18 Starfall 509
The Crimson Cord and its entourage leave for Almathriel to gain more information about the next step in Savaric’s quest.
21 Starfall 509
The Crimson Cord arrives at the city of Osandar, capital of Yulania. The troupe encamps outside of the city before moving on.
26 Starfall 509
While crossing Yulania toward Borael and the city of Ebongate, Sigrid comes across a pointed, leather wizard’s hat discarded in the dirt. There is a note written in High Acheran inside: “The Night Walker cannot be slain until the Silver Boar lies in blood.” They contemplate its meaning briefly (mostly Savaric) and move on.
27 Starfall 509
The troupe arrives at the southern gate of the city of Ebongate, capital of Borael. Once again, the troupe encamps outside of the city walls before moving on.
28 Starfall 509
The troupe arrives at the mountain pass that crosses into the elven lands. The far side is guarded by a squad of elven soldiers in livery marked with silver moon, full, on a black field. They are questioned briefly as to the state of their business, but are allowed to pass through.
30 Starfall 509
While traveling through the thick elven forests, the troupe is set upon by six dire wolves. However, between superior skills and numbers, the beasts are easily dispatched.
1 Transformation 509
In the morning, the troupe arrives at the walls of the city of Almathriel, capital of the elven nation. The high, white walls, seamless and beautiful, are covered in ivy and gleam in the morning light. Guards in the livery of the silver moon line the walls and staff the high gate.
After entering the city, Surm asks about for directions to the Mithral Dagger.
As they make their way through the paved streets of the city, some marvel at the elven architecture, buildings which work with nature instead of against it—trees that are utilized as part of the structures through which they are built. Elven construction tends to be on the tall and narrow side, as opposed to the short and squat side of Northron construction. The entire cityscape is dominated by the view of a great white spire jutting up from the center of the city.
It doesn’t take Surm long to get directions to the Mithral Dagger. The inn is a modest affair, built into the trunk of a great ancient tree. Inside one can already hear the sounds of music and camaraderie coming from the common room.
The innkeep, a half-elf with bushy sideburns by the name of Claudio, is happy to set them up in what rooms he has remaining. He has 4 singles, 2 4-person suites and room in the common room for any remainders after the room shuts down for the night.
Mahgnus makes the arrangements with the innkeep as the gear is being transferred to the rooms with the help of some local help (the Cord is going into one of the suites while Alasir assigns some of the guards to the singles and the remaining to the common room. The second suite will be Alasir, Mahgnus, Alfhild, and Sorcha.
Rilka stows her stuff in the suite, then heads down to the common room. She thinks It sounds it’s pretty active. Morvar will follow Rilka’s lead. He is feeling something strange….happiness. Morvar thinks he likes elves’ free-flow lifestyle. In fact, Morvar plans to partake in Elven drink. He wants to join in with the energetic fun, and practice his Elven tongue that he took that he has never used, other than trying to understand Drow.
The common room has several empty tables and booths to accommodate the large group. A male server, a young elven lad with brown hair and wide lavender eyes, takes your drink orders with a smile.
As far as available libations, there is Boraelan white wine, a local red wine, Absinthe, and an Ornish Ale. Savaric buys the table a bottle of the red and Rilka toasts the table. As the troupe lingers in the common room, ordering food and drink, the server, Lysander, proves to be friendly and eager to please. Looking about the room, there are mostly fellow travelers about the common room. A pretty good mix of people and races, though the party has the only half-orcs in the room—save for the bartender. He’s a large, taciturn man with a buzzcut and deep green skin.
Some people of note:
- A halfling male with dirty blonde hair wearing leather armor and short sword with a grim, determined expression as he downs his ale.
- A female elf in simple robes with matted grey hair and striking amber eyes sitting alone, her eyes scanning the room as if looking for someone.
- A female half-elf with an angular face, white-blonde hair, and dark blue eyes who wears banded mail and has a rune-covered bastard sword resting on her table. She sometimes cocks her head to herself as if she is listening to someone, though she is sitting alone.
- A male elf, tall and thin with wheat-blonde hair and light green eyes dressed in silk robes. He sits alone, sipping on a goblet of some unknown beverage, taking in the room.
Rilka spends her time hanging out with the Cord and with Kortash. Savaric takes in the room and hangs out as well. Morvar seems intent on the other guests—especially the two females (the elf and the half-elf).
After lunch and drinks are had, Surm says “Let’s attend to some business. Tomorrow a guide by the name of Rilolwe Opaleyed will meet us here. She was a member of the earlier expedition that was forced to leave. She has first-hand knowledge of what happened at the ruins and will be able to take us there. Also, there is a small mercenary squad led by an elf called Doranthanel Splitbranch sent to essentially watch over the former camp. So, if anything recent has happened, he should be able to update us.”
“Secondly, since we all agree on the upgrade of Alasir’s position, let’s pull him over and make the offer.”
Surm walks over and invites Alasir to join them at their table for some business talk.
Alasir brings his chair over and listens.
Surm says: “Alasir, the Crimson Cord has decided to invite you to be a Peripheral Member of the group. With this status change comes a change in how you’re paid and the compensation of the troop. If you accept, you would no longer receive a daily wage, you would no longer get the 3% bonus of coin, but you would now receive one share of our total haul from our various ventures. We will divide the haul into five shares. You will pay your troops out of your share and you will set the pay rates. Does this arrangement interest you?”
- The total haul is split into 5 shares: Morvar, Surm, Rilka, Savaric, and Alasir (Alasir no longer earns a daily wage; no longer gets 3% of total coin)
- The 4 of the Cord drop 10% each of their shares into a Group Fund
- Alasir retains his full share, but pays his troops’ wages
Alasir blinks a bit in surprise. But then nods. “I think I could very much work with this arrangement. The proposal is unexpected, but certainly not unwelcome. I accept.” He puts out his hand to be shaken. Everyone shakes his hand and an accord is reached.
Surm says, “Great, that’s settled then. Hopefully, Alasir, the extra income will give you more autonomy with equipping your team and a better ability to purchase magical items. Now, I need to shop for scrolls. Specifically, fire protection. I’ll be back later.” Surm excuses himself, invites Mahgnus to come along if he wishes, then heads out.
While Surm is out, Morvar checks out the female elf’s sword from a distance. He can’t make out enough of the runes to discern any meaning. He also checks out the females.
The one with the sword has sharp, angular features and white-blonde hair and deep blue eyes. She is very pretty, but also looks strong and competent—she gives off the vibe of seasoned adventurer. The other has matted grey hair, but her face is young. Her eyes are a striking amber color and she has a sharp nose. She has a more “wild” look about her. Probably not as pretty, but perhaps more striking. She looks uncomfortable in these surroundings.
Rilka whispers something in Kortash’s ear and the two go upstairs.
Morvar decides to get up and get a closer look. He approaches the adventurer with the sword, hoping to get a good look at the runes. The sword itself is a bastard sword, probably forged from mithral.
“What do you call it?” he asks her.
She looks up at him, giving him side-eye, and says in Tradespeak. “It calls itself Aerená’forlíga’dalonel. I call it ‘Chaossong’.” The word she uses is Elven. It translates roughly into “The Blade of the Song of Greatest Change”.
Deathblow, in Morvar’s mind, says. “The sword’s a prick. I don’t like it. Let’s leave.”
Morvar says to Deathblow telepathically, “What a pussy name for a sword…..what makes it a prick? Is he one of those snobby goody goodies?”
Closer to the sword, he can tell that the runes are for enhancement, conjuration (summoning), conjuration (teleportation), and evocation (chaotic).
Deathblow says, “You have no need to associate with such a being. Let’s leave. You have me. There is no need to examine this sword further.”
“I do have you. I am curious about the woman, and the sword I believe says a lot,” Morvar responds. He smiles at the half-elf and says, “I am an admirer of fine swords. I crafted mine myself. His name is Dodsstoten.” Morvar puts his hand out as a friendly gesture (and only as a friendly gesture), “And I am Morvar Ulrich.”
To Deathblow he says: “I have a feeling the sword isn’t the only prick at the table, and I am not talking just about us”
She takes his hand in a firm grip. “Brandella Mornglow. Dodstotten? I don’t recognize the tongue.” She cocks her head as if listening to something. “You forged that yourself? Impressive.”
Morvar converses in Elven. “It’s Joslac," he says, referring to the word. Smiling still, Morvar will say, "It translates roughly to “Deathblow.”
To Deathblow, “I believe she is listening to her sword. I am sure it’s telling her how big of a prick you and I are too.”
Morvar will continue, “It is a pleasure to meet you Brandella Mornglow, and thank you for allowing me a moment to admire The Blade of the Song of Greatest Change. It is a very fine and interesting sword. I am sorry for interrupting your evening. May you have a wonderful rest of the night.”
“You as well, Morvar Ulrich. Go in peace.”
Morvar then moves on to the amber-eyed elf woman. “Good evening, how are you doing tonight?” he says as he sits down beside her.
She turns her amber eyes on him and narrows them. “I am fair. You are very forward. What do you want of me?”
Morvar slightly grins, “I couldn’t help noticing you seem to be uncomfortably awaiting someone. Thought I would come keep you company.” Morvar will then look around as if scanning the room, looking for someone to approach the table. “Seems whoever you’re waiting for stood you up.” He then turns to her, piercing her amber eyes with his crystal blue eyes, “So what brings you here?”
She looks about the room again and then focuses back on Morvar. “I see you came with companions. Are you adventurers? I could use some help, to be honest and I’d be willing to pay. Unless…” She backs up a bit. “You’ve already been hired. By…him. I’ve said too much.” She rises to leave.
Morvar will pat the seat she just stood from and with a smile, say, “Please…sit. At least allow me to introduce myself and perhaps buy you a drink before you leave.”
She sits, but she still looks wary. “I’m not thirsty. Who are you?”
“I am Morvar Ulrich of the Crimson Cord. Who is..him? I know no one by that name.” Morvar says with a touch of humor.
She looks around the room again and whispers, “Sakka the Grim. A sorcerer I have crossed. Who may have hired you and your friends to kill me. Has he?” She looks at him intently.
Morvar, will straighten into a business demeanor, and in a very serious and business tone will say, “Ma’am, I assure you, if I, or any other member of the Crimson Cord were hired to dispatch of you, there would be no where you could run, no where you could hide, and no one that could protect you from us completing that task. Furthermore, you and I would not be sitting here having this conversation because you would already have been dealt with.”
Morvar then resumes his relaxed posture, returns his smile to his face, and ask her, “So tell me how you crossed this Sakka the Grim,” he asks, inflecting ‘grim’ with a mocking aspect “and why he would want to harm such a pretty little thing like you?”
At first she looks horrified as you describe your business to her but then she looks relieved.
“The sorcerer killed a member of the Queen’s Guard who had ventured into his domain. His friends brought him to me and i restored his life. Now, he will live his life as one of the Vale Folk, but it is as Glorindiel wills it. Sakka saw it as thwarting his will and is now coming after me.”
Glorindiel is the elven goddess also known as “The Gatekeeper.” Her symbol is a golden key. She is the goddess of doorways, portals, thresholds, and the transition from year to year. Glorindiel concerns herself with transitions. Change is a constant and Glorindiel can bless it or ignore it, depending upon the needs of Fate, Time, and the Gods.
“So you have the ability to return life?” Morvar asks with sudden interest. “How is bringing a halfing back from the dead undermining his will?” And then with a curious look as if something just occurred to him, “Queens guard? What is the queen to do about this?”
“Well, if the goddess wills it, and if the dead wish to return, then yes. Not always in the manner that they expect, as in this case, but yes. But you see, I didn’t bring a Vale folk back from the dead. I brought an elf back to life as a Vale folk. And Sakka wanted the elf dead. Thus, I subverted his will. As far as the Queen, I know not. I have tried to stay out of such affairs for a long, long time.”
“Interesting…..it seems to me that he wanted an elf dead, and a dead elf he got. You didn’t return an elf back to life….but rather a halfling," Morvar says. “So tell me, what kind of hiring are you looking for and how much were you willing to pay for that work?"
“Of course, people like Sakka never see it that way. They see it only they way they want to see it.” She shakes her head, exasperated. “But I was hoping for some protection. I am traveling from here north to Imdarinis. It’s about a 12 day journey and I was planning on standard rates. Three silver per day per guard.”
“When do you intend on leaving?”
“As soon as I hire some protection.”
Morvar will smile, “So you know who I am, what’s your name?”
She looks at him a little exasperated. “My name is Arianel. Are you and your friends interested in helping me?”
“Let me talk to them”, Morvar says as he stands. “We are here on business, but that doesn’t mean upon conclusion of this our current contract, we cannot take on another. Once we have discussed the matter, I will let you know.”
Morvar then nods his head and heads upstairs to find Surm.
He goes into his brother’s room and wakes him. “Brother, I believe I have stumbled into a major opportunity to spread our name here.”
Surm groggily says, “Yeah, I know, we’re heading to Ysarian ruins tomorrow for a local Nobleman. That should do quite a bit for a getting our name out locally. I wish you had paid attention when we had this conversation days ago instead of waking me up in the middle of the night for me to explain it again. Goodnight.”
“Besides that!”, Morvar will say. “I just met a woman looking for protection from a sorcerer.”
Morvar informs Surm of the conversation and claims, following up with, “Her statements about staying out of or meddling with the affairs between this Sakka the Grim and the Queen and their perspective domains, leads me to believe that there may be a problem for the Queen. This is the opportunity I see, investigating this further, and if an issue does pan out, once we are finished with this contract, perhaps using our success here to offer our services to the queen to dispatch of this sorcerer. This woman looking for protection, I believe could prove to be a good source of information and contact for this. Just not sure how to handle providing her protection to gain her trust. She’s very…hmm..suspicious, and it took effort to even get that info out if her.”
Surm rises partially out of bed and says, “Perhaps she is suspicious because you … ‘in a very serious and business tone said, “Ma’am, I assure you, if I, or any other member of the Crimson Cord were hired to dispatch of you, there would be no where you could run, no where you could hide, and no one that could protect you from us completing that task. Furthermore, you and I would not be sitting here having this conversation because you would already have been dealt with.”’
“You basically made us sound like mercenary assassins for hire. Not really the reputation that I would like to spread. Also, not a good opening line if you are wanting to be hired to protect this person. Were you trying diplomacy or intimidation? I wouldn’t be surprised if she left right after you came up here.”
Surm continues, “I’m not sure how you expect to get involved? It seems she is looking for someone right now. We leave for the ruins in the morning and we can’t promise her a time of return. What is it you want to do? Split up? You take some guards and head North with her while we go to the ruins? We can’t abandon our current mission, I’ve already made arrangements, besides, this is kind of a ‘Holy’ quest to both Savaric and Rilka, not sure that they would appreciate a delay any more than our employer.”
“If you decide this important enough that you do want to split up, make sure and do some research on this ‘Sakka the Grim’, make sure he is real and get any other details to verify her story. Her story may not be true, because after your meeting with her and the veiled threats you threw out, if she still wants to hire you she is either desperate or crazy. You should confirm that she’s not crazy and all this is made up. Otherwise, I feel for her and you can present it to the group in the morning for a vote, but I’m pretty sure they’ll both want to head to the ruins and get this done first. I know I do. If she can wait for our return, then we could look into it.”
Morvar says, “I don’t want to delay or split, unless the split is allowing Alasir to decide if he wants to take the job and send men with her. I would like for you to use your diplomatic gift and talk to her. See if you can’t probe her for more information. Decide if you think she is crazy or not.” He continues, “If there is a conflict between the QUEEN and this sorcerer, wouldn’t it be worth a bit of your time to talk with her?”
Surm says, “There is nothing to be done tonight. I can’t hit the streets trying to confirm her story in the middle of the night and we leave in the morning. It will have to be investigated when we get back.”
Morvar will return to the common room, find the woman and say, “Unfortunately, we leave for business tomorrow. We will not be able to fulfill your job opportunity at this time. I am sorry for your situation.”
Arianel says, “Well, thank you anyway,” and turns her attention elsewhere. Morvar heads back upstairs to go to bed.
2 Transformation 509
As the troupe is making preparations in the morning to leave, you see a small brown falcon fly through the common room, circle twice, and alight on a beam above the majority of the party. Striding into your midst is an elf woman, pretty, with wavy blonde hair, green eyes, and fair skin. She wears a mithral breastplate over her leather traveling clothes. A large, elegant curved blade—similar to a scimitar, but with a thinner blade—is carried on her back.
“You must be the Crimson Cord,” she says in Tradespeak. “I am Rilolwe. Lord Springvale sent me to guide you to the site. Which of you is Surm Ulrich?”
Surm will step forward and introduce himself extending a hand. Then he introduces Savaric, Morvar, Rilka, and Alasir. “We are ready to leave.”
Rilolwe shakes everyone hand and says to Surm, “My Lord Springvale extends his especial greetings to you, Master Ulrich, and his blessings for a successful expedition. I have my horse waiting outside and we can begin as soon as your troupe is packed.”
She makes a short chirping sound and the falcon flies from the high beam and lands on her outstretched arm. “I’ll await you all outside.”
She turns and heads out.
Once the troupe is loaded up, she begins leading you around the outer ring of the city, the Traveler’s Ring, toward the Eastern Gate. The Traveler’s Ring houses most of the non-elven population of the city, as well as most of of the working class. Eventually, your column passes through the gates and into the thick primeval forest that comprise the wilds of the Elven Lands.
Rilolwe is quiet through most of the ride, occasionally sending her falcon out for flights and having it return. She casts speak with animals to communicate with the bird to get a sense of what it has seen when it goes out on these excursions, essentially scouting ahead.
At the end of the day, the troupe makes a camp and Alasir sets up the usual watches. Rilolwe sets up her small sleeping space and has Alasir add her to the roster, which he does.
The night passes without incident.
7 Transformation 509
The troupe has traveled several days through the forest with Rilolwe. She is fairly quiet, speaking only when spoken to. She is efficient and good at her job. Her falcon, who is called “Swiftwing” is her boon companion.
While the troupe is traveling through thick wood, but the further east they go, the Riftpeaks loom larger on the horizon.
On this day, the troupe come across a tree in which a dead body is hanging from a rope. From the looks of it, it’s been hanging there for weeks. It was probably a human from the looks of it. The clothes have mildewed and rotted and there is a wooden sign tied around its neck with the word “theef” written in Tradespeak on it.
Other than that, the day passes without further incident.
9 Transformation 509
On this morning of travel, the troupe breaks free of the forest and into the rocky foothills of the Riftpeaks. Rilolwe says that by noon they’ll encounter the camp outside the Ysarian site.
True to her estimation, around midday, the troupe begins approaching a small encampment of about a dozen or so warriors. Three approach the troupe on horseback.
The lead rider is a handsome elf with brownish-blonde hair and blue eyes. Accompanying him are two other elves, a female with a greenish tint to her blonde hair and a male. The encampment flies a banner of a manticore on a red field.
The four main members of the Cord ride out with Rilolwe to greet them.
“Mistress Opaleyed, it is a pleasure to see you,” he says in Elven, which Surm and Morvar understand but the half-orcs do not.
Rilolwe returns the greeting, barely remembering the elf, Doranthanel’s, name. She indicates that she has new orders per Lord Springvale and produces a writ for Doranthanel to look at. It essentially states that the Crimson Cord and their troupe are here to clear out the ruins and that they are to be allowed entrance to the ruins for that work. Doranthanel seems to believe that everything is in order and mentions that it should be tough work, considering what he has heard and that it is good that they brought “the brutes,” indicating the half-orcs in the party. He then asks which of the brothers is Master Ulrich, the leader of the Crimson Cord.
Both brothers ride forward, with Morvar wearing a scowl on his face and riding just ahead of Surm. Doranthanel reiterates what he and Rilolwe discussed and asks if they wish to join camps. Morvar and Surm bring in Alasir to this conversation—and Alasir emphatically does not want to join camps. So Mahgnus and Alasir start making a camp between the elven mercenaries and the mine entrance, which is now more clearly visible. A narrow 5’ wide shaft enters the side of the mountain.
Surm asks about the mercenary’s banner. Doranthanel indicates that it represents his first kill. They now fight under his banner. They have no name designation—only the banner. Surm hasn’t heard of the troupe and Doranthanel explains that they mostly work in the elf-lands, that they have more of a reputation there.
While the camp is being erected, Morvar goes amongst the elves, sharing war stories and such. The leaders of the elves eventually have them stop and get back to patrolling.
Surm asks if the mercenaries have seen any sign of the dangers reported by the fleeing expedition. “Only some eyes watching us from the shaft at night,” he says. They do not venture into the shaft as it is not part of their contract. Surm speculates that the eyes probably belong to the duergar they were warned about.
Eventually the camp is set up and the Cord reconvenes for some planning. Surm doesn’t quite trust the elves, things seem on the up-and-up so far. He doesn’t want to take all of the guards into the shaft—maybe only two or three. The rest will be outside if the elves get antsy or turn on them. He doesn’t want the guards to be outnumbered. Everyone agrees that this is a sound plan.
Eventually, they decide to initially just have Savaric and Morvar go inside and scout out the place. Morvar can use an arcane eye spell to look ahead of the Cord’s position. They have a description of the route from Rilolwe. Essentially, you have the mine shaft descending for about 2000 feet, ending at a dead end. In the side of the shaft’s wall at the dead end is a fissure that leads into larger caverns. That’s where the entrance to the Ysar ruins are—as well as the pyrohydra. It is from this fissure that Morvar will send the arcane eye to scout ahead.
Savaric heads into the mine first with a two minute head start. Then Morvar follows. When they get to the fissure, they change roles. Morvar casts his arcane eye spell and sends out the sensor through the shaft. There are a series of turns in the tunnel, which is quite wide (approximately 15-20’ at its narrowest). Eventually, the tunnel opens into a large cavern. There are tall pillars supporting the cavern, between which sits a sleeping pyrohydra. Along the left-hand side of the cavern is a natural ramp that leads up to a balcony of sorts. Upon the balcony is a rune-covered archway opening into a set of stone stairs leading down.
Descending partially down the stairs, he comes to a door and a corridor. The door is made of some strange metal the cannot readily identify. He follows the corridor, passing a portcullis, and arriving at another door of the same strange metal. He returns up the corridor and back into the cavern. He descends from the balcony and travels further into the tunnel.
Beyond the cavern is a second cavern with a more lively pyrohydra, looking about. In a small nest is what appears to be a young pyrohydra, the size of a halfling. The tunnel descends further into the mountain. Morvar follows for as long as the spell lasts, finding no more sign of duergar or more creatures.
He and Savaric return to the camp and report what they found.
The group then spends some time discussing and planning their next move. Do they attack tonight while the thing sleeps? What about the other beast? Where are the duergar? Are they within the Ysar area? Who do they take with them?
They decide to take Kortash and Burask with with them—both of the half-orcs can see in the dark, as can the rest of the Cord so they won’t have to use a light source and reveal themselves. They finally hit upon a plan—various preparation spells will be cast before entering the fissure. Then Rilka will cast silence on herself, creating a stealth-zone in which the rest of the party can travel. Once they get inside, Savaric will sneak up to the balcony for overhead shooting. Kortash and Burask will, once the ruckus starts, head to the archway and guard it against any incoming duergar from the Ysar complex. Morvar will lightning step through the creature and get flanking with Rilka, who’ll position herself in a ready position as well. Surm will be lobbing spells from the rear.
Everyone feels like it is a sound plan and so they prepare themselves to make the descent.
When they arrive at the fissure, they hear breathing coming out of the fissure. Morvar sends his arcane eye in to scout it out and discovers that the formerly sleeping pyrohydra is awake. They decide to retreat and regroup, to make a plan B for an awakened pyrohydra.
They eventually come to an accord on a secondary plan and decide to strike in the morning, regardless of whether or not the creature is awake. Alasir assigns the usual watches and everyone settles in for the night.
During the night, at the first watch (Alasir, Kortash, Tarben, Halvor, and Morvar), Halvor is viciously attacked by an invisible duergar with a dwarven war axe. The duergar smells of rot and decay and is quite difficult to kill. The rest of the camp is roused as the fight goes on. The elven camp come to see what the ruckus is and join the others in watching, as the creature is surrounded and more fighters will not help the situation. Halvor is dragged out of the combat and replaced with another of the Crimson Cord guards. Finally, the duergar falls—and bursting from its body is a strange aberration…
It looks like a small brain, pink and glistening, standing on four, clawed legs. It attempts to attack not only with its claws but with spell-like abilities. It confuses Kortash, causing the half-orc to hit himself with his own weapon. As the fight with this new creature rages on, they discover that its hide is hard to penetrate with conventional weapons and it shrugs off most spells. At one point it shrieks in anger—telepathically to all that can sense it—as Rilka deafens it with the thunder of her weapon. “You will pay for that, surface dweller!” it “speaks” in undercommon, which Surm understands. Finally, Surm manages to blow up the creature with a final spell.
Rilka uses Bruni-given insight to discover that this creature is called an “intellect devourer” and that its strange race may not even be from this world. They den alone or in cities of their fellows, venturing out and “wearing” people to enact their cruel, vile, and orgiastic desires. Their victims never survive the process.
Meanwhile, they collect the duergar’s items and identify their magical properties for treasure. Rilka thanks Doranthanel for sending his troops over to help, though there was nothing they could do. Surm does the same. He says to think nothing of it. Surm asks if they had encountered anything like that while guarding over the site and Doranthanel emphatically says that they have not.
The rest of the night passes without incident.
10 Transformation 509
Once again, the Cord plus Burask and Kortash descend into the shaft to take on the pyrohydra, and the new threat of the possessed duergar. Morvar sends his arcane eye inside to discover that the pyrohydra is sleeping again and that the portcullis room in the Ysar area contains two, strangely inert, duergar.
They go with plan A—and it goes off without a hitch.
Savaric gets into position overhead while the others do so on the floor. Once the signal is given, Savaric begins firing into the beast—killing it in about 6 seconds with a barrage of arrows forming a “smiley” face in the side of the creature’s hide. After the anti-climatic battle, they hear the other creature moving toward them through the deeper cavern. They take up positions to ambush it when it emerges into their cavern. Once again, a barrage of arrows fells the monstrous creature.
They go into the deeper cavern and find the young pyrohydra. Savaric tries to communicate with it via his ranger abilities, but it still tries to bite him and breath fire on him with its seven small heads. He feeds the creature trail rations, which seems to placate it somewhat. They leave the creature, thinking to return to it when they finish exploring the ruins.
They decide to send the Agent’s Clasp back to Alasir so that they have a means of communication with the outside—and Alasir can warn them of any treachery on the outside. Finally, they descend down the stairs into the Ysar ruins…
Savaric hears movement beyond the first door that they come to. They decide to check it out. Morvar opens the door to let Savaric fire inside. Inside are two of the rotting duergar. Savaric fires and the battle begins.
As others try to get inside and take out the duergar, Surm and Kortash watch the hall to ensure the other door or portcullis doesn’t open and allow more of the creatures to attack them from the rear.
Soon enough, the duergar (who are unarmed) are defeated—but in their place are their intellect devourer parasites. These are eventually dispatched as well.
Now the Cord stands in the bloody, rot-filled room and contemplate their next move…