spell jammin', across the universe

The Journey 'Home'

The group was picked up from Eldorado by the elvish ship ‘The Galvani’, and where taken and made to tell their story a dozen different ways to a dozen different people ( shadow especially so), and all their gear checked and rechecked for any lingering taint (shadow especially so again), but were cleared and given a large comment of thanks for the higher up elves on board, on behalf of the elvish people, and the told that the elves owed them a gratitude ( the last being relayed to them through the scholar and sage Carlin).

Carlin then introduced the party to a young elvish sage and bard in training by the name of Zephyr, who had heard of the groups exploits, and wanted to know more of them, and hoped to begin her first Bardly composition about the group. She seemed to be in awe of the group, but quickly began to gravitate towards Shadow, and a connection began to form. She assisted Shadow in the identifying of the groups treasure from the Dfrow Chanmbers, and also assisted shadow and the slumbering Johnny in translating some of the Illithid Journal the group had found.

Eventually, the craft landed on the Rock of Braal, and as the group alighted, Thul was met by an adoring throng of hopeful dwarves, having heard of the stories already of the possible discovery and freeing of the legendary dwarvish treasure planet. Thul preached of strength and hope, and the focusing on the old enemy, The illithid, and the crowd left, buoyed by the possiblitly that Thul had promised to liberate Morradins Forge.

A tall, Asiatic stranger met with the party at the Docks, introducing himself as OKADA, on business on behalf of Big Wal ( another name from the visions), and the group retired to the Laughing Beholder tavern. There they were met by Large Luigi, and the Halfling Newt, who excitedly told the group that Mister Luigi had got their boat back. AS this happened, Johnny began to tell of a strange encounter he had had back at the docks, and proceeded to raise a glass ‘ To the Leaders and rulers of The Rock, The Vavessuers’.

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A licence to Ill(ithid)

AS the images of other strange lives and other even stranger places faded away from the groups minds, the struggle to take in the situation that they found themselves in. The building they had previously been in melted away to become a darkened cave, the raised dias a dark hole in the ground. Alien beings crouched over clockwork Arcanum, and foes they had been battling morphed ,some onto elves, though most into illithid, many like they had never seen before,all menacingly advancing on them. Wet slurps and elvish cries came close to being drowned of by repeated chants of ‘Thoon…..Thoon……..Thoon………’.
Thuls attention was drawn to a ghostly blue figure of a dwarf in front of him. The look in its eye seemed to be a heady mix of terror and fury, and it’s scream seemed t last for eternity, before it snarled down into a battle cry, and the ghost charged the illithid.

As if by reflex, the group fell into battle formation, battling through the strange visions clogging their memories,though the names of the elves slowly came back, Fales, Donst, Marcello and Raoulle, names jumping out of their vision. These illithid showed many new tricks, some body changing, some turning invisible, all to the charnt of Thoon, but the party and the ghostly dwarf slowly began to gain the upper hand, but where unable to stop the death of most of the Elves.
A strange skuttling noise could be heard over thesounds of pitched battle, and just as the final visible illithid fell, a wave of horrific creatues, nothing but brains on legs, flooded into the room. A retreat was sounded, the group fleeing, though the elvish mage, petrified with fear, fell to the coming onslaught.

The group ran through winding tunnels, the sounds of the creatures feet never too far behind them, and they emerged onto a flat, lifeless landscape, no idea where they were or where to go. Panic welled momentarily, until a shadow passed over the group, and they recognised the Elvish warship ‘The Condor’. A elf stood smiling at the gangway, beckoning them onboard, but her demeanour and urgency changed when she saw what was behind them.

As they got onboard, the elvish crew was (re?)-introdued as Captain Delray, the spelljammer Adakay ( nichnamed ‘The Countess’) and the bard/sage Zephyr, who the party, especially Shadow, had asked to come along.
After some confusion about missing memories, the Condor started its return trip back to the elvish Warship ‘The Galvani’, and the group began to piece together their missing memories.

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a new hope

‘Instantly, the Sulaco disappear around them, and they were standing on the edge of the cliff, overlooking the drow city, the purple sky fading and flickering above them, the stars beginning to become visible through the haze. The drow ship tilted slightly and began to fall, crumpling as she crashed into the middle of the city. The noise was deafening, and the impact nearly knocked them all of all your feet. Cracks nearly instantly started forming in the ground around the impact site, shooting out and around her, and, with the sound of the earth rending and tearing, the ground crumbled and gave way in a plume of dust and smoke, The Sulaco falling into the Hollow centre of the Planet, the sound of metal crunching as she reached the gravity well.
The purple glow fully faded from the sky all the glory of the crystal sphere above them, and the earth moved slightly again, and the gap below them where the mother ship just fell is suddenly full with a familiar, dull grey rock.

AS the dust settled, first one, then another, and then another, individual drow ships slowly started to raise unsteadily up into the air, the first taking shakily to wing and begin to fly away, only to be skewered on the prow of an illithid Nautiloid as it came cruising over their head. It and a half dozen others begin to make short work of the straggling ships with their catapults, the drow ships crashing back into the cavern below the party.

As the party watched the battle, they all felt sinister tentacles slowly enter the edges of their minds and then a familiar ( to all but Norad) pain like a dagger directly to the brain drives them all to your knees’, excepting Thul, who stood strong, sheathed in a glowing corona of holy light, defiantly, a trickle of blood running from his nose from the exersion.

The familiar voice of Maanzecorian ,the Illithid captain whose craft started this adventure, talks directly into their brains

‘We meet again; I thank you for leading us to our old enemies. We were slightly concerned when you disappeared from our scans a few hours ago, but we are anything but patient. Now Dwarf, as you can see there is nothing you people can possess that we cannot take from you. We will take this planet in the name of Thoon just like your homeworld, and …..What is that…?

The grip in their minds weakened, and, as they stood, A Kindori crashed through the Illithid ships, leading a group of elven man-o-wars, obliterating the illithid craft with the skewered drow ship with one flipper, and scattering the others, spinning off into wildspace.
‘Curses….we shall meet again’ they all heard as the connection broke.

An elven Man-o-War landed not far from them, and the side door opened. Carlin the Scholar came bounding down the stairs shaking all of their hands.
‘I got them to believe me finally, I don’t know how, but they did. It took some work though. ’
A well dressed elf in regal clothing slowly walked down the stairs, bowed deeply, and thanked the party, and bade them entrance onto his craft.
‘I beleive you have a tale to tell me.’ he says, a slight trace of understated irony in his voice.

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the battle for eldorado

On the other side of the door seems to be some type of greeting or waiting room, its walls carved with images of spiders in weds, and long dark deep caves. An opening was just of to one side of the room, showing a slightly darkened room with a purpleish tint to the light. A voice part mechanical rasp, part female snarl in unison intoned

‘You may enter’.

Where the races of the drow and the horrors had grown together in a metaphorical manner, their leaders have done so in a literal way. The figure of Qualnylene’xae stood before them, a lithe and muscular female, skin dark and shiny, her mouth a snarl and her eyes full of hatered. She stood at least a head taller than Ihsahn, encased in a clockwork shell of adamantine and gems, the armour sparking and ticking with electrical energy. One arm ended in a large, pincer-like hand, the other ended with a circular saw blade, glinting with molecular sharpness.The joints whir and click as she moved, and the weight of her crashed as she took a step towards you all, her voice part automaton, part growl

‘We have laboured here for many, many centuries, our peoples together, and we have grown strong, learning from each other. The others showed the drow how to improve themselves. Now it is time for us to reveal ourselves’

Shall we? As she stepped forward.

Johnny was out of the entrance room in a flash, a second before the drow queen filled the room with a noxious yellow and green gas, choking all those left bar SHadow and his enchanted amulet. Defensive maneuvers were made to exit the area, with Norad loosing some arrows at the drow queen, onto to have them bounce off her clockwork armour harmlessly. Spell were aimed at her which were deflected as well, as were Ihsahns mighty blows, and even Johnnys dextrous charge was met with him becoming caught in her Pincer arm. All was seeming to be lost, as any attack tried against the drow queen seemed to be pointless, only Ihsahn spirit warrior Fenris seemed able to penetrate her defences.The attack wore on, and Thul used his divine energies to dispel one of the queens attacks as her armour seemed to glow and crackle with energy.
THe queens armour glowed and crackled again, a pulse of energy pushing all her assailants away. In a moment of desperartion, Thul drive with all his wisdom to determine what course of action to take against the queen, when a voice, seeminlg far away, echoed into his mind, a voice he know to be that of Hadley fire-forge.
“Thul……..Thul….use the Forks……’
and he knew what course of action he needed to take.

He called to his companions to continue with their efforts, and he withdrew the mysterious metal rods that they had discovered in the ond Dwarves tomb, and stuck them, their soundless chime causing the air to waver in from of him. The armour split and sparks erupted at the joints, peices of metal hitting the ground.
‘What? THose? here?’ screamed the mechanical voice of the armour, a low female chuckle behind it. ‘Impossible’ and THuls actions were returned with a lightning bolt that arced across the party.

His companions attacked again, their blows finding some purchase through the armour, and Thul struck the metal bars together again. WIth a fierce explosion, the perty was thrown back around the room, and smoke billowed from the site of the detonation. Heads swimming and ears ringing, the party slowly rose to their feet shaking their heads, and they became aware of a throaty cackling noise, coupled with the sounds of flesh rending and bones cracking. The drow witch queen, in her full spider-like form emerged from the smoke, and spoke
‘For too long, have I been trapped in that unnatural form. Mother Lolth, I meant you no ill.
‘ I thank you for freeing me from the others, they have served their use, built me this ship, and taught me of the spheres’
The ship lurched violently
I need to attend the helm, then the ship will be under my control, and then we can move. You have proven yourselves worthy, I offer you this…..join me, and we can rule the spheres.
The party rescinded the offer
‘No?, then you will die’
‘Elvbryn, if you will….’
with those words, two final drow, encased in an evil looking carapace type armour emerged from nowhere, and struck blows at johnny and thul, striking true, but not true enough. The fight wages on again, Ihsahn strkining some mighty blows, johnny using his new power of telekenisis from his armlet, joining with IHsahn to finish of the black clad drow, and SHadow finishing the drow queen with a mighty fireball.

The witch queen died with a long, bone chilling scream, bones reknitting as she changed back into a more elf like form, her face, even in death, a rictus of hatred,
The ship lurches again, more violently than before, and dropped about 6 feet.

SHadow got an flash of the window they had stood infrom of at the top of the stairs from his staff, and a sense of urgency. The party moved

On their way through the two treasure rooms, they were able to grab some trinkets each, and were presently at the window. THe staff urged shadow to get them all to join hands, and, when they had succeeded in doing so, urged him to press the gold button. SO he did.

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express elevator to hell

The strange cage rose quickly up through the rock above the party, and then they emerged, blinking, into the strange purple-blue light of the planet above, the drow city stretched out around them. A myriad of strange and nearly incongruous images stuck them all at one, scenes or relatively normalcy, rows of houses and fisures collecting supplies, mixed in with images of a race preparing itself for war, twisted troops practicing battle maneuvers and a flotilla of near completed spell jammers crawling with clockwork horrors. These images, and many more, quickly passed out of focus as the cage rose, ever higher up into the belly of the MOthership Sulaco above them.

The cage came to an abrupt stop, and all the senses of the party were assaulted all at once. The smell of forges and fires were mixed in with smell of arcane energies being tempered. Vials and glasses filled with every imaginable colour bubbled, next to cauldrons and stills, giving rise to smoke of all hues. The sounds of hammer on metals and the crackling of eldritch energoes rang in the parties ears, and the magic in the room was bitter in the back of their throarts and caused their hairs to stand on end. In and amongst all of this chaos, ran dozens, if not more, of the same figure, a drow, with a slightly stooped back, many earing and short cropped hair, the same drow that the group had found the clockwork hands on her corpse. A single drow stood, huinched over her desk, not far away from the party, back to them, seemingly in the middle of some calculations, and unaware of the arrival of the party. Moves were made at her, but the cage seemed to be surrounded by an impenetrable invisible wall, and attempts to verbally take her attantion were also unseccessful, receiving only a hand raised behind her and a ‘SHHHHH’.

Momentarily, the drow turned, and acknowledged the party with a quizzical look.. the party were told that they had been expected, the drow queen had been watching the party on their travels through her realm, and that it had been decided that they would the final test for the drow queen before she re-emerged into the crystal spheres. Insults, some veiled and some not so where passed through the invisible barrier, and after a few minutes, the drow crafter announced that the queen was ready to see the party, and thier escorts would be arriving moentartily. IN due time, a side door opened, and 6 platinum clockwork horrors emerged, and moved to surround the cage. The drow asked if the part as ready, and on their conformation, they felt warm air on their face, indicating the barrier had been dropped. The horrors moved the party out, and as they passed the drow she blew a strange dust over the party, and Thul identified this as a form of dispel magic, Their defense against poison had been removed.

The party was lead on a route through the ship, seemingly more for intimidation and information then expediency. They passed through barracks and amenities enough to cater for at least a small city, training areas for an army, a mushroom forest much like the one on the surface, hangar areas with more spelljammers nearing completion. A gigantinc prison area, with walls lined with shakles, and what seem to be blood sluices into the center. THey walked past an area where copies of the drow femalethey had talked to were sewing together mangled body parts of drow corpses forming the drow-cetipede flesh golems thay encountered.. Another area was a massive room filled with what seem to be large glass vessles, each one containing a single drow, or a skeleton, or one without skin, just muscles. THey quickly lose count how many were there.

THey were finally marched up a large, spiral set of stais, which seem to climb for ages. When they reach the top, they were greeted on one side by a window showing a vista of the lands of Eldorado below below them, the flattened mountain top in the distance wherethey entered these lands, seemingly years before, but possibly only a week or so previously. Below them, the spot where they stood and gazed down over the drow city not the day before.

The other side had a large set of double doors, and the party was ushered towards it. As they approached, the doors swung open, and Shadow gasped as his arcane vision was over whelmed. Inbthe room lay items of every description, wdapons, armour, robes, trinket and more, all radiating magic of vast and varying degrees. They were quickly moved on.

The second set of doors swung open, and this time it was the dwarves turn to gasp. In this room lay prescious metals and stones of all types and sizes, piles of coins, and works of art from all corners of the spheres. They were ushered on.

At the next set of doors, as they swung open, the lead horrors slowly fanned back, leaving the way open. Moving quickly, johnny passed poison antitoxins around the party to prepare for the battle. Then a voice was heard, part metallic rasp, part female snarl.
‘Enter’

View
a dome in a cavern in a planet in a pocket in a sphere

THe party moved back to the cavern within the planets center, to gather themselves before the journey. Shadow spent some time examining the clockwork hand retrieved from the drow corpse. The hand was intricately was intrticately carved with a spiderweb pattern, and within this pattern, where two phrases, one was ‘awaken’, and the other was ‘open that’, the command words for the hand.

The group sood within the hemispherical entrance dome, Shadow placed the hand on the ground while Johnny readied the key in the key hole. On the speaking of the forst sommand word, the hand jumped to life, and on the second command word and a point, the hand scurried over and up the wall, into the hand shaped depression in the wall.

There was a deep thudding noise, and the hand dropped back to the floor. With only a slightest of scraping noises, the dome walls started to turn, the doorway behind them slowly moving around infront of them. AS it reached the front, a chick of faint red light started to pour into the room, slowly increasing as the doorwar open fully, untill the walls clunked to a stop

Before them stood a large open, seemingly empty room. The air was warm and dry, and a looseing sand covered the ground before them. Large stones and rocks seemed to be placed randomly around the area. Attempts were made to contact anyone in the room, and preliminary exploration attempts were made, buyt to no success. Slowly, the group entered the room.

THey were quickly hatled a barrage of strange, crystalline boomerangs flying out and striking the party, and then a a figure moving between two rocks, and going out of sight to one side. Motions were quickly made in that direction, when another figure was seen in front of the group. Splitting the party, the second sighting was investigated. More boomerangs flew out,, and a third figure was seen, this time seemingly coming to rest behind a rock. The fleet of foot Ihsahn streaked towards this cover, and was confrinted by a lerge female creature, with a spiders abdomen and legs, but no real arms. Her ‘arms’ became a flurry of movement, which ihsahn was able to withstand. Presently, johnny joined the battle, but was breifly repelled, and even some of Norads normally true arrow strikes were knocked away effortlessly. Dispite the groups trouble in actually targeting the strange creature, she was quickly defeated, and the party moved on to the next dome.

On the opening of the dome door, the group was greeted by the image of a charging drow warrior, which was quickly determined to be a statue, and was fleeing, not charging. A group of similar realistic statues could be seen in the center of the room. Fearing a cockatrice, medusa or some such, the group cautiosly moved forwards, using a mirror to scan the area. Arriving at the statues, it was noticed that they were all looking in fear, and upwards. USing the mirror, a large circular creature could be seen above them. A beholder.

Havign to resort to ranged weapons to counter the Beholders telekinetoc abilities and magic nullifying ray, a battle of attrition was fought, the beholder defeated before the characterss strengths were whittled down. Exiting the dome, an area was found with a fountain, a small brace of fungus growing, and two strange glowing globes on altars. Shadow and Thul determined that these domes must be some sort of training or testing area for the drow, who would be coming the other way from the base of the SUlaco, and travelling out to the world, and this would be some sort of half way rest stop. The globes seemed to cure the different types of damage inflicted on who ever touched them, the party rested, and moved on.

THe group moved onto the third dome, and prepeared to enter. Shadow placed the clockwork hand on the ground, but before he spoke the command words, the walls clunked, and began to spin towards the front. As soon as the familiar red light started to break into the room, the group was assaulted by the smell of decay, and disease, and filth. As the door turned, and the room behind came into view, the party noticed piles of dirt pocking the landscape. A group of drow exited the far entrance to the dome, and noticed the party, stopping with some confusion and consternation. Seeing the drow group, the party, lead by Thul, began to yell and taunt the drow, insulting them in their native tongue, causing them to yell and shout back.

At the sound of the ruckus, a strange head pointed head with shredded ears poked its way out of one of the pile of dirt, n then another, and then more around the room, near both parties. THe drow archer let an arrow loose towards the party, and then it was on. The strange creatures began to emerge from their holes, and they were revealed to be giant space hamsters, like those that the gnomes use to power some of their vessels, but these were hisiously disfigured and mutated, with pale blue translusent skin, covered with random tuftsd of mattted hair, weeping pustules and open sores, black blood sparkled in veins visible under the skin, and mutlitple spider-like limbs lined their sides. Both sides came under attack by these creatures, seemingly lead by an even larger and more brutal looking specimen.

THe battle was feirce, the drow decimated bith by the hamsters and Shadows magics, and the rest were finished off by the heroes. THey tended their wounds, and then Norad followed the drows tracks back, figuring that if they had gotten that far, there must be empty domes in front of them.l They passed through 2 domes, already emptied, one with a giganting clockwork hydra, the other had a black tentacled creature, like the party had met near the statue to Morradin, but much larger. They finally reached a large, circular room, with 4 entrances, and a trap door in the mddle, exactly like where they had entered, directly above thier heads. The moved down, following tunnels untill they reached a rounded room, with what seemed to be a kind of cage in the middle, a hand print and key hole in the middle. after a final rousing speech by Thul, the key was activated, the room began to move up through the rock, to the ship above.

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Down on the Upside

The party was silent as the scale and logistics that was before them sank in. They would have to travesre the inner surface of the planet of El Dorado to what appeared to be a point directly above their head to escape this gargantuan cavern. A quick discussion made a call that the mines entrance that they had just gone through, and the point that the floating mothership that they had seen would be on points directly opposite each other on this planet, so the point above their heads should lead to directly under her.
Radiating Away from the ‘end point’ above them, there seemes to be about 5 or 6 ‘waves’ or layers ( the number was guessed, as the high walls surrounding them covered the perspective of the inner surface as it travelled down) of these domes to where theyu currently stood, so that was the minimum they would have to pass through. What they actually were though was a point of much conjecture. Prisons? Treasure Vaults/ Lifejammer helms?

A diretion was picked at random, and the party moved on. As they reached the Y junction before them, each arm revealed that it travelled to an area that opened out into a small area that lead to one of the large domes. Set into the front of this large dome, at ground level, was a smaller dome, set about half way out, and within this dome was a small opening.

The smaller dome (it was still large enough to hold the party, plus room for many more), when entered, was found to have no exit out of the room. FOr the first time though, there was a break in the surface between the floor and walls. Norad noticed that on the Right hand side of the room was an indent of a elvish sized hand, and on the left hand side there was what appeared to be a key hole. Johnny examined the key hole and found it was just tha, a key shaped hole with no working mechanism. Thuls examinations determined that the seam between the floor and walls indicated that the dome turned on activation, spinning the rooms walls so that the door behind them would become the door before them, allowing entry to the larger dome beyond. A quick inventory search showed nothiong that seemed to be what they would need, plus lock picking, SHadows staff and Norads Elvish hand were all tried to no avail. THe other dome down the opposite arm of the y-junction ended in the same set-up, as did the other directions from the original ‘room’. The party had reached a dead end. Assuming that the way through layed in one of the un-explored portions of the planet above, they traveled back to the surface.

Exiting the mines, the party travelled directly north, between the rubble mountains. Norads keen eyes spotted an electrum horror perched on a rock in the distance, apparently watching the party, and dispatched it with glowing enemy seeking arrows. Travelling on, to the west, the party came across a small, simple stome cabin, set into the rock wall. Though close to the raging river that split the planetoid, its distance and the mountainside dulled the noise to a calming grumble. A few trees (now dead) stood beside the cabin, surrounding a small stone bench infont of a statue of Morradin, carved to be working at a (functional) anvil. THese fact combined to give the area an aura of calm, a place for instrospective devotion. The cabin was empty, and simply adorned, a few simple idols to MOrradin around, and a journal. The journal indicated thet the cabin belonged to a prospective Comtemplative called Dillon, and told of a dream of his, where Morradin came before him, offered words of encouragement, and gave him a gem. When Dillon awoke, he discovered the gem to be in his hand. His last entry said he was travelling to Morradins Idol, to offer the Gem back to ask for assisstance against the invading terrors.

THe party rested, and Thul prayed and worked at the anvil at Morradins statue, fitting Dillons gem onto the face of Grudgebringer, into a carving of a mountain. Grudgebringer slowly accepted the gem, as if it had always meant to be there.

The party moved on to the North, coming into veiw of the edge of the mealstrom, and the broken bridge, from the other side. Coming around a rubble mountain, a strange sight if a forrest came into view. After a doubletake, the ‘trees’ were recognised as large Mushrooms, appearing to be related to a normally subterranean species called ‘Geigerwort’ that some travellers used as emergency rations. Travelling into the darkened forest, Norad noticed a set of tracks, travelling from the north, towards the mountain side to the south. Following them they lead to a small clearing, with a single MUshroom in the middle of it, with what appeared to be a peice of paper stuck to it. fearing an ambush, Johnny and Ihsahn ran to the tree, pulled down the peice of paper, ran back to the party, handing it to Thul. THul looked at the paper instinctively, reading the drow words inscribed on it

‘Explosive Runes, Bitches’.

The explosion knocked Thul off his feet, back to the feet of Norad and SHadow, while Johnny jumped instinctively out the way, leaving Ihsahn to absorb the remainder of the explosion. While people dusted themselves off, Norad re-examined the trackes, and realised he had been fooled by an illiusion, some kind of diversion. Under closer inspection, NOrad could faintly make out a light set of prints, travelling to the north. The party follwed these, but they were extremely faint, and were lost not long after. A search of the surrounding area found tracks to the south, which seemed to be the origins of the tracks the party followed south to discover the drow massacre site. A group of renegade, or possibly ‘good’ drow was theorised, and the party made a search for them, Travelling north again, Norad came across an area that appeared to have been hastily covered, trying to hide a large amount of foot traffic. Ihsahn and Thul also noticed that the shadows of the surrounding forrest seemed to have grown unnaturally thicker, almost clinging to the trees. AS they gave a warning shout, 6 xenodrow errupted from the shadows, attacking the party. PArt of one of the shadows coalesced to a vaguley human form, and traversed the battle scene, making a beelinf for ihsahn, but the party, acting as one, dispatched the SHadow as it reached him, including Shadow himself striking the killing blow. THese actions revealed a strange, shoedowy figure within the trees. Her true form was hard to focus on, shifting and switching, no real details could be made out.

THe ambush was quickly dispatched and, with the falling of the shadow-mage, a small part of the forest disapeared, showing it to be an illusion aswell. This lead to a small camp, showing signs of drow cannibalising other drow, and the corpse of a drow only seen in SHadows vision from his staff, and from the description from "Ripper’ Lee as the one who put the enchantment upon him. SHe carrried a few puches, one carrying a small metallic hand, intricately carved,, made from clockwork and precious metal and gems, another carrying a similarly carved key, and another carried spell components for a spider climb spell, and a flawless ruby.

A little further north was found evidence of ‘farming’ of the mushroom trees, and the tracks of the driders ( possible used as heavy labour and’or pack mules), and the exit from the forrest. From here, the gigantic scale of the mothership Sulace could be seen, and the fact that, while very high in the sky, she lay over a large crevasse before unnoticed. This was atleast another half a mile(or more) deep, the walls flat for the first third of the distance from the top. ON the floor of the cravasse layed Drow city, taking up most of the space, and behind it a flotilla of evil looking spaceships, from large carriers down to single person pods, all made from a multitude of precious metals and gems.

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Goin' down to the cross roads

Standing in the carnage after the battle with the Spider Mage and her companions, the decision was made to move on quickly, and possibly find somewhere to rest. Reasons were thrown around for and against both the cave and the Dwarven Church, and whether to move towards the Sualco, or to continue on exploring the planet. the final decision was to continue on with the exploration of the planet, and, after a quick round of healing, rest was postponed till later.

The Party moved backdown the mountain, towards, and then past, Hadleys Hope. Reaching the crossroads, continues west, against the traffic of the masses of drow tracks that Norad identified. Soon after leaving the crossroads, the ground began to rumble and shake again, causing all the characters to stumble. As the tremor worsened, Thul and SHadow lost their balance completely, Thul beginning to tumble into a crevice in the ground that the earthquake had opened. It was only because of Ihsahs quick reflex and Thuls aversion to haircuts that prohibited his falling into the crevase, which closed seconds later, as quickly as it opened.

After picking themselves up, they continued on, coming across another crossroads. The road south lead back towards the landing site and the arachnomancer chasm. The path north was where the traffic of drow tracks continued from, where as the final path led back up to the mountain opposite the landing site, and looked fairly untraveled. The party decided to take the path less travelled.

The path travelled up into the mountain top quickly, and the got moister as the characters ascended. Reaching the top. the found that there was a high rock wall backing this mountain top, collecting the moist air up in this area. Also, there was a strange warmth to the rocks, causing the moisture in the air to condensate, beading and running of the stone. This gave the ground a squelchy and soggy surface, collecting into near swamplike conditions
the further towards the center of the mesa. Within the swamp, a large carved head of Morradin was discovered, obviously a place of devotion,offering and pilgrimage, indicated by the large number of urns and amphoras set as tribute around the statue.

As Thul began to examine the urns, the some of others began to see movements out of the corners of their eyes, while others began to have strange feelings wash over them. As quick as lightning, tentacle-like appendages starting shooting out of the swamp, striking and lashing onto Norad and johnny in the blinking of an eye. The strength of these appendages surprised the pair of them as their grip started to tighten.

Ihsahn charged the submerged creature, attempting to skewer the creature, and pin it to the ground. For his troubles, half a dozen of the tentacles flew out at him, half landing and tightening. Johnny and Norad tried to free themselves from the tentacles grip, finding themselves on the receiving end of more attacks, one tentacle even weilding a sword to attack ohnny. Ihsahn found him self on the receiving end of another barrage of attacks and these, combined with the tightening of those already grabbing him, brought the barbarian close to death for the second time in as many days.

SHadow began to intone arcane words, and the air above the unseen assailant exploded in a nova of fire,and between the clouds of steam, the many limbed obscenity that was attacking them was visible untill the swamp waters rushed back in. The flames burnt off the appendages still holding most of the party, except for ihsahn, who was left with a couple. Making the most of the opportunity, Johnny went for one last ditched attack, knowing that this attack would either fe the end for the monster, or for him and ihsahn. His axe struck true, and the creatures black ichor filled the water. The party made a hastry retreat to back to the mountain path, and rested and healed.

They continued back down the path, and continued west. Out of the gloom, a massive stone wall came into view. The wall was carved in the shape of dwarven heads, with a set of large stone doors, and the phrase ’ The Mighty Mine Fiornia 161 ’ and "May her veins run deep and true’ carved under the heads .This was the main mine on the planet, the cornerstone of the dwarven battle plans for the future. Even from this distance though, it was the evident that the walls had seen much violence. Large cracks and blast marks could be seen, peices of the faces had been taken out, and the massive doors were broken.

Behind the doors was a scene of a massive battle, fought centuries, even millenia before, showing the strength which the dwarves defended with, but how outclassed and caught be surprise they actually were. Warehouses destroyes, foundries and molten metal used as weapons, iron golems, usually used for carrying euse, unsuccessfully, as weapons. Amongst all this ancient carnage were drow corpses, some months old, some years, some decades, some older, all having emerged from within the mines. Drow of all types, with all types of injuries, some having died of their injuries, some having been assissted to shuffle off this coil.

The further towards the back of the mines the heroes travelled, the destruction intensified. MOre molten metal, more golems. and then they reached the doors of the mines themselves.

The mighty Morradin inscribed doors were, again,, broken and burnt. They led into a massive collection area, where the battle obviously continued. The mines themselves opened out into a massive deep cavern, carved out around a massive internal column, with a staircase cut out of the column itself. The staircase itself went down for miles, with tiny side paths and mines coming off of it. The group followed the staircase to the bottom, with the occasional dessicated drow corpse on the stairs evident. At the bottom, many mine paths branched off, but Norad determined from which of the traffic came from, and the party moved off.

After a while, the dwarven mines changed into a familiar flat, smooth and circular tunnelling system, indicating the owkr of the clockwork horrors. The tunnel then slowly began to slowly spiral downwards, and, after a while, inexplicably, the tunnel shrank to half its diameter.

As a precaution, Shadow sent his familiar forwards to investigate, who reported nothing special, but that the climb got harder the further as it went along. Continuing on, the party discovered what appeared to be hand holds in the wall, and, then as reported, the climbing got more difficult for no apparent reason, The feeling was similar to approaching the gravity line on a spelljammer, and the walk, and then crawl, quickly turned into a proper climb. After a distance, the party saw above them what seemed to be a trapdoor. A quick party shuffle, and ihsahn opened the door and they all climbed out. The were met with a familiar blue/purple haze, and what appeared to be a large cavern. The walls aroound them were a few hundred yards apart, round, smooth, and seemingly carved straight out of the floor. Four corridors were equidistant around the walls, leading down to what seemed to be a Y junction, wwhich split and quickly out of view.The ceiling abouve them seemed to be carved with a strange geometric patten of lines and circlesm, untill the scale of the room sunk into the characters.

They standing on the internal surface of a massive sphere, the inside of the planet eldorado, hollowed out. The ‘Pattern’ on the ceiling was a maze of paths, y-junctions, and spheres crossing the internal surface, all leading to ( or away from) another large circular room directly above their heads. The parties headsd swam.

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The tomb of Hadley Forgefire.

The dwarven ancestor who revealed his name to be Craghorn ‘Ripper’ Lee, helped the two spellcasters to determine thwe various abilities of the items found in the hiding space. The loot was split among the party, Thul received the belt, Ihsahn the cloak, Norad the boots, Johhny the axe and shadow the necklace. The bag of holding was examined, and found to contain a cache of potion, and two strange metal rods. Thul questioned the Dwarven ancestor, and he replied thusly
‘blowed if i know. He carried those things with him since he was a young lad. They’d been passed down through his family for generations, relics of some old dwarvish war or battle or some such. Truth be told, i’m not even sure HE knew what they were for exactly, just that when the time came, he’d know.’

Satisfied, the party rested, bade the ancestor one last goodbye, and exited the tomb of Hadley Forgefire.

As the stepped back into the blue haze of the planets unnatural sky, still blinking, the party was met by the shape of three horse sized spiders. Astride each spider sat a Drow, armour clad for the first time. With a simple drow word, the spiders dissapeared in a whisp of black smoke, the drow landing deftly on their feet, stanind and drawing weapons in one fluid motion. The two forward drow carried evil, wickedly sharp blades, the third, at the rear, a metallic snake headed whip, which seemed to writhe of its own accord.

With the removal of the spider mounts, behind was revealed the familiar shape of the Spider Mage from the arachnomancer chasm, flanked by two large black widow spiders. Her front legs twitched, and her mandibles clicked, and, before the parties eyes, the three drow warriors grew in size till they towered over the party. As the two spiders moved in to the party, a single arrow flew out of the darkness, striking Thul deeply in the shoulder.

It was on.

Johnny and Ihsahn charged the drow warriors, Ihsahn matching their size growth, both wickedly attacking one drow, but, as they did, the spider-mage summoned walls of web surrounding them and the drow, blocking off the entrance to the tomb in the process. This left Thul, shadow and Norad. alone out side the walls. Norad dealt with the spider advancing on him with ease, and then procceded to turn his attention on the mage. Thul and shadow found themselves pinned down by both the advancing spider and the unseen archer, the constant damage interfering with their spellcasting, limiting options. Meanwhile, inside the web, Ihsahn and Johnny were discovering how devilishly sharp the drow swords were, and on top of that, the cripplingly painfull lash of the snake headed whip was eroding their dstrength with each strike.

Things started to go against the party. Ihsahn nearly fell under the blows from the now hasted drow longswords and whip, shadow took a few near lethal arrow strikes, thul was keeping the large
spider at bay, only Norad was under contrall as he started to whittle down the drow mage. THne, in a sudden flurry of action, Thul used magics to charge through the enchanted webs and, drawing on the strength of his new belt, healed the nearly dead ihsahn up to continue the battle again the drow. One quickly fell, and, even though johnhy lost his new axe in the sticky webs, the tides began to turn.

Shadow, on the other hand, suffered from more arrow strikes, and was in trouble himself, and things looked grim. Suddenly, a noise like mountains colliding was heard, and a ghostly figue of a large stone dwarf passed him, off into the gloom. The arrows stopped.This allowed his to finish of the spider ( with thuls help), then, using a fireball spell, both damage the spidermage and open the web walls. While this was happening, johhny and ihsahn had dropped another drwo warrion, and was finishing off the third as the web wall dropped, allowing them to turn focus onto the spider-mage.

As powerful as she was, she was no match for the group, and quickly fell under a rain of blows, reverting to her drow form upon her death. Ihsahn destroyed the snake headed whip with great gusto, and the party gathered themselves to plan their next move.

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play by mail part 4.

As the smoke clears, a fine ash dances in the arc of Alexei Johnnys torchlight. Scanning the room the dimensions of this room become clear.

The room, as already known, is about 40 foot wide, with two rows of
columns ,carved directly from the surrounding rock, running running up the middle.

About two thirds the way down the room, on each side, is an opening, with the back wall of what appears to be a corridor visible.

The back of the room is at the edge of the range of Johnnys bulls eye lantern setting of his gauntlet, but from here you are unable to see a wall or end of any kind, though you can see that the room does taper and narrow slightly.

“If there’s anything down here it knows we’re here now. This calls for a subtle blend of stealth and extreme violence.”

With that Ihsahn advances up to just in the edge of the field of light, sword firmly clenched.
Ihsahn’s footsteps echo off of the cold stone walls as he moves cautiously down the room. twice he has to step over the remains of what appears to be s a smallish humanoid, charred by the fires, but still retaining a recognisable drow frame.

As he nears to pair of openings further up the room, he is ablw to see what lays behind them.On both sides, a short passage way, no more then 20 or 30 feet, open out to a strange shaped room, The meagre light that reaches here from johhnys lamp show that the walls seems to have etchings or carvings on them.

As his eyes becoming more accustomed to the gloom, Ihsahn is also able to see towards the back of this room too. Much like on the left and right hand side, the back of this room opens out into another oddly shaped room.

Two figures can be seen in the dimly lit room ahead, but not well enough to actually make out well. Neither seem to be moving.

The party moves up without incident, Johnnys torch illuminating the three rooms that surround the junction. The rooms on the left and right are empty, but seem to contain frescoes of various scenes, people, landscapes, wildspace scenes and various others. The contents of the room in front of you are thus:-

The first figure causes a momentary jump around the party, as the shape of an extremely large, spindly legged spider comes into view, sitting on top of a large stone construction, which is very obviously a sarcophagus, a figure of a dwarf at rest can be seen on the lid. A quick double take reveals that it is merely the desiccated husk of a long dead spider, and a Tomb Spider if Ben Shadow is to be believed.

The second figure is that of another large statue of a Dwarf, also in full battle gear, this one standing more at ease than the one above ground, and this seems to be a carving more of a generic ‘dwarf’ more than someone specific. It is covered in a reasonable layer of dust and spiderwebs, though a strange peice of paper is attached to it’s chest. You also swear that in the stone eyes of the statue you see……something.

Thul, the closer you get to the statue, the more you are sure that your initial impression is right, the statue seems to slightly vibrate with some internal energy.

The paper attached to it’s chest catches you attention. It is written in the same scratchy, scrawly, spidery script you saw inscribed on the church before you came to this realm, and tattoed on the hand that started this damned journey, and the spell book Ben Shadow acquired. With your new found understanding of the drow language and script, you start to pick out words among the message "…..you move………cursed…..defile for eternity………you guard’

Ihsahn looks confused “Why would they leave a note to a population they’ve already annihilated? Who did they think would find it? Regardless whatever they’re looking for I’d wager they’ve found it, the Drow could afford to throw a hundred hundred men down those stairs until they got what they came here for”

The detect magic shows that the note itself is magic, not magical. The statue has a magical aura, though more reminiscent of a summoned creature more than a magical construct. There also appears to be a source of ambient magical energy behind a wall behind the sarcophagus.

Thul places himself on the ground infront of the statue, and motions shadow to sit beside him. He reaches into a small satchel attached to his belt and, almost without watching, takes out various icons and insence, arranging them around them. While he does this, he explains to Shadow ‘what i need you to be doin’ is this. Look deep inside, i want you think about whatever it is ya do whenever you cast a spell. Not the.words, or the movements or whatever, they be different for each, but there is sonething you do every tine you cast a spell, so ingrained in you that you may not even realise you do it. This focus you use, whatever it is, i need you to harness it, get a hold of it, and when you find it, instead of casting a spell, i need you to reach out and pass it on to me, can ye do that?’

Shadow nods solemnly, and Thul starts to focus inward himself, reaching back through his memory to unlock past spells. Unlocking the one he needs, he prepares it, and waits. Shadows hand falls on his shoulder, and Thul feels a surge of energy through him, and he begins to cast his spell.

Dual energies flow into the paper ward, and the script glows on the page, slowly increasing in strength, untill the words themselves light the room. Sweat starts to drip from Thuls brow as he struggles to overcome the magics, and shadows brow is deeply furrowed, his eyes off into the distance in concentration.

A sine whisp of smoke starts to trail up from one corner of the note, the paper brginning to crinkle and darken. It begins to curl, and a small flame begins to lick at the paper. Thul and Shadow grunt in unison, and flames ungulf the paper, burning it up in a flash of pure, white light, and the ashes scatter to the floor.

Thul Breaks wind.

The large stone dwarves knees straiten, slowly at first, to the accompanying noise of stone grinding over stone. The noise continues, as his shield is brought up in front of him, then his mace brought back as if ready to strike, the speed of his movements gathering momentum already. His head begins to turn towards the group, the rest of his body quickly following until he is face-on with the group. His gaze sweeps you all, stopping on Thul.

A voice reverberating from deep within the stone carcass escapes from between granite lips.
‘ A son of Morradin, thank the forge. What are you doing here, I have not seen a dwarf in Millenia. Only those accused elves’
The memory seems to trigger something, and an anguished yell escaped him, a war cry like Mountains colliding.
‘Tell me of the elves, and the outside.’

You slept for a long time, possibly as long as I. My name is Thul Urak’Dorn, cleric to the 4 gods. I estimate a possible 450 years ago we lost everything. Moradins forge has been taken over by a foul race far worse than the orcs. Mindflayers, and Eldorado compleatly ravaged by the Drow! Yes now you have a name for your hatred. Im on a mission of vengeance and these are my brothers in arms. I seek to reclaim whats ours and bring justice to the countless dwarven souls lost, and …I need your help. Will you aid us great Ancestor?

Both anger and torment can be felt in what passes for the stone dwarfs voice.
‘The dwarves are gone? El Dorado lost? Moradins Forge in others hands? Enslaved by the Illithid? What madness has become outside this tomb? and only 500 years you say, i swear millenia has passes as i stood, unable to move.’

he pauses for a second, as if in thought.

Drow? that is a name i remember, hearing stories of them from my childhood, but they were savages, an embarassment to the elves, how did they defeat the dwarves, and here of all places?

I myself cannot aid you, part of my deal of returning from Morradins side, to watch my blood-brother here, was that if i was ever to leave this tome, i would return to my own.

Thuls shoulders noticeably drop. His hands raises to his forehead and down his face in frustration.
“Could I have made a mistake! I spoke with Clandeggin him self he said 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 and then a vision of Moridan telling me that a gift he gave to one more righteous than I would pass to me. I thought you would be the edge. I have…I have failed.”

he pauses a beat.

We move on brothers let us not linger a moment longer, we cleansed this tomb and that is good. I feel its time we took the fight to the drow. The grudge bringer yearns for foul skuls to crack."

‘No, wait, you misunderstand me brother!’ the dwarf splutters, ‘I myself cannot leave this tomb to help you, but that is different to me not helping you at all.’

‘Hadley Forge-fire was the greatest dwarf i ever met, one i was proud to call my blood-brother. This is why i chose to come back from Moradins side to……’ he trails off sadly. ’His battle regalia was atop his tomb, but those acursed elves took it before my helpless eyes…bit they did not get all of his belongings.

He points to a scarred and damaged section of wall behind the sarcophagus. ’Hadley travelled across the spheres,breaking new ground on a dozen new planets, including this one. He collected items from all around wildspace that would help him on his journeys. Those items, i had puto be with him to continue his journeys forever. ’

Thul looks where the stone dwarf points.Its where he could see the ambient magic coming from. Also, among the scrathes and damage, he can see a series of intricate of knobs and dials,.all hidden in and among the rockwork. ’ These items can only be removed by a living child of Morradin. Take them, and do what is right’.

Thul holds back manly dwarven tears and walks to the wall.

Thuls walks u to the wall, and deftly manipulates the natural instinct about the cunningness of stone, and the wall to the secret compartment rolls aside

On a set of shelves behind the wall are the following items , which Thul takes down one by one, and, after kicking the dried husk of the Tomb spider out the way, lays them on top of Hadleys sarcophagus.

- A set of knee high boots, e.ch made from what looks like a single rabbit skin
-A belt braided out of some kind of hair, with three large white pearls woven into the front
-A leather woven necklace, adorned with a single peice of black quatrz
- a long tomahawk, with a wooden haft and a chiselled stoen head, tied with leather bindings
- a cloak made from a tapestry of many different types of skins and hides
-a medium sized leather sack

Thul, maybe your edge is among these, or all of these, i do not know. This, to me, sounds what Clandeggin was referencing. What the Forge-father told you, i do not know, maybe that is further down your road.
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