:: Dungeons & Dragons - The Threshold Party - Journey to Rockhome ::

Journey to Rockhome

For some time Drewen had intended to travel to Rockhome in the hope of locating members of his clan which had been scattered to the winds, years before, when his father died slaying a red dragon. Seeing how Lana had made the acquaintance of Rockhome's ambassador to Karameikos, Bolto, at Duke Stefan's birthday party, she had an easy time gaining directions to the dwarves' kingdom.

From Specularum the party headed north along the Duke's Road through the Darokinian city of Selenica, where they paused briefly to purchase new travel garments, then they pressed on through the arid deserts of Ylaruam. Here they were careful to keep visible spellcasting to a minimum, though Karnus was obliged to Fireball several giant scorpions which arose from the sands before attempting to devour the party's horses. Soon they were following a trail which led north through hills then steep mountains. The party cleared Sardle Pass, the site of an ancient battle, and entered Rockhome proper.

Troll hunting ... the gnomish blasting packs

Making their way into the upper area of the capital city Dengar, the companions heard rumours that volunteers were needed to test experimental new technology in a town named Smagheft, to the west. After a few days ride their curiosity was rewarded by the opportunity to be outfitted with 'Ooze Blaster Packs', which were to be put to use in hunting trolls. Given that the packs were of gnomish design they backfired, leaving Karnus to contend with a broken arm in addition to a troupe of ill-tempered trolls. Later the mechanisms would be adjusted, and the party was put in charge of capturing a black pudding to provide acidic components. Needless to say the 'improved' packs proved equally volatile. However, having rid the lands of some particularly vicious trolls the Karameikans attracted attention from a travelling group of dwarves, who reacted unexpectedly when Drewen introduced himself... these were Drewen's fellow clanmembers, who had believed him dead for many years. Overjoyed, the dwarves explained that they had been ceded lands by King Everast within a valley to the east, and were almost two hundred in number. Drewen asked to be shown to this valley, and took his leave of the party for a short while.

Returning to Dengar the remaining party members found the city in a state of turmoil. Earlier that morning a Glantrian wizard by the name of Maurenus Varezeno (or that was how the party assumed he spelled his name) had blasted his way into the Great Library seeking an ancient text. By all accounts his search had proved fruitless, yet he slew many dwarves in his escape then summoned an earth elemental to provide a distraction while he made his way out of the city. The Karameikans consulted Thorrick Redhand, the dwarven Minister of History, who believed the murderer to still be within Rockhome. Losing no time, the party spurred their steeds and rode south in an attempt to cut the wizard off at Sardle Pass, where they met a battalion of belligerent dwarves who stated that no wizards had passed. The Karameikans announced that they would undertake a search of nearby woodland; the dwarves said that they would come along also. Venturing into the woods however something unusual occurred. The dwarves went insane, one moment attacking one another, the next fleeing for their lives. Only the Glantrian magic-user could have caused such disarray, and clearly he was close to hand.

In pursuit of the Glantrian wizard

The party of four tracked Maurenus to a ledge atop a steep mountainside where, under the cover of invisibility, Lana observed the wizard casually chatting with a summoned earth elemental. To her bemusement, the flow of conversation seemed casual; it appeared Maurenus did not need to maintain concentration. Shaking her head in disbelief, Lana closed to speak with him. She offered him the chance to surrender, yet the Glantrian proclaimed that he had done little wrong, for any wrongs he had committed were outweighed by the task he sought to accomplish. He had sought an ancient item inside the dwarven Library - one he claimed would prove vital to the world's survival amid upcoming conflict. He would say nothing more specific. Refusing to acquiesce to Lana's demand of returning voluntarily to Dengar, he invoked a Dispel effect to cancel the protections Lana had placed around herself. Lana threw a Dispel of her own at the elemental, however this had no visible effect. She then used the Staff of Lucinius to cloak herself in Anti-Magic, enough to withstand two of Karnus' searing Fireballs which finished off the elemental. Maurenus muttered words of magic to bind the party's clerics to the rock of the mountainside, then as Lana dropped her Anti-Magic Shell to barrage him with Amber Shards the ground opened to swallow the wizard whole.

Lana and Karnus combined their scrying efforts to locate the Glantrian on a ledge just a short distance above their current location. He appeared to be concentrating. Lana swigged a Potion of Levitation to rise and battle the mage, freezing him with an Ice Storm then closing to try and knock him unconscious. A heartbeat before the pommel of her dagger hit the wizard's temple, he let loose a spell and grasped her wrist. To Lana's horror a stiffening sensation spread up her arm, her flesh turning grey as it did. Try as she might she could not resist and seconds later... she turned to stone. As the Glantrian slumped unconscious at her feet, the statue which had been Lana teetered on the brink of the ledge, then tipped over and plummeted down the cliffside.

On the ledge below Karnus took charge of the situation as he watched his petrified companion hurtle past. Presenting the Staff of Hutaaka his will brought forth a ray of blue light to shoot out and slow the statue's descent, lowering it gently to the ground beneath. As he focused on guiding the statue back to earth however, however Karnus realised that he himself was far from safe. In the moments following the Glantrian's earlier disappearance he had set about summoning a creature from the Plane of Earth, which now made its appearance just a short distance off from Karnus. An immense, metal-plated bull, green vapour streaming from its maw - a gorgon.

Horror-struck Karnus backed away, summoning a Wall of Fire to separate himself from the beast, yet the bull snorted and advanced through the flaming barrier. Turning, Karnus scrambled along a narrow ledge to a small cave. Reaching into a pouch at his belt, his grasp closed around the polished surface of the Stone of Summoning. Losing himself in concentration (and trying to ignore the grunting noises coming from mere feet away along the ledge) Karnus called forth a second denizen of the Plane of Earth. A short while later the ground behind the gorgon was rent asunder as a second elemental emerged. The bull reared angrily and the two locked. Karnus bent the elemental's motions to his own will, and bid it cast the gorgon off the cliff. The elemental took firm grasp of the gorgon and hurled both creatures down the mountainside; locked together, they fell hundreds of feet and smashed to rubble on the ground below.

Karnus breathed a long sigh of relief then set about freeing the clerics from their rocky manacles. A group of dwarves mounted the ledge a while later, and set about restraining the unconscious Glantrian wizard. The problem of Lana remained. The following day Karnus cast a Dispel which went some way to returning his companion to her living state, but narrowly failed. On a second attempt, Lana breathed again.

Celebrations back in Dengar

The party was summoned to an audience with King Everast later that day. They delined the King's offer of personal reward and instead asked, as a favour to the Karameikan ambassador Hyraskos, that the King seal a trade pact between their respective nations. After deliberations (which involved consulting with his daughter) the King agreed and a deal was struck. The heroes were honoured for their part in tracking down the murderous Glantrian wizard, and feasts continued throughout the following day. Once the festivities died down, Karnus and Lana found time to take samples of phosporent moss which lighted the lower caverns of the city of Dengar these, they considered, would make ideal components to research the Continual Light spell.

Two matters weighed on the companions' minds however. Firstly, the Glantrian had spoken of the nations of the Known World being at great risk, their only hope for salvation lying somewhere within the sanctum of the Great Library of Dengar. Everast had assured the party that the Glantrian would be questioned prior to his execution.

Secondly, Drewen was late in returning to regroup with his companions. What could be keeping him, they wondered...?

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