407 AD – 21st of Frostcrawl – Moonday
[Xavier – Grok – Gratos – Lilith]
Xavier, Lilith, and Gratos, awaken in Hithrum’s Haven in the large spare room adjoined to his Basement Workshop. Clanking and mechanical churning can be heard coming from the workshop. Xavier, Lilith and Gratos all step into the workshop—it is packed with equipment; metallic tanks, rows of generators, and steaming pipes. In the center of the room on a slab of concrete and surrounded by an orchestra of tools and hovering geometrical shapes stood a hulking figure of stone and ebony, blue veins of energy pulsing across its body.
Meanwhile, Grok and Trok awaken in a shed in a warm pile of blankets and hay to the smell of meat cooking nearby. The two trolls poke their heads out the shed and see Lance, his helmet down by his feet and Hithrum turning goats on spits over an open flame. Lance is talking with Hithrum.
“What can we do?”
Lance says, his eyes staring longingly at the meat glazed in a glorious sheen of delicious juices.
“I’m running out of ideas. I can only create so many golems. Dareth and his Titans are ruining my home. I was lucky that you and troupe showed up when you did or I would’ve surely been overrun” Hithrum says frustrated.
“What does he want?” Lance asks
“He wants my research. He wants my workshop. And above all else he wants her back.
Grok and Trok look at each other—wondering who this mystery girl might be.
Back in the Basement Workshop the rest of the group continues to stare at the golem—the shapes beginning to shift and change—growing more and more complex. They are so entranced they don’t even notice when a figure steps closer.
“Oh! Hey everyone it’s good to see that everyone is awake and ready. The name’s Yuki…I’m Hithrum’s Apprentice. You are?” the girl is tall, voluptuous, with white hair and piercing silver eyes, her jumpsuit Is a gunmetal grey and brown leather affair. In her hand is an oversized wrench. Xavier, Gratos, and Lilith take turns introducing themselves.
“It’s good to meet you all. Thanks for helping us repel those golems. Dareth’s constant onslaught is really starting to grind Hithrum’s gears. How rude of me this is Kori, my personal project. Say Hello Kori” Yuki replied.
“Hello.” Said the large moving rock man in his deep gravelly voice.
“Kori is an enhanced golem. I made him with a basic granite base and have been adding my own modifications as well as some ebony armor. I was having a look at your golem Gratos. Never seen a spirit bound golem before! Pretty impressive! Hithrum did a pretty good job sculpting him. If you ever want me to enhance him for you I wouldn’t mind…for a nominal fee of course. I could also rearrange his build a bit. Make his armor or weapons work however you like. For everyone else I am pretty skilled at crafting. Namely golems but also weapons and armor, make them better or simply more aesthetically pleasing given the raw materials.” Gratos declined the offer but Xavier decided to have Yuki attach an Emberstone to his Kukri—Yuki promised that the next time she saw Xavier that it would be finished.
“Well if you we have nothing left to attend to lets get topside…Kori go get Garthug and get on the lift…see you up there” Yuki says as she grabs a Niveus orb from the worktable and places it into Kori’s back. His eyes glow and he begins walking off. The group heads up the stairs.
They stepped from within Hithrum’s cabin and see everyone gathering Lance has replaced his helmet and now looks stoic and not at all like the coward that he is. Hithrum steps forward.
Hithrum: “Welcome everyone”
Lance: “This council is here to decide what we must do.”
Yuki: “Do with what?”
Hithrum: “Dareth! I believe it is time we put an end to his tyranny! For the good of the land—and for fiscal reasons his golems are costing me a small fortune.”
Yuki: “Do we have a plan?”
Lance: “Our plan right now is to sneak into his encampment take out his defenses…and then take out him.”
Yuki: “Sounds good to me…I’ll go get ready…I hope he takes good notes.”
Hithrum: “I never said you were going!”
Yuki “You don’t get a say in the matter. It’s me he wants well I’m coming. Besides I’ve been dying to use my new armor. I mean check it out.”
Hithrum: “Fine you can go…I suppose you can use what you know about his crafting against him.”
Yuki: “This’ll be fun. Who’s with me?”
Kori: “I will protect you…”
Garthug: “As will I…I finally have the means in which to better this world and will gladly add my armaments in these matters. That is…as long as Gratos comes along I can’t go very far without him…what do you say?”
Gratos: “Of course I will join you.”
Lance: “I suppose I see no way in which I…can’t come”
Hithrum: “What of the rest of you? Will you join us?”
The rest of the group agreed in tandem that they would follow suit.
Hithrum: “It is settled…Finish up your business here and let us be on our way… Feel free to help yourselves to my ration’s stores…see you when you are ready.” The group grabbed the rations and donned their armor.
The group hiked through the treacherous mountain pass to the cliff lair of Dareth Whitehollow. Yuki pulls a scrap of parchment from her pocket and smoothed it out on a rock before her.
“This is Dareth’s lair….I drew it from memory. The Ts are Pyrestone Golems and Dareth’s main defenses. At each corner of his outer wall is a locked door. Behind which are some maintenance shafts which lead to directly above the Golems. I believe that if Xavier breaks into the locks then I can tamper with the Pyrestone’s energy flows and convert them. I can then remove their cores. If I convert the four golem’s energy I may be able to make Dareth’s entire web of defenses go down. So Xavier will you aid me in this task?” Xavier readily agreed and so Yuki continued “The rest of you do what you can however be aware that this place is crawling with Dareth’s lackeys.” The group minus Yuki and Xavier decided to loiter and await safety in the halls.
Xavier picked the two locks and Yuki went to work using her magic and conducting the Pyrestone golem’s energies by muttering “lahay vat regav’e lahay vat bamen vahh yah yah kert saveny” then once she had turned them she called them to her will “any laveqh at havpesh shilk. Any laveqh at revek ath emet.” After now clearing one side of the passage everyone continued forward until they were attacked by two Emberstone golems. The adventurers used cunning tactic of throwing items at the Emberstones and dislodging them, thus removing their power supply—deactivating them. When both were defeated, Lilith looted the bodies and gathered the Emberstones however Gratos lashed out and tried to steal one of them from her. However Lilith simply shoved the old man to the ground but he was persistent and tried again and so they began to fight with Lilith calling Cody to her side. Cody bit Gratos’ wrist who screamed out in pain. Hithrum told them all to stop their foolishness.
Eventually everyone was settled and so Xavier snuck into Dareth’s library along the bookshelves. Dareth stood in his library calmly turning the pages of a tome. Glowing eyes, Scraggly hair and face of broken plates of bone. Just as Xavier is about to attack Yuki rushes into the Library. Dareth looks up…and his eyes meet Yuki’s. Yuki clutches at her head…the memories fresh and splintering her mind.
Dareth is an abomination…a sickening mixture of bone and blood with stone and steel. He has long sought after Yuki’s expertise to make him better and stronger. Going so far as to break in to Hithrum’s Cabin and capturing Yuki and taking her back to his own encampment. He ordered Yuki to use her golemancy to craft a superior form for himself.
When Yuki refused he locked her in his dungeon. Placing her hands in manacles then shredding the back of her tunic and cutting alchemical symbols and magical runes into her skin, in hopes of making her do what he wanted. But her will was strong and she held out.
Eventually Hithrum arrived and released her from her cell. They were found trying to flee by one of Dareth’s Pyrestone Titans.
The Titan flung a fist striking Hithrum in the face. The front of his skull broken, blood pouring out. Yuki, using an ancient oath, made the golem stop and follow her orders instead by altering its Pyrestone. She loaded Hithrum into the Titan’s arms and broke out from Dareth’s fortress and narrowly escaped before making it back to Hithrum’s cabin.
There Yuki worked all night and using what she learned from watching Dareth and his creative amendments to his own body reknitted a new face for Hithrum using bits of the Titan. And then created a helmet to aid the healing process.
Over time Hithrum became healthy once more, though the loss of much of his face and along with it his identify has left him shattered. Eventually though he did return to his craft; building fortifications and sensors in the valley as a means of preventing future events.
Yuki puts on a tough exterior but will never be the same, the scars being constant reminders of the weeks she spent trapped under the will of a psychopath she has poured her time and resources by focusing on improving her abilities by taking the remaining pieces of the Titan and experimenting as she constructs Kori.
Dareth speaks “Have you come to put an end to me. Gathered a ragtag militia of Arcane and Warriors….ah and a pair of Trolls….you all look like you would be fun to experiment with…make my golemancy stronger on the blood of Arcane. And the Troll skeletons will do kindly as structure for a revision of the Titan design. And as for you Yuki I think I have finally found a way to turn you. It was that oath you said…I heard it….and I know it will work on you, the scars I gave you should do just fine as a conduit— any laveqh at havpesh shilk. Any laveqh at revek ath emet.” Yuki begins to scream her eyes turn pale….as Dareth mutters under his breath
Yuki claws at her head and face a scratch runs across her jaw and begins to bleed. She thrashes about falling to the floor. Her entire body goes slack. Then her eyes go pale and she looks up at the rest of her companions. She stands up and runs—her massive gauntlets swinging wildly as though she were drunk. Kori leaps and holds her still within his stone arms. Garthug heaves over to the two and casts a shield around Yuki. Her eyes demented and her gauntlets swinging she makes the shield resonate loudly within the chamber. Kori releases Yuki and steps out of the shield he places a palm on Garthug’s shoulder just as his shield is about to shatter. A stream of energy flows between the two golems as they keep Yuki’s madness under a glass.
Dareth creates a circle of flame about his face and makes a loud whistling sound…three Emberstone golems come running happy as dogs to their master’s side. A firebolt arcs across and strikes the floor next to each of you. The carpet catches fire and begins spreading to the walls of bookshelves.
Xavier used the distraction and still hidden struck Dareth in the back knocking him down. Trok followed it up and jumped on top of him. Dareth gathered strength and then exploded upwards from the floor sending Trok into a bookshelf. Gratos fired an acid attack but it missed due to his injured hand. Lilith fired a stone hoping to dislodge Dareth’s amulet, however, though the stone hit its intended target it did nothing as far as damage. Hithrum used his amulet and focused his energies—he broke the floor and crushed the pieces onto Dareth. Dareth grew furious and destroyed the rubble cocooning his body and fired a flame at Hithrum, but it missed. Lilith sent Cody who knocked Dareth to the ground—Lance took the opportunity and slashed at one of the Emberstone golems with his Frost-axe. Xavier lashed out at one of the Emberstone golems knocking its power source free from its socket.
Dareth was losing steam then Trok landed himself on top of Dareth once more and landed a few blows. Lance attacked the final Emberstone golem in half and cleaved him in half. Gratos fired a magic missile and struck Dareth in the chest. Dareth was now almost dead and was attempting to escape dragging himself across the floor when Hithrum held Dareth in a summon clamp of stone and Lance slashed into Dareth’s back making him squeal.
Dareth’s body disintegrated into embers and drifted away. The library continues to burn. Yuki now sane but weak rushes over to Dareth’s workshop and grabs the only bits of Dareth’s notes that have been untouched by the blaze stuffs them in her satchel and begins running away from the fire. The adventurers made their way back to Hithrum’s Haven.
Yuki: “Well this is where I leave you…I need to decipher what is left of Dareth’s work. I’ve taken the liberty of placing the surplus Niveus orbs in Garthug’s storage. Thank you for helping me brighten the shadows that loom upon this land…and within my heart. Take care…I know you can save Orcun…tell him I said hello and Xavier I hope to see you again soon.” With that she places two fingers to her lips, brushing them against Xavier’s cheek as she and Kori turn and head towards the cabin. The adventurers make their way towards Canos’ Village a small collection of cabins to the east. On their way they come across the small group of goblins; 3 Goblin Freelancers and 2 Goblin Pikeman. They each brandish their rusty weapon and leer at the adventurers when Xavier and Lilith both speak to the goblins asking them why they fight. The goblins respond by explaining their standing—how they are poor and hungry and only use violence due to their weakened state. The group not wishing to fight decide to give away half of their rations to the group of goblins. The goblins rejoice kissing their boots and praising them as gods and letting them know that their grand kindness would not soon be forgotten. And that word of their deed would be spread among the goblin tribes across the land. The group departed and arrived in Canos’ Village shortly afterwards.
“Lance!” a woman’s voice called out.
“Hey hey….how’ve you been Slice-Knives” Lance embraces the woman as she neared.
“So you finally left your Frostiary huh? Getting out of your shell I see, and meeting people….among other things. So who are your mates?” the woman asks
“Just some friends” Lance responds
“well that’s a sentence I never thought would come from your lips….and you say it so casually. Hi I’m Canos however I know one of you already. Isn’t that right Helmet-head” Canos says as she taps Hithrum on the dome.
However Hithrum is all business, “Hello Canos I know it has been awhile and I would love to chat but there is urgent business we must attend to. Orcun has been captured by Nexus…he’s being held in Highstone Citadel….you know what he wants.” Canos’ friendly demeanor melted away. “How can I help?”
Hithrum: “Well we need you to come with us, we are going to open the second entrance into the Citadel in hopes of saving him…we’ll need your amulet to get inside…of course”
Canos: “I am coming with you. I won’t take long….feel free to do what you want until I return”
When she returns “I grabbed this figured it could help” she pulls a scroll of parchment from her pocket and hands it to Hithrum.
Loud screams echo from outside the village. Branches clack and crash as two Lanky creatures crawl from within the dark trees of the Jormur forest. Canos draws both of her swords. She turns back “Are you ready let’s go lop of some Hengeskulls!…Where’s Lance?” Lance his armor shimmering with ice he swings his Frost-Axe at one of the beasts and cuts one of its gangly arms free from its shoulder.
Canos makes a loud whoop and runs at the creature leaping in the air and cutting an X into one of their heavily armored skulls with her two swords, the creature falls backwards. Lance shapes a mound of snow on the earth and Canos lands lithely into it. The group takes turns decimating the Henges. Then after some further delay continues North towards Elisium’s Marsh.
After a slight hiccup in the cannibalized goblin encampment of Dark Raid where two goblins who had yet heard of their greatness attempted to defeat the group failed miserably they arrived in Elisium’s Marsh.
“Hello Travelers, I am Elisium – Arcane of the Ember-heart. How may I be of assistance to you?”
Gratos attempted to engage his fellow arcane, asking him if he looked familiar however Elisium had no idea who Gratos which only further added to his chagrin. Eventually Hithrum explained the situation with which Elisium responded by saying “I have a Rift gate just over there. Unfortunately it is in disrepair. The local fauna keep taking the Emberstones, believing them to be their own eggs. However strange spirits have moved within the Emberstones. I have been reading scrolls and casting incantations. I even drank a concoction of egg yolks and uncooked pasta on a suggestion in hopes to fix the situation, I later found out I was simply being pranked so please do what you can to rectify the situation and I will help you along on your quest in a timely manner.”
The adventuring troupe entered the nearby forest where they were bull rushed by a dark creature, after dispatching the beast they found three Emberstones near an abandoned birds nest. Inside of each was a Disembodied Ember Remnant which they defeated and gathered the Emberstones left behind and returned to Elisium in order to power the Rift Gate.
“Ahh but of course, a concoction of brute force, blunt trauma and fisticuffs was what was needed to remove the ember ne’er-do-wells from the artifact’s vacancy. Why didn’t I think of that?” Elisium replaced the stones to their receptacles and stepped onto the Rift plate the runes began to glow and shimmer. A bubble begins to form in the center of the pillars. The bubbles surface reflects the night-sky then explodes outwards and an immensely bright light explodes inwards
Everyone arrived on the Rift gate in Splinterfang—the runes still smoking high into the air. the streets are barren and the night is lit up by the two brilliant moons in the sky. Ahead past the winding street you can see the Highstone Citadel, its white stone shining in the light. Up top you see A cluster of figures on the high portico. All shops were open for one more hour and so Lilith and Xavier made pickups of their requested items at the blackshop; an Arctic Sphinx fur cape for Xavier and 3 Arctic Sphinx fingerclaws for Lilith.
Then they traveled further down the middle lane and as they got closer to the citadel a skirmish unfolded further—arrows hailing down from the portico above. Everyone looks up and the figures come into view. It is Dera of Blodfen and Samantha her Ranger Apprentice firing volleys of arrows into a massing pile of dark eyed Goblins rushing through the gaping hole in Splinterfang’s wall. Among the torrid fray is Mimdrs the Zealous cleaving a path through the onslaught. Godfrey blasting piles of the ghoulish foes back with blows from his gauntlets. Godfrey’s four Sphinxes savagely ripping goblins in twain. Dante and Fenrir the Mangy prowl together, slashing at the horde.
“Hey get up here! I’ll drop a ladder.” Dera calls out.
One by one everyone makes it up to the marbel portico—the enchanted door and a stone basin coming into view. Dera continued; “A kid ran up and gave me these instructions, said they could help you guys.” Gratos reads the slip of paper and heads over to the basin; makes an inscision on the top of his wrist lets the blood collect in the basin before healing his wound then projects his voice “Sanguinem et animam tenetur ut unum, Draco oculus.” A torrid mist of embers fly upwards and a white hot glow envelops the area. In the basin now lies a green and blu flecked amulet cut down the center with a wicked black Dragon pupil. Gratos grafts the Dragoneye Amulet to his chest and walks over to the enchanted door with his fellow Acane. Together they each place their amulets into the five slots on the door and release the magical bond. Everyone heads down a long flight of stairs until they enter a massive stone chamber underground at the center of which is a large crystalline orb—The Comet of Petrichor.
Nexus holds a limp Orcun by the scruff of his neck. Everyone steps forward hoping to catch Nexus off guard and incapacitate him but he simply drags a fingerclaw across his throat splashing blood to the floor and then Nexus dropped Orcun into the puddle. Nexus crouches and prepares for the coming battle, then he tosses back his hood revealing his grotesque and disfigured Sanctae face.
The battle commences with Garthug cracking Nexus in his ribs, followed by an explosive magic missile by Gratos. Nexus rears back his head and makes muffled screams of pain. Dera fires a volley of arrows but they slide around Nexus who laughs and shows them Orcun’s twinkling Firestar Amulet pressed into his palm and the yellow shimmer of a shield about his body.
Xavier slashes at the shield with his Dark rapier and though the rapier’s blade rebounds off the impact itself breaks the shield’s magic and so taking the opportunity Trok clubs Nexus across the room with a solid stroke of his halberd—Nexus flies so fast his body only stops when it makes contact with the stone walls. The foe crumples to the ground in a fog of dust and chipped rock. He stands up a single stream of purple fluid dripping from his broken eye. He roars once more and the yellow shimmer returns Lilith fires a fistful of stones at the shield which reverberate and strike Lance’s thick armor. Canos and Lance both attack at the same time with Lance’s Frostaxe removing the shield and Canos’ Twin blades carving into Nexus’ shoulder. Hithrum gathers a coccon of earth about him and then presses the shifting earth around him tighter squeezing him like a large boa constrictor. Gratos fires a bolt of Lightning into Trok’s halberd—now electrically charged he leaps into the air and caves Nexus’ skull in.
Nexus body is now limp lavender fluid pouring from his wounds the fluid pooling towards the large celestial gemstone in the center of the chamber. Around the base of the comet are four empty basins…perfectly round…..waiting to be activated. Garthug’s storage compartment begins to glow as he wanders towards the comet to experience what he has wanted all his life.
You come to agreement and decide to load the Niveus stones into the basins. A great humming sound quivers and thrums in the air. As each stone is placed in its cradle the surface of the comet rumbles and groans. Then it crackles and a great blinding light explodes in the chamber. From within the Comet of Petrichor rises a mighty blue dragon.
“Be Still! I am Cirok the Astral, Thank you, for releasing me from my prison.”
Gratos smiled wide, it was good to hear the dragon tongue once more. Cirok spoke again “What are the names of those whom I may thank for this deed?”
Garthug rose to his full golem height. “It is a great honor to meet you Cirok, I have been in search of you my entire life. You can never know the feeling it is to come into contact with you. I am blessed.”
Cirok: “you honor me Gathug. “I am happy to hear this, and am glad you found me.”
Gratos explained what was happening and Cirok took notice of his native Draconic being spoken.
“Gratos it is good to know that my language is not all forgotten in this land. I will bestow upon you a great gift.” Cirok sat up, he let out a long ebony talon and then took it and sliced into his left wing. He did not stop until it lay on the floor. His wound was grievous but even as they watched the blood began to stop and the flesh began to reknit itself together.
“Until my wing is fully healed I will take refuge nearby” A dark cloud twisted about Cirok as his deep thrumming voice echoed within the dungeon walls. And then Cirok was gone leaving behind only the scent of rain. Everyone returned to the Highstone Inn & Tavern to drink and calm their battle weariness and depression over losing a dear friend and mentor.
The great Fricundus plague began to fade as the antidote was given out to various nearby goblin encampments.
The entire city of Splinterfang came to the central square as the sun set. A large pire was erected and Orcun’s body was laid down on the timbers besides his Greater Staff. a brief prayer was said as Lance, Hithrum, Canos and Elisium began to weep. The Pyre was lit and Orcun was gone. The night passed into further darkness before everyone turned in for the night and slept