Demons, Devils, and Dragonsbane

Day 9-10

Here is a concise summary of the events of Days 9 and 10:
Day 9:

  • After dealing with the Frost Giants, the party continued down to Frostgrip B2. Alex channeled positive energy into these ancient crystals (via turn undead) to move the party through a slightly confusing puzzle.
  • The party then found the way to B3, where they encountered a large host of undead. After exploring B3, the party discovered two staircases to B4 and a large Dwarven elevator that goes from B3 to one of Frostgrip’s watchtowers on the exterior. The party then rested.

Day 10:

  • The party continued down the top staircase to B4, and uncovered two dwarven elevators. One elevator goes up to the other exterior watchtower, and the other elevator is guarded by an impassable barrier of ever-changing elemental energy.
  • The party also discovered a secret Chapel to Moradin, which is Hallowed and bestows the Hide from Undead spell upon the party (duration 1 hour).
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    Days 5-9

    A general summary of the day’s past events:

    Day 5
    - Met Fuller, a Mystic Theurge who joined the United Nations.
    - Retrieved the Stonehammer Heirlooms from the Ogres.

    Day 6
    - Preparation for Frostgrip.
    - Gave Heirlooms to Stonehammer family and had them guard the UN base in Fengar.

    Day 7
    - Siege of Frostgrip. Killed all Frost Giants on the fort’s exterior, save two that ran into the Armory.

    Day 8
    - Followed frost giants down a trapdoor. Encountered Ursef, a cleric of Nerull who wanted to overthrow the Jarl.
    - After killing one of Ursef’s allies, bargained with him and 2 Frost Giants to overthrow the Jarl and his sorcerer.
    - Slept on second basement floor, regained HP and spells.

    Day 9
    - Fought Jarl and Jalgur (the Sorcerer), killed them, and retrieved the Phoenix Helm. Convinced/threatened Ursef to let the party have the helm in exchange for their lives. The clan will no longer interfere with the party’s efforts.

    (NOTE: Day9 is not finished).

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    Days 3-4

    Day 3

    Alex, Athnorelthon, and the rest of Athnorelthon’s followers used magic to quickly travel out of the swamp and into the Ba’lik Pass, which was close to the dwarven capital city of Fengar. On the way, they encountered four young White Dragons, which almost killed a few weaker followers. The group beat the dragons through sheer force of numbers and astute selection of magical spells.

    After a tiresome journey, the group reached the gates of Fengar. They were quickly met by a large force of dwarven guards, who surrounded them and questioned why an elf and a human were leading a bunch of outsiders into the city. Being diplomatic, Athnorelthon told the guards that the group was peaceful in intent and that they were in Fengar to seek an audience with the Dwarven King. One of the guards (presumably a captain of sorts) gave Athnorelthon a note and told him to present this to the guards at the castle gate when he wished to speak with the King.

    Once they entered the city, they spent a long time browsing the streets for available houses to use as a base of operations. They eventually settled on a large house in the Rinthar Dwarkar (Hill Dwarf district), and Athnorelthon bought the house. In the process, he learned that the house was owned, under contract, by a dwarf named Logan Goldsnapper, who owned many pieces of real estate in the city. Athnorelthon also bought some “magical protection”, and a crew of dwarves and gnomes entered the house and began installing simple magical traps. Alex also found an interesting fungus (at least we think it’s some kind of fungus or plant…anyway) and put it into a plant pot in the building so that Laralan could use it to travel to Fengar instantly. The only thing that their home is not protected from is Scrying.

    Meanwhile, in Ar’ginth, Laralan and Morak woke up. When Aramil was ready, he scried Alex and spent an hour or two studying the dwarven home that Alex and Athnorelthon were now in. He then teleported the pair to Fengar, holding himself back with a pendant of Dimensional Anchor, as he couldn’t afford to leave his men for even a few moments. The two then caught up with Alex and Athnorelthon.

    Aust and Belfalcon had passed the four tests in the Castle of Solace, so they were able to speak with the Oracle. Before speaking with the oracle, they ran into an old Gray Elf by the name of Sedriel Neolas, who was referred to Aramil as his “old apprentice.” Before speaking to the Oracle, Neolas told them that they had one question each, and that Aust’s raven familiar may also ask a question. The questions and answers were the following:

    Belfalcon: “Where is Serah Kyssinder?”
    Oracle: “She arrived on the Eastern Continent in Eolas by walking the winds. Right now, she is approximately 3 miles south-southwest of the elven settlement, in the place that was once holy, but is no longer due to her actions.”

    Aust’s Raven: “How can we stop King Valerian from destroying the Spellfountain?”
    Oracle: “There are two ways to stop King Valerian. You can either kill him, or obtain the talisman which controls the sphere that destroys all things.”

    Aust: “Where is this ‘talisman which controls the sphere that destroys all things’?”
    Oracle: “The Talisman dwells in the cold, frigid land far to the North. There, it lies in the dungeon that was fought over by the first races of men, constructed and destructed by the first mages, and is now in the frozen grip of the Giants of Ice.”

    They then left the Oracle’s presence. Aust decided to explore the Castle of Solace for a while before teleporting to join the others at Fengar.

    Day 4

    Essentially, the party spent the day doing various non-combat-related activites in Fengar.

    • Alex started the day by Scrying King Valerian’s personal page, Arnold, with the help of Athnorelthon, who was familiar with him. The spell was successful, and Alex was able to view Arnold’s activities for a few minutes. Arnold was tending to Valerian’s horse, which appeared to have a hellish complexion. He also was not too fond of Valerian, and seemed to be serving him out of fear more than anything else. Based on the immediate surroundings of Arnold, Alex concluded that Valerian was still with his army somewhere near Martyr’s Rest and the outskirts of Ar’ginth. Alex’s spell fizzled out when Arnold walked into an impressive tent that was assumed to hold someone of importance. Alex then spent the rest of the day by the Dwarven mines, healing workers who were injured by mining accidents and a recent outburst of oozes found in the deep mines. After earning their trust through healing, a few of the dwarves explained some of the intricacies of their mining projects. They felt like they were making progress in expanding two of the lower sections of the mine.
    • Athnorelthon went to seek an audience with the Dwarven King, King Dalin Axearm. He also asked some of the local dwarves about proper dwarven etiquette before doing so. He had to wait for over two hours, as a proposal from Logan Goldsnapper, the owner and operator of the Bank of Ba’ren, was deemed most pressing. Nonetheless, Athnorelthon and a few followers were allowed into the King’s throne room (without weapons and offensive magic). Athnorelthon told Axearm of his group, officially named the United Nations. He stated that the UN was a peacekeeping organization between all of the various races. Athnorelthon asked Axearm for permission to hold a branch of the UN within the city. Axearm was skeptical of this group’s intentions (as they could have been foreign spies), so he said that he will put the UN to the test. He told Athnorelthon that if he retrieved both the Stonehammer Heirlooms (recently stolen by ogres) and the Phoenix Helm (recently stolen by Frost Giants), then he would consider the group’s intentions noble and allow them to operate freely within the city. Until that point, the group’s actions may be closely monitored.
    • Morak went to the Dwarven Daily, seeking records or information on the Frost Giants. The newspaper is actually owned and operated by a group of gnomes that dwell within the city, as they love gossip and spreading the word. Though they were skeptical of Morak’s reasons for wanting information, they saw little harm in sharing information that was already publicized. Morak learned that, recently, three dwarves were rescued from Frostgrip, a fortress that was taken over by the Frost giants and used to hold captured dwarves. The dwarves and the giants are in an unofficial state of war, and have been for years. The three dwarves were rescued by a party of King Axearm’s reliable men, and they scaled the fortress by using magic to fly over the walls in a daring rescue mission. Morak spent the rest of the day visiting two of the dwarves (who were related and living together). They told Morak that the Frost giants hate fire (obviously), that there are more winding tunnels and chasms underneath the main fortress, and that it would be suicide to go back there.
    • Laralan searched around for specific divine spell scrolls in the gnomish sector. While the gnomes wished to help him, they did not have everything he needed. They directed him to go to a temple of Moradin or to the A Manarndwar, the city’s Mage Guild.
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    Days 1-2

    Day 1

    Athnorelthon and Alex left the Temple of Boccob using Shadow Walk and Wind Walk, respectively. They brought Athnorelthon’s followers and his cohort Bill along with them. The group arrived in Norbond in the afternoon. In Norbond, Athnorelthon and Alex haggled with a local barkeep to house the large group of travelers. Athnorelthon then asked his followers to search for a local Ranger who might join their cause. After this, Alex and Athnorelthon headed up to the market. On the way, they ran into a pair of thieves who stole goods and gold from Ariand’s Armors, a local store. They killed one of them, knocked out the other, and subsequently returned the stolen goods to receive a reward. Athnorelthon and Alex then continued on to the market and did some shopping. At the end of the day, Alex used the Sending spell to tell the others in the party about the day’s events.

    Laralan and Morak instantaneously traveled to the Forest of Solitude by means of Laralan’s Talisman of Transport Via Plants. The pair set their destination to Willowport, but they first decided to take a pit stop in Khuldas, which was on the way. In the village of Khuldas, Morak decided to have a private conversation with Reverend Andrew – the contents of the conversation have yet to be revealed. They swiftly moved on. As the pair ventured through the forest, they encountered a giant lizard. Laralan ascended into the air and rained plunging arrows on it, while Morak used his Ring of Invisibility to move himself into a tactical position and strike at the lizard’s underbelly. They easily dispatched the enormous lizard and continued to move on, getting rest when needed.

    Aust and his ally, Belfalcon teleported to Eolas, a tranquil elven and wood-elven community that is nearby the Castle of Solace. The pair decided to split up: Belfalcon went to check out the Elves of the High Forest, an organization of local Rangers, Barbarians, and a few Druids who patrol the woods for anomalies. Aust went to the Karnguldur, an organization of Elven arcane spellcasters. Aust was formerly banished from the Karnguldur for mischief, so he used Disguise Self and assumed the appearance of a normal High Elf. At the entrance, he met the bouncer to the mage’s guild – his childhood rival, the Gray Elf Aviorn. For Aust to gain entry, he had to duel Aviorn in a special non-lethal magical combat arena that was located in the basement of the building. Essentially, Aust won the duel after he subjected Aviorn to a Contagion spell that blinded him; once Aviorn was blinded, it was easy for Aust to sneak around him and gain the upper hand with spells. Once the duel concluded, all spells in the basement were dismissed – including Aust’s Disguise Self. Aviorn was outraged, as Aust was banished and shouldn’t have come. The elders of the Karnguldur, however, decided to re-admit Aust into the group after seeing a superb duel. Aust then bought some scrolls of Sending, met up with Belfalcon, and prepared to head to the Castle of Solace. Belfalcon learned that a Wyvern was damaging the local forests and harassing travelers, but a human Cleric appeared and volunteered to eliminate the Wyvern.

    Day 2

    Athnorelthon and Alex awoke in the local Inn. Athnorelthon interviewed the Ranger that his followers said was interested in joining the cause. To test the Ranger’s abilities, he asked the Ranger to track the largest creatures in the immediate area. The large group, following this man, left the bar and proceeded into a stretch of plains below Norbond. They followed large tracks that the Ranger identified as those of dinosaurs. Keeping a safe distance behind, the party identified two Tyrannosaurus Rex, drinking water by a pond in the field. Using the Deck of Illusions, Athnorelthon created an illusion of a Giant to attract the attention of the two dinosaurs. One dino charged at the illusion, the other (presumably its mate) charged at Athnorelthon’s cohort, Bill. Bill was almost swallowed by the second dino, but he resourcefully threw a bead from Athnorelthon’s Necklace of Fireballs down the throat of the dino, causing massive damage and allowing him to escape its grip. Alex used Divine Power to buff up before charging at the dinos, whacking away at their exposed flesh. On Athnorelthon’s signal, all of his followers charged the two dinos. Because of his inspiring command, those followers who hit dealt more damage then they thought they could originally. At the end of the battle, they lost one follower. Athnorelthon, however, told his followers that as soon as they reached the dwarven city of Fengar, this lost follower would return to them.

    Using their methods of fast travel, the large group crossed the Northern Sea into Voron. They encountered a group of harpies, but warded them away safely. The party then rested.

    Morak and Laralan continued their journey through the forest. Using creative tactics (such as Air Walk, channeling the darkness spell into arrows and then sneaking around) they bypassed two encounters with Dire Wolves and two Green Dragons and sped their way to the town of Willowport. They entered Willowport by taking a back route that Morak knew (he used to live there, after all). Donning cloaks, they passed the town square. When a group of four guards moved too close to them, Laralan warded them away with a Greater Command spell, making them run. An old man on a bench then changed appearance, revealing himself to be Antnar Xunaste, the Drow Assassin whom Lady Varr sent after Shade.

    The trio moved to a secluded location so Xunaste could explain the situation. Xunaste learned that Shade and Duran Shadowblade had set up shop in Willowport not long ago. The pair apparently befriended Leif Gundleson, a local minor noble who amassed a fortune that Morak (illegally) helped him acquire in the past. Gundleson’s manor was now crawling with Farun’s soldiers, and Gundleson had not been sighted in a few days since the pair moved in. Finally, Xunaste concluded, Shadowblade was seen leaving the premises with a large force of Farun’s soldiers about a night ago, and it was not certain as to when they would return. The trio devised a plan to break into Gundleson’s manor: Using Air Walk, the trio would scale the magically warded fence and move onto the roof of the manor. Morak then created a noisy distraction (using a well-placed arrow, rope, and cymbals) as Laralan and Xunaste slipped into the master bedroom adjacent to the third floor balcony. Morak then joined the trio as they stealthily scanned the third and second floors.

    Upon descending to the second floor, they discerned that Shade was waiting for them in the Ballroom. Shade taunted them, and then sprung a trap that spewed acid on the party. Luckily, Laralan was quick enough (sensing a trap) to partially ward the party against acid before the trap sprung. Disappointed that the trap didn’t kill them, Shade said that “there’s no fight like an unfair fight” and called for the rest of the guards to aid him. Xunaste and Laralan held the stairs as waves of guards came rushing to the second floor. Morak ran into the ballroom as Shade jumped down to meet him from a chandelier. Morak turned invisible, and Shade readied for Morak to attack. Morak stabbed Shade in the lower hip, dealing a critical amount of damage. Shade retaliated, tripping Morak. He tried to hit him, but then howled in pain as he realized that Morak’s sneak attack had staggered him and slowed him down. Meanwhile, Xunaste used his Cloak of Arachnida to climb into a corner on the stairs so that he could surprise guards that arrived to fight Laralan. Calling upon the power of Ehlonna, Laralan became a fortress, negating most of the damage that any guards who hit him dealt.

    After a long battle, the last of the guards were dispatched by Xunaste and Laralan. Laralan rushed into the ballroom to heal Morak and help him finish Shade. Though Shade was skilled in sensing Morak’s moves, Morak was even more skilled at bluffing. Morak pretended to go for Shade’s hips again – Shade anticipated this feint, but he thought that Morak’s real target would be his backside. Moving his body to anticipate this, Shade was vulnerable to Morak’s real target – his upper chest. With a well-dealt blow, Shade was finished. As Shade lay dying, he laughed, spewing blood, as he explained that he would still have his revenge on Morak and the party, as Duran and a contingent of Farun’s soldiers recently left for the border of the Theocracy of Jericho, where Nathan and the Eastern Veiled Alliance forces fled to.

    “By now,” Shade cackled, “they’re probably dead. All of them.”

    Xunaste, before parting ways, told Morak that he had great skills in the art of stealth. He invited Morak to become an Assassin. Xunaste told him to go the the flower shop in Norbond if he ever sought the path.

    Laralan, using his Talisman, brought the pair to Ar’ginth, where they sought General Aramil of the Veiled Alliance. Aramil agreed to cast Soul Trap on Shade, so that he would no longer ever interfere in their grand quest. Laralan then used Sending to try and contact Nathan of the Eastern Veiled Alliance, but there was no response. Morak then asked if someone could be sent to protect his sister and his brother-in-law who lived north of the area; Aramil dispatched a powerful mage to bring them to Ar’ginth. Aramil also agreed to send the pair to Fengar, as he could scry Alex and study the location of the city. The two then rested, as Aramil needed to renew spells to do so.

    Aust and Belfalcon learned, before departing Eolas, that the name of the Cleric was Serah. Based on the visual description of people who had seen her, Aust concluded that this was indeed Serah Kyssinder, the older sister of Jane Kyssinder, whose soul was now held by Aramil. The two continued on to the Castle of Solace, (a few hours journey) where they endured four trials: the Trial of the Mind, the Trial of Will, the Trial of Agility, and the Trial of the Body. These trials are very secret in nature, so they cannot be fully detailed.

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    The Temple of Boccob

    Our heroes explored the Temple of Boccob before resting that night. Alex found some interesting books to read in the Temple’s vast library. Meanwhile, the rest of the party visited the Temple’s magical archives and alchemy lab, which held a variety of magical potions and items for sale. After some bartering, the party walked away with two Cloaks of Charisma, a magical amulet, and some miscellaneous potions.

    Morak also searched more areas of the Temple, but he did not tell anyone if he found anything important.

    While asleep, Alex received a message from Boccob. The message was to ward the party against fire. So, that morning, Alex prepared multiple spells to protect most of the party from fire.

    The bard also took some time to create a name for himself. He settled on the name Athnorelthon. Athnorelthon, Laralan, and Aust (being elves) were already awake by the time they were joined by Morak, Alex, Belfalcon, and Athnorelthon’s loyal Scout, Bill. The party ascended the stairs to the apex of the Temple of Boccob, where the altar they sought for the past month was.

    Rightfully expecting a fight, the party spellcasters used a variety of spells to prepare for an engagement. Alex warded about half of the party against fire energy, heeding the divine dream. Alex then blessed the party, improving their odds in battle. Laralan empowered everyone’s weapons with holy power and accuracy. Athnorelthon used his Deck of Illusions to conjure up images of a powerful druid and Ogre Mage; he then used his Heroism spell to contribute to the group’s courage and morale. Aust reserved most of his spells for the coming fight.

    When Alex began the ritual, a voice echoed on the sky, claiming that our heroes needed to prove themselves worthy of this knowledge. That moment, an adult Brass Dragon by the name of Ianroar Flamesbreath appeared and engaged the party in combat. The dragon was not fooled by Athnorelthon’s illusions. Some of the party members trembled in fear at the dragon, temporarily negating the courage that Athnorelthon inspired in them moments ago. Nonetheless, they fought.

    Ianroar hovered over the party in the air. Athnorelthon opened combat by using the power of his music to inspire greatness in Belfalcon. Morak moved next, shooting the dragon with his bow. However, the dragon’s scales were too thick, and the hit was negated. Ianroar then breathed fire, and a ball of flame engulfed over half the party (fireball). However, Alex’s wards protected most. Alex was harmed, as Alex only sought to use the spell on other members of the party. Bill moved next, and managed to score a hit on the dragon with his longbow after moving around to gain a mobile advantage. Laralan then moved into the air using a combination of Updraft and Air Walk. Belfalcon readied for the dragon to come to the ground. Meanwhile, Aust sent his raven to deliver a touch spell to the dragon. Alex then proceeded to cure the wounds recently incurred by the fire.

    Athnorelthon then inspired greatness on another one of his allies. Morak readied for the dragon to come to the ground. Ianroar landed on the apex of the Temple, and engaged in combat with Belfalcon and Morak. Morak eventually tumbled around the dragon and assumed a flanking position with Belfalcon, giving them the tactical edge and exposing Ianroar’s vulnerabilities beneath his heavy scales. Bill and Laralan continued to pelt the dragon with arrows, proving their worth through their deadly accuracy. Aust’s raven delivered the touch spell, Contagion, to try and infect the dragon with a disease. However, Ianroar’s mythical fortitude enabled him to resist the effect. Alex, then bestowed with Divine Power in combat, also went to engage the dragon in melee. With the many spells giving Alex strength, the quarterstaff struck the dragon, forcing it to give blood.

    Weakened, the dragon attacked Morak, Alex, and Belfalcon in a rage. The party’s wards enabled them to withstand the dragon’s wrath, but some healing spells were later required to patch up the damage. Morak nearly slew Ianroar when he struck the beast with his trust daggers in the underbelly, causing the dragon to profusely bleed. Belfalcon and Aust steadily damaged and weakened the dragon, along with Alex, Bill, and Laralan. Knowing that the tactical advantage was lost, Ianroar took to the air, and breathed a noxious gas that made Belfalcon, Alex, and Morak fall asleep (cone of sleep). Being both immune to sleep and out of range, the elves were unaffected. With their combined efforts, the elves of the party easily knocked the bloodied dragon back to the ground in defeat.

    Laralan immediately healed Ianroar before he died, knowing that his intentions were only to test them. Ianroar thanked him, and instructed the party to gaze upon the Tome of Understanding, which was now floating in the air above the altar, its pages humming and gleaming with a magical energy. A portal opened in front of the Tome and the altar, and through it stepped Roto Dragonsbane, the legendary Wizard who disappeared a year ago in 1011.

    Roto explained that:

    • He was gone from the material plane because he became a messenger and close servant of Boccob. Because he could dwell in the realm of Boccob, he had access to Boccob’s resources and was thus bound by an ancient pact that prevented the deities and their close servants from intervening in the affairs of mortals on this plane.
    • Before he left, he learned of Prince Valerian’s (now King Valerian) trip to the Oracle. Roto questioned the Oracle himself and learned that Valerian plans to destroy the Spellfountain, the fabled source of all Arcane magic.
    • To both learn about the Spellfountain and the location of a member of the Elder Council (of the Magocracy) who was imprisoned in another plane, Roto became a close servant of Boccob. In doing so, he unwittingly prevented himself from directly aiding our heroes in their quest to save the Spellfountain.
    • He learned that the fountain is located in Voron, by the city of Fengar, and that the dwarves will locate the fountain in an underground dungeon in exactly 1 month and 3 days. He also learned that Valerian plans to destroy the fountain by using 3 simultaneous casts of the Miracle spell, which uses the powers of the deities on the material plane. The exact method of destruction is unclear, but it threatens both the existence of Arcane magic and perhaps the stability of the entire Material Plane.

    Roto said that he can only indirectly aid the heroes from now on, and that his appearance to them was only possible because the trial of the dragon and the crazy quest was considered to be “indirect intervention.” He also bestowed gifts to the party:

    • To Aust, Boots of Teleportation, usable once per day.
    • To Laralan, a magical talisman that allows him to use Transport via Plants once per day.
    • To Alex, a Sphere of the Winds, which allows use of the Wind Walk spell once per day.
    • To Morak, a Ring of Invisibility, which is only broken by certain actions (spell duration, combat, etc.)
    • To Athnorelthon, Boots of Shadow Walk, usable once per day.

    The party used Sending to contact General Aramil of the Veiled Alliance. He scried the party and teleported to them in a few moments, and the situation was explained to him, after he warded the area against Scrying at Laralan’s suggestion. Aramil informed the party that their respective payments were in individualized bank accounts at the Bank of Ba’ren, which has branches in most major cities. He also reminded the party that King Valerian is a powerful divine spellcaster, and will pose a threat to everyone, including Aramil himself.

    Aramil, Roto, and Ianroar said that if the party ever needed information, the party may use Sending spells, Divination spells, or personal visits to ask them for help on their quest. Moreover, they told the party that the nature of their quest must remain secret at all costs – the source of all arcane magic must be protected.

    The next morning, Morak received a Sending from Antnar Xunaste, the assassin hired to go after Shade. It was noted that Shade and Duran Shadowblade were seen together near the town of Willowport, in the manor of the minor noble Leif Gundleson, whom Morak helped acquire a small fortune in the past. The sighting was a bit dated, but for all Antnar could tell, they were there for a while on friendly terms. It is assumed that while Shade and Shadowblade are near each other, they have split up and are not exactly together.

    Our heroes decided to split up and cover more ground.

    • Alex and Athnorelthon decided to journey together (with Athnorelthon’s followers) into the unknown perils of Voron. There, Athnorelthon would establish a base for his followers in the city of Fengar and seek to defend the Spellfountain once found. The two used their items to quickly travel to Norbond, where they could rest and use their spells the next day to reach the marshes of Voron.
    • Morak and Laralan sought to tie up loose ends, and head to Willowport and finish off Shade and Shadowblade before they caused more damage. They both knew of the Tome, and they pose a threat to the quest. Using Transport Via Plants, the pair traveled to the Forest of Solitude, where Laralan first met Morak and Alex.
    • And last but not least, Aust and Belfalcon teleported to Eolas, a tranquil Elven village on the Eastern Continent. Eolas is close to the Castle of Solace, which houses the all-seeing, all-knowing, neutral Oracle that both Valerian and Dragonsbane used to learn of the Spellfountain. Aust seeks the Oracle’s wisdom, in the hopes that it might shed some light on the party’s difficult quest…
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    The Mardak Desert - Part II

    Our heroes rested up and continued their journey through the Mardak Desert. After a few hours of walking, the party got caught in a vicious sandstorm. Seeking shelter, Aust (formerly Ost, a misspelling of the Sorcerer’s name) guided the party through survival instinct to a nearby pyramid, the only structure in sight. Using the tents, Bardy’s followers kept safe from the storm in the alcove of the pyramid’s entrance. The rest of the party proceeded into the pyramid to explore.

    Upon entering the first chamber, the room caved in, as the ceiling was highly unstable. Bardy’s Scout and Aust’s Barbarian escaped the debris and managed to un-bury everyone, including an unconscious Aust, who was subsequently healed by Alex. After Alex patched up the rest of the wounded, the party proceeded through a narrow hallway, triggering a Chain Lightning proximity trap. The barbarian took the brunt of the damage, while the rest of the party evaded the lightning and took minimal to no damage (in the case of Morak and the Scout, who completely evaded the lightning). They entered the room at the end of the hallway, and were sealed in the room by a Forcecage. A Janni appeared, but was easily dispatched by Morak and the Barbarian who flanked it. Upon killing the Janni, the Forcecage disappeared.

    The next hallway had a fairly steep downward slope to it. Morak decided to search the hall for traps, and he found two pressure plates that, if stepped on, would lock the back doors and flood the hall and previous room with water, causing them to drown to death over time. The party jumped over the plates, and avoided the trap. At the end of the hall, Morak picked a mechanical lock, but suffered from a strength-damaging poison that coated it. Alex fixed up his ability damage with a Restoration spell.

    The party then entered the central chamber of the pyramid, where they encountered five Lamias. Bardy opened the fight with a Haste spell, and he proceeded to play his inspiring music and fire shots at the Lamias in subsequent rounds. The Barbarian charged at one of the Lamias, causing it to draw blood. Aust then shot the same Lamia with a Ray of Enfeeblement, which weakened the Lamia and made it an easy picking for the Barbarian. Morak tumbled around one of the Lamias, and flanked it with Alex to finish it off. The remaining Lamias attempted to use their spell-like abilities to subvert and fool the party. Two used Mirror Image to create copies of themselves, and one managed to put Morak into a magical slumber. By striking the illusions, the party swiftly determined the real Lamias and killed them until one remained. The remaining one then tried to charm and bargain with the PCs.

    Aust and Bardy saw opportunity here, and they agreed to spare the Lamia if he agreed to tell them about what awaited them in the pyramid and if he agreed to help them finish off the Sphinxes guarding the treasure room. Grudgingly, the Lamia consented, on the condition that he take five percent of the treasure. He told the party a password to bypass the Symbol of Pain, Symbol of Insanity, and Symbol of Persuasion that guarded three magical runes that needed to be activated to reach the Treasure Chamber. The party and their new unlikely ally then proceeded to the chamber.

    The chamber instantly grew dark, as the Sphinxes hid and struck out at the party from unknown angles. Morak lit a torch, enabling the humans to see out a bit and enabling the elves to perceive most of the room. In a short battle, the Lamia took many blows from the Sphinxes, but he survived and the Sphinxes fell to the party’s combined force. The Lamia then took his five percent and made his way out of the pyramid through a back exit. The party then waited out the sandstorm and regrouped with Bardy’s followers, who were concerned for their safety after hearing the initial cave-in.

    The group decided to rest until the following night. They then walked to the Temple of Boccob after a few more hours. The Temple was built into the side of a small mountain in the desert, and its entrance was surrounded by statues of ancient, powerful mages from the past. The party was greeted by Jaden, a half-dragon (brass) Cleric of Boccob who ran the temple. Alex spoke with him and presented her holy symbol, so that Jaden knew she was a follower of “The Way.” Jaden welcomed the travelers to the Temple, and the party explained their situation. Jaden said that they could and should use the Altar in the Temple to open the Tome of Understanding, but he warned them that neither Boccob nor his followers would allow just anyone to have the knowledge bound in the book. He assured them that while undergoing the process of opening the book, Boccob would test their strength as a group. He urged the party to rest and prepare, as a difficult fight lies just ahead of them.

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    The Mardak Desert - Part I

    Before leaving the port of Ar’ginth, the party upgraded their weapons with Esver, a renowned weapons dealer who was working with the Veiled Alliance. They also sold many weapons to her to make a profit, though she apologetically underpaid our heroes in some cases, as “times were tough.” Alex also sold her old Half Plate armor to a few Clerics of Pelor, who were grateful for the assistance. Bardy attracted a group of five followers – one Adept and four Warriors, to join the party’s cause in bringing the book to the Temple of Boccob. General Aramil decided to consider his new team a “special ops” group for the war effort. Bardy also brought, as his new cohort, a Scout who he befriended during the Second Battle for Ar’ginth. Finally, Ost brought his new Barbarian ally to join them.

    Our heroes proceeded into the sweltering heat of the Mardak Desert after Argus dropped them off by the Dewton River (he then proceeded back to Ar’ginth). After traveling for a few hours, the party encountered a group of three creatures known as the Scorpionfolk, which Bardy identified as hostile, territorial creatures. Alex noticed that one of the three was a spellcaster – a Druid, more specifically. Bardy’s men, save for his cohort, stayed away from the fight and watched the rear. Laralan remained with Bardy’s men, as he wanted to protect them in the event that more Scorpionfolk arrived.

    Morak attacked one of the Scorpionfolk, and Ost’s new barbarian ally helped Morak flank his target, allowing Morak to hit the Scorpionfolk’s vulnerable body parts and take advantage of the gaps in its defense. Alex blessed the party and Bardy inspired courage, so that the group’s attacks were well-assured to hit. The Scout took shots at the Druid, constantly moving in his skirmish. Ost weakened two of the Scorpionfolk with Rays of Enfeeblement, which drained their strength. The Scorpionfolk that Morak and the Barbarian surrounded took a full attack on Morak, hitting him with his four claws and sending Morak, bleeding and wounded, to the ground. Were it not for Alex’s timely healing, he would have died.

    After much battling, the first Scorpionfolk fell, and the meele combatants focused on the second. The Druid temporarily shielded himself from the ranged attacks of Bardy and his Scout by creating four images (including himself) of himself via a Mirror Image ability. The Druid then blasted Ost with a Call Lightning spell, which forced Ost to use Blink and go on the defensive. Unfortunately for Ost, his Blink spell did not let him dodge the Druid’s next lightning bolt, and it delayed Alex’s healing attempts. Fortunately, Ost’s Ray of Enfeeblement prevented the second Scorpionfolk from dealing much damage, so the party had less trouble taking it out. The Druid then created a Wall of Force to prevent the party from approaching him, but Ost noticed that the wall was an illusion. With this knowledge, most of the party realized the truth. Someone stepped through the “wall,” and it dispersed. The party then surrounded the Druid, who tried to heal the massive amounts of damage he was suffering from. With well-coordinated attacks, the Druid fell.

    The party met up with their followers, who were amazed at their victory. Laralan then informed them that they were being followed by a group of bandits, who were about half a day’s travel behind them. Through their knowledge of local bandit groups, Morak and Bardy figured that the Arridi bandits were after them, as they were the main group in this region. They knew that, if it came down to it, if they killed enough of the Arridi, then their leader would challenge of the party members to single combat. If they beat the bandit leader, then the Arridi would cease the raid. If not, then the Arridi would continue the raid.

    The party set up camp in the early afternoon (as they decided that it was unwise to travel the desert during the day). Bardy and his Adept follower both cast Alarm on the camp, so that they would wake up in the event of an attack. The followers, plus the Scout, Ost, and Laralan, decided to take watches. During Ost and Laralan’s watch, the Arridi began their attack. Two groups began to attack: one group of Adepts from the South, and a group of Warriors from the East. The Adept and Bardy immediately woke up, and they awoke their companions. Bardy bestowed Haste upon his fellow party members, the Barbarian, and his Scout. Morak hid in an eastern tent, and burst out to surprise a warrior on the eastern flank. Laralan used Updraft, and began to fire upon the warriors with a barrage of arrows. The Barbarian and Ost then began to attack the adepts, while Alex joined the fray on the eastern flank and stopped two Half-Elven warriors who were trying to set fire to one of the tents. Meanwhile, Bardy used his Deck of Illusions and produced the King of Hearts , which conjured up a Male human Fighter to distract one of the Warriors.

    The Adepts avoided death via creative group tactics such as using Obscuring Mist to conceal themselves from a distance, using Command to make the Barbarian flee the fight as fast as possible, and healing whatever damage the Scout and Ost did to them. The Warriors were totally decimated. While the fight was happening, a group of three invisible Arridi was heard by Morak on the Northern flank, and the Scout shot one of them. Ost then used Glitterdust to reveal two Elven spellcasters and a human rogue, who was blinded by the glitterdust. The first Elven spellcaster nearly died, and before the Scout could ready another arrow to kill her, the Arridi leader sounded a retreat after witnessing the death of all of his meele Warriors.

    He then announced that in ten minutes, that he would fight one of the party members in single combat, or else resume the attack. Morak volunteered to go. The bandit leader was a skilled fighter with a greatsword, and he looked to enjoy the fight. Morak went into the combat using two daggers as his only weapons.

    Morak initiated the duel. He feinted the bandit leader, rendering him unable to dodge Morak’s next attacks. The bandit leader swung twice at Morak with his greatsword – he missed the first time, but then struck Morak in the chest with a critical hit. Morak responded by exploiting the leader’s openings in his defense and struck him under the shoulder, causing the bandit chief to start bleeding. The bandit leader swung at him, but only hit air as Morak dodged his attacks. Morak then feinted again, tricking the bandit into thinking that he was going for his legs. Cursing at Morak, he slashed at Morak’s arm, which caused him to lose a lot of blood and brought him to a mere 2 hitpoints. Morak went in for the final blow, and was able to slash the bandit leader in the back twice with his daggers as he fell for Morak’s last feint. The bandit leader then fell to the ground, as healers from both sides of the conflict rushed onto the scene.

    The bandit leader lived, but he admitted that no other adventurer had ever been able to defeat him in single combat. He left his greatsword to Morak, and called off the attack on the party. The Arridi departed peacefully.

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    Down the Dewton - Part 5: The Second Battle For Ar'ginth

    Our heroes swiftly arrived at the port of Ar’ginth along the banks of the Dewton River in Argus’s boat. Another boat, hoisting the flag of the Veiled Alliance, left the port and intercepted Argus’s vessel. The party heard the amplified voice of General Aramil, the current leader of the Alliance, who insisted that the party identify themselves.

    Alex and Ost gave Aramil the secret Veiled Alliance hand gesture, and Aramil dimension doored aboard Argus’s ship to speak with the party. In short, the party explained the situation, introduced Lady Varr to Aramil, and informed Aramil of King Valerian’s approaching army. Argus docked the ship in the port as the party went ashore.

    Morak did not dispute Aramil’s or the Veiled Alliance’s cause, but he argued that the most important thing for the party to do at this moment was continue their mission and bring the book to the Temple of Boccob in the Mardak Desert. Some of the others, such as Bardy (the temporary name for our friendly Bard) and Ost, wished to remain with the army as they attempted to fight off Farun’s forces. The dispute was soon settled by Argus, who revealed that they would be stuck for the duration of the battle, as he had planned from the get-go to stock up on supplies here.

    Aramil was grateful for the assistance of our heroes. While Aramil is a powerful mage, it would have been foolish of him to assume that he could win the fight without the aid of others. He said that Valerian’s army was not coming to attack the city – the army was coming to crush the rebels. If the Veiled Alliance had no forces in the area, their influence would diminish and the remaining neutral citizens would fall back under Farun’s control. This gave the Alliance the advantage of choosing their battlefield – they could defend Ar’ginth, defend the port, take the battle to the plains, or even attempt an attack on Martyr’s Rest, where the enemy army was currently camped.

    After much strategic debate, it was decided that it would be most advantageous to defend the port. The Alliance’s army was practically split in half – some forces were fighting near Camillo under the command of William Jerving (a Paladin) and Xel’yn Zeron (another Wizard) and were too far away to assist in time. Aramil took about half of their forces and guarded the southern flank of the port gate, concealing himself in the process (a dead leader is not a good leader). He appointed Bardy as the quasi-official “commander” of the Eastern flank’s forces, as he showed good leadership skills.

    The party began to organize their forces. Laralan suggested that the Alliance’s archers be mounted on the cliffs outside of the port’s gates, so that they could fire upon troops in the plains below. While this was a good idea, Morak pointed out that any Alliance forces on the plains would be devastated by Farun’s cavalry. To counter the cavalry, Alex pointed out that horses hate mud and will often, unless well-trained, refuse to go through it. At the party’s suggestion, Aramil and some mages used scrolls of Transmute Earth to Mud to cover several parts of the plains in mud to counter the cavalry. Argus and three other Alliance captains readied their ships to use cannons to fire on enemy troops from the banks of the river. Ost and his new friend, a barbarian, loaded up a ballista on the port gate. Laralan joined a group of archers, helping their aim. Alex joined a group of Alliance mages. Bardy joined a group of foot soldiers, with his songs boosting their spirits in the face of grim odds. Morak joined a group of scouts, ready to ambush enemy soldiers.

    The battle was a huge success for the Alliance. The foot soldiers who approached the port were decimated by fire from both the archers and the boats on the River. The enemy side lacked a large amount of magic, as the Warlocks did not arrive to Martyr’s Rest on time thanks to our heroes. The cavalry and the Slayers (on horseback) attempted to charge around the cliffs and central plain to hit the archers from a vulnerable side, while a group of evil Clerics began raising undead from the slain bodies to distract the archers. They were slowed significantly by the random patches of mud in the ground. The scouts ambushed the Clerics after Argus’s cannons nearly blew them to pieces from a distance. The majority of the Clerics (of Hextor) were dispatched before they could heal up, but their leader – the mysterious Serah Kyssinder, older sister of Jane Kyssinder, escaped unscathed.

    Those few cavalry units and Slayers who bypassed the mud did slay a lot of archers, but they did not slay Laralan, who used his handy Updraft spell to escape over the cliff and join another unit of Alliance forces. The mages took apart the Slayers and cavalry from a safe distance, with aid from Ost’s ballista. At the end of the day, only one enemy unit of cavalry escaped unscathed from the Eastern flank.

    The other side of the battle went moderately well. At first, the cavalry were destroying the alliance’s foot soldiers, which made room for a group of Farun’s soldiers to near the gate with a battering ram. The archers were too preoccupied shooting the enemy cavalry and foot soldiers, so the mages tried to dispatch the battering ram. This prompted the mounted Slayers to start attacking the mages – which prompted Aramil to enter the battlefield. The Slayers immediately went to attack him. Aramil summoned an Earth Monolith (a giant earth elemental) and teleported back to a safe distance as it demolished the battering ram and the Slayers. With the ram destroyed and the mages going temporarily unchecked, half of the army that attacked the Southern flank was destroyed; the rest retreated back to Martyr’s Rest.

    The party regrouped with Aramil, who said that the Alliance had survived for another day. Aramil was sure that Valerian would not immediately retreat, but he was also certain that because of the excellent defense of the Eastern flank, they would not be able to directly engage the Alliance’s army for a good amount of time.

    The party agreed to stock up on supplies at Ar’ginth’s port and then begin heading to the Temple of Boccob in the Mardak Desert.

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    Down the Dewton - Part 3

    Our heroes proceeded down the Dewton River, leaving the White Tomb. After studying the extended family tree, they noted two oddities in the royal family:

    • Charles Lane, as a teenager, ran away from home and is rumored to have descendants.
    • Lady Elizabeth Varr, husband to the deceased Lord Varr, has not been seen since her husband’s death.

    The party sailed towards the crossing of the Dewton River and a northern tributary, often called the River Nord. The bard and Laralan spotted a Royal ship in the distance, so the party and Argus all hid in storage compartments below their ship’s deck. Charles, Argus’s second-in-command, took control of the ship.

    A group of 3 soldiers, led by a Cleric of Hextor by the name of Jane Kyssinder boarded the ship and informed Charles that they would be searching the ship for “illegalities.” Charles saw three cloaked figures on the Royal ship, gathering to cast some form of a dark summoning spell. When Charles questioned Jane, she said that he had “seen too much,” and she took her heavy flail and nearly killed him. This prompted the crew to start engaging the soldiers.

    The party exited their hiding places and tried to bait Kyssinder and the guards down the trapdoor, where they could overpower the enemies as they came through a narrow choke point. Kyssinder did not fall for the ruse, as she reasoned that she would draw the party out by threatening and/or killing their allies on deck.

    The fight was long. Alex spent most of it buffing the party with spells like Bless and Shield of Faith and healing Charles and other battered crew members.

    In an attempt to disrupt the ritual of the figures on the other boat, Laralan cast Darkness, but to no avail – the figures used a means called Devil’s Sight to see through the darkness. Laralan used updraft to soar into the air above deck, and pelt Jane with arrows.

    The bard opened by inspiring courage in his allies, and then he moved on deck, where he used his Deck of Illusions. He drew the King of Spades, which created an illusion of 3 Clerics of Ehlonna. Jane did not fall for it, but everyone else did. The illusions later proved useful, as they distracted the figures on the other boat. He then took multiple shots with his crossbow, damaging Kyssinder’s henchmen all around.

    Ost shot multiple spells at Kyssinder throughout the fight, attempting to neutralize her. He tried to tumble past her to cast an offensive spell, but she wound up hitting him with her flail – it was revealed that it was a flail of frost. He damaged her with scorching rays and acid splashes, and then he tried to blind her with Glitterdust, but she resisted. He also summoned a celesial eagle to help dispatch the guards.

    When Argus charged above deck to help his crew, Morak soon followed. Morak tumbled around Jane and, through a variety of flanks and sneak attacks, dispatched her guards with ease. He and Argus then moved to attack Jane.

    The party spellcasters soon realized that the other 3 figures on the boat were Warlocks, and that they were attempting to summon a moderately powerful Devil to aid them. Ost sent his familiar, a raven, to grab this crystal that appeared to be the focus of the summoning. After making some saves, the raven grabbed the crystal and flew away, disrupting the summoning. The raven flew the crystal to Laralan, who cast Shatter to destroy it.

    When Jane was injured, she immediately expended a great amount of reserve energy to heal herself. She then moved to Argus, disabling him with an Inflict Serious Wounds spell (bringing him to 0 HP). After a few more rounds of taking hits from Morak, Laralan, and Ost, Jane finally fell to the attack of Ost’s summoned eagle. She was not dead, but bleeding out onto the deck.

    The head warlock was revealed to be James O’mally, who Laralan recalled to be the target of Antnar Xunaste and the Assassins in Garilla. O’mally used an invocation to take to the air, and he blasted Laralan with an Eldritch Chain, hitting both Laralan and Alex. The other two Warlocks dispatched the rest of the bard’s fake clerics – after they disappeared, they realized that they were just illusions.

    Once Jane was down, the party and the crew used their ranged weapons to shoot down the two weaker warlocks. James O’mally flew away, knowing that the battle was lost.

    Laralan stabilized and restrained Jane, so that the party could question her later.
    The party earned 825 xp for the fight. (plus more once the questioning is complete)

    (End of Session)

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    Down the Dewton - Parts 1 and 2

    Part 1:

    The party met up the next morning at the Veiled Alliance HQ. Laralan spent time earlier that night trying to get a room at the Laughing Fiend Inn, but he decided to return to the HQ after encountering Antnar Xunaste and two other humans, who were revealed by the locals to be notorious assassins plotting the death of the alleged Warlock, James O’mally.

    Morak asked Nathan many questions about the Tome of Understanding, and the possible locations of other Tomes nearby. Nathan doubted the existence of other Tomes anywhere near Garilla, but he said that it might be worth it for the party to visit the White Tomb, the resting place of Lord Varr and other local Monarchs of Farun. Many of them buried their treasure with them, but Nathan also said that a complete family tree of Farun’s monarchy would be of high value to the Veiled Alliance – they will need to find a sympathetic successor to rule the Kingdom once the corrupt Monarchs are overthrown.

    Morak, Alex, Laralan, and Argus decided the next morning that they would head down the Dewton River to reach the Temple of Boccob in the Mardak Desert. On the way, they would take a pit stop at the White Tomb and discover anything that was in store for them there.

    Laralan went back to Ben at Ben’s Bows and received his two cloaks, one of which he gave to Morak upon discovering that Morak was wanted for the potential role in the murder of Lord Magrath of Khuldas. After buying equipment from Superior Steel (and dealing with a very racist store dealer who didn’t like Larlan), Alex noticed that the party was being casually followed by Duran Shadowblade, the slayer. Then Alex and the party ducked into an alleyway as Alex received a Sending from Nathan, saying that the sorceress Lyra had not returned to base since she went out to “distract” Duran.

    The party met up with a mage from the Veiled Alliance, who Nathan sent to accompany the party. They then devised a plan to get them through the Port Authority to Argus’s ship:

    • Laralan paid a commoner to frantically run towards the Authority’s wall to attract the attention of 2 guards. He then cast Darkness on them to cause confusion.
    • Alex cast Silence on a side door and the area inside it.
    • Morak, using a sap, knocked out the guard in front of the door.
    • The party burst inside and silently slew the 2 guards on the other side. They then found an exit to the port.

    From there, they burst out running onto Argus’s ship. Argus rallied the men to get the ship ready, but a pack of five guards, led by Duran Shadowblade, came to try and stop them. Argus damaged the wooden gangplank connecting the ship to the dock, so when two guards came on it, it fell. Alex used Hold Person on Duran to stop him in his tracks. Argus, Morak, Laralan, and the mage took shots at the other guards (and eventually eliminated them in the next few rounds). Duran withstood most of the party’s initial assault by assuming some sort of incorporeal, wraith-like form. Once he broke free of Alex’s spell, he tried to climb up the side of the ship. The mage hit him with Magic Missile, and Alex cursed Duran with Blindness. Duran then fell of the side onto the dock. The mage caused him to bleed with a final Acid Splash, and then the boat started to sail away.

    Part 2 -
    The party made their way down the Dewton River in Argus’s ship. The mage revealed himself to be an elven sorcerer named Ost.

    After healing up, Morak talked to the crew to try and test their loyalties. None of the crewmen were immediate red flags, but some of the younger ones seemed more likely to betray their cause to the Monarchy with enough pressure.

    As the party sailed towards the White Tomb, they saw an elf, sitting on a floating log in the river, playing a piccolo. Through the power of music, the elf convinced the party that they should rescue him, so they brought him aboard the ship. The elven bard revealed that he grew up unaware of his true name, and he was raised among the royal courts of Galantoris, the Capital of Farun. The bard was ordered to be killed by King Valerian Sarilob once it was discovered that the bard was a mage who could (and probably did) influence the King during his performances. The bard tumbled off the walls of the capitol to escape, so he wound up in the Dewton River, presumed to be dead.

    The bard contributed his knowledge to the party concerning the White Tomb. He knew that it was the location of a few fabled magic items. He also knew that any thieves who went poking around there wound up dead one way or another.

    The next morning, the ship arrived at the Tomb. They were presented with the following riddle:
    “Light and heat I bring to the sky/One moment I’m there, but then I’m gone/What am I?
    The answer was lightning. The Tomb opened, and the party proceeded down a hallway. Morak sprung a poisoned pit trap, but Alex fixed him up with a Lesser Restoration spell.

    The party proceeded into the main tomb chamber, where Ost summoned a baboon to spring the door’s acid trap. However, in springing the trap, they activated the tomb’s defenses – a Flesh Golem and two Animated Tables. Ost hit the Golem with a ray of frost (or scorching ray?) to slow the Golem; he then blasted the tables with spells and shot his bow at the Golem. Alex dealt damage to the Golem with a +2 quarterstaff after using Bless on the party. The bard inspired courage in his allies, and then supported everyone with crossbow fire. Morak tumbled around the Golem and fought the tables with a rapier in one hand, a torch in the other (to set the tables on fire). Laralan went into the chamber and used Updraft, and then proceeded to slay targets with arrows from above. After a long fight, the party slew the constructs and looted the tomb.

    The party found about 15,000GP (approximately), in addition to a Scroll of Summon Monster IV and a deck of cards that was identified as the fabled Deck of Illusions by the bard. The elves found a secret door which contained the extended family tree of the Royal family.

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