted to only the Gods know where! Those that couldn’t escape began to act crazy. They were in hysterics, attacking anyone that came near. In the end they had to be killed with bows just to stop them injuring themselves or anyone else.

“The problem we have now” she says “is that we are running severely low on any form of meat. That in turn has pushed the price up of everything else, as you have seen.”
“About ten days ago a party of four brave adventurers decided to head into Border Forest to see if that was where the animals ran to. “
“A week later they still hadn’t returned” she explains grimly. “Three days ago now, a farmer was out in the woods looking for his lost cattle himself when he saw it…..”

She pauses for a few seconds before continuing.

“Roughly three days walk in a North Westerly direction into the forest at the top of one of the tallest trees was what near frightened the poor farmer to death. Hanging from one of the highest branches on the tree was the body of one of the four adventurers. The rogue I believe” she says.
“Anyway the man climbed up the tree to cut him down. It was when he was up there he came to the conclusion that the rogue did this to himself.”

The party ask how he came to this conclusion.

“Because” she explains, "just next to where the rope was tied to the branch, etched into the tree where the words,”

I cannot outrun them. They have already killed the others. I won’t let them get me.

“The scary part of it is,” she whispers “is that the only thing the man had on him except his clothes was his sword. And that is too big a blade for him to have used it to scribe the message into the bark.”
“He was found with tree bark under his fingernails.”

After much deliberation the Shadowdale Four decide that this must be investigated and that they will head into Border Forest right away and attempt to figure out what the cause of disturbance is.

Upon stating this Kessla gives the party the sword that was found on the dead rogue.

“Although the last wielder died he managed to survive longer than his unfortunate fellows and maybe this is the reason why”, she says.

She wishes the party luck and then heads back into the taproom of the tavern.

Ultyr inspects the sword and it looks of very good quality, it is a duller colour than ones she has wielded before but this feels more substantial in her grasp.

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Discovering Anathar's Dell

The Shadowdale Four arise feeling quite energetic and impatient to begin the Northward journey and deduce what evil is harassing the nature of Border Forest. As they exit the shrine they see that the sun is shining and that the snow from the blizzard 2 days past has now nearly completely melted and all share a smile at their good fortune.

They set off following the trail which meanders northwards over knee high grasslands. The skies are blue with pure white, slightly translucent, wispy clouds. There is a faint breeze at their neck which combined with the strange temperature for Hammer is quite soothing.

Around mid-afternoon on the first day of travel Condar catches sight of, thick black smoke rising from behind small hills about 2-3 hours walk to the North West off the trail.

The four decide to investigate in case anyone is in need of help. As they approach the sun is beginning to set and they all begin to feel uneasy. Hairs on the back of their necks all seem to stand on end. Borloff states that he is beginning to think that they are being followed.

Borloff whispers for the others to keep walking ahead slowly but make no noise while he attempts to use his acute hearing to detect what it is following them.

They now know for certain that they are being stalked, but not by what.

They continue on warily and arrive at the top of a hill looking down into a valley and can now see where the smoke came from.

In the valley is what looks like a small human settlement. There is a farm, a field of pigs and poultry, a barn, some buildings that look like pantry’s and there are a ring of cottages which surround an orchard. In the centre of the village, there is a building bigger than the rest. It looks like it is a hall of some sort and just to the north of this there are the remains of a stone tower.

It is noticed eventually by all, but Merthan is the first to spot that as well as the humans working the fields and orchard, there are an equal amount of half-elves also labouring away.

Just as they take in the sights they witness a pair of middle aged villagers walking casually towards them. One is half-elven and female and the other is a human male. They do not appear armed or armoured and both have a smile upon their warm faces.
“Greetings adventurers, I am Fiona Danthor and this is my brother Josh Danthor and a warm welcome we extend to you from all of us at Anathar’s Dell.”

The PC’s introduce themselves;

“Pardon me for asking” Josh inquires “but have you stayed here before? As I don’t seem to recall your faces, which is something I am usually rather good at.”
Josh worries he’s getting old and senile” Fiona explains.

The Shadowdale Four confirm that they have never stayed here before and until now where oblivious to its existence.

“Well [[Anathar’s Dell]] is our home and it is what we call this little settlement,” states Josh. “We have cosy and comfortable lodging if you require, at a reasonable price of 2 GP per head, per night.”

“This cost includes private guesthouses with a hand-pump filled bath large enough to share with a lounging partner” after saying this Fiona glances at Ultyr and then the three male members of the party.. “All drinks, meals, stabling and even bedside care if required is also included.”

After a few minutes of private deliberation the party decide to agree and withdraws the required coins from their belt pouches.

Josh accepts the coins and hands over the keys to 4 guesthouses by the orchard. “Food and drink can be had at all hours by wandering over to Anathar’s Hall and feel free to help yourself to the delicious apples in the orchard.”

The party are then shown their guesthouses, it is then when Borloff asks if they know anything about what creatures inhabit this area as they thought they were being stalked on their way here.

The Danthor family share a small smile and Fiona say’s “not to worry they were just the Fang’s, which were making sure you weren’t here to cause us harm.”

At that the Shadowdale Four are left to rest.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully, the party all head to Anathar’s Hall to get some food and Condar finds out some of the history of this place before they turn in and get a good nights rest.

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Shock

After the party recover from the shock of finding out, that the dead Half-elf is in fact Condar’s uncle Adoven, they all agree that they will try and find out what the danger to Border Forest is and if it is within their means they will attempt to vanquish it.

After studying the map the PC’s received from Lhaeo during the last adventure they soon realise that Border Forest & Dagger Falls is to the north. They decide to travel West along the Northride and then turn North and follow Tethyamar Trail.
They deduce it will take 1 day to reach the junction and the Shrine of the four Gods. It will then take a further five days of travelling to reach Dagger Falls or six if they head straight for Border Forest.

Later that afternoon after gathering supplies and saying their goodbyes they set off along the Northride. As they progress on foot they see the usual farmers, labourers and peasants going about their business but encounter no one of any importance.

It is beginning to get dark when they come to the start of Tethyamar Trail and the shrine to the four gods. It doesnt take much discussion for them all to agree that it would be best if they rest here again for the night and set off in the morning.

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Finding Adoven

The party are rather intrigued as to what Condar’s long lost uncle Adoven could want so they decide that the best place to wait for him is back at The Old Skull Inn.

After two days of hanging around with no sign of Adoven the companions, (especially Condar) begin to get a bit restless and even slightly worried as according to the letter Adoven should have arrived by now.

With still no sign, the PC’s decide that they are going to split up and try and find any information on Condar’s long awaited Uncle. Merthan stays at The Old Skull Inn in case Adoven turns up there, while the other three ask around town to see if anyone has any information.

It is while Merthan is waiting that he decides to read through the diary, which belonged to the dead Half-Elf they stumbled upon a few weeks back. He is bored hanging around, doing nothing and wants to try and find any clue as to who the poor soul was, so he can send the diary home to his family.

He is unsurprised, that the diary contains mundane details, of random travels around the Dalelands. There are names of different towns and villages but they are random in order. One page it describes Testledale to the South and the next is Daggerdale to the North. It doesnt seem to be written in order of any journey taken but rather just a collection of information. It is surprising though, that no names are mentioned in the book whatsoever.

Merthan is just about to close the book when his peripheral vision spots a dim glow coming from one of the pages. He quickly flips through the book to the page he believes gave off the dim glow, but alas its just another page about mundane travels. He sits down at the desk in his room and begins to concentrate, he knows there is something not quite right but cannot place his finger on it.

He then decides to cast a spell called Detect Magic, which will make all magical things glow and sure enough, the page gives off a very faint glow. He begins to realise that there is a form of alteration magic at work here and he suspects that the spell Secret Page may have been cast.

It is at that moment, that the other party members arrive back at the inn looking as though they have had no luck with the search for Adoven.

Excitedly Merthan explains what he has found in the diary, and goes on to explain that Secret Page is a spell Wizards use to hide the exact text on a page and it is only visible when the command word is spoken.

Borloff then asks what the command word is, which leaves Merthan dumbfounded. “I uh, dont, exactly know yet….” replies Merthan.
“So, its of no use to anybody then is, it” says Borloff gruffly.
“I suppose not,” replies Merthan, feeling all that excitement deflate out of him. “The command word or at least some clue must be here with the rest of his belongings though”.

Ultyr Ravenwing reaches into her backpack and pulls out what looks to be a bookmark.
“Here you are Merthan, maybe this could help.” she says as she hands across the bookmark. “I found it in that diary a few days ago and saw there was a riddle scribbled on it and have been trying to figure it out ever since. No such luck im afraid, maybe you can figure it out.”

Merthan looks at the scribbled riddle which reads;
I am a Friend but not an Ally,
I would never Defend but will always Attack.

I will Mend but never Tear,
I will not Break, I am always Intact.

I’m a victim of Love rather than Hate,
I’m not an Elder but still a Youth.

He cant figure it out and passes it to Condar and Borloff hoping they may be able to figure it out. After a few seconds Condar chuckles and says “family” or “Arael’Sha in elvish”.

As soon as he says it , the words and letters on the page begin to change. They move and writhe across the page like snakes and after a few seconds they begin to form new words.

The new page reads;

Ah it was glorious to see Fin and his family again! I can’t believe it has been 30 years since last I laid eyes upon them! Still I have never glimpsed young Condar, as if I remember correctly he didn’t live with Fin back then. A pity seeing them was under such dark circumstances, I only hope my brother is not exaggerating about how brave and honourable Condar and his fellow companions are, as the threat to the nature of Border Forest must not be taken lightly! It is essential the evil is vanquished before it spreads to Dagger Falls!

I can only imagine what would happen should it manage to spread and join with the evil Zhentarim and their puppet Constable Tren of Dagger Falls! If they join forces then I fear it could be the end for Shadowdale and then if she falls, the rest of the Dales would surely follow suit!

THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN!!!!!!

Luckily I have my trusty weapons… they may be the edge we need to win. Anyway I should be in Shadowdale in 2 days and then I can try and gather the young hero’s and ask them to help attempt to stop this evil from spreading before it becomes too late. If they refuse…. well I will just have to swallow my pride and ask Kessla for help. If she has forgiven me…..

Signed,

Adoven.

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First Day Of Hammer 1368 DR

The companions all awaken in their separate rooms at The Old Skull Inn at roughly the same time feeling bitterly cold and hearing a shrill blizzard raging outside. When they look out the window they see nothing but pure white snow blanketing everything from trees to buildings and even a couple of early risers who are struggling in the ankle deep snow.

It is only then that they remember that today is the First-day of Hammer and suddenly the reason for their pounding headache and queasy stomach comes flooding back! Today is the start of what is commonly known as Deepwinter. It is now 1368 by Dale Reckoning and officially titled The Year of the Banner. Last night was the end of The Year of the Shield and they all drank so much that they seem to have forgotten the final night of that year!

After they find the courage to crawl out of bed, they all bathe (even Borloff!) After staying here for over 10 nights in total, they still find it quite remarkable that instead of the usual time and energy required to draw enough water for a bath, then hassle of having to heat it, all they have to do in this fine establishment, is pick up what looks like a twig, point it toward the bath and say the command word Caeet. (pronounced Ka-eet)

After they bathe, they are feeling more healthy and decide to head down to the taproom for Turko Breem’s delicious breakfast. A table is covered in a fine selection of white and brown breads, mixed cheeses, hams and even a selection of imported fruits from far off exotic lands. For drink there is cow and goat’s milk, and the more popular small beer. (Contains very little alcohol, safer to drink than non purified water for commoners and peasants).
Just as they finish eating, the tavern door opens and in walks a human female standing just over 5ft tall and of a lithe build. She is dressed up in a bright, long sleeved robe of yellow, red and pink. She also has a headpiece which is sat towards the back of her head in an attempt to emulate a rising sun.

Condar knows this to be a sunrobe, the priestly vestments of Lathander the Morninglord.

She strides toward their table and says “Good morning adventurers, I am Abbey the Dawnbringer a follower of Lathander the Morninglord. I apologise for the intrusion but” and she gazes towards Condar. “A letter has arrived for you Condar, follower of Corellon Larethian. It is being held for you at Morningdawn Hall by Dawngreeter Rewel Thunderstorm. If possible he requests that you attend him at noon after he has finished assisting the High Dawnlord in the daily prayers to the Morninglord.”

She informs the PC’s that the temple can be found to the west just before they reach Hangman’s Knoll. After that she leaves as she knows nothing more.

The party decide that they will all go to collect the letter as although they have been in Shadowdale for a while none of them except Condar have visited Morningdawn Hall and it is meant to be a majestic sight to behold.

When the Shadowdale Four come within sight of the temple they set eyes on what people call the most visually stunning building in all of Shadowdale. It rises from the surrounding countryside in the shape of a phoenix, facing west. Its wings become two great turrets which command a view of the surrounding area. From their time in Shadowdale they have overheard that the head and neck of the great bird contain the sleeping rooms and offices. It is noticed by Ultyr that this is true because as they get closer she observes that the entire back of the bird is translucent. It is made from rose-tinted glass, which if the tales are true, is magically strengthened and is allegedly unbreakable.

As the party arrive at the door to the temple they are welcomed by a man they recognise from their nights spent frequenting the taproom at the tavern. He is they are aware, a good faithful Lathanderian who is well liked by the community.

“Greetings follower of Corellon Larethian, First of the Seldarine and friends. I am Dawngreeter Rewel Thunderstorm, I believe you have been made aware that I hold a missive which is addressed to you Condar?”

He then produces the letter and informs the PC’s that it arrived at the break of dawn with a passing caravan.

He excuses himself after handing over the letter and offers his help if it may be required in the future.

The letter is sealed with a wax stamp which Condar recognises as being his Uncle Finlintwar’s. It reads;

Dear Condar,

It is as you have no doubt already guessed your Uncle Finlintwar. I hope this missive finds you and your companions in good health and good spirits. All is well here with your Aunt and cousin just the usual hustle and bustle of a wheelwright’s life. How goes it preaching the word of the Protector? Your departure has seemed to have spurred Alandril into looking towards his future and I fear he may soon take up the sword and wander the plains rather than pick up the tools of a wheelwright.

Anyway, the main reason for this correspondence is that my brother Adoven who went missing over 30 years ago who we feared dead has reappeared!

Your Aunt nearly died of shock when she opened the door to him! Oh, its great news and you will love him, he is just like you but alas it’s all still a bit mysterious.

He only stayed the one night and left before we arose in the morning. He kept repeating that he needed to find you as he needed you and your friends help. Unfortunately with what, he did not disclose.

I instructed him that he could find you in Shadowdale, so he should be arriving any day now. (But with this Dalelands post he probably arrived a month ago! Hahahaha) you need not worry about recognising him as he will know you before he even lays eyes on you due to his pesky mind reading! I will leave that for him to explain. But be warned DO NOT be thinking any dirty thoughts in his company as he doesnt take to kindly to that! Haha

We are all looking forward to hearing back from you in any case, take care.

Your Uncle Finlintwar

P.S Tell your Uncle I want my jug of dwarven spirits and horse back!!!!!!

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Unfortunate Endings

After a week of fruitlessly searching the Spiderhaunt Woods for Randall Morn, the rightful leader of Daggerdale, the party give up all hope of finding him at all, never mind alive. So they return to Shadowdale with the Sword of the Dales to inform Lhaeo of their findings.

They knock on the door and suddenly hear ear-splitting banging and crashing followed by a great deal of oaths and mutterings. After a minute Lhaeo opens the door appearing somewhat bedraggled and welcomes the party in.

As they enter they are immediately taken aback by how dirty and un-kept the circular room is. They all guess that an almighty explosion must have been the cause of the ear-splitting banging as every flat surface in the room is covered with paper.

Books, scrolls, notes, memos, little yellow sticky things, atlases, tomes, librams, charts, sketches and all manner of other paperwork completely obscures anything resembling furniture. The only thing visible apart from paper is a spiral staircase in the middle of the room which seems to lead up and down.

Lhaeo says “I assume by the grim looks you are all wearing that you did not fare well?”

The party then explain everything that has befallen them thus far.

Lhaeo thanks the companions for their help and for risking their lives and asks if they would leave the sword with him and he will examine it for any clue to the location of Daggerdales rightful leader.

Just as the pc’s are leaving he asks them if he happens across any further information then could he count on their assisstance, to which the Shadowdale Four pledge their help if it is required.

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Watchful Eyes

Beyond the doors is a 30-foot corridor that curves to the North and ends in a hall. The party head on with Borloff and Ultyr leading with weapons drawn.

The hall opens into a vast chamber that is 100 feet long and 50 feet wide. In the centre of the room lies an ornate coffin with brass trim. The lid has been tossed to the floor and lies broken some distance away.

As soon as the pc’s eyes adjust to the light, they see a remarkable sight: a figure hovering over the coffin. The form, a human clad in gray robes and suspended horizontally above the casket, makes no movement and seems to be sleeping. Gray hair hangs down from his head, and his skin seems old and leathery. A faint blue light radiates from the coffin.

Overhead, globes of white radiance shine down, giving the centre of the room an eerie theatrical appearance.

The Shadowdale Four cautiously approach the coffin and attempt to talk with the figure floating over the coffin.

There is no response from the figure and when they try to reach out and touch him their hands pass harmlessly through him. Merthan announces that this must be an illusion. Also according to the history of this place and what Lhaeo told them, then this must be Shraevyn, the maker of this tomb.

As they look into the casket they see the interior is filled with tattered rags. Lying upon them, hilt toward the door, you see the origin of the odd blue glow: a beautiful long sword. A piece of paper is tied around the hilt with what appears to be string.

Suddenly they hear the sickening screech of stone grating against stone, and skeletons burst through the wall into this vast chamber. Eight skeletons (two of which stand above the others) rush toward the party, weapons raised. Four other humanoid creatures lumber slowly forward, their human faces twisted in agony. Judging by their tattered appearance, you quickly deduce that they were probably companions of Randall Morn.

Ultyr Ravenwing grasps the sword in the casket and screams a battle cry before charging headlong into the undead.

Merthan starts to cast burning hands as he knows undead are particularly vulnerable to fire.

Condar draws upon the power of his God by chanting and grasping his holy symbol. He is attempting to stop the undead from coming any closer by the power of his faith to Corellon Larethian.

Borloff rushes into battle alongside Ultyr as his pride will not allow a woman, a human one at that to destroy more of these skeleton than him!

The battle sways back and forth with the might of the Verbeeg Giant Skeletons seemingly too much for the Shadowdale Four. It isnt until Condar manages to turn the zombies and turn his attention back to wiping up the weaker skeletons that the party finally manage to outnumber the Monster Skeletons and eventually destroy them.

After the battle the party are on deaths door and if not for drinking the last of their healing potions that Lhaeo gave them then they would not have survived.

Upon feeling health radiating back around their bodies Ultyr then glances down at the note tied to the handle of the sword she picked up. It reads;
Seek me in Spiderhaunt.
The survival of Daggerdale depends on the return of this blade to my hand.
Send word to my sister, Silver Morn, of whatever should befall me.
– R . M .

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True Calling

After Borloff Ironhand has drank another potion of healing to help heal his badly burned leg the party the walk towards the main door. After completing a riddle which the answer is party unity the Shadowdale Four enter the tomb.

As their eyes become accustomed to the dim light of the chamber, they see a 60-foot-long corridor with a 10-foot-high arched ceiling that leads into darkness beyond the open door. The hallway is oddly illuminated, and when they walk through the door they realize that the source of the light is coming from reddish, glowing balls that seem to be suspended in mid-air above their heads.

Their eyes have barely adjusted to the low light in the room when they notice that the walls are lined with mosaic tiles that create two distinct scenes, one on either wall.

Unlike the rock-strewn landing outside, the interior of the tomb appears well preserved. The only dust they see comes from their own boots, and the polished stone floor appears to lead into a larger chamber just beyond the reach of the light.

The party walk onward in single file following in exactly the same steps as Borloff who is busy searching for more traps.

As the party get further along the corridor, globes of red light activate above their heads, bathing everything in a warm red glow. This glow reveals a large chamber ahead of them.

In the centre of the chamber, there is a huge silver circle, 30 feet in diameter, that has been inlaid into the stone floor. A large sun symbol is set into its center. Ten round, shallow depressions encircle the outer edge of the symbol, and each depression nearly touches a ray from the sun.

Ten small alcoves are set into the walls, five each on the north and south sides of the chamber. A glint in the darkness of each alcove catches your eye. When they move closer to inspect the alcoves, they find a golden three foot tall pot in each one.

A message appears to have been melted into the silver door to the west. In common, it reads: “Some decisions are more lasting than others.

Upon investigation of the ten pots the party quickly deduce that these must be put in the correct order in the shallow depressions on the outer edge of the symbol. The problem is Merthan explains, what are they and in what order?!

After examining each pot they quickly come to realise that this is another riddle as each pot is identical but each one acts in a complete different way upon approaching it. Some examples include;

The golden vessel in this alcove seems to glow brighter as you approach. Just as you reach inside to pick it up, it disappears.

The surface of the jar shimmers for a moment, then reveals the area outside the tomb. The tall statues still stand silent, gazing across the broken shale landscape. The glimmering silver door remains open.

A carving of a skeletal humanoid appears on the surface of the jar. A cracked helm and rusty sword are all that the ghoulish figure carries. It makes no movement, but its ghastly appearance is bone-chilling. The face of the skeleton on the canister appears almost too real for comfort.

The lid of this jar is missing. When you peer inside, you see moist, dark dirt that fills the container about one-third of the way.

Condar inserts his hand into this jar and yelps in pain, instantly withdrawing his hand! As he reached near the bottom of the jar his hand got burnt. Some how there is a fire burning in the bottom of this jar.

It is Merthan the wizard who solves this riddle due to Condar burning his hand. He explains that all elements exist in the jar, there is fire, earth, water and due to the jar only being filled one third of the way then the remaining two thirds are filled with the last element…air.

After he figured out what that jar was signifying he quickly deduced that each pot represents a school of specialization that a wizard could follow and that they must be placed on the depressions across from their opposite school.

When Ultyr places the last jar in the correct place a bright silver light illuminates the sunburst symbol, and the metal doors to the west creak and groan as they swing inward. The hinges, coated with centuries of rust, shriek through the complex as the heavy doors finally slam against the wall with a hollow “thud.”

”

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Day 3; Giants Craw

The party set off and are all fully recovered from their skirmish with the Stirges the previous night.

It is mid afternoon when they come across an uninhabited valley which they realize must be the location of the long lost tomb they are looking for from the description Lhaeo gave them.

If a trail once led down into this valley, it has long since vanished. Scrub pines and large deposits of loose, black shale are all that they can see. Still, they determine that traversing the valley should prove to be little trouble. The slope is gentle, the stopping places are many, and the bottom of the valley is only about a hundred feet below.

It’s no wonder that no one found the tomb before now, it would never have been discovered had it not been for a landslide that revealed the main entrance. From the looks of the deep mounds of fresh shale and broken trees that litter the escarpment, they determine that the disaster was fairly recent.

As Merthan squints against the sun, he spots a hole— which must be the tomb entrance —at the top of the pile.

Just as the party prepare to head downward, a band of riders breaks through a stand of trees a few hundred feet away.

A human dressed in Zhentil Keep colors, abruptly reins in his horse as the other five riders behind him nearly run over each other in their haste to stop. It’s obvious from their shock and surprise that they didn’t expect the party to be here. The riders hold still and stare at the group in bemusement.

Two unarmoured men in robes, riding in the back of what looks like a Zhent patrol, eye the companions suspiciously. Then one of them appears to goad the leader on with some muttered commands. That rouses the patrol, and the other robed figure screams, don’t just look at them, kill them!” as he smacks his staff across the lead horse’s rump. As the first four armored riders charge, the robed men disappear from atop their horses.

Merthan unleashes his magic missile which strikes the lead rider in the chest. He grimaces in pain but charges on.

After the initial charge the four Zhentil Keep soldiers dismount and attack on foot.

The battle lasts nearly 20 minutes and it is only half way through the fight when the patrol realize that the Mages have abandoned them. This however, is no concern for them, as they know that death at the hands of the Shadowdale Four is a far better fate than what their Zhentarim masters would have in store.

After the party have defeated the patrol Condar casts cure light wounds on Ultyr and gives both Borloff and Merthan potions of healing as they took some heavy damage during the fight.

The party decide to search the dead soldiers and during the search they find a ring, 4 x chain mail, 2 x long sword, 1 light crossbow and 2 daggers. Each soldier carried a sack containing 3 x Iron Rations and 50gp

One set of chain mail looks of very good quality so they take this set, the ring, gold and weapons and then head on into the tomb.

The party head towards the steps which lead to the tomb. They notice the steps are all chipped and broken in spots, no doubt the result of the avalanches that buried and, more recently, uncovered the entrance to the crypt.

Two 20-foot-tall stone statues flank both sides of a large rectangular landing at the top of the stairs. The statue on the left appears to have taken an assault from the valley, as one arm has broken off and now lies half-buried in the shale.

In between the two statues imbedded into the mountain itself, there is a huge metal door. Sunlight reflects off it in bursts and beams, forcing the four to shade their eyes as when they look upon it.

Borloff is the first up the stairs, pointedly looking for any traps or other nasty surprises. Being a dwarf, he knows instinctually that although this tomb has had a rough time of it with avalanches and land slides it is structurally sound. During his search, he discovers the outline of a small door on the back of the left statue.

Not waiting for the others, Borloff attempts to open the door, thinking, that there may be some treasure hidden there. He mutters to himself greedily,
“if I can get me hands on that treasure unnoticed then thats more drink for me belly, tobacco for me pleasure, and whores for me bed! A dwarf always needs some nice young filly to keep him warm at night, har, har, har.”

Once he has just finished muttering he attempts to lift the small latch on the door and it opens surprisingly easy. As soon as the door begins moving, there is audible click. Before Borloff has time to react to this, there is a powerful explosion. Gouts of flame erupt in a fiery ball shaped mass!

He manages to duck and roll out of the way but not before feeling the heat of the explosion burning his right leg and back.

The other party members come rushing up to the statue after hearing the explosion to check on their friend. Upon reaching the statue they see a half burned, cursing dwarf hopping up and down pouring his waterskin over his badly burned leg. Merthan pokes his head around the now open door to see a blank wall with an inlaid brass plaque that reads;

“Hope you enjoyed the show!”

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Attack Of The Stirges

A few leagues further on the trail and the Shadowdale Four are slowly relaxing as there doesnt seem to be anyone or anything following them.

A low roar of water becomes louder as they near a stone bridge. After conferring with each other and their map the four correctly deduce that this is the mighty Ashaba river, churning about 50 feet below the bridge and making its way south.

The rush of water below the bridge is dizzying. A weather-worn sign proclaims this to be Serpentsbridge.

The Shadowdale Four decide that this is as good a place as any and stop for midday meal. Upon finishing they cross the bridge without incident and continue on.

They are making steady progress Northward guided by the mighty Desertmouth Mountains to the West. Later that evening when they are walking through barren plains they confer and decide to stop and camp. A mile or so ahead lies a small stand of trees.

Just as they are setting up camp they notice birds flying above and around the copse of trees ahead. As they watch, a small flock breaks away and soars toward the party. As the distance between them diminishes, they suddenly realize that these are not ordinary birds. Borloff gasps as the other three begin to make out the creatures’ batlike wings and rusty red colorings. Long beaks and clawed legs jut from their slim bodies. Borloff screams Stirges!

ATTACK!

With that the Shadowdale Four draw their weapons and quickly get into their fighting diamond formation.

Eight Stirges in all attack the party with their long beaks and clawed legs. Condar is the first to be bitten and grunts in pain, he thumps the Stirge in the head breaking off the blood drain it was attempting and swings at the another with his mace narrowly missing its wing.

Ultyr has three attacking her as they see a woman as the weakest of the party. Big mistake she thinks, as she immediately takes one out with one swing of her sword.

Borloff goes into a roll just as two dive bomb him, thrusting upward with his dagger and expertly aims the point straight through the eye and up into the brain of one of the foe.

Merthan starts to chant in an arcane language and move his fingers in a well practiced spell. Just as the Stirge is about to swoop down and attack, Merthan unleashes a missile of magical energy which unerringly strikes its target dead centre and blasts him backwards from the force instantly killing it.

The struggle continues for a little while longer but the party eventually come out on top, although not without wounds to show for it. Borloff and Condar both sustained attacks from the Stirges which drained some of their blood and are feeling rather weak.

The party then decide they will head off the trail and pass around the trees before setting up camp.

The rest of the night passes uneventfully and the Shadowdale Four get some much needed rest and recuperation.

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