Epilogues this life or the one after

After the final battle, the mad gnome Arcus was last seen heading east with the minotaur Gauraux because the gnome “liked his style.” They separated at the edge of the Blood Sea and from there Arcus’ destination was unknown. But whenever explosions were needed, wherever people cried out to be freed (from destructible buildings)… Arcus would be there.
Being closest to the Dark Queen’s portal at the end, only Arthur witnessed Her wrath at being denied the world. More motivated than ever, Arthur resumed his travels and teachings, spreading the word of the gods. He had been the aspect of revenge, and the aspect of creation, but now he had to be the aspect of reconstruction and repair. Rumours that Arthur was not entirely human spread and grew over time, and the people of Ansalon slowly became more accepting of Irda as a result: an irda had brought the gods back to the world so it was time to bring the irda back to the world.
Having finally found death, Berem Everman crossed the Gate of Souls with his sister Jasla to whatever afterlife awaited him. After three centuries of rage and despair, he had at last found peace.
Having slain the Death Knight, Lord Soth, the black-robed wizard claimed his castle, Dargaard Keep. She assuming command over his skeletal legions and established it as a bastion of magic. While the surrounding region of Nightlund retained its dark reputation, the land became safer to travel through under the rule of “the Death Queen” than under the rule of Soth. Having grown greatly in power, Carrion became both respected and feared by the rest of her order. There are rumours she still craves more power and plots to seize a greater prize.
Deldred Hornfell
Having done what she set out to do, Deldred decided to return home to Thorbardin. She accompanied Wilder Spirit and Tictok west for a time before heading south, spreading the teachings of Reorx as she journeyed. In a land in need of rebuilding, a god of blacksmiths and craftsmen was welcome. By the time she reached the dwarven kingdom, Deldred found herself at the center of a network of temples and chapels, the accidental head of an extended Church of Reorx. She became the new Thane of the Church Clan and was given a seat on the Council of Thanes with her father.
Despite being a free-willed undead, the Blue Dragon Highlord felt indebted to Carrion and saw no reason to betray her. Having long been a servant to Ariakas, he was accustomed following orders. He accompanied his new master to Dargaard Keep to serve as bodyguard and consort. However, Drake retained his ties to the Blue Wing of the Dragonarmy, and directed the remains of that army by proxy. Under his defacto leadership, it retained control of the lands surrounding Sanction and New Sea. Without the direction of Dark Queen, most of the evil dragons turned on their human “masters”, but the more lawful blue dragons did not rebel. The Blue Dragonarmy remains a formidable military force, albeit one that seems content with its territory and no longer seeks conquest.
Elsebeth Blackblade
Once and forever named the Golden General, Else’s shattered golden armour was returned to the Knights of Solamnia for a memorial service. A monument to her was constructed outside of her familiar home in Vingaard Keep, built by a union of dwarves, elves, and humans. Shortly after its completion a strange noise was heard inside. The caretakers investigated and found a dark bladed starmetal sword, clutched firmly by the gauntlet of the general’s armour. How the sword, last seen in the Abyss, found its way into a sealed tomb is unknown.
Having heard of the new Pirate Queen and having some “unfinished business” in the Blood Sea, Gauraux said his goodbyes to his old allies Wilder Spirit and Tictok, feeling it unlikely they would meet again in this world. He headed East, initially with Arcus, but soon alone. He passed through Flotsam then Balifor, and freed slaves as he went, before commandeering a vessel. He presented himself to the Pirate Queen, Maquesta kar-Thon, and soon had his own ship and crew. Where Captain Gauraux sailed after is known only to Gauraux, who is silent on the subject.
Having lost his first home in the ruins of Xak Tsaroth and then his mobile home with friends, Squee was directionless and wandered off on his own. The gully dwarf engaged a series of inexplicable adventures, seeing much of the rest of the continent before stumbling into a small town known as Solace, a town partially built into the boughs of massive Vallenwood trees. Feeling welcome and vaguely remembering something about “Solace” Squee settled down and found a job in the local Inn (although he has to leave his magic pot at home while he works). Nobody believes his stories of adventure, but he never stops telling them and, to his surprise, people never stop listening.

The gnomish inventor slowly returned to Mount Nevermind. He accompanied Wilder Spirit and Deldred westward for a time, escorted by a knightly honour guard. Separating at the Straits of Ergoth, Tictok returned home with his findings on the effectiveness of dragonlances on evil dragons. The Guild Council accepted his findings but deemed the Life Quest “unfinished” (as more could be learned on the subject). However, Tictok was permitted to continue his research in a laboratory instead of in the field. Tictok spent the next several years testing the effectiveness of dragonlances on various substances and the hide of endless creatures that might been distantly related to dragons.

Wilder Spirit
Hearing of the plight of her people, caught between two nations of elven refugees, Wilder Spirit returned home to Southern Ergoth. She worked tirelessly to resolve the differences between the elven peoples and restore her forest home to its natural state. As an act of goodwill and cooperation, Wilder Spirit also spent some time helping the Qualinesti expel the remainders of the Dragonarmies from their woods and did what she could he help repair the damage to the Silvanesti forest caused by the Nightmare. She soon become known as “Guardian Spirit” leaving behind her more wild nature… most of the time.
And so the Heroes of the Lance went their own ways.
However, before they parted, the Companions gathered together. They stood on a hill overlooking the city of Neraka, watching as the Dark Temple collapsed inward, the unnatural edifice crumbling into the ground.
Just six months prior a quartet of adventurers had reunited in Solace, fulfilling their vow to return to the Inn of the Last Home, after five years seeking signs of the Old Gods.
As they stood on that hill, old friends and new, they repeated that vow. While all had business in the changing and war-torn world, if at all possible they would reunite in another five years, back in the Inn of the Last Home.
Hopefully there will still be spiced potatoes.

Session Twenty Six
The War Ends

Elsebeth, Arcus, Tictoklingon, Wilder Spirit, and Arthur continued their underground journey until they reached the very base of the temple of Neraka. They reached a high cliff leading straight up for two hundred feet. The group mused about what to do with Atas (Else’s horse) and Foo (Wisp’s lion) before settling on placing them in Tictok’s extradimensional workshop.

They began climbing, with Arthur using magic to levitate Elsebeth as Wilder Spirit just climbed and the spellcasters flew. Halfway up there was a roar from above: a mutilated brass dragon stitched together from the bodies of slain dragons. A dragon flesh golem. It flew down and breathed fire. Wilder Spirit tried to climb quickly but slipped and was barely grabbed by Elsebeth. Ticok blinded the dragon with glittering dust then trapped it in a fine wed bringing it crashing to the ground as Arcus tried to remove the enchantments fueling it. Elsebeth floated over and struck it repeatedly before it fell the rest of the way down the cliff. Pounded and blasted by mqgic, the creature quickly collapsed, battered and crushed.

Climbing the rest of the way, the group found themselves in a large chamber in the lower levels of the Dark Queen’s Temple. Arthur disguised himself as a dragon army officer and asked around, inquiring at the location of Ariakas, the Dragon Emperor. Following the rough directions given, the group wandered through the twisting halls and corridors until they reached a massive set of locked double doors. Tictok and Arcus quickly opened them, unknowingly triggering a magical alarm. Warned, Ariakas turned invisible in the great meeting hall and motioned his bodyguards to prepare for company. Nearing their quarry, the Heroes paused to magically buff themselves, unwittingly giving their enemy time to do the same. They threw open the doors and rushed in and…

Meanwhile, the other group had fled underground, seeking the unholy heart of the temple beneath the earth. Gauraux, Carrion, Deldred, Berem, and Squee were accompanied by the undead Drake and Carrion’s other animated warriors. They came across a chamber filled with a large pit and crossed by a thin bridge barely wide enough for one. Berem crossed first and fell through the cunning illusion of a bridge into a pool of acid. The dwarven cleric Deldred helped him up and healed the dissolving man while the rest of the group carefully walked around the outside edge of the pit.

The group wandered through the seemingly random corridors until they came to a single large chamber with a central pillar of twisted stone. Numerous other pillars lined the walls, all encrusted with gems. But the central pillar had a hole, a gap just large enough for the gem inside Berem’s chest. The Green Gemstone Man rushed forward only to have three draconians emerge followed by the Death Knight, Lord Soth.

Berem charged and Soth met him, striking viciously with his massive sword. The two exchanged blows for some time, allowing Squee to sneak behind the skeletal warrior and land a number of blows. Gauraux summoned two elementals through magical gems, which kept two draconians occupied, while the third battled with Deldred who used dwarven clerical magic to run along the sheer wall of the cave. To the astonishment of all, the seemingly unstoppable Berem collapsed under the brunt of Soth’s assault. Carrion’s magic proved effective against Soth, who joined Berem on the ground, his body wracked by acid. The two summoned earth elementals and Gauraux quickly defeated the draconians, while Carrion stunned the last leaving it to the tender mercies of the minotaur.

Brought back to health by Deldred, Berem rushed to the Foundation Stone, the very core of the Temple of Darkness. His stone heart yearning to return while his soul ached for the release of death. It was not to be. An invisible wall of force blocked them, a barrier effected by the will of a Goddess.

Above, Wilder Spirit charged into the great hall. Surrounding the chamber were five balconies where three newly appointed Highlords sat in audience, with the seat of the Blue Lord still empty. Ariakas was nowhere to be seen, but his three draconian bodyguards readied to attack.

Elsebeth moved in and attacked one of the draconians. Suddenly, Ariakas appeared behind her becoming visible. With two quick strikes he reduced her armour to scrap and struck her with spells. The group swarmed on him, knocking him to the ground where he still proved formidable. Arcus dispelled several of the enchantments on the Emperor, greatly reducing his effectiveness. Elsebeth, feeling turn-about was fair play, cut through his armour with a couple swipes of her famed blackblade. Arthur filled the room with fire elementals, that smashed the draconians, who did their best to heal Ariakas.

Tictok unleashed a wave of magic, wishing failure on Ariakas as then turning the emperor into a toad. The group continued to attack, pounding on the tiny animal. Arcus unleashed a ray of deadly disintegrating magic while Wisp raked and rended the amphibian. But victory was not to be that easy, as the Crown of Power restored Ariakas to human form, temporarily depowering it. Badly injured, Ariakas fought on. Armourless. Magicless. Crownless. He savaged Wilder Spirit and Elsebeth and created a number of magical doubles before the group brought him down, Wilder Spirit ripping his throat open with a lucky strike that found the true Dragon Emperor.

Then there was the Dark Queen. While the army was decapitated, the Goddess looked primed to force herself into the world. Her will kept the other group from sealing the portal, and as long as she was free to focus victory would never come.

Arcus did his best distract the Queen while Arthur debated moving through the portal, knowing it was a one-way trip. Suddenly, Fizban stepped out from around the corner and told them that someone needed to face her, that someone needed to lay down their life against the goddess for the sake of the world. He looked at Elsebeth. She accepted and readied to mount Atlas, who was somehow there. Fizban said she needed armour and produced a magnificent set from his hat and helped her get dressed, he said he was very proud of her and she had always served him well. Confused, Elsebeth and the group slowly realized they were talking with a god, that Fizban was Paladine, the Platinum Dragon and lord of light.

Suddenly Fizaban’s advice made sense, and his ability to be serious and knowledgable when needed. Not to mention his returns from the grave.

Elsebeth mounted Atlas, readied her Dragonlance, and rode through the portal into the Abyss. She met the Queen head on and withstood her five raging heads for eighteen seconds, before falling. Long enough for Berem to rush the column and be reunited with his sister in death. The Green Gemstone finally returned to where it belonged. The dark temple collapsed as the portal closed. The heroes fled the collapsing structure. Outside on the Plains of Neraka, the knights, elves, dwarves and other forces of the Whitestone council marched on the Dragonarmy. Leaderless, the armies floundered, as the Dragon Highlords struggled with each other as much as the armies of good. The forces of evil were routed and scattered.

The War of the Lance ended.

Session Twenty-Five
The scourge of Krynn, an unexpected foe, the end of Drake

The two groups of heroes strategized, planning and coordinating their attack. It was a two-day journey from the mountains to Neraka, but it would only take half a day to fly on the backs of Carrion’s undead dragons. The groups planned their attack. A stealth-focused group had to infiltrate the city and find the secret of the Dark Queen’s power beneath the city, so stealth would be required. The other group had to get to Neraka and kill the Dragon Emperor, cutting the head from the serpent.

Carrion, Berem, Gauraux, Deldred, and Squee decided to fly on zombie dragons and sneak into the very heart of darkness.
Elsebeth, Tictoklington, Arthur, Arcus, and Wilder Spirit decided to ride across the plains and face the Dragon Emperor.

The dragon ride went quick and the stealthy group arrived and integrated themselves into the city. Berem had to disguise himself as best he could, as his face was too well known. Several of the heroes saw themselves on wanted posters spread across buildings.
They spent the next couple days buying supplies and magical equipment. Disguised in animal form, Squee scouted the Temple of Darkness, finding a gap in the upper levels a hundred feet above the ground. The shape-shifting Gully Dwarf then following a group of Dark Pilgrims inside. There he wandered through the corridors and found a set of ornate double doors. Suddenly, a cloaked figure in ornate plate armour stormed into sight. He was muscled and imposing, charismatic yet intelligent. It was the Dragon Emperor, Ariakas. He entered a massive chamber, a meeting hall with a single raised platform leading into the central chamber and flanked by five platforms. It was room for the Dragon Highlords to meet and plan their counteroffensive against the Whitestone Council.
Ariakas moved to the edge of the central platform where there was a distortion, a wound in reality. The Emperor moved in from of the tear and began to talk, speaking with something on the other side of the distortion.
Feeing from the sight, Squee suck away silently, only to trigger a series of magical traps upon his exit. Injured, the gully dwarf reunited with the group and told what he had seen.

Meanwhile, the assault group was caught in a rain storm while traveling overland and sought refuge in a crevasse. Inside they discovered a gully dwarf who claimed to be a reluctant bandit. He led them to a subterranean gully dwarf camp, where the Heroes asserted their dominance over the head gully dwarf, the self-proclaimed “scourge of Krynn”.
The gully dwarves told the group that it was an easy underground journey to the human city, but they would have to pass through the lair of “Wriggle Head” (said with wiggling fingers over the head). The former-head Gully held up the cracked stone head of the only gully dwarf who saw “Wriggle Head”.

Bravely, the Heroes set out to the laid of the monster, averting their eyes yet cautiously looking for the medusa as they entered.
They were not prepared for the beholder.
Tictok frantically cast an illusion filling the area with phantasmal smoke. The Eye Tyrant shattered the gnomes hastily erected force bubble and almost turned the gnome to stone. Blinded, the group frantically attacked the aberration as its eye rays fired blindly through the smoke. Luck favoured the heroes and the dangerous beast fell.
The group continued through the tunnels…

Having spent the day preparing, the stealth-group flew on dragon back to the temple, slipping inside through a poorly erected wall. They were several stories up, but from Squee’s scouting they knew the temple had spiral staircases cutting through the many levels of the tower. They only had to find one and they would have a direct route to the lower levels of the Temple.

They pushed their way into the chamber which was actually the quarters of Salah-Khan the now dead Black Dragon Highlord.
Hearing the noise of hero’s entry into the private quarters, another Highlord moved to investigate. Berem opened a door and found himself facing Drake the Traitor and Blue Dragon Highlord. Drake immodestly recognized the Green Gemstone Man and leapt into battle.

The battle was fierce and, at first, it looked like Drake would fall quickly before the combined assault. Then the cunning Highlord produced a magical bottle that produced and unending plume of smoke that filled the room but droves little hindrance to the villain who had trained himself to fight in absolute darkness. Berem was savagely shredded and Carrion killed by the whirling edges of Drake’s twin-bladed weapon. Meanwhile, Gauraux busied himself blocking the hallway from draconian reinforcements. Acting quickly, Deldred resurrected Carrion allowing the badly injured wizard to kill the Highlord with a barrage of empowered magical missiles.
Then the Black-Robed wizard raised Drake as a combination minion / sex slave.

Fleeing the chamber, the group moved down to the bowels of the temple, seeking to end Queen’s plot that very night.

Session Twenty-Four
Test of Heart, Test of Valour, Reunion of Allies

Having been returned to the throne room of Glitterpalace, the lobby of their divine tests, the heroes were amazed by their lack of injuries and the restoration of their abilities. They had passed the Test of Wisdom through lucky guesses and had been rewarded with a blue gemstone, one of the three needed to complete their challenge.
Now they faced the Test of Heart or the Test of Valour.

Stepping through the magical doorway they entered the swampland of the Test of Heart. A foul bog on a series of connected plateaus above a seemingly bottomless void. Dim purple light provided little illumination, although barely enough to see. A shape moved to the east, a person who seemed oddly familiar.
Investigating, the Companions found themselves in a skeletal forest which gradually began to resemble the nightmare woods of Silvanesti, the elven kingdom travelled through mere months ago. Bleeding trees and unnatural sounds filled the air.
Progressing, the Heroes encountered a procession of the dead: failed soldiers who were doomed to march in an endless looping procession for eternity, continually bearing the shame of their defeat. Shockingly, the group recognised Elsebeth, Elistan, Bupu, and other familiar faces, bemoaning their damned stated and advising the party that they would soon be joining the hopeless procession.

After saying some simple words, the Companions moved on, ignoring the gloom from behind them. They entered a vast marshland. As they moved they sunk deep into the boggy mud, with boots continually threatening to be left behind. Wilder Spirit looked down and realized the root that had caught her foot was really a skeletal hand! Suddenly, bony limbs reached out from all across the bog, grasping at the heroes and trying to drag them down into the ooze. Wilder Spirit fought against the pulling limbs, as they grabbed at her belt and breeches. Squee turned into a dire bat and flew away, grabbing at Wisp and Deldred to pull them from the muck as Arcus shapeshifted into an air elemental to free himself.

Moving deeper into the marsh, the Companions neared the edge of the plateau. In the distance they could see a white pavilion, glowing brightly. It was separated from their plateau by a hundred-foot gap. Approaching the edge, spirits began to rise from the marsh. One was a massive dark shape, as big as an ogre. Defending themselves as best as they could against the ethereal attackers, the party was soon weakened from their unnaturally cold touch. Wilder Spirit was repeatedly drained by the large phantom, being brought to the very brink of death while Arcus was beaten into unconsciousness. It was an unwinnable fight, as even the repeated brilliant holy light of Deldred could not stop the undead threat, and more spirits continually rose every few seconds.
Somehow still standing, Wilder Spirit urged Squee to flee, to get to the pavilion and get the gem. Reluctantly, the simple gully dwarf flew ahead over the chasm. Grabbing the brilliant red gem there was a flash of white light and Squee had a vision: he saw Berem meeting with a sad young woman before a cracked pillar. The two figures joined and all that was left with a single white gem, the third gem needed to complete their trial.

All four awoke. Wilder Spirit had regained her vitality, and was no longer seconds from death. Squee nervously looked at the third challenge. They had faced a howling ghost in the Test of Wisdom, and an unwinnable army of wraiths in the Test of Heart… what awaited them in the test dedicated to courage?

They entered and found themselves in a large throne room in a Solamnic keep. Outside was an army of draconians laying siege to the structure. A young girl sat on the throne, one Elsebeth Blackblade. While the siege was likely topical, their host was from the past.
With draconians hacking away at the door to the chamber, the group fled through a secret door into a glassteel globe. Deldred paused long enough to stoneshape the passage behind them closed, preventing their being followed. The globe dropped down a long shaft, falling an unknown length before coming to a rest in the crypts of Vingaard keep, resting place of the Blackblade family and various other knights. The tombs were filled with the knights slain by the Cataclysm. The vast crypt was a mixture of rough natural caverns and hewn stone reinforcing the walls and carved chambers.

Advancing into the dark chambers, the heroes examined the sarcophagi but did *not touch the resting places. Carved on the lids were knightly symbols. From inside faint whispers could be heard: “Are you the one?”
Moving down the darkest corridor the heroes navigated over several large clefts from a natural chasm that cut through the tomb. Wind built and howled eerily through the gap. Beyond the first chasm were three suits of armour. As Deldred approached they rose up, fuelled by the spirits of dead knights. “Are you the One?” they asked. “Yes,” Deldred replied, not knowing what they were truly asking. They attacked, their gaze sapping the strength from their opponents. After a brief scuffle, Deldred and Wilder Spirit convinced the knight haunts that they were on the same side. The knights let them pass.

Continuing onward, the group passed into a large chamber of coffins and into a large hall with a single massive door on one side. Inside that far chamber was a pair of thrones occupied by the long dead spectres of the lord and lady of Vingaard keep. As the Companions neared the thrones, waves of undead knight haunts rose behind them in a silent procession. “Are you the One?” the dead lord asked. The Heroes inquired into which one, and learned it was the One who caused the Cataclysm and brought death and fire to so many. The Heroes asserted they were definitely not “the One.”
The lord then asked, “Then who is?”

The Companions stumbled over the answer before remembering the tale of Lord Soth, the death knight who fought the Western Heroes at the High Clerist’s Tower. They said he was to blame as he failed to stop the Cataclysm. Being told that this Soth was not fighting on behalf of the Dragonarmies, the lord vowed to send his undead soldiers to bring him to justice. With that, the Heroes passed the Test of Valour. Before they returned to Glitterpalace they saw one last vision: the Dark Queen Takhisis blocking passage, standing between worlds. After blasting the party with fire a brave hero stepped forward wielding a dragonlance. The champion glowing with white light held the Queen back, distracting her long enough for victory to be achieved, for the heroes to return to Glitterpalace. With all four gems being retrieved they passed the test of the gods and awoke on a large, dark circle of glass. Above was a dim night sky reflected below in the obsidian like surface of the glassy ground. They heard a divine voice coming from all directions offering them advice and comfort. Overhead, the stars shown brightly save for the two empty voids where two constellations were absent: the Platinum Dragon and the Queen of Darkness. As the voice ended one of the constellations returned briefly to the stars before vanishing again.

Exiting the small vale in the mountains, the Companions realized they were not where they had entered Glitterpalace: they had been transported several dozen miles away and were within striking distance of Neraka. They exited the vale and passed through a misty forest planning their next move when dark shapes appeared overhead. Two dragons landed nearby while several others circled overhead. Suddenly, the chromatic colouring faded revealing brilliant metallic scales! Elsebeth Blackblade, clad in shiny gold-plated armour descended from one of the dragons and saluted her fellow heroes. A very happy Tictok congratulated everyone for being alive.

Reunited and together, for the first time in the flesh, the Heroes of the Lance planned their next move. One group was needed to infiltrate the city and find the secret hidden underneath. Meanwhile, someone had to get into the throne room of the dragonarmies and kill the Dragon Emperor or the war would continue. The two groups divided and departed, ready to end the war once and for all!

Session Twenty-Three
Spring Dawning Festival, On the Road to Neraka, Test of Wisdom

Victory had been won, and the green dragon highlord lay defeated. The Companions set to work interrogating him, learning of the Dragon Emperor Arakias and his Crown of Power, which conveyed magical protection. Salah-Khan spoke of the likely locations of Ariakas, depending on how the war to the west was going. The Companions also told their story to the curious the bronze dragon, Clarion, who listened intently before telling his tale, which included the revelation of the theft of the good dragon eggs.
The heroes kept Salah-Khan captive and returned to the minotaur isle of Mithas.

After returning, the group spent the next month helping the former privateer Maquesta Kar-Thon secure her new role as Pirate Queen. In repayment, she arranged a meeting with the imposing Minotaur Emperor: Chot Es-Kalin. Minotaurs believe “might makes right” and Emperor Chot showed the scars of many fights in the great arena proving his strength and thus his right to rule.
The powerful minotaur seemed uncertain of their motives, especially their request for him to remove his troops from the dragonarmies. Chot boasted that the minotaurs would never be slaves again, as now they would be conquerors. Deldred brought in Salah Khan to discuss the true role of the minotaurs in the dragonarmies, and their subservient role after the Dark Queen’s victory.
Chot was not happy. He stepped forward and twisted the Highlord’s head backwards. The once proud warrior-assassin Salah-Khan limply fell to the ground. Growling, Chot agreed to withdraw his support and troops, but refused to engage the dragonarmies unless their vessels sailed into minotaur waters. The minotaurs would remain neutral.

Sailing west on the flagship of the new Pirate Queen’s fleet, the Companions arrived in Kalaman. After two weeks on the boat they were glad to reach land, especially Deldred. Surprisingly, the entire city knew of the heroes, calling them by name and asking questions. They were brought to the finest inn and given the best food and drink, all free of charge. It turned out that the bronze dragon Clarion arrived at the city, and spread tales of the great heroes and their victories in Silvanost, Balifor, and the Blood Sea.
The next day was the Spring Dawning festival and the entire town celebrated the Companion’s achievements. Plays were watched, snacks were consumed, and Deldred easily won a drinking competition.

The next day the Companions were surprised with an invitation to the Whitestone Council. The uneasy alliance of humans, dwarves and elves was reconvening by the front line to establish a renewed offensive. Even the elves had come along to negotiate. After angry discussion and more indecision, Arcus took the initiative to teleport the entire council to Silvanost, all to prove to the Silvanesti ambassador the Heroes had indeed aided their people. This included the elven princess Alhana Starbreeze, who was overseeing the reconstruction of Silvanesti, still bearing the scars of Lorac’s nightmare.
Shamed by Alhana Starbreeze who named the heroes “friends”, the ambassador quickly agreed that the elves would join the renewed offensive. Unwilling to let the Silvanesti alone fight for the elves, Porthios, prince of Qualinesti, agreed to also send troops.
With the war going well, the heroes planned their next move: sneaking overland to Neraka, capital of Taman Busuk, center of the dragonarmy’s territory, and the very heart of darkness.

Before the group could depart, a massive shadow appeared over the city of Kalaman: a flying citadel. A small keep wrenched from the ground and floating on a spur of rock atop magical storm clouds. Exiting the flying structure was a blue dragon and rider, the Blue Dragon Highlord – also known as Drake the Traitor. He gave an ultimatum: surrender the Green Gemstone Man and have the good dragons submit to the will of the Dark Queen. Failure would result in the destruction of Kalaman and any other cities that resisted.

The Heroes decided to fight. Arcus was supplied with sketches and landscape paintings and reports from scouts, to enable him to teleport into Taman Busuk. Teleporting to the mountainous region, the Heroes moved southward. After passing through a small, occupied town they came across a slave caravan. They rescued the captured slaves, despite a mild earthquake that cracked the earth asunder and half-submerged Deldred in lava.
With the freed slaves in tow they reached the occupied town of Jelek, and met with the head of the local resistance: the Hidden Light. The resistance leader, nicknamed the Butcher because of her actual occupation as the town butcher, told the Companions there was no easy way to Neraka. Hammered by lance-wielding knights atop metallic dragons, the dragonarmies had pulled back for a meeting of the surviving Highlords. The Butcher also said that an old befuddled wizard advised her that the best way to Neraka was in the opposite direction, to the southwest. Curious, the Companions followed the advice and discovered a small unremarkable path into the mountains.

Following the path, they came across a massive curled dragon, sleeping in the sun. Its golden scales were dull and worn with age. Sleeping atop the dragon was a bearded old wizard: Fizban the Fabulous. He chastised the group for poor manners after waking him and agreed to accompany them.
The path they were following led to an aged and forgotten city. It was divided into eighteen sections, each with a subtlety different style of architecture. In the middle was a sizable black slab of rock, worn and pitted. Arcus walked onto the surface and a glowing doorway appeared, a portal to an unknown place. Inside was a massive entryway leading to a giant-sized throne. A voice announced they had entered a place of challenges, that they would be tested.

The first test was a challenge of wisdom.
The Companions struggled through a flooded tower, trying to discover the way out, which was reportedly the way up. This proved challenging as the tower looped back upon itself, twisting like a möbius strip. In each of the Tests a gem was required. In this test it was hidden in an alcove behind a row of clay golems. Not wishing to fight the half-dozen golems, Arcus simply used the enchantment Mage Hand to levitate the stone to them.
They followed the flowing water around, discovering a table of enchanted food that held Squee and Deldred captivated before they were pulled off. There was a room full of bewitched dwarves desperately trying to paint a room between fits of dancing caused by an enchanted music box, which resisted Arcus’ attempts to disintegrate it. Finally, Squee hit upon the idea of aiding the dwarves in their task, which greatly decreased the time painting.
While exploring, Squee accidentally released a captured elven spirit bound to a painting. The spirit followed them for some time, before attacking when the heroes were distracted. Despite seemingly being slain, she returned again. The heroes quickly deduced she was bound to the painting and destroyed it.
Finally, the Heroes discovered a secret door in the library. They struggled for some time to open the sealed door but eventually deduced the secret. This led them to a spiral staircase leading up and down. They emerged through the top of the tower and returned to the throne room in a flash of light.

Session Twenty-Two
Treasured rescue, fight on dragonback

The Companions arrived in the shadowy city of Sanction. After only minutes in the city they were already coated with a fine later of ash. D’argent, still masquerading as an elven dog, emphasized their mission: find the stolen valuables of the good dragons and bring them into the war.

Before they departed the ship, Arthur hesitated, feeling an overwhelming presence of evil and the gaze of Takhisis. His every motion threatened to attract her full attention. Unwilling to risk the party, he remained by the boat.

The group moved through the central slums of the desolate city, inquiring at the nature of the larger structures in the city. They were quickly told of the three temples at the base of the three volcanos: a temple to the old gods, a temple to false gods, and the dragon-headed temple to Takhisis. The temple to false gods had been converted into an arena / prison while the temple to Takhisis had become the imperial court and home of the Dragon Emperor Ariakas.

Tictok quickly suggested that someone like Ariakas would keep the stolen treasure nearby his person. So the heroes cut straight through the city to the massive temple shaped like the hideous skull of a dragon. Approaching slowly, the group saw room for two guards at the nostril entrances of the dragon skull, but only one entrance was populated by a dragon: a very bored white dragon named Tepid. Announcing themselves as dragonarmy officers the group walked past.

The group slowly investigated the temple, moving from room to room while Gauraux listened at doors and checked for traps. After a few minutes of checking doors, Tictok heard a noise from the entrance: a huge procession was moving up the hill to the temple. In the middle of the red-shirted draconians was a chariot pulled by scarred human slaves. Inside the vehicle was a powerful figure clad in ornate armour highlighted with red and the other chromatic dragons. Hastily looking for a hiding place, the group unlocked the nearest room and threw themselves in, stumbling upon the treasure room. They stuffed as much of the room into the item-shrinking bag of Tictoklington.

After waiting some time with no sounds from outside, the group investigates. They find the Dragon Emperor is holding court in the large main chamber. Feeling free to explore, the group moved through the wing and discovered the bed chamber of Ariakas. They began looting and Elsebeth discovered a mirror behind a curtain in his bedroom. There was a brief flash and the knight’s armour crashed to the ground. Carrion carefully glanced through the corner of her eye and recognized a mirror of life trapping! Tictok entered and asked what happened. “Don’t look in the mirror!” Carrion cried.
Tictok looked in the mirror.
His gear collapsed to the floor.

After and agonizing discussion and careful inspection of mirror, Carrion and Gauraux decide the only thing they can do is break the mirror. Thankfully, this releases the prisoners.
As the Heroes are getting dressed, Gauraux hears motion outside. Ariakus is planning to retire to his bedchamber to rest! Quickly downing invisibility potions discovered in the treasure room, the party sneaks down the hall, barely escaping the gaze of the potent ruler. Moving into a guard chamber, they find a stairwell and quietly sneak down into the lower levels of the temple.

Entering a guard chamber, the heroes dispatch the red shirted draconian warriors, that prove their skill by almost killing Gauraux. Lacking Arthur, the heroes have to rely on potions to heal the downed Minotaur.
Beyond the draconian chamber was a large room filled with a massive copper dragon, chained to the wall. After brief conversation it was apparent the dragon had been mentally injured and it’s facilities were lacking. It was being blackmailed by Ariakas, who will “smash some” for every intruder let past. D’Argent tried her best to talk her way across but it took Elsebeth swearing an oath as a knight to save the treasure for the dragon to let them past.

Moving beyond the heroes might five large room, each is filled with metallic spheres: brass, bronze, copper, silver, and gold. The evil dragonarmies had stolen the unborn children of the good dragons!

Beyond, Gauraux spotted someone moving from down the hall. Following, the black robed man was seen carrying a brass egg to a massive changer. Inside was a large red dragon and a dark cleric. In horror, Gauraux watched as they finished a dark ritual on the dragon egg which swelled unnaturally and burst revealing the wriggling forms of a half-dozen infant baaz draconians! The draconains were really the corrupted offspring of the good dragons!

Waiting down the hall, the heroes waited for one of the group to leave. The foul cleric was the first, and Gauraux buried his axe into his back. Yelping, the dragon and wizard moved to attack. Elsebeth, mounted on D’argent, charged the dragon for devastating damage while Tictok luckily managed to turn the wizard into a toad. The battle won, the group teleported away to the dragon isles where they told the good dragons what had happened.

Enraged, the good dragons renounced their Oath and happily agreed to join the war. Elsebeth said they had to rescue the captured copper dragon, Cymbol. The dragons agreed and let the heroes mount them and flew south. They eventually arrived in Sanction, a metallic wave of dragons. Chromatic dragons flew down and there was a brief battle in the sky, good dragons versus evil. Quickly, the day was won and spring had truly arrived. Finally, the land had hope.

Session 21
Rescuing the cleric, Battle with the Green Dragon Highlord, Sailing to Sanction

Having been directed to the lair of a dragon by the mysterious bird people known as Kyrie (who were apparently at war with the minotaurs), the Heroes worked their way overland to the jungle-shrouded base of a mountain. They had seen a green dragon fly overhead, ridden by someone in green-highlighted dragon armour.

Finding the cave, they moved inside slowly working their way through the winding corridors and previously triggered traps. They have some trouble in a cylindrical room filled with a cyclone, which pulls Berem and Deldred off their feet and batters them against the walls. Beyond that they encountered a flooded room full of ice-cold water, a room of thick mud, a cloudy room filled with poisonous gas, a maze with many exits that went nowhere and a single magical exit, and a round ring-shaped room with a rolling boulder.
At the very end of the cave was a large opening to the outside, with a sickly bronze dragon lying on the ground. Berem all has to be held back to prevent the impulsive human from killing the dragon, as Wilder Spirit explains that not all dragons are evil. The dragon assumes the Companions are more villains here to finish him off, like the ones that just attacked and flew off with his human guest.

After Berem and the others are convinced Clarion is not evil, the group moves closer to the exit, which leads to a large spur of rock jutting out from the cliff face. Suddenly, a huge green dragon landed and exhaled a cloud of burning chlorine gas. The group charged, with Wilder Spirit using her elven blade, WyrmXXX to hack deeply into the dragon. Berem attacked the rider only to find his lance was ready and quite deadly. The battle was over quickly as the dragon died within seconds and the green dragon highlord, Salah-Khan, was beaten into unconsciousness by Squee’s sap.

Palanthus has begun to arm itself, increasing the number of its guards and their armaments. More knights have begun marshalling in the city, especially after the seas cleared and grew less hostile (after the defeat of the King of the Deep), making ocean travel less hazardous.
Weeks pass, as Arthur returns to the Stone Dragon to make more dragonlances while Elsebeth recovers from her pitched battle with the Blue Dragon Highlord. After recovering, Elsebeth assumes command of the local knights, doing her best to prepare them for the coming battles.

One day, over a month after the victory at the Tower, Arthur returns to Palanthus with a new shipment of lances, accompanied by a familiar silver elf-dog. It is the disguised dragon Silvara.
She tells what she can of the Oath binding the good dragons. She cannot fully describe the Oath, as talking of it is itself a violation. But she tells of its origin, how the evil dragons crept into the lairs of the good dragons and stole their most prized possession. With that held hostage, they ordered the good dragons to stay out of the coming war. But, most importantly, she believes she has discovered where the object is being held. If it can be reclaimed then the good dragons might be convinced to re-enter the war.

The heroes set out over the sea, having paid for passage to Sanction on a small yet swift moving merchant ship. With Gauraux at the helm, they make good time, shaving a day off the trip, and easily avoid many of the larger naval vessels blockading New Sea. Two days from their destination their luck fails, and the vessel is ambushed by a larger Dragonarmy ship crewed by mercenaries, press ganged sailors, and draconians. The heroes make quick work of the dragon men and claim the new ship as their own, promising the human crew freedom if they work for them and death if they resist.

With their new vessel and dragonarmy disguises, the Companions soon arrive at the occupied city of Sanction.

Session Twenty
Battle at the base of the maelstrom, duel in the Minotaur capital.

The hero moved into the chamber beyond the hag’s lair. They had spent limited magical resources to revive the unconscious Squee. Revived, the druid barely turned back into the deadly giant squid.

The chamber was actually a deep shaft, seemingly endless. A deep bottomless chasm. Above was the hideous aberration known as the King of the Deep. Below was a curious portal leading… somewhere. Energy leaked from the portal, a spring of dark power, flowing into the water where it was collected by ten statues, resembling petrified Istarian priests, and focused in a single point to be absorbed by the King.

The heroes swam down, attacking the statues with lightning magic and a barrier of conjured magical blades. The statues glared at the champions, their empty eye sockets opening into a terrifying void. Squee caught a bad glimpse at the eyes and was struck blind. Berem rushed forward, charging through the blade barrier to attack a statue, only for the statue to strike and knock the raging human back into the swirling blades.

Arcus and Deldred made quick work of the statues, the disruption in the flow of magical energy harming the King. Then, there was an aquatic cry as a yellow-skinned draconian swam into view riding atop a dragon turtle. It was Gildentongue returning for revenge. Spells flew as Arcus struck the two repeatedly with lightning that did nothing, the draconian having prepared for the fight. However, he was not prepared for Deldred’s deadly magic or being hammered into the blade barrier by Berem. The massive turtle did its best to scald the heroes with its steaming breath. But its thick hide was nothing to Wilder Spirit’s claws.

After having defeated the dragon turtle and Gildentongue, the group was hailed as heroes by the sea elves. The King of the Deep’s death ended his animation of the fallen and control over sea life. The Companions returned to the surface and were deposited in a floating raft.

The first ship to come across them is the Butcher, a pirate ship. At first the captain and crew were considering sinking the dingy or abandoning a prisoner on board, but the captive, Bas Ohn-Koraf, the minotaur former first mate of the Perechon recognizes the heroes and asks their help.

The captain of the Butcher, Mandracore, was an old enemy of Bas’ captain, Maquesta. Mandracore made the mistake of showing off his captive on Mithas, and the minotaur emperor ordered the pirate to settle the matter in the arena. Bas’ tells the Companions that Maquesta knows the location of Elisan, missing since the Perechon sank. She’ll tell, if they agree to be her champions against Mandracore.

The battle in the arena is fierce, with every attack cheered by the minotaur audience. The Companions have to be the first to claim three golden rings. One is atop a greased pole, another at the base of a pit, and a third on the neck of a giant tiger. Wilder Spirit’s beast Fu struggles with the tiger as the tawny beast savages both. Mandracore cuts up Berem and Squee as two of his pirate lackeys assault Deldred and Wider Spirit. Things get bad as Arcus turns into an air elemental to recover the ring inside the pit spraying its contents across the field: green slime! Squee is coated and badly dissolves, barely surviving. One of the pirate flunkies, a skilled alchemist, hurls bomb after bomb at the heroes.

Finally, the pirates fall.

The newly crowned pirate queen: Maquesta Ka-Thon agrees to help the group find the missing priest. She reveals he remained on his raft and currents would have carried it north, to the island of Karthay. The group heads north on Maquesta’s new ship. Squee flies ahead to scout and encounters the bird folk known as Kyrie. They tell of a man in white taken by a dragon to the north. As the group searches for a landing site a green dragon flies overhead, ridden by an armoured figure!

Session Nineteen
The ruins of Istar, battle under the sea

Arcus, Deldred, Wilder Spirit, and Squee awoke in a large chamber, most surprised to be alive. Squee informed them they had been rescued by blue-green elves with webbed feet: sea elves. They took the drowning heroes and placed them in an air-filled room, something that looked like it was once a ball room, but was now partially collapsed and covered by kelp and fungi.
After they assessed the situation, the Companions realized they were missing Elistan and the other sailors on the ship, save the helmsman Berem who seemed rather unhappy to be alive.

The group began exploring the ruins, wandering through the submerged corridors and discovering several flooded chambers, what were essentially moon pools, granted access to the outside and revealing that the heroes were in a sunken building! They wandered and smashed their way through several secret doors (Berem having no patience for searching for hidden latches) looking for signs of occupancy. Squee trampled through an alchemical lab and stole a red robe from the owner. Then they found their host: a sea elf woman and a red robed wizard. The sea elf (Apoletta) explained that she had brought the heroes underwater because it seemed fate had chosen them to help the sea elves, they were unlike anyone she had rescued before. Apoletta explained that evil forces had declared war on the sea elves (or dimernesti). Sea dragons swam at the forefront of armies of merrow (aquatic ogres) and sahuagin (fish men). This formidable force was bolstered by numerous undead lacedons (aquatic ghouls) who were being raised by the King of the Deep: a horrible newcomer to the Blood Sea from an unknown place. The King was forcing his will upon sea life, causing it to attack seagoing vessels and giving the dragonarmies an unassailable maritime advantage. All the sea elves knew was that the King had something to do with “the Pit of Istar”: a bottomless trench that was once the heart of the sunken city, formerly the Temple of the Kingpriest, now lying at the very base of the Maelstrom.

Recalling the recovered dragonarmies missive that mentioned “the spring”, the Companions assumed it was related to the King of the Deep and his power over the undead or sea life. They volunteered to investigate and see if they could do anything to stop the King. The red robed wizard, an alchemist named Zebulah, offered to make a few potions of water breathing to supplement Deldred’s spellcasting. Three days passed as potions were brewed under the assistance of Arcus.

Apoletta wished the heroes luck and lent them dolphins, to speed their journey to one of the caves at the edge of the Pit of Istar. Reaching the entrance of the cave, the Heroes found it guarded by three massive underwater ogres (known equally as merrow or yrasda). The heroes launched into battle, with Squee wildshaping into a giant octopus that proved surprisingly deadly! Arcus demonstrated the lightning magic worked just fine underwater. The orgres rushed forward to grab at Wilder Spirit and her lion Fu (who was less then pleased with being underwater). Halfway through a fight a huge shark, a megalodon, joined the fray, and attempted to swallow Wisp whole.

The Heroes progressed into the caves, wandering in circles through the kelp and coral filled caverns. They encountered the ghost of a sea elf that spoke in curiously conflicted phrases and a merrow spellcaster who was busily preparing a squad of lacedons for battle: a force that proved effortless for the heroes to scatter. They found a long chamber filled with unnatural cocoons filled with corpses, being altered and corrupted into becoming ghouls. The Companions dispatched the proto-ghouls in their cocoons.

Moving on, the Heroes stumbled in on three hideous crones looting the body of a fallen sea elf warrior. They rushed to attack but the hags were faster, trapping the Heroes in a web. The magical webbing did nothing to stop Berem and Squee from rushing forward, although hag magic blinded the druid-octopus. Arcus blasted the hags with lighting as Berem pounded away recklessly, the sailor having little concern for his safety. The hags responded by dispelling the magic permitting Wilder Spirit to breathe underwater, but Deldred soon set that right by renewing the enchantment, but not before the cleric cast silence on Berem’s hammer preventing the hags from using their magic. Undaunted, the hags focused their gaze on Squee who fell catatonic from the unnatural curse. Arcus and Deldred finished off the hags, despite the seeming loss of their shape-changing gully dwarf companion.

Session Eighteen
Endless waves, offensives, and betrayals

The dragonarmy forces charged towards the High Clerist’s Tower, weapons raised and howling warcrues. The heroes marshaled the forces in the Eastern courtyard, rallying them as draconians scaled the walls and forced their way through the doors into the courtyard. Elsebeth rode throughout the courtyard, charging draconians with her lance while giving short, inspiring speeches. The knights flocked to her banner, motivated to continue the fight. A half-dozen elite draconians attacked, including a bozak spellcaster.

After defeating the draconian commander of the first assault, the heroes only had a moment to rest before screams and cries indicated the central gate was now under assault. Moving, they bolstered the defences as Arthur devastated a small patrol of kobold archers while Gauraux and Elsebeth engaged a number of more skilled human mercenaries who were cutting through the knightly defenders. Sensing victory, the heroes allowed themselves a moment of pride.

Then, suddenly, a half-dozen undead soldiers, led by a black-armoured figure atop a skeletal horse: the famed Lord Soth. The undead smashed though the knight’s line, ignoring Arthur’s defensive wall of fire. Elsebeth engaged the dark knight, and quickly fell under his unholy sword, which flamed with unnatural fire as the death knight smote the goodly knight. Straining to keep the female warrior alive, Arthur expended much of his divine might keeping the Knight of the Sword upright. Meanwhile several skeletal champions attacked Gauraux, overwhelming the minotaur. Realizing she could not withstand Soth’s blade, Elsebeth did the only logical thing and attacked the death knight’s sword, shattering the weapon after two savage blows!

Weaponless, Soth had to rely on his magic and unnatural touch, but there was only a wizard and oracle standing. He moved to attack, but Elsebeth was soon back on her feet. After a long, pitched battle, the Death Knight fell, blasted by the positive healing power of Arthur who extended the last of his potent healing magic offensively.

Injured and weary, the group retired, but found no rest. The dragonarmies gave them no respite, no time to recover magic or heal wounds. The onslaught was irregular but unending.

Meanwhile, while attacking the dragonarmies from above, Tictok is hit by dispelling magic and plummets fifty feet to an uncomfortable crunch, creating a dogpile of illusionary Tictoks pre-programmed for injury. It takes some hours for the gnome to sneak though No Man’s Land back to the Tower.

Days pass. Knowing spellcasters require time to recover, the dragonarmies attacked irregularly but frequently. Fatigue set in as the knights on the wall were cold, hungry, and tired. Arthur and Carrion managed to rest long enough to memorize and prepare a few spells, but not many. Gauraux, in the meantime, approached Tictok with the idea of mining the dragonarmy camps with some kind of explosive. Working as fast as he could, before Tictok could finish a wave of a hundred kobolds surged onto the field, peppering the area with arrows. The rolling mass of reptilian bodies struck fast and hard. Tictok and Arthur slowed the kobolds down with magic while Carrion blasted them with magic. The kobolds reached the gate and forced their way though damaged gaps, swarming over Gauraux and Elsebeth. Finally, the kobolds were dispersed and slain.

With the extra time, Tictok managed to finish the mines. The group, save Elsebeth, flew invisibly over the draconians and planted the mines. Gauraux explored a few tents and discovered the officer’s quarters with orders and references to the return of the dragons and an assassin!

Meanwhile, Elsebeth was meeting with the Lords commanding the battle. While arguing over the course of action, a young rookie knight humbly interrupted. He had a message for Else, from Derek Crownguard: he wanted to meet her at the wall. Elsebeth met with “Derek” who revealed himself as a draconian assassin, when he stabbed Else in the chest. More angry than injured, the knight quickly dispatched the assassin.

Returning, having planted the mines, the rest of the Companions used the stolen orders to repel enemy attacks (which were aided by the chaos caused by the exploding mines).
Things were going well until the dragons arrived, attacking and striking at the walls. Suddenly, there was a blue dragon hovering over the main gate, bring ridden by a fearsome rider. The Blue Dragon Highlord had arrived. He challenged a young knight, one who had just earned his spurs, to single combat. Fearful yet sad, the young knight was compelled to refuse until Guaruax asked if he could appoint a champion. The youth asked Elsebeth who happily accepted.

Else rode to the top of the wall where the Blue Dragon Highlord landed. He removed his helmet and revealed his face. It was Drake! The former companion last seen at the Foghaven Vale. Who left about the same time the dragon orb went missing. The entire time he had been with them he was gathering intel and planning betrayal.

Saluting and toasting his opponent, Drake readied for battle. Elsebeth charged, lacking mercy and ready for the kill. She struck with her sword, aiming to shatter Drake weapon as she had Soth’s. Drake avoided the attack and responded with a deadly series of slashes and attempted to knock Elsebeth’s weapon from her hand. The oe prompted a retaliation, but Else fumbled badly, twisting the grip on the weapon making it harder to attack. Drake swatted the weapon from her hand. Seeing potential defeat Elsebeth kicked her weapon off the wall and stepped backwards into the air, falling 40 feet to the ground. Drake ran down and finished off the injured warrior.

Meanwhile, Gauraux and Arthur decided the dragon was not part of the “single combat” and attacked viciously. The assault ended when Drake threatened to join that fight. He mounted Skie and took to the air. Inside the tower, Carrion had other plans, and was busy trying to use the orb discovered in the tower. Finally, she forced the orb under her control and called the three nearby dragons to her. Heedless of the danger, the dragons rushed into the dragon trap that was the Tower of the High Clerist. Outside the walls, the draconians, not being true dragons, were driven mad by the orb and fled, halving the opposing army. Victory was assured!


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