Avesta

Side Quest Two: Will the Real Hidnaan Silenthawk, Please Stand Up?
Please stand up... please stand up...

Party XP: +1,809 xp (23,483 xp total)

Treasure: Pouch of Frozen Passage, Troll Heart (acts as Potion of Regeneration)

Scrolls: Preserve Flame, Dark Gift of the Undying, Hand of Fate, Water Breathing

Legendary Boon: Bahram Champion

(Daily) No action. Trigger: You are reduced to 0 hit points or less.

Effect: You may choose to remain conscious before your first death saving throw. On your turn, you may make one standard action. If you choose to remain conscious, you take a -1 penalty to death saving throws until the end of the encounter.

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Adventure Twelve: Festival of Bahram
Arena fightin!

Party XP: +2665 xp (21,674 xp total… Grats on level 10!)

Party Gold: +2500 gp (3,086 gp total)

Treasure: Verdant Bindings, Sehanine’s Bow +3, Eager Heart Tattoo

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Adventure Eleven : Oasis of the Golden Peacock
Part Two : Riddling with a Sphinx

Party XP : +2,110 xp (19,009 xp total)

Party Gold: +9,350 (14,736 gp total)

Treasure: Tranquilmist Cosmic Sigil, Antipathy Chain (The Veil set: feet)

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Adventure Eleven: The Oasis of the Golden Peacock
Part One : Birds of Prey

Group XP: +1,908 xp (16,899 xp total) Congrats on level 9, totally a surprise!

Party Gold: +1550 gp (5,386 gp total)

Treasure: Exodus Knife

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Adventure Ten : Dance of Acamar
Part Six: Sienna's Purification

Good job bois

Group XP: +1,183 xp (14,991 xp total)

Party Gold: 4,686 gp (after purchases)

Treasure: Boots of the Fencing Master, Wallwalkers, Dreamstone Amulet +3, ‘Susurrus’ Dreamstone Blade +3, Panther Spirit Leather Armour +2, Cloak of Distortion +2

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Adventure Ten: Dance of Acamar
Part Five: Fall of Volkanth

Blau blau

Group XP: +1,426 xp (13,808 xp total)

Party Gold: +200 gp (7,190 gp total)

Treasure: AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA nuffn

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Adventure Ten: Dance of Acamar
Part Four: Visions of the Sleeper

A map of your progress through the Tomb of the Dreams so far:

F1. The Chamber of Sacrifice

Hundreds of 6-inch spikes stab into the air from the center of this grand chamber. The spikes are arranged in a circle, forming the white of a huge eye shape carved in the floor. Extending from this eye shape are three angled channels that run to drains near the wall. The eye shape lies directly beneath the aperture in the domed ceiling high above. Clearly, the darkly stained channels were meant to siphon the blood from victims hurled down through the mouth in the face on the hill. But where the blood would go and why this would be done is unclear. A balcony surrounds this wide circular room, cloaking the walls in gloom, but you can make out images carved in the walls that dully glimmer at various points, and you see that a band of stone with writing runs beneath them.

The walls of the room are carved with images telling story. The first image is of a tall, cloaked figure standing on cliff prominence and looking down upon a village. The face is obscured, but horns project out of the figure’s hood and it holds a great blade in its hands. The next images show the cloaked and horned figure, converting others to follow behind him, either by threat or speeches given to crowds. The middle images show the figure and his allies in battle with forms that you identify as representing the different bloodline houses. The final images show the figure in battle with a frightening knight encased in scale armor decorated with skulls, bones, and wailing ghosts. In this image, the cloaked figure is stabbing the belly of the knight, and the knight is slamming the side of the cloaked figure’s head with his maul.

All the depictions of the cloaked figure’s blade are formed of a darker stone inset into the wall. The semitransparent black stone is swirled with phosphorescent material. After touching the dreamstone, you catch movement on the wall out of the corner of an eye. You notice that that a nearby image has changed: A few of the cloaked figure’s allies now have no eyes and droplets of blood appear to be forming on the wall like tears beneath the eyes. Also, one or two in the group have tentacles instead of arms

The band of stone around the room is writing in Common. It says the following, “Where did He come from? Our dreams. Why did He come? We called. From our sleep came the Sleeper. He opened our dreaming eyes by shutting our waking ones. His defeat was but another sleep and waking Him our dream.”

F3. Stables

Decaying wooden walls separate this room into stalls. Clearly it was used as a stable at some time. You take this in with a glance, then see a circular dais in the center atop which stands the motionless skeleton of a horse covered with dust and cobwebs. Beside the dais is a post with a saddle on top of it, similarly dusty and webbed.

The horse skeleton is undead—the Sleeper’s mount awaiting his return. Gavri’el places the saddle on the skeletal horse, and it stomps a foot and shakes its head, and then looks to the ranger. The party now has a loyal undead mount!

Sleeper’s Skeletal Warhorse (S) Level 5 Brute Large natural animate (mount, undead) XP 200 Initiative +5 Senses Perception +4; darkvision HP 76; Bloodied 38 AC 17; Fortitude 18, Reflex 15, Will 12 Immune disease, poison; Resist 10 necrotic Speed 10 m Kick (standard; at-will) +9 vs. AC; 2d6 + 6 damage. Shadow Symbiosis (while mounted by a friendly rider of 5th level or higher) ✦ Mount The horse’s rider gains resist 10 necrotic. Alignment Unaligned Languages — Str 18 (+6) Dex 16 (+5) Wis 13 (+3) Con 16 (+5) Int 1 (–3) Cha 7 (+0)

F4. Siege Weapon Room

In the musty darkness of this large room lurk siege engines. Small catapults and large ballistae slump in the center of the room and huddle in alcoves in the walls. Their ropes have broken over time, and their metal parts are rusted.

Closer inspection reveals that it appears they weren’t constructed to be strung—moving parts other than the wheels appear ornamental.

As Dharzon touches one of these engines, the ballistae both come to life of their own accord and attack.

S1. The Balcony

You stand on a balcony that encircles this chamber. Below on the floor is an emblem that resembles a spike-filled eye with three sickle shapes projecting from it. Above you is the domed roof and the opening to the sky through which you descended. The dome shows cracks in places and water trickles down from spots where the two great trees on the hill have projected their roots into the abyss. Also above is a constellation of dimly glowing points—the roof of the chamber bears a star chart, with each star foiled with gold. Nearer to hand you spy words in Common carved into the wall that runs around the circumference of the room, and each raised letter is polished with grime collecting in the crevasses. Noting the polish, you then see that half of the wide stone banister running around the room possesses a similar smoothness.

The writing around this room is at the same height as the balcony, which means that a you must walk around the whole chamber to read it. It says, “The Sleeper is the herald. His dreams call to That Which Waits Beyond the Stars. When the Sleeper is awoken, He will dream again.”

S3. Hall to Cultist Quarters

When you open a door to this wide hall, the scents of unwashed bodies and cooked meals hit your nose. Several doors line the east wall of the hall and one stands on the west. To the north you see a large room dimly lit by firelight from around the corner and a guttering lamp on a table.

S4. Bedchamber

Each of these rooms is a separate bedchamber. Because the old beds in the room were rotted, they have been cleared out and bedrolls have been spread on the floor instead. Each room has a bedroll, a pack or bag with various personal belongings, and perhaps a rickety chair and desk. In one of these rooms you discover a ceremonial mask which, while valuable, has served no special task so far. In another room is a small heap of bloody bandages of various ages, and the bedroll shows signs of bloodstains as well.

S5. Latrine

S6. Common Room

The tables are strewn with dirty plates and utensils, decks of cards, and even a homemade folding chessboard with pieces made of bottle corks. A common oil lamp sits on one of the tables, and its wick is turned low. A combined baking oven and fireplace squats in the northwest corner near tables used for food preparation. Coals burn in it for heat but are gradually dying for lack of tending. The southwest corner is dominated by a collection of small barrels, sacks, and crates. These contain foodstuffs, flour, snowmelt water, cheap wine, firewood, and lamp oil.

S7. Armory

A few nearly empty weapon racks stand near the door; a few javelins and a short sword remain. The back half of the room is a tangled mess of materials the cultists cleaned out when they moved in: busted bed frames, rotting tapestries, moldy mattress, sodden rugs, and other detritus.

S8. Barracks

This large room is strewn with the bedrolls and belongings of the rank-and-file cultists.

S9. Guardians of the Descent

The short hallway beyond these doors leads to a chamber within which you spy the base of a large statue made of dimly luminescent black stone. Each wall of the hall has a thick chain running through rings set in the stone every 10 feet or so. The chains are slack between the rings and at the midpoint of the slack areas large metal balls replace several chain links. From the ends of the chain near the door, it appears that each of these balls represents a lidless eye. The chains continue around the corners of the wall into the room.

A tall statue looms in the center of this hexagonal room. It’s made of the same semitransparent black stone as the depictions of the mauls in the lower part of the domed room, and gloomily glowing veins run through its entirety. The statue at first appears to depict a cloaked and hooded figure holding a rusting sickle aloft in each hand, but a second glance reveals that it holds another sickle in a third arm. Between each pairing of arms is the deeply hooded visage, so that the statue effectively has three faces. Peering up into the hood, you see that no true face lies within; it’s just a hollow space.

Gavri’el, while the rest of the party mill around the balcony, pulls one of the chains. Portcullises at both ends of the room slam down, as secret doors crash open to reveal a staggering throng of ghouls marching forward. The statue leaps to life, a reaping eidolon, who phases through the walls attacking the group. Trapped behind the portcullis grates, the party are unable to free the ranger from danger until Dharzon steps through the fey portals to swap positions. His gambit pays dividends of death however, as he’s sequestered from his friends and devoured by ghouls.

B1. Basement Hall

The spiral stairs from Area S9 come down to this hall. The hallway splits to the east and west. The east door is made of wood and open, but the door to the west is made of stone and bears a life-size bas relief of a tall horned-and-cloaked figure holding a blade in two hands.

B7. Hallway Cells

Each of these tiny cells has a locked wooden door with a small barred window. There’s nothing inside but some scattered human bones and the rusty remains of manacles attached to the walls.

B8. Torture Chamber

The character in this room, the Seer, is mumbling and moaning to himself unintelligibly.

The Seer is blind and so cannot notice the light the players might be using. Also, he is so absorbed with his thoughts that he doesn’t hear the party until they shout to him.

Beyond the cells in the hall lies what appears to be a torture chamber. Seated on a stool in the center of this room, you see bald man with his back to you. He’s stripped to the waist, and his back is a bloody mess of lacerations. He has clearly been whipped. The man is just sitting there rocking back and forth and wordlessly babbling. Long chains are attached to the arms he holds limply by his sides. In front of him stands a lectern upon which lies a large open book. Its pages are covered in messy crimson writing that must be blood. The moaning man suddenly shakes his head vigorously as if denying something, and you notice that his eyes have been torn out and his worn face bears cuts around them.

After conversing with the party for a bit the Seer suddenly shouts “I know you. You’re no friend to Volkanth. You’re one of them! One of those the Sleeper told me!” At this he points to the Bloody Book and then starts straining against his chains and screaming, summoning alien creatures from the echoes of his cries.

The Bloody Book: The Bloody Book contains the Seer’s prophecies and visions that he constantly credits to the Sleeper in his writing. The book is a large tome that smells sickeningly of blood. The writing in it is often incomprehensible, and many pages are fused together by crusted blood. Whoever investigates it can read various cryptic passages, such as, ”The eyes are the enemy. Seeing is blindness. Only the dreaming eye can see the truth,” and “The Sleeper needs blood. Blood needs the horn.” In addition, you find a rough description of Aych, although there appears to be no other members of the party described.

Sienna: In one of the cells, lies a slumped figure wrapped in bloody rags. They speak to the ball of misery and guess that this must be the girl they’re looking for, Sienna Sufi. Luring her with promises of a cure, you coax her closer and realise her form is twisted and mutated, her limbs now a mixture of tentacles and vile claws, her eyes gouged out and bound by stained linen bandages. The party place her on the skeletal mount to follow behind them at a safe distance.

Paranoia Stain: After the battle with the summoned foulspawn, Aych and Alheck aquire paranoia stain. Victims of paranoia stain believe that foulspawn are after them and suffer from hallucinations. They see leering shapes in the shadows and can’t shake the feeling of being watched and relentlessly pursued.

B10. Blade Bridges

The hall ends at the edge of an enormous circular pit that is about 50 feet in diameter. A fall from the edge where you stand would be like falling from a three-story building. Dominating the center of the pit is a 15-foot-wide pillar that rises to the level of the hall. Atop it is a kind of turnstile. Extending from three equidistant points around the pillar are huge sicklelike steel blades that scrape the edge of the pit. From the marks you see on the wall, it’s clear that the turnstile must somehow turn the blades so that they can be used as bridges to cross the expanse. Currently the blades are turned away from you.

The blade bridge chambers are flanked on the east and west by landings on the level of the bridge. Each landing has two of the statues with its arms and eyeless face upraised. These statues flank doors into crypts. The stone doors bear the now-familiar image of the Sleeper bearing the Dreamstone Blade.

Elika attempts to dart across one of the blade bridges, but loses her balance and falls down into the pit. Climbing comes more naturally though as she hauls herself up to the turnstile and rotates the blades to allow the party passage to one of the chambers. Opening one of the tomb doors open triggers a trap, naturally, and there’s a dull boom and the floor shakes as something enormous is dropped behind the stone walls and the blades begin to whirl rapidly like fan blades.

An undead, blind beholder rises from its dusty grave, and assails you alongside a trio of haunting lost wraiths whose touches teleport their prey about the room, sending them into the air to plummet down into the scything blades.

Group XP: +702 xp (12,382 total)

Gold: +1,300 gp (6,990 total)

Treasure: Sleeper’s Skeletal Warhorse

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Adventure Ten: Dance of Acamar
Part Three: Alliance with the Shadar-Kai

Approach gate of the City of Dead.

While trying to figure out the opening mechanism for the gate, attacked by waves of krenshar. Many stay to fight off the unnerving skull-cats, while struggling with the gate’s mechanic, arcane and religious locks and wards. Finally they open the lock’s casing, and Dharzon rams his hand through the vortex of necrotic energy to pull out the lock, raising the chains. Together, Alheck and Gavri’el leap up and pull down on the metal ropes, opening the heavy gate.

Step into the streets of the city, and discover two silent Shadar-Kai sentinels, who spot them and motion for them to follow. Lead to a domed temple, and greeted by one of the Kai, Eli.

Eli intends to persecute the party for thei attack on the Shadar-Kai in Sienna’s manor, but with soft words of diplomacy they convince him of their self-defense and of their intentions in Acamar. There seems to be a feeling of conspiracy as Eli agrees that something is not quite right, and tells them of his own suspicions.

Sienna did indeed enter the city days ago, and was taken to one of the Kai members, Volkanth, to be instructed on the ceremonies and rituals that would be necessary for becoming a Kai. However, since then, Volkanth has also disappeared.

Eli takes them to Volkanth’s chambers, a residence dedicated to astronomy, scattered with telescopes, astral charts and stellar devices. By examining the telescopes, Alheck tilts the lenses and pushes one into the moonlight, catching it’s beam and sending it scattering around the room until it lands on a wall, illuminating it and revealing hidden script upon the previously blank wall. A map, detailing landmarks of the wasteland can be spotted, involving the city metropolis, the mountain ranges, a chained dragon and a faced carved into a hillside.

Prior to heading out into the wastes to search, the group take Eli’s offer of lodging. Before heading to sleep, Alheck and Dharzon take a moment to pray at the shrine to Ahura Vairya, feeling a little uncomfortable with the four-eyed hound’s aspect illuminated by a crescent moon instead of the customary blazing sun. Soft paws pad around the room, as a hound approaches them, sitting in front of the altar. It beckons them with its gaze, which astonishingly, comes from four, real blinking eyes, not mere painted slits that the priests adorn their dogs with in Avesta. The warlock and cleric each pet the hound, placing a palm on its brow. The canine barks happily before padding away.

Aych has his recurring nightmare. As he flees from the falling storm of bloody slugs, he stumbles into a dark wood, and comes across the face of a mournful old man, carved into the side of a hill. Out of its mouth rises a crimson tome, dripping with its bloody script.

Exit the city, and follow the orientation of the moonscript map to find the carved hillside amongst a forest of charred wood. Cautiously approaching, dark figures leap from around crumbling statues, stabbing with flaming blades. The group focus their fire, blasting away the lurking warriros, before the hillside’s mouth spews up a flying harrier, a pallid white and gaunt hippogriffin that swoops down, grasping with bony talons. Grappling hooks wrap around the carved lips of the engraved face as robed lackeys haul themselves up and assail Dharzon, smacking him with clubs. Striding on ethereal winds, the warlock rips their mortal coils apart and blinks away through the portals of fey.

The heretics last only moments more as the combined strikes of the party blitz through the remaining sorcerous beings. The only threat left, now lurks in the darkness of the open maw of the man in the hillside.

Group XP: +718 xp (11,680 total)

Gold: +240 (5,690 total)

Treasure: NUFFN AHAHAHAHAHAHA

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Adventure Ten: Dance of Acamar
Part Two: Chains of Calmachia

Leaping down into the hidden well beneath the city’s fountain, Gavri’el leads the group through a dank tunnel, following the soft tinkles of Sinihs’ ankle-bells and towards the soft glow of light ahead. Strafing around a bend in the underground passage, they discover the beaten and battered dervish.

Cursing you with bloody lips and haggard breaths, he pulls himself across the ground, nails digging into the stones of his secret basement, crawling to the opposite side. A quick glance around the room finds it covered in shelves, random minuitae, and painted murals across the floor and ceiling. Sinihs struggles to his feet, pulling himself into a circular design encapsulating a pattern of thirteen stars, mirrored by the image of a looming full moon above.

“We will all be welcomed into the arms of Acamar soon,” Sinihs spits as the party funnel into the dingy room “But while you will be ripped and torn apart, devoured by the Corpse Star… I shall stride triumphant, blessed and anointed, gifted with a deathless body.” The dervish springs into dance, his injuries causing obvious discomfort, but the dancer pushe sthrough the pain, desperate to complete whatever the terpsichorean ritual is. His feet deftly step between each stellar motif, bells singing to the heavens.

Two bolts fly out, the ranger’s enchanted bowstrings singing in the darkness, but they are deflected by unseen walls of force that emit from the magical dance Sinihs performs. Growling in anger, the elf hurls himself into the ritual circle, ducking and rolling, spinning acrobatically to avoid the force shields that Sinihs’ dance throws out, before sending a crunching blow with his clenched fist, flinging the dervish out of the painted circle, crumbling to the ground.

Alheck steps over the dancer, and with surprise, notes that Sinihs is dead; his body simply shutting down from the shock and exhaustion of trying to perform such a difficult dance solo. A small slug, the colour of blood, slithers out of the dervish’s slack mouth, and crawls away.

Searching the basement comes up with no clues of note, but the elves heightened awareness spot a secret wall that leads to a set of steps, leading up. Pushing forward, they discover an entrance into the back of a merchant’s shop. Alarmed shouts can be heard outside, as the party realise they are in one of the residences bordering the fountain square, and no doubt people are jsut now discovering the slain bodies of the dervishes who attacked them.

Gavri’el slinks upstairs to the bedrooms, intending on questioning the owner of the house they’re in; suspicious activity holding a secret basement that harbours an evil dancer! Joined by his peers, they execute an impromptu plan: Sebastian grabs the sleeping wife, restraining her as Gavri’el crossbow smashes into the merchant’s chest, cracking a rib. “We have a great many questions for you, so you better start answering them real quick. If you lie to us, we’ll kill you. If I think you’re lying to us, we’ll kill you. If you tell us something, then we find out later that you were lying, we’ll kill you.” the ranger threatens, to the backdrop of screaming children from the other room. As the merchant splutters and denies any knowledge of the secret basement, having just moved into the shop months before, Aych grows bored and suggests they merely just kill them all, starting with the kids. Dharzon counters the suggestion with his own; maybe the merchant should be shown the basement to jog his memory, or see if he can identfiy Sinihs.

The merchant recognises Sinihs, but only as a dervish who frequented the northern shores of the oasis. Frustrated, the party head back up to the shop, where the commotion outside is increasing. The city watch have arrived, and suddenly there is a thundering knock at the door. While bickering about what to do, the party are suddenly caught in a compromising position as the door is bashed down by the guards. Surrendering their weapons, they agree to be taken to the guardhouse to sort out the matter.

A grizzled detective, cloaked in a heavy coat and wide-brimmed hat, grills each of the party. Despite their claims of self-defence against the assailing dervishes, there remains a merchant with a set of broken ribs, a terrorised wife and conspiracy of murder against two minors. The group petition the detective to seek out the dervishes near the prayer obelisk, giving him the steel earring of the moon-baying hound.

It isn’t until the late morning that the detective returns. He merely glares at each of the party, before flicking the earring back into their cell. “You best talk to those dancers, then.” he grumbles, before walking off. Waiting a few minutes, theg roup realise the guardhouse is completely empty. A push on the cell’s door finds it swinging open. Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, the party get the hell out of there and head to the oasis shore.

Finding the dervishes, they are ushered aside quickly, away from the rest of the group and the praying citizens of Avesta. It seems you have stumbled upon a secret that the dervishes wish kept that way, and information spills from the dancer as he speaks to you, answering your questions, if only so that, once armed and informed with this knowledge, you won’t go about asking questions and alerting the whole world of the dervish’s secret.

Apologising for not being more upfront, the dervishes concede that there may be some trouble with the dancers of Ahura Vairya, and that Sienna may somehow be involved. The Dance of Acamar is explained: it is an ancient ritual that is performed to transport the blessed and chosen of Ahura Vairya to the plane of Acamar, where they might join the Shadar-Kai and better serve the Creator.

The Shadar-Kai reside within the City of the Dead in Acamar’s realm of evernight. They are warriors against the deception, corruption and destruction of Angra Mainyu. To protect themselves against the eternal war over mortal souls that Angra and Ahura battle for, the Kai destroy their living essences through devotion, ritual and ceremony. Armed with no fear of death, for nothing awaits for them beyond, they can hurl themselves against the powers of He Who Sleeps Beyond the Stars, empowered by their zealousness.

The dervishes normally gather together to perform the difficult Dance of Acamar, as a celebration of their faith. If Sienna is missing however, and given the events of the past few days, it appears Sinihs has been sending people to Acamar without the dervish’s knowledge. For what purpose, they cannot fathom. The party are asked to assist the dancers, to travel to Acamar and discover Sinihs’ ambitions.

Giving their equipment back, the dervishes allow the party a period of rest. The Dance of Acamar must be performed at night, under the moon, in paradox to their worship to the sun. The dance will be both physically and mentally exhausting, and there is no telling what dangers await them in Acamar. After taking sojourn and restocking supplies, the group make their way to the towering shrines of Ahura in the middle of the dark night, stepping up to the roof of a small temple where a small band of dancers await.

Carved into the shrine’s rooftop is the increasingly familiar pattern of a thirteen star constellation. Dervishes take their positions upon the cosmic markers, and begin to dance. Surrounded by the whirling forms of the zealous and pious, the mystical energies of the Dance of Acamar begin to take their toll on the party, and the dancers. Waves of nauseating pain sap the body of mental and physical strength, causing many the falter and lose balance. A dancer topples, exhausted, and one of the dervishes cries out for someone to take his place. Gavri’el steps into the circle, and attempts to match the intricate movements of the dervishes, but he cannot emulate them well enough, as more dancers falter, their vitality strained. As the dervishes continue to fall, and the group cry out in anguish as the cosmic and planar energies tear at their bodies, ripping them in two, it seems as if this is the end…

You open your eyes and see the inky blackness of a sunless sky, studded with silver specks of stellar fragments. Stretching out across the night’s shroud are thirteen stars, shining prominently against a backdrop of alien galaxies. In the distance, across a great plain of waste and glassy sand, bracken and bleak rock, a soft illumination extends its beacon of civilisation. The shadow of a metropolis is cast beneath the distant light, of which must lie the home of the Shadar-Kai, the City of the Dead.

Between the city and the group lies a jagged escarpment, a sheer barrier of stone and slate that blocks the way. A depressed pathway flows down into the rock, cutting into it, a corridor of darkness. Not wanting to hazard the perilous cliff with the less athletic arcanists, the ranger guides everyone down.

After an hour or so of spelunking, steering clear of unseen chasms and avoiding the pungent sprays of unidentified moulds, mosses and mushrooms, the party descends into a great cavern. A streak of platinum light pierces the dark from above, a slit through the rock’s ceiling, peering cautiously out to the night. The walls are peppered with alcoves and openings, the chamber echoing with their footsteps as they edge forward. As the light of the sunrod creeps around the chamber, it slowly and partially begins to discover an outline of a great beast before them.

The echo of thundering metal and screech of sundered iron cries out, deafening the party. A large dragon, all metal, rivets and spikes struggles ahead, bound and contained within four great black chains that wrap and encase the flailing wyrm. The chains pin the captured beast to the rock, behind it the cavern funnels out into a further, smaller path.

The party speak with the dragon, who defines himself as Calmachia, an adamantium wyrm bound and trapped by the chains of the Kai. Centuries he has spent so restrained, and release is all he demands. He is irritable, and insulted by the mundane words and questions the party task upon him. Almost as much as he furies over the injustices brought upon his noble form by the flocking Kenku who tease and bully him, always remaining out of reach from his chained claws.

Bellowing moans from the tunnels beyond, increasing in volume and intensity. Calmachia glares at the group. “The Kenku come now. Pray you are competent to meet them.”

The deafening and terrible cries erupt into the cavern, held aloft by winged ravenmen, three foot tall and weilding blades and chains, their beaks uttering mimicked bestial roars. Dark feathers blow in summoned winds as they ambush the party, attempting to surround and overwhelm. The biting bolts and chains of Gavri’el and Sebastian draw them close, and dispatch of the brawlers quickly. Dharzon and Alheck pepper the Kenku rays of light, both eldritch and radiant, while Aych attempts to lure them close to the dragon’s claws, but falters, unknowing of whether the claws will distinguish between Sarosh and Kenku. In brief moments, the Kenku are scattered, and the group victorious. Calmachia sighs, unimpressed, but acknowledging.

On the promise of a favour, the party agree to free the wyrm. Inspecting the chains, they appear magnetised and sealed with binding rituals. Breaking the enchantment, and removing the magnetic blocks releases the chains, and they fall limp to the ground like soggy pasta.

The favour asked of Calmachia is information on gaining entrance into the City of the Dead. The dragon grunts, and concedes he knows little, having never been inside, nor wanting to, the walls of the Shadar-Kai. He informs the group however that passage is only through the gates, which are surely protected.

A little annoyed by the lack of information, the party press on with extra questions, which raises Calmachia’s ire. He tires of the pesky chirpings of the humanoids, and whips his tail around and utters a frightening roar, stunning and shaking the group. “Centuries long I have been contained in chains, but now my hoard of treasures shall begin anew.”

Cracking booms of thunderous power spew from his metallic throat, shocking and deafening all around. Tremorous aftershocks echo and shake the room as Calmachia begins his rampage.

Between dodging thundering roars and raking claws, the party quickly run to the chains, and begin to renew the binding enchantments on the chains in an attempt to immobilise and imprison the dragon once more. This proves a difficult task, as Calmachia smashes one of the chains, but before long, the other three chains are re-bound and the enraged wyrm yields, conceding the group’s strength.

Upon promise that no harm by its claws will come upon the group, and an offer of a gift, the party cautiously free Calmachia again. Tearing off the metallic scales around its eyes, the adamantium beast presents Gavri’el with a wearable visor. Ignoring further questions and requests from the party, he beats his powerful wings, and breaks through the cavern’s roof, spiralling into the evernight sky.

The party stroll further through the tunnels underneath the wasteland of Acamar, and before long find the surface once more, welcomed by the sight of the City of Dead.

Group XP: +650 xp (10,962 total)

Gold: +800 gp (5450 total)

Treasure: Calmachia’s Visor (function as Goggles of the Bone Collector), Battle Standard of Healing and Honour (upgrade)

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Adventure Ten: Dance of Acamar
Part One: Chasing Sienna

Aych is taking an evening stroll, stepping slowly over land beneath a deep, dark night. She feels as though something is watching her, hairs standing up on the back of her neck. Turning her head upwards, she recoils when she spies a skull, larger than the moon, gazing down from the night sky. Its cold gaze chills the sorcerer to the bone but the Sarosh arcanist isn’t frightened… until a bloody sluglike creature that must be the size of a mountain pushes its way out a gap between the skull’s clenched teeth.

More and more of these slugs crawl out of the skull and make bloody trails over its face. Soon it seems like the skull will burst from all the slugs struggling to escape, and just as that thought crosses the Aych’s mind, it explodes, erupting into the heavens a cascade of bloody slug things. As the masses of blood slugs begin to rain down upon the world like a million falling meteorites, obscuring the night sky with fire, Aych can barely make out the shimmering of an unfamiliar constellation of thirteen stars above. She only has a brief moment to contemplate the star cluster, before a slug-meteor comes hurling down through the atmos, crashing towards her, bringing with it inevitable doom.

Once again, the sorcerer snaps bolt upright in bed, slick with cold sweat, and burning afterimages of the destruction echoing with each blink. When Hidnaan and Sebastian knock on the door, inviting her out for a drink, she happily accepts.

The adventuring business has been quiet as of late, with the excitement of Luca’s lizard tribes, blackstone temples, Scathebeasts, corrupted daeva and soul eating infiltrators almost a distant memory. Life has become possibly dull over the last month, as the wondrous experiences you’ve had make what once seemed interesting now dull and trivial. So it is to the pub that you find yourselves coming back to, in an effort to rub shoulders with other mercenaries of note, with the secret hope, deep down, that trouble will come and find you.

The group meet up at the tavern Khavaar, a fixture of Bokhtaar, a haven that allows men and women of the blade to indulge in the hedonistic pleasures of drinking, wagering and other activities not suitable or accepted on the streets, or across the road at the Sattar Mu’izz. The namby-pambies in robes are given a few raised eyebrows, but any opinions are kept to themselves.

Drinks are served promptly as the party settle into their seats, letting out heavy sighs of boredom. As Dharzon raises his cup, he looks down at his coaster and notices a familiar design. Three stars and an image of a snake, the calling card of the Stars of Shilavahr. Without a thought, the warlock picks up the coaster and crams it down his throat.

A second later, Dharzon wonders if there might have been a message inscribed on the underside of the coaster. A few attempts at regurgitating the coaster later, Dharzon produces a withered, crumbled piece of card, almost fully dissolved by the acidic bile in his draconic throat. Going straight to Plan B, the warlock wanders over to the bar, locating one of the waitresses, Gabbi, noting a red ribbon she wears around her ankle. After a brief exchange where the dragonborn solicits her staff, books a function and invites himself to a meeting that doesn’t exist, he settles for the wench’s suggestion that another round might just have to do.

Meanwhile, Sebastian has wandered upstairs to befriend the local militia, regaling them stories of ‘That was me!’ and ‘Are my exploits awesome, or brilliant?’ while patrons play Quill-Ball, a variation on pool, but using a live quillrat and spears. Gavri’el enters a ‘friendly’ card game, and quickly flushes a jumpy halfling of all his cash. He engages an elderly barfly, attempting to extract a story or two. The ranger and warlord both hear of the preparations for the upcoming Sattar Mu’izz arena fights, noting it down as something they’ll have to sign up for.

A second round of drinks are served, and as the waitress Mindy places a cup for Dharzon, she whispers softly in his ear. “This was taken from the House of Sufi.” As Dharzon cautiously sips at his mulled wine, he finds at the bottom of his empty cup, a drowned scarab. After conferring with his friends, the group agree to find out who or where the House of Sufi is, and why the Stars have directed you to them. Gavri’el takes them to visit his friend Japal, a well-connected merchant.

Japal welcomes you into her home, and informs the group that the House of Sufi is a wealthy family who reside in Varoon. The matriarch, Lady Sufi, is a widow with one daughter, a rebellious hedonistic thrill seeking teenager if the rumours are anything to go by. She confirms your suspicions that the Stars obviously have something for your group to accomplish, and probably already have a reward set aside.

Picking your way through the streets of the affluent northern ward of Varoon, the group ignores the sidelong glances, and find the fenced and gated estate of Sufi. Deftly picking the lock, you enter the manor’s grounds and as Aych and Sebastian stroll up to the door, Hidnaan and Gavri’el skulk into the shadows of the garden. Banging on the large door, it is a while before Lady Sufi answers, and gives the sorcerer and warlord a scowl, which quickly turns to anger as she looks behind them to see the unlocked gate.

Sebastian defused her rage quickly, calming her a little, but Aych nimbly steps into the delicate situation. “Ignore my friend, Lady,” the Sarosh silver tongue speaks “We are here at the request of an associate you may or may not know, about a problem you may have, and we can help.” Breathing a sigh of relief, Lady Sufi relaxes. “Now, I know this is a delicate matter, so we best talk inside. If you will allow me to call in my men, who were hiding in strategic positions, for you never know who is watching…” Aych continues, voice dripping with honey. “Yes, yes, of course, come on in” the noble ushers you all in “I was hoping you would come soon.”

Sitting in one of the manor’s parlors, the sorcerer continues to eke out information with ambiguity. Sufi responds immediately, telling the group of her daughter Sienna, who has been missing since yesterday. The girl had been sneaking out often at night despite her mother’s forbiddance. She’s worried Sienna might have been kidnapped, or led astray by the unsavory elements of the city she may have been hanging around. Sebastian requests to look at Sienna’s rooms to hunt for clues, and Hidnaan nods in agreement, as he swipes a gold-plated candelabra and shoves it down his pants.

As you climb the stairs to Sienna’s room, you can hear crashing sounds. Rushing forward, Sebastian pushes through the door and is met with an unexpected sight. Rummaging through the sitting room of Sienna’s chambers are two pale skinned humanoids, with eyes like lustrous black orbs. Clad in strips of black leather and dark chainmail, iron studs and piercings adorn their body, while the shadows seem to darken around them.

The shadow warriors leap at the warlord, pinning him in place and keeping the rest of the party trapped behind the doorway. Aych conjures up icy teeth from the ground, striking the dark fighters, as Sebastian pushes past, letting Hidnaan slip through to attack with a flurry of piercing stabs. Dharzon steps through fey portals and appears on the steps to the next room… just as the door opens and another warrior emerges, slashing at the warlock with its katar blades. A witch clad in swirling shadows sends blinding rays at the party as Hidnaan falls under a rain of heavy blows, Sebastian’s armour too, not enough to defend the precise strikes of the shadow warriors. Focusing their fire, the ranged heroes break apart the lines, and create an opening to push the witch back into the other room as Dharzon attemps to run down the corridor, dismissing Nebrakazool… only to find the other door locked.

Dashing into the bedroom, the party are amazed to see no trace of the shadow fiends, onlny the dissipating wisps of thick shadows. Dharzon detects the magical residue of teleportation magic, a planar rift having just been created. The only evidence of the shadow’s presence is an iron earring, ripped off by a tearing slash from Hidnaan’s dagger, which is etched with a peculiar design: a four-eyed hound baying to a crescent moon.

Ignoring the mystery of the creatures they just battled, the party set about searching Sienna’s rooms, through her wardrobe, cabinets, make up and under her bed, pocketing anything that’s smaller than a pygmy. Sebastian is sad he can’t take the pygmy.

Gavri’el discovers a false drawer, and finds Sienna’s diary. Flicking through it, he reads a tale of a misunderstood girl, angry at her mother for being so out of touch, sad that her father is no longer around, and joyous for the friends she has made, who must truly love her for who she really is. It reads much like a self-centered collection of emo poetry, but the ranger notices a few key points.

Sienna has been sneaking out for some time now, to revel in the night with a man named Sinihs and his friends, dancing under the moon and to candlelight. She yearns to ‘get away from it all’, and Sinihs has promised her that one day she will, that he has a way. The last entry in the journal is a hurried gushing of excitement, Sienna’s overjoyed proclamation that Sinihs has finally agreed to teach her the Dance of Acamar and grant her freedom from this world that she feels so trapped in.

It is obvious that Sienna has been consorting with Dervishes, and as the sun slowly sets, the group head to the Prayer Obelisk where the homeless fanatics of the Sun God rest for the night. Attempting to talk with the dervish’s ‘leader’ is useless, as the dancers extol that all men and women are equal under the eyes of the creator. Looking at the dervish’s hounds, and their painted four eyes, Sebastian quizzes the dancers about images of the hound aspect of Vairya and the moon. The dervishes are tight-lipped, speaking only of their worship of the sun, and fealty to the Creator. They do however, learn that Sinihs and his troupe of dervishes often take rest on the northern shores of Avesta.

Through the dim streets, the party eventually find a smaller group of dancers taking refuge in an unoccupied stable. A lone dancer twirls slowly around a small fire, soft sounds of bells ringing from the baubles around her ankles and wrists. When asking after Sinihs, a young handsome, sandy-haired man steps forward with practiced grace.

Bickering amongst themselves, the party slowly decide on their angle of questioning. Sebastian and Gavri’el drill the serene dervish on his relationship with Sienna, his allegiance with the dervishes and his knowledge of the Dance of Acamar. Sinihs calmly deflects the hammering queries, admitting openly that he considers Sienna a friend with the talent and potential to dance with the dervishes, but he has not seen her in days. He concedes that he knows the Dance of Acamar, but informs the group that it is not a one-man show, that it requires many dancers all in synchronized synergy to execute, and requires the most skilled dancers as it drains the body and the mind of vitality. Finding Sinihs to be a dead end, Dharzon suggests they speak with the diviners at the Dias of Sarosh for direction.

The dark streets lead the party south-west around the oasis, but it is through this dim light that you can spot a figure ahead. Stepping out of the gloom, you hear the faint tinkling of bells with each footstep, and Sinish appears in the flickering torchlight at the edge of a small town square you just entered.

Sinihs’ innocent smile has a more sinister touch to it now, as he approaches. “Too close you are, so your death beckons.” he sighs, as dervishes from behind food stalls and around corners leap out and attack. Surprised, the party scatter, and find themselves isolated from each other. Whirling dervishes spin violently, hurling waves of force and befuddling the mind, making you reel with aftershocks of psychic bedazzlement.

Sinihs strides confidently into the fray, and entrances Alheck and Sebastian with a burst of confusing twists and twirls, sending their minds into unconsciousness. Trying to gain the advantage of height, Gavri’el leaps onto the roof of a merchant house, attempting to snipe the dancers from the tiled canopy, but the nimble dancers dodge all incoming bolts. Their healers compromised, and Sinihs’ long, arcing waves of forceful movements press the ranged heroes back as Aych and Dharzon struggle to find a safe distance from which they can retaliate.

The sandy-haired dervish attacks relentlessly, pinning and pushing, echoing proclamations of the party’s doom under a starry sky that burns with your blood. Finally, Sebastian leaps up, and holds Sinihs still, providing brief respite for the arcane artillery. They do not waste the opportunity, quickly combining their firepower to blast away the skulking dervishes down the dim streets, and leaving Sinihs all alone. Focussed attacks wither the young dancer’s defenses, who is forced to pull back a moment. With a flurry of motion, Sinihs spins so rapidly that he becomes a blur, almost impossible to make out. The wheeling acrobat retreats onto the statue d fountain, before seemingly disappearing into the ether, leaving behind only a lingering whisper of his now-ragged voice. “Your souls will be forfeit soon enough, by Acamar you shall be engulfed.”

In the dark light, it seems that Sinihs has somehow eluded you, but the ranger’s keen eyes have cut through the illusion. The terpsichorean gambit made the party’s eyes flutter and dizzy, to make them fail to realise the true movements of the dancer. Gavri’el steps forward to the fountain, and after a moment of investigation, finds a sliding panel at the base of the statue that leads below the square.

Group XP: +650 xp (10,312 total) Prepare level 7 character sheets!

Gold: +1650 gp (4650 total)

Treasure: Boots of Free Movement (Aych), Boots of Quickness (Seb).

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