To Live Alone

Lady Anne Mowbry, Keribrar, Thorne, Hafwyn, Quilate, and Seirian join the other honorblades of the Blackthorn Clan for the last meal. This meal is taken just before the last rays of the sun touch the stone of Fountainhead. It is the last peace the dwarves will know from the Mistress of the Night until the sun rises once more.

Tonight they tap one of the Red Ale kegs they brought with them in honor of their guests and the task they will undertake when the sun next touches the stone.

Their Skáld rises up and tells the tale of why they are here in the dark instead among their clanfolk of the mountains. Blackthorn Silverhammer traveled with Aegrin and saw him through many journeys. Aegrin created a tree on this sacred land that was a sin in the eyes of Barathorn. Although they had traveled for many years Blackthorn was not by Aegrin’s side when he battled X’toltn.

After the battle Blackthorn forgave his friend and forged a cairn fit for the gods and vowed it would not be disturbed. He first created the barriers that stopped “Aegrin’s Tree.” In time other dwarves came to this land and with the passing of Blackthorn they took up his mantle and renewed the vow. The clan took the name of their Eternal Master of the Forge and constructed their clanhold in the nearby mountains.

A gong announces the nearing of the //true night// and so dishes are cleaned, benches cleared, and everyone makes their way into their homes. The group are given the use of the longhouse and told to stay indoors until the gong sounds again.

“To live alone is the fate of all great souls.”
Arthur Schopenhauer

The longhouse is not just a gathering place, but serves as their historical records and dry good storage. Any goes through the records; although she reads little dwarven. In general dwarves are nearly fanatical about written records and the dwarves of Blackthorn Clan are no different. After digging through multiple records of mushroom harvests and stalagmite growth she finds some more interesting records.

On records details eighteen dwarves that ventured into the city beyond Natttåke Keep led by Gishara and her husband. Only six returned to their encampment. Three of them succumbed to their wounds in the following days and one disappeared during the night. The two that survived Homraz Darkslayer recovered a Silver Maul and Gishara Crimson Eye had her left eye replaced by a large ruby. Both of these went on to become great heroes within the clan.

City of Stars

Natttåke Keep

In the morning the others decide not to wake Keribrar, who slept by the tree. His foolishness has cost them trouble with every step. Although they are bound to him by Aegrin, it is best to not borrow trouble. The others are guided to Natttåke Keep by a heavily armored dwarf. He tells them that the keep has fallen twice in recent years to the creatures that roam the city. The first fell to a four-legged and two armed giant. The second is unknown for the relief force arrived and found their companions dead. Nobody goes into the city to search for artifact as it has become so dangerous.

They proceed through three large doors. Each of them barred using a complex locking mechanism and guarded by a single dwarf. Once at the keep they are announced to Deathwatch Nargle Blackthorn, the current Camp Leader of those in the keep. He reminds them to fully announce themselves before entering the light in front of the gate to the city. If they fail to do so they will killed when they step into the light.

This is the final safe holding. Even if they call out for help they should expect none from the keep. Nargle will not risk any of the lives under his command on those foolish enough to enter the city – once beyond the light they are alone and isolated. Seirian had planned on staying at the keep and waiting for their return, but instead decides to visit the city they say she had already visited with Father Karl.

Upper City

With Quilate and Thorne scouting ahead the group managed to avoid the small imp-like creatures that inhabit the upper parts of the city near the keep. Most of the buildings have tumbled or fallen due to disrepair. They come across a three-story building with a large dome for a roof. It appears intact, while the surrounding buildings have burned. The building has eight sides with a door on each side. Carvings decorate the outer fall obviously done by somebody with great skill.

Above each door is a small rectangular window. Quilte flies up and investigates. A large centipede-like creature made with human limbs is curled around a pedestal. Sunk into the walls are over a hundred humans breathing in and out. When they exhale the building sounds like a flute. Quilate uses his elephant orb to see if this is an illusion or true magic that has lasted for centuries. The people in the walls are not just an illusion, but still partially living.

The pedestal draws his attention. It is fashioned from eight ivory tusks and topped by a nest of silver wire. Above the nest is a wind vane shaped as a bird. Large gem-encrusted stones are inside the nest. Quilate must have them. He flies from window to window until suddenly the centipede creature is gone. He slips inside only to just barely avoid capture as the creature was waiting above the window. He is now trapped inside the mausoleum.

Quilate flies down to the nest and grabs what he can, but the weight slows his down too much and the centipede cuts off his escape route. Anne and Thorne break through one of the doorways and tries to help, but the creature divides itself and attacks them. It drives Thorne off and Anne is overcome by the dark magic of this place.

Hafwyn goes inside and tries to talk to the creature as it is behaving with intelligence. This distracts the creature enough that Quilate escapes with the eggs. The centipede howls with frustration, but Hafwyn promises to return its treasure in exchange for the life of her companions. Quilate is convinced to give up the gem-entrusted stone eggs, but keeps a brass orb and the weather vane. The creature returns their companions and retreats to its nest.

Aegrin’s Tree

Keribrar wakes by the root of the Great Tree and realizes he has been left behind. He can feel the pull of the bond and follows it, bypassing Natttåke Keep. He finds them outside of the mausoleum and joins them just as the centipede creature is returning to its lair. He uses his magic to repair the doors. It will not hold forever, but should last at least a decade.

Last Scholar

Keribrar and Hafwyn lead the group deeper into the city drawing upon the magic connecting Hafwyn’s bracer to its twin, it leads them to a large wooden warehouse covered in hastily scrawled runes. The runes are not magical and appear more like graffiti. Their is a large stone table in the room and the floor is littered with detritus. When they go inside they see a apparition floating around doing some sort of research.

The apparition lived in this city and was experimenting on the people of the city to give them the ability to fight off the shadows attacking them. He says the city will not hold long against the attack by the Circle of Marak. Only his ritual can shield someone from their dark magic. At several points he picks up things on ghostly tables and when he releases them they notice motes of light float to the floor. Where they land is where the physical object is located.

Quilate manages to retrieve a small horde of things that could fetch a good price in the market if he can find an interested buyer. The most impressive is a hollow bone needle and a bag with ten silvered knives (although most of the silver has tarnished or flaked off) the knives are still impressively forged.

Keribrar and Anne collect several of the scrolls he drops. Most long ago decayed but a few are still readable. He has learned how to fashion something he called a Fatestone. Such a stone allows someone to turn back a small moment of time and turn the result into their favor.

Anne is intrigued and hops unto the table and partially sinks into the layer of ghostly sand on top. The scholar uses a bone needle in her arms, legs, and neck. He drains a small amount of blood over time into five silver-lined bowls. When this blood is combined with several alchemical potions the blood rolls like quicksilver. These are drawn from the bowls and heated in a crucible until hardened into a stone the size of someone’s thumb. Finally her chest is cut open and the stone placed inside.

The scholar tells Anne that should she live the night she will control the power of the Fates until the next setting of the sun. Anne thanks him and asks if she can also thank the elf and his dwarven companion who have come to defend the city. The scholar gives them directions to a small cobbler’s shop where they have been staying.

Riddlestone

The cobbler’s shop was burned down centuries earlier. The imp-like creatures that have been wandering through the city seem to have finally got their scent and are closing around them. Hafwyn and Thorne hold them off while the others search for anything. They discover a concealed, but well-maintained, hatch and descend into the darkness.

Inside is a ritual chamber, the walls covered in partially defaced runes. Four stone pedestals in the center of the room above four holes. Upon each pedestal rests a ghostly scroll. When Keribrar picks up the first ghostly scroll the runes on the wall alight with flame that begins to flicker into the center of the room. It will not take long for them to suffocate or be burned alive as the temperature in the room is already uncomfortably hot.

Upon each of the scrolls are a riddle and carved into the pedestals is the ancient alphabet of the Lycenians. On the floor is a mosaic of glazed tiles that Thorne discovers he can move to view a much larger picture. It shows a stormy sky comprised of thousands of dark figures advancing upon a white city. Outside of the city are two figures – a tall figure calling fire from their hands and a small figure with a white hammer.

Using this mosaic, some luck, and their own knowledge the manage to solver the four riddles. After each one is solved the pillar rises into the ceiling. When all four pillars have risen into the slots the flames die down and a concealed door is found. A single tile pops up form the mosaic – it is brown with a red flame in the center. The sounds of chanting from the next room can be clearly heard when they open the door.

Burial Chamber

Guardian Cells

Narrow stairs go down several feet eventually opening in to long hallway flanked by narrow cells. Each of the cells once were set with iron bars; although most lay in piles of rust. In the center of the hallway is a female hanging upside-down with a black cloth wrapped around her head. One ritualist is pouring water over the cloth while two others chant. Four large beasts rest in the cells on either side of them.

A woman in danger? Thorne charges forward and cuts down the ritualist pouring what he can now tell is rancid oil over her. The four creatures respond and cut off the others from entering the room. While Hafwyn and Quilate fight back the creatures, Keribrar keeps a constant flood of small earth constructions to assist them. For some reason the monsters are driven back when Anne steps into the room – she commands them to return to sleep and two of them follow her instructions.

With the revelation that Anne can command the fae-creatures the battle turns quickly and the ritualists are killed. When they remove the cloth from the prisoners head they find Seirian. There are two Seirians and although slightly different in appearance and mannerisms they have no way of discovering which one is the correct one – or even if they are both correct, but this is some fae witchery.

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