S3E6: The Van Goethe Gardens

With the wintry illusion in their memories, Athelstan found himself back in the Temple District approaching his wife, Judith. Their reunion was quiet and Judith was constantly looking back, worried about something. That something arrived in Onyx, the mastermind brought to Union by Ahkaris and known only in story to the Slayers through Railyn's tales. Onyx was quick to announce that Judith was his fiance and that they were late. This left Athelstan fuming as he took the arm of Ira and headed back to the guildhall.

After a meeting with Branor, the Slayers learned that Gore, companion of Lul, had come to him and requested the help of the Slayers. Lul had been kidnaped by the Black Smile and holed up in the Gardens which was currently overrun by monsters and beasts. They waited until morning and headed to the Gardens, meeting up with the minotaur. They entered and Gore became their distraction while they headed back towards where he believed Lul was being held. 

They battled through the dense, overgrown forests striking down nothics and oozes, wights and elementals. During a short rest, Branor was keeping watch and noticed several beasts about the size of a wolf but sporting large spines and ran like cats. He discovered that they were part of the Swarm, an ancient plague on the world once thought to be destroyed. Still, they pressed on towards the house the Black Smile was occupying. 

Hope set about picking the lock but was thwarted when Shimmer shoved his way through without hesitation. They quickly deduced that the house was abandoned and had been for some time. Venturing down into the cellar, they found a tortured Lul who smiled upon their arrival. Finding nothing of value, save for a note to Hope that simply read "I'm coming for you next," they took Lul to the Temple District for healing. Titus stayed at his side. 

After their ordeal, Theristis started his search for the remainder of his quarry, Lord Cormier and Lady Anabel Sa'vage. A note was passed to him, however, from a contact informing him that Lord Cormier had left Union and was headed for Oxwaters…

S3E5: The Nightmare Before Union

For a brief moment, the company half-remembered a barren frozen wasteland as if they were waking from a deep slumber and vivid dreams. They found themselves injured but in possession of presents and information.

They vaguely remembered something about a couple of blue elves who wisked them away to the frozen wastes. They saw a man a believed him to be Father Winter and he was covered in thick vines. They were directed to a portal that would take them to the edge of the Harvest Lands. There they would find the culprit.

Passing through the portal found the company facing the guardians of the borders: two frost giants. After quick talking and slaying, they passed through the borders and into the Autumn Forest. 

The Forest was quiet but the graveyard beyond brought forth ghosts and spirits from the other side. Still, the company pressed on into the twisted city and ultimately to a large throne room and a well-dressed skeleton. 

The skeleton agreed to free Father Winter if they were to hunt each other to a permanent end. They opted not to take the option and instead fought his true form; a large groetesque creature made of roots, vines, and pumpkins.

After defeating the Harvest King, they were returned to their rightful place in time and space but this time with a few gifts in hand…

S3E4: Reunions

5 Years ago…

In the catacombs of Union, we see a trio of cloaked figures hurrying to a meeting. At the gate into the meet, the youngest stops them and asks if it is a good idea as they cannot trust half the people in there. Obsidian, the leader of the trio turns to the third. "Garnet, what do you think?" The teifling pulls back her hood to reveal Hope who replies that they have no choice. The trio head into the meeting where they lay out their plans to take down the Black Smile's organization once and for all…

Day 20…

We cut in on Lyra sneaking her way through the Temple District well after curfew, and doing a bad job at that. As she rushes past a few guards, two inquisitors step into frame and step off after her. Back at the Guildhall, the door opens to reveal Hope returning home for the night. As she walked through the hall, she noticed that the house was remarkably quiet. Calling out for Silvara, Hope followed the elf's voice to the study where the entire staff was bound and gagged and held at knife point. Silvara was sitting on a love seat and another woman opposite. The woman spoke, saying "Garnet, do come in." At this moment, a flood of memories swept into Hope's mind. She remembered her previous life to a point; yet there were holes, fuzzy bits mixed in. The woman, Obsidian, told Hope that they were on the run and that the Black Smile was back and alive. Because Hope was the one who came up with the plan to take him out, they needed to get her out of Union for her own safety. Hope decided to think on it for a few days before deciding and the Iron Circle took their leave without violence.

Day 19…

Our heroes woke and Athelstan and Theristis headed back towards the Guildhall while Titus and Della headed for the Grand Inquisitor's Manor. The two clerics approached and Titus name-dropped Lyra Mae when trying to convince the guards to let them in. The guard complied after hearing what he had to say and directed them to a Researcher. The researcher gave them access to a secret stairwell after they mentioned the wizard's name yet again. Exhausted and sweaty, they arrived at the top of the tower and were met by the Grand Inquisitor. After telling him their dreams and seeking information on the Swarm, the Grand Inquisitor directed them to speak with any Paladins as the tale of the Swarm was passed down from unit to unit. He also urged them to get allies, prepare as much as possible, for the Swarm was a blight that needed to be stopped before it could begin.

Deep in the pits of the Nine Hells, a teleportation circle dumped Branor onto the ground. In his confusion, he was approached by a well-dressed man calling himself Ihngril'raug. The demonish creature informed Branor that he had plans and would like to see them through although other demon lords were making it very difficult and he required speeding things up. He made a deal with the barbarian, money for enforcement. He instructed Branor to join up with Hope and push to open the Portal to the Void as there were things on the other side he desperately wanted to consume. After marking him, he sent Branor back to the material realm and dropped him off on the step of the Guildhall just in time for Athelstan and Theristis to arrive home.

The two attempted to sneak up on the barbarian but Athelstan had a jump scare when an illusion of a dragon popped up in front of him. Branor inquired as to whether he was okay or not and the two started discussing why the barbarian was there. Theristis snuck into the back and met with Hope telling her that someone was there to kill her. She rang the bell for Shimmer and the two dived into the pantry to hide as Athelstan and Branor entered the kitchen. The monster hunter made several sandwiches while Branor looked on. Shimmer, however, was not so at ease. Smelling brimstone and sulfur, he utilized his new abilities of his lair to blast the kitchen with sand and wind, pinning the barbarian to the ground until he realized that the human was not, in fact, a dragon. 

Titus and Della made their way to the Temple of Pelor and inquired about meeting with one of the Paladin Commanders about the Swarm. They were led to a small room and were soon greeted by Railyn who was trying to use his own influence on the temple. They told him about their dreams and inquired about the Swarm. Railyn told them about how he was one of the paladins to put down the demon lord Raug. They took the heart to a place called the Citadel deep in the Blackstone Mountains. The Citadel, it turned out, was the last dormant hive of the Swarm. A group of adventurers took the heart and with it the only sustenance the dormant swarm had, thus waking them up. He reiterated what the Inquisitor told them: gather allies, prepare as much as possible, and when the time came, he would gather his own allies to aid them.

Theristis, believing that his mentor, Persephone, was coming to Union to visit him, paid top coin for service, wine, and food in preparation. As they were preparing, there was a loud knock on the door. When Theristis went out to meet his mentor, he was shocked to see his thought to be dead mother step out of the carriage. After explaining that death "didn't take", she asked about Theristis and what had been going on. Theristis claimed that he was constantly searching for a way out of the game and Phileta revealed that she may know some people in the far southern Wildlands that might be able to help; she would send them word. The company sat down for dinner and Titus revealed what they had learned about the Swarm and that it was coming to Union. He was brushed aside by Hope and urged by Silvara to enjoy the peace even if it was just for one night. 

After dinner and what small festivities there were, Hope took Branor into the study and locked the door. She wanted to know exactly why he was there. Branor attempted (and was constantly interrupted) to explain his time in the Nine Hells before Ihngril'raug himself arrived to explain the situation. He had a timetable that needed accelerating and hired Branor to crack skulls should the warlock need it. He pushed that Hope should get to looking and move things along before he lost his temper and assigned someone else to the job. Theristis, who had been eavesdropping on half of the conversation attempted to find out what that was all about but didn't get much.

Day 18…

The following morning found a knock at the back door. A tall, black cloaked figure, wearing a strange mask stood at the door. Behind him was his horseless carriage and four large cages that were covered. He spoke to Hope (who had answered) in her mind to tell her that Shimmer had a delivery. Overcome with excitement, Shimmer took the four cages downstairs and thanked the creature. He returned to his carriage and simply vanished from sight.

The previous night, Ira had bugged Athelstan about not seeing more of the city. He agreed to take her to the Temple District. Titus, Silvara, and Della tagged along and Titus hijacked the trip to head towards the Van Goethe Gardens. They soon discovered that the Gardens were closed off due to a high rate of monster activity. Several Dagnir recruits and soldiers were wounded and recovering. Despite Titus' attempts to convince Athelstan to head into the Gardens (where Titus learned the Swarm had been spotted), Athelstan was adamant that "My dick is more important than saving the world." The group then headed to the Temple District where Athelstan discussed the history of the area before looking across the crowd and met eyes with an old face. His wife, Judith, was staring back at him.

In the study of the guildhall, Branor was perusing the books when the garden door opened. A seven and a half foot tall minotaur stepped in and immediately drank an entire bottle of brandy. He looked at the barbarian and asked if he was a new recruit. Branor said yes. The minotaur smirked, "You looking for a fight?" When Branor agreed, the minotaur told him to gather the Slayers and meet him at the Southern entrance of the Gardens…

S3E3: The Red Queen

Day 23

Theristis returned to the Slayer's Hall to find several messages from a woman informing him of her impending arrival using only the moniker of "P". There was also a message from his Guild, the Guruthos. Leaving immediately, he met with Swiftmark who welcomed him back. He spent the next day telling his story of finding the origins of the guild and showing off the Assassin's Thinblade. After all the festivities had died down, Swiftmark took Theristis to the side and gave him a very important and secret mission: take out three high ranked targets using Black Wyrm Saliva (an extremely deadly poison). His targets: Ser Dorian Wilkinson, Lord Rychard Cormier, and Lady Anabel Sa'vage. Taking the three doses of poison and information on Wilkinson, he headed out towards the docks and The Red Queen.

Athelstan, hell-bent on getting revenge on his former friend and reclaiming the Skull of Ragnar, huddled with Della, Tristin, and Branor about how to get on the ship. A small bribe later and they were on deck. Little did they know, Theristis was already on board, working as a deck hand and waiting for the arrival of Ser Wilkinson. After asking around and speaking to the legendary Dragoons from the far west, they determined that Titus was hiding below deck. They headed down while Theristis followed suit. 

Meanwhile, Hope enlisted Shimmer's help to head to the Temple of Io where she asked the dragons about contacting Granny Sam. The dragon in question asked Shimmer whether Hope had been harassed, attacked, or persecuted due to how she looked or her race. When Shimmer told the dragon that she had not, the dragon declined being able to help Hope with contacting the witch. Frustrated, Hope left the temple and headed to her own temple where she spent the remainder of the day helping those in need. Shimmer headed off towards the dock and met up with Lyra who was on her way back to the guildhall claiming that she was not going to be a part of breaking into the Archduke's royal galleon. Shimmer simply set up a lounge chair and sat down to watch the fireworks.

Needing a distraction to move further below deck, Titus proceeded to chastise the Blade-sworn soldiers before they tossed him and Della off the ship. Branor and Athelstan managed to duck down below decks in search of Titus. Theristis, however, rushed to the lowest deck as he was told this was where Titus was hiding. He found the halfling hiding behind several crates and told him to hurry and follow him so as to escape. However, this was when Athelstan and Branor found the duo and a fight between the former friends erupted. 

On the docks, Tristin was furious as Della looked on. Shortly thereafter, a large group of Blade-Sworn arrived, led by Ser Wilkinson himself. Tristin immediately invoked Ekino's name and informed the commander that a known thief was onboard. Wilkinson led his men onto the ship and the group began searching the ship for Titus. They arrived at the lower part of the ship during the fight between Athelstan and Titus (who managed to bribe Branor to join his side). After striking Athelstan down, Titus jammed the two  eyes into the skull of Ragnar, threw the skull at the others before jumping out a porthole into the bay. Branor soon followed.

The two escapees made it to the docks where they were apprehended by Shimmer. Titus promised a large sum of gold to the dragon for letting them go. They then headed into Lemy's to talk with the proprietor. Lemy was more than willing to take the halfling's gold and send them far away to a pirate haven in the Free Marches. The two were taken to a small room where a mage performed a teleporation circle, sending them on their way. 

In the depths of the Red Queen, the skull of Ragnar hovered in mid-air to the astonishment of those present. Tristin identified it as a demilich and cast powerful magic to try and send it away. The skull hovered over to Athelstan and seemed to stare at his unconscious body as Tristin approached. When his angelic angels struck the skull, however, they were almost immediately vanquished. Suddenly, the skull let out a bright flash of light that nearly blinded everyone nearby. When they could see again, they had no memory of the skull being there at all and Athelstan was in need of help. During the confusion, Theristis took his chance and nicked the skin of Ser Wilkinson with his poisoned blade. The poison acted quickly and Wilkinson fell back to the ground, choking out, "Who put the hit on me?" To which Theristis disavowed any knowledge of any hit.

During all this, back at the Guildhall, Lyra had decided to spend the evening with Silvara, Titus' wife, and care for the kitten and puppy that the cleric had gotten her. During their laughter, Silvara suddenly became aware that someone was in the guildhall that shouldn't have been. As Lyra prepared her magic, Silvara went to the wall and pulled down a longsword to defend herself. They crept through the hallways and came to the central lounge where they found the hall's staff at knife point of a masked gang. The leader, sitting idly at the table, looked to Lyra and told the wizard she was Obsidian and she wanted to see Hope. Silvara put her sword down and told Lyra to hurry and fetch the warlock. Scowling at Obsidian, Lyra took to her horse and raced across Union, hoping to find Hope in time. 

As the portion of the company at the docks regrouped, they headed for a nearby flop house to stay for the night. Athelstan went to his room, relieving himself of his weaponry and other burdens before sinking down on the bed. He reached into his bag and produced the gem-eyed skull of Ragnar. "Now what?" he asked. "Now we wait," Ragnar replied. After a few moments passed, Athelstan added, "Fooooor what?" 

Ragnar simply replied, "For the rest of me to arrive."

S3E2: The Compound

Standing in the middle of Crowder's Compound, Lyra begins to negotiate the surrender of Crowder, or at least his leaving of Union. The black dragon invites Lyra and Shimmer into his home while the others are left outside. Lyra lets the dragon know that he is to leave Union and never return or else they will be forced to deal with him. Crowder tells Shimmer to tell Lyra how negotiations are done within the broods and Shimmer immediately back handed the dragon, igniting the fight. 

Meanwhile, Branor, a barbarian from the dwarven mines, had been hired by Railyn to trail the company and help ensure their safety. While negotiations were being had, he attempted to waltz into the compound to join the others when he was confronted by two dragonborn. Deciding not to start a brawl, Branor left the compound and waited patiently outside.

When the fight began, chaos ensued. Several dragonborn leapt to attack the company while two wizards attacked. Four other wizards disappeared from view, patiently waiting to aid their brethren. The battle was hard as Lyra, Athelstan, Titus, and Jackson nearly met their end. During the battle, a war-priest named Della joined the fray and saved many of their lives while Hope abandoned the battle to seek out help from the local guards. Titus sent word to Ekino about sending aid as soon as possible and from the skies dropped dozens of drow assassins, slaughtering the dragonborn and followers of Crowder. 

Seeing that his forces were done for, Crowder bid his good-bye and fled the fight, turning invisible while he fled. Shimmer, tried to rush after him but quickly lost the dragon. He let out a great roar, inevitably frightening the locals. The drow cleaned up the opposition and one of the drow mentioned to Titus, "Her Majesty sends her regards; you have been doing so much for her, she figured it was time to return the favor."

Our heroes collected what treasures they could find and headed back to the Guildhall where Athelstan found Ira in the middle of writing a letter. After a fairly heated conversation, Ira divulged that she had made a lot of bad wagers and her debt had been sold to Lemy at the docks; she was given a day to 'say goodbye' before she was sent off to work. Athelstan sent a letter to the dwarf demanding a meeting while he joined Titus, Jackson, Della, and Branor to the local tavern for drinks. During the drunken escapades, Jackson managed to get himself lost only to show up later in a chicken cage in the possession of Lemy. 

The following morning, Athelstan, Titus, Della, Branor, Hope, and Lyra headed for Lemy's. They sat down at his table as the dwarf handed over Jackson as he 'was not into keeping pets'. Athelstan paid the substantial sum to free Ira from her debts but before they left, Lemy told Athelstan that he hand information for him. Tristin was back in Union and was serving aboard the Red Queen and was set to leave first thing in the morning. The only catch was that the Red Queen belonged to Her Grace, the Archduke…

S3E1: Tick Tock

As our heroes have returned home to Union, they found that there were many messages waiting for them and people wanting to meet with them. First and foremost, Theristis seemed to disappear almost immediately returning to their hall. While some of the Company questioned where he ran off to, no one seemed to know the answer.

Athelstan, furious about the taunt he old 'friend' had delivered to him, set out to find the bastard and get back the head of Ragnar. While he was busy, Ira, he new love interested requested a few coins to try the local gambling. Athelstan headed to the only friend he knew Tristin had in Union: Lemy. The dwarf was accommodating but Athelstan's temper flared causing Lemy to agree to move him to the top of the list to be informed when Tristin came back to town. However, Athelstan would then be banned from all of Lemy's establishments unless directly invited.

Shimmer headed off to a meeting of the broods at the Temple of Io. There he discovered that the Elders had made an agreement that would open a portal to the Void and thus allowing Asgorath entrance into the material realm. His brother, Goldwing, also pointed out that bringing back Asgorath would also bring back Erek-Hus, the titan who killed the dragon in the first place, leading to the destruction of the material realm. Shimmer, blinded by his faith, pointed out that he would stand with the Elders in this matter even after the Elders proclaimed that it was Ahkaris who was helping them. 

Titus received a message from a servant of Vecna named Kro'as. The message read that she too had a nightmare about the fall of the city. She requested to meet the cleric in the Temple district. Titus arrived on schedule and was soon joined by the human who informed Titus of a group of clerics trying to prevent the catastrophe. She asked if he was willing to join them and share whatever he knew to help stop the destruction of the city. Titus agreed and Kro'as told him she would be in contact with him soon.

Lyra was summoned to the Grand Inquisitor who promoted the young wizard to the rank of Journeyman within the Inquisition. She was then given her first task: taking down a known terrorist of the city called Crowder. After checking several avenues of information, she discovered that he had carved out his own little hideout in the Rookery, along with many of his new followers. Lyra requested that the rest of the Company join her in taking the old beast down. They all agreed to head out the following morning.

Before they could confront Crowder, Athelstan realized that Ira had not come back to the hall that night. He enlisted Titus to help find her (because the two of them 'hunting' never goes wrong) and they started tracking her down. They first hit a nearby tavern and the bartender told them to head further down the street towards the shops; Ira headed that direction after winning some coin at the establishment. As the curfew started to set in, the duo came upon an older man closing up. When questioned about Ira, the man misconstrued their intentions and dashed inside. Athelstan, also confused by the situation, followed in saying he was there to save the man and do away with the 'perverts' in the man's house. A sudden fright later, and the man fell to his death out his second story window. The local guards swarmed the place, arresting the two heroes.

After a night in the cells and giving their statements to an inquisitor, the duo were released as the whole thing seemed far more of an accident rather than murder. It should be noted that they would have been charged with manslaughter if not for their close relationship to the Grand Inquisitor's protege. The Slayers met up and headed for the Rookery where they found Crowder and his followers. They declared that they were there to speak with Crowder and the doors to a large house opened and the black dragon strode out in human form saying, "Well, dear Shimmer-scythe, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

S2E13: The Horde of Kragh

The star drake left no doubt in our heroes' minds that it had full intention to kill them. Associated with the birth of the dragon gods, Tiamet and Bahamut, the star drake proved to be a heavy hitter and the fact it was a brethren caused Shimmer to pause in his attacks. The fight raged on and in the end, our heroes prevailed but one phrase echoed in Shimmer's mind even after the fight was done, "Become what you were born to be."

Almost as soon as the fight was done, the demon-hybrid Ihngril'raug appeared and carried the star drake's body off into the darkness, motioning that the treasure was theirs for the taking and Titus discovered that the last attack from the drake rendered Silvara permanently blind. Our heroes claimed the coin, gems, and magical items and rested for the night. Amongst the treasure of the room, Titus found the Hammer of Magalodahr that he had been searching for. Late in the watch, Lyra discovered that the lava pool was steadily growing. An eruption of lava suddenly burst from the pool as our heroes leapt into action and sped off through the tunnels. After nearly losing Gerath and Alexandria, our heroes made it to safety and trekked the rest of the way out of Kragh's Nest. 

They made their way back to Magalodahr where they were greeted after noticing that Hope was not among them. Dain arrived and swept Silvara to the clerics to mend her broken body as King Greybeard left his throne to meet with Titus. Titus turned over the hammer to the king who took it with gladness. Unfortunately, the king had nothing better to give the company but did give Titus a letter to deliver to Gunner back in New Cottonwood. After his meeting with the king was over, Titus and Alexandria rushed to check on Silvara. The clerics had done their jobs and her eyesight would be fully returned in a few days. 

In the pits of the nine hells, Hope stood listening to her Patron gloat about seizing his first placement of power. He told his warlocks that they should bask in awe over his glory. As he continued his monologue, Hope noticed a large, black spiderweb appearing above him. The devil dismissed all but three of his warlocks and turned to fight this threat. However, celestial javelins pierced the devil and drove him to the ground. Ihngril'raug walked out of the portal and greeted the warlocks. He swiftly killed the devil and consumed him. Speaking with Despair (Hope's alternated identity), Ihngril'raug got an understanding of how the Patron-Pact worked. He branded Despair with his hand, solidifying his position as her new patron of darkness and then sent her back on her way.

In Hammurabi, the company was met with a cold welcome. They were not allowed inside the village and kept constant watch over the group. Shimmer, however, was visited by Shir and gave him not only a spell to help protect his horde but also agreed to grant him several guard drakes after he had finished creating them. En route to South Warren, the company found Hope lying on the side of the road as if no time had passed. She joined them and they made their way to the glimmering city. 

While in South Warren, Athelstan visited Trololo who had learned new tricks. The hunter inquired about a larger guy and Trololo handed him an experimental weapon that he demanded Athelstan field test and write back about. Silvara's brother had sold what possessions she did not want to keep and gave her a decent sum of coin while Shimmer and Theristis paid into their business venture to get the ball rolling. 

Pit stopping at New Cottonwood, Titus delivered the note to Gunner. The dwarf gave Titus his blood vial back and closed up shop for good. Athelstan was confronted by the elf Hunter, father of Ira. He demanded to know what Athelstan had killed. After listing a few of the major beasts he had a hand in killing, Ira leapt into the hunter's arms telling him that she had already put her things in their cart. And with that, our heroes ventured back through the Black Mountains, across the bay, and back to Union. Carriages were waiting for them and hauled them back to their guildhall where Railyn was waiting for them. He hurried them inside and told them there was much work to be done. As Athelstan was walking in with Ira on his arm, he noticed a painting sitting in the entry hall. It was a large canvas depicting Tristin in the captain's cabin of a ship, holding the skull of Ragnar. Athelstan's eyes went wide and he let out a very loud, "God Damnit!!"

Railyn will tell the company the story of "Chasing the Smile" up to when he headed to the Guild Hall. There are several messages waiting for you as well.

S2E12: Genius and Time

The battle against the Guard Drakes raged on with the paladin Alexandria joining in on the fray. During the skirmish, Silvara managed to slip on the loose gravel and impale herself on her blade. Thankfully, Titus was nearby to aid her and bring her back from death's doorstep. Also during the confusion of battle, Shimmer inadvertently consumed Krass, one of the kobolds following the company. After the drakes were defeated, Shimmer and Alexandria nearly came to blows but made a promise to not harm the other as long as they were traveling together. 

Later in the afternoon, the company came around a winding path to an old outpost; most likely used by the dragonkin or other fowl beasts. However, what they found was a long table and a banquet laid out for them as well as a man dressed in ahead of it's time clothing at the head of the table. He welcomed them to the feast and said that he knew their patron. All the time during the meal, he kept gushing that it was exciting to not know the future and warned a few of them to keep some of their possessions close. He talked to Shimmer about the return of a creature of old but followed it up with, "then again, if the doorway's open there's nothing to stop just anyone from stepping through." And with that he vanished.

The company continued on their way and, using Shimmer's expert knowledge of tracking a dragon's lair, made their way into the winding spires of mountains. Late in the day, Titus, who was leading the troop, noticed what looked like a large group of tracks leading up towards the direction they were headed. Conversing with Silvara on the matter, revealed that they were tracks of the dangerous War Machines, the bulk that was Kragh's army. They decided to bed down in a cave for the night and during the last watch, Athelstan noticed a strange, spider-like creature watching them from the shadows that quickly disappeared. 

Pressing onward, the company came to the mouth of the Dragon's Nest. Theristis, unfortunately, lost his horse that was far too scared to stick around and Alexandria tied her horse up to a nearby rock. As they approached, the company saw the same creature that Athelstan had spotted earlier that morning, patiently watching them approach the cavern. Within a split second, though, it disappeared once more and the company headed in. 

After hours and hours and traversing the winding labyrinth of the cave, Shimmer finally led them to a large room that was lined with seemingly dormant War Machines. As Titus took one step in, they came to life but stood there, silently watching. The silence was pierced by a high pitched shrill voice and an albino kobold who came rushing down to meet them. He took them by the hand and hurried them off to his own little room and offered them water. It was quickly deduced that the little creature had some how gone insane and they picked out his name: Vierlalo. After back and forth discussions and circular conversations, the company managed to get ahold of several maps to the caverns that led them to the deepest part of the facility. In a sad moment of revelation, they also discovered that Vierlalo had half of his brain removed and was being kept alive through magic.

They found a small cave to rest for the night in and during Theristis' watch, he heard a light voice on the air around him. It revealed it to be Ihngril'raug, a demonic monstrosity who had taken up residence in the caves after Kragh's defeat. It made a bargain with the assassin, promising to tell them where to find the last of the dragon's treasure as long as they defeated the beast that was guarding it. Theristis agreed on behalf of the company and the following morning, he followed the signs left for him deeper into the labyrinth. After hours of travel, they came to the deepest cavern that smelled of sulfur and heat. Upon standing in the entryway, they saw a large lake of lava with a small island near the middle. Above them, the ceiling was decorated like the night sky. Within moments, many of the stars started to move and a dragon-like creature dropped down onto the pile of treasure, letting out a mighty roar…

An Interlude 2

Three months ago. Union.

“You summoned me, father?” Gerath of Riviera stood at the doorway into his father’s study. The white doors were wedged open and the curtains were pulled back, letting in the spring sun. Howard of Riviera the Third sat at his large oak desk, pouring over reports and documents relating to his struggling enterprises across Union and beyond. Gerath had tried to suggest how to improve both relations and profits with their holdings but his father demanded he leave it alone.

“Yes, I did,” Howard replied. His voice was still strong even after years of grief and loss. At one point, Howard had five children; now he only had one. He stood from his chair, bringing a report with him. “I see here that you have requested funds to pay for an excursion from Lord Gregory Un’Tirest, Lady McKrerry, and attempted to gain an audience with the Archduke herself. What is the meaning of this?”

“Well, I have decided to undertake a long journey,” Gerath tried to smile but the intense anger from his father forced it to wait in the wings. “I plan on hiring a group of well-armed and noble individuals who will then accompany me to seek my fortune.”

“Fortune?” Howard scoffed. “You don’t need to seek a fortune. Your request is denied.”

“I’m sorry to say this, father, but that is not up to you.” Gerath straightened; this was a dangerous and definitive path he was about to embark on. Howard paused in pouring his drink and looked over to his last son. “I have made these requests on my own. As you can see, they bear my seal.”

“Your seal is a mockery of this house,” Howard quietly replied. He took his drink and gulped it down. “Do you know what I told your brothers before they left this house?” He did not wait for a reply. “I told them that the wars they fight, the battles they win, the damsels they rescue, all represent this house; this lineage.”

“And how many of my brothers came back?” Gerath asked. He knew that his father was not entertaining his first drink of the day. “How much of this family’s money did you squander on bribing generals and heroes to train my brothers and then send them off into the wilderness to die cold, tired, and alone? What were you trying to accomplish? Who were you trying to impress? No other noble house sent their children into the dangers of the world just so they could vicariously relive their glory days!”

“You watch your tongue, brat,” Howard glared at Gerath. His hand not carrying a glass of wine slowly ventured to the sabre at his belt. “Or I will cut it out.”

“Tongues and noses and eyes!” Gerath screamed. What few servants remained in the house could no doubt hear him. But everyone knew the House of Riviera was slowly dying thanks to a washed up hero who could not return to the world behind walls. “You have threatened to cut out each one a score times over and yet here I stand able to hear your threats, see your failures, and taste the blood in my mouth when you blame me for your short comings! I may not be a great hero of old, father, but I will make my journey, find my fortune, and return to Union a powerful noble who will bring the House of Riviera back to its days in the sun. That, I promise to the gods.”

“You are no son of mine,” Howard pulled his sword and staggered forward. Gerath, while not the best of swordsmen, had experience in dealing with drunken brawlers. After all, he was a man of the theatre. “My son would not speak to me in this way. My son would be welcome in my home. My son… all my sons, are dead. I hereby banish you from my sights, my land, and my purse. You are not worthy to represent the name Riviera, boy. Get out.”

“Father…” Gerath tried to back step. He had gone too far, let his temper get the better of him.

“I am not your father!” Howard barked, a tear starting to stream down his cheek. He slashed at the air with his sword, knocking over a vase. The crash was the exclamation mark. Gerath paused for a few moments, staring at the broken pieces on the ground. He turned and walked back into the corridor. They’las, the elf butler who had been with the House for decades, stood down the hall. Gerath walked towards him, clearing his throat and straightening himself.

“They’las,” Gerath managed to choke out. “I require a carriage. Could you be so kind as to fetch one for me?”

“Of course, sir,” They’las bowed and motioned for the servants to fulfill the request. “If I may be so bold, sir, where will you go? Surely you have friends in the city.”

“I do,” Gerath stared at the front doors. His mulled over who to trust; who to go to until remembered Muse mentioning someone in the city that could help him. At the time Gerath hadn’t realized what his old friend could have meant but now he did. “Actually, I need to find a visitor in Union; Queek Ekino of Bladweb.”

“I did not expect a local lord to visit me,” Ekino smiled as her servant poured the tea for herself and her guest. The drow servant watched the visitor with suspicion; it was something that made Gerath very nervous. “Especially one so young. So you are of the House of Riviera?”

“Yes,” Gerath returned the smile once the servant stepped away from the pair. He picked up his tea and sipped. “My goodness, this is lovely! What is it?”

“A concoction from my homeland; you probably don’t want to know exactly what it is.” Ekino smirked and took another sip. “Rumors are spreading through the local houses that your father has forsaken you.”

“Well, rumors can be a bit harsh,” Gerath tried to play it off but the intense gaze from the drow queen made him rethink his strategy. “However, in this case, they are quite right. My father and I had a falling out very recently and I am in need of assistance for my expedition.”

“An expedition.” Ekino echoed. She sipped her tea again and glanced at the servant. As if taking an order, the servant bowed and stepped out from the room, closing the doors behind him. “Tell me, Gerath, where is this expedition intended to go?”

“Well,” Gerath swallowed more tea. “A long time ago, I got it into my head to take a journey to the old caverns in the Free Marches… to where the Great Lizard resided.”

“Kragh.” Ekino spat; her voice and face changed with the mentioning of the name. “You wish to venture to Kragh’s nest to… what? See if there is anything left to plunder? I doubt the scavengers and adventurers have left anything of worth after a decade.”

“But surely there must be something left.” Gerath put down his saucer and cup and leaned forward. “I believe that with all the power and influence he had, there must still be something to find down there; some treasure that will be a great fortune for us all.”

“And get you back into the good graces of your father.” Ekino smirked.

“That would be a desired side-effect.” Gerath lamented.

“I will help you.” Ekino set down her tea and stood. Almost on cue the doors opened and the servant returned with a large tome. He set it on a pedestal and Ekino started flipping through it.

“What’s that?” Gerath tried to peer over and see what the Queen was staring at.

“Insurance.” Ekino glanced back. “I will fund your journey and even provide you with the hired help you need.” She stopped on a page, seemingly finding what she was looking for. Whispering a few words, she stepped back over to the young noble. Gerath suddenly realized she was holding some kind of document in her hand with various signatures on it. She spoke suddenly and Gerath was struck by a pain on his left shoulder blade. “There, that should do it.”

“What did you do?” Gerath asked, trying to rub the sore spot.

“Like I said, insurance.” Ekino closed the book and handed it back to the servant. “Do know that we now have a pact with each other, and I will aid you as long as you aid me. Go to the Dragon’s Nest and seek your fortune but I want you to look extra hard for an orb about a foot in diameter that is milky white; almost like clouds are trapped within. Can you do that for me?”

“Am I supposed to bring it back to you?”

“No,” Ekino sat. “I suspect you won’t find it; but that’s what I need: confirmation.”

“Yes, of course.” Gerath swallowed. “Out of curiousity, who are my companions on this journey?”

Ekino smiled and told him the address.

S2E11: Ring in a New Day

As the rest of the company searched the slums of Magalodahr seeking the last of the Syndicate, Lyra was busy studying in the library. Through out her studying, Lyra started to realize that a name she had never heard of was constantly coming up: Asgorath. It seemed that the dragons interviewed for the texts were referencing this entity repeatedly as well as a black dragon associating the name with another titan of old: Erek-Hus. Further study revealed to Lyra that the two titans were once bitter enemies and their return marks the beginning of the end of days.

After being kicked out of the library, Lyra started making her way back to her lodgings. En route, she managed to pick up a conversation between Dain and Shin. Shin was complaining that they didn't just execute the company when they arrived as they had evidence that the Slayers were planning on robbing the vault. Dain managed to talke Shin out of it and they both went their seperate ways. Lyra joined up with his companions and called for a group meeting.

Lyra spent the next few minutes berating the company about coming to Magalodahr to rob the vault. After some heated words, she left and returned to her lodgings while Hope did the same. Athelstan, Titus, and Lyra headed out to drink for the night while Theristis had sent a note to speak with Dain. The captain promptly turned up, using a magical door placed by Shin. He inquired if Theristis was successful. The assassin turned over the prize he received from Stonehelm, a lock of his hair adorned with his trinkets. Dain immediately asked what Theristis wanted in return. The assasisn replied telling Dain about the ring Hope was seeking and the captain took the information to negotiate with the King.

Meanwhile, Athelstan, Titus, and Lyra all ventured to a nearby tavern called the Mace & Pegusas. There, Athelstan managed to get Titus to come clean about why he was with the company; he was placed specifically by Ekino to watch the company and report back. After the interrogation, Titus demanded a full mug of Dragon's Fire Ale for Athelstan. Lyra, trying to keep them from getting drunk, cast a spell on a regular mug of water and gave it to the elf. Thinking that it wasn't that bad, Titus ordered two more mugs of Dragon's Fire. When it arrived, Lyra watched in horror as her two companions drank the Ale in one gulp. Drunkenness set it quick, followed by hallucinations, and finally long slumber. The Ale started to destroy their bodies. Lyra enlisted the help of Silvara to track down how to reverse the effects ultimately leading them to hiring local clergy to heal them instead. 

The following day found Silvara heavily upset with her husband and sought her own lodgings. Theristis was delivered a package from the Royal Palace; the Red Ring that Hope was after. He delivered it to his companion who gave him a short hug in thanks. Hope gave the ring to Beetlejuice who left to deliver it. The two then joined Shimmer and Gerath to finish shopping for their journey into the Dragon's Nest and procured two monstrous beasts known as Aurachs (orcish beasts of burden). They all finished up what final tasks they needed to be done and looked forward to the travel the next day.

That evening, Hope (returned to her normal self) invited everyone to go dancing. Only Shimmer, Lyra, and Silvara accepted and they headed towards a dance hall/tavern called the Anvil (where you go to get hammered). They joined in on the festivities for many hours until Hope noticed a brute of a man staring at her from across the room. When she got close enough, she noticed the tattoos on his arm were decorated with demonic symbols. The bruite, Reigns, a demon serving her lord was sent to fetch her for a meeting. Hope consensually went with the demon and a note was left on her bedside table detailing that she had fallen in love and was remaining in Magalodahr. Accepting her decision, the company left the dwarf stronghold behind and headed out towards the Dragon's Nest. However, not three hours into the journey was the company beset by guard drakes baring down on them. In the midst of the battle, a shiny knight rode down from the hills, joining the fight…


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