Abderaz

Adventures 36-38: The Dragon's Road

Having located the secret entrance per Wendil’s instructions, but they find a riddle inscribed on the door in runic. After much deliberation, they eventually play a note on a violin summoned by Rasha, causing the door to open. With the door open, the heroes begin their journey through the secret passage into the Mizlan known as the Dragon’s Road. Though Wendil indicated Ran, Sun, and Jura once used this very same passage, Kur-Dan’s sword bears no memory of this journey.

Several days into the tunnel the heroes encounter thick webbing filling the passage from floor to ceiling. Nacu restrains his first impulse to set fire to the webs once he realizes setting fire to so much material in an enclosed space might not be a good idea. As they carefully cut their way through the webs, the heroes remain alert for the spiders or whatever it is that spun the webs. There caution pays off when large deathshead spiders attack them from side passages and the front. The battle is short as the heroes make quick work of the opposition. In the lair of the spiders the heroes find the remains of an adventuring party that was less fortunate than they. Amongst their possessions is a sealed scroll case containing piece of parchment with a few lines of strange verse written on it.

The heroes travel many days more until eventually they reach a set of doors with three articulated dragon statues in front of it. Remembering the parchment, the heroes eventually figure out that the dragon statues need to be posed as described in the story on the parchment. Beyond the doors, they encounter a series of undead opponents and gather the pieces to open a larger set of doors. Beyond this set of doors they encounter Senethrax, a dracolich who claims to have been defeated by Ran, Jura, and Sun. Seeking his vengeance, the dracolich and his skeletal minions attack, and a long battle ensues, concluding finally with the dracolich’s destruction. Shir, being well versed in matters of the undead, says they need to find and destroy the creature’s phylactery. Eventually Nacu finds it and destroys it with concentrated flame.

The heroes press on and a few days later they exit the tunnel and enter the Mizlan. They are created by Khadan, who claims to be the leader of a resistance movement. He says someone named Wandal indicated heroes would emerge here to help overthrow the current regime. After a short conversation, the heroes follow Khadan north for several days, at which point Khadan asks the heroes to prove themselves by freeing members of the resistance being held in a nearby outpost. Agreeing to help, Shir scouts the compound and the heroes form a vague plan. Some wonder why the outpost has the prisoners, but they do not think on it too deeply.

When they attack, the heroes emerge from a tunnel created by Nacu and they storm the compound. Rasha attacks form the front while Utog swoops from the skies. When the battle is truly joined, a squad of plate armored Dar-Guhal, a wizard, and a demon emerge springing a trap likely meant for any rebels who might try to rescue their compatriots. After a brutal battle, the heroes manage to emerge victorious, freeing the prisoners.

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Adventure 35: The Great Escape

With the help of Aelessa, the heroes escape their cells and begin to plot their escape. After much discussion and exploration, the heroes dress themselves as Black Vel and use illusions in an attempt to walk right out the door. However, the guard at the door indicates that they need a pass to leave, no exceptions.

The heroes decide to make their way back into the Fortress of Sorrow and forge a pass by breaking into the Captain’s room. Meanwhile, Rasha tries in vain to find an alternate way out of the Fortress. Magical wards and enchantments are thickly laid upon the walls and structures, and in many cases Rasha is not sure what they do.

Having broken into the Captains quarters, the heroes forge a pass and once more try to go out the main gate. As they cross the threshold, the illusions spells are undone and the guards immediately sound the alarm. As the guards rush the gate, the heroes strike done the door watchman and Kaz uses the key to start closing the gate, then jams the lock. The heroes hold the gateway until the doors close all the way, but a Black Vel wizard rains spells down on them from above while the Captain leaps from the wall to engage them.

The wizard summons a demon, but Shir unleashes holy power, banishing the creature. The heroes fight beneath the walls with Rasha casting spells from afar, but a volley of arrows from the towers forces him to retreat. After a brief and violent exchange, the Captain and the wizard fall.

The heroes make a dash through a hail storm of arrows, taking few hits. They eventually make it to the port, where they steal a ship, intimidating the crew into fleeing. They set fire to the remaining ships and sail to the coast, where they come ashore in the Hedrad. After some heated debate, they decide to scuttle the ship and make for Urukan. Having gathered their supplies, the heroes head north to the Dragon’s Road. As the travel north they seen a large dragon-like creature fly overhead, which Nacu recognizes as a Nezuran mount, and on its back sits a woman in gleaming armor. The heroes hide until she passes, then resume their travels until they finally reach the mountains known as the Dragon’s Teeth.

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Adventure 34: Killing a God

Having defeated the cult of the New Dawn, the heroes take some time to themselves while Nacu completes his training with Atabusha and Kaz trains with the Aryashi. When the training finally comes to a close, the heroes prepare for their journey northward. One day out from Urukan they encounter Wendil, who tells them that they will never make it through the pass and that you cannot teleport into the Mizlan. He suggests that they follow in the footsteps of Ran and Shir, taking the hidden route known as the Dragon’s Road.

Heeding this advice, the heroes begin heading northeast to the secret entrance described by Wendil. Two days later they encounter a force of some two-hundred Black Vel led by a robed figure. Shir parlays with the robed figure in hopes that it is the Nezuran woman he misguidedly believes is his destiny. Instead, he is confronted by Sharapte Anun-Rehu, the leader of the Nezuran host in the West. Sharapte, by way of his captain, informs the group that he is unimpressed, and has decided to kill them himself.

Sharapte engages the heroes alone, hurling magic and swinging his double-bladed weapon in blindingly fast arcs. The heroes fight valiantly, but soon fear they are outmatched as Kur-Dan and Utog are both cut down. Things look truly dark when Shir falls, bleeding onto the sands, and in desperation Rasha flips a coin of Wendil and tempts fate. Good fortune smiles on the heroes and Nacu is flooded with power, raising his allies instantly. However, even renewed the heroes are hard-pressed and things begin to look bad once again. Several of the heroes fall once more, but Sharapte appears haggered and in a last ditch move Rasha hurls a bolt of flame that against all odds fells their foe. A strange voice whispers to Nacu to plunge the Vel Blade into Sharapte’s heart. Heeding this call, Nacu stabs the Nezuran just as the Vel horde swarms over him.

When the heroes awake the find themselves in cells. A Black Vel captain tells them that they are to be kept alive until the arrival of Sharapte’s mother, to be punished by her personally. The Vel Blade apparently prevented the resurrection of Sharapte. For weeks on end, the Black Vel take Shir from his cell daily to face one of them in single combat. Having heard of Shir, descendant of Ran, they wish to test themselves against him. Each day Shir returns victorious, but bearing new wounds freshly healed for the next days fight. One day at meal time a Black Vel enters bearing their food, but she reveals herself as Alessa in disguise. She has scouted the fortress and relays her intel, so that the heroes can plan their escape.

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Adventure 33: Into the East

Having defeated the plague construct, the heroes return to the camp of Grakharan to report success. At camp, Kur-Dan procures the services of a bard named Swei Fu-Long to chronicle the deeds of Kur-Dan, dragonslayer and the misadventures of Shir, grandson of Ran.

The heroes, led by Ran, make their way to the Manor of the House of Sun to claim the promised support Ran negotiated previously. With evidence in hand, they manage to convince Lord Sun to arrange for a meeting with the Council of Maigs in An-Bruin.

Traveling for two weeks, the heroes reach An-Bruin where they proceed to shop and take care of other matters while they await a meeting with the Maigs. Rasha, visiting the local mystical wares merchant drops a load of money, making for one very happy merchant. Later that day the heroes meet with the Council of Maigs and present their case. After a few days of deliberation, the Maigs agree to provide logistical support, but few troops as the army has been devastated by the plague.

Grakharan arrives shortly after this and says that a messenger from the Elders of the Shezar-Ki brought a request that the heroes travel to Urukan and meet with them. Grakharan offers to teleport the heroes to Urukan, an offer which the reluctantly agree too.

With a flash of light the heroes arrive in Urukan and are greeted by the dry and merciless heat of the desert. Making their way into the city, the heroes meet with the Elders who say that they have had a vision; the heroes must cross the dragon’s teeth and gather the might of the lost ones to their cause. The Elders also ask the heroes to aid them by seeking out the head of a dangerous cult in the city, called the New Dawn, and removing it’s leader. Shir briefly goes on a rant, which Fu-Long dutifully records for posterity.

The heroes make their way into the city for a time to handle personal business. Kaz seeks out and finds Mahmed the Manycolored, who agrees to train him in the ways of the Aryashi if he proves himeself by performing a task. He is asked to steal the Adali Prism from a corrupt merchant. Kaz cases the merchant’s shop and speaks with the man, who appears to be a Sidd trader dealing in spices, wines, and spirits from the Dal. Nacu finds a stormlord to instruct him in their arts, a Punjal by the name of Atabusha Paranthar.

Meanwhile, Utog meets an annui named Siwei-lo-Lothli in the holy gardens, who indicates that an abomination hides in the merchant quarter. He indicates that the creature can be revealed by using a nan flower, which has a fragrance that the creature will find repulsive. Utog gathers the others, save Nacu who is training, and they head into the merchant quarter to expose the creature. As they make their way through the streets, a merchant reacts badly to the smell of the flower. The heroes are unable to conceal the fact that they noticed from the creature, so it erupts into a flailing mass of tentacles, mouths, and eyes.

Several of the heroes break in terror, but Rasha rallies them with moving words. Kaz takes the opportunity to duck into the merchants store and grab the Adali Prism during the confusion. Meanwhile, Shir stands his ground and is severely mauled by the creature before the others can engage. Finally rallying to his aid, the other heroes move in while Alessa and Rasha strike it from a nearby roof. The combined might of the heroes quickly brings the creature down. On it’s body they find a coin with a rising sun on one side and numbers etched into the back. Rasha ciphers the numbers and determines they are an address within the merchant quarter.

Moving to the address, the heroes see several people hanging outside of a home. Shir decides to speak with them and they tell him that he cannot be saved and that he will perish before the new age. Perturbed, Shir lashes out and strikes two of men down while Fu-Long records the incident. The other heroes are stunned, as they witness this from down the street, and they are not sure if they just witnessed a murder or a justified act. The survivor limps into the house and calls for help, at which point other members attack Shir. The heroes come to Shir’s aid, but are uncertain still whether or not they are on the right side. Fortunately for Shir, demons appear around them, confirming that his rash action was justified, whether he knew it or not.

Light erupts from Shir and two of the demons are instantly banished. The heroes begin dispatching the remaining creatures as a Shezar-Ki in demonic looking armor comes up from the basement. The fight is quick and relatively one-sided as the heroes cut-down the demons with holy flame, blade, and fist. Searching the home, the heroes uncover evidence the this was the New Dawn cult and that it had Nezuran support. They take the evidence to the Elders and collect a bounty for their efforts and the thanks of the Elders.

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Adventure 32: Foul Science (Part II)

After the last surviving infiltrator fled into the farmhouse, Nacu decides to set the house ablaze. After a few minutes of argument, the house is eventually extinguished and the heroes make their way into the smoldering wreckage where they find the burnt remains of documents and a secret passage into a hidden tunnel system. Proceeding into the tunnels they are hit by a fire trap that went undetected before confronting a group of thornguard.

A long battle commences as the heroes engage the thornguard. In the heat of the battle an Shezar-Ki with strange chemical and clockwork augmentation emerges from the back door. Kaz and Shir move to engage this new threat while the heroes continue to finish off the remaining thornguard. When the strange Shezar-Ki falls, he explodes in a chemical cloud that nearly kills Shir.

Amongst the makeshift hideouts rooms the heroes discover some papers in the Nezuran’s slave language. The heroes are unable to translate, but Kaz gathers from the context and diagrams that these infiltrators created some sort of plague creature that they periodically release to reignite the disease.

Moving deeper into the tunnel system the heroes confront the abomination itself, a monstrosity stitched together from the corpses of many creatures and infused with disease causing agents. The heroes do battle with the creature and it’s spawn, helped in large part by Utog’s quick thinking in granting a disease ward to key fighters. The creature is destroyed when the heroes inject it with the curative solution they obtained from Grakharan. With that done, they set fire to it’s lair and make their way back to Grakharan’s camp.

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Adventure 31: Foul Science (Part 1)

Having reached Grakharan’s camp, our heroes proceed to introduce themselves. Grakharan enlists the heroes to aid in his efforts, sending Nacu and Utog to help gather the ingredients he needs for his cures. Meanwhile, Shir attempts to visit the Manor of the house of Sun, but is denied entry as he had not filed the proper requests. Shir also asks Aelessa to track the source of the plague, despite her protestations about not being able to track disease. At this point she suspects Shir does not understand what tracking actually is.

Hiring a professional bureaucrat, Shir manages to secure an audience under a false name, as the family of Sun denied requests submitted under Shir, descendant of Ran. He also learns that the Vel village, former property of Ran, was now held in trust by Kur-Dan until such time as he is deemed fit to inherit (Kur-Dan being his legal guardian at one time).

Shir meets with the current leader of the house of Sun and makes a plea for aid against the Nezurans, after which he is reminded that the house of Sun does not have direct power in these matters. Shir counters saying that if they end the plague, he expects the support of the house of Sun when he petitions to speak before the Council of Maigs.

While gathering herbs, Nacu and Utog encounter a river annui named Ithaela-la-lothlee. She pleads with them to seek out a foul corruption to the north, a corruption that defiles her river.

When the group meets up back at Grakharan’s camp, screaming and people fleeing draws them to the north side of camp where they encounter worm-like aberrations. The heroes engage the disgusting creatures who burst into swarms of maggot-like larva when slain. Rasha and Nacu are forced to burn the swarms down by using area-of-effect attacks on their allies, a better alternative than watching them be devoured by a flood of gnashing teeth.

When the battle is concluded, Grakharan exposes one of the creatures to his cure and says that the creatures appear vulnerable to it. With that, the heroes decide to travel north to find the source, asking Aelessa to track the creatures back to their lair.

The trail eventually leads to the village of Lian, ending near the outskirts of town. After asking around, the heroes learn that the villagers are suspicious of some relatively newcomers to the villager who have lost no one to the plague. Shir scouts the farm of the Wu family, finding what appears to be a normal farm. He hides in bushes near the house while the other heroes speak to the farmer. When the heroes mention their names, Shir notices a group of Sidd wielding shadowy knives exiting the farmhouse and sneaking up behind the heroes.

A battle ensues with Kur-Dan being rightfully cautious of the assassins. For the most part, the heroes defenses are too strong for the daggers, but the assassins show a marked ability to find weak points and pierce their armor. When the first of the assassins falls, their veil drops to reveal that the farmers are actually Black Vel. The heroes slowly defeat the assassins until only one remains. That last survivor dashes into the house with the heroes in hot pursuit.

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Adventure 30: Of Gods and Men

With a flash of light the heroes appear in an ornate longhouse of immense size. Seated in thrones of various sorts are the major Arai gods Targa, Vinsa, Kreiton, Finara, Adan, Wendil, and Grundel. Targa announces that Shir has been brought before the council to answer for blasphemy and defaming the gods before their followers. Shir presses on unflinchingly with his grievances against the Arai gods, claiming that they do nothing to help. Meanwhile, Kur-Dan, Kaz, and Nacu opt to take more humble approaches by either remaining silent or expressing admiration for the gods.

Finara, despite her visible anger at Shir’s tone, explains the rules of the Balance and that the gods are not free to intervene as they would choose. She mentions that they are governed by a Temporal Accord, an agreement that places limitations on the exercise of direct power in the world which also binds the various dark powers of the universe. Exercising power directly upon the world allows a dark power to exercise an equal amount of power. Shir remains unsatisfied, but ultimately accepts what she says and the heroes are returned to Abderaz in another flash.

Shir gathers teeth from Malathraxis and makes a giant necklace, then the heroes proceed to Stambrecht. Along the way the Vel blade complains of how it was robbed of the killing blow on the dragon and Kur-Dan mocks Shir playfully by calling himself Kur-Dan, dragonslayer. After a relatively uneventful journey, the heroes meet with the King of Stambrecht and Shir presents the necklace as proof that they have slain the dragon. As a reward for this service, the heroes are granted Knighthood and the right to purchase property and have their own personal heraldry.

Shir, with the help of the Vel diplomat (Chari?), then pressures the King to allow the Vel army to pass through Arai lands. This is patently refused, but the King says it is unnecessary as he indicates that his diplomats have assured him that the Vel plan to move their forces another way. He indicates that he has intelligence that reports the landing of foreign troops in eastern Abderaz, and that the Arai Kings have agreed to send an allied army to aid in the defense; however, they need ships to get their. After some discussion, the heroes coordinate with the Yadarans using the communication stones to request ships from the vast Yadaran merchant fleet to carry the Arai armies eastward.

After the meeting with the King, the heroes spend a few days shopping, purchasing homes, and paying for the creation of their heraldry. Kaz purchases a carriage despite Nacu’s warning about the dangers of owning such fragile equipment. Shir asks the gods to transport them to the Dal, but Finara’s voice in his head reminds him of what they so recently discussed. Then Wendil appears and offers Shir a flip for it. Aelessa is asked to accompany them, but she requests compensation and Shir is unwilling to pay this time. Gathering the heroes under the auspices of traveling south on foot, Kur-Dan begins to walk away when he realizes Shir’s plan. Shir flips the Wendil coin and it comes up with the fishhook, thanks to the hand of fate, and they are instantly transported to the Dal. An annoyed Aelessa yells at Shir when they arrive, apparently whisked away and brought here because Shir considered her a part of the group in his minds-eye.

The heroes travel south to the city of Itu, passing large freshly covered mounds of earth which could only be mass graves. Kur-Dan and Kaz take precautions, worried about being susceptible to the plague that is said to be afflicting the Dal. At itu, Kur-Dan meets a Taimak named Guang-Ung who recognizes peacebringer and discusses Sun and Ran a bit. Guided by a blazing symbol of the Sidd God, Shir leads the heroes into Itu and to a small home with a long line of people leading up to it. Here they find an acolyte of the path of Rahan distributing a potion that cures the plague. Shir and the follower of Grakharan enter into a religious debate before the acolyte reveals that Grakharan is healing the sick near the mountain of Shokan, the place where the Vel village once stood and where the ancient Manor of the House of Sun stands.

The heroes resolve to meet this Grakharan and head south. As they are leaving the city they see carrion creatures digging into one of the mounts. Kur-Dan, upset by this desecration, fires his pistol to scare the creatures away. The creatures are startled momentarily, but end up attacking the heroes after a moment. The creatures are quickly dispatched, but it is clear that they are afflicted with some unnatural malady of their own as they burst spraying a yellowish puss when they day. Nacu’s words seem prophetic as one of the creatures scratched up the side of Kaz’s carriage and exploded spraying puss all over the interior.

A few short days later the heroes reach the camp of Grakharan.

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Adventure 29: Dragon Hunt

As the three heroes and Aelessa Tholfringr crouch behind a hill looking out at the dragon’s lair, they wonder at what to do next. Aelessa scouts the cave and reports that there are Arai in a large cavern space where a ramp of stone leads to the nest and a second cave entrance higher up on the cliff-face. As they contemplate their next move, a female voice says behind them, “Fools walking blindly into the mouth of the dragon.” Shir stubbornly ignores the voice, while Kur-Dan turns and sees Haradina standing behind them.

She guides them to a hole in one of the nearby hills with the walls of the interior being held aloft by what appear to be large petrified ribs. She comments that they are in a hollow created by the corpse of the stone dragon Belsabis, and relates the tale of his demise. She also briefs them on dragon lore and lets them know that Malathraxis mate Senethrax, a smaller frost dragon, lay within the nest. After the remainder of the group arrives, the heroes decide to slay Senethrax in the cave before Malathraxis returns. Chari and Aelessa are sent to Fort Dreigar to enlist the aid of the soldiers their, in particular their Scorpions (ballistae) in order to bring Malathraxis down out of the sky.

Charging into the cave the heroes are met by the Arai, who appear to be thralls of the dragons, and a dragonkin wizard. Senethrax chooses to remain on high protecting the whelps while raining down magic upon them. Spells fly back-and-forth and the wizard summons another dragon, but Rasha dominates it and turns it against the thralls. The Thralls are defeated in short order, forcing Senethrax to descend and confront the heroes directly. Kur-Dan and Kaz ascend onto Senethrax’s back, but after the are slammed into the cave roof, Kur-Dan decides to remain on the ground. Eventually, Senethrax falls as Kaz plunges his Dazi into the back of his head, leading from the neck onto the ground as Senethrax collapses to the ground.

Having defeated Senethrax, the heroes set up mounds in an open field surrounded by hills in order to conceal themselves. Hidden in the brush in the hills are the Scorpions and their crew. When Malathraxis arrives, she discovers her made and children slain and butchered. With a roar filled with rage and sorrow, she streaks out of the cave to hunt the heroes.

As she crosses over the field, Rasha and the Scorpions begin to attack her left wing. Kur-Dan stands defiantly in the middle of the field while Kaz hides under the body of one of her whelps nearby. She unleashes a torrent of fire that sends both scrambling for cover. After Rasha was nearly crushed under a mound, and the destruction of three of the Scorpions, Malathraxis finally comes crashing to the ground, her left wing impaled by numerous large bolts and rotted by necrotic magic.

The battle rages on the ground as the heroes come to grips with the enormous beast, their weapons and shield useless against the might of her attacks. The heroes scramble to avoid breath attacks and maneuver to engage the beast who moves about the field with relative impunity. Their attacks inflict small wounds, so this is a battle of attrition. The heroes each suffer grievous wounds and Nacu is hard pressed to keep his companions alive, riding Utog in dire bren form into the fray. Rasha sets up on a distant hill and attacks like artillery, while Shir and Kur-Dan strike at her underbelly and flanks. Meanwhile, Kaz does his best to stab between the scales on Malathraxis’ back. The fight is long and brutal, with Kaz being bitten in half and Kur-Dan being bitten and incinerated by the dragon’s breath, but eventually Kur-Dan finishes her off with a hay-maker to the temple.

As the heroes tend their wounds, Haradina appears and makes gifts for the heroes. Some come from the dragon herself, others from a satchel at her side. When Shir balks at his gift and goes on one of his tirades, the air goes cold and Haradina freezes him in ice. Kur-Dan thinks he momentarily saw her face change to that of an Arai women with snow-white hair and eyes a glacial blue.

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Adventure 28: What Might have Been

After Nacu’s training is completed, the heroes proceed to Stambrecht where Aelessa indicates she will try to pick-up the dragon’s trail. As they approach, they see fires and columns of smoke arising from the eastern part of the city. The talk of the city is that Malathraxis has attacked again, motivating the heroes to lend what aid they can putting out fires and tending to the injured.

Aelessa indicates she will need several days at least to track down information on the dragon, so the heroes settle in to various Inns or earth-shaped abodes. Shir commissions a finely crafted Gola while Kur-Dan liberally spends cash on things like a bath for his trusted war Khunna. That evening, Kur-Dan is visited in the Inn by Haradina, who lifts the curse, indicating that, “I wanted you to know what you could be sober before returning your freedom of choice.” Considering her words, Kur-Dan chooses moderation and opts for only a simple glass of wine to celebrate the end of the curse.

Two days later the heroes hear about a carnival brought in by King Oberwald to ease the suffering of his people with a few days of diversion. The heroes attend, enjoying the various forms of entertainment available, including games and performances of various sorts. Later in the day the heroes spot a gilded tent with a sign in Meluvia reading, “Fortunes Told.” Nacu and Kur-Dan opt to enter, and are greeted by the famous Oracle of Banustan. Seeking their fortunes, Nacu is told that to defeat the dragon, they must bring it to the earth. Kur-Dan is told that a return to the old ways will cause others to suffer.

Meanwhile, Shir stumble across an ornate mirror lying against one of the tents. Written across the top are Trukk runes which say “What Might Have Been.” When Shir touches the mirror it shows him a vision of his life if Jura had never recruited him. It begins with Shir leaving an increasingly abusive Kur-Dan, eventually ending up as a farmer along the edge of the Gra Hemgerein Vol, trading with his Vel neighbors; however, this does not last. Eventually the Nezura come and he is enslaved, forced to fight in a Colosseum as a gladiator until finally he is struck down in a match against many opponents.

Later, Nacu and Kur-Dan encounter the same mirror after trying to find Shir, who they see in the distance arguing with the Vel Blade. Kur-Dan touches the mirror out of curiosity and like Shir he sees his life as it might have been. As Kur-Dan’s drinking increases he eventually is thrown out of the legion and eventually even Shir leaves him. Now unemployed, Kur-Dan takes to living in the streets drinking away his pain, eventually dying in an alleyway stabbed and robbed by the others living on the streets.

When Nacu touches the mirror, he sees how his life might have gone had Jura not rescued him. Taken by the Black Vel and enslaved by the Nezura, Nacu worked long years in the mines. When his talents are discovered, he is recruited by his masters. The horrors of the mines are enough to make him put aside his hatred, anything to escape the dank darkness and the constant threat of death. He is trained by the finest masters and eventually leads a unit during the conquest of Heru-Ardesh. Through the wars he rises in prominence and gains greater power, eventually being awarded a governorship of some conquered Tanathan territory. He dies of natural causes, surrounded by children and grand children, and is buried with honors by his Nezuran master.

Disturbed by the visions of the mirror, Nacu and Kur-Dan head back to town. Meanwhile, Shir meets with the Oracle briefly, then heads to an Arai temple in Stambrecht. Shir has a conversation in his head with Wendil, who insists there are rules governing the interactions of the gods with the world of men. Shir becomes frustrated, angered by the inaction of the gods, and curses them all save Wendil right there in their temple. Shir stalks out and tosses some coins at that stunned priest as he leaves. That night he breaks out in boils, but a glow from his Avatar of Shir markings cures them in a few hours.

That same night as Kur-Dan is relaxing in the Inn, a man comes into the Inn and starts yelling at one of the barmaids. As the man reaches for a knife, Kur-Dan springs into action and knocks the man out. As Kur-Dan stands over the man, the barmaid pleads at his back in Sturuk, and the bartender translates saying that this is her husband and that she is begging Kur-Dan not to kill him. Kur-Dan agrees and returns to his room to find Haradina, who asks Kur-Dan what he thinks would have happened had he been drunk. She leaves his room with these words, “Every man is free to make his own choices, but with this freedom comes the responsibility for the choice.”

After a few more days, Aelessa meets up with the heroes and says that she suspects that the dragon has a lair in the Belga Kragvar. They travel three days to the east and she eventually finds a cave that was once the creature’s lair, but it seems to have moved on a few days ago. Searching the area, Aelessa says that she see’s signs of smaller dragons and bootprints. While she cannot track the dragon’s flight, she says the bootprints head northeast towards the Falzansten Belgan.

The heroes travel for nine days and come across a burnt village with Vel looters scattering as they approach. After two more days of travel and they encounter an Arai in plate armor accompanied by a creature known as a Vargaryr, which Kur-Dan knows to be a creature associated with Grundel. The Arai announces that he is a champion of Grundel and that the god wishes Shir dead for his insolence. Skeletons emerge from the surrounding hills as the champion attacks and both Nacu and Kur-Dan are severely annoyed with Shir for dragging them into his fight with the gods of the Arai.

As the battle begins, Kur-Dan and Nacu stand their ground in the center while Shir attacks some of the flanking skeletal archers. The champion and the vargaryr head straight for Shir, and he is hard pressed by their onslaught. Kur-Dan dispatches the skeletal footmen quickly while enduring a rain of arrows while Nacu heals and uses his elemental to shield them. As the last of the Skeletal footmen falls, Kur-Dan and Nacu turn to sees Shir’s lifeless body in the snow. Kur-Dan pushes up the hill and drives the champion back with a ferocious charge, opening up space for Nacu to help Shir. Meanwhile, Nacu raises a wall of stone to shield them from the archers and restores Shir to life. Aelessa does what she can, striking from the bushes and withdrawing in a hit and run style.

With Shir back in the fight, the Vargaryr falls to the ground as one of it’s legs are chopped off. In it’s rage, it lashes out and tears out Kur-Dan’s throat, but a bolt of lightning strikes Kur-Dan’s body and he is instantly brought back to life (through peacebringer). With the Vargaryr down, the champion is dispatched by Shir with two devastating blows and the skeletons fall to pieces. They claim the champion’s ring of Grundel, which rots Shir’s arm when he puts it on. Kur-Dan takes the ring and it seems to not have the same negative effect on him. An hour later a glow form Shir’s avatar markings slowly heals the rotting arm.

Three days later the heroes find themselves near the dragon’s lair, unsure how to proceed.

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Adventure 27: A Painful Request

The heroes proceed south in search of Garstwulf, the Arai elementalist who is said to be able to free Nacu from the ice prison. After traveling three days they come across a Vel warrior of advanced years named Harachna who says that he has grown too old and is now a burden to his kin. Honoring the old way, he asks that one of the group give him an honorable death. Shir accepts and meets the Vel on the road for a duel. After a few moments of posturing, Shir strikes and Harachna leans into the blow, taking a fatal wound to the chest. Harachna falls to his knees and thanks Shir, after which Shir strikes off Harachna’s head to end the Vel’s suffering. Harachna’s body is burned in accordance with the old ways.

During the journey, Shir wishes aloud that there were a war annui to train Kur-Dan. Suddenly, a creature claiming to be The War Annui appears and converses with Shir. Little does Shir know that Utog has learned the arts of the Aelthenar, and as such can now create illusions.

After five more days of travel the heroes reach the village of Ostebrecht. In the village they hear rumors that Malathraxis has attacked Meunchen and that a Vel shaman has been healing plague victims in the Dal. After asking around they eventually find out that Garstwulf lives a few hours to the south, so they head to his hut. After speaking with Garstwulf, he agrees to free Nacu in exchange for a favor. A dire grimstak has taken control of a local grimstak pack and has been killing villagers around Ostebrecht, Arstwyk, and Joerderer. The heroes agree to the terms and Garstwulf uses an elemententalist ritual to free Nacu.

The heroes first travel to Ostebrecht, but they find that none of the villagers have been taken. They do mention that several merchants and travelers heading to the east have gone missing. Feeling that this is all they can find out here, the group heads to Arstwyk.

In Arstwyk the heroes learn that a hunter and a logger have gone missing in the Urstwallen Vol (forest) to the southeast. There are also a number of villagers who have seen the grimstak pack from a distance.

The group presses on to Joerderer, taking a room at the local inn. Here Shir runs into an Arai woman named Aelessa Tholfringr, a hunter and tracker of sorts. After negotiating with her, she eventually agrees to track the dire grimstak for 3 mp. Meanwhile, Kur-Dan mistakenly thinks Shir is bartering for other services, and smiles inwardly. In town they discover that several villagers have been killed and that a child named Jargen has been taken. When morning comes the heroes meet up with Aelessa and her grimstak Fanrir, after which they head towards the Urstwallen Vol.

As the heroes travel deeper into the woods, Nacu and Utog fail to notice odd features of certain trees, and so the group is taken by surprise when four of the trees spring to life and attack the heroes. Kur-Dan, with the aid of Nacu, does his best to keep the animated trees striking at him and not his more vulnerable compatriots. He is tossed about and raked by gnarled claws as Shir and Utog attempt to bring down their foes.

All is going well until one of the creatures gets two hands on Kur-Dan and tears him in half, sending a shower of entrails and fluids raining down upon the snow. Miraculously, the enchantments in Peacebringer bring Kur-Dan back to life and the fight continues. Seemingly moments later, one of the trees lands a vicious rake, severing Kur-Dan’s arm at the shoulder. Nacu springs into action and quickly reattaches the limb. As Nacu begins to give flame to the swords and claws of his allies, the tree creatures begin to fall. When only two remain, one of the creatures gets a hold of Utog in dire bren form and tears open his belly, but Nacu quickly revives him and the last tree is felled.

After tending to their wounds, Aelessa leads the heroes to a cave entrance. The heroes as Aelessa to scout for an alternative entrance and she reports back that she has found a small shaft leading into the cave, but it is too small for anyone to use. The group decides to have Nacu seal the front entrances with stone using his earth powers and to expand the side passage so they can use that instead. As they make their way into the cave as stealthily as possible, Nacu spots a concealed pit with only one narrow walkway that is safe. He also hears a child in the distance crying. After crossing this, they eventually come to the caves end where the grimstak pack appears to be sleeping, with the dire grimstak asleep next to the crying child. Shir attempts to sneak over and get the child, but when he steps upon the raised stone area the dire grimstak is there is a boom that wakes the pack. Shir quickly hides behinds some rocks before the pack is fully alert.

The grimstak attack the heroes and Shir emerges to attack the grimstak from behind. Shortly after he does, the dire grimstak leaps down from the platform and attacks Shir. His vicious bites and poisonous saliva badly wound Shir, who is pulled down to the ground in the middle of snarling grimstaks. Kur-Dan forces his way through the grimstak line and gets the attention of the dire grimstak, swinging the momentum in the heroes favor. Eventually the grimstak are eliminated and the dire grimstak falls.

Garstwulf enters the cave as the dire grimstak changes into the form of an Arai, and says, “Ulfhadnir, my brother, I hope you find peace.” With his dying breath, Ulfhadnir looks to Utog and says, “I pass my gift on to you, may you learn to control it better than I.” With that, the power of the Aroudin passes to Utog.

The heroes return to Garswulf’s hut where Garstwulf instructs Nacu in the ways of the Volcanist. Meanwhile, Shir negotiates with Aelessa to help them track the dragon Malathraxis. After much haggling, she eventually agrees to aid them for 10% of the dragon’s hoard.

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