To my friends in Raven,
It is my great pleasure to invite you to the wedding of myself and Ruby, the princess of the Mountain Dwarfs, in Mason's Hall in two days’ time. Feel free to use the teleportation circle in Mason's Hall if you are able to, otherwise I will see if I can arrange something for you. If you cannot make it, do not worry, I plan to have a less formal celebration later in Woodsong when this whole business with Pax has been dealt with.
As you know, I was granted permission for Ruby's hand as we retrieved an ancient Dwarven crown from the Underdark. Upon our return from the elemental plane of Earth, we gave the crown back to the King, who then gave us his blessing. However this was not sufficient as the High Priest of the mountain dwarfs also needed to agree to the union. So Thorin, Fierna, Nissa and myself traveled to the temple of Dunatis to speak with High Priest Erias Everforge. The High Priest was very suspicious of Hill Dwarfs, and was not such a big fan of me marrying Ruby. Still, after Fierna put in a good word for us, he agreed to visit Khan Hall to see for himself the next day.
While we were gone, Sevento and Cedric headed to the market to acquire more information about the state of Dwarven politics. There they learned that the son of Everforge was the topic of some strange rumors. Apparently there was a prophecy that he would one day save the Mountain Dwarfs, but that he was currently in a coma. We later learned that they had also encountered a bard called Vorn Brownblood, who inquired about me.
The next day, we traveled to Khan Hall with High Priest Everforge. I spoke briefly with Ruby before and she told me that Everforge was heavily reliant on the old ways and ceremony. She also didn't want to be around while he visited Khan Hall unless she had to. So just Thorin and I gave him the grand tour and supplied him with ample Khan's Stoutrock Ale. He was put off initially by the forges making weapons in defense of the Arcarost Valley, however he eventually came around. At the end, he told us that he was pleasantly surprised that we had seemingly given up our war-like ways. But he would still need time to think before giving his approval as he did not approve of this war with humans that we were in. We brought him back to Mason's Hall and agreed to give him a few days to meditate on it.
While we waited, we sought to tie up some loose ends. Fierna and Cedric return to Aurion to oversee the construction of a new Godslaying arrow. While the rest of us checked in with the Arcarost Community Defense Council. From them, we got two elements of bad news. Firstly, Flagos has undergone a revolution and the Court of Beasts has taken control. They have allied themselves with the Obligation of Goodwill and have now sent their Golem army along. Their combined army was now less than a month away from the Valley! Secondly, our friend, the Behir hasn't been seen in a few days after it went on a patrol in the Trollbarrens. We performed a scrying on the Behir and learned that he was indeed deceased in a cave deep underground.
As we were just about to head out we were interrupted by a black-dressed nonchalant halfing called Nian. He had a message for our party, called the Heroes of Woodsong. However it was very important that we were all together. We contacted Fierna to return from Aurion, however Cedric did not trust the situation. So Cedric stole the scroll and read it. The halfling was visibly distressed as a portal to Mount Elysium opened before us. We had been summoned by the gods, but Fierna was not yet there. So we had to wait a few minutes in uncomfortable silence until Fierna arrived. Then we stepped through and entered the Celestial Plane.
We were led into a long hall, brilliant in beauty and splendor. Long benches flanked each side were the gods themselves were seated. It seemed as if we were on trial. They demanded that we return the scale that we had secured from Am' Saor. We argued that we needed it to defeat Pax, but they said that they could not take the risk. A scale of Ourborros is a powerful weapon, one of the few known things that can kill a god. We asked if we could get something in return to help against Pax. While they recognized the threat of Pax, his followers were still normal people. We then asked about the sealing magic. The seals that we had broken, could not be remade. New seals could be made, but it was very dangerous and they would not allow us to gain access to the magic. Eventually we reached a compromise with the gods. We agreed that an enchantment would be placed on the scale, that we could use it to only kill Pax else it would also kill people that we loved. In this manner, we were returned the scale and the gods were somewhat confident that it would not be used against them. They wished us luck with our endeavors and let us go.
Shaken from our encounter with the gods, we resolved to find the Behir and investigate his death. We traveled to Trollbane Keep and headed out along the last seen route taken by the Behir. At the end, we had to follow tracks deep into a cave structure. There we found the Behir, dead for several days. We approached the body but my senses told me that there was something off. But we did not want to leave the corpse there, and sprung the trap. The skeleton of the Behir pulled out from its body and attacked. We struck out at the massive undead but it was a challenging fight. However from the walls, new enemies appeared. Undead trolls swarmed our position. And a dragon made from shadow flew in. We recognized the dragon as the son of Sevalaxos, brought back by nefarious means. At the back, a Troll shaman wielding a dark staff called for our deaths. The staff matched the description that we had gotten regarding the second plague from Pax. This was the shaman who had received it and was now using it against us. We took out the undead Behir but were overwhelmed and were forced to retreat using Thorin's magic.
We regrouped in Trollbane Keep. Fierna arrived back with the Godslaying arrow now complete. As we now knew the Shaman to be out there, it was a threat we could not ignore. So we set out to find and take him out once more. We returned to the cave and found the Behir's corpse, now permanently dead. Tracks led away, deeper into the cave system and we followed. After several winding tunnels, we came upon a Dwarf chained up. He had clearly been tortured, but was not yet dead. We set him free and healed him up a bit. He told us he was a soldier from Trollbane called Orsic and that his patrol had been ambushed by trolls. He had seen the shaman come through several hours before.
So we continued and eventually tired. We set up a magical doorway to rest in an ethereal mansion. However as we slept, the mansion was dispelled from the outside. We piled up in the location where the door had been. The shaman confronted us with a giant beast and ghostly spirits. He gave us an ultimatum, he would stop his assault if we would relinquish the Trollbarrens to him. He would unite the Troll clans in undeath. We told him no.
Fierna banished the shaman's forces, and so the shaman fled back into the caves. Not wishing to give him to to recover, we sped after him. We soon found a deep cavern occupied by dire trolls, huge monsters with two heads. Just as we beat them back, all bloodied and hurt, the red shadow dragon reappeared. Its dragon breath took out Nissa and Thorin. But Fierna and I used magic to teleport towards the shaman hiding in the back. We struck him down and claimed his staff. We crawled our way back, just barely in time to revivify Thorin. We were at the end of our magic, so we picked up Nissa's corpse and fled. The dragon chased us. Cedric started pulling random animals out of Nissa's bags, such as an owl, a mastiff and even a bear. But the dragon was relentless in its pursuit. So we collapsed a tunnel near a weak spot, which stalled the dragon long enough that we made it back to Trollbane Keep. We sent a message ahead and Acquira the dragon sped down to chase away the shadow dragon.
We regrouped at the Keep and reincarnated Nissa. We then gave her the last of the juice we had kept from the Tree of Life, to restore her form. We then teleported to Arcarost and tried to return the staff to the Vault of Creation. Unfortunately we could not as it was still bound to a creature. The shaman, even though he was dead, remained linked to the staff. The shaman had now himself become an immortal undead unless the connection with the staff could be broken. Unfortunately we lacked the means to do so, as it requires Solis, the weapon of Belenus. So we placed the body of the shaman in the forge so that he remains ever burning. That seems to have stalled the shaman for now.
We then travelled to Aurion and met up with Lynn and Faera. We learned that farmers were complaining about a sudden drought. This could indicate the third and final curse, where Pax would unleash a Summerbird on us. But first we went to see the Magelord. He was sheltering the former Magelord of Flagos, after she had been driven out by the Court of Beasts. Apparently the local cults had risen up in a revolt. They had taken control of the city's golems using magical items shaped like 30cm rods. She suspected that her former mages may be imprisoned within the palace and promised to give us some maps.
The drought was raging all across the Arcarost Valley, so we used sending stones and the Arcarost world map to pinpoint the possible position of the Summerbird. In this search, we passed by Nissa's Grove in the clansmen territory. There we found Leafert, who had acquired a small red bird. We soon found a much larger fire bird in a nest nearby. This bird was watching us closely. We had found our summerbird, but did not know which it was. We did not want to risk a confrontation in the Grove. So Sevento placed the large bird in a magical maze and Cedric grabbed the smaller one. Cedric ran away from the Grove and pulled out a feather to leave a track for the larger bird. As the small bird squealed in pain, the portal to the Fey Realm at the center of the Grove flashed red. Suddenly a large number of fire elementals appeared and started setting fire to the Grove. We beat them back, but were now dealing with a fire raging through the trees. We formed a bucket line with some clansmen, and just when we thought we had it under control, the portal shuddered once more and an earthquake shook the ground. A large fiery castle appeared and out came an Efreeti, a legendary fire djinn, with an army. They claimed to be summoned by the call of the Summerbird, and were bound to rally to it if it was in distress. We tried to reason with them, but the clansmen soon attacked. So we were bound to fight off the army as well. Nissa summoned in her trio of awakened trees into the fight, knowing that it would probably doom them against the creatures of fire. We saw only one desperate action left to us, move the Summerbird to the Elemental Plane of Fire. As we were swarmed by myrmidons, Nissa snuck through holding the tiny bird and threw it into the portal. The fire elementals and the castle promptly disappeared, but the torrent of fire remained to consume the grove. Soon nothing was left but ashes.
The portal to the Fey Realm had been closed, but the spot where it once stood kept a small essence of magic. It was fading fast as the link with the Fey Realm had been broken. I used whatever magic I had left to sustain it, while the others tried to come up with a plan. Nissa finally produced a seed, a small fragment from the Tree of Life, and planted it into the spot. The effects were immediate as the seed fed on the remnants of Fey Realm magic, Nissa’s druidic magic and my own connection to the divine. Within moments, there stood a massive tree covering the entirety of the former Grove. The tree hummed with magic and its roots and branches twisted into paths to form a complex maze. I felt a connection to the tree as it had been born from the intertwining of mine of Nissa’s magic. I decided to formally accept it into the clan, and named it Irminsul Khan.
The three plagues now defeated, we could spend time securing our alliance with the Mountain Dwarfs. So we returned with Ruby to Mason’s Hall and met with the king. There we learned that Everforge had in principle agreed to the marriage between myself and Ruby, but that there was now a rival suitor. The heir of the Bloodkith clan, Torbir, had secured an ancient long-lost scepter and wished to marry Ruby. Torbir was known as a great soldier among the Mountain Dwarfs and had proven himself multiple times in battles against Giants, although many were surprised by his sudden political desires. We took council from Everforge on how best to resolve the situation, and learned that we could either fight in one-on-one combat for Ruby’s hand or secure the blessing of the Gods. We next met up with the Bloodkiths themselves and soon discovered that it was Torbir’s mother who was pushing him with aspirations. She told us that they would only revoke their claim if I named them next in line for the throne. But I had little aspirations of giving into this family who would manipulate themselves into royalty.
We headed out and secluded ourselves in an effort to make a connection to Lugh, my patron deity. To our surprise, a portal did indeed open. We stepped through and found ourselves in the throne room of the Dao Pharaoh on the Elemental Plane of Earth. She had summoned us to tell of an attack on her city. A great red dragon had come down and stole the Queen of the Sandworms. It seemed more than likely that this as the action of Allidra, the wife of Sevalaxos, and that she intend to use the great worm to recover her husband.
So were returned to Arcarost as soon as we could, and placed the Arcarost Community Defense Council on high alert. We also contacted the Dragonriders and they told us that they would patrol the mountains for any sign of Allidra. With tensions running high, we took the only action that we felt was left to us and teleported right into Sevalaxos’ lair to confront the great dragon. At first, the battle seemed to sway our way. Our fire resistance potions kept us alive and the small fire creatures that inhabited the lair did not form a great threat. But soon Sevalaxos pushed through Sevento’s magic and could unleash torrents of dragon breath and claws on us. We had trouble getting close enough to hit the dragon with any discernible damage, and once I got close enough, I promptly got eaten. This was a battle we could not win yet, but we had learned much about the combat abilities of Sevalaxos. So we retreated using the Hornswaggle wish spell.
We regrouped back in Arcarost and monitored the situation for a few hours. No sign of Allidra and Sevalaxos was detected, so we surmised that there was something stopping Allidra from executing her plan right away. We turned our attention back to the Mountain Dwarfs as a message came in from Ruby that the Bloodkiths had secured a blessing from Dunatis. We were close to losing our alliance with the Mountain Dwarfs, so we sped to the Cathedral of Lugh and used an ancient ritual to summon the deity. The room soon turned to solid gold and a golden figure appeared before us. We told Lugh of our intentions, including the creation of a novel trade network between the Dwarven clans and beyond, and he agreed to give us his blessing. In return, I promised that I would levy a tax on the new trade network and use it to build a new temple to Lugh. My right hand turned golden and sported the symbol of Lugh. We thanked Lugh and ended the ritual.
We then used Sevento’s magic and contacted one of Dunatis’ demi-gods. We were surprised to learn that they did not know about any blessing of the Bloodkith family, but stated that if Torbir wanted a blessing, he could probably get one. We also learned that the Bloodkiths had received the scepter from their advisor Vrom Brownblood. Now that we were tied with blessings, we returned to Mason’s Hall to talk to the Bloodkiths and Everforge. All were waiting in King’s throne room. A discussion erupted, especially when I told that we had reason to suspect the Bloodkith blessing. Everforge agreed to commune with the divine to ascertain the true nature of the blessing. As the session closed, Torbir spoke to me. He said that he had little desire to become king, and that I seemed decent enough. Torbir suggested that we travel to the top of the mountain and have a look around. History would likely be very different if Torbir wasn’t a kind and decent Dwarf.
So we headed to the top of the mountain dressed in furs against the cold in hopes of finding a legendary Keep of Dunatis. We soon came upon a stone arch with an inscription ‘Wounded by iron, scarred by swords, punctured by arrows, a hand to catch danger’. We figured out that the answer was ’shield’ and used a shield to hit the arch. The arch activated and a portal opened. We stepped through and found ourselves on a distant mountain top with an ongoing blizzard. We could not tell our location and saw only clouds below us. A storm giant approached us and demanded to know our business there. Not wishing to fight the giant, we explained that we had come here in hopes of confirming if the blessing given to the Bloodkith really came from Dunatis. He let us pass luckily but told us not to touch anything on the path upwards.
We climbed stone steps up to the very top of the mountain. The path was flanked with gems and precious ores lightly buried in the mountain top. If we would reach out, we could have grabbed more wealth than most Dwarfs have seen in the entire lives. We resisted the temptation and found a keep at the top of the stairs. An old dwarf slept next to the gate. We woke him up and asked to enter the keep. The old dwarf would only consider letting us in if we proved our cause as just. He proposed a test, we could hit him once and he would hit me once. If I survived, we would be let through.
So I punched the old dwarf with a fist, loosening some of the divine magic within me that showed that I was blessed by Lugh. Then he struck me with a sword. That hurt a lot. I would rate it somewhere between an efreeti sword and an ancient red dragon bite. I was still standing at the end, so we could pass.
We entered and found ourselves in a dinning hall. Young dwarven children were running around. An older dwarf which we recognized as Dunatis sat at the table eating. We apologized for the interruption and told our tale. He then confirmed what his demi-god had told us, he knew of no such blessing but Torbir could have it if he so wished. Apparently the dwarven warrior was a frequent visitor in the house of Dunatis. After telling him that we had been sent by Torbir ourselves, Dunatis agreed to give my his blessing as well. My left hand now turned to stone with the symbol of Dunatis. I asked if we could do anything in return, and he asked me to promise that my second-born would follow in the teachings of Dunatis, which I did.
We returned to Mason’s hall, now with two blessings in hand. Everforge had also in the meantime confirmed the Bloodkith blessing to be false. However the Bloodkith matriarch remained adamant in relinquishing the claim. So Torbir stepped forward and defied his mother by kneeling before me. And so thanks to Torbir, the matter has been finally settled and the marriage has been planned. After the session, we took a short trip to the Bloodkith house and confronted Vron Brownblood. He has now promised to apologies for his deceptions, but I am uncertain what to do with him going forward.
In any case, we now have less than two days before my wedding and a week before Pax’ army arrives. Hope you can make it!