Aelus Judgement

Chapter Three: The misslead
Breadcrumbs, Discovery, Hard ends.

Arriving at the Waterfall was easy, but what they found there was rather unsuspected, hiding in the bushes near the river they could see the terrain in front of the waterfall, filled with Torog´s Chainers… not cultist, to their surprise. Be that as it was, they decided there was no other possible outcome from this that to end the doings of this Drak Guild right there. And so the fight began.

The party made use of the knowledge from the previous encounters to take and advantage over the enemy tactics, Dincu, started eliminating slashers before they could cross the river and get to them, Domenico and Mikael held the ones that manage to come close while Krom killed the ones that came from the back… then Ika´s magic made an entrance, starting a fire that cost great number to the enemy lines, making their way up river, the deaths amongst the enemy lines kept rising and rising, once in front of the Waterfall, recognizing it as the point of no return they made their way inside.

The shadows filled the room and a sour putrid smell made breathing difficult, silent steps echoed around the main cave while the movement from the few torched places there was distracting, this inspection of the room was interrupted, as many figures started to dart from the darkness, making sounds between laughs and cries of pain… searching to kill on sight, when the group was caught up in disadvantageous numbers, the fight turned… to the worst.

From the back of the cave, a Blood Mage wearing crimson and golden robes entered, escorted by to great figures wearing a reddish plate armor, this men looked more formidable that the average they had fought, there was no doubt they where climbing on the command ladder, as the fight progressed, the blood mage and ika started to duel, while Mikael and Krom took on the plated bodyguards, and many of the other where killed by Domenico.

Then a deafening scream came from the back… resounding from all walls and then dying slowly… A man dragging a chain whip on each hand slowly approached the battle, in a swift move, attacking each with a chain whip, he bloodied Mikael and gravely injured Domenico, Ika quickly searched his spellbook and manage to find some help, reciting arcane words in elvish language, a bright light pushed this figure to the back, “Boss!” the other screamed, enraged by the attack… Ika kept “the boss” from approaching the party while Krom finished the blood mage, then took on the other 2 guards with help from Domenico and Dincu.

Ika focused all his attention on “The boss” but the wounds he infringed in him seemed to revitalize him, rushing in the battle at last, he began to furiously attack Domenico, and Ika… until he fell to the floor… Having killed the others enemies there, Krom turned his bloody axe to the boss; but the more they hurt him the more powerful he seemed, relentlessly attacking them all with swift slashes from the chains… Nevertheless, in the end, a piercing arrow from Dincu´s bow put and end to hes terrifying might.

When the fight was over, Mikael rushed to his comrades, ignoring his own wounds and pain, triying to stabilized and heal the others first… once done, searching the fallen belongings they found a letter, addressed to the Chainers leader Wilbur “the boss”:

My spy in Winterhaven as reported about a troublesome group acting on the area, she will be sending them to you soon so you can eliminate them, they should not put a mayor threat, either way is of little importance, for I´m close to completely fade the seal… soon all shalt be consumed in darkness and ashes, while your men and you bathe in the coin i´ll provide for your work…

Now they had prove, now they had provided a great service getting rid of the Chainers… rushing back to town, they went to see Valthurn about the Keep. at first there was no answer to the door, a while later a terrified figure emerged from it.

We need to talk, but we are not safe in here, lets meet in the Lords secret chamber on the inn…

Once there, Valthurn starting going around some papers and scrolls of ancient look

" I apologize to you for i was terribly mistaken, my books and history scrolls confirm it, indeed the keep was built by the old Empire of Nerath, but it was not to protect the town from marauders from the north… It was built on something darker, to seal it… What exactly “It” is I do not know, the scribes make no explicit mention of what it is, so either they do not know, or do not dare to talk about it… every single reference i search, just comes back to the same symbol " Says Valthurn while showing the party the same symbol they have being tracking since they first found it in Douven´s room.

“I thought the history ended there, boy was i mistaken… Little after the fall of Nerath, the keep was abandoned and left to decay, so goes the legend, the keep commander Sir Keegan Brightfang, set in motion the events that would lead to such outcome.

May be it had to do with what the keep hides beneath, or may be Sir Keegan was a monster manipulated by demons we might never understand, in any case, at stroke of midnight on that fateful night, Sir Keegan went insane, and started slaughtering systematically each resident of the Keep. His own wife and son where the first ones to fall to his blade, then his trusted advisors, and finally many of the soldiers under his command. Sir Keegan was much too powerful for any soldier to defeat, nevertheless, in time, the troops retaliated with a united defense and manage to drive him to the underground tunnels of the keep and kill him.

Back then, the Keep was famous for being one of the last bastions of the Empire, but after the slaughter, and without a clear line of command to keep it in motion, it was abandoned, then feared for a while and in the end, forgotten. Some years back an earthquake collapsed the upper floors and turned the place to gravel and stone. Despite the many rumors about the riches from the Empire of Nerath the keeps hides, few have dared to explore its ruins trough the ages. There are folklore tales that say the ghost of Sir Keegan still roams the underground passageways, weeping in sadness for the tragedy of his life and keeping with him the secret of how to contain whatever the keep hides.

Again, what that symbol means i do not now, but the works of a dark cult points to no good, so i will not rest until i have found an answer, take this note, bring it to Lord Pardright along with the Letter you found on the Chainer´s base, this should be proof enough of whats going on and ensure his cooperation, meet me back at my tower later, we must make haste"

Following Valthurns instructions, they went to see Lord Pardraigh, showing him the evidence they have gathered.

“This borders on the unbelievable, but the evidence is overwhelming, know now you have my fullest support (writing a note on a parchment with the royal symbol) take this to the stores in town, it should cover your expenses within reason, i cant muster any man force to accompany you, but you have proven to be quite capable, i hope for the good of the town and all of us you measure to this task…”

They went back to Valthurn´s tower, but this time, there was no response… the door was both magically sealed and had some good steel reinforced locks, so they went for a unconventional entrance, Krom climbed to the first floor and broke the sealed window, then made his way back while Ika handled the Arcane locks, he unlocked the rest. Going up the tower, they discovered the first 2 floors abandoned and dark, the silence did not procure anything good when they made their way to the third and fourth floors, the first being Valthurn chambers and the later a great library… another magical lock was on their way to reach the last floor, a lock that Ika handled easily now acquainted with the security of the tower, opening the door was, disturbing…

The only font of light was a candle across the room in Valturn´s desk, there laying Valthurn´s body, with 2 daggers firmly encrusted on his back, the silence on the room was deafening, so their steps getting closer to the body were felt by everyone, the blood was fresh, tainting the robes and books beneath Valthurn, he held a torn parchment on his hand, clearly ripped from his corpse.

They came closer, trying to find out any clue left behind, it was then that Ika detected some arcane energy left in the room, using a simple spell to reveal it, bright blue light letters showed themselves across the wall in front of Valtrun “A rift, Far Realm” said the arcane writing.

Now given the new font of light, the party sensed the presence of another person in the room, un hesitating, Ika launched a bolt of energy on the suspects direction, lighting the room through his path, letting them see The Shadow, dodging graciously the attack rolling over her hands… almost amused by the attempt, not loosing a second, the bolt was followed by 2 arrows from Dincu´s bow…

In a hearth beat it was all over, so allow me to describe it with care, a large shadow gate opened on the back of the female elf, while dodging the bolts from Ika, she was actually surprised when one of the arrows hit her right below the hearth, changing her expression in pain and hate, in a swift counter attack, she trowed 2 daggers, leaking a black liquid from them, hitting the Ranger in the guts, who fell, blood pouring from his mouth, in to Domenico´s arms… Then she disappeared from their sight….

It was hard to call this a victory…. but this is how it went… there in the shadows.

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Chapter Two: Loosing a friend
An embush, The loss and Determination

Their time was not for resting, the sudden ambush of the Chainers had made it very clear to them: this is no safe place be… Pushing the tiredness of the last battle, the adventurers decided to move forward. Following again the directions of their Ranger, Dincu, they went an alternate way, a faster… and more dangerous one. The wilderness started to take the best of the less suited, the paladin Domenico, and his brother Cleric Mikael, both at the service of the god Bahamut, had a hard time keeping up the pace of the others, intricate steps, slides, and rock blockage made this a hard walk, at one point, Krom, a war seasoned barbarian, had to save the party’s Mage, Ika, from falling a dangerous height.

At last they arrived their destiny, the Dragon Burial Site, where they found, not surprisingly, an excavation work. A few men were digging tiredly the main excavation site, to the center of the crater, with lots of instruments and equipment surrounding the area, to the farthest opposite reach, a small figure presided the works, and to the left was the platform descending to the works, guarded by some small reptile figures.

Not much looked out of place, so they went to the main entrance of the excavation, where they found 3 Drakes, clearly trained to do Guard Duty, their uneasiness was calmed from a hand gesture that came from a Gnome, presiding excavation labor, with a big smile gestured the party to come closer.

“Hello, my name is Agrid, who might you be?” he said while walking the party closer to the excavation.

“We are members from Dragontooth Inc, we come here searching for our mentor, a dwarf called Douven Staul” Domenico replied, asuming the rol of leader once disputed with Krom.

“Oh, you know Douven!?… of course! you are Dragontooth, he talked about you all the time” saying this while walking deeper in the construction site, they now saw a figure up the cliff, in dark robes, overseeing the whole work there. Making a gesture he got a response…

“Attaaaack!!!” was the next thing to come out of Agrid`s mouth.

The party had been miss leaded to a disadvantageous tactical position, surrounding their backs where the drakes, that following their masters signal prepared to charge at them, from the excavation crater, workers started to come out, dragging their shovels and picks, eyes blanked out and a strange symbol carved on their forehead, automatas they seemed… The person in robes started a descent from the cliff, hovering down, Ika, referring to his Arcanic studies realized it was not a living person but a spectral apparition, the result of a dark ritual.

Two crossbow bolts flashed trough the battle field, impacting Krom on the chest, at the end of the crossbow was a smiling gnome, Agrid, pleased with the results of the deception, which infuriated the Barbarian, charging trough while ignoring other targets; he landed a fatal wound on the gnome, almost breaking him in half, Agrid now critically injured, resorted to illusion magic to disappear, Malagar, a rouge expert on dagger combat, started dispatching the controlled workers, with the help of Dincu and Mikael.

When the Drakes where ready to charge at them, Dincu made display of his expertise with ferocious beasts, recreating the hand sign made by Agrid he was able to stop the Drakes and make them insecure on who to obey. Soon after, fire started to burst out when Ika started incinerating the controlled workers.

These men must be freed from their control! not destroyed!” Domenico started to yell, while keeping 3 of them at bay

The only way to do so is by ending them” Ika replied.

The internal conflict was put on hold, when shadow claws started to burst from the ground, strangling and holding Krom on position, while he was searching blindly for Agrid, the next target was Dincu, who after dealing a fatal strike to one of the miners, was also detained by these claws… a dim laugh came from the apparition, using dark magic the sigil in one of the fallen miners started to sear, rising again its corpse to battle.

This man are already lost Domenico, all we can do is give them rest…” Said Mikael to his brother, and calming his rage.

Agrid reappeared almost on the other side of the battlefield, on the verge of death, striking Domenico who was hands full fighting the miners, still smiling while a string of blood escaped his lips… a smile that was short lived, impacting him with bolts of lightning, Ika killed the Gnome on the spot, the battle appeared won by the party, but confidence was shattered when the drakes, obligated by the Aparition, charged into battle, Their ferocious fangs slashed trough Ikas body, biting and clawing him once and again until he fell to the ground, critically injured… Then it was Domenico, overrun by the Ghouls being rise by the Apparition. At this dire situation, Malagar raced to protect his friend, he placed himself over the fallen Mage and used a strange ability of his kin, to summon darkness around him, making impossible for the drakes to continue there, they fled the zone while being attacked by him. Mikael was pushing to the max, dealing with the undead, one by one they fell, then sending a prayer to Bahamut that was not unanswered, the wounds on his brother started to heal, Domenico was back in combat. Krom and Dincu focused on the Aparition, destroying him, act that ended the ghouls and made the mark disappear. Lastly, the Drakes where dealt with. Tired to the verge of exhaustion, they made their way to the shack where the implements where stored, but while doing so, a soft grunting sound stopped them.

After removing some covers, they revealed Douven`s body, hand tied and gagged, severely damaged, breathing difficultly, and yet, when they removed the restrains, a smile was set on his face to see his “sons” around.

Make space, ill use what little energy i have left to heal him” Domenico said, imploring a prayer on Bahamut, divine light started covering Douven´s body, then suddenly drained by a sigil that appeared in his forehead.

Stop! brother… i fear if we proceed we might accelerate his death” said Mikael while looking at the purple black mark on Douven`s forehead, the same from the parchment…

The smile on Douven began to fade… whispering with effort some words escaped his mouth

“Stop…KalarelcultThe keep… carefull, madness…” he said while grasping Domenico`s armor, then he looked at all of them once more time smiling, before drawing his last breath.

Sadness engulfed the party… while they made honors to their departed mentor, father and friend, a fire of determination burned within their chest…

From now on, Dragonsthoot ceases to exis… we now become Douven`s Legacy” the adventurers decided… giving one last look at the sacred pyre, and after giving one last prayer, they set back to town, with sorrow in their eyes, and determination on their hearts…

The way back was silent, but mostly uneventful, they met in the way a friendly old man on a cart pulled by a mule, they decided to accompany him, over the kings road, more concerned about the man safety than he himself. arriving at Winterhaven, the man kept his way on the kings road and bid the party a farewell.

Back in town, frustration started to sink in, nobody seemed to know anything about a cult on the area, much less any reference to the name “Kalarel”. This frustation led Domenico to have an outburst against the Priestess of the temple of Pelor, sister Alassana, offended by the ignorance on the matter, he was then calmed by his brother Mikael, and then returned to the inn.

There, Ika and Krom held an interesting conversation with Valthrun

A keep? …you mean the old ruins up North? just an outpost from the old empire, outlived his utility it seems, it has been ruins since before i was born…” Said Valthrun, “Now that i think about it, i have seen little reference to it in my studies… Tell you what, i will look into it, come see me tomorrow, i´ll see what i can find about it

Malagar decided not to be with them, he had a loner personality, so he set out in the darkness watching over their room from the building across. About an hour later, his lookout position proved to be successful. When he barely detected a Shadow approaching the room he started the pursuit.

In the darkness of Winterhaven rooftops, The shadow jumped gracefully between rooftops, followed without trouble by Malagar, pressing speed after every jump the chase became more complex, but Malagar made use of the best of his training to keep up, jumping from houses to the wall then back to the houses he was catching up with his pray only to stop in the border of the last roof.

Making a turn, the shadow showed itself, revealing a female Elven face, white at the moonlight, smiling at him… making him a gesture with her eyes she let herself go from the ledge, rushing to watch her fall or may be to stop her, what he saw was very different. A dark whole opened up midair and swallowed her up as she fell. Even if the rogue had seen strange things in his life time, this one was definitely on the top 5… agitated and tired from the chase he made his way back to the inn where he met the rest of the crew.

Although more and more closed path revealed themselves, although the party “leader” was in the bar drinking his frustration away, although the rogue came back tired and not believing entirely what he saw, although the Mage was desperately joining the barbarian in a attempt to gather information just to find vague rumors… as the old saying goes “The gods never close the doors without opening a window”

Do you know about the Cult!!!?Ninaaran asked in disbelief to Dincu… “Everybody around here acts as they had no clue about it… but I’ve seen them in my travels by the waterfall… something is going on there… i can give you directions if you promise to do something about them” Who would have thought that the reclusive Elf had the clue they needed… by the end of the night, they decided to go there first light in the morning to end this cult and have revenge.

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Chapter One: Insanity Requiem
The meeting, Decision and Trouble.

The members of Dragonstooth met at the basement of the “Silver Unicorn” in order to discuss the prolongued absence of their mentor, benefactor and friend Douven Staul . Not having any sort of communication with him for over 2 months, “To Winterheaven, don´t wait for dinner” said the last note he left with the inn proprietor Wisara Osterman.

A set of adventures as they are is not common, usually working in groups of two at the time, almost forcefully joining together to complete a task is not easy, in the end they decided to look in Douven´s room, where they found 2 things of note, both of them where, well… notes.

The first one, a torn parchment with hints of estrange sigils, religious examination prove to be ineffective by both the Cleric and the Paladin, a closer examination with the Arcana knowledge of the Mage was also inconclusive, it was an otherwise “regular” peace of parchment if it weren’t for the vestiges of symbols in it, and the fact that after the Arcanic studies and proximity with the Cleric the parchment disappeared in an unusual purple/blackish fire.

The second, was the Guild Income statement, that accounted for way more than they found.

Inferring that Douven had taken all the money for some (still undetermined) reason and left in a hurry, they went to follow his tracks into the town of Winterheaven .

Thanks to the Nature travel skills of the Ranger and the vigilance of the Rogue, they went without mayor complications, setting camp in small caves and looking for shortcuts to cut time, in the last day, they decided to push night travel in order to get to Winterheaven that very day, and they provably would have if it weren’t for the ambush.

Darting from inside the bushes and behind the rocks some dark figures tried to impale the group on their spears, while more suitable warriors joined the fight later and lastly a powerful slinger kept control of the enemies. Magic flew, sword clashed, paralysis, burns, blood… When all was said and done, and the ambushers where dead except for one, he made the run for his life, only to be down a few meters later by whistling arrows from the Ranger.

Interrogation went well right until the point he bit his own tongue… right on the beginning, without answering anything; the only thing the group found was a tattoo of a severed arm being tortured by a barbwire… Religious group member caught the reference right away… Torog, the king that crawls… This sudden realization was interrupted by a shadow on the forest, the ranger and the rogue went after it, tracking its movements, a few steps later, tracks disappeared, markings, scent, trace.. all gone. In a swift, unhesitating movement the cleric removed the piece of skin with the marking and went on the way.

They decided to keep pushing and arrived finally at Winterheaven, only to find out that because a direct edict from its rules Lord Pardright the gates of the city remain closed at night, so they had to shelter on a tent next to it. Morning came, and so the town open, a small town where are few secrets and investigation comes easy, The Inn keeper Salvana Wrafton remembered Douven, he still had a room paid in advance until a few days ago, saw him talking with a fellow farmer named Elan and rented them the same room Douven had, The local Blacksmith Paran Ironshaper told the adventures he remembered Douven purchasing some mining equipment a few weeks back.

The Mage and the Priest where a little more concerned about the attackers, by asking the guards the Mage learned they where “Torog Chainers” a Dark Guild that suddenly became really active in the area, attacking cargo traveling on the king´s road, farms on the outside of town and farmers or merchant that went away from the cities protection. A request by Lord Pardright was made to the Council for help but was yet unanswered. On the other hand the priest met with Alasana Wisperwind priestess of Pelor, keeper of the temple in Winterheaven, when asked about the simbol of Torog confirmed about the existence and activities of the Dark Guild and agreed to put in a good word with the Lord of Winterheaven for an audience on the matter.

Finally Elan “the old” came to the bar that night, told them that Douven was looking for a place called the “Dragon Burial Site” and gave them the same instructions on how to get there as he did with Douven. The Drow call it a night and went up to the room, the others decided to stay and have a good time. The barbarian failed in both the endurance to resist the sheer quantity of drinks he was having and the attempts to win the favor of a solitary female elf drinking in a corner, when he was preparing to leave, Lord Pardright arrived, and the group saw a chance to gain an audience with him. Just mentioning the Dark Guild´s name was enough to send them on a private room. He explained the problem and the lack of response from the council and agreed to accept and reward the Group help in the matter in spite of them not being a Registered Guild.

Sensing he was still hiding something, the adventurers pressured him, making Lord Pardright reveal an acquaintance of him, after the order, a Halfling came out of the shadows and presented himself as Hamil3 fingers” working as information gatherer for the lord, he confessed having witnessed the fight they had earlier, He was investigating the Chainers activities when the fight started, and was surprised to perceive another hidden figure watching the encounter, failing to locate his exact location, decided to fall back and report. This conversation was interrupted by the Drow calling the Ranger for assistance. While trancing back at the room, saw the mysterious silhouette on the ledge of the window, entering pursuit was futile, it was gone the second it was seen, the ranger later could track him right till the edge of the roof, then the tracks disappeared, just like the last time.

Lord Pardright apologized for the misunderstanding, and insisted the group in giving him one more day to sort out the information he had in order to provide something useful to the Adventurers. They agreed and called it a night.

The next day they headed out to find their mentor, following the instructions provided by Elan, they should be in the Burial Site in a few hours of travel, on they went by the road only to find trouble, this time, better suited men of arms interrupted their way, all wearing the same type of ragged clothing as the first group, there was no doubt, the Chainers where waiting for them.

The combat was far more intense, men with sword and shield blocked the paladin, cleric and barbarian movement, another spearman marked the movement of the rogue and the rangers, leading the attack, a Bloodmage coordinated the assault, releasing powerful attacks against the Mage and empowering his allies. Dragoontooth fought bravely, the palading taking on 3 enemies at the time, the cleric vanquishing enemies left and right while keeping his friends on the fight, the rogue and ranger outsmarting the Chainers selecting and killing the targets, the Mages relentlessly cursing and blasting, the barbarian taking on the fury of the Bloodmage arcana with sheer power and strength, even or more so, on the verge of Death. When the dust cleared, no enemy was standing.

Their reward? tiredness and a clue… A single medalion, non magical, bearing engravings similar to the vestiges found on Douven´s room, with an feeling of uneasiness on their hearth, they move on to the Dragon Burial Site.

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