Of Spells and Swords

To the Dome
Everyone gets cranky

After clearing out the mossy citadel of wood and mud, the party decided to continue towards where they believed their destination to be. In the distance, along the swamp’s edge, a large ebon boat sat lonely at the dock. Quietly, the group edged forward. Faint music struggled in the dense humid air, and the silhouette of a lone figure appeared sitting on the upper deck. Dead orc-like beasts sat chained to the oar wells, motionless.

Jimrick disappeared in a blink and stealthily made his way to the dock. The music stopped, and a large Duskbeast leapt from the ferry to the dock sniffing the empty air. The Hin froze while the beast breathed foul air into his face. “Grask! What is it boy? What do you see?” Thankfully, the beast had no answer for the Ferryman.Gloomgolem

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Assault on the Shadowscales
Cyclopes, and Hydras, and Trolls Oh My!

MoundThe party gathered and prepared for their trek to the alleged Blackscale encampment. Grim Lohaft grew dizzy and sat on the ground. The Sharptooth ranger examined the dwarf. “Blackscale poison. Bad. I can make poultice, but must get him back to my tribe.” The warpriest told his friends to go, and as soon as he was able, he would find them. They, reluctantly, said goodbye to Grim; however, they knew he was in good hands.

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Into the Shadowfell
consumed by the gloom

JherremorThe party, fully rested, awoke in the lost refuge. The eerie blackness still pulsed in the large chamber; its shadowy tentacles swayed and crept about. Benedict Cumberbatch had rejoined the party quickly; the events at the orphanage were the young students’ attempts to have their teacher return rather than evil deeds.

The mage raised his hands and felt the dark arcane power, confirming the magic was indeed a portal. Jimrick Stealtoe needed no further explanation and leapt into the darkness. Soon he and the party were in a grey and bleak reflection of the normal plane; they were now in the Shadowfell. Immediately, the gloom consumed them. Hawke and Jimrick advised everyone that perhaps they should return now, before it was too late, and seek reinforcements. Dio Azul, the great Goliath, trembled as the taint of the Shadowfell surrounded them. Ben, who was untroubled, immediately headed for the door with Grim Lohaft. Together they opened it. This room, too, was a sad reflection of the same room they explored in their home realm.

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Shadows and Scales
Ketsarra greets our heroes...

Shadow gateThe party entered the hall and was greeted by the dark mass with its snaking tendrils of shadow. The Sorcerer raised his hands and commanded his warriors to surround him. Kat, the young bard, released an earsplitting note. She became a blur of magic and steel cutting down three Shadar-Kai defenders. Dio charged the Sorcerer only to be caught in the inky mass and disappeared. His faint shadow could be seen struggling from within the blackness. Hawke’s newly coalesced dragonling familiar flew from her shoulders. Hawke spun her sword, and with a command, flame released from the tiny being’s maw. The Sorcerer began to burn.

Seeing they were losing, a Shadar-Kai ran towards the rear doors shouting a warning. Grim and Rhasgar finished off the remaining fighters, and Jimrick tumbled and darted toward the wounded Sorcerer. His blade caught the magic user in the chest just as the Goliath broke free from the shadows. His weapon swung through the air with great anger and nearly split the Shadar-Kai in two.

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Third time's the charm!
Darkness abounds....

KhumatThe adventurers, having finally rested and fortified with food and drink, headed back to the lost refuge to gain entrance once again and hopefully uncover the dark secrets within. As they moved closer to the ruins the sky grew dark, a shadowy mist spread through the swamp, and a sense of foreboding filled the air…

The group approached as quitely as possible. Lead by Jimrick Stealtoe, they attempted to approach the wall, and scale it at a low point like they had done before. This time; however, it became quickly apparent that entrance to the compound would not be as simple as previous excurions had proven to be. Darkness exploded, and half of the party was suddenly enveloped in complete blackness. The sounds of clinking chains alerted the adventurers a bit too late to the presence of Shadar-Kai chain fighters perched upon the wall. The shadowy folk took advantage of the parties confusion and made several passes along the wall injuring several of the party members. When the blackness lifted Dio Azul lay on the ground with his head nearly seperated from his body! The party got a quick view of a Shadar-Kai Assassin before he vanished into thin air. The dwarf called upon whatever gods would listen and healed the Barbarian just as he was about to breathe his last breathe.

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Know thine enemy!
the plot thickens....

After the shards were removed, though permanently scarred, Jimrick Stealtoe was deemed healthy. The Blackmoss and Sharptooth shamans cast a ritual together using the evil artifact remnants as the main component. Through this ritual, they learned a bit of the history of these shadowy beings known as the Shadar-Kai.
Shadar ki

The Shadar-Kai’s history includes that of the Netherese peoples. They share common ancestry; both trace their lineage back to antiquity when seven simple fishing villages took the ambitious
step toward mastering magic and founded one of the most dangerous and fearsome magical empires
the world has known. As any scholar versed in the ancient knowledge is aware, the Netherese awoke in ancient times and rose to greatness through war and conquest. Dissatisfied with their gains, they reached further and dug deeper to raise their mastery over magic until one day, the greatest of their number elevated himself to become as a god. For his hubris, the empire was cast into ruin, its lands scoured, and survivors driven from this world into exile, where they languished in Shadow for countless eons.

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An injured Hin and new blood
We have stumbled upon a great darkness!

Nwn female bard by wyckedWhile resting up, the Sharptooth Lizardfolk, and the Blackmoss Goliath clan healers tended to Jimrick’s wounds careful to remove even the tiniest sliver of the destroyed artifact. They were fearful that any trace left behind could taint the Hin’s soul forever. As this was going on Benedict Cumberbatch recieved an urgent message, via raven, from the orphanage that required his attention. It appears that cryptic messages had been left around the orphanage threatening the safety of the students. The Purple Dragons(and behind the scenes,the B.O.S.) were investigating the matter, but Thomas Applemoon thought it best that the mage be there to help in the investigation and to keep a watch over his students.

Worried that the party would need arcane knowledge and power while he was absent, Cumberbatch sent his most apt pupil, Katherine “Kat”, in his stead. Although a bit strange and green as a spring grass, her natural connection to the weave was uncanny, and she always managed to keep a bright attitude even in the most dire of circumstances. He believed it was time for her to practice her talents in the real world, and he trusted that his friends would let no harm come to her.

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A gathering in the swamp and a bit of trickery
Time to be sneaky...
Joining the party in the next foray to the lost refuge was the Goliath Blackmoss Barbarian Dio Azul. After being saved from certain death by the party, he swore allegiance to their cause and is intent on proving to all his worth as a warrior!

Dio azul

The Barbarian suggested that perhaps a cunning approach would be wise now that the enemy compound was aware of the adventurers and would most likely be prepared for another assualt. The group heeded his advice, and a plan was hatched. The group was led by Hawke, who used her shape shifting ability to appear as a Shadar Kai, while Benedict Cumberbatch used magic, and the lizardfolk and Blackmoss tribe shaman used mud dye and moss to make the party appear as lost converts who had succomed to the “Starry Gnosis”.

The plan worked, and they were escorted to the main entrance of the lost refuge and ushered inside. They were met by a group of three wizards(Dava, Mendios and Zephan)and a Mystran Cleric by the name of Halish, all of whom were obviously under the sway of the Starry Gnosis. They were told to wait as Starweaver Bestra Mornscroll was summoned to command them further. The party waited for a few minutes with much anicipation until finally the false Cleric appeared. Before much else could happen, she pulled the evil artifact from beneath the folds of her robes and used its power upon all in the room.

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Of ambushes and new allies
Here a lizard, there a lizard, everywhere a lizard-lizard!

Lost refuge
The tentacle slapped the ground near Kessessek, the Sharptooth Chieftain. The party reacted quickly and fell into a defensive position. The mist curled and crept along the grounds masking their attackers. The grell shrieked, and the Shadowscale tribal warriors burst from the surrounding swamp. The party managed to quickly defeat the evil lizardfolk tribe and frighten off the wounded grell. Kessessek and his tribe folk hissed in victory. They thanked the party and agreed they shared a common enemy. Kessessek gave Benedict Cumberbatch a talisman and told him it could momentarily disrupt the magic domination caused by the Starry Gnosis. He told the party that the real chieftain, and other tribe members, had been taken captive by the Shadowscales and evil “hairy ones” residing in the lost refuge. He said the Shadowscales were once the Dragon Slayers; however, a dragon who goes by the name “Despayr” now rules them. He also told the party that their enemies were no longer truly alive but creatures of shadow and death who no longer had souls! He beleives their leader at the lost refuge is Ketsarra Shadowscale, and the blood of the Dragon, Despayr, runs through her as does his evil.

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Dark Tombs and Sharpteeth
The Hin is not the best diplomat...

Skull staffThe party left Wheloon and headed west. The map indicated that the Lost Refuge was probably where they needed to dig deeper to solve the mystery. Along the way, they met two “Merchants” Norry Wayrocket, a Gnome wizard and Cubert Draftworth, his human business partner and muscle.

The party supped with Norry and Cubert while they shared information about what they new was happening further west. It was not much; however, they did have a problem. Their stored goods were in a place where they had difficulty retrieving them, so they asked for help.

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