he trial continues…

Our group is holed up in an alcove to recharge their energy. Gladriel casts a wall of stone, sealing access to the alcove except for a small hole by which the group can defend itself and watch for intruders.

After a few minutes, a wolf appears. Jilas and Rommel stand at the ready while the others caution that as it is weird to see a wolf in such a dungeon and that the creature might be Vlage. As it turns out, the wolf is Vlage and he comes bringing more dire news. Apparently, a sect of Druids, known as the Green Fist, is bent on killing the group before they have a chance to close the portal. The Green Fist are an extremist group and are furious with the Order of the Mobius Grove for even giving the party an opportunity to close the portal.

Vlage believes that he has a few day’s lead on the zealots, but is unsure. The news brings additional time pressure to kill the Naga, close the portal, fend off attacks from hell cats and members of the Green Fist. Also, it looks as if the group must reach the third fissure to begin our journey through the lava to the portal.

The night is spent preparing a plan for the many challenges that face the intrepid adventures. A plan is decided upon and Vlage turns into an owl to explore the breeding pit further.

Oddly, there is no smell of decay in the cavernous room. The only smell is the familiar scent of an orc breeding pit. Huge rocks have fallen from the ceiling onto the horde of orcs and goblins – killing the lot. Our dilemma is why is there no smell of rotting orc hides and a faint smell of the breeding pit. Is there still orc life here? And if so, how do we cleanse it… too many unknowns and too much risk to wake any creatures that may still have life blood coursing through its veins. We must stay focused upon our task of sealing the portal.

Night comes and we take to our watches. For some unknown reason, creatures that wish to do us harm appear on the watch of Quinn and Rommel – and tonight is no exception. First the hell cats, now three fire salamanders. The party is awoken and all hold their actions in the hope that the creatures shall pass. The creatures stop, sniff, and look in our direction and begin to walk back out of the room. On their departure, we see hideous things; humanoid from the chest up, glowing a dull red, and carry spears.

Just before they depart, their leader turns, looks right into our position and they head over. After a time lying in wait, we spring into action. Quinn acts first, sending a ball of electricity into the trio. Rommel then tumbles out from out enclosure – is struck by the leader’s spear, wounding him severely. Rommel then strikes, tearing two large gashes into the commander’s hide. Quickly, the warrior-mage is surrounded, but miraculously, survives the onslaught. Gladriel valiantly dives into the midst of the creatures to heal the badly wounded Rommel. Fenris holds his action, Jilas dons his helm and shield, Vlage casts quench upon the beasts doing great damage to our attackers. The two smallest salamanders are nearly killed and the leader takes additional wounds. Fon springs into action, sending an arrow into the smallest salamander that was flanking Rommel, dropping it to the dungeon floor. In an amazing feat of archery, Fon shoots through the hole in our enclosure, over Gladriel’s back, to kill the second smaller creature. Fon’s third shot at the leader goes astray, hitting Gladriel in the ass, but not penetrating his magical vestments. The fight ends quickly with Rommel dealing a great amount of damage to the leader weakening it enough to be finished off by a flurry of magic missiles from Quinn.

Jilas and Vlage go immediately to the entrance of the cavern to ensure that nothing else has been alerted by the sound of combat. They find no other creatures, but do see a bottle lying on the floor of the hallway; a bottle that wasn’t there when we entered this area. They leave well enough alone and return to the group. The remaining few hours of the night pass without incident and we prepare for the trial of the coming day.

Our plan in place, the group moves to once more attack the Naga. Protections of all varieties are cast on the party, Fon, Rommel and Gladriel are turned invisible by Quinn. Strengths and constitutions are raised and weapons readied – the keening of blades and magic stones loaded into Fon’s arrows. Rommel casts shield, endure elements, and expends one of the heightened aspect dice given to us by Nymriell.

Moving forward, the naga awaits. To our surprise, we see not one, but four naga – it has cast a mirror image. The game afoot, we move in with Gladriel in the lead, followed by Rommel and then Jilas. The group moves up to peer around the corner of the beast’s corridor while Rommel moves into the center of the passage. Fon, behind the group, fires an arrow with a magic stone warhead affixed and dispatches one of the images of the naga from above the lava. The naga strikes back, casting some kind of evil magic which blinds the brave half-elf archer warrior. From beneath the dungeon floor, three XORN appear. Vlage steps away from them and turns into an owl which then flys over the creatures and to the far side of the Naga’s cavern lair. Fenris turns into a shambling mound and closes to attack the XORN. Quinn moves back and sends an empowered scintillating sphere in to the group of XORN. The sphere of energy kill two XORN outright and forces the third to retreat back underground. The electrical charge actually helps the shambling mound – providing him additional constitutional strength. Nice move Quinn.

Rommel closes to the edge of the lava and unable to strike the naga and it’s images, he draws his bow. The naga launches a fireball at the last position where it saw the poor owl fly through it’s cavern. Vlage in his owl form, is fully in the blast zone but manages to take only minimal damage – shortly after, he takes on his half-elven form again. Jilas switches to his bow and Rommel, bow at the ready, holds his action waiting for the naga to cast it’s next spell while Gladriel grows wings and flys just above the naga and its images. The naga begins to chant and Rommel fires – and successfully dispatchs one of the enchanted images. The naga fogs Rommel and Jilas. Rommel remains conscious but Jilas does not. Jilas suffers from the attack and now outlined in the cloud. Vlage now strikes, casting quench on the naga, which definitely seems to have an effect as a loud crackling sound emanates from its lair. Quinn then fires at the naga, but just before the magic missles strike the creature, they are deflected having no effect.

Suddenly, the third XORN appears under Jilas! The powerful creatue inflicts a moderate amount of damage to the brave ranger in its surprise attack. Rommel fires a volley of three arrows into the naga zone. Amazingly, all of them miss the mark… oh, to have a great sword in the mighty warrior’s hand. The naga fireballs the dynamic duo of Rommel and Jilas. Jilas’s magic protections save him; he fires back and his arrows sink deep into the naga… but unfortunately do not remove the final image. Vlage quenches the beast one last time to deal the fiend a mighty wound. At this, the holy warrior Gladriel strikes from his position overhead the naga. Delivering a holy blow with the sunbrand, Gladriel severs the sinister head of the naga from it’s scaly body. The holy warrior then swoops down and catches the body or the sinister beast just before it slips away into the lava. Rommel collapses.

The Xorn remains. It attacks Jilas as he fires two arrows at the mouth of the oncoming beast – both missing. Fenris and Quinn move forward leading the blinded Fon towards Jilas and the remaining XORN. The XORN strikes at Jilas once more but only scratches the woodland warrior. Gladriel continues to struggle with the naga, pulling its corpse towards the edge of the lava. Rommel stops breathing and Jilas passes out. Vlage then comes to the aid of Rommel by casting a neutralize poison spell on him to stop the effects of the strange magic cast upon us by the naga. Quinn dispatches the XORN with magic missiles while Fenris turns back into a half-elf to tend to the fallen Jilas. Meanwhile, just as Gladriel is about to clear the lava, he too passes out, falling to the ground and having one leg submerged in the pool of molten rock.

Working together, the group is able to rescue Gladriel, keep Rommel breathing, bring Jilas back to consciousness, and cure Fon’s blindness. Battered, the group decides to take refuge in a rope trick that Quinn checked out from the guild. Just in time. A patrol of salamanders arrives just after the adventures get themselves and a five foot chunk of the naga into the safety of the extra dimensional space. The naga is skinned and the salamanders are dispatched with Fon blasting them with magic stone arrows, Gladriel summoning earth elementals, and Quinn crushing them with ice storms. One of the salamanders escapes into the lava pool.

Now with a bit of time for a respite, Gladriel commands the earth elemental to destroys the naga’s treasure chest and brings us the loot… RUBIES and SILVER SCROLL CASES!!! The jewels are a welcome addition to our cash flow situation. The earth elemental then proceeds to destroy the cavern to the naga’s lair, effectively blocking the entrance or exit of the lava pool. Take that, mister annoying think you can hide in the lava pool salamander.

Midway through planning for the following day, the party separated and went in search of a latrine. Rommel relieved himself on the dead salamanders killed the previous morning. All heard a great sigh of relief.

Soon after, the party searches the orc-breeding pit in more detail. The stench of decay seemed to be coming only from a few orcs that had been “activated.” These orcs had a sickly greenish brown blood surrounding their bodies whereas the other dead creatures had no bodily fluids what-so-ever. We found a bit of slilver and some trinkets made by humans – humans most likely killed by these vile creatures. We also picked up the spears of the salamanders to take with us into the lava and have determined that the largest of the spears is magical.

Gladriel casts find the path

It leads us through the room of the dead orcs (where we hid) and down the passage the exits the other side of the breeding pit room. Soon we find another breeding room… this time it is even more horrifying… there are mutant 20 foot tall orcs. Gladriel’s spell tells us that both the corridor and the room are two important directions. We decide to go into the room. At the end of the room, there is a treasure chest that emanates magic as does a few of the weapons of the large orc monsters. Rommel decides to cut an ear off of one of the brutes… excellent move… four of them come to life. A huge fight ensures.. Quinn goes down, Vlage comes to his rescue, Fon fires arrows into the fray, Fenris turns into a Troll… Rommel and Gladriel fight with their backs against the wall fending off three of the four beasts. Jilas spring attacks… Blow after blow, the group somehow manages to turn a sure death situation into a victory and slay the four beasts. Upon closer inspection, we find that the creatures had been grievously wounded when bits of their roof had collapsed upon them. A lucky – and terrifying – discovery as we realize how strong the beasts would be if at full health. None-the-less, they are dead and no longer a threat to those that cherish peace.

The combat behind us, we open the creature’s huge treasure chest. Find lots of gold, potions, a near-relic scimitar from Angwar – a hero from the wild elf community from which Fenris hails. We also take some magical short swords, a magic shield, and six magic broadswords that the orcs giants were using as daggers.

Gladriel’s find the path power now leads us down the corridor. We clear some rubble blocking our path and find a tunnel in the direction we need to head. The spell is saving us tons of time, we avoid all the wrong side passages and a while later are lead to an open pit with flowing lava 60 feet below. We prepare for the journey into the lava casting protection and endure elements and putting on our “naga-hide” belts. Fenris turns back into himself, casts persistence of the waves, and turns back into a Troll. Vlage casts bark skin on Rommel and Fire Eyes on the group. Fenris casts Fire Eyes on himself.

Just as we’re deciding to get into the lava, a rushing sound and an ominous voice announcing “We know where you are” emanates from the darkness of the corridor. It continues, “You can not escape our vengeance. Surrender now.” We jump into the lava below using feather fall to descend the sixty feet between us and the molten river of rock. The Naga hide works. We survive. Vlage does not… join us that is… as he sacrifices himself to hold of the Order of the Green Fist.

Once submerged, the current becomes more swift. All of the party stays holding the rope except for Fenris and Jilas. Suddenly, we pop up in the room which the story all began. We appear in the place where we fought the magma monster and opened the portal. The room is filled with lava for 100 feet over our heads, the ledge we once walked on now submerged in molten magma. However, there are now multiple denizens from the plane of fire living in the room – demons, elements, and other foul beings.

All the members of our party begin to make their way to the portal. Jilas is the closest, Fenris is off on our right flank and has only one demon to deal and with his 10 foot reach makes short work of his foe as he moves slowly towards the portal. Gladriel’s freedom of movement allows him to make his way quickly there and Fon uses expeditious retreat to keep up. Gladriel also has a burst of cool blue flame surrounding himself. It seems to deal more damage to the demons than they can do to him in their attacks. Its power smites two demons which foolishly attack the holy warrior. Rommel stays behind to guard Quinn and the duo is swarmed by demons as the pair make their way as quickly as possible to the portal.

Gladriel, Jilas and Fon reach the objective while Rommel, Quinn, and Fenris are swarmed by five demons as they struggle forward, still in the middle of the lava pool. The guys at the portal aren’t doing so well either… the largest fire elemental we’ve ever seen appears from the portal driving Gladriel back from his position. Rommel and Quinn continue to make their way to the portal while Fenris takes the heat and is swarmed by the horde of five demons. Fon having been grievously wounded, tumbles away from the huge fire elemental and drinks his newly acquired elven healing potion. Gladriel steps up to the fire elemental and delivers a touch attack against the creature sending it on a freight elevator to hell … or in its case … to the elemental plane of water. See Ya!

Fenris continues his struggle with the elementals, taking attacks of opportunity as he frees himself of the vile creatures and casts a spell that seals the gate – turning the opening a dark black. Quinn reaches the portal followed by his guard, Rommel. Gladriel leaves the portal to attack one of the demons fighting Jilas. Soon the demons catch Fenris once more in open lava and surround the druid now in his troll form. The druid is beaten down badly and moves just outside the ring of demons … and falls limp.

Jilas smites the foe before him. Gladriel misses the remaining demon but strikes again as it passes in an attempt to attack Quinn in order to disrupt his work on the portal. However, Rommel is at the ready and smites it. It blinks out of existence, dimming the others and causes another to blink out of existence. Another demon tries the same maneuver. Fenris misses but Rommel again dispatches the vile thing and once again, another one also blinks out of existence. Another tries it but isn’t so lucky as Fenris dispatches it and does it once more as another tries to make it to Quinn. No one touches OUR mage motha%$#&a.

The portal seals, the light in the surrounding ruins dims out and a loud thunder clap rings out. The lava begins to harden. We swim to the surface – back to the where Nymriell’s tower once stood. Hmmmm… a new problem. The mountain above is collapsed and we are now sealed beneath the mountain and above the hardening pool of lava. Gladriel says that he can walk us through the mountain by transporting us via etheralness. We use sending to contact Vlage in hopes of finding him in good health. He says that he has been been taken hostage, is safe, and intends to play the role of diplomat to negotiate a way out of a war between the druids…

ack to the Age of Hope