The adventurers had determined that nothing more could be done in the cave were the portal lay dormant but ready. Captain Morgan had already made off for the ship, determined to rescue his people no matter what stood against him. Gathering up the rest of the clothing into the bag of sharing took a few minutes more, but when that task was complete the entire group made their way back to the ship.
Captain Morgan was already in the process of putting the sails in place. Scrambling onto deck just in time, several of the group members decided now was a good time to pass out. Al’ev “Olive” Reldin on the other hand, had much to do. He needed to get another message to the guild to update them on what had happened.
The only problem was that the orb that held all messages back and forth was buried in hundreds of pieces of clothing. Sighing, he began digging through the garments, pausing every so often for a breath or to ask who would wear some of these items. Eventually he found what he was looking for and cracked it open.
Groatal had responded to their last message. The response proved how little Goat though of their chances of survival. Al’ev shook his head and began writing his return message. He explained all that had happened with the Sahuagin, the Brine Dragon and the portal. He requested a few items and sent the message on its way.
The rest of the day went on fairly uneventful. The ship finally made port in what remained of Crustakin Hold. When the ship’s gangway was lowered, Captain Morgan and his men marched off, to where, none could be certain. But the most likely place would have been the Larian Mountains.
The adventurers now had a bit of a dilemma. The guild had already given them their next task. Kassadin sounded to be having a problem with its water supply. They were to return to the town and solve the problem. But with all that had happened in Crustakin Hold, they weren’t entirely certain if going straight to Kassadin was a great idea. Some considered Trinity to be the better destination. Eventually Kassadin was decided upon. The group further asked if it’d be possible to get passage via Captain Kirk‘s ship to a gulf that wasn’t too far from the humble little town. When he agreed to do so for a fee, Al’ev decided they probably couldn’t leave little Jerry in the town all alone. Several group members set off to find him.
They found him in the inn surrounded by several empty bottles of various alcohols. He appeared to have passed out. They approached the boy and attempted to wake him. Crim was successful after he picked the kid up and shook him about for a few seconds. He was rewarded with finding out where all the alcohol had gone to. But the boy was now awake.
It took some convincing, for the boy had just seen all he had known destroyed, but eventually they convinced Jerry to return Captain Kirk’s ship. Along the way Al’ev mentioned that it may be possible for Jerry to begin work under Captain Kirk as the ship master had mentioned he was short on deck hands. This seemed to give the boy a little hope, though it was hard to tell as he was still recovering from all the alcohol.
When they reached the ship, Captain Kirk immediately put the boy to work. The ship, now fully stocked for the journey ahead, set sail. The heroes of Kassadin were returning home.
It was a ten day journey to the gulf. The weather wasn’t overly cooperative with quick travel on the southern seas. But they made it there with little further incident and said their goodbyes to Captain Kirk after paying him. They were brought to shore and began walking North in the hopes of coming across the road that lead to Kassadin.
They found the road with little trouble and began walking West. A few hours into their walk, Velius and Al’ev became aware of the fact they were being followed. Four horsemen were pacing them. Deciding that this couldn’t continue, Al’ev stopped and turned. The horsemen knew they had been spotted now and one came a little closer. This one informed them that they had to pay a fee to use the road. Al’ev questioned him about who he was and who’s road this was. From his time in Dwarven army, he had dealt with people of this kind before. Highwaymen were all too common on the roads of the world.
When it became quickly apparent that these four were not going to be letting up in anyway, Al’ev decided he had heard enough. He step forward 10 feet towards the horsemen and drew his sword. The rest of the adventurers likewise prepared themselves for combat. Velius took up position a bit behind Al’ev and tossed out some caltrips before the magus giving the horses a bit of a problem should they try to charge.
The horsemen were happy to oblige Al’ev in his aggressive action. They attacked. Two headed straight for the magus, including the one Al’ev had determined to be the leader. Both attacked and both missed spectacularly, the magus laughing as he dodged aside. Meanwhile, Desira cast doom upon another of the horsemen who subsequently appeared less than lucky. Crim sprung out of his place in the high grasses at the road’s side and knocked another rider from his horse. It was around this point when they all learned that the horses were very well trained. They lashed out at the adventurers, Al’ev’s wards holding off two attacks while another connected with Crim’s shoulder. Velius was able to dodge out of the way of another attack.
The battle progressed quickly from here. It became apparent that the only real challenge was the leader after he kept soaking up damage from several party members. He was knocked from his horse after it attempted to attack but tripped. When he rose, he took out a potion and drank it causing him to vanish.
Al’ev wouldn’t be fooled though and took this chance to reveal a bit more of his true self. Fiery breath erupted from the magus which clipped two of the horses and scorched all before him. He smirked when a bit of smoke began rising from something directly in front of him. But that was all the head highwayman needed to get the drop on Al’ev. He connected with the Magus’s calf with a good solid blow. Desira had seen several of the party take hits by this point and decided now was a great time for a wave of healing energy. Velius and Crim both felt better after this and even Al’ev’s recently opened wound appeared to be mostly mended. Crim made his move. Much like the brine dragon, the highwayman leader just didn’t stand a chance.
The last of the bandits was downed shortly after that and there was nothing left to do but see if they had anything on them. Aside from the normal equipment one may expect from such lowly beings, they did find something of interest. It was a note that a bandit had dropped during the commotion of the fight. The note indicated that the bandits were on their way to Kassadin to make some easy money. The town seemed to have fallen victim to a plague. Worried, the adventurers continued on stopping only to question several fleeing residents of Kassadin who Al’ev recognized. Finding out that a few Clerics had been sent to the town to lend some aid, they determined the best place to start would be with them.
A few days after being dropped at the gulf, the adventurers found themselves at Kassadin. The roadway was blocked and there was a strange figure in the distance behind the roadblock. They went to the figure and found out he was one of the clerics sent to aid the town. They found out a little more about the plague, the clerics and a few other things that had happened since the Heroes of Kassadin had left on The Trek to Varalon.
Al’ev also asked the cleric if he had seen an elderly monk looking fellow passing through the town recently. He said that he had indeed and that the man had left on the route that they had all arrived on. Figuring that they must have missed him while they were on the ship, he let the though pass for now.
After some discussion on what their next move should be, they all headed off for the source of the town’s water supply, Kassadin Lake, which was the same lake they had passed on their way to The Crypt of the Eternal Flame a month previous.
Getting there was no trouble. But when they caught sight of the lake, they weren’t entirely certain they were in the right place. The lake looked completely different. The water appeared to be covered in some kind of film. Upon closer inspection, there was nothing in the way of living animal life to be seen anywhere in or around the lake.
Sindri took this opportunity to sense magic while the rest of the group tried to learn whatever they could. Sindri did detect a faint trace of magic somewhere within the lake but was unable to obtain any further information.
Al’ev commented on how he had seen water like this before. It was what happened when plants and or animals had been left to rot in it. Crim instantly felt guilty when he heard the magus say this. He had thrown a corpse into this lake about a month previously when they had found it by the lakeside. He admitted that this whole fiasco could possibly be due to his actions on that day. The group was scornful, though Al’ev was silent for the most part. he wasn’t certain that one dead human body would be able to do this to a body of water of this size. He took Crim and Velius to the far side of the lake where they had seen a pile of debris and inspected it a bit closer. There were many dead fish here as well as the usual driftwood. The fish looked funky, but that’s not what caught Crim’s and Velius’s eyes. There appeared to be some strange looking sticks in the water a bit outside the main debris pile.
Pointing this out to Al’ev, they were able to get a better idea of what this was when he used a mage hand spell to pull it closer to shore. Careful to not touch the water, Velius pulled the object out of the water. They quickly recognized the dead human for what it was, though it looked just as strange as the fish in the water. Deciding they had to know if this was the corpse Crim had put in the water, Al’ev took to the grim task of scraping away some of the flesh that remained. After several moments it became apparent that this was indeed the very same corpse.
Al’ev informed the others and, before he could lose his lunch, he walked away from the corpse. The clerics in Kassadin had to know what was happening here. They took a frozen section of water back to the town to show it to the clerics as well as one of the fish which Velius had speared on his sword.
They found one of the clerics by the town’s well. When they got there they showed him what they had found and explained the condition of the lake explaining that it was the towns water supply. When he saw the fish he explained that it appeared as though the fish were decaying from the outside and, contemplating it, cast a spell on it returning it to what would have been its normal state. This brought some hope to the adventurers. If he could return the fish back to normal, perhaps they could figure out a way to return the lake back to normal as well. They found out that the head cleric of the group was called simply “Da Boss” and he could be found in the mayor’s house.
They went to the mayor’s house and assisted Da Boss with putting the mayor into his bed when they found him struggling with the large man. Afterwards, they explained who they were and all that they had found at the lake. They also suggested a plan they had been discussing on the way over to the mayor’s house. It was but a temporary solution that would take pressure off the clerics within the town. They would install a filter of sorts into the town’s well. The filter would have a cleansing spell cast upon it with a permanency spell upon that. Effectively, it would give the town clean water, though the real problem, the lake, would still be there. When Da Boss heard this, he suggested they talk to the elves of Daora. They would have what they needed to take care of the filter. They may even have a way to cleanse such a large body of water as well. He then handed them a pass that would let them use a portal that would take them to the Hall of Doors from a shack just outside Kassadin. Thanking Da Boss, they decided to check in on the other two clerics.
On the way over, Sindri informed Al’ev of some interesting information he had discovered about a certain elderly monk. Apparently he had arrived in Kassadin not too long after he had camped with the group almost a month ago. When he got to Kassadin he began asking about the Heroes of Kassadin. While Sindri was proud of himself for being the awesome young halfling he was, Al’ev didn’t like the idea of having someone doing so much research on them. The fewer people interested in who he was, the better. It struck him that several of his companions would likely feel the same way.
They found the two clerics in the town’s meeting place, scrambling to tend to many villagers who were down with the plague. Desira used a channeled heal to make the people feel a lot better. Though it didn’t cure them, it did give the pair of Clerics enough time to rest for a day or so by their estimation. The clerics were drawn to the courtesan. She was highly attractive after all. And she did just help them considerably. She asked them a few questions and promised them her services for a brief time if they could give her any useful information.
The rest of the group left the hall while she took the pair of clerics to a side room and did her dance. They all emerged a short time later. The clerics appeared quite happy. Desira said goodbye and ran off to catch the rest of the group who had gathered outside the shack. Shaking his head at the approaching Desira, Al’ev pointed her out to the rest of the group and asked if they were all ready to go. When he heard nobody say otherwise, he stepped into the shack and found the guard and mage who were guarding the portal. Asking them to open it, they did so. On the other side of the portal they could see the Hall of Doors. Also on the other side were several guards and mages who waited for them.
Al’ev was the first to step through, but when he did, everything went wrong. He felt a strong tug on his chest and was then knocked on his back. On the shack side of the portal, the mage and guard had sprung into action. The portal door had slammed shut. The mage was cursing up a storm. The rest of the adventurers were at a loss.
Al’ev became aware of a laughing behind him. Shaking his head unsure of what had happened, he stood and turned to face the voice. He was sorry he did. The figure was a fair distance away, but walking towards him. It appeared to be humanoid in shape, had red scales, wings, horns. He recognized the half dragon almost instantly.
“Brother! You got away the first time. But I got ya this time!” It said.
If Al’ev didn’t think he was in trouble yet, he certainly did now. The redflight, or at least a part of it, had found and managed to kidnap him. And this half dragon who was slowly approaching him appeared to believe he was his brother. Al’ev knew that he wasn’t lying though. He could feel it at his very core. And now his half dragon brother was saying something about there being more brothers and how he wasn’t sure whether he should kill Al’ev now and tell father or just take Al’ev to father.
It was clear to Al’ev that his brother’s powers had been allowed to manifest fully. If it came to a fight, it wouldn’t last long. Al’ev had spent a very long time supressing his own power in the interest of not attracting the attention of his father. His mother had warned him to do so all those years before…
It was about this time that he saw who was responsible for pulling him out of the portal and was holding it shut. It was an elf in some special looking robes. He seemed to be struggling with his task. His concentration nearly breaking every time his brother had yelled out.
Al’ev couldn’t stay here long. It wouldn’t be pretty. He quickly fired a salvo of magic missiles at the elf. Though it was a solid hit, the portal barely budged. Al’ev knew he’d have to do more to get himself out of this.
On the other side of the portal, Sindri saw the mage struggling to open the portal again. He quickly realized what he was doing and lent his might to that of the mage.
Al’ev’s brother was closing with every passing second. He was asking his brother question after question, kind of like what he had seen younger siblings do all the time. When asked what his fighting style was, he demonstrated by firing another salvo of magic missiles at the elf. This time he saw the portal open for a full second and could see the others in the shack.
“I knew father would breed true.” His brother said with a hint of pride in his voice.
Al’ev knew what he had to do. His extensive studies in magic over the past 20 years had given him enough of an idea as to how to get himself out of here. He fired a third salvo of magic missiles. Just as these connected, he grabbed the portal with his own mind and, feeling the mage and Sindri’s minds on the other side, gave his brother a fair well and hopped backwards through the portal and into the shack. He could hear his brother yelling at the elf for failing in his task. His brother almost mentioned where the elf was from but was cut off when he made it back into the shack. He landed on his backside just as the portal collapsed.
The questions were flying faster than he could think, both in his mind and from the others in the shack. Eventually he had enough and left. He didn’t make it far before the rest of the adventurers caught up with him.
It appeared it was time to reveal a bit more of his past. They had deserved all along to know what they were traveling with. As much as he liked to think otherwise, he was in fact half red dragon. These creatures were long known to be evil and not to be trusted. But he couldn’t change what he was, and he couldn’t bare to keep putting his allies in harms way without them even knowing why.
“I’m a half dragon.” The range of responses in any other situation would have likely been amusing to Al’ev. But this was serious. They had to know more. “The red flight is hunting me. That figure you likely glimpsed through the portal? He claimed to be my brother. Apparently they can tell when i’m using a portal. And as we’ve seen, they seem to be able to pull people to other locations against their will.” He left out some details, and pat Sindri on his head when he asked why he didn’t use more awesome dragon powers. “Because, I’ve had to make it a point not to be who I am if I was to stay away from my family.” Smiling sadly, he asked to be left alone to think. Sitting down outside the shack, the rest of the group moved back inside to see if the portal was opened again.
Sindri told the mage it was he who had assisted in reopening the portal last time. The mage appeared shocked and thanked the little half-ling. The mage showed Sindri how to open portals. When this one was open, they could again see the hall of doors on the other side. The guard contingent on the other side was much larger now. Desira went back outside to get Al’ev who appeared to be in a daze. She dragged him back inside and, after Velius had gone through, forced the magus through the portal. The rest of the group followed through shortly after with no incidents.
Now in the Hall of Doors, surrounded by several guards and mages as well as the corpses of several demons, they were asked which of them were arcane spell casters. Al’ev and Sindri raised their hands and were tested. Al’ev was left alone but Sindri wasn’t as lucky.
“This one is the one.” The guard said.
The adventurers were all confused. Al’ev was more than shocked. Why Sindri? After the fiasco with his brother he was certain they’d be pulling him aside, not the sorcerer. And now they all had weapons trained on him.
“What’s going on here?” Several of them asked.
The guard explained that the half-ling had opened a portal. Only those who were permited to do so were supposed to do that. He explained the half-ling had two options. He could be killed on the spot or he could be keyed to the pool. Sindri’s mind must have had hormones flying, for the guard clearly didn’t realize what he was asking of the half-ling. Asking about all manner of things such as scantily clad women around the pool among other things all the while shrugging off several spells aimed at getting him to be quiet, the guard finally had the half-ling taken away a guard holding each of his limbs. He could be heard still asking all manner of questions long after he was out of sight of the rest of the group.
The adventurers were lead outside the Hall of Doors to wait for Sindri who they were promised would be out soon.
Meanwhile, the little half-ling found himself unable to speak, a silence spell cast on him. He was bound to a chair and quickly found himself being questioned by several older people, most of whom appeared to be elven. The one doing most of the questioning appeared younger than the rest and was human.
He asked how Sindri knew how to work portals. Where he had studied. And several other questions.
Sindri answered, after nearly talking the man’s ear off, and let slip a few too many things. He mentioned how one of his friends was a half dragon. This instantly took the pressure off the half-ling who had by this point already been keyed so that he could be traced where ever he was. The group of mages sent some guards out to retrieve Al’ev.
When the guards came out to the steps of the Hall of Doors, the adventurers knew something was up. It was more apparent when they started pointing at Al’ev and began walking in his direction. Al’ev was unaware of this happening as he was still lost in thought. He only became aware when Desira, Crim and Velius all began walking towards the Guards.
He saw it in the guards eyes. It was that look. It had been a long time since had last seen that look. While this was happening, his three friends were arguing with the guards.
“So someone spoke then.” He cut in. “Suppose I can’t blame the half-ling. He tends to lose himself in the excitement sometimes.” He chuckled softly. “I imagine they have questions.”
Agreeing to follow the guards back inside, but not being allowed to do so by his friends without them coming along too, they all entered together and were lead to the room where Sindri was. The Half-ling was crying about his chest hair again. Those in the chamber all looked on edge. The look in their eyes mirroring that of the guards who had escorted him in. It was fear. He didn’t like being feared for something he had no control over and had little inclination to even recognize.
But that isn’t what caught Al’ev’s eye. What caught his eye, was the robes the elves were wearing. They were identical to those he saw on elf who was with his brother. Making sure he would ask who they were before he left, Al’ev began answering questions. There was very little he knew he could hide from all these people. He could sense the magic potential of all of them. And though it seemed to pale in comparison to some things he had read about, he knew they had the ability to tear the knowledge from his mind forcefully if he didn’t volunteeringly give it up. Their asking was merely a kind gesture. And a less painful method of getting what they wanted.
He was asked to register himself as one of dragon’s blood, but Sindri pointed out that he didn’t need to as it was already stated in the tombs within the Guild of Arbiters. Accepting this as a compromise and recognizing that Al’ev had no desire to make contact with his family within the red dragonflight, they were all prepared to leave it at that. With their questions done, Desira and Sindri left the room. Al’ev told Crim and Velius he had a few more things to discuss. He explained all that had happened thus far from their travels to the crypt straight through to their arrival here in trinity for the second time. He told them all that they should look into the portal they had found in the southern seas. He requested use of the hall of doors again for a trip to Daora and back to Kassadin which they all agreed to.
When he was finally done with this, he had one more question. He aimed it at those in the robes he recognized.
“Oh, before I go, those are some nice robes. Where can I get some of those?”
“These are the robes of the ”/campaign/flames-and-steel-the-chromatic-war/wikis/illundra" class=“wiki-page-link”> Illundra. Only those within its highest ranks are permitted to wear them." One of them answered.
“Perhaps I’ll have some of my own someday.”
“Your mother had robes just like these.” This from another Illundra.
Al’ev grew cold inside. He thought so. The Illundra were somehow involved with his brother, with his mother, with just about all of his family it seemed. They would have access to knowledge that would make high-jacking a portal easier. It also crossed his mind that such magic would probably be of the same difficulty as the magic it took to use souls for fuel. And if his mother was in fact a part of the Illundra she would have certainly caught his father’s eye much easier.
He caught a pointing motion from one of the Illundra who had yet to say anything and nodded slightly letting the person know he understood the gesture. This one wanted to talk outside of earshot of the rest. He had noticed how this one had seemed pained when Al’ev’s mother was mentioned. He got the feeling this elf held many answers. Answers he was determined to get.
Thanking all those in the chamber, he left, Velius and Crim in tow. When they made it outside again, Al’ev indicated his intention to remain behind for a few hours more. The others all had other things they needed to take care of but agreed they’d all meet up again at the guild of arbiters later on that day.
A lot had happened over the past two weeks. When topped of with all that had happened in this one day alone, Al’ev’s head began to spin.
“One thing at a time.” He said softly to himself as he watched his friends all walk away from the Hall of Doors. “One thing at a time.”