Monday, June 11, 2018

Dungeons and Dragons! Part 9, the Final path

The party helped the city recover and after a month returned to the life of adventuring. They had been sent to investigate a strange fortress on foreign and potentially enemy soil where strange magically occurrences were happening. One they arrived they found the other group they were going to team up with murdered on the mountains side. They observed at the front door two guards letting in two well dressed men into the fortress. the two guards accompanied them inside and a few moments later came back out and one had blood on his sword. The party used illusion magic to look like another group of guards and claimed to be from the white regiment and were here to investigate the fortress and the guards were skeptical, to be fair the party was very skeptical of the guards. As they exchanged bluffs a mage stepped out of the keep and the gig was spoiled. The druid using his alter-self ability bit one of the guards and they noticed no blood on his outfit, his body was slimmer then it appeared, and the sword that hit him in return felt a lot like a great axe. The party made quick work of the door guards and realized they were dealing with changeling invaders. Horrible shambling could be heard from within the corridors and zombies started to approach the party, who then blocked the exit with a cart. The zombies attempted to climb under the cart and were soundly destroyed. The group snuck into the fortress and found a long blood-stained hallway devoid of life which eventually lead to a larger intersection with closed doors to the left, a hallway forward, and a hall to the right with a small door with voices coming from behind it. They investigated the voices first, both the bard and one of the artificers entered the chamber to find magical humanoids in large cells. The scarred tiefling informed them they were test subjects and the floor went out from the cells and all the monsters fell and were absorbed by the “machine”. The party ignored the room full of zombies and decided to enter the next room with a group going in each door, the druid and the snake folk artificer entering from the first door and the rest of the party, the bard, paladin, and war forged artificer entering the second door. The paladin, now an oath breaker, brought her beholder zombie from an earlier adventure with her. The druid was in earth elemental form and got the lay of the land with his tremor sense, finding there were two strange creatures in the room overlooking the lower levels, a huge storm troll, and four mages casting spells into odd amplifiers powering a giant obelisk of adamantine. The bard peeked into the observation chamber and saw the two strange creatures, one appeared to be an undead lich, the other looked like thousands of bugs trying to hide in a robe, so she ran away. The druid instantly started pummeling one of the mages and the bard used dominate monster to bring the troll onto their side. The troll attacked and killed two of the mages. The rest of the party moved into the room and started attacking the mages that were left. The two cloaked figures started casting spells and took control of the troll back as well as put the party off balance. The troll used his lightning to wound a large number of the party members and the druid knocked out part of the wall and went for the bug man. His attacks seemed to do minimal damage against the robe of bugs and he became enveloped within its gross anatomy. The other lich took this chance to hit the druid elemental with a disintegrate spell, greatly wounding him. The rest of the party killed the last of the smaller mages off and saw that as they killed them their bodies got pulled into their magic amplifiers. The bard reversed the gravity in the room, attempting to wound the enemies but only succeeded in putting the druid on the ceiling. The artificers continued blasting the liches and the troll with their guns, costing the druid his elemental shape when shot with thunder damage, knocking him back to his firbolg self. The party attempted to use magics against the liches, who used counter spell to great effect. The liches grew tired of this charade and fire balled half the rest of the group and using higher spells on the obelisk. The metal and stone shattered and the party watched as a graceful metal dragon levitated above the floor and screamed. The party was pulled to the dragon and passed out, awaking standing in a swamp of ice cold water, in the dark, surrounded by howling and white trees. 
Once they gathered their bearings a duster wearing blood-soaked figure came running out of the darkness and was being chased by werewolves. The group, now featuring a dwarven brute fighter, made quick work of the werewolves with higher level spells such as moon beam, fire ball, and polymorph, making a tiny yarn golem into a hulking tyrannosaurus rex made of yarn. The night was young, the moon seemed closer than it should be as well. The group traveled on water walk to the small island about a mile away and set up a base camp, grilling their new blood covered friend, a human named Atticus Alewin. Atticus was from the area, telling the party about the nearby fishing village he currently calls home and explained a bit of the current strife in the land, and deflected questions about his blood fueled sword. While the cleric worked on summoning their lodging for the evening the party watched out for any other werewolves or other nocturnal hunters. The cleric’s summoned lodgings turned out to be a large temple dedicated to his divinity, fire. Within the structure the ceiling looked to be on fire, had a solitary door and two small windows. The party rested and alternated watches to make sure nothing truly nasty surprised them, also keeping an eye on Atticus, who made an odd cross of his swords to work as a drying rack for his swords and passing out on the stone floor. During the night the cleric scry on the troll they fought and saw he was within the castle of the lord within an iron maiden draining him just enough that he would not die.  On the first watch the fighter saw a large pillar like smoke rising off about three hundred yards. As he watched the pillar formed an eye on its top and started surveying a part of the swamp, and when it saw suitable prey descended on something in the darkness, horrible thrashing could be heard in the swamp, followed by a scream and then silence. He woke up the bard and went to sleep. During the bards watch she saw a raven that blocked out the moon, at first thinking it was close by, and later realizing it was further away and the size of an elephant if not bigger. She went and woke the druid for his watch. The druid stood vigil standing outside the door of the temple, keeping it open if he needed evacuation. After the first hour nothing was happening, then he heard a splash near the small island. He watched as something swam quickly to the shore and scampered across its surface, there was a light growl and another splash in the water and it swam away. the druid thought about what he just saw and went back inside realizing the thing he saw looked like human torso with a longer than normal spine, no lower body, and a perfectly smooth face. He locked the door and waited till morning to wake anyone else. They found out that the “spinetail” are dangerous predators of the waters and should be avoided. Atticus was the last to wake and realized in the light that a few of his new companions were not of this world, he was confused by the warforged, dragonborn, and two firbolg traveling with the part elves, halfling, and dwarf. The party grilled Atticus for information about his homeland, the political structure of the land, and who lived in the area. He gave them the best info he could, being a “simple” monster hunter and told them the more exotic races did not exist in this land. The group packed up and rode the carpet to the town of Kaer, finding a simple fishing village living on the edge of the swamp. Atticus got them inside after the group donned costumes and hid their monstrous visages and took them to the small tavern called the Empty Coffer. Other than the bartender and the group there was a bard slowly making his way into the common room. Fengast de Bard was very inquisitive and interrogated the party on their ambitions after giving them plot details and information regarding the metal and stone dragon in the center of the lord’s castle. Fengast de Bard also confused the party with his black and white checkerboard motley garb and monogramed handkerchief he handed out the party, he seemed to have an endless supply. The party knew they would have to go find the dragon to go home and that the enemy had it. Fengast de Bard was a part of a group called the Whispers, an organization seeking to save those the lord of the castle was seeking to destroy, corrupt, or control and attempted to sway the party to dispose of the lord. The party decided to take over a small abandoned home in the town and asked why it was abandoned. The barkeep Bresha told them the family left when one of the girls got bit by a spinetail and tried to eat her sister. The party set up camp in the abandoned building and kept seeing a flash of a small child running around in the building. The bard played tag with the child and tagged her. Later the child pulled on the bard’s leg and the bard saw nothing next to her and heard hissing and saw in the dust the phrase “come find us”. The cleric and witch worked on consecrating the home and the moment the Hallow spell completed the wall of the city blew off and a gargantuan monster entered but failed to get any closer to the house. The party threw a round of magics and pain into the creature and it fled further into the city, killing civilians and turning them into monstrous undead. The cleric and his kobold charged him to use divine magic to wound him and the beast bit down on the cleric, leaving the kobold alone on the magic broom, face to face with the beast. The druid decided to use tsunami and ended up destroying almost the entire town, drowning dozens, and destroying whatever protection the survivors had by tearing down the walls with the torrent of water. In shock, the rest of the party attacked the Hemless beast and eventually felled it, unleashing a swarm of dead villagers turned wights. The party destroyed them quickly. The bard Fengast de Bard gave them a map to quickly get to Strahd’s castle and sent them on their way. The party flew over the forests following the map while the druid, now deemed a murderer swam bellow them across the land. They found a camp site and build another small temple for the god of fire and the druid again was left outside, the rest of the party not trusting his choices in the previous battle. While on watch he saw a few of the enormous heads rolling across the distance towards the now ruined Kaer. He also felt a presence near him and turned to see a large sized skeleton sitting next to him staring off in the distance. He gave the skeleton some ale, which it drank, then it disappeared. In the morning the party made the final approach to the castle of Strahd. As they gazed at it they made a choice. The witch had the ability to change the terrain via magic as well as alter the sounds generated within its walls. He first sent his familiar to scout and found the throne room and the giant metallic dragon they were searching for, Strahd, his tinker goblin, and one of the Liches. While the familiar watched the witch set the magic into motion. The walls and floors and stone of the castle turned to glass and as the tinker goblin working on the golem dragon hit it with its hammer it went “smack, smack, quack” and confusion was had. The goblin turned to its master and shouted “Quack!” and in his rage the master struck him down with unholy fire and the flames roared with many quacks. The party chose that time to strike, the dwarf fighter jumped off the magic carpet, landing twenty feet down onto the glass floor with an enormous quacking sound, one of his feet breaking through, and charged Strahd. The druid shape shifted into a huge ape and broke through the glass and dropped behind Strahd, grabbing him with his large mitts. Strahd did not like this situation and ghost stepped to stand on top of the ape and snapped his fingers, casting meteor swarm, destroying his throne room of glass with loud quacking sounds and sending both the fighter and druid falling through many floors of glass until they reached the bottom of the quack zone and landing in glass strewn water, and a moment later the dragon golem and the lich landed next to them. The rest of the party tried to stay safe on their magic carpet and watched as Strahd went below and started whaling on the fighter and druid with magic. The lich informed them to throw any magic they had into the dragon golem as more guards started falling through glass floors and advancing on the party. The group were able to gather relatively close to one another as Strahd flew up higher to hit them with another meteor swarm. As the spell took shape and destruction eminent the golem absorbed the entire spell and a pillar of light hit the room. As the party finished blinking they found themselves standing on hard packed red desert under the light of a red sun with a dragon golem and a lich. 
They picked themselves back up and attempted to recharge the dragon by throwing more magic into it, noticing with each spell bits of the land around them would break and the dragon was not retaining any of the magic. The talked with the Lich that came through with them and found out lore about the dragon as well as the plots of the liches allies. As they talked they saw a glimmer of light in the distance and watched as a large shell of beetle with wheels being pulled by a large multi tusked elephant like creature came over the ridge. It was flanked by bird riding figures and they could see two brighter cloaked figures on top of the beetle. The party shouted out to them and were hit with magic from the mages when the party refused to comply with the mages claim of ownership. One of the bards force caged the mages while the party dealt with the warriors, the druid turning into a tyrannosaurus rex and eating one after tail whipping and biting another. The other warrior was killed by the witch with the spell finger of death and now the party has a zombie following them. The party freed the slaves within the beetle and found out more about the captors as well as the world itself. Metal was scarce, magic was terrible, and dragon kings ruled the world with iron fists. These creatures the party saved were half human dwarves bred with magic to be perfect workers and their life had been toil. They knew if they were taken to the city that they would have been force to fight each other to the death in the fighting arena for the enjoyment of the rich. The group investigated the innards of this mobile hollowed out shell and found antiquate storage for water, about a weeks’ worth, and “property” as well as living quarters for the warriors and the two mages. The party got themselves ready, knowing the force cage was going to expire and as the mages dropped rained on their parade, turning one to stone and killing the other. The druid attempted to plant seeds into the bodies of the slain and grow them with magic, finding he was only draining the moisture from the bodies with his spells. the party experimented with their spells a bit to find out that they were draining life force away from their surroundings with each spell. They decided to slow up on the magic a bit, get the dragon onto the back of the beetle and take the free people to their promised land, an oasis in the middle of nowhere. The elder of these free people was incredibly old and had been to the promised land before so he was able to guide the crew there, they just needed protection. They started their journey and argued about cannibalism and the morality of eating intelligent creatures, the lich quietly laughing at them the whole time. After a long day of travel a bad made a magical mansion for the party to stay in as well as their traveling companions. The beasts of burdens where not able to fit inside so the lich hid them with mundane means. As the druid was exploring outside he drew the attention of a creature that called itself Rathar of the ways, an odd fey creature that stood fifteen feet tall and had long spindly wooden limbs and its face was covered in a strange leaf with a crude smile drawn on it with red pigment. The group was hesitant to trust it but told it that they would allow it to travel with them till he could find his way again. The party rested and gave their new allies as much water and food, and in the morning packed up their gear, fed the animals, and started on their journey again. The creature Rathar sat with his feet dangling off the back of their beetle shell and watched the road disappear behind them. After a few hours of travel Rathar informed the party they were being followed by two scaled ones, which with his description they figured they were a form of Tyrannosaurus rexes. The party had a choice, fight them, run, or try to distract them. Of course, they chose to attack them, most of the party using non-magical attacks to deal with the dinosaurs, the fighter charged them and was almost eaten, the dinosaurs tried to rip him in half but his armor was to strong. After a few well-placed shots with the thunder cannon and called lightning the beasts were slain. During the combat the cleric, now back from the ethereal plane, saw two figures observing the group from a cliff face, moments later their fey companion, Rathar of the ways, caused them both to explode from the inside. The party looted parts from the tyrannosaurus rexes and made their way to their next rest stop. They tied off the sleeping elephant like monster to the stone wizard they were carrying around and the cleric created a temple inside the magic mansion. They rested peacefully and Rathar kept watch. the party asked Rathar about his disappearance and the exploding people and he informed them that he took care of the elves and their forces that were lying in wait. The druid wanted to learn how to blow people up and was unwilling to become a test subject. The next day they made it to the promised land and found the great pool of water protected by terrible poisons and a nature spirit. The nature spirit advised them against drinking the water, full of arsenic and worse, whereas the other smaller pools were being filtered by small plants. The party grilled him for information and was told they could get a new crystal at the old watch tower/light house. They wanted to just stay and work on the one they had and try to fix it but it would have taken five or more weeks and not worked. They eventually took the hint and went to the lighthouse, finding a skeleton on top with a large gem. The witch sent his sprite to investigate and the lich grabbed it and drained it of some of its energy. The witch dismissed its sprite and summoned it on the carpet. The party argued on the best way to engage the creature or just steal the gem and the dwarf brute fighter grew sick of just sitting around and jumped off the flying carpet and landed next to the lich, dealing around ninety points of damage to the lich with two sets of attacks with the use of an action surge. The rest of the party floundered while trying to figure out how to act and after the lich got trapped in a force cage by a bard. While in there the lich decided to immolate himself to return to his phylactery, which the paladin was carrying after stealing the giant crystal. At this point his two minions attacked the party, a pair of marilith. Most of the party used a prepared word of recall to teleport instantly back to base camp while the paladin, artificer, fighter, and bard were left to deal with the demons. The fighter and artificer made quick work of them and the cleric watched via a scry spell. The party regathered and discussed what to do with the gem. After a bit of arguing the lich reminded them of the other lich in the gem and they let him drain away it’s magical essence. He also mentioned he could hear the dragon golem scratching to be let out and the gem was vibrating. They also grilled Rathar about his intentions and why he wanted to return to their world. The party decided to wait till they had rested to let the gem be joined with the dragon. 
In the morning they placed the gem within its confines and watched as large arcane runes cut themselves into the stones below their feet and they all grew lighter and followed the light trails out of Dark Sun’s Athas and found themselves shooting through space and eventually touched down on what seemed to be home, except members of their group were missing, their lich was gone, the dragon missing, and Rathar of the Ways was reduced to ash and they saw his leaf face floating slowly to the ground. The druid touched him and the ash all blew away. The sky was blood red and black lightning cracked the sky. The group looked around for other clues and saw a very large ugly giant rutting around in a broken building off in the distance. They tried to avoid him but strange ember wolves saw them and howled before attacking. They threw a smoke screen up around the giant and attempted to deal with his dogs, finding them easy to destroy and oddly resistant to many of their normal tactics. After realizing the division of their efforts was keeping them from making any headway they ganged up on the giant, their druid fell victim to it’s horrible gaze and became deformed. As the fighter took down the giant they heard slow clapping and laughter across the ash filled valley and saw a somewhat familiar face, that of the fey creature known as Lon Lethen. He offered them a way out, gather enough teeth for him from the other two living titans and he would find them a way back to their own time. They grilled him for history facts and found that after one of the gods, Goloh, died the whole world went to shit. Nations went to war, bodies piled up, and the end of time beasts were unfettered from their secret bindings. Now only a few living creatures remained, Lon Lethen, Cull, another strange beast, and the Hekatonchires. As the party went towards the odd thunder like sounds they stumbled across a blue haired badly burned man mumbling to himself, repeating “couldn’t save them” or “it wasn’t enough”. One of the bards played calming music on her lute and he snapped out of his stupor. He claimed his name was Gerald, confirmed a few of their suspicions, and joined them on their journey to fight the other titans. When they arrived at the battle they saw a giant multi-armed stone man fighting what seemed to be a pile of eyes, mouths, and pale porcelain flesh. The cleric called to her god for help and the flame war god sent down an angel to help them. The battle commenced and chaos was found. The large stone creature attacked everything around itself with multiple slams, the flesh monster took huge bites out of the angel, the angel could barely keep itself in the fight. The flesh beast teleported away from the fighter and was able to sneak itself in to the force cube the party kept using as a bunker and was able to kill the kobold helper of the cleric and drastically wound the bard and cleric. The fighter was able to eventually wipe out the stone creature after a few of its teeth were ripped out by Lon Lethen and Gerald removed a few of its arms with disintegration. The party trapped the flesh monster within the force cube and Lon Lethen killed the beast inside. He gathered the party, brought back the kobold, and lead them with his new-found teeth to a giant crater. He climbed down and broke teeth around a massive skeleton and enacted a ritual that brought it back to life, a massive humanoid looking creature with a big bushy beard. Lon Lethen called out to the creature and told him that his servants have brought him back and must be returned to their own time. The party saw a flash and were back in the faulty portal standing within the viewing chamber with a duck. Their lives for the most part have returned to normal.

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