- Thaed, 13th Level Human Cleric
- Fo, 13th Level Human Monk
- Brûne, 13th Level Human Paladin
- Ki’rok, 11th Level Drow Ranger
- Deiter, 11th Level Human Fighter
- Alric, 11th Level Human Paladin
- Abernacky, 6th Level Human Fighter
- Tom, 5th Level Halfling Wizard
- Tharivol, 11th Level Moon Elf Fighter
- Vrae’ree, 13th Level Drow Wizard,
- Adabon, 13th Level Copper Elf Fighter
“What a lamentable thing it is that men should blame the gods and regard us as the source of their troubles, when it is their own transgressions which bring them suffering that was not their destiny.”
Act 1: GETTING THERE IS HALF THE FUN
The Elves took a different route to the Sunset Mountains. They travelled for several days through the Eastern wilderness with the assistance of Elven Rangers until they reached The Eyrie where they made camp. From there they could see the Well of Dragons and the evil forces amassing there. The Mountain looked like an ant hill, swarming with creatures faithful to Tiamat. They could also see the Goblin Gate, a “back door” to the mountain that allowed the Goblin tribes to come and go without troubling the Dragon Cult.
The Elves departed at first light, and began the treacherous climb up the mountain towards the Goblin Gate. They encountered a unit of Ogres who were wearing the Seven Pointed Star, a Symbol of Io on their matching piecemeal armor. During this battle, the Elves were all wounded and their Ranger companions were brutally killed. The Orges pursued them relentlessly through the Goblin Tunnels until finally they Elves were able to duck into a side tunnel and hide. After a some time, the Ogres seemed to give up.
“Leave them,” growled one of the Ogres. “They’ll never survive the tunnels.”
“Yeah,” grunted another one. “Let the Goblins worry about ’em.”
They all laughed, and shuffled off the way they came.
Act 2: THE GOBLIN TUNNELS
The Goblin tunnels were lave tubes, a series of natural conduits formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. These tubes were long extinct, meaning the lava flow had ceased and the rock had cooled and left a maze of long, cave-like channels. The Goblins made use of these channels, claiming much of the Eastern caves for their home
The tunnels were treacherous but the Elves used the map provided by the Ranger Scouts effectively, passing through the maze of dark passages with little effort.
At one point they did diverge from the map, following a passage to the North after seeing a dark form in the shadows. They encountered a strange Halfing who wore a badge bearing the symbol of the Dragon Cult. The Elves tried to intimidate the Halfling first, and failing that attacked him. However, the strange little man uttered a Word of Recall, vanishing from sight to a safe location. Vree’Ree grumbled to his companions about how his opponents always seem to have a means of magical escape.
After the Halfling escaped, they returned to their original path, and followed the map to a place where two Dragonclaws¹ crouched watching something through a hole in the floor. The foot soldiers were dressed in the typical leather armor and masks of the Dragon Cult. They did not seem to hear the Elves approaching them, and gasped with surprise when Vree’Ree spoke them them to ask what they were doing.
The other soldier nodded, his face concealed by the dark leather mask. He spoke with a baritone voice that revealed his ethnicity as Calishite, Humans from the South. “We were going to assist but it seems like the Monk has it under control.”
The Elves made short work of the two Dragonclaws, and then descended down the hole in the floor as indicated by the Ranger’s map. There was a short note written in Elven on the map:
“Descend the chute into the sewers. From there, head north until you comes to the abandoned temple. You will find the elevator within the temple.”
Act 3: INTO THE SEWERS
The Elves descended the shaft carefully, entering the sewers. The smells was putrid, especially to the senses of an Elf. Looking back to the South, they saw that the sewer stretched backwards out of sight. The tunnel was at a slight grade that allowed the foul smelling water to drift to the South and out of the mountain.
As for the melee the two cultists were watching, there were the carcasses of two Otyugh laying within the gently flowing sewer water. Both creatures were torn in half and gutted, freshly killed. Their dark blood was splattered on the passageway walls.
The Elves paced forward, walking for several minutes until they reached the small cavern marked as the temple that contained the elevator. Peering in, they saw their Human companions standing in a circle within the chamber, a small stone pedestal at the center of their circle. They were all bantering, apparently in an argument. The Elves moved forward, eager to join their companions.
ACT 4: THE DARK MONK
Foo watched as the three Elves passed him. He wasn’t actually in the lava tube tunnel but instead he lurked within another Plane peering out from the Darkness. The Plane of Shadow was growing in power with each passing day. Slowly, through the powerful might of The Weave, Lolth was using the Darkening to fuse the Shadow Plane with the Prime. And Foo was fine with that. His powers of Ki came from the darkness, gloom, and shadow. He was one with it and it was one with him. He was the Darkness. He was the Night. He was the Shadow.
He smiled thinly, and stepped through the thin layer between that world and this one. He felt his body adjust, felt solid stone beneath his feet, smelled the acrid stink of Goblin. He glanced for a moment at the Elves and then sprang into action.
He launched himself through the air, spinning as he sailed at his first opponent. He spiraled past Tharivol, jabbing out with a series of Ki-empowered strikes that hit as solidly as any mace or club. The mok’s fists and feet hammered into the unsuspecting Elf and knocked him of of his feet against the smooth, damp wall of the tunnel.
Vree’Ree and Adabon spun to see a man land gently next to them. He looked to be a mirror image of their ally Fo but a darker reflection. He was rugged with many scars and tattoos all over his dark flesh. His eyes were like that of a wild animal that is barely held in check. He growled deep in his throat, and jumped towards the Dark Elf sending elbows and knees out with the intent to batter the Wizard to the ground.
Luckily, Vree’Ree was faster than the Monk. He ducked away, feeling the wind on each of those four strikes tossed at him. As the Monk landed on the wet stone of the tunnel, he knew that he has underestimated his enemies. He heard the Wizard mumbling in a spidery arcane language, and smelled a hint of guano. He knew what was coming. Foo grunted, reaching out with his innate powers of Ki and forced his will to take control of the shadows within the tunnel.
The Fireball washed down the tunnel furiously, burning everything in its path and leaving the tunnel smoldering. Vree’Ree blinked in amazement as he saw the Monk had disappeared, and then suddenly emerged from the shadows as if he had become one with them long enough to avoid the magical fire. The Dark Elf cursed, and began to summon up his will again to cast another spell.
Adabon lifted his enchanted bow and let loose four arrows in a single shot. He fired three more in the blink of an eye. The Monk tried to move, to dodge out of the way. He caught two of the missiles, snatching them gracefully out of the air. As he tossed them back at the Copper Elf Archer, the other arrows sunk into his flesh.
Foo groaned. Two arrows lodged themselves in his left shoulder, a third in his right ribcage, and the other two took him in the upper right chest. He recoiled, nearly falling. He fell into a crouch, eyeing the Elves with smoldering, angry eyes.
And then the Monk was gone. He simply vanished.
Foo, back in the safety of the Shadow Realm, cursed and vowed vengeance on the Elves. He would break their bodies and devour their souls.
And then he would fulfill his blood oath by returning his treacherous brother’s head to his Father.
Act 5: RAS EVIL GRIN
The Elves felt something was not right and discerned that the floor of the cavern was covered by some kind of odd undulating black carpet. Closer inspection revealed that it was kind of living moss that covered the entire floor. Small tentacles would rise from the moss from time to time, caressing the legs of the Human standing in the room.
The Elves noticed that their Human friends were all talking at once, but they were speaking in some kind of strange, ancient language similar to Draconic. It was clear that their companions were under the influence of this strange, alien moss creature.
In time, the Elves figured out that the monster was called an Oblivax, a black moss with an evil nature and the magical ability to feed on the mental energy from intelligent creatures. It is called “Memory Moss” or “Oblivion Moss.” Pitch colored and thick, like a luxuriant black carpet, Oblivax grows in small patches and spreads through spores. Its leaves and flowers are all glossy black. When it lacks stolen memories it quivers, as if in anticipation. It smells like damp, loamy dirt, a very unappetizing odor.
After some testing, the Elves discovered that the Oblivax seemed to recoil from fire. To fully test the theory, Adabon lit one of his torches and tossed it into the room. The black moss squinched back allowing the burning torch to touch the damp stone floor. The torch sizzled as the Humans in the room continued to chant.
The Dark Elf summoned up his will, and chanted the words to a Fireball spells. He focused on his companions in the room, sculpting the energies as he released the spell. The fireball filled the room, roasting the Oblivax in seconds. The creature made counds that no human could, screeching in terror and fury as it died.
Thaed, Fo, Brune, and Deiter all collapsed to the smoldering stone floor, seemingly lifeless. The Elves moved in and checked their companions, finding that they were unconscious. Clearly, the trauma of the Oblivax’s attacks had taken a toll on their well-being.
The Elves all exchanged glances, regarding the small stone altar in the center of the room. The pedestal was engraved in ancient runes, and the words “RAS EVIL GRIN” were engraved in the flat top. ² A single silver ring sat on the top of the pedestal, slightly to the right of the words.
“RAS EVIL GRIN,” said Tharivol with a gloomy tone to his voice.
Vree’Ree nodded, stepping a little closer. “What do you know of it?
Tharivol shook his head. The Moon Elf watched as Adabon stepped within a few inches of the pedestal, inspecting the runes carved on it’s column without touching it. Adabon whistled softly, and spoke his thoughts aloud: “These runes are Abyssal … the text of Demons.”
“I don’t know much about the legends,” said Tharivol with a grimace. “I know it had something to do with a dark cult hunting down a sun god and dissecting him.”
Vree’Ree perked an eyebrow. “Dissecting..?”
Tharivol nodded. “And supposedly the sun god’s eye was placed in darkness, sealed up in stone so he could never take avatar form again.” The Moon Elf shook his head. “The eye is supposedly protected by a Demon named Gorzaug, a minion of Tiamat.”
All three Elves fell silent, considering what to do next…
[TO BE CONTINUED….]
¹ The Cult of the Dragon has several different ranks of basic foot soldiers. The lowest rank is Dragonclaw. As a cultist rises in military rank, he becomes a Dragonfang, Dragonsoul, and then Dragonwing.
² Read a little more about RAS EVIL GRIN by clicking here.