The mists of a late summer rain fill the valleys of the great basin of the river Tirguin, at the place where it falls heavily from the Daltorathion plains and fills the bay that holds the final refuge of civilization. Like a mother cradling her children, the great iron gates jut from the cliff-sides and encircle the still waters fed eagerly by the crashing flows from the waterfall by the great tower. You can see the last of the farmers in the fields by the ships pulling together their tools for their daily oiling. A few young dwarves jostle on the cliff-side path across the harbor, their hearty laughs carrying even to your ears. How long ago has it been since you felt that free, even in this haven of stone.
The charcoal smell of a great fire behind you awakens you to the present. A nudge on the shoulder from one of your guildmates, and you quickly turn to the growing voices assembling in the tower great hall. “Come on.” he says. “I want to get up front for this.”
You politely push your way through a growing crowd, the center of which surrounds a festive core of musicians and dancers by the fire. You recognize Kal and Jaris from your own guild, but they are oblivious to all but the make-do song they are constructing out of whole cloth. Something about zombies and fire.
“We’ll kill you once, we’ll kill you twice, as many times as it takes…” Kal’s voice trails off as the musicians shut down one by one. The last strains of Jaris’ fiddle are overcome by the metallic whirring of the great elevator in the center of the tower and the sound of steam breaks from the depths below.
As the platform comes into view, the crowd opens up to reveal the riders. At the center stands Telesar the Magnificent, the supreme mage of the fortress and one of the greatest wizards to have ever lived. He is flanked by several of the great mages, the entire military council, and the leader of each of the adventuring guilds (Siradze representing yours), as well as the various members of the city council.
As the crowd quiets down, the head of the Champions of the Silver Star, Verance D’nouzin, speaks.
“Gentlemen and Gentlewomen of the fine guilds of the fortress. We welcome you to the first all guild meeting in seven years.”
Various brusk guild chants echo in the crowd instinctively.
“I whole-heartedly wish I could speak to you of good fortune and of victories won. But, alas, I cannot. We come to you tonight with heavy news. We bear you the combined reports of a hundred missions into the wilderness, and what our estimate of our destiny (as it stands) is. Among our forays to find even the simplest of needed goods from our ancestors tombs, we have discovered the following two undeniable truths. First, the foul races have begun to run out of food due to their voracious propensity to breed. Our current count places their numbers at over one hundred million. That is ten times our count even at the peak of our civilization a thousand years ago, and certainly larger than the eight thousand of us that remain. Yet, despite their overwhelming numbers, they have not yet figured out how to cooperate or innovate as we had to and thus they starve daily, or worse yet, fight among themselves to devour their own kind. Over the past months, however, we have discovered a new tactic, in which they have turned to the necromantic arts to preserve the fighting spirit of their vile nature, while eliminating the need to provide supplies or any form of comfort to their wicked victims. Now, if this was our only worry, fine. We would just char every last one of them, as many of you were tasked to do just this past month.”
“FIREBEADS!” someone in the crowd drunkenly shouts out.
“But there is a much greater concern … Telesar?” D’nouzin asks hesitantly.
The great mage steps forward and surveys the vast crowd. He smiles slightly. “I have rather unfortunate news for us all.” He begins weakly, his voice trembling under his centuries of age. He pauses to the unsure look of the crowd, waves his hand to his face and mutters a few broken sounds.
“I say, I have rather unfortunate news for us all.” His voice rings out clear and strong, twice the volume of the powerful captain who preceded him. “My colleagues and I in the Mage guild have been studying this for the past few years and we can simply come to no other conclusion.” He pauses.
“Magic is dying.”
The crowd silences completely as the words echo vaguely in the domed hall.
“As a matter of illustration, notice the marks on the front door of the Wizard’s Tower.” A glamer of the door appears in bluish haze in front of him. He continues. “They have been a harbinger for those of us in the know for many years now. The mark on the top is the maximum height of a wall of fire as cast by myself several years ago. The successive marks below show the decrease in the power of the spell in six month increments. As you can plainly see the decrease is not only obvious, it is ever growing. In perhaps a year’s time even a lowly goblin will be able to easily vault our magical fires.”
The crowd murmurs slightly, as the arcane in the group feel the blood drain slightly from their faces.
“And its not just the evocations, all of the schools have been affected, though some to a much lesser degree. But the end result will be the same. Within a year’s time, if not sooner, our current magical defenses will begin to fail. And these walls, while strong, will not be high enough to keep out a hundred million foes.” Telesar pauses and searches his vast mind for something uplifting to say but fails, and only Verance’s hand on his cloaked chest calms him and he steps back into his circle of advisers with a shrug of his feeble shoulders.
“While this news is bleak, my friends,” Verance says confidently. “I want to stress that we have not shared this news with you to frighten or dismay you, but rather as a call to arms. The fortress has planned carefully for the past few months and we have decided that we will make a huge push into lands for adventures that we have not yet dared to attempt. Your guild leaders will share with you the details of our plans, and your involvement in them.”
“This year shall be the defining one of our struggle. We will not go silently in the fight. Like the mighty Tirguin, we will last forever!”
You hear the cry repeat itself over the din of the rapidly growing voices of the assembled guilds. What was stunned silence had turned into a frenzy of hurried conversations as guilds coalesced around their leaders, each taking shape by design at different places in the great hall.
“League!” Dyson shouts again. You finally see him standing upon a dining table near the grand entrance to the Wizard’s Tower. The majority of the League has taken places around him, most talking feverishly among themselves. Out of the corner of your eye, you see Siradze passing through the crowds, easily parting the throngs of stunned soldiers and farmers with his brisk gait.
When he arrives Dyson steps down and Siradze quickly replaces him. He stares at you with a challenging face unlike you have ever seen.
“I am certain you are all surprised by what we have just been told. I ask you all to keep a brave demeanor. We are surrounded by the eyes of the fortress. No doubt, as word of this spreads on this day and the next, many will be tempted to lose faith, to lose hope. Your friends, your loved ones. You must fill that void. You are the hope of civilization now. Our time has come, but now we know it is a fragile bargain. The fate of the world will be written in the coming year, and it is you who will turn that page.”
Siradze paces steadily to let that sink in, and your gaze goes across the hall, where each of the other guilds receive their leaders as well.
“I have asked Dyson to let you know to get ready for a trek into the wilderness. Make haste on those preparations, we leave in three days. Make your peace with those who remain, for your return is not guaranteed. When we return to the guild hall, we will dispense with all that we can for the journey.”
“Where is our Guild going?” A voice shouts from behind you.
Siradze nods in agreement. “We are going into the ground. The lost Dwarven kingdom of Balgrimvar.”
Dreggar, for one, breaks into a slow satisfied smile.
Dyson pulls out a huge leather sheet and lays it across the table.
Huldur blinks several times, trying to understand the vast amount of information that has quickly swept over him. Failing magic? Ever swelling hordes? Normally this sort of news would bring a smug grin to his face, for a lack of magic has never prevented him from cutting down swaths of orcs and goblins and those putrid zombies. However, he considers, for perhaps the first time, what this means for the rest of the fortress. While he might enjoy the rush of turning a seemingly one-sided battle, many cannot say the same and few could stand with him without the aid of magic. He thinks of the friends he has made in the guild and his doddering old father, and vows to do what he must to strike back at the foul ones. Even if it means descending into depths of the earth… shudders It had to be caves…
Maldio feels a jolt throughout his body upon hearing the news. He can’t remember having any trouble with magic in the past few months, but it seems his relative lack of skill compared to the high mages would not be as affected. He joked about his recent “skill” with his staff and not needing his spellbook anymore, but this news fills him with dread that if nothing changes, it might become his (short-lived) reality. Before he spends too much time fretting, he stops and remembers why he joined the guild. His parents fought long and hard to protect the city and still many died over the years from attacks and missions; he swore to do his best to protect his guild-mates. He steels himself for the long journey ahead and hopes to find something to save them all. He also makes an effort to befriend the burlier members of the guild, should his magic prove ineffective…
Fraus looked a bit concerned. Not only for his own magic but for his own kin. They had never been physically strong and magic was their sole way of survival. He bit his lips as with doubt. He did have other objectives that needed to be met, including his own family and kin. He knew after this risky mission, he would have to leave to warn them.
Willy sits thoughtfully in the hall for several minutes, absorbing the news, then returns to his work of preparing for the trip. Now that he knows the journey will be underground, he can more effectively prepare. After sorting through the gear in his footlocker and packing what he suspects will be most useful underground, he pays a visit to the Drunken Dwarf to ask the bar staff if they’d be willing to introduce him to any dwarven trapsmiths they know, so he can pick up tips on the kinds of traps dwarves use. Anything that will help him provide better support to the expedition is worth trying at this point, even talking to strangers.
Sally looks around at all these … these … PEOPLE … and huddles in place while she tries to grasp what Telesar had said. The fire in her blood, the … the magic … is dying? Without it, how would the families out in the Fields survive? How could they grow the food the people in the Tower need, be safe from the monsters, even care for the sick and injured without it? As scary as all these crowds are, there is no way she can turn her back on the families she grew up with. She has to be a part of finding an answer, no matter what it takes. Going underground can’t be any scarier than the lower levels of the Tower, right? Maybe even less scary, since the only people will be the ones on the expedition, not all the crowds and crowds crammed into the city.
Fallion takes the news in stride. Their position has always been hopeless. What is one more stone on the mountain- even if the stone is a boulder? When you are backed into a corner, you fight. It doesn’t matter if you are likely to win- you fight. You hope that you will come thru the other side, but as long as you are fighting- you keep living.
Given the dangerousness of their endeavors, the Wizard’s Guild does not believe that the generous donation of wand wood should be utilized to reimburse or provide adventurers with trinkets for their further exploits.
Gamble searches for someone in town to share his vision with, but all of the usual suspects are a dead end. No one recogizes the mountains he speaks of. Perhaps it was a cruel trick by the scope, or maybe it was just defective. His search will continue on, though.
As far as guild rogues go: Askir is the poison master and sneak. Dalcyx is the two-weapon specialist, and Naerena is the acrobat and trapsmith with a peculiar fondness for gemstones.
On Saturday, Siradze and Dyson gather Kal and others to the guild hall to discuss the adamantine cylinder.
“We have been informed that the mission to secure the cylinder and bring it overland to Tirg-Ath-Anon will be conducted by a rare joint mission of the adventuring guilds. The City Council has decided that due to the extreme urgency of success for this mission, we will send only the guild officers to accomplish it.” Siradze says with a frown. “I know you had your heart set on this, Kal. But these are our orders. Now don’t worry, our guild will be well rewarded if this thing is as big as you say it is. We are set to leave as soon as we can fashion a wagon capable of carrying something this massive.”
You hear strange shouts from beyond the guild windows deep in the night. Awakening slowly, you move to the front door, a few adventurers bustle in the walkway to the main tower.
“What’s going on?” you ask, eyes still heavy from sleep.
“They are back. With the cylinder! The city gates open for them now.”
Sure enough, the band of guild leaders return and within the hour, the huge adamantine cylinder is pulled by a dozen horses into the dining hall under the main tower. Several dwarves from the night shift of the forges below gather around it, wondering if it will collapse the elevator.
Zharg releases the reins of the horse he was guiding, and waves happily at you and his other guild mates who have gathered as the sun begins to peek under the archways of the tower plaza.
“Enough of that then. I’m so hungry I would have eaten one of those horses if we did not need every last one of them to pull this damned rock.” Zharg says as he meets with a still bedraggled Dyson. They shake hands heartily. Small crowds gather around the cylinder to awe at its size and heft.
“And what of the journey?” Dyson asks.
“Not well.” Zharg says, collecting his weapons and pack from a member of the Death Vow Defenders. “We lost three men. All from the Star. Ambushed by a column of orcs.”
“They march on us, Dyson.” Zharg continues. “I believe they wish to siege us again.”
The dwarves begin to position the cylinder on the elevator. Forge-master Gravehk arrives from the city, still in bed clothes, to oversee the descent into the forges.
“Well, get your rest Zharg.” Dyson whispers. “We leave for the depths of Balgrimvar tomorrow.”
Zharg rubs his shoulder and sighs a heavy laugh.
The Journey Day begins with a sullen rain. Although it hampers preparations slightly, it doesn’t slow the growing sense of anticipation. You wander to the front gates of the city when the rain pauses and see the huge array of carts and wagons assembled. By your count at least thirty of various shapes and sizes, some ornate and covered, probably of elvish heritage, other plain as plywood roped on unsteady axles. Lackeys attend the dozens of horses assigned for duty and townsfolk prepare the carts with hardy foodstuffs and casks of honey-mead.
You can see they are arranged in five general lines, no doubt one for each of the guilds and their unique destinations. Of course the League will head into the depths of Balgrimvar, but you have also gathered other destinations as well. The Wanderers are set for the Forests of Desiria, where not even elves have not stepped foot for a millennia. The Champions are tasked with reentering the gates of the City of Vahr, once the greatest metropolis of the civilized world and the first to succumb to the vile hordes. Elocuer’s Heroes will be going underground as well, to make contact with the Dwarves of Thrakhor. Only the destination for the Death Vow Defenders remains a mystery, as no one from their guild will speak of their mission. Perhaps that is for the best.
It is nearly mid-day as the horn sounds for the assembly to commence. You and your guild mates secure your final items and trunks close for the last time in the bunk halls. As the last few guilders exit the door, Dyson make one final look inside and then closes the front door. For the first time in as long as you can remember, he locks it with a skeleton key and places it in his belt pouch.
“Time to go.” he says with a nod.
The sounds of Jaris’ fiddle and Theriam’s harp fill the air with a somber tune. Kal fills in the song with a recitation of the guild’s code of honor set hastily to the tune.
As a group, you march across the bridge from the main tower to the town proper and see the vast crowds gathering at the gate. Siradze leads your guild clad in his full plate and flowing purple cape. Ellie marches in her plate as well, while bearing the guild’s standard high above her, and it sticks noticeably to the black-wood pole in the humid air. As you enter the field just inside the gate, the crowds of thousands burst into cheers at the latest march of heroes. You are the last guild to arrive.
High on a grand stand, the High Wizards and council members applaud your arrival. Remarkably, none step forward to speak. The time for that is past. Every last citizen who stands now to see you off, from the brave older men who once stood in your place, to the weeping mothers and sisters, and even the children clutching their parents legs, knows what this day means.
You notice Gravehk and several of his forge-mates sitting on a rocky incline by the tower bridge behind you. He nods knowingly to your guild. “Double-time for us, mates. We’ll have your weapons and armor ready for you when you return. Fare well!”
So you gather near your caravan, a few of you receiving the hopeful kisses of strangers and old friends alike. A column of town mages gather at the front gate, staves in hand and determined looks on their faces. Telesar stands at their forefront, clad in a boiled leather jerkin that overwhelms his aged frame. Slowly the front gates grind open. The crowd grows silent. The music ceases, save for a steady drumbeat from the bards of the Death Vow.
The mages lead and one by one the caravans groan forward. The League will bring up the rear it seems. Once the gate is cleared, the doors begin to shut and even the drums pause to hear the final thuds as the cross-bars fall into place, sealing you out.
There is an uneasy beat as the caravans clack against the cobbled road that leads towards the main High Road a mile distant. Within a few hundred yards a few bands of orcs and goblins peer at you from behind large stones and small bushes. The sheer size of the caravan and the number of deployed fire-sticks are enough to prevent them from rushing you and it takes some resolve from you to resist breaking for them as well.
Within an hour or so, you make it to the crossroads, and watch as the guild leaders meet to wish each other a safe journey to the lost kingdoms and to an even better conclusion. As the noon day sun beats the humid air around you and the marsh insects begin the gather in excited swarms by your carts, the guilds drift apart and each takes a different road towards the same goal, hopeful that they will find what they need before time runs out.
The sun sets on the guild’s encampment at the top of the cliff. The news of Fallion’s death has cast a pall on the entire group. Veterans and greens alike share stories of his deeds, and many a skin are raised to his passing. Deep beneath the ground, the guild leaders debate on what to do at the door. It has not been opened yet. They have discovered that it is no ordinary door, it has been constructed as a gateway to magically reach any of the Kingdoms entrances.
Realizing that time is crucial, they opt to enter the Kingdom at its northernmost gate, for this would be likeliest to have not fallen to the evil hordes so many years ago. If there is a safe passage to the heart of the Kingdom, and the goal of this grand mission, this is the safest path, they reason.
The guild will enter in the morning. Dyson climbs the ladder to inform the weary dozens above.
By the time you reach your position on the ground at the base of the ladder, the doors that barred your entry for the better part of a day stand wide open. Aeonge kneels before one of them, her outstretched leg and back holding it open as she balances herself with her iridescent pearl longbow readied for attack. Dyson props the other, dual swords in hand, as he barks at each of you to enter quickly.
“We must hurry and set up a new camp in here, there is no telling how long this door can remain open.” He says.
Ahead of you a short tunnel feeds into a huge deep grey stone chamber. Dwarven runes fill the walls in vertical columns and the ceiling grows to a 50 foot height. Nearly thirty of your guild mates already occupy the vast hall and as you enter, the familiar smell of cedar fills your nose. A giant iron gate stands to your left, with turreted battlements lining the inside of the cavern. Beyond it, the tips of treetops can be seen and the late autumn sun begins to touch them with light.
The majority of the guild encircles Siradze, Keriassa, and Askir, who stand above the leather map in the center of the chamber and discuss the next move.
Dreggar and three other dwarves stand alone to your right, gazing in wonder at the obsidian archway that surrounds the great passage into the heart of the mountain. To them it is obvious what the first move is.
One by one the adventuring parties returned to the base camp. Each showed the weariness of their endeavors, some worse than others. Aeonge tends to a young recruit, who lies motionless in the corner of the vaulted hall. Dyson and Siradze sit cross-legged in the center of the hall, map at their feet, small pebbles mark the extent of the day’s forays. A small pile of found items lie next to them. Keriassa and Seriea poke through them curiously. Thereiam eyes the Rhomke axe with great wonder.
Dreggar ambles up to you, boots off, his bandaged feet shuffling against the dirty flagstones. “Any stories to tell, my friend?”
Before long, the newly explored caverns and passages are categorized and the guild leaders determine the next course of action. You overhear that most of the passageways to the west and south have been blocked, either by cave-in or magical means. A nest of engorged rust monsters inhabits the fiery innards of the mountains in the caverns below. A vein of pure silver flows deep in the mountain. Bands of roaming monsters search the caverns closest to the surface.
From the sound of it, the guild will be moving south and try to open a great door tomorrow.
As you fall to sleep, a curious rumbling from below shakes the flagstones under your bedding. It lasts a full minute.
“No need to worry, even mountains have trouble sleeping from time to time.” Dreggar remarks, eyes still shut.
The entire guild moves forward in the morning. At least you think it is morning, no one having seen the daylight for almost two weeks. You trace your way down a darkened hall that grows wider as you progress into the heart of the mountain. Intricate carvings line the walls and tell the stories of great battles of ancient dwarven kings. Along the way, the rumblings from below grow louder and more frequent.
When at last you reached the great doorway, the group’s rogues and wizards ponder its construction. Within an hour, Keriassa figures out the spells that protect it from harm, and the rogues set forth to deactivate the mechanical traps and unlock its complicated set of tumblers.
Dreggar and Zharg struggle to pull the massive stone doors open.
Before you lays a great stone hall, with massive columns holding the ceiling some forty feet high. The bodies of ancient dwarves litter the floor.
Several columns of dwarf-like creatures, with grey mottled skin and silvershone eyes, stand guard along the walls down the length of the chamber. A lone commander stands but twenty feet away, a shining greataxe hanging low against his muscled frame.
At the far end of the chamber, revealed by the flicker of the torchlights set into the walls, sits a huge red dragon, a satisfied smile across her face as smoke whispers from the corners of her mouth.
The commander speaks.
“We have been waiting for you.”
Dyson turns instinctively towards you. His eyes dart between you and those around you.
“This could get very ugly. If things start to turn for the worse, you all need to gather the new recruits and get them to safety. None of you are prepared to face a dragon yet.”
He scans the room, as Siradze and the other leaders cautiously enter.
“There, to the right, a hall. Take them there. We will meet up again as soon as we can.”
Kal’s face darkens as he sees the red dragon. Out of all chromatic dragons, the red dragons were easily the toughest, the cruelest, and the most easily offended. Kal knew his limits. In the last few months he had fought Wargs, Zombies, Hellhounds, Minotaurs, Trolls, even a Bulette without the slightest hesitation. But before him lies a gauntlet the likes of which he has never seen. A chill creeps up his spine as he realizes that the guild might not survive. He pushes down his fear and nods. “Understood.”
(In addition to Eryelle, your group is now in charge of nine other guild-members per Dyson’s instructions. All (save for Eryelle) were recruited within a few weeks of the Journey Day.
Rija – female elven ranger (archer)
Thyan – elven wizard (evocation school)
Dantregin- halfling rogue
Dieldral – halfling rogue
Rommara – female human sorcerer (serpentine bloodline)
Dukraes – human fighter (scimitar and shield)
Jirsa – female half-elf ranger (dual shortswords)
Nargric – dwarven barbarian (dual dwarven axes)
Anvor – human fighter (greatsword)
Dantregin and Dieldral are twin brothers.)
Harag awoke with a start. The metallic taste of blood mixed with the wetness of sweat on his face. He wiped his eyes and realized it was not sweat, but was heavy and viscous. Instinctively, he rolled over into a crouch, and his eyes blurred and focused on the drips of blood from the tip of his nose. But he felt no pain. Then, as his eyes and ears fully awoke, he could see bodies next to him, throats cut from ear to ear. Out of the corner of his eye, a Duergar blinked out of view.
Wait. Rahl said we could trust these dwarves, that we had reached a “con cord” with them. What was happening?
Without hesitation, Harag scrambled for his sword and chain shirt next to him. He threw on his special boots as well. As he searched for his hammer in the near darkness, the shouts and screams began. Familiar voices and names sung as the battle was truly joined. The flash of magic missiles lit up the arena long enough to illuminate his hammer and with an acrobatic roll he reached it. Now these bad dwarves will pay, he thought. He summoned all the anger of this betrayal, and swung his hammer in a great arc around him. Two dwarves blinked into existence as the hammer struck hard. One was nearly instantly taken down by a flaming strike from Thyan, and the other by Harag’s next blow.
“Come with me, League!” Rahl exclaimed from the darkness " We have breached the gate! I will hold the door!"
The sounds of battle moved distinctly to the south of the arena, and the blasts of flame and force once again illuminated the gaping hole in the arena gate. Harag continued to hold his position as Duergar blinked in and began to surround him. He slipped in a pool of blood and nearly stumbled over Flinne’s lifeless body but stray arrows from the north harassed his pursuers enough to give him time to move. He needed to make it to that gate and rejoin his friends.
The Duergar numbers swelled around him, and he now realized he was the only guild member left in the arena proper. Only Rahl, Rulstin, and Mindel stood at the breached gate, fending off the advancing Duergar horde. Mindel retreated into the large common room behind, unleashing several dangerous volleys as he left. The two melee fighters closed ranks together, but the shear number of slashes and pummels forced them out of the arena and into the darkness beyond. As they departed, an axe struck solidly into Harag’s back and he realized his own predicament once again.
Fearing this turn of events, Harag made an decisive choice. He swung his hammer in another great arc and cleared space by sheer will and might. With a loud cry, he raced forward towards the gate and sprung from the ground in a high arc. Clearing the first few rows of Duergar with ease, he landed solidly on the backs and helms of two more rows, bringing them to the ground. He found himself in the common room with a more dispersed set of foes and huge granite columns rising from the stone floor to the ceiling high above. His friends could not be seen or heard now.
Switching to his bastard sword, he fought through several more Duergar and then spied an exit hall atop a stone platform.
“I sure hope they went this way” he thought as he raced for the stone ledge, quickly outpacing his foes. The weariness of battle began to set in as he climbed it, but he knew he could not rest yet. Not until he found his friends once again. He drank one of his three potions as he clamored down the hall at near full speed. Surely he would have passed them by now. Harag hated being lost.
(For the four new players: Regardless of your individual back-stories within the fortress, you have ultimately found yourself as newish members of the famed adventuring guild known as Elocuer’s Heroes. You have been underground for nearly a month searching for the remains of the Kingdom of the Dwarves of Thrakhor to seek aid or supplies for protecting Tirg-Ath-Anon, when a series of dire events have forced you to retreat in haste, and that is where we will begin on Tuesday.)
As the heat from the vicious hell hounds dissipates into the stagnant air near the murky green river, the group quickly switches into recovery and scouting mode. The five bodies of the former Elocuer’s Heroes are brought carefully into the stone bastion and laid to rest on the dusty floor.
“Treat them with honor, for they died as you just might have.” Tondir speaks, before leaving to scout.
The area is now quickly secured, and the enclosure across the river seems to be the likely way forward. Ten foot granite walls rise from the river’s edge and partially obscure the four twenty foot high dwarven statues that guard its perimeter. Near the back of the enclosure, set deep in the cavern wall lies a carved fascade of tumbling dwarves around a ten foot wide set of doors.
Far in the distance, down the eastern hall, the strangely winsome howl of hounds echoes again.
Sally’s eyes open to the cramped granite walls. Floor to ceiling arrow coves rise to either side of her. A dwarf lies to her left, drinking grimly from his waterskin and staring blankly ahead. Another figure lays to her right on the ground, only a slight cough indicates its health. Maldio paces the floor, contemplating the next move for the guild when he catches her gaze.
“Ah, Sally, you have rejoined us. We were very worried about you.” Maldio says.
“Sally? Is that my name?” she wonders out loud. “Where am I? Who are you?”
“There is an old elvish diction…” Telesar begins, his eyes widening to the seascape out the window. “The tightly woven threads of past deeds unravel as the tangled threads of the unforeseen future. But where they meet lies the tool that shapes the cloth forever on.”
He turns back to the two of you.
“Our news from the expeditions is very grim. Guilds have been sundered. Many have perished. Where hundreds have ventured forth, I fear dozens shall return. Perhaps we have failed to find hope among the ruins.”
“The host of evil has grown larger by the day outside our walls. I fear that they sense our growing weakness, that their time to strike has come.”
“Even though it may present great danger to the Refuge, I believe we have no other choice than to rebuild the teleportation circles to connect you back to the Dwarf-holds. You must go back and find and rally your allies. Bring everyone back to Tirg-Ath-Anon.”
Telesar’s lips tighten in grim smile.
“Welcome back to the fortress for now, I suppose. Now let’s weave some cloth.”
He turns from you and the lesser wizards follow suit.
Huldur and Gallus stand guard over the teleportation circles in Thrakhor, each readied in case they spring to life again. From what they know of their operation, only their comrades should be coming back through, but stranger things have happened.
After an hour, Huldur can’t resist. He wants to see Tirg-Ath-Anon again. Gallus concedes, and the two of them take their place at the proper rune location to activate the circles. But as Huldur step his foot over the rune, nothing happens. No purple glow, or anything. He steps on the rune hard to make sure, but again, no change.
This cannot be good, he thinks.
Ish and Roland are disappointed as they exit the Wizard’s tower and enter the great hall under the tower.
“I can’t believe it will take weeks for him to recreate the circles.”
“I know, but all the better to have Telesar do a perfect job, since we are the ones that have to go back through first.”
The two head through the desolate hall, uninhabited for several months now since the Journey Day. Nothing sounds better to them than catching a proper meal at the The Long Respite.
As they head for the tower gate, they catch the image of the League’s guildhall under the archway. With a nod, they change direction and walk towards their forsaken home.
Two small boys are play fighting near the fountain. They can’t be more than five years. When they see the two heroes approach, they stumble to the ground. Their eyes widen.
“That’s Ishmay. See his sword.” One whispers to the other.
“Who is the other one, is it Jawetti?”
The taller boy stands up. “No, I think I know who it is. No, wait.”
He steps forwards and speaks louder. “Ah you Fowian or Wolan?”
The other boy stands up and strikes out at the air. “We want to be monks just like you when we gwo up.”
The thought touches you, and you smile until you see it.
Each of the boys have something around their necks, hanging on a chain, that you have not seen before on civilians. A small glass vial with a greenish liquid inside.