The Freeport Chronicles

The Fall of Everstand

A platoon of rangers works on battering down the reinforced front door to the tower, which Anton believes will not hold much longer. With Palomina taken care of and the onyx shard contained, the companions rush to the top of the tower. A viewing platform overlooks the city and surrounding territories, revealing chaos in 360 degrees. The orc horde has amassed outside the walls, a vanguard of orcs from underground fights through disorganized groups of guards toward the front gate. An army can be seen on the horizon to the south, presumed to be elven. And overhead, a chromatic blue dragon circles the city, fomenting anarchy and disorder.

Gauntwood, appearing dishevelled and unwell, stands in the centre of the tower. His mouth moves rapidly, but no words usher forth. The companions ignore him as they move to the side of the tower for a better vantage. Of note, it appears as if the majority of residents have successfully been evacuated; two groups of citizens, the followers of Groum as well as merchants from the market plaza, remain in the city.

Afraid that the remaining citizens will perish in the onslaught, the companions attempt to distract the dragon to provide time for escape. Lando messages the dragon to discuss terms of engagement for a one on one – champion vs champion – battle with Maydrane. The dragon banks sharply and blankets the top of the tower in electrical fire. The companions escape the worst of the attack, although Gauntwood was not as fortunate. With the dragon returning for a second run, the companions use magical means to travel to the grounds below.

Transported into the midst of the chaos, the companions quickly organize themselves – Magus Mike and Anton engage a group of orcs harassing the remaining Everstand citizens; and Lando and Maydrane sprint across the plaza toward the towers that house the mechanisms that open the main gate.

The orc contingent within the city is made up of the remnants of the orc vanguard that gained entry through the cyrpts as well as their newly freed compatriots from the city’s jail. It proves a difficult task to convince the blood-thirsty orcs not to murder the remaining citizens; however, cooler heads prevail, with Magus Mike and Anton successfully persuading the orcs to herd the innocent townsfolk into the Iron Tower for later judgement. The citizens saved, the two set off to assist in opening the gate.

With Maydrane leading the way, Lando and the Mistress of Blades cleave their way across the open ramparts of the merchant district toward the gate. The door to the first tower is unlocked, allowing for easy entry. Inside, Maydrane quickly disposes of the guards while Lando operates the gate mechanism. One half completed, Lando and Maydrane make for the second tower to finish the task of opening the gate.

The companions reunite as they cross the plaza. The doorway to the second tower is locked; instead of taking the time necessary to batter the door, they ascend to the top of the tower with the help of Magus Mike, who was able to fly to the top and drop a rope. Gaining entry through a rooftop hatch, a well placed fireball allows the companions to swiftly take control of the tower. The second gate mechanism is engaged.

Exiting the tower, the companions are ambushed by a squadron of rangers. Arrows rain down on the companions, an effective tactic given the wide open nature of the inner courtyard. Circling above, the dragon senses the companions’ vulnerability and flies over the plaza, carpeting the courtyard in electrical fire. The group is left reeling from the attacks, pinned down and unable to counter.

Rising to the occasion, Maydrane charges through the ranger contingent, creating an opening for the other companions to exit, but taking heavy damage in the process. As the group escapes from the ring of assailants, a second blanket of electrical fire explodes across the courtyard, injuring the companions as well as the ranger squadron. In the ensuing bedlam, the child, Nemesis, becomes separated from the group. Hearing the panic in Anton’s voice, Maydrane doubles back to look for him while the rest of the group flees to the safety of an adjacent building regroup.

With the gate open, the orc horde streams into the city of Everstand victorious. The remaining city guard and ranger contingent flee to the crypts in hopes of circumventing certain death and finding a way out of the city. The dragon follows suit, pursuing the escaping citizenry away from the city. An unsettling calm descends over Everstand.

The companions exit the building to locate Maydrane and the lost child. Amidst the rubble strewn plaza, within a ring of ranger bodies several deep, the body of Maydrane is found. The Mistress of Blades stands motionless, her inert body is held up by several spears and pikes protruding from her, allowing her to maintain an intimating pose even in death. She is positioned protectively over the child.

Rushing to the still form, the companions are elated to learn that the child still lives. Encased in a protective cocoon infested with dark onyx energy, the child appears to have survived the worst of the battle thanks to Maydrane. Anton lovingly hoists the child over his shoulder as the other companions attend to Maydrane. As is the custom with the Hellknights, she is laid upon the war sanctified ground with her weapon in hand to make the journey to the afterlife along with the souls of her victims. Unable to find the words, the group leave small personal tokens next to her body to acknowledge the sacrifice she made.

The need to leave Everstand is strong; however, the companions must complete one more task before exiting the city. The group return to the Iron Tower where Anton performs the ritual learned from Besmara. The tower reverts to its original design as a card within the Deck of Many Things. The remaining citizens safe inside, the card is pocketed by Anton as the companions make their way to the river to make their escape aboard the Bloody Vengeance.

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The top floor of the tower is of similar design as the main floor being structured as a large open concept room with a mezzanine level above. The room sports four large pillars, each topped with a beacon top representing one of the four cardinal elements – water, earth, fire, and air – and each are guarded by the respective elemental. From the mezzanine level, Palomina smiles at the companions’ entry and motions haphazardly to her elementals to depose of the group.

The battle tests the companions on many different levels, with the elemental guards invoking the wrath of their respective natural forces while receiving tactical support from Palomina above. The companions are hit by a well placed fireball as they charge the centre of the room. They concentrate first on the earth elemental, surrounding the creature to inflict maximum melee carnage with ranged support from their new found friend Poots. The companions take a beating as they reduce the earth elemental to its natural state; as it disintegrates into dust, a final surge of energy is released. The beacon atop the earth hub explodes, resulting in several members of the group being knocked unconscious. Lando, who had retreated from the battle scene after being scorched by the fireball, expends a hope stone to return the group to full health.

Learning from their near death experience, the companions employ a modified strategy to battle the remaining elementals. They continue to concentrate on one elemental at a time, but before the death blow is dealt by Maydrane, the other companions duck behind several walls of elemental force that Palomina employed to control the field of battle. In this way, the air and water elementals are quickly destroyed although a second hope stone is expended to keep the group in prime fighting condition.

With three of her guards destroyed, Palomina transitions to more aggressive attack spells as opposed to providing tactical support. Further, getting close to the fire elemental to attack with melee weapons proves a dangerous game given the potential to be burned. The companions play a game of cat and mouse with the elemental, charging in for several hits before dodging back out of the line of fire. To cap the strategy, Anton completes a feat of daring do, jumping up to the mezzanine before diving directly down on the unsuspecting elemental. The resultant elemental blast catches several of the companions in addition to damaging the fourth relic.

Unable to heal, the companions quickly mobilize for an assault on Palomina. The death of her elementals has resulted in several levers appearing, which lower the stairs to the mezzanine. While the group charges up to engage her in melee, she readies herself by casting mirror image. The companions surround her and fastidiously knock off the magical images while she scorches the group with several fire-oriented spells in response. Magus Mike counters her spells with a flaming sphere of his own. A vicious hit from Anton drops her to her knees just as Maydrane completes a charge, rendering her unconscious. The remains of her body crackle in the intense heat of the fire.

As her life force dissipates, an onyx shard rises from the ashes. The child of Captain Sil and Ancias, who was magically hidden during the assault on the tower, steps forward to consume the physical manifestation of the Unspeakable One. The orb attempts to flee but is caught in the child’s gravitational pull. It adjoins to the boy’s chest seamlessly, adding to the intense iconography already displayed there. The child voices a soundless scream as he grows physically in both stature and maturity. As the companions watch, the child’s face changes into the inquisitive features of a teenage boy. The transformation is almost complete.

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The Iron Tower

“Can I go?” The pristine silence is broken by the question. Maydrane raises her halberd to strike down Invigilator Cheltey, before being stayed by Lando. “Despite your association with Palomina, we are willing to let you go. Before you leave, would you be able to assist us with these relics?” Cheltey moves quickly to decommission the corrupted relics. “Thank you Cheltey. There will be much violence in the city over the next few days. I would recommend that you seek out Wall Lieutenant Briggs, he will provide you with safe passage from Everstand.” The Invigilator nods as he heads for the door.

The silence restored, the companions investigate the room. There are two plinths within the room, the corrupted nodes feeding power throughout the tower. The companions remove the hope stones from both. More broadly, the walls are adorned with guard schedules, information on prisoners, and crypt schematics. But the main item of interest, the journal of Palomina, sits open upon the desk.

Flipping through her recent entries reveals the results of ongoing experiments – she appears to be closing in on a discovery. Of note, the purple circlets store energy generated from the shards to “power” her guards; however, the circlets lose power over time. Hence, the guards must be rotated to maintain maximum efficiency. Further, several entries discuss the Pathfinder couple. Palomina believes she tricked the couple into inadvertently travelling to Hell, a death sentence for someone not expecting such a trip. The entry does not align well with information received from the changeling, nor does it mention their dwarf ally. Lando takes the journal for further review.

Unsure of how best to proceed, the companions ask Freight to summon Besmara. The sound of the ocean nears and the smell of brine permeates the room as the Pirate Goddess coalesces in the room. She is not happy at being called to Everstand, “I admit your progress impresses me; however, your lack of judgement belays any pleasure I take in your pursuits. The city of Everstand is sanctified to another, my being here brings unwanted attention. Recompense will be required for this inconvenience. I hope my boon proves worthy of its cost.”

The companions advise that they wish guidance regarding next steps. Besmara smiles guilefully and agrees to answer questions; in turn, the companions must play a game of chance – each question will result in a flip of a coin; heads means that fate has decreed the question necessary, tails means the question will be paid for in blood.

Freight agrees to terms of the exchange. Four questions are asked, two of which are paid with in blood.

  • Can Palomina be saved? She does not wish to be saved. Do not forget, it was she who sought the shard, and not the other way around.
  • How can Palomina be defeated? She has no discernible weakness, however, her strength is tied to the power of the shard. If she is unable to harness its power, she can be defeated in combat. Destroy her ability to interact with the shard – through the relics, nodes, and hubs – and her strength is nullified.
  • Can Gauntwood be saved? There is nothing left to save.
  • We believe the dragon that resides in the Fangwood will accompany the attacking orc horde. How can we save the citizens of Everstand? The Iron Tower originated from a card pulled from the Deck of Many Things. The ritual may be reversed with the appropriate knowledge, allowing those with in the tower to survive. If you are willing, I will share with you the process. However, you must agree to give me the card when all is said and done. The companions agree and the essence of the card, the ritual of retrieval, is shared.

Armed with this knowledge, the companions ascend to the main floor. The four guards attack as the group enters the throne room; however, with insufficient time to harness the power of the shard, they prove no match for the companions. When the last is disposed of, the group notes several glowing levers that illuminated upon the death of the guards. The levers correspond to the raising and lowering of stairs that lead to the mezzanine and beyond, and through trial and error the group is able to align appropriately.

With alarm bells ringing in the distance, and the evacuation of the city underway, the companions bar the door to the Iron Tower in hopes of buying sufficient time to defeat Palomina with further interruption. The group ascends the stairs to the upper levels of the tower.

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The Underground Resistance

Understanding that the attack on the rangers will set events in motion in the morning, Lando and Briggs strategize next steps. Once the Iron Tower is notified, it will be more difficult to access. With that in mind, it would be beneficial to explore the tower tonight. Before that occurs, however, Lando and Maydrane would like to chat with Basril, the fiancé of Vin, to enlist her assistance. Briggs will dispose of the bodies of Darius and his rangers, and then meet with the blacksmith in hopes of aligning him with the cause. as well. Although the Wall Lieutenant is optimistic of the allies presently in the fold, he advises that the underground resistance will still be needed to help evacuate the city. Lando and Maydrane agree to continue their pursuit of leads.

The kennels are located in the Charity District, not far from the Iron Tower itself. Entering the stone building, the Head of the Kennels, Basril, can been seen sitting by a central fire pit attending to a large pot. The city’s renowned dogs, bred for their size and intelligence and trained for hundreds of years to hunt orcs, rise in their pens at the sight of Maydrane.

Several of the kennel’s keepers turn at the entrance, and Lando takes note of one in particular, the changeling from the Shadow Swift. Her cover blown, Lando saunters over to say hello. She provides an update on her journey:

  • she thanks Lando again for his assistance on the ship and apologizes for leaving so swiftly, she was compelled to fulfill her destiny, which has brought her to Everstand
  • meeting her mother, Palomina, proved a gift and a curse but provided her a release from her innate maternal yearning
  • feeling an obligation to better understand her mother, she leafed through her personal diary, which resulted in her being thrown into the dungeon
  • her mother’s meticulous notes relate how Palomina sought out the shard – she travelled from a neighbouring kingdom, Cheliax, home of the Hellknights, when she learned of its existence
  • her studies provide a history of the shards, remnant pieces of the shattered onyx tentacle, the physical manifestation of the Unspeakable One on this world – many generations ago, the tribes of mankind summoned the Unspeakable One and attempted to trap his essence within the onyx tentacle so they could take advantage of his power for their own design
  • the Unspeakable One is ancient, older than humankind – his objective is to seek out and destroy species with conscious thought in an effort to return things to the way they were before time was recorded
  • interestingly, Palomina’s records confirm that the tentacle was shattered in the future, the pieces scattered across both time and geography
  • after enduring weeks of torture, the changeling managed to escape her captivity and lived in the crypts for a period. She learned that the Pathfinder couple brought on to study the illness that afflicted Gauntwood’s mothers kept secret records that outlined what they had learned, including the location of all the shards. They hid the tome under the stacks within the archives before they vacated the city

Excited to hear news of the Pathfinder couple, Lando decides it an opportune time to spill the companions side of the story. Cutting to the chase, Lando presents Hercluf’s dagger as evidence of their dedication to the cause. The changeling is surprised, the Warden obviously sits in her good books. Interests aligned, the changeling advises that the underground resistance can be counted on to lead the evacuation of the residents from the city. While in the dungeon, the changeling learned of the four noble truths, the original ethos of Everstnad – when the four relics are combined, they create a beacon in the sky. The resistance will activate when the signal is lit. The companions must find a way to position the relics appropriately, and will likely have to take out Palomina to do so. The changeling wishes Lando good luck, she has much work to do to activate the necessary sleeper cells in the meantime. Before she leaves, she provides Lando with the key to the Charity District crypts.

Below ground, the companions are surrounded after the prisoners exit their cells at the behest of Samdolf. The group is allowed one last chance to lay down their weapons, which they quickly refuse. The escaped prisoners – which include a larger fellow in a Lastwall uniform, a gnome in robes similar to Brother Tef, and spell casting brothers of the arcane and divine variety – launch a disorganized attack. The offensive is met with a coordinated defense and the prisoners are quickly routed.

Samdolf appears unimpressed, “Well that was disappointing. Given you made quick work of my friends, why don’t I just let you leave peacefully?” Before the companions are able to chat with Samdolf further, dozens of prisoners from the general populace stream into the confined area. Anton appeals to the prisoners to embrace freedom and join with the group to fight for liberty. The speech unites the riled up prisoners including a deadly looking hunter and his tiger companion. The hunter, introduced as Poots, works with the group to put together a plan to guide the escapees out of the prison with minimal bloodshed. Unfortunately, the ruckus provided cover for Samdolf to vanish into the crowd, the wily wizard is nowhere to be seen.

With the guards turning a blind eye, the companions and resident prisoners escape the prison into the crypts. Directions are provided to the escapees to exit near the river in hopes of joining with evacuees in the not too distant future. Understanding that Lando and Maydrane will be making their way to the Iron Tower soon, the group ties up several loose ends. Specifically, the two hope stones from the prison that correspond with the Vigilance District are removed, one of which is reinstalled underneath the Temple of Imodae. Lastly, the key to the Charity District is obtained from Lando and Maydrane. Ready to join the assault, the group travels back to the nexus.

Before heading to the Iron Tower, Lando and Maydrane check in with Ken, who had been given instructions on where to find the Pathfinder couple’s journal. He has had time to leaf through the book and is excited to pass along some notes related to the missive:

  • the artefacts have been corrupted by the Iron Tower, the effects influencing the citizens of Everstand to help support Gauntwood’s totalitarian regime
  • the couple had recommended that the nodes, artefacts, and hubs in the Iron Tower be reversed to rectify the situation, or if not possible, destroyed
  • to preserve the knowledge gained from their time in Everstand, the couple allied with an ancient dwarf who helped them to escape through a portal that sent them into the future
  • Palomina in concert with the Hell Knights had tampered with the portal which sent the Pathfinder due to Hell; the couple was aware and able to plan for their travels
  • the book details the location of the shards, including the two remaining shards – one was acquired by the Hellknight Boneclaw Deverie, lord of Citadel Vraid, from Baba Yaga; the other is in the possession of Mephistopheles in the sixth layer of hell known as Caina

Lando and Maydrane thank Ken for the information, and with the fourth relic in tow, travel to the Iron Tower. Entrance to the structure is gained through magical means, and the two move stealthily to a corner to observe activity. The primary hall, which serves as the formal throne room, is dark and devoid of people. Three arefacts can be seen tucked into individual alcoves, the fourth of which remains empty.

From a distance, Invigilator Cheltey, in Hellknight armor, rises from an unseen egress in the floor to levitate to a mezzanine level that overlooks the hall. He strides over to strike a circular gong, causing several stairways to descend, allowing access to the upper levels of the tower. Four gaunt-faced figures wearing purple flame circlets around their head stand to attention in the respective alcoves and walk in unison to the staircase to ascend to an upper floor. A separate set of similar looking guards walk robotically down the staircase before splitting off to guard individual alcoves. Satisfied with the rotation, the staircases are pulled up again and Cheltey descends by magical means to the basement of the tower.

Under the guise of invisibility, Maydrane had followed the exiting guards up the stairs to the mezzanine level. A wave from Lando signals Maydrane into action as she strikes the gong. With the guards ascending the stairs for rotation, Lando fits the fourth relic into the appropriate alcove. Maydrane circles the room, activating the other relics in turn as Lando completes the installation. The fourth relic ready, Lando initiates it – a translucent beam of power fires from each relic, forming a small globe of sizzling energy in the center of the room. Attaining sufficient size, a larger beam shoots from the epicentre of the ball through a small hole in the ceiling to the sky above – the signal to the Underground Resistance to commence efforts to evacuate the citizens of Everstand. The signal activated, Maydrane helps Lando uninstall the fourth relic for future use. As the new guards come into view on the stairs above, Lando provides a magical exit from the room via dimension door before they are spotted.

While this occurs, the companions below ground bust through the door to the Charity district, thereby entering the basement of the Iron Tower. The group finds themselves in a giant room, a mirror image of the throne room above complete with copies of the four relics. However, a necromantic aura permeates the area, providing a corrupting touch that has altered the relics. Of similar size and configuration, an oozing organic substance appears to drip from the relics when glanced at, although the companions are unable to hold their gaze on the objects as they give off a sickly feeling.

A desk is centered in the middle of the room where sits a surprised Palomina, Cheltey at her side. Startled from her writing, she stands quickly, knocking over her chair. Four orbs emanate from her hands, the purple globes moving toward the corrupted relics. The companions organize an offensive as Lando and Maydrane suddenly appear behind the desk.

The Mistress of Blades senses an opportunity and immediately charges toward Palomina, catching her unawares. Maydrane spears her unsuspecting foe through with her halberd, scoring a ferocious hit. The body of Palomina slumps, falling through the weapon to congeal on the floor before transforming into necromantic energy that sweeps upward through the ceiling. No evidence of her body remains on the coruscated floor. The companions, as well as Invigilator Cheltey, look at Maydrane in awe.

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Breaking into Prison
Samdolf makes a cameo

The companions take some time to regroup after the loss of a dear friend, the crypts of the Hope District as good a place as any to commemorate the life of Romica. Composure restored for the time being, the group acquires the hope stone corresponding with the Temple of Gorum as they travel through the district.

In discussion with Quinn, the companions learn more about the jail beneath the Vigil District. New prisoners are sent to this dungeon for processing before they are transitioned to other areas. Quinn has seen many sent to the laboratories beneath the Charity District, although he has not seen any return. When pressed, he advises that he has no way to enter the laboratories, nor the willingness to should he have the means. He also notes several points of interest in the jail including a sealed door made of a bluish stone, a material that reminds the companions of Ironjack. Intrigued, they decide their next course of action should be to examine this door further.

Returning to the nexus, the companions push past the recently opened iron door into the Vigil District. A long hallway greets the group, the noted door halfway up the corridor. Upon investigation, the bluish stone appears to be the same as that favoured by Ironjack. Several runes adorn the portal, similar to those seen on other items accredited to the famous dwarf. The companions try their Ironjack related keys, the last one of which opens the door on hidden hinges.

The inside of the room has an industrial feel complete with a crude iron forge. The implement phases continually between planes, resulting in a semi-transparent look. Investigating further, the group confirms that it is of a similar design as the other hell-oriented relic found, and therefore likely related. Opposite the door, the wall is scorched with the exception of three forms – two of the three humanoid shapes shorter in nature – where no soot is present. The room has the smell of brimstone.

Continuing down the hallway, the sounds of a working prison – screaming inmates, rattling chains, water dripping – become clearer. The companions decide it best to use the chime of silence to mask their entry. This allows them to bypass several sets of guards on patrol. Ahead, a gate can be seen in the distance. Quinn notes that it leads into the prison commons, where many guards reside. He also points to an older looking door in the wall and notes that he was unable to open the lock. The guards appear not to pay attention to whatever lays beyond.

Their curiosity piqued, the companions use their chime of opening to unlock the door. The rickety portal opens to a converted storeroom that appears to be a headquarters of sorts. There are various food stores, equipment for a guard including a uniform, a bed, a map of the underground on the wall, and various notes strewn about. The food has gone moldy, the person that used this room has not likely used it for some time. The companions would guess the former resident was female. A detailed search reveals an old set of manacles complete with a key, as well as a hidden compartment under the floor tiles. The small partition holds a formidable short bow as well as a dog collar embossed with the name “Fluffy”. Could the changeling from the Shadow Swift have travelled to Everstand?

Above ground, an invisible Maydrane patiently waits for the rangers to fan out before charging the unsuspecting soldiers. Her vicious attack spears the lieutenant of the brigade, dropping him to his knees. The superior numbers prove a minor inconvenience for the Mistress of Blades, as the rangers are disposed of in short order. The door to the temple is barred to deter further unwanted entrants. Lando performs a detailed search of the Head Priestess Ilidia’s quarters that reveals nothing of note.

Exiting the temple, Lando and Maydrane are reunited with Briggs, who is dragging the crumpled form of Darius Pritchard behind him. He motions to the temple, Lando nods. Briggs hands over two guard uniforms, “Things are going to escalate from here, you guys will need to get a move on, I’ll take care of this mess.” Lando and Maydrane strategize next steps.

The companions continue into the prison. The group is able to gain entry to the guard room through stealth, scoping out the premises. Several guards loyal to Hercluf are on-duty. The companions make contact with the guards and bring them up-to-speed on events. The guards provide a break down of the jail as well as the prisoners presently being processed – there is a central area as well as isolated holding cells for those that are deemed high risk. Several persons of note, including an elven hunter and a wizard, are currently held there. Regarding the base of operations, the guards advise that the room was used by the leader of their cell, whom Hercluf was in touch with. She has not been seen in several months.

The companions don guard uniforms and bypass the prison commons to gain entry to the holding cells. As soon as they enter, they are addressed by the wizard, who wishes to make a deal. He introduces himself as Samdolf, a relic hunter – he has no interest in staying in Everstand and attempts to enlist the companions help to free him. The group attempts to gain knowledge from the wizard about what is going on outside the walls of the city, but Samdolf quickly bores of the conversation. With a snap of his fingers, the doors of the cells open and the other prisoners rush out.

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Ode to Romica
Farewell good friend

While in the company of the orcs, the companions provide their leadership with an update on progress – contact has been made and access to the prison provided. Sharing the details of the vision, the prisoners must be removed over the next two days or so. This lines up well with the orcs plans; despite diminished numbers, they have been directed to lead an attack on the prison two days hence. Seeking to gain advantage from their situation, the companions attempt to strike a deal to assist the orcs in breaking out their imprisoned brethren in return for help leading the residents of Everstand out before the city falls. The leadership present is open to the arrangement, and will try to influence the orc chief but cannot speak on his behalf.

The companions return to the catacombs and manage to skirt the zombies without incident. Before re-entering the area beneath the Hope District, they decide it best to provide the discussed evidence to Hercluf’s men. The solid iron door is slightly ajar, the pitons have been removed as promised. Several guards are arrayed on the opposite side. The evidence – Sylix’s journal and Parry Ledue – are provided to the guards, who seem relieved at the exchange. Further, Kurt Bangalore is entrusted to their care for safeguarding. When asked about the way into the Charity District, the leader of the entourage motions his men on. Out of earshot, he advises the Keep will not betray their true leader, but the dagger at their belts will provide a sufficient introduction to her when the time comes. In the mean time, he and his compatriots will protect the evidence with their lives until provided to Hercluf. With that, the guards exit the vicinity in close formation.

With little time before curfew, Lando and Maydrane make for the Temple of Gorum. On the way, an out of breath Brother Tef hails them. He brings word from his lover Briggs, there is a bounty on Lando’s head. Darius Pritchard and his band of rangers are on their trail. Briggs will attempt to run interference, but he warns the gnome and centaur to be wary. Lando thanks him for the information and sends him home.

Walking the streets, Maydrane feels that they are being tailed by an agent. They duck behind a door to allow Lando time to cast invisibility so they can make a quick escape. Although they elude the tail, they believe they have little time this night. They will need to be extra careful going forward.

Lando and Maydrane enter the Temple of Gorum shortly before it closes for the evening. The premises are empty of worshipers this late at night, with only the cleaning staff and several junior clergy in the building. Lando and Maydrane advise one of the staff they were here earlier in the day and have decided to come back to receive Our Lord in Iron’s blessing. This provides them some time to gain access to the office of Ilidia Vassum, the Head Priest. A quick rifle through her belongings does not provide anything of note.

The voice of Darius Pritchard can be heard from outside, directing his rangers to search the temple. Before they come inside, Wall Lieutenant Briggs intervenes, pulling rank on Pritchard to attend to a separate incident. This provides Lando and Maydrane sufficient time to prepare for a confrontation; Lando casts invisibility while Maydrane readies a charge. A group of rangers, without Pritchard, enter the building and fan out. Maydrane sprints at full speed at the leader of the band guarding the door in hopes of spearing the unsuspecting fool on her halberd, while closing off a potential exit for the other rangers. Lando holds on for dear life.

The recently acquired keys open the portcullis, providing access to the chamber beyond. The massive room features a raised dais with a large sarcophagi, assumed to hold the remains of Gauntwood’s father, the prior ruler of Everstand. Four antechambers lead off from the main area to either side, each alcove filled with ornate armor and other ancestral treasures. At the far end of the room, a larger antechamber houses a more austere tomb.

The companions investigate the room at the end of the chamber first. The reason for its slightly larger bearing is clear, it houses two sarcophagi, one each for the two wives – Kelly and Darryn – of the former ruler. From their limited knowledge, the companions recall that the wives were paladins and known as defenders of the weak. Having come from humble beginnings, they were universally loved by the citizens of Everstand. Their tomb is filled with various family records, hundreds of funeral notes from the common gentry, as well as thousands of copper coins. Unsure of where to begin, Anton drops a gold coin into the tomb. A cascading light circles the chamber, building in brilliance. The companions are filled with positive emotions as the light suffuses them. The silhouette of one tome remains glowing as the light fades, drawing the attention of Anton.

The halfling picks up the large book and leafs through its delicate pages. The tome is a royal journal of sorts, and provides an intimate journey of Gauntwood’s upbringing through the eyes of his mothers. Gauntwood was not a good child, drawing the ire of his mothers on many occasions. Much regret is evident, not only in the choices of Gauntwood, but also their failure as parents. Near the end of Gauntwood’s fathers reign, Palomina is first mentioned. After the succession, both Kelly and Darryn become ill at the same time. Thinking it odd that their health would deteriorate simultaneously, the mothers enlists the assistance of the Pathfinder Society. A gnomish couple was dispatched with the official directive to assist in cataloguing Everstand’s archives; however, their ulterior motive was to investigate the mothers’ illness and a possible link to Palomina.

While this occurs, Magus Mike and Freight explore the other alcoves. The jewel encrusted ceremonial weapons and ancestral armor prove too much of a temptation; as the gear is gently placed within their bag of holding, a trap is activated – the portcullis slams shut as gallons of water stream into the now enclosed burial chamber.

The companions regroup at the sarcophagus of Gauntwood’s father. Romica detects a lever in the sarcophagus that will trigger the doorway, however, it will need to be held open manually. Before the companions can brainstorm ideas, several undead creatures surface from the water and engage the group. Similar to the prior inquisitors that were fought, these guards have crowns of purple flame that sit atop featureless faces of stretched skin. They attack the group without emotion.

With well executed strikes complemented with several channel energy pulses, the companions manage to overcome the undead guardians. However, the battle has managed to exact its toll as the water level is beginning to near the top of the room. Unable to come up with a better plan, Romica activates the lever, allowing the other companions to exit the chamber as it fills. The last glimpse of the hairy dwarf reveals a crooked tooth grin only a mother could love. The portal closes again with the sound of finality.

As the companions walk aimlessly from the door, thoughts elsewhere, Romica is visited by the shades of Gauntwood’s mothers. The ghostly paladins show the dwarf a vision of two gnomes, along with a unidentified person, jumping through a portal, fire crackling in the distance. With his dying breath, Romica relays the vision to Lando. The gnome stumbles as he receives the message. A tear each for Romica and those in the message carve the contours of the gnome’s cheeks before disappearing into the wisps of his unruly beard.

—> Flip to next chapter
—> Return to prior chapter

The companions duel Palomina's guards

Beneath the Hope District, the companions continue to explore the catacombs. The ancestral crypt of the Gauntwood family, at least that which is accessible to the public, includes a large central crypt with two passages that split off to either side. Unable to ascertain how to enter the ornate crypt, the companions decide to explore the western passage first, which leads to a separate room that contains many mundane urns, perhaps for loyal household retainers. A plinth sits in the middle of the room; it is no longer in operation as the cradle segment of the mechanism has been removed, hope stone and all. A sign above indicates that this plinth is associated with the Temple of Imodae – it is assumed that this is where Father Lodmar sourced his hope stone from.

The eastern passage leads to a similarly constructed room, including many urns and a central plinth. Interestingly, this mechanism is also out of commission, the cradle portion of the plinth removed. A sign above indicates that this node corresponds to the Temple of Gorum. As the mechanism is investigated, Romica notes an inconsistency on one of the stone walls, leading to the discovery of a secret door. The wall opens to reveal a gate, which Quinn advises the guards referred to Castellan Gate. A short passage opens into a large room; both lavish and mundane urns are placed in alcoves that are built into the walls in an orderly fashion around the room. Plaques above the shelves indicate the names of the many castellans that governed the city, who are buried along with the loyal lieges.

The opposite side of the room features a closed portcullis. A quick inspection confirms no ability to open the door from this side, two keyholes can be seen on the opposite side of the door. An anxious Quinn notes that the elite guards – inquisitor types that roam in pairs – would often come through this gate. As such, he has not spent much time in this area of the catacombs for fear of alerting them. Unable to open the portcullis, the companions retrace their tracks.

Returning to the Better Business Bureau, Ken is excited to tell Lando and Maydrane about his progress. As he combs through the archive’s vast stores of knowledge, recording as much as he can for prosperity, he found mention of the Pathfinder Society, and in particular, a husband and wife duo. Lando is elated as this is the first confirmation that his parents did indeed visit the city. The record in question, written by a wealthy merchant, seems to indicate that several strange events preceded Gauntwood taking the throne, and therefore, prior to his marriage with Palomina. Perhaps the Pathfinder Society wished to know more about these events, the entry is unclear. The second piece of the relic is dropped off for Ken to study and assemble.

Getting on into late afternoon, Lando and Maydrane decide to pay a visit to the Barracks as the gnome’s original visit was cut short. The Warden, Darius Pritchard, is present this time, although less than enthused to speak with Lando. A tour of the building is quickly denied and further attempts to stoke civil conversation do not go well. In fact, Lando and Maydrane are asked rather unceremoniously to leave. Surrounded by a dozen or so rangers, they tuck tail and exit the premises. The conversation leaves Lando with a bad feeling, so the gnome cloaks he and Maydrane in invisibility to stake out the barracks. The Warden sets off soon thereafter at pace to the Iron Tower. Lando becomes concerned that an enemy has been made.

Nearing the dinner bell, the two travel back to the home of Brother Tef and Wall Lieutenant Briggs for supper. The food is delicious and only outdone by the company. The wide ranging conversation covers:

  • Although they have different views, both have the best for Everstand in mind; Tef’s focus is to help facilitate faith, Briggs to keep order.
  • Briggs was appointed by officials from Lastwall. Has been waiting for a missive from High Command regarding next steps. Lando advises that he witnessed Darius Pritchard and his rangers bring in someone in Lastwall garb. Briggs is concerned.
  • Lando comes clean regarding the vision and his purpose in Everstand. He appeals to the two of them to assist in evacuating the citizens of Everstand when the time comes, as well as helping the companions topple the Gauntwood regime.
  • A decision is made and both are on board. Briggs has the ability to command the Barracks and could use it to help lead people from the Discipline District out of the city. Brother Tef will send word back to Father Lodmar that the companions can be trusted. The residents of Squiretown will be taken care of. Further, Brother Tef will do what he can to coordinate residents of the Hope District.
  • Briggs relates that Pritchard is a bad guy and close ally of Gauntwood. He warns Lando and Maydrane not to get caught, they do not want to be taken to the prisons.
  • The hope daggers provide a magical damage resistance to those with them in their possession within the walls of the city.
  • Regarding the door to the area beneath the Charity District, the missing gears can be found in the Temple of Gorum, although they are unsure where the key is located.

A plan in order, Lando and Maydrane thank the two for the hospitality and company as they set out for the Temple of Gorum to locate the missing gears.

Wishing to investigate Gauntwood’s crypt further, the companions decide it best to dismantle one of the corrupted plinths under the Discipline District in hopes of gaining the attention of one of the patrols. The hope stone is removed from the node corresponding to the Barracks; two inquisitors immediately phase into existence beside the plinth. Their pale features are exactly as Quinn described; the two guards appear to be twins of slightly different size, their ashen faces featureless and without emotion. Ethereal crowns bearing a purple flame float slightly above their heads. They wear light amour covered in an exoskeleton, their movement cat-like and with surprising agility. No weapons are evident save hope daggers sheathed at their belts.

The two guards point at the hope stone and speak in unison, “Give back the stone and achieve a quick death. Else you be tortured for eternity.” The companions engage the creatures in melee. The group focuses on the slightly smaller one, eventually pummeling the guard into submission. A purple blast emanates from the crown of the fallen guard, the magical pulse dropping Magus Mike to his knees. The second guard proves more difficult than the first, effectively evading most attacks. However, the overwhelmingly numbers eventually lead to its downfall. Another magical pulse severely damages Romica, with only the barbarian’s legendary stubbornness allowing him to stay on his feet. Two keys and two hope daggers are found on their bodies.

With no ability to heal, the companions scoop up their unconscious companion and, hoping their orc colleagues will have extra potions, head for exit. The fleeing group manages to race past a the zombie population on the way out, noting a growing orc contingent among them. Making the trek in record time, the surprised and discouraged orcs confide that they do not have the ability to assist them, their healing spells and potions have been expended saving their kin that battled their undead neighbors. A distress call is send topside.

Lando and Maydrane race back to the Better Business Bureau as Ken is putting the finishes touches on the relic. A hope stone is loaded and aimed in the general direction of their colleagues. Expending its power, a translucent pulse is sent through the air. In sight of the orcs, the companions wounds are healed and they are transformed to full health. A quick stretch and they prepare to re-enter the tunnel.

—> Flip to next chapter
—> Return to prior chapter

The Fourth Relic
The companions gain entry to the Hope District crypts

Continuing his conversation with Brother Tef Villa, Lando inquires into his relationship with the Underground Resistance. Tef relates that repressive regimes are likely to foment resistance. The church serves the best interest of the people, which does not necessarily align with those in power. Sensing that Tef may have the ability to assist in contacting the Resistance, Lando presents the ornate dagger given to him by Warden Hercluf. The Brother seems surprised that the gnome would have such an item, and motions for him to put it away. He relays that the Resistance operates in a cell format, with no knowledge of other cells in case operatives are captured. As such, he advises not to show the dagger to anyone else lest Lando give away Hercluf’s identity to the wrong person. Tef advises that his duty is first and foremost to the church, although he is aware of the Resistance and their work. If Lando has the need, Tef could arrange a chat with a local agent.

Their discussion turns next to the catacombs, where Lando confides that his companions are presently exploring and unable to gain entry to the areas beneath the Charity or Hope Districts. Tef has visited the catacombs under the Hope District on various occasions, gaining entry using the amulet he presently sports around his neck. One of his colleagues, Brother Quinn, also has an amulet, although he has not been heard of for some time. At odds with Father Lodmar, Quinn left the order to pursue more direct avenues of assisting the Resistance, primarily attempting to acquire evidence of the experimentation rumoured to be ongoing in laboratories under the Iron Tower. He has not been heard from since. Given little value to Tef, he graciously offers the amulet to Lando for his use.

With the amulet and one piece of the relic acquired, Lando makes plans to head to the Temple of Gorum to inquire into the missing relic piece. Before leaving, plans are made to have dinner with Tef and Briggs later this evening. On the way to the Temple of Gorum, Lando and Maydrane make a slight detour. Creating a makeshift construction zone, Lando cordons off a small area where the bullette’s underground rampage neared the topside street. Maydrane opens a small hole with her hooves so that the gnome is able to pass the amulet to Anton underground.

With the amulet in their possession, the companions are able to gain entry to the catacombs under the Hope District. The crypts are arranged in a honeycomb fashion, with each cell adjoining several others, the format notably different from what was encountered in other areas. The open architecture features pillars instead of walls that serve to separate the cells into distinct rooms. Each room features a small pile of earth with an urn or bones laid humbly atop. Most contain a small box that presumably hold any personal mementos that the subject wished to take with them into the afterlife.

The group carefully traverses the burial grounds, following the eastern wall deeper into the catacombs. Anton signals for a halt after hearing a barely audible sound. The halfling scouts ahead and locates the source, a crouching figure attempting to hide. The scruffy individual is surprised when hailed by Anton, given he was invisible, but quickly turns amicable. He is introduced as Quinn, a former member of the Church of Imodae. He has been hiding in the catacombs for many months, eating fungus and other things to survive. He originally came down to the crypts to learn more about alleged experiments being conducted on prisoners, but has been scarred beyond measure by what he has seen. Quinn confirms that she is indeed performing terrible experiments on inmates, invoking dark rituals using the power of the shard. After almost being captured himself, he was forced away from the crypts under the Charity District, where Palomina’s laboratories are located. He has been hiding in fear in these catacombs ever since hoping to avoid notice from the guards that patrol the underground.

The companions decide it best to bring him up-to-speed on what has occurred topside, as well as the vision regarding Everstand’s fall. Interests aligned, Quinn agrees to assist the group in any way that he can. Regarding this segment of the underground, he advises that the group should investigate the ancestral crypts of the Gauntwood family, where the hope stone plinths are located. He warns that guards sometimes patrol that part of the catacomb, although he is unsure of how they gain entry. The companions thank him for the information.

With the afternoon sun high above, Lando and Maydrane make their way to the Temple of Gorum. The impressive stone structure includes much inlaid iron, giving the subtle appearance of a massive suit of armor. Walking through large iron doors into the temple, Lando and Maydrane are struck by a strong presence that instills a warlike fervor. The inside of the temple is decorated in various accouterments that have seen many fields of battle; battered suits of armour, siege weapons, well used swords, bloody maces etc. Chained high above the altar, Lando spies the top half of the fourth relic; made from the same material as the cradle, the contraption has a swivelling arm that reminds one of a telescope.

Although Ilidia Vassum, the Head Priest, is unavailable, the duo gains audience with a senior parishioner. Playing the role of an art historian, Lando is able to strike a deal for the “industrial art work”, which is of no use to the Temple. Maydrane carries the surprisingly heavy piece from the temple while Lando does his best to deftly avoid the blessings of the priesthood. Happy with their progress, the two giddily return to the Better Business Bureau to reunite the two relic segments.

—> Flip to next chapter
—> Return to prior chapter

Cat's in the Cradle
Palomina's rise to power linked to a shard

The companions come to a quick conclusion, the investigation of the catacombs should continue; however, the extraction of Perry and Sylix’s journal is paramount. With that in mind, Lando negotiates with Hercluf how best to get the group out of the crypts. The Warden will need to arrange his most loyal guardsmen to ensure that things are kept on the down low. This will take time to schedule the appropriate roster. Hercluf believes he can have his men in place in about three hours time. This is agreeable as it provides the companions further time to explore.

After Hercluf speaks with his second in command, he makes himself available for further discussion with Lando. With few persons of suitable reputation to chat with, the gnome is excited for the opportunity to converse, which uncovers:

  • Besides the Keep, the catacombs can be accessed through the Iron Tower, although this leads to an area below the Charity District. Interestingly, Chetley and Palomina keep their offices there amidst various laboratories. Many prisoners are ferried from the Keep’s prisons to these laboratories, although prisoners are not often returned.
  • Hercluf has a contact within the Resistance; however, he is not yet willing to give up the name. Lando understands, given the delicate situation at present, and advises that he is comfortable with Hercluf providing his name if that is easier. The Warden seems happy with that arrangement and provides Lando with a dagger with his family crest. The dagger will serve as a writ of introduction should the gnome be able to contact the Resistance.
  • Although he thinks little of Chetley, Hercluf believes that Wall Lieutenant Briggs is an honourable person and someone who has the best interests of Everstand in mind. They have a good working relationship.

Lando thanks him for his insight and, with a few hours to play with, heads to the Temple District. First on his task list is a visit to the Temple of Imodae, where he meets with Brother Tef Villa. The new High Priest, who was put in place after Father Lodmar left, provides a history of the church in Everstand. The priesthood arrived in the early days of the founding of the city, which is why the cathedral appears to be an extension of the castle and built of similar silt-stone as the bailey. A long time adherent of Imodae, Brother Tef was well aware of Lodmar’s progressive worries relating to the peoples of Everstand – that they were becoming unresponsive to his teachings, were becoming more enamoured with battle chants than prayers. The parishioners began to pressure Lodmar to take on more extreme views, and ultimately, he was unwilling to conform. As such, the leadership of the congregation was transitioned to Tef to allow Lodmar to focus on other initiatives.

The gnome thanks him for this information and comes clean on his relationship with Lodmar, that he is working with the former High Priest. Brother Tef is elated with the news, and advises that Lodmar sent word ahead. At this time, Wall Lieutenant Briggs enters the chapel, embracing Tef. The Brother advises that they are presently conducting business and to await him in his study, to which Briggs acquiesces. Noticing Lando’s inquiring gaze, Tef advises that Briggs understands the nature of his work, and indeed respects it; however, he does not want to be compromised given the inherent conflicts of interest their relationship creates.

Their discussion shifts to the fourth relic. After the Hope Stone was dismantled, nodes were installed across the various Temples to help instill worship. It is his understanding that there were eight nodes in total, two corresponding with each district. Father Lodmar was uncomfortable with such a corrupting influence and disabled the plinth within the Temple of Imodae. Over time, this weakened the power of Imodae’s worship, resulting in a steady decline in their congregation relative to the Temple of Gorum. The nail in the coffin for Lodmar, however, was the purchase of the Hope Stone’s cradle at auction. The remaining congregation was unhappy that a sizable portion of the coffers was used to purchase a piece of the obsolete relic. In fact, it was Lodmar’s last act as High Priest, with the leadership transitioned shortly thereafter to Brother Tef. The ornamental piece remains on display in the Temple, and Tef agrees to let Lando take it if it helps the cause. The gnome is extremely grateful for the gesture and advises that it will be used to further Imodae’s work in the city.

Companions in crypt – battle with ghostly lich with necro vibe. Big battle. Creature wishes torment to end – how can we help? She knows you are coming, need to destroy her/destroy the shard to release creature. It will buy us some time.

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A New Hope...Stone
A story of betrayal and redemption

The companions continue their exploration of the catacombs. A corridor leads from the opposite side of the room into a larger area. Bright green and blue fungi illuminates the space, which appears to have once housed various sarcophagi. The strange light adds to the reverent spirit of the room. From its expanse, several passage-way lead in all directions. However, the companions interest is drawn to a large door that adorns the west wall.

Using his gloves of magical insight, Anton places his fingertips on the door, providing of view of the opposite side. Nothing happens, which the halfling attributes to interference from the fungus that lines the door. Inspecting the frame, the group is unable to discern how to open the portal, no hinges or other mechanisms are visible. Stumped, they decide to remove the algae on the doorway’s surface, uncovering Varisian script underneath. The letters of the alphabet are outlined on the door in both upper and lower case. Touching one of the letters results in the character alighting for a short period of time. The fungus removed, Anton again attempts to see beyond the doorway by magical means. This time he is successful; the portal leads to a simple square room, with each wall containing a different type of door. He notes a mechanical door with many gears, the mechanisms hiding his ability to see a keyhole. There is also a solid iron door with no hinges. And lastly, the third wall appears to be cloaked in an opaque energy.

Unable to open the door before them, the companions decide to explore the passageway leading south. The unnaturally long corridor triggers the group’s spidey senses, and the companions move forward slowly in anticipation of potential traps. The caution proves well-founded as several pressure plates are located. As the companions attempt to understand the mechanism, a bullette bursts from the wall ahead. The rampaging land shark sprints directly for the group. Using the trap to their advantage, the companions trigger the mechanism as the land shark nears, perfectly timing its progress with several saw blades that extend from the floor. The weakened creature is quickly overcome.

The group carefully traverses the traps to continue down the hallway. The bullette’s passage has, unfortunately, resulted in a cave-in; however, the group is able to travel up the make-shift tunnel created by the land shark’s burrowing. The passageway angles up, leading toward the surface. A gentle light pierces the darkness of the tunnel, indicating just how close the tunnel gets to the city. Anton uses his gloves to get a peak topside; it is early morning, and with Lando’s help, the companions believe they are located somewhere underneath the discipline district.

Not wishing to cause a disturbance, the group backtracks to the crypt. They investigate several family plots in the area, which from the age of the tombs, likely contain some of the early inhabitants of the city. Nearby, a secret door is located that opens back to the original chamber used to enter the catacombs. The companions consider heading back out to the river to rendezvous with their orc friends; however, their progress is deterred by the guardian ghouls, which have grown in number to encompass several orcish kin. The group decides to head back to the door with Varisian script for further study.

The gnome saunters over to the table and sits opposite Gradiant Hempf, inquiring into his services. Gradiant is forthcoming – he can offer safe passage, forge citizen passes, provide information regarding secret entrances into the city, and fence stolen goods. His relationship to Kurt Bangalore is similar to many in his network, he provides services as recompense for business forwarded his way. Lando advises that Kurt recommended that he chat with Gradiant regarding the Underground Resistance. Gradiant nods, for a modest sum, he is willing to make the introduction. An agreement is struck.

Lando and Maydrane follow Hempf from the city, eventually following a worn forest trail. Conversation is meager, but Gradiant mentions that they are travelling toward a clearing in the forest where he will signal the Resistance. Lando and Maydrane are to remain silent until contact is made. Suddenly, the three are surrounded by bandits. Hempf makes a show of attempting to stop the bandits before they attack, but his theatrics are unsuccessful as the gnome sees through the charade for what it is – Lando and Maydrane have been betrayed. Lando takes a viscous hit to the head, falling senseless to the ground as Maydrane stands over him defensively.

When Lando regains consciousness, dead bandits form a ring around Maydrane. Gradiant is also down, blood pooling around his body. Believing that deep down inside, the Gradiant has it in him to be a good person that helped many refugees to safety, Lando uses several potions of healing to stabilize him. Maydrane restrains him to ensure he is unable to escape into the undergrowth. The bandits are searched and the two head back to the city with Gradiant in tow.

Unsure of what to do, Lando decides it best to return to The Cupped Hands to speak with Vin and Lodmar. Entering the tavern, the gnome is happy to see Ken, who has recently returned from leading the refugees to the Bloody Vengeance. Lando comes clean with Vin and Lodmar; the city is likely to fall within days, and he was attempting to work with Gradiant Hempf to lead an evacuation of townsfolk. However, they were betrayed by Gradiant, who tried to kill Lando and Maydrane, and they are now unsure of what to do. Although Vin and Lodmar find it difficult to accept the veracity of the story, they agree to hold Gradiant for a day, providing the necessary time to gather evidence. Lando advises that his companions are presently in the catacombs; however, they are unable to continue their exploration given they have are unable to find the password necessary to proceed. Lodman, the former High Priest of Imodae, and therefore someone that has spent time in the crypts, advises that the codeword is simply the district name, in this case “Discipline”. The information is passed along and Lando thanks the two effusively for the assistance. Lando, Ken and Maydrane head back into Everstand to continue their mission.

The companions, with the assistance of Lando’s knowledge of the Varisian alphabet, key in the codex on the door. The portal slides soundlessly on hidden joins, revealing the room beyond with its three additional doors. Much investigation reveals the following:

  • Clockwork door – the entire surface consists of spools and gears, so it takes some time to even locate the keyhole; it appears that some of the teeth for several gears are missing. A sign above the door references the Charity District.
  • Iron door – the block appears solid in substance. Surprisingly, it is slightly ajar; however, no matter what the companions attempt, the portal will not budge an inch. A parchment can be seen on the opposite side. Magus Mike uses mage hand to push the note through, which reads “This section of crypt is being used for…..can be accessed via North-Western Gatehouse.” This corresponds with the sign above which notes Vigilance District.
  • Opaque energy door – a strong magical aura emanates from the portal. Although it appears translucent, the companions are unable to see through the surface, nor is it reflective in nature. A sign above the frame reads Hope District.

Returning to the Better Business Bureau, Kurt Bangalore appears momentarily surprised to see Lando and Maydrane. The gnome advises that they met with Gradiant and agreed to a course of action. However, they need to deliver payment to Hempf’s personal residence and are unsure of where it is located. Although coy, Kurt eventually details that Gradiant lives next to the chaplain’s quarters on the grounds of the Temple of Our Lord in Iron. Understanding that Kurt was likely involved in Hempf’s attempt on their life, he asks that Maydrane stay at the Bureau to keep Kurt company, while Ken accesses the archives. Maydrane takes the opportunity to lay her assortment of weapons on the counter for inspection and polishing while she keeps a watchful eye on Kurt.

Lando makes an uneventful trip to the house of Gradiant. The key-ring which was found on Hempf while he was unconscious provides entry to his front door. The interior is primarily nondescript and particularly squalid in nature. Two items of note are found – forgery equipment and a large safe. With no need for the forgery equipment at present, Lando focuses on the safe. The key-ring again provides entry, allowing Lando to find over 60k in gold coins as well as a hope stone. The excited gnome scoops all into his handy haversack for later consumption.

Back at the Bureau, Lando learns from Ken, who is studiously making quick work of the archives, that the fourth relic was reported to have stopped working some time ago. The artefact was dismantled and auctioned off to the highest bidder, the two pieces being purchased by the Temple of Gorum and the Temple of Imodae. There is no mention of Palomina, which is surprising to a scholar of history such as Ken; it is as if any mention of her name has been removed from the records. Lastly, Ken provides a detailed map of the city, broken down by district, which may be of use.

Kurt is becoming stir crazy under Maydrane’s watch, and it is clear that something must be done. Lando decides it best to dimension door to the catacombs to entrust his care with the companions. Satisfied with the outcome, the gnome quickly returns topside to continue the investigation.

The puzzle pieces beginning to fall into place, one lead sticks out like a sore thumb. Leaving Ken to continue his studies, Lando and Maydrane head out to the North-Western Keep to chat with Hercluf. The gnome’s personal intuition justified by Sylix’s journal, Lando believes that the Warden is someone who can be trusted. So he spills the story, that the city is likely to fall, that Gauntwood, likely under the influence of Palomina, can not be trusted, and that something must be done. As Warden of the Keep, the so called last bastion of free will and front line against the orcs, Hercluf admits his suspicions. However, he will require proof before taking action. Lando advises that his companions have proof, both in the journal of the former Wall Lieutenant Sylix, as well as the rescue of Ranger Perry Ledue; however, they are presently stuck in the catacombs behind a solid iron door. Hercluf is well aware of the door, as Warden he administers the prison beneath the Keep – the door has been hammered shut and is reinforced by pitons. It will take need to be opened from the inside. Lando relays the information to his companions, as they discuss their next course of action.

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