Part Two (Prologue)
In which iconoclasm sheds tears thrice and a half and one comes late to the party..
In the country of Cormyr the Purple Dragon Knights stand not only as a symbol of strength, loyalty and protection, but also as inspiration to many a young boy or girl who imagines themselves one day proudly wearing the colors of one of the proudest traditions in all of Faerun.
However, the Purple Dragon Knights combat invading hordes, enemy countries such as reborn Netheril or Sembia and do not have time to trouble with one small community on its Southern edge, near an area known as The Pass of the Broken Beggar. A mining settlement that quickly burgeoned into a small village has been struck by a mysterious plague that first inflicted the elderly miners, incapacitating them with boils and red itchy sores, before sending them to an untimely grave. Now, some of the younger miners have become infected as well as a few townspeople and the situation has grown dire.
The village’s mayor put a call out to any adventurers or would be heroes to help the settlement’s plight. A band of stalwart adventurer’s, led by a human fighter, known as Regdar’s Roughnecks answered the call. Also in the band was a tough dwarf called Tordek, an Elven wizard named Mialee and a Halfling rogue journeyed with these heroes by the appellation of Lidda. They even had a secondary leader, a human cleric who people knew as Jozan.
Kellin Marzden, the mayor, was overjoyed. Surely such heroes as these would reach iconic status and go on to many famous adventures and bards would be singing of their exploits long after all had perished but Mialee, for her race gifted her with a long span of life.
Unfortunately, a week after the Roughneck’s departure from the village to investigate the mines, no word was heard, no single hero returned to give news of their fate and the village’s population continues to dwindle with each passing day, claiming more victims to the deadly, untreatable disease.
Desperate, Kellin put out another call, increasing the reward offered to a fistful of silver to any who would dare enter the mines and investigate the disappearance of the missing party as well as search for any clues as to the nature of the mysterious plague.
Into Eltheria comes a diverse group of adventurers, each hearing something in the call that speaks to them, whether the lure of riches, the possibility of fame, or perhaps to do a deed for good or other possibilities that lurk in their hearts, known only to them.
Erais, the Sunlord proudly proclaims his allegiance to the power of the sun and also shares with the other adventurers that this area has only been settled for a few short years, but has been prosperous, due to the silver mine. Before the humans came, hobgoblins lived nearby and would raid travelers going through the Pass of the Broken Beggar. In addition, Erais has heard stories from his church of a similar disease to the one Mayor Kellin described, but in a land outside of Eltheria and of further knowledge than that he was bereft.
Skamos Redmoon, clearly identifiable as a tielfing from his prominent horns and tail, smirks slyly during Erais’ telling, but is it due to some hidden knowledge or is he attempting to flirt with Tira Duskmeadow?
Tira Duskmeadow unequivocally caused a stir when she walked into town. Exuding confidence and capability, she is a force to be reckoned with, but some men can only focus on her abundant beauty, truly a divinely inspired mixing of the best traits in the elven and human racial genetics. However, it is rumored that her magical powers come not from years of learned study, but from a pact made with dark forces in the dead of night a top a lonely hill, silhouetted by a strangely twisted tree barren of all leaves and only a few scraggly branches that could appear to a weary traveler as claws reaching out to rip the very soul from one’s heart! And perhaps then again she is merely gifted with some ancient dragon’s bloodline that grants her magical gifts.
Certainly she restrains her temperament well, particularly with Skamos’ unwanted attention and even Erais having difficulty controlling his admiration of her abundant curves.
Curves of another sort attended Kathra Ironforge, the dwarven fighter who seemed to join the party to have a look at what a pathetic attempt the human’s mine would certainly be, in a futile desire to copy great dwarven craftsmanship. Her curves were mostly hidden beneath her suit of scale armor, except for the curves she left in the heads of enemies whose skulls were crushed in by her mighty warhammer.
Almost unseen due to his fey nature and quiet manner, Riardon Brightvale accompanies the party as the final member to join the quest. From the race of the Eladrin, this ranger’s bow shows much wear from hours of practice, most likely targeting those who would disrespect the purity of nature.
Eventually, our disparate party realizes the dwarf has had enough of their chatter and is marching off towards the mines. The rest quickly follow after, with Skamos leering after Tira and nearly discovering the deadliness of her eldritch blast.
At the mine’s opening there are the marks of weapons into the wooden framed entrance as well as week-old blood stains not too far inside. Riardon is able to discern the tracks of many different creatures, but clearly those of two of them are not more than a week old and appear to have been wearing heavy armor.
This matches the description of possibly Regdar and Tordek from what the mayor told them about the previous party he hired.
Skamos provides the party with a light cantrip, shining off of the helmet of Erais, and soon they descend down a long passage into the dark and foreboding mine. It is not long before they come across some overturned and slightly rusted mine carts as the hallway opens up into a room.
Suddenly from the other end of the room chattering breaks out in a strange language and small dragon-like creatures, better known as kobolds come bounding out, threatening the party with spears. It is Riardon who reacts first, but his senses are thrown off by the dank, claustrophobic walls of being in such an unfamiliar place underground and his arrow flies harmlessly into the darkness.
Everything is soon lost in the chaos of melee, but Skamos’s powerful sleep magic rings out as he intones mighty arcane incantations and suddenly the kobolds and Erais and Kathra find themselves slowed; one kobold and the cleric slumbering a few seconds thereafter.
Skamos attempts to initiate talks of peace and non-violence amongst his party members, but they will have none of it and insist kobolds are nothing more than vile creatures, to be crushed like an infestation of rodents. Kathra shakes her warhammer in emphasis, and soon after dispatching the initial room of kobolds, they are moving down the hallway to the next room, where more kobolds await and then the next where still more kobolds reside.
However, our party functions well as a team and they are soon coordinating attacks and manage to dispatch all opposition with relative ease, though some are forced to catch their breathe between encounters to shake off any minor inflictions from combat. The only major conflict looms when Skamos casts his light cantrip on the green hair of the Eladrin. Riardon refuses to take another step until the spell wears off or is removed. Seeing his tricks will carry no sway with the fey creature and wishing to explore further, Skamos targets the more affable Erais, who has resigned his helmet to be the guiding source of light for the party.
Trudging through one long tunnel after another, the party spies a large boulder lodged above them to the left, in a tunnel that slants at a downward angle. Letting Tira investigate, she is unable to determine if the boulder is a trap and eventually the party moves warily on.
Following the downward sloping tunnel for perhaps another 60 feet, they come into a room with a ledge running around half of it. They are beset upon by more kobolds, but acting quickly, most everyone is able to move well into the room before one of the kobolds releases the boulder in the hallway, which was indeed a trap. By the divine fortune of Erais’ faith, the boulder rolls to within inches of him before he leaps out of the way into a small puddle of water. While the wetness of the water offers only minor discomfort, the kobold’s Wyrmpriest appears, quickly sending a ball of lightning hurling towards Erais, who is not only seared by the arcane energies but takes additional damage from the conductive powers of the water.
Unfortunately for the Wyrmpriest, the fearsome dragon mask he wears does not deter the party. Between Riardon using his magical fey ability to transport himself on the top of the boulder, which had come to a stop against the far wall, granting him an unparalleled view of the kobolds, from which to unleash a deadly rain of arrows; to Kathra charging up the ramp and taking on the diminutive reptilians “up close and personal”, the foes are soon dispatched.
Tira claims the Wyrmpriest’s cloak as her own, the first magical item the party finds, it instantly resizes itself to fit her taller stature, but covers more of her form, much to Skamos’ dismay, though by this point he has begin to look at Kathra with a nod of his horns.
Noise from a room adjoining the ledge draws the party’s attention and they find a room containing half a dozen kobolds, laying among a floor full of rags and filth, covered in weeping sores and incapacitating boils. There is some discussion as to what to do with the helpless creatures, but while some claim an act of mercy and others justified manslaughter, the room is soon much quieter and filled with blood oozing from the prone reptile’s dead forms. By this point Skamos appears to have lost all peaceful intentions and has joined in the more violent approach that now has unanimous consensus among the party members.
[Kathra takes a moment, undisturbed by the disease ridden kobold corpses, to examine the silver veins in the wall. She determines a tidy sum could be mined, given the time and tools.]
The party has traveled far and engaged in much battle, but they press on, such is the urgency of their quest. Soon, traveling further in the dank depths, they come to a room featuring a 10’ deep pit in the middle and littered with bones. A preternatural heat emanates from the room.
Before anyone has time to decide a course of action, the bones rise from the ground and two warrior skeletons and one blazing skeleton attack! The weakened party fares poorly, with Erais mercilessly blasted by fiery orbs from the blazing skeleton and the warrior skeletons descending mindlessly on Kathra; her being the closest target.
In the seeming blink of an eye, Kathra lies unconscious, Erais is retreating down the hall and calling upon the healing power of his deity to soothe his blistering wounds and Tira purposefully falls into the pit to avoid the attacks of the two warrior skeletons. Skamos, still unwounded in the hallway outside of the room and Riardon, dancing nimbly around the room and unleashing with his bow, appear to be the parties only hope, but how long can they survive, outnumbered as they are?
It is then that Erais shakes off the doubting words echoing in his head, perhaps the sinister insinuation of some demon lord, that he is failing his fellow party members. Reaching deep inside himself he calls upon his god to grant one more boon and aid the fallen Kathra.
Kathra stirs quickly from the ground, brought back from death’s door. Calling upon her inner reserves, she revives herself even more. There is only one warrior skeleton left at this point, but it is quickly descending upon the injured Erais. Kathra calls out to her dwarven ancestors and lets go with a mighty swing of her warhammer, crashing through the skeleton’s skull and shaking its very malign existence until the animating energies give way and it falls into a pile of bones at the angry dwarf’s feet.
The party decides to make camp and rest to regain their strength, before exploring any farther or investigating the pit.
As the party takes their ease, another figure approaches the mine entrance. Who is this mysterious stranger that walks boldly alone in the midst of a night filled with undreamt terrors? Its shadow looms large in the light of the bright moon, but something about its stature seems odd. . .