JEDI MIND TRICK

 

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DANGER IN DARKSHELF

 

  Darkshelf was so named for the stony waterfront consisting of dark shale and slate. On a rocky bluff overlooking the village less than a mile to the north, a massive quarry operation had been producing modest amounts of limestone and granite for decades, stone used in construction all around the region and neighboring nations. In the last three to four months, production and profits have quintupled, ostensibly due to the efforts of Bazili Erak, a orange-haired dwarf with beard to match, who talked the overlord of the Darkshelf region, Nestor, into granting him title for a share of the revenues. The dwarf’s mining ability has not only quintupled production output, but he has also pursued new tunnels in the quarry and uncovered veins of pure quartz, and claims to have found the beginnings of a vein of gold deep in the quarry.

A small dedicated workforce toils in three shifts around the clock to extract limestone from the quarry. There are three levels to the mining production and a steady flow of oxcarts hauls rough blocks of limestone from the mines to the docks. From there, the stone is loaded by large hulking steam cranes into river barges that travel up and down the coast. Most of the barges transport the rock to the nearby city of Highport, a dark city ruled by Orcs and Goblins.

The Orcish coin has drawn in bandits, pirates, and slavers to the small village. Sailors, fishermen, and farmers have been abducted recently. A few have been found been found savaged and dismembered along the shores of the river, suspectedly left as a warning to any who might try to battle the villains. However, Bazili Erak stepped up and hired a group of four soldiers from the Drachensgrab Hills. 

Bazili led these fighters into the woods to the East of the village, tracking the bandits back to their camp. During a midnight raid, they were able to wipe out a large part of the bandits and freed a score of captives. They also captured a few of the bandits alive, dragging them back to Darkshelf where they were swiftly tried and executed by hanging. Despite the recent successes against the bandits, a cloud of unease still hangs over Darkshelf. The citizens know that the bandits might return at any time and seek revenge. But for now life continues as it has for the last few months with the quarry cranking out rock for sale to Highport.

Our heroes found themselves, as oft they do, enjoying the local tavern for the evening. Bazili Erak was present, as usual, for his evening meal but on this occasion he was meeting with the Drachensgrab mercenaries, offering them a job working as security on the quarry docks. A local man named Silas overheard the discussion and offered his services. Afterwards, Silas recruited several other adventurers within the tavern, hoping to boost the security detail and make the job easier. He recruited an elf ranger known only as Caelynn, a cheerful halfling monk named Joros Highhill, a very hungry wizard calling himself Rhan Cygnarson, a gnome mage called Tibult, Ram McLargefist the barbarian, and city watch officer Voss Willowfall.

Before going to the quarry, the party visited the local Church of Saint Cuthbert of the Cudgel. Saint Cuthbert is the combative deity of Wisdom, Dedication, and Zeal. They found that only one acolyte was present and he was rather unhelpful. They did purchase some holy water from the priest before departing the Church.

Late that evening, the newly hired security force – led by Silas Cooper – left Darkshelf and walked the short distance up the rising road to the north and arrived just outside the quarry proper near midnight. The four mercenaries from the tavern was strangely absent, but the other seemed not to notice perhaps because of the musical performance taking place near the quarry docks.

The performer from the tavern, The Great Rodello, was there near the docks playing a tune and singing a little song. The guards, three of them wearing dark cloaks against the chill of the night, watched the performance respectfully if not uneasily as the others approached. When Rodello stopped playing his tunes, the guards spurned him, shouting for him to leave and stop distracting them. Rodello departed with haste much to the confusion of Silas and the others. However, he was later replaced by a man calling himself Igor, the Mediocre.

The party met briefly with Bazili Erak who explained their duties for the night. They would remain in the caves of the dock area, acting as a security force for any intruders who may try to enter the Quarry by way of the Pelyra River. Bazili explained that a group of bandits have recently been harassing his men here at the docks. The presence of the party will serve to bolster security and deter future attacks from the bandits.

After their dwarven employer departed, the party explored the caves and established waypoints and roving patrols. They also discovered a small “hidden” room which apparently served as storage as it contained several empty pallets. During the first hour of their watch, Tibult the Gnome used his natural abilities to speak with small creatures to summon a cave rat. During a short but squeaky conversation between the gnome and rodent, Tibult discovered that the caves were often visited by monsters that came from below in the quarry. The rodent explained that whenever the dwarf invited new people to the caves the monsters would come and kill them.

At about the same time, the guards from outside on the docks spoke with Silas, explaining that they were going to shutter the front doors of the caves because they had seen lights on the river. Closing off the caves would help to secure the quarry. Silas was tempted to climb up on the ledge of the cave entrance, separating himself from the rest of the group, but he decided not to do this. Instead, he watched as the guards closed and locked the double wooden doors to the caves. Silas raised an eyebrow, and checked the door. The wooden doors were about five inches thick and reinforced with metal. Not only that, but the door was designed to be locked from the outside, essentially trapping all of them inside the caves. He pushed on the doors helplessly as he heard a heavy wooden bar being placed on the other side by the guards. He tested the doors with his Thieves Tools, finding that the door was built specifically to defeat any attempts to pry the door open from this side.

As Joros Highhill buised himself with searching the “secret storage room” for anything interesting, Caelynn searched the area for any obvious tracks. Neither found anything of interest. However, they were surprised to hear Ram attempting to smash down the wooden doors while Silas supervised. The barbarian slammed his large frame against the doors several times, finding that the door was too firmly secured to be battered down by even his strength. Meanwhile, Voss and Rhan searched the metal door at the opposite side of the caves only to find that it was locked from the other side too.

They were trapped in the caves, and that was when they noticed the wraiths slowly approaching from the far end of the caves. Their eerie green eyes glowed menacingly. Wraiths are incorporeal creatures born of evil and darkness, usually victims of another undead spirit that has turned them undead by draining their lifeforce. Such spirits can assemble an army of undead quickly, allowing their spawn to propagate other monsters. As such, wraiths usually move in packs, seeking out the living to consume them with their life-draining touch.

 

 

The party wasted no time in moving into action. However, they found that the wraiths were formidable. Although they did use their holy water to coat their weapons, the wraiths managed to inflict enough damage to knock several of the party unconscious, leaving them dying and on the verge of being turned undead. However, liberal use of Keoghtom’s Ointment managed to save our heroes from the brink of death’s door. In the end, most of them smelled of aloe, but they were alive.

They settled in for the night, resting and setting watches in case any more wraiths arrived. In the morning, the two wooden doors opened to reveal the treacherous Bazili Erak and four of his men. The party sprung into action, slaying the four guards. Unfortunately, Bazili knocked Silas to the side with a well-placed shoulder and ran towards the cave entrance. As he ran, he adjusted a ring on his finger, activating a Blink spell. The dwarf winked out of existence and returned within the cavern hall, running as fast as his short legs would carry him towards the metal door.

He turned the corner, pursued by Joros Highhill. However, Bazili was too quick and managed to reach the door before the Halfling could stop him. He adjusted another ring, causing a burst of smoke and a small explosion as he enacted a Knock spell. The Dwarf leaped through the now open doorway, rushing down a flight of steps into the first level of the Quarry mines.

The party regrouped and decided not to chase Bazili into the mines. Instead, they chose to trek back to Darkshelf to see the authorities. Leaving the caves and the docks, they walked along the twisting path back to the village. They decided to follow Voss who suggested they go to visit the town Overlord named Nester. They walked to his large estate on the far side of town and knocked on the door.

The door was answered by Nester’s servant who refused to allow the heroes into the estate and informed them that they were marked as being wanted for the murder of several miners and mine guards earlier in the night. The servant suggested that they leave right away, and slammed the door.

The walked back into town, following Voss to the Watch Station. Caelynn and Rhan decided to hang back away from the group, deciding to wait to see what might happen next. Tibult and Ram lurked outside the building while Igor posted up on the other side of the street to wait and observe. Silas went to meet with his Underworld Contact, seeking passage out of the city.

Silas was informed by his contact that most of the town is either in Bazili’s pocket or being blackmailed by him. The dwarf is powerful and resourceful, backed by a large organization based out of the city of Highport. For 100 gold, Silas could be transported to The Hidden City of Suderham in two days.

Voss and Joros discovered that Nestor was inside, sitting at the table with several other authorities of the town, discussing what to do about the reports of violence at the Quarry. The village overlord Nester, middle aged and stocky, stood up and patted at his graying hair. “Bazili was here early this morning, and reported that you and your miscreant friends murdered a score of guards and twice as many miners at the Quarry,” he said with a sigh. “I’m disappointed, Voss. I suggest you surrender now and wait in the cell for a trial.” He gestured to the small holding cells at the far end of the room.

Voss recognized most of the people at the table with Nester. There were some of the Watch officers, the town Magistrate, and two of the more affluent village merchants. However, she didn’t recognize the Elf that was sitting at the table. He was tall and slender with hair the color of hay. He introduced himself as Glyrthiel, keeper of the Quarry guardhouse.

Although Voss and Joros tried to reason with Nester, they did agree to surrender their weapons and enter the cell for holding. The group slowly left the office, leaving a single Watchman to oversee the prisoners. Within an hour, Glythiel returned with a large plate of foof for the prisoners and guard, but neither Voss or Joros would eat it for fear that it was poisoned. Sadly, the guard devoured the fine smelling food and did not die. Poison didn’t seem to be an ingredient in the breakfast feast.

While Voss and Joros remained imprisoned, the other party members did some investigating around the town. The searched Bazili’s and Glythiel’s houses, seeking incriminating evidence. In the end, Silas was able to recover a logbook from Bazili’s office in the Quarry offices that contained all the incriminating evidence they would need, however it was clear that there was no way to seek proper justice in Darkshelf.

The logbook was written in code, Thieves Script, the written form of Thief’s Cant. Silas was able to decipher the logbook easily, revealing that Bazili is working for someone named Brubgrak from Highport. Bazili used Brubgrak’s coin and influence to negotiate a deal for control of the Quarry. Bazili is a part of a growing slaver network who are taking captives and funneling them to the despoiled city of Highport in Pomjari. Brubgrak acts as a broker, buying slaves from bands of slavers and hiding them in the depths of the lowest level of the Quarry until they can be shipped under cover of darkness to Highport. From there, the captives are sold in the slave market.

The book also indicates that almost every merchant and authority figure in Darkshelf is either being paid off by Bazili for cooperation or being blackmailed to ensure their loyalty. The Quarry serves as a convenient front for the slaving network, and it is clear that most of the miners understand what is going on within the mines. Increased wages have bought their silence and cooperation. Although the first and second shift are legitimate mining activities at the Quarry, the third shift is made up entirely of Brugrak’s men. Additionally, the recent raid on the “bandit camp” was actually a staged affair for Brubgrak to eliminate some of his slaver allies who had been suspected of failing loyalty. Bazili met with them under the pretense of discussing business, and wiped them out. The most dangerous ones were murdered outright and then rest were dragged back for a “trial.”

Brubgrak is confident in his control over Darkshelf because of the presence of the Cult of the Elemental Eye. These corrupt prophets have come from Highport and established two sources of power: the Church of Saint Cuthbert and a small shrine in the lowest level of the Quarry. Any priests found to be visiting the town are hunted down by the mud cultists and sacrificed to their vile god.

Finally, the logbook has a section of names of several “untrustworthy persons” who were duped into becoming trapped in the caves and killed. The roster holds about 250 names, including that of two allies of the party: Kwon the Monk and Jane Goodall the Druid.

Having gathered all this information and deeming the village to be unsafe, the party helped their friends escape the jail. Together they headed into the woods to find a safe place to take refuge and plan their next moves.

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GREYHAWK ADVENTURES

The world of GREYHAWK  depicts a magical land at
the crossroads of countless possibilities. The most
fantastic of many worlds, It is a
world of magic, mystery, and the imagination.
The gem of this world is the city of Greyhawk, a
teeming metropolis that attracts heroes and villains
alike. Warriors, merchants, wizards, beggars, clerics,
sages, and thieves fill its streets in search of high
adventure.
The GREYHAWK campaign centers on the Flanaess,
a multinational land emerging from a dark period of
war. Its people face each new day with growing optimism,
but evil lurks in shadowed caverns and decadent
courts. The final outcome of this intrigue is ever
in question, and new heroes must always be found to
keep their realms from destruction.

WATERDEEP’S CITY WATCH

The Waterdeep City Watch is the everday police force within the city as opposed to the City Guard which is the standing army of the city. Watch Patrols pass along main streets once between bells, and vary their routes as often as possible. Locations known to be “High Crime Areas” receive around five patrols per bell, as do known seedy taverns and inns. Temples are policed lightly, because clergy are assumed to police their own grounds and buildings. Watch patrols are on foot but can call horsedrawn watch prison carts to carry off prisoners or confiscated goods.

Members of the Watch enjoy a wide but legally undefined immunity from most Waterdhavian laws while exercising their duties. They can appeal any sentence uttered against them by any Black Robed Magistrate to the Lords of Waterdeep.

On the other hand, watch members hate “bad” Watch members and will hound a suspected bad apple until they flee the city, agree to all investigations, or clearly establish their innocence. Watch members found guilty of crimes or misbehavior are often fined by the watch as well as punished under law. Conversely, distinguished service often earns handsome retirement bonuses from the Lords.

Most Waterdhavians grumble at the Watch, but obey them, because the Watch is seen as fair and helpful as well as jack-booted.

Persons arrested by the Watch are often taken to holding cells in the city wall towers, but the main lockup is a level of ironbar cells in the “dungeons” of Castle Waterdeep, with dangerous prisoners being handed over to the Guard for imprisonment in caverns inside Mount Waterdeep.

 

THE CACTUS CLOAK

Hundreds of tiny cactus needles cover the green Cactus Cloak. When worn, the cloak moves and flows so that its wearer never need fear being pricked by the needles. The cloak acts as masterwork armor spikes, even if the wearer isn’t wearing armor. When used as armor spikes, the wearer gains proficiency in their use. They do 1d6 points of piercing damage (x2 crit) on a successful grapple and count as a light weapon when used as a melee weapon. Once per day, the wearer can whip the cloak in a chosen direction and fire a volley of needles. This volley of needles fills a 30-foot-long cone; all creatures in this area must make a DEX save (DC 17) or suffer 9d6 points of piercing damage. This damage is physical and is subject to damage reduction. Those who succeed at the saving throw take half damage.

Also, by wrapping the cloak about the body, the wearer can assume the shape of a Medium-size cactus; doing so is a standard action. The wearer can remain in cactus form for up to 9 hours. Once deactivated, this power cannot be activated again for 24 hours. The closest inspection cannot reveal that the cactus is anything other than a normal cactus, unless magic such as detect magic or true seeing is used. While in cactus form, the wearer can observe all that transpires around him as if he were in his normal form. The wearer’s hit points and saving throws are unaffected. A wearer gains a +10 natural armor bonus to AC but has an effective Dexterity score of 1. The wearer is also immune to critical hits while in cactus form, and all clothing and gear carried or worn changes with him. The wearer can dismiss the cactus form as a free action.

 

SMEE’S MUTINY: A WICKED WEB

Smee started his career as a smuggler. He slowly became known for an uncanny knack of finding items that were otherwise impossible to find. This is what brought Smee into contact with Solomon in the hope that the odd little man could help find the Ring of Wishes. When Smee joined Solomon’s crew, he was assigned to manage and organize the Sea Dogs. Although Smee puts on an act that he is clumsy and awkward, he is a cruel and wicked man, happliy carrying out orders for the Captain while plotting against him.
 
Smee plotted his mutiny carefully, biding his time until he could betray Solomon once and for all. This opportunity finbally arrived after the capture of the Blue Goblin ship. As the Lucille returned to Calimport, Smee stageg his mutiny.
 
The Ring is not as Solomon believes, but instead is much more powerful. This has been revealed to Smee since coming into the employ of the Demogorgon worshipping Vanthus. Smee started hearing the whispers the first time he entered the Vanderboren Vaults, and now the power of the Ring has been made clear: it holds the power to become a god.
 
Smee convinced Solomon that Albion was the resting place of the Ring, and then encouraged him to make contact with the Lotus Flowers to make contact with Vanthus’s people. This led to the Blue Nixie job. Solomon thought that the job was only to sink the ship, but Smee knew the truth: the assassination of Vanthus’s sister, Lavinia. With Lavinia dead, her lover (Nemien Roblach) wanted revenge. Smee made sure that the doppleganger knew who to blame.
 
Smee assisted Nemien Roblach in stowing away in the holds of the Lucille. Roblach was the original owner of the ship, and Smee hoped that the doppleganger would weed out some of the crew whoi stood in his way of mutiny. However, it did not work out that way.
 
But once the mutiny was completed, and Smee was finally in command of the ship, he made contact with Vanthus and was provided with the resource of two ships from a Fire Giant fleet. Apparently a Fire Giant chief named Lord Zalto had made an agreement with Vanthus, giving Smee more resources to carry out his plan.
 
In meeting with these Fire Giant pirates, Smee learned that Zalto was sending out his men scouring the land, looking for all of the pieces of the vonindod, an ancient artifact. In doing this, the Fire Giants had made an alliance with Drow slavers. Smee suddenly had a new possible employer and a way of getting rid of the pirate mercenaries waiting for Solomon on Albion’s Southern shore.
 
The attack on Ragnir and his crew went well, bolstered by the might of the Fire Giants. With Solomon dead and his mercenary pirates sold to the Drow as slaves, Smee returned to Farshore to meet with Vanthus. Everything was falling into place.
 
Smee assisted Vanthus in moving Vanthus’s amassed treasure into the Vault. Although Vanthus had drained almost all of his family’s wealth establishing Farshore, Smee discovered that he had made a lucrative deal with a Waterdeep Lord named Braethan Cazondur. Trade bars were pouring in, filling thre Vault once again.
 
Smee’s plan was always to gain entrance to the Vault, knowing it was the resting place of the Ring. As the Sea Dogs and Vanthus’s men were moving crates of trade bars into the ziggaurat, Smee was busy plundering the Ring. With it in his possession, he sailed away on the Lucille, heading for Waterdeep to pick up yet another shipment of golden trade bars for Vanthus.,
 
Smee laughed with glee, cupping the Ring in his hand. In mere hours, he would join the ranks of the god. He would become the rival of Umberlee, calling himself The Hurricane King.

VANTHUS VANDERBOREN

Vanthus Vanderboren is the son of Verrick and Larissa Vanderboren, and the older brother of Lavinia. He is ruthless and greedy, seeking to control Calinmport’s sea trade. He was fundamental in forming the fledgling criminal organization known as “The Lotus Flowers.” He has been plotting and scheming for quite some time, slowly gaining more and more control of the day to day business in Farshore, his family’s trading post on the Isle of Albion.

Vanthus set his plan into motion with the murder of his parents. He hired Soller Vark to assassinate them, making the murder look like a common mugging in a back alley. With his parents dead, he inherited half of the Vanderboren holdings. The other half went to his younger sister, Lavinia. Vanthus hired the Lotus Flowers to deal with Lavinia, as well. Her ship, the Blue Nixie, was sabotaged with crates of Alchemist Fire which were rigged to explode as she set sail in the Calimport Bay. With her gone, all assests of the Vanderboren estate fell to Vanthus.

Vanthus is now focused on bolstering the resources of Farshore. He has the business of many pirate crews and the small colony has blossomed. It is perched on the edge of the known world, the last stop before the endless expanse of the Isle of Dread. It is a hub of trade, a bastion of civilization in a realm haunted by piracy, disease, violent weather, and monsters.

His family vault continues to fill and soon he will have enough resources to move on to the next step of his plan. For now, he bides his time, praying to Demogorgon for wisdom and inspiration.

THE ISLE OF DREAD

Many years ago, Maztica princes sailed to the Isle and claimed it as their own.  They cleared vast stretches of the jungle to settle the area. The land was fertile and bounteous, perfect for farming. The settlers founded a large city on the Central Plateau naming it Thanaclan. For 300 years, the people of the Isle prospered.

Then came the Savage Tide.

Myth talks of a terrible earthquake, of a time when the earth opened and lit the skies on fire. A time when the god’s wrath cast down their ancestors from the lofty peaks. After that faithful day, the Thanclan Empire was no more. All that remained were ruins of a once great- city and a scattering of tribes destined to endure disease, famine, and monstrous predators. The people proudly point to the fact that they have survived, despite the trials there gods have placed before them. Their ancestors must have angered them greatly indeed and as a result, the people of the Seven Villages regard the ancient ruins, particularly the central plateau of the isle, as taboo. It is unwise to tread upon ground cursed by the gods. And so the Great Wall was built.

This is the Myth of the Isle of Dread.

The truth of what brought down the ancient empire is much different. In the weeks before the fall, their civilization was at the height of its glory. Its people had settled a wild frontier and constructed an incredible city atop the central plateau. This was Thanaclan. And yet the people of Thanaclan grew complacent, even decadent. When a new threat arose from the flooded tunnels below their isle, they were ill prepared to defend themselves.

The people did not realize that the Isle was inhabitated by native creatures known as Kopru, a degenerate race of heat-loving amphibians. As the Olman finished construction of a great temple to honor their gods, the koprus of the islands depths took action. Their prayers to the Prince of Demons were answered with a vile plot. For four decades, the koprus toiled in their subterranean lairs, cultivating and nurturing the largest black pearl the world had ever seen. Birthed from a fiendish giant oyster and poisoned with malign magic and liquid madness harvested from the ruined aboleth city, the koprus placed this first shadow pearl where the people of Thanaclan would find it.

Before long the irresistible beauty of the shadow pearl was ensconced within the great temple, and its fell influence began to surface. The religious leaders of Thanaclan grew wrathful and cruel, and powerful storms began to lash the island. At the height of a great typhoon, one of Thanaclans leaders woke from his fugue and realized what evil had come to Thanaclan.

He came to the chamber of the Great One, where the shadow pearl was kept on display, and smashed it to fragments to break its curse forever. Yet this act only sealed the empire’s doom. As the pearl cracked, it unleashed the first and greatest savage tide. Not only did the tide transform many of Thanaclans citizens, it also tore holes in reality between the Prime, Elemental Plane of Water, and the Abyss.

Legions of monsters assaulted the empire. The land itself rebelled. Earthquakes shook the isle, volcanoes exploded, and under the streets of Thanaclan burst massive geysers that brought scalding death. Many perished in that first night, and in a matter of months the kingdom of Thanaclan had all but vanished from the world, replaced by a prehistoric land destined to become the Isle of Dread.

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THE INFAMOUS MISTER SMEE

Smee started his career as a smuggler. He slowly became known for an uncanny knack of finding items that were otherwise impossible to find. This is what brought Smee into contact with Solomon in the hope that the odd little man could help find the Ring of Wishes. When Smee joined Solomon’s crew, he was assigned to manage and organize the Sea Dogs. Although Smee puts on an act that he is clumsy and awkward, he is a cruel and wicked man, happliy carrying out orders for the Captain. Smee is a man who loves violence. He has made the Sea Dogs into a group of ruthless soldiers.

Smee plotted his mutiny carefully, biding his time until he could betray Solomon once and for all. After all, Smee has known the location of the Ring of Wishes for quite some time. The odd little man plans to take the Ring for himself, wishing for an item that will allow him to become god-like. With such a device in his possession, he will set himself up as the Hurricane King, master of pirates.

Smee entered into an agreement with Vanthus Vanderboren shortly after the Lucille arrived in Calimport. With the help of Vanthus’s criminal organization known as The Lotus Flowers, Smee directed Solomon to the Isle of Dread. When the Lucille set sail, the trap was set. However, Smee’s only difficulty was the hiring on of several mercenaries by Solomon to act as a Deck Crew. Smee would have to figure out how to bring them into his plan of mutiny, or eliminate them before coming to the island.

Vanthus gave Smee as the resources needed to carry out his plans. Smee believes that Solomon is dead, and his plan is in full swing. He is helping Vanthus to deal with the Crimson Fleet, a band of Fire Giant pirates from Ironslag flying the flag of Duke Zalto. Once the deal is complete, Smee will be paid with enough trade bars to retire comfortably to Waterdeep and begin to set himself up as the Hurrican King.

 

07: VANDERBOREN VAULT

Active Characters: Machavelli, Tia, Daehir, Matrim, Ragnir, Quarie

Having made good their escape from the Drow, the crew of the Black Drake turned their eyes North to the Vault. As they passed over the Southern shore, they noticed two ships there and several pirates (likely under Smee’s command) setting up a base camp. Ragnir decided not to engage, and sailed directly for the Vault.

Arriving at the Vault, they discovered that it was an ancient ruined stepped pyramid, likely used as a temple of some kind before it was converted into storage for the Vanderboren family. They saw that two ships were docked on the nearby river, and men were carrying crates into the Vault. Seadog guards were nearby, indicating further involvement by Smee. They also spied a railroad track leading away from the Vault in the general direction of the Northeast.

After a vote, the crew decided to find a suitable place to set down within the river, far enough away to avoid detection. They awaited until after dark, and returned to the Vault.

They used the rings to gain entry, finding a second door that required use of a ring as a key as well. Entering the third room, they discovered that it was an apparent dead end.

As they gathered in this third room to discuss their options, they were surprised to see several dark cloaked figures enter the room and begin flying around like birds of prey.

The crew put up a good fight against the swarm of Vampires, but without coordinated efforts, the creatures were too powerful for them. The crew began to fall, one by one, until only Quarie, the Goliath, remained.

Ragnir watched as his crew dropped like flies before him. He was powerless to save them. Before he could act, he was set on by a trio of vampires. They tore his throat out, and his life seeped away. Ragnir was dead.

Quarie ran. She ran headlong into the far wall, and bumped into the pillar there. With a screech of stone on stone, the pillar moved, opening a doorway into the next room. She ducked inside, finding a room stacked floor to ceiling with crates. In the center of the room was a stone statue, depicting the Vanderboren patriarch.

The Vampires continued to focus on the crew out in the other room. Most of them were weak or dying. They were easy prey. Quarie climbed up one of the pile and knocked one of the crates down, revealing Gold Trade bars, She knocked a second down, revealing a crate of the same.

Ragnir’s eyes flew open. He gasped, returning to life. He felt strange. He rose to his feet, realizing that he was now undead. He was a vampire. He moved quickly, pulling the fallen Matrim to the other room with Quarie.

The Goliath was busy dumping over crates, each one dumping out more and more golden trade bars. Every crate, it seemed, was full of them.

Ragnir reached down to his medallion he had found earlier. It was marked, he knew, with the symbol of Demogorgon. He placed his now cold flesh on the medallion, and willed it to work. He reached out within his mind, a whisper of help to the Prince of Madness.

Suddenly the sky was black and full of demons, The air was choked with smoke. The ground was jagged with cracked stone. The crew were all there, and Ragnir stood in their center. Somehow they all knew that they were in the Abyss. They were in the home of Demons.

“No,” shouted a shrill voice. “This will not do!”

Then the scenery shifted, and the world melted around them. When it reformed, they were standing in a Underdark cavern filled with huge crystals. They stood there, clearly disoriented and confused. They had just been within the Abyss and now they were in the Underdark.

“Idiot!” answered a second voice, this one low and growling. “Not here. Not NOW…”

Ragnir knew these were Demogorgon arguing with himself. Its two heads have individual minds, called Aameul (the left head) and Hethradiah (the right head). Demogorgon’s duality is that his two personas strive to dominate (and even kill) each other, but are unable to because they are aspects of one another. Fitting for the Demon Lord of Madness.

The world swirled again, and the crew found themselves standing at the entrance to the Vanderboren Vault again. Ragnir looked at himself, and realized he was no longer a vampire. He glanced around, seeing that all his companions were unharmed and well rested. In fact … everything was as it had been a few hours before.

“What in the Nine Hells,” muttered Daehir.

“We’ve been sent back in time.” Ragnir’s voice was quiet. “The demon is allowing us a second chance.”