spell jammin', across the universe

play by mail part 3 the third bit

A wave of restlessness passes through the party, a shared feeling of itchy feet, and an unconscious decision is made to move on. After a quick breakfast, packs are stowed, weapons are sharpened, bowstrings tightened and spell lists finalized. Eyes are cast around the inside of the church one more time, and at least one, though likely more, lowered voice asking Morradin for guidance. A nod passes around the party, a few words of encouragement, and Ihsahn cracks the door to the blue haze outside.

The lack of breeze means there is still an oily, meaty haze throughout the village. This does nothing to subdue the ambiance of Hadley’s Hope, and possibly helps hasten the party onwards.

The mountain (for lack of a better word), lies about 3 or four miles away to the west and slightly to the south. As you approached the village the first time, from the side you saw, this just appeared to be another pile of rocks and boulders like those that litter and line the landscape. But, from this approach, you notice something different. There seems to have been a smaller hill or mountain here, at the heart of the pile, and the detritus has been stacked up the sides and around it, at least doubling or tripling the original size. It is through this rubble that the path Norad spotted winds, heading up the side, logically to the plateau of the original mountain.

Ishan: Thul, can you tell from here, is that Dwarven Construction or something else?
Thul: Thul stops in his tracks and givs Ishan the you stupid boy look
“Ishan if you continue to ask meh every time we wonder past a pile o rocks “did Dwarves put them there.” Im going to drop one on ye head n er sleep!".

You reach the beginning of the rockpile unobstructed, a gap in the Rubble large enough for two of you to walk side by side with ease. The top is open to what passes for the sky, with the rocks being about 15 to 20 foot high,giving you enough light to traverse the path ease, but enough shadowy corners to cause equal amounts of unease.

The path through the rubble is reasonably flattened and worn, indicating some use, instilling in Thuls mind the possibility that this is of Dwarvern construction, thought the width ( or lack of it) indicates this was more just for ‘personal’ use, for example lacking the stairs and slide sections that the path up to the landing platform had. The gradient isn’t to bad, the mountain only being about half a mile high or so, but the path cuts back and forth across the mountainside, causing the trek up to take another couple of hours.

About halfway up, a small tremor, felt in the pit of your stomachs, send a small cascade of pebbles and small stones down a rockface, causing everyone to start out of their reverie.

The unevenness of the rocks means that brief glimpses of the surroundings outside the mountain can be seen, but not enough to give any real indications of the layout.

Seems like an ideal place for an ambush, Norad, are you able to scout ahead and see what’s up there?

Norad responds with an almost imperceptable nod and is off up the path in an instant. The path ahead of him is straight, and reasonable will lit for the area, but he does a strange side of sidestep, and disapears into a small pool of shadow, and is gone, the sound of his bootsteps evaporating into the cold, still air.

Time passes.

Ihsahn speaks “this doesn’t augur will friends, I suggest we advance slowly”. He draws his sword and suggest the group advances slowly towards where Norad disappeared from

As you to this, Norad steps, silently, out of a shadow infont of you, a bemused smile on his face at your premature worry. The smile quickly fades from Norads face, as he reports on what he saw.
‘The path up the mountain continues much like you have seen so far,’ Norad says, ’ no major surprises, the only signs of life are some old spiderwebs on rocks. A few tracks of drow, but not many and not really recent.’.

‘The path plateaus out onto a resonably large,flat mountain top,’ he continues. ‘I am no dwarf, but this seems naturally flat, not like where we entered this damned place’. The outbreak of emotion and wild cursing from the normally stoic elf startles you all. ‘I could see trees around, both singles and in clumps, but these are nearly petrified, like thoses in the villiage below. Small rocky outcrops abound too. i could get a good view of the valley below and the lands infront of us from the top of the path too.’

He waits for a small second before adding ‘There seems to be two smallish structured of somekind towards the middle of the mountaintop.They were a little to far off for me to get a good view’. Norads exhales long and slow, and looks around. ‘What next, my freinds?’

Thul : Show me what you saw.

You reach the mountaintop with no issues, and the lay of the land streches out infront of you, for as far as the meagre light afforded here illuminates.

Beneath you can be seen the path that lead you Hadleys Hope, and beyond that is the northen road which leads away from the crossroad on that path. The northern path continues between a pair of the rock and boulder mountains that cover the area. The path leads away, and you lose sight of where it goes over the horizon of the planets curve.

This path leads directly to the silhouette of the mothership Sulacco. The mothership Sulaco, backlit by the skies purple haze, hangs just over the horizon like bricks don’t. Her gigantic size is slowly dawning on you, and the view from here confirms her spiderlike-ness, but with towers and minarettes adorning her shell, and extra legs/fangs compared to the smaller version you saw attacking the Nautiloid.
Scale from here is hard, but she is still easily the largest ’jammer you have ever seen.

Ishan: I got a bad feeling about this…..

The purple haze itself seems to brighten slightly as it gets closer to the Sulaco, intensifying directly over it, giving her sn unnatural haloed effect.

Ihsahn speaks “There must be something else that we missed unless the relic of yours is on the road in to the belly of the beast. Perhaps even directly underneath the Spidercraft itself. Maybe there is a reason that its anchored where it is”

The plateau you stand on is as Nordad described, fairly flat, but not unnaturally so. Small rocky outcrops dot the area, as do the same nearly petrified trees you saw in th village, standing alone or huddled in small clumps. Toward the middle of the mountain, two smallish structures ( for lack of a better word) can be seen. No real discernible shapes can be recognized, though you all agree that one is forward,.standing a small distance closer to you than the other.

Thul: Lets move up men. Jonny up front. Norad stay by shadow. Keep your elven eyes wary. Ishan in the mid with me.

Ishan: Agreed, perhaps the hermitage we seek is one of those structures.

Keep a look out for any more of those infected, ghoulish, abominations. Let’s aim to deal with them from afar this time around

You cross the distance ( about a mile) will no incidents, and very little effort. You slow up a little towards the end, as what you are approaching comes into focus. About 100 yards away or so is what appears to be a statue of some kind, which Norads elvish eyes discern to be of a dwarf. A couple of hundred yards behind is a large rounded mound of somekind, rising out of the ground.

Ishan: “A burial cairn” Ihsahn says “perhaps this lost artifact is interred with one of your people Thul. Is there someway we can divine it’s location without disturbing any graves unnecessarily? I would not want to incur Moraddin’s wrath by interrupting the eternal repose of one of your forefathers”

The statue is carved from one single piece of granite, with such precision, skill and an attention to detail that nearly brings a tear to Thuls’ eye. It is of a dwarf, about 8 feet tall(though to scale), in full armour, shield and battle axe in a protective stance, his eyes looking over your shoulder towards the villiage from whence you came.

He stands on a pedestal still made from the same piece of granite, which has an inscription carved into it in Dwarvish runes.
The burial mound has to large, stone doors at it’s front, which you can see from here are opened at what seems to be odd angles.

Ishan: "Are we too late? Has someone already plundered the tomb of its treasures?

Perhaps someone is down there now waiting for us. Thus, this is your holy ground, what do you counsel?"

Norad can determine a few different tracks of differing ages. The area has been walked flat a long time ago, presumably in the construction of the site, and presumably by dwarves. More recently, there are some bare footed drow-type tracks, and mixed in with these are some arachnid type tracks, with accompanying drag marks, but neither lots of these seem very recent. “Should we proceed with caution? Johnny Alexei, Norad Ben, do you want to scout ahead?”

Jonny: Aye im in

Johnny and Norad approach the burial mound cautiously, Johhny taking point, with Norad giving cover and support, they pause briefly at the broken doorway, and you see Johhnys enchanted gauntlet flare, and shine into the darkness.

The pair enter the broken doors, and descend, heads bobbing down some unseen stairs. They are quickly out of sight, the tell-tale glow of Johhnys torch visible for a second, then swallowed by darkness. After 5 or so minutes, Johnny, then Norad emerge, slightly dusty looking, and Johnny becons you all over.

Jonny: The stonework is amazing, must be Dwarven..

About 30 steps down, the spiderwebs are pretty thick – but there’s a pit trap that’s been sprung with a stack of drow on the spikes… it’s about 40 feet wide… think we should go and check it out..

Ishan: How fresh were the bodies? Can we safely navigate over or past the trap?

Jonny: The bodies.. are… desiccated. Yes, the pit only traverses part of the room.. so we can navigate past. But we will have to be careful lest more traps are present

The stairs down will fit 2 abreast, thought a slight squeeze, especially when one of them is a big ball of misplaced rage and anger. The room after that, in johnnys opinion, is large/wide enough for everyone to stand side by side with ease.

Ishan: Right, glory awaits then my brothers!

Passing through the large, broken doors, you see the stone work Johnny described. The stairs, walls and ceiling have all been hewn out of the rock surrounding them with such skill and dedication that not a single blade stroke, work mark, seam or blemish can be seen. The stairs descend quickly, tso much that at the 10th step down, your heads is below the ground level above, taking the last of the (un)natural light with it. Cobwebs, hang by the walls, broken by Johnny and Norads previous excursion. The air is stale, dusty, with a slight bitter tang to it, the taste of an age, undisturbed.

At the bottom of the stairs, the corridor flares out slightly, giving the impression of a landing area, but this floor has gone, and the pit trap below has been revealed, spikes still glinting with deadly sharpness, their drow victims on show. The pit’s shap continues to flare out, widening to about fourty feet in width, when the floor of the room begins for real, a 10 foot gap in total to cross.

Thul: Ya know for all the horror we seen on this rock. I like it here.Ah mean , look at them spikes down there.
Craftsman ship.
Thats what that is.
Craftsman ship.
Every spikes a killer, no higgilty pigilty goblin pungi pit. nnoo this is a death trap.

Nothing worth seeing on the bodies in the pit, they seem to be much like most of the otheres, minimal clothing, no adornments. From the shattered tiles on the base of the trap, you can tell this flooring would have been made from interlocking tiles, giving perfect support if walked long them in the right order. Obviously, these drow did not…and the floor/trap cannot be reset without remaking the tiles. Johnny plays his torch over the room behind the pit, and it’slight is quickly swallowed by a combination of gloom, distance, and thick spiderwebs. The back of the room cannot be seen from here, but pillars of some sort can be seen running back down the middle of the room.

Ishan: How do we get safely across or around the Pit? Johnny Norad can you show us a safe way?

Jonny: backs up for a running jump…. shall I? So, ill head on over with the rope and lash a pillar. Ishahn can hold the other side while the others come across then leap the void too… Yeah? YEAH!

Ishan: Well the Drow bodies will break your fall, worst case scenario

The first pillar is set about 20 feet back, slightly off center to the right of the room. Again, like the stairs down,.it has been carved seemlessly out of the surrounding stone, ceiling joining floor.in one continuous peice. The spiderwebs here actually reqire.some effort to get through, but the amount of dust you dislodge while doing so show that they havent been disturbed in ages. The pillar is reached and a knot is tied securely.
Using nothing but natural ability and moxy, AlexeiJohnny ties the rope to the stone pillar with gusto, gives the line an exploratory tug,and gives the thumbs up to Ihsahn. Ihsahn leans back, taking the strain of the rope. It creaks loudly under the strain, but seems to hold.

With a nervous giggle Shadow steps up to the rope, and peers along it’s length. He looks at Johhny, then at Ihsahn, then back at Johnny, inhales deeply, and then sets his weight onto the rope. A slight grunt escapes from Ihsah as Shadow begins a slow, clumsy hand-over-hand Monkey climb across the rope. He reaches half way…. and hesitates for a second, the muscles on his thin arms starting to stand out, beads of sweat on his forehead. His breathing intensifies, and the group as a whole take a breathe,

Then, out of an unseen fold of his robe, a spider scuttles up shadows side, and sets its self on shadows shoulder. Before your eyes, his grip intensifies back onto the rope, and he starts to move with confidence, and quickly reaches the other side, landing deftly on his feet.

Alexei Johnny grins a smile of vindication, and beckons to Thul

Thul: Umm maybe lower meh into teh pit ill navigate across then pull me back up

Insahn lets out a mighty belly laugh, as much from relief as anything else. I knew you had a trick up your sleeve Mage. Thul, where’s your courage.Moraddin will protect you from the worst

Thul: Moradin gave mr brains enough to know never to take ye advice. And wisdom enough to know me own failings. Besides ah get to see teh spikes and skill o dis death trap up close with out having one lodged up me anus."

a subtle shudder goes through the universe at the mention of Thul’s anus. Ihsahn passes the end of the rope around his back, back towards the pits edge, and starts feeding it down the pits wall. He then digs in, as Thul slowly descends down the pit, jumping across effortlessly as the dwarf reaches the bottom. After a couple of minutes examination, Thul calls up to be hauled up the opposite side of the pit. After much groaning, farting and effort ( from Thul), he reaches the other side of the trap.

The group congregates on the other side of the pit, and Alexei Johnny scans the room with his enchanted torch.

The room is, as seen, about 40 foot wide, with two rows of columns running down the room at the third-point of the width on each side His torchlight is unable to find the back of the room, due to the thickness of the spiderwebs filling the space, though two open doorways, one one each side, can be seen alittle further down the room, obvious by the way they swallow the light.
some strange large,slightly elongated clumpy shapes can be seen through the gloom and webs.

The place is quiet as a tomb, not to use a redundancy.

The webs are reasonably strong, but they stickyness is nearly more of an issue. After a couple of swings, you need to spend nearly the same amount of time removing the webs from your blade.

Norad steps towards the webs edge, and casts a critical eye over the area. he nods, and kneels, and tilts his head, and stands tip-toe as he surveys the area as best he can. He then goes down and goes down on one knee and starts scratching in the dirt, working tragectories and areas of effect. After a couple minutes deliberation,.he stands and turn to the party. ’As solid as these webs my be, there is precious little in them to catch an arrow,.and hence catch afire. But, i have a solution, though not an ideal one…..

These clumpy shapes that adorn the web, i beleive that these my assist us. They seem to be spread around enough that if i aim for these,they should disribute the fire sufficiently. Any thought?

Ishan: What if they’re full of baby spiders? The last thing we want is to be drowned under a wave of vermin.

Is there one of those pods near enough by that Ihsahn can slice one open and see what’s inside to confirm?

Norad draws four arrows from his quiver of plenty, and rolls the head of each around in a nearby sheet of web, encasing the tip of each.
‘a spark at least then, mage?’ he asks.
with a literal click of his fingers, a small flame burns on the tip of Ben Shadows thumb.
As a group, the arrows are placed over this small flame, untill they catch, and one by one they whistle into the gloom, small whisps of web shrinking from their heat, each landing with a dry, scratchy, ripping noise.

for long seconds, nothing happens.

It begins as a small crackling noise, the echo from multiple points bouncing aound the room, confounding the senses. Four glowing points start to break through the gloom, growing quickly to a vaguely humanoid outline, flames visibly licking around the shapes like an aura.

Then the first explodes like a festival firework, quickly followed by another, then the last two nearly simultaneously covering the area aound them in sparks and burning debris, the webbing around them quickly, and quite effectively, catching alight.

The fire builds rapidly, consuming the webbing with gusto, untill a near raging inferno fills the back of the room.

Then it begins to burn forwards.

The party is suddenly aware of a breeze flowing from behind them, as the fire draws the air in from outside, feeding it’s frenzy. Orange light is reflected on warey faces, and a few nervous glances are cast around as the first wall of heat hits the party, singeing eyebrows.

The dwarf gulps, and sidesteps behind the barbarian.

As quickly as the inferno began, it dies out, its fuel quickly consumed, stopping mere feet away from the party. small motes of black ash slowly float around the party, as they all blink the flare marks from their retinas, and check each other for flames. Finding none, they all turn back to the room, and Alexei Johnny plays his torchlight around the room, revealing what lay behind the webs.

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play by mail part 2 the second bit

Ihsahn begins to speak, his voice full of its customary baritone bravado.

“Brothers, our gods and ancestors have blessed with another day with which to exact vengeance upon these filthy Drow scum. Tell us Dwarf, Peter, did your nights rest grant you any more revelations?”

He then turns to Johnny Alexei “and what of you friend, you look unwell. The dwarven ale too potent for you?”

Thul wakes with something unusual on hia face. A smile.

He washes his mouth with water and dons his platemail.
“I have had a night of visions my brothers. Moradin him self visited me. There is a item or relic on this rock that must find before we avenge not only our friends but the souls of my kin. Then we can take the battle to the enemy and rain down such wrath and vengence the likes will wake the cosmos from its foundations.”

Ishan : Ihsahn turns to Norad Ben Turnbull and Johnny Alexei Rockabilly Fey. “Which of you has the map?”

Thul, can you show us the location? It is something hidden to us until now?

If we are truly blessed by Moraddin which should not delay a moment longer!

As Ihsahn utters his name, all eyes in the room turn to Johnny. he is obviously not feeling well at all. A nasty raised welt on his neck, and another two on his arms, has turned a nasty red color, accentuated by the fact that he has lost alot of his natural colour. His hair and his shirt are adhered to his body by sweat. He looks alert, and in contol of his facilities, just that hefeels like a 2 mile road of beaten crap.

Ishan: “Merciful Sky Mother” Ihsahm exclaims. "You look like you’ve the plague in you. Thul what manner of corruption is this? Is this the work of the drow’s foul venom?

Thul: Nay this is far worse. This is ghoul feaver. And if its no treated soon he will become a ghoul him self!

Ihsahn pulls back his furs to reveal a similar but significantly smaller welt on his right bicep.

Is this the same affliction? He asks

Thul nods stroking his beard.

Ihsahn speaks. “If time is off the essence my wounds are not troubling me, for now at least. Johnny’s need is clearly greater. Tend to him and then we set forth on Moraddin’s quest Thul”

Jonny : gurgles and nods. Arrrrghhh it hurts!

Thul:You may both die with out treatment. But my gods are not done with you yet. Thul places his hands on jonnys forehead and divine light flows through them both. The pearl woven in his beard glows. He dose the same again to ishan. We need to be more careful brothers. We see more of these ghouls then we attempt distance as best we can. Now all gather for my protective wards.

As Thul readys his gear to leave the church, he give one final search of the priests quarters. A sheaf of papers catches your eyes, perhaps you checked them quickly the first time you checked the room and thought nothing of them. It is a basic list of happening made by the priest that resided here, a list of arrivals, injuries, births, deaths, tithes to the church and so on. One note that catches your eye is about a young priest in training, wishing to furnish a closer bond with his god Morradin, and chose to remove himself from the village to close off distractions. There is references to a cabin he was building far to the west past the landing site, and a note to visit him a little later.

“Ishan, Norad. Did we miss anything west side?

Ishan: Ihsahn draw his sword, mutters something under his breath and you marvel as the mighty blade shimmers and reduces to the size of a large hunting knife. Ihsahn delicately and effortlessly draws the tip of the knife across the middle finger of his left hand. Clenching his fist the blood drips from his hand.

“Cleansed of this foul tent I renew my oath of vengeance on my blood, the blood of my kinsmen and that of my ancestors. I shall not rest until I have taken the head of every last Drow on this planet”

Thul eyes widen and a look anger washes the short lived smile away.
" Ye stupid oaf! Ye swear a suicidal blood oath in the temple of meh gods. this is a oath not to be forgotten! You stupid lad, the gods wont soon forget this and ye have no idea how many of the foul beasts reside here! Lets get out of here before he swears on our lives as well!"…Escape and vengeance, bah now he wants genocide of the most deadly race ever known in all the spheres as a one man battalion..(the ranting continues until the party leaves)

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Thul sleeps

Thul – you finish your ritual, and stumble to your bedroll, falling asleep nearly immediately as the enormity of your undertaking catches up with you, You sleep deeply, peacefully, and happily, the words of Morradin himself as he stood beside you rolling around your slumber, no longer drowned out by the forges of Dwarvehome.
‘Indeed, Thul, he who was one with the very stone itself, The path you walk is indeed righteous, but there was someone who trod the paths on El Dorado that was more righteous even than you. He left the fold there, and devoted himself to his service of me. For his devotion, I reached out to him, and gave him a gift, But, alas, the gift is lost. If you happen to find it along your way, I gift it along to you.

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Play by mail part one

The party returns to the temple of Morradin , in the town of Hadleys Hope, for the night, to rest, to tend wounds and to plan. Knocking the dirt and ash from their boots, clothes doused in the cloying smells of smoke and charred flesh, they cross the consecrated hearthstone into the carved stone walls of the church.

The thick stone walls seem to swallow most sounds made, shadows coalesce in the peripheral, forming shapes of drow striking, quickly fleeing as heads are turned. These, combined with the slightly stale, musty air and meagre enchanted lighting gives the place more than just a little touch of ‘tomb’ than some of them might care to admit. Bunk down areas are assigned, watch rotations organised, rations distributed, and, soon enough, as people sit and try to relax, a deep silence falls over the church.

Small showers of dust fall occasionally from the rafters, visual evidence of earth tremors, too minor to be felt, except here, with a lack of anything to distract the attention. They seem to occur at random intervals, never with any great strength, but just enough to keep the dwarf off kilter, a long entrenched racial warning signal constantly being triggered.

Cave In.

He spends most of the night roaming and muttering, poking around in random corners.

Scraping noises occasionally punctuate the silence as Norad lightly ( and later Ihsahn, not so lightly) moves vantage point on the roof as long distance watchman.

Shadows brow is furrowed, his lips move silently as he takes advantage of the first real chance to study the spell book he found at the drow spider temple, and try to fathom what changes where wrought on his staff at the same.

A conversation is started, about whether to head straight towards the silhouette of the mothership Sulaco in the distance, or to examine the last remaining unexplored area on the local map, just to the south of Hadleys Hope, but no satisfactory answer is reached.

The church is the tallest building in the villiage, but, as it is a dwarven village. that isnt saying much. Even the highest point here only gives you a decent veiw of the surrounding area, and back the way you came, but any veiw northish ( which is the direction of the mothership Sulaco ( which is what i’m assuming you meant)) is obscured by more rock/boulder formations.

The highest nearby position seems to be a small mountain to the west you passed on your way into the village ( the small unexplored area left on the map). Looking from where you are on the church roof, you reckon that that point would get you a decent veiw all the way up to the Sulaco.

Isahn begins to speak "Brothers, this reminds me of the story from my homeland of legend of Abbath’s siege of Count Grisnackh’s Keep. Then as now having a clear understanding of your enemy’s forces is key. We should wander into the den of the Spider Mother, this Twice Named Queen, unprepared and unaware.

Norad, Johnny can see you a path that would get us to that peak safely and discretely?"

Thul Spends most of his night before the alter to Moradin. Muttering in his native tongue. Add the odd tremor interval talking at who ever will listen.

“These blasted Drow have all the skill of a goblin with a hangover. The little mechanical beasties toiling away may get the job done of ripping the ore from the ground. But what skill do they have of keeping the earth stable!. Even a worm considers its path. Nay these beasts will destroy the whole moon and all its treasure with it!”

Time passes again and Thul produces a bottle of the long forgotten Dwarven ale on the alter and lights some incense. “if it’s a clear direction ye want to our course of action. Then let it be the commander of battle himself Clangeddin !

As Ihsahn and Norad cross paths on the curchs rooftop for watch change, Norad points out a path his keen elvish eyes have made out going up the side of the hill to the west. To Ihsahn , it looks to be made of the same random collection of different sized rocks and boulders as most of the others on this planet, but the conviction in Norads voice and description quells any doubts in his mind.

  • as a size reference, the mountain top landing ground you began on was about, even cut flat, about a mile high,if not a little more, with the majority of the walls surrounding the mapped area about as tall as this. (look up the worlds tallest building, and double it.) The mountin you are looking at now is a fraction of the size of this, but still one of the highest points around ( comparable to mount lofty).
    But, no matter how high you have been, the relative small size of the planet has limited your viewable distance due to the curvature of the planet*

Thul kneels in prayer for hours through out the night. Quietly chanting resting then waking only to drink eat then his deep prayer. It’s a ritual familiar to his companions. His friends stare at him waiting for him to say something and finally his eyes glow with golden divine light.

“Gods of my people I call Clangeddin Silverbeard the rock of battle for guidance. Lord I offer you this bottle of mead crafted by the souls this motley crew of warriors seeks to avenge. To exact our peoples vengeance I ask you. What do we need to give the edge and achieve glory in battle against the Drow Queen on Eldorado.”

Minutes blend to hours as you weave your augury, beseeching your gods to hear, and answer, your question. Your companions become mere after-thoughts as you concentrate on your ritual.

Your surroundings slowly dim as you extend your consciousness out to the ether, searching your pantheon for the target of your question. You slowly become aware of the smell of burning coal filling your nostrils, furnace fire heat flowing over your face in waves, and the sound of dwarven voices laughing, talking, and singing in time with the ring of hammer on anvil filling your ears. This is Dwarvehome, Morradins realm, but the answer to your question does not lie here.

Extending out further, the concussive sounds of hammer on anvil is replaced with that of battle axe on shield, the sound of boot-clod feet marching, and the voices singing become that of drill sergeants calling instructions and commands. Here is the celestial training ground of the Lord of the Twin Axes, Clangeddinn, and where you will find your answer.

You ask your question over the din that only you can hear, startling your team mates. They see your eyes glaze over into a hundred yard stare, listening for words meant only for you, possibly even straining their own ears to hear what you hear. There is no response for a second, no noise but the rasping of scratched whiskers, and the low mutterings of someone in deep thought, considering all possibilities.
After a couple of deep, measured breaths, a deep voice utters these words –
‘The path you have been treading, and the one you are about to set out upon, is the righteous one, so do not waver. Along this path, near at hand, you will find a tribute to the one whose legacy you defended. Within it is his blood, set in stone. Free his blood and an edge will be found. But, as on any battlefield, a sword smith can only sharpen a blade so much, it is up to the warrior to wield it. Now, go my son, you have work to be done.

The sounds of battle slowly fade from your ears, your eyes focus, and you are back at the altar to Morradin, in the church in Hadley’s Hope, under a starless sky, on an alien planet, far from home. The ghostly touch of an encouraging hand at your back, a hand you know to be of Morradin himself, lingers for a minute, as you start to look ahead.

Thul ’We are not yet done my brothers. We are missing something. A stone unturned."
Ishan " A sword? A blade, some sort of legendary Dwarven weapon perhaps?"
Thul " I feel im seeking a forge. Bring the map."

Eventually Thuls ritual finishes, and he takes a heavy nose dive into his sleep back and begins to snore louder then his ritual, head down, arse up, and doesn’t move for 6 hours.

Apart from this, the church descends into relative quiet for a few hours, until what passes for morning for your own internal clocks comes. You seem to know yourselves that only a matter of days has passed since you entered this lightless realm, but the time itself seems to have slipped and stretched, and your arrival on the mountain top landing area could have been weeks ago.

You slowly all awaken, grab collect your gear, and meet around the main altar in the middle of the church to plan your next steps.

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The Lost Planet

After the battle with the spider mages in the chasm, the party retired back to the cave they discovers to take stock, take inventory and plan their next move. The path north was explored further, and a crossroad was discovered. Norads examinations of the tracks showed that this was a high traffic area, with many, many, many sets of tracks, with the vast majority travelling from the east, and heading to the north.

The tracks from the mountain side all seemed to continue travelling north, and many sets of construct tracks returned from the north and travelled back south. With the many sets of tracks, Norad could discern that some of the tracks were made by drow that seemed to be injured, or lame in some may, and these seemed to travel from the east, and then many went north,and many returned, some travelled to the east, or back to the south, or just wander aimlessly.

In the distance to the north, a shape could be seen silhouetted against the purple/blue haze of the sky. The shape seemed to be of a spelljammer, vaguely insectiod-esque.

The party then decided that a frontal attack on the craft could be a bad idea, and travelled south to explore the lands to see if the craft could be flanked.

Exploring the area around there cave base camp, tracks belonging to a group containing large arachnoids and a large arachnoid construct were found travelling between to large rock outcrops, though not much else could determined from these tracks.

TRavelling further on, a group of bare footed elven tracks where discovered, travelling from the north to the south, in a pack of about 7 or 8. A little later, the pack of archnoid tracks seemed to follow in behind, and follow the original group. Further south,the arachnoid tracks became armoured footprints, leading to were a scene of battle was discovered.The pack of xenodrow lay slaughtered by foes unkown. Wicked cut marks adorned their already broken, burnt and healed bodies, with some suffering from a multitude of tiny bite marks, and/or from different diseases.
The armoured footprints and arachnoid construct tracks then travelled of to the west, and disappeared into the rocks.

Travelling further south, the sounds of a raging river could be heard, while the air here was cooler, fresher and more moist. A little further south, and a raging river was found, at the bottom of a deep, steep ravine, at least 200 yards down, the river rushing with great rage and force, its travel down from the mountain rage to the west giving it its strength. Further east, the river leads to a massive, raging maelstrom of a lake nearly a mile across. The river falls into it by way of a waterfall, beginning the turbulence. This seems to be the source of the fresh air for this planet. Near the entrance to the maelstrom, was the remains of a dwarven bridge, extending out a couple of yards over the river before ending. The bridge seems to have been broken by massive stress or fatigue.

This direction of travel turned out to be a dead end, with the north and the east blocked by an impassable mountain range, and the ravine to the south. In the distance to the east, the silhouette of the distant spelljammer could be seen again, and from this angle, Johnny confirmed the spider-esque shape of it.

Camp was made in between boulders, defenses made and watches set. The third watch was interrupted by a quickly growing rumbling noise from beneath the ground, and the earth began to twist and shake, scattering the rocks and boulders into the camp. Ihsahn and norad were hit by some of the falling debris, as was thul, who awoke with the instinctive thought of ‘Cave-in!’. Johnny, as per usual, vaulted away, and escaped getting hurt, even before his eyes were open. Shadow took the brunt of the damage, ending with his legs trapped beneath a large boulder. A rescue operation, initially unsuccessful, frees SHadow to a safe position, and Thul assessed the damage, and began to heal the wounds.

The party back tracked to an unexplored path, discovering a set of tracks ending in drag marks and spederwebs along the way. Travelling north, Norads keen eyes spotted a single Electrum clockwork horror sitting on a rock, apparently watching the party. With three enchanted arrows from his Efficient quiver, the horror was dispatched.

The east continuation from the crossroads was discoverd, and followed eastwards.

A viliage was discovered at the end of the path, dark, quiet and seemingly deserted. A plaque at the entrance gave the towns name as ‘Hadleys Hope’. The party began to explore the huts of the villiage, some of them intact, some burnt out husks. A blacksmith was found, as well as a foundry and jewelers examined. As shadow, thul and johnny were about to examine a brewery, Ihsahn and Norad were set apon by a xenodrow, injured, emaciated and seemingly crazed, which was quickly dispatched, but not before they were felled by the creatures natural poison defence. Johnny moved the prone warriors to safety, and Thul administered curative magics, and further plans were made.

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From the mountain of Drow-ness

As the party regrouped, Thul shared the information gleaned from the drider corpse. After this, plans were made, and tracks were made down the staircase cut into the mountain side. At the base, a path of fine grit and sand, lined by coarser and larger stones of the same material. The path lead south, west and east away from the bottom of the stair case, with the majority of the traffic heading up and down the stairs, to and from the east, with a small amount of individual tracks heading from the east to the south. A large crack/gorge in the mountain directly south could be seen, travelling far back into the mountain side.

apon entering this strange place, Shadow started to get strange vibrations from his staff, akin to a happy or excited puppy. heading down the mountain, the staff seemed to urge him forwards, and upon reaching the bottom of the stairs, he received a vision of a spider topped altar, and a feeling to move south.

A small camp was discovered was discovered at the base of the staircase, and the casters decided to rest to recuperate their spell list, with Ihsahn watching them, while Johnny and Norad scouted the Area. They travelled along the Path to the south, finding hilled areas off the path, made from collections of even larger rocks and boulder, lying around the terrain. They followed the southern mountain around to the east, finding evidence of a large landslide, revealing a reachable cave up in the mountanside. Heading back to the path, they continued east, and followed the path a little way to the north, finding more hills before heading back to the cross road.

Heading south, the chasm walls slowly closed in over their heads, down untill the path came down to about 60 or 80 feet across, which is where they headed back to the group.

The cave to the east was examined first, and after some misadventures, the cave was found to be 2 small rooms, plain except for a golden nugget in one room, and deemed to be easily defendable.

The party regrouped and returned back to the cross roads, and, under Shadows suggestion, the party moved south. They found where Johnny and Norad traveled to, and , continuing further, came across two dried and dessicated bodies of female drow, identical to the appearance to the one seen in the Neogi Queen room back on the planetoid. A little further along, the group came to a Y junction. One was found by Johnny to be a dead end, containing some identified dead bodies, the other continued on. As the party entered the junction, they were set upon by a number of copper horrors, with the attack centered on Shadow. They were quickly dispatched, and the dead end investigated, with the corpses discovered to be more of the same drow, attached to the walls.

Continuing on, the party came to a similar y-junction, with the same dead end, the same corpses and the same ambush, but this time the horrors where bronze.

A little further along, and the scene replayed again, but with electrum horrors, and the path leading away thinned down again, and was thick with spiderwebs.Here, shadow received a vision of the altar again, this time with his hand reaching out to touch it.

The path opened out into a huge amphitheater, webs running up the walls from ground up, and crossing from wall to wall. Wide steps rose up to a raised area holding the spider topped altar from Shadows vision. Between the altar and the party stood a golden horror. Atop the altar itself stood a massive spider, flanked by two of the white haired female drow.

Battle Ensued, and strange abilities of these new drow were discovered. All were killed, except for the largest spider, which fled over the top of the walls.

After the battle, shadow was able to touch the altar, and was rewarded with a vision of the life of the staff, and some new abilities for it. A spell book was also uncovered.

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Cryptic Communications

the noises of battle have faded, and the mountain top has returned to it’s original quiet, still airs. Norad, Johhny and Ihsahn moved the bodies away ( leaving the Drider ) then johnny set about repairing the make shift wall at the top of the stairs (taking first watch), Norad and Shadow went on a scouting trek, to investigate the mountain top and get the lay of the land around you, and Ihsahn stayed with you , Moving the drider body to a safer spot for your investigations. He sets the massive body down heavily, steps back, looking at Thul expectantly…..

Thul kneels at the head of the creature. HE places the Grudge bringer hammer gently on the earth and retrieves his Holy Symbol, Its intricate craftsman’s ship and images of various dwarven gods are lost on the Barbarian. But this was something new. At its base Thul opens a secret covering showing a new and hidden symbol. If Ishan go to say anything Thul simply holds a finger to his moth and gives a wink and a shush. Uttering ancient dwarven words the ancient dwarf mutters a spell coating his tongue in tiny golden runes(http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Tongues) On the spells completion he grasps the creatures head abd again chants in the dwarven tongue. He looks down at the creature and speaks in a language not heard in an age across the cosmos. Thul himself look repulsed as the words pass his cracked lips.

“My the command of Dumathoin lord of all secrets I command this spirit to answer three questions truthfully. The first question..”
Thul clears his throat
“Tell me how did the drow move this moon to its current location?

on the completion of the spell, the light around you, already meager, grows dimmer still, until you are surrounded by flat, monochromatic images. The sound of your voice and you question trails off, as if spoken into a deep chasm, and there is silence for a moment. Then a voice slowly builds from nothing, like an echo in reverse.

‘The drow did not move her’

Thul Spits on the misshapen body of the female abomination before him.
“Dont ye go getting cryptic on me yer half baked freak show! Yer god played no more a part in this than yer sniveling excuse for a mother did”
He slams her head into the earth in frustration.
“Fine ill keep it simple for ye nit wit. Tell me the way to the most commonly used landing bay for transport off of El Dorado!”

Again, your word are swallowed into the unseen abyss, and, again, the voice builds from nothing

‘face north. walk forwards for one mile, no more, no less. When you have done this, turn to your right hand side’

the voice stops for both a second and an eternity before continuing

‘repeat this three more times’

“So we already here!”

Thul strokes his long black beard deep in thought.
“Name and describe an object or person whos destruction or theft would cause the most Woe for the Drow on this moon and give directions to its location”

Once again, the voice reverberates out of the deep silence, but the sarcasm you swear you could hear in the last answer has dissapeared, replaced with pure venom.

’ The death of Qualnylene’xae, the two-in-one.witch queen, would bring the end of both the drow and the others, as our fates are now entwined.

Down the mountain, and follow the path east, and then north. Here you will find the mothership ‘Sulaco’. This is where Qualnylene’xae resides.As the final words are spoken the voice trails off, back into the silence. The meager colours slowly bleed back into the world around you, the figures returning to their previous fullness. You return back to the desolate mountain top, under a purple-blue sky, a mechanical drow corpse to your left, and one very confused looking barbarian to your right.

“May your gods take vengeance on your failure.”

Thul ponders a minute.
“maybe these others moved the moon, in any case this Qualnylene’xae is going to have a bad day ahead of her and her ship I claim as mine until we find a better one….Ishan dispose of the bodys we need to make plans!”

Thankful to finally have something useful to do Ihsahn takes the creatures head from its shoulders in an effortless sweep.

After dumping the body over the cliff edge he returns, still somewhat shaken by what he has just witnessed. As he cleans his sword he speaks nervously.

“Thule, you’re ghost magic vexes me with its perversions. Still I will heed your words, while my heart echoes your oath. In the name of Abbath the Mighty and my Ancestors my vengeance will as unrelenting as the blizzard’s winds. This Drow queen, whatever her name may be, will taste my steel and call my name with pleas for mercy before my bloodlust is sated.”

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Journey to the center of the Planetoid

As sound of the drows neck echoed throughout the chamber to silence, it was replaced by the whirring and rasping of metallic saw blades. It grew to a crescendo until it too was replaced, by the noise of a dozen rib cages simultaneously splitting open as one. The party retreated to the recently discovered corridor to set a defense against the dozens of golden clockwork horrors moving across the room. Ihsahn and Jonny repelled the first attack wave, but the return salvo of lightning bolts was enough to convince them that discretion was the better part of valor, and further retreat may be called for.

A plan was quickly hatched by the two humans, and, on the run, collected Thul Urak’Dorn (by the armpits) to quicken the tactical withdrawal and, if not for some hasty footwork, nearly brought Norad undone. Recovering quickly, Norad brought down the first line of clockwork horrors with some careful bow-work, but this hardly impeded the progress of the group at all.

During all this, Shadow and Slytherin examined the tunnel, discovering a set of doors leading to some sort of storage room. The rest of the party quickly entered, and set about setting defenses against the oncoming horde. The room, much like the temple above, had walls adorned with carving, this time of a barren and mountain topped filled landscape. While the warriors set the doors against the invaders, the spell casters set about finding a way out.

The ceiling held a gem, much like the one atop Shadow’s staff, and the one found on the drow, Thul brought the three in alignment, and their magic was revealed. Slowly, the magic light from the gem, refracted through the staff, and in turn through the ceiling, slowly revealed a sky of purple/blue, a smell of cold damp air, and, eventually, the actual landscape described on the walls, as the party was transported, along with the contents of the room,to another place entirely.

The character stood among debris of the room (including half of a clockwork horror) on a wide, flat, featureless plateau. Mountain tops were visible in the distance, indicating the party were some distance up. Some searched the items that came with them. finding Norad missing gear. Ihsahn Wongraven of Ravendark, then followed by Thul, searched the area. A large staircase, cut into the mountain, was discovered nearby, as were dwarven runes, confirming the suspicion that the party were standing in the lost dwarven treasure planet of ‘El Dorado’.

The started to move down the stairs. with johnny and Norad on point. Shortly,a group a figures was seen coming up the stairs in the distance, apparently someone on horseback, with two pack animals and two figures on foot. A quick return to the mountain top was conducted, with fortifications against the unknown travelers. Shortly, two of the isectiod drow came into view, and what appeared to be centipede like constructs, made out of drow parts, but no sign of the rider on horse back. Battle ensued, with the later addition of a sniper, the mysterious person on horseback. As the battle ended, the person on horseback was revealed to be an amalgamation, with the top half of a female drow , well built, muscular and flowing red hair, with the bottom half of a large, mechanical spider.

Rest was taken, and the plan on what to do next was discussed.

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Stranger in a strange Land

The hooded and bound hostage collapsed against Ihsahn as their bounds were cut. Ihsahn layed the stranger down and removed the mask, revealing the face of Norad, the ranger lookout from the Nostromo. He had been badly beaten and tortured, teeth and fingernails missing, deep bruises and cuts. Thul attended to his wounds while Ihsahn searched the rest of the tunnels surrounding the room, finding nothing. The colour returned quickly to Norads face, and, with a deep cough of blood, he awoke, and he started to fill in some blanks of what had happened.

He told of leaving The Rock of Brall, setting back on their course, and being hit out of nowhere by the mysterious spider ship. The crows nest he was in crashed to the deck. Through the stars swimming in his head, Norad saw one of the black skinned drow walk across the deck towards him, reach our a hand, and draw a blade across the palm. He drifted in and out of nightmares from then on, until ihsahn cut him down from the pole.

When Norad had recovered sufficently, the party moved on, further exploring the tunnels. Norads animal companion, Pliskin the snake was discovered in the room where he had been tortured by the Drow, but his gear ws nowhere to be found. Small pockets of clockwork horrors where found dotting the area, mining materials out of the wall, some valuable, some not so much, and one, a modest find of Mithril nuggets, was nearly enough to put a smile on an old dwarves face.

A room of victims of the clockwork horrors unique breeding methods was discovered, including some of the people who acccompanied Glim Beren on his initial exploration. Another room relvealed the body of Stanton, the spelljammer from the Nostromo, who had suffered the same tortures as Norad, but had not survived.After paying due respects to their fallen comrade, the party moved on.

Next, the party came apon a large room, walls covered with organic residue, floor littered with carapace parts and chewed bones. In the center of the room was a gigantic neogi, body swollen and undulating. victims were affixed to the walls around the room, some half orcs, a grimlock, an illithid,and Po, Logan and Captain Skerrit from the Nostromo. The captain had much the same story to tell as Norad, untill he was incinerated by a lightnening bolt. The party turned to see a Clockwork creature, platinum this time, flanked by 2 gold horrors. The explosions of the Horrors as they were destroyed lead to the weakening, and eventual cave in of the original tunnel, blocking that way for the characters.

As the dust setteld, A strange cackling noise could be heard. At the back of the room, a drow was attached to the walls, through the hand on one side, through the wrist below her missing hand on the other. She seemed to be cackling and chanting in their strange language this drow seemed to be slightly more elvish, skin having a grey tinge, with thin, sharp, drawn feartures, almost masculine. Here face was deeply scarred in the shape of a spider, her hair grey and matted. Ihsahn quickly dispatched her with a twist to the neck, but not before her chanting was finished, and her eyes took on a cloudy grey appearance. A slow keening noise started up from the bodies around the room, and all started convulsing and kicking an a familiar way.

And then, the room starts to fill with the noise od dozens on mechanical saws starting up, and the sound of spinning blades on bones….

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Pitch Black

The seconds that the group and drow locked eyes seemed to hang in the air for weeks, if not months, but, in a flash, she was among the party. Ihsahn was the first to draw blood, but mysteriously fell. Johnny used his enchanted bracer to clear the darkness enchantment, and the battle was on, with another female drow joining the fray. The cause of Ihsans malady was quickly apparent, as any blow that drew blood from the drow gave of a noxious vapour, causing unconsciousness in those that fall to its effect. The battle was fast and furious, the drow being quick and agile, and the retaliation of the party being with magical flame and brute force, repelling an attempt to wrestle Shadows staff from his grip.

Just as the party seemed to be gaining the upper hand, the drow executed what could only be described as an stategic retreat. Acting as one, the two drow met in the middle of the fray, one casting a darkness enchantment on the other, and , in return, was decapitated by the first, setting of a wide spray of their poisonous blood over the party. The enchanted drow then fled through the sphere of darkness at the back of the room.

Johhny shared his observations with the rest of the party that the two drow seemed to be identical in nearly every way.

The party then pressed on through the sphere of darkness, finding themselves in a tunnel, perfectly round and smooth, which slowly lead them down into the depths of the asteroid. More of the mechanical spiders where discovered, and dispatched, and also the lair of the umberhulks was discovered also. Strange movements and lights led the party to a large room with many entrances, where a bound and gagged figure was discovered. This turned out to be an attempted ambush by the drow, attacking in larger numbers than before, but to the same result. As the party investigated the mystery person, Thul discovered a gem on the person of one of the drow. This fist sized, opaque gem of indeterminate type seemed to give of a light, invisible to normal eyes, but allowed those with night sights to see in colour. This illumination also seemed to play strangley though the gem on top of Shadows staff. Finding no further use for this for now, he turned his sttantion on the mystery hostage.

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