The Dark Isle

Episode Three: Promises, Promises

Fanta remembers the location of an abandoned mining town approximately a day’s hike north that could be a potential hideout for the bandits. The party decides to check it out, but Dol’damnos chooses to stay behind in Deepholm to continue his study of the mysterious book that they recovered from the temple.

Night is beginning to fall by the time they arrive at the town, and Tana and Michael in particular are exhausted by the journey. Everyone is frozen stiff, and so it is a welcome surprise when they find not bandits, but Watchmen. The foreman’s hall has been taken over by these men and women of the Watch, and it appears they have been living here for some time. It’s warm. They have food, ale and livestock. They also have with them a mysterious companion, who Eric is able to notice is a female drow-elf.

The leader of this odd band is Tylo, the Watchman they had been sent to find. He encourages the party to eat and drink their fill, before taking Michael into his quarters for a private discussion. He reveals that he and his men have been posted to this place for the past five years, and that they have taken to subsidising their existences with a little moonlighting. As bandits. In fact, the party killed a number of his men just the previous day. Michael is not surprised. Tylo talks at length about the terrible nature of war and hints at things that he and his men had to do in the name of Eradyn, all without reward. Instead, they were sent here to guard ‘the clerics of a dead god’, a secret that he ‘accidentally’ lets slip.

He speaks of the drow EdinarĂ­ as a priestess who has promised him power in exchange for his service. As a demonstration of that power, he reaches into the fire and picks up a handful of coals, seemingly impervious to the heat. He tells Michael that he could have that power too, if he turns on his party and instead joins Tylo. Michael appears to agree.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party are being split up. Eric and Tana are taken to be shown around a library. Fanta and Moradin are taken to be shown around a brewery. In the end, they are all attacked by the wayward Watchmen. After a pitched battle, which almost spelled the end for our adventurers, Michael came through (or to put it another way, he walked out of the foreman’s hall, went into the library under the pretense of going to attack Eric, and spent the rest of the battle on his back pretending to be under the effects of a sleep spell). In the confusion, EdinarĂ­ slips away, but they are able to capture two of the Watchmen and magically preserve the body of Tylo to take him back to Anyr.

The party decides to camp for the night in the town, intent on setting off back to Deepholm in the morning.

Chapter Two: A Night of Death

After the battle, they find themselves in possession of two prisoners. One, a male, seems terrified. The other, a female, calm in the face of certain death. Michael begins an interrogation, the outcome of which will yield no information, but will deepen the cracks already beginning to appear in his leadership of the party.

One of the dwarves of Deepholm arrives in pursuit of the party. Not all of his kinsmen, it seems, are so obsessed with metal and precious gems. He wants to help them rid the countryside of these bandits, and test his strength against the living, rather than the cold dead rock of the mine. For reasons known only to himself, he amputates the foot of the male prisoner. His screams begin to echo through the valley, until the Warlock causes them to cease. The man dies. Michael turns on the woman. He stabs her. He bludgeons her hands to a bloody pulp, and yet she refuses to issue even a whimper. She reveals nothing, other than the fact that Michael has little control over his party.

Moradin returns to find Tana, the Druid, seemingly about to set fire to the prisoner. She attacks her and stops her. A Cleric of Heironeous, she challenges the actions of Michael and Tana and heals the prisoner back to some semblance of health. The cracks deepen. Seemingly weary of the in-fighting, Kaboose simply kills the prisoner. The party drag the bodies of the bandits to the side of the road. Tensions high, they move on into the mountains.

The Temple
Tana scouts ahead in wolf form, eventually picking up the scent of death on the air. Arriving at the temple, they find it dark. The clerics are dead. Most have been killed cleanly. Among the bodies, they find one of the attackers – a pale man, carrying a sword of dark metal.

In one room, they find a man laying dead beside a chest, over which he has thrown – perhaps as the last action he ever took in life – a flask of Universal Solvent, which has sealed the chest shut. After attempting to break into it, and discovering that it is made from the same dark metal as the man’s sword, Kaboose gives up on trying to breach the chest and instead cuts it from the wall to which it is chained. He slings it over his back. They can attempt to open it later.

Deeper into the temple, the party uncover two hidden doors. The first leads to a small room containing a permanent Circle of Teleportation, the other contains something much darker. Within they find three Clerics, two dead, one near to it. Evidently, they had been keeping some ritual going, waiting to be relieved by the others in the temple. The others never came, and whoever attacked the temple did not find this secret place. The Cleric goes unconscious and the flame of the candle around which they had been chanting goes out. The candle is set in the center of an eye, itself set in the center of a large pentagram. The Arcanists exchange looks, but say nothing.

The others bring the Cleric outside in an effort to resuscitate him. Meanwhile Michael argues with the Arcanists in the ritual chamber. He wants to remain present while they investigate. They want him to leave. In the end, they agree to keep each others secrets. Nothing will be reported back to the Watch about Michael’s interrogation, and nothing will be said to anyone about the contents of the room. When Michael leaves, the Arcanists destroy any traces of the pentagram.

Meanwhile, outside, the Cleric is restored to health. He seems desperate to return to the temple, but before he can, a crossbow bolt flashes from the treeline and buries itself in the side of his head. He falls down, dead. Michael runs to the treeline, but sees nothing. Tana turns into a wolf and picks up a vague scent, but after a short pursuit, the trail goes dead. They return to the temple.

The bodies of the dead are burned. No evidence presents itself of the missing Watchman. With all the secrets and lies, and their leader coming unhinged, the party threatens to fall apart. But they return to the town. There, they are able to open the chest. The Arcanists take possession of the contents. The party breaks up to find rest for the night, and, hopefully, the strength to continue with one another.

Episode One: The Gulthias Tree

In the bitterly cold Mountains of Lir, near the mining town of Deepholm, the Watch has lost contact with one of its agents. In an effort to find out what has happened to him, four of his kinsmen and a Wizard of the Arcanum are sent north to investigate. After a four day journey by train, Tana, Kaboose and Moradin, lead by Kingsman Michael and Arcanist Eric arrive at Vesvor in order to take on more fuel to complete the last leg of the journey; a steep climb into the mountains and towards Deephelm.

In Vesvor they are waylaid by a mysterious dwarf who blackmails them into taking on a small task. Should they refuse, he will see to it that not a single ounce of coal is loaded onto their train. Realising that they have little choice, and not particularly willing to spend any more time than necessary in the freezing dwarven outpost, they agree.

He explains the situation to the party. Several days earlier, as the dwarves were digging, they opened up a fresh set of tunnels and were startled at what they found. Humid air, the smell of fresh plant matter, and dense layers of vines and moss covering every inch of the tunnel walls. Then, from the darkness, a barrage of chitinous spikes flew and struck down two of the mining party. The barbs were sharp enough to pierce the dwarves’ breastplate, killing them outright. The foreman ordered the dwarves back, and placed a constant guard on the fresh tunnel section in order to ensure that no other dwarves ventured there… and that nothing tried to get out.

The dwarf leads the party a mile below the surface, down towards those fresh tunnel sections. There they find several dwarves in full battle gear guarding the tunnel section, although it is obvious that they are not warriors. The deal is simple. Clear out the tunnel section and ensure it is safe, and only then will coal be loaded onto the train.

The Gulthias Tree
Reluctantly, the party set out. They too are shocked and puzzled by the presence of the plants so far underground, but before they can venture too far into the cave they are ambushed by vaguely humanoid creatures. From behind, a hail of spikes thuds into the back of the Wizard Eric, felling him instantly. As he slips into unconsciousness, the others do battle with creatures composed of vines and twigs, but which still prove to be formidable foes. Once their enemies are vanquished, the party restores Eric to health. Slightly paranoid now, he sends his familiar ahead to scout out the caves.

Kaboose chooses the left hand passage. Eric’s bat scouts ahead. In the cave beyond, they encounter what they believe to be a peaceful creature, a myconid. Tana, the druid, goes to investigate. She immediately realises something is wrong. The myconid attacks her and once again the party rush into the fray. They are successful, but as the fight ends the party are surprised to find they are not alone in the tunnels.

A day earlier, Dol’damnos of the Arcanum somehow sneaked past the dwarvish guards to perform his own examination of the caves. Having been seconded to the area for some time, his own curiosity got the better of him when he encountered the rumours spread by the guards. He joins the party as they venture forward into the final chamber.

On an island in the center of the final chamber, they find the Gulthias Tree, separated from them by a fifty foot expanse of murky water. Both Tana and Eric recall an ancient legend that told of “a vampire named Gulthias who worked terrible magic and raised up an abominable tower called Nightfang Spire. Gulthias was undone when a hero plunged a wooden stake through his heart, but as the vampire was destroyed, his blood infused the stake with a dreadful power. In time, tendrils of new growth sprouted from the wood, growing into a sampling infused with the vampire’s evil essence. It is said that a mad druid discovered the sampling, transplanting it into an underground grotto where it could grow. From this Gulthias Tree came the seeds from which the first blights were sown” (MM, 31). Of course, the party are aware that this could not possibly be the tree from the legend, more likely one of its descendants.

As the party set about destroying the tree, more blights rise up out of the water and attack them. Michael and Kaboose are almost killed, but in the end, through a skillful use of magic and martial prowess, the party succeeds. Kaboose is restored to health and with a mighty blow, cleaves the Gulthias Tree in twain. As he does so, the tangled mess of plant life that covers every inch of the tunnels and caves perishes, turning into dust.

The Return
They make their way back to the surface, and their reward. The mysterious dwarf smiles and tells them that he had begun loading the coal the second they stepped below the surface. He bids them a good journey, and they set off upon their way.

The party arrive in Deepholm after a well-deserved rest. It is dusk by the time they arrive, and the dwarves have already come up from their mines to relax. The party decides to join them, getting drunk with the dwarves and trying to illicit some information. They discover that the man they are looking for is most likely at the Temple of Heironeous which lies two hours north of Deepholm. Now that they think on it, the dwarves haven’t seen anyone from the temple in several days. They wonder if perhaps the bandits that have been active in the local area may have something to do with that. The dwarves seem embarrassed about this, knowing that they should have sent a party out, but were too preoccupied with fresh seams of precious ores that have just recently opened up in the mines. Avarice clearly rules in these parts.

In the morning, the party sets off. Sure enough, they encounter a group of bandits with two pet worgs and one pet half-ogre. After a pitched battle, they fight their way through and continue towards the temple…

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The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

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