Rifts of the Taies

Before the Story.
History of the Taies

The War of Pain (aka The War of Lorinis)

1,570 years ago marks the official end to what is known as the War of Pain and the founding of the Cantabrien Empire. While it has been long enough that the War is little more than a legend to most, the influence that the War had on the world is massive.

Before the War, an Elder Dragon known as the Essence of Essences or more formally known as Nisus who ruled the country of Lorinis decided that seeing the future wasn’t enough and instead turned towards trying to change the world. To achieve his goals he created and opened a doorway to another world. This doorway was named the Gate of Auire and through it poured what is now known as The Torment, and such creatures as Goblins, Ogres, Trolls, etc…

Nisus used these powers to change the people of his country and the people he encountered into what the world eventually would call the Tormented. In order to make the changes he believed were necessary Nisus began the War of Lorinis, later known as the War of Pain. For hundreds of years his armies marched until there were no civilizations left on the Continents of Amdrekan and Bastof.

When the battles poured onto the Continent of Malsera, Nisus encountered the first real resistance in an alliance of all remaining free peoples, with the God of the Dead, Nirod riding with them and the Dragoons and their allied Dragons and Nisus’ own kin fighting against him the war ground to a stalemate.

The Wardens of Malsera, ancient druids, allied with the God of the Dead, now calling himself the God of Kings and they opened a doorway of their own to another world with energies that were in direct conflict with those from the Gate of Auire. The Wardens opened the Gate of Yenic and with the Daevas that poured through from that Gate they were able to push back Nisus’ armies and eventually defeat the Elder Dragon and end the War of Pain.

With its end, a human champion named Mierke Cantabrien was crowned by Nirod the God of Kings as the King of men and he created the Cantabrien Empire to span all three continents.

The Era of Cantabrien

For 1,000 years Mierke Cantabrien ruled his Empire as an immortal. During that period Imperial colonies were established on Malsera, Bastof, and Amdrekan and the Empire flourished.

However other peoples and other kingdoms were discovered that refused to ally with the Empire. While Cantabrien despised violence among free men he also held a conviction that unless the entire world were united together then the evils of the Torment or of men like Nisus could still destroy the world.

With their attempts to bring other free countries into the fold of the Empire, the Elves decided that they would not participate and chose to leave the Empire and remain outside of it.

Also during the War of Pain, Nisus in an attempt to prevent his enemies from having strength found a way to seal away and block most of the magical energy of the world. The Prophets Arestines and Arogoth however spoke of a return of Magical power and Energy to the world and eventually were able to give a date for the return, which was suppose to be the year 1,000 of the Cantabrien Era.

Mierke Cantabrien felt that this was his deadline to unite the world and start a campaign to bring not only other humans into the fold of the Empire, but all other races as well.

The Age of the Prophet

The year 1,000 CE came and went and no prophet was to be found. Mierke Cantabrien felt this was the Gods smiling upon him and granting him more time to unite the world. But then in 1,007 CE Tallius Daris appeared and began to fulfill the role of the Prophet.

He unsealed all of the sealed Magical Energies in less than a year. While doing this he also reestablished the magical mountain country of the Stratagos, and saw to the death of Mierke Cantabrien.

However with the rise in power the now many countries that were not a part of the Empire a new power rose from the depths of the world. This intelligent plague became known as The Pit and as it spread across forests, plains, and mountains its corruption spread even deeper.

The Flame of Life and the Crusades

The Prophet Tallius Daris knew that he was the only hope to find a means to destroy The Pit and so he set out to create a power capable of fighting against the formless corruption. This new power, taking the form of a man, was named the Flame of Life and with the Flame’s creation the Prophet disappeared.

The Flame of Life, though he looked like a man, wielded god like powers and single handedly was able to fight against The Pit and win. However The Pit now was far too widespread and the Flame could not keep up and so he called for all willing to join him against The Pit and they marched in a series of three Crusades.

The First Crusade was to cleanse The Pit from Malsera. The Second was fought in Amdrekan, and the Third Crusade was fought on Bastoff and saw not only the defeat of The Pit but also the death of the Flame of Life.

In the years to follow though The Pit reappeared, though substantially smaller and weaker, but the Flame of Life remained dead.

And that is all of the important world history leading up to the story.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 1
Mercenaries of the Highlands, Tenzikil, a goblin, and Ogres

Goblins and Fireballs!

In the middle of Fall in the year 1,570 CE (of the Cantabrien Era) the town of Veik, the unofficial capital of the Highlands of Mulkaeran, is always busy with its preparation for the festival of The Mazerun that takes place in the deep crags of the Highlands.

With the preparation for the festival the town is busy with merchants, adventurers, profit seekers, treasure hunters, and others. This year the town of Veik welcomed the arrival of the illustrious Tenzikil, founder, owner, and chief of the company known as Tenzikil’s Triple E, which focuses on Exploration, Experimentations, and Explanations.

The Half-Elf Sorcerer Zykir and her Fighter companion Mace returned to Veik this year where Zykear’s adoptive family lives to seek additional work as mercenaries with the business of the Mazerun festival coming to town.

A Dwarf Barbarian known as Ironheart, a Gnome Druid named Tixe, and two Elves the light Fighter Evayne, and the Ranger Tinorian also came to Veik seeking work for sell swords during the late festival seasons.

Evayne, Ironheart, Zykir, and Tixe all knew each other from prior mercenary work out of The Highlands Inn to the south. Zykir and Mace currently were working as partners and Tinorian was an old friend of Evayne’s.

Separate, but somewhat together they moved their way through the town of Veik looking for the work that would provide them with enough to make it through the winter.

Just before dark, as Zykir’s family was preparing for dinner, Zykir and Mace noticed three large and armored Ogres running through the fields on the outskirts toward the town. They grabbed their belongings and pursued the Ogres into town.

Meanwhile in town there was an explosion, at the heart of which only one body remained, that of a goblin wearing a strange necklace. This was odd as no one could remember seeing a goblin in town at any point in time.

The gnome who saw to the death of the goblin was the wizard Tenzikil. Ironheart witnessed much of the commotion from the common room of his inn, The Pig King and rushed out to see what was happening.

Tixe and Evayne were both drawn to the commotion because of the fireball that exploded in the middle of town to kill the single goblin. Tinorian saw the explosion but decided it was best to stay back and observe the occurrences.

Upon approaching Tenzikil, Ironheart challenged him with what happened and Tenzikil explained that there was an illusion over the goblin and that something had to be done to claim the magical necklace that the goblin had before more damage could be done to the town and the highlands by the goblin.

Tenzikil took the necklace and in the company of his neatly uniformed men and agents of his company all bearing the same symbol he returned to the inn he had rented out for his people. He invited Ironheart to come and pay him a visit to learn about what his company was doing in Veik.

While this was occurring Evayne stopped to speak with the Seeker Varian, one of the Seekers of Nisus from the east. The Seeker explained that he believed Tenzikil had fabricated the incident by giving the goblin the necklace that transformed it and allowed for Tenzikil to create the diversion and draw the attention that he did. Deciding that this was an incident that needed to be further looked into Evayne also followed Tenzikil but from a distance and so did Tixe, and Tinorian.

Shortly after Tenzikil made his way into his inn, Ironheart stopped and saw the rest of the mercenaries that he knew from the Highlands Inn approaching and stopped to greet them. They shared the information they knew from the various different perspectives they saw the event from and Evayne, Tixe, and Ironheart decided that of all the parties involved they trusted each other more than they did either the Seeker or Tenzikil. Tinorian however stayed back and would only speak with Evayne, choosing not to trust the Dwarf of Gnome that she seemed to.

OGRES!!

As they were about to head into Tenzikil’s Inn to meet with him, Tinorian spotted the approaching Ogres. Ironheart upon learning of the approaching Ogres rushed out to meet them head on to defend the town and possibly earn a reward for doing so. With Ironheart rushing out to fight, Evayne, and Tixe joined him.

The Ogres charged at Ironheart and nearly killed him in their rush, but his stout form and axe were enough to bring the rush to a stop and put the battle in the middle of the street. Working together with Zykir and Mace who were still following the Ogres, the six of them were able to eventually kill the three well armed and armored Ogres and claim their heads for the bounty, though by the end of the skirmish, Ironheart was also nearly dead and bleeding out in the street.

Seeing their defense of the town, Tenzikil ordered his men to help the mercenaries and to protect their claim for the bounty that existed on the Ogres. He also invited them to dinner that night here at his Inn, and at his expense, so that he might be able to more properly get to know individuals capable of such a feat as that.

Tixe noticed that all three of the Ogres were wearing the same necklace that the goblin in town had been and she quickly and discreetly collected them and stuffed them into one of her bags.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 2
Tenzikil's Triple E, The Three Slippers, The Pig King

The Dinner

Following the battle in the street with the Ogres, Tenzikil saw to it that the mercenary PCs were able to claim the heads of the Ogres for their own bounty, he then provided them with some food and drink, though because of their injuries and fatigue they pushed dinner out a little ways to let everyone recover and allow them to return the heads of the Ogres to Zykir’s parents home.

Zykir and Mace took the heads back to her parents home while Evayne and Tinorian obtained the necessary materials to pickle the heads so that they could keep until the Imperial Magistrate would come to town to be able to collect them.

Tixe saw to Ironheart’s injuries and helped him get onto his feet again and calmed down from the fire of the rage and the battle.

Later that evening the PCs returned to Tenzikil’s Inn to join him, the Seeker Varian, and another group of adventurers who wore lowlanders and easterner’s clothing and equipment. During the dinner, Tenzikil explained the role of his organization of Tenzikil’s Triple E. His company Explored the far reaches of the Empire and the lands beyond and then made a point to try and understand and Experiment with what they found in the “natural” world. Once they understood it all they would set to the task of recording it and distributing that knowledge throughout the Empire to Explain it to the people.

Tenzikil explained that he was in the process of obtaining the rights to a portion of the Hall of the Dragons just north and west of Daedlina the provincial capitol for Mulkaeran. With this new library and presentation hall, he needed to study the anomalies of Mulkaeran first so that the locals could have their own lands explained to them. To that end he was looking for groups like theirs to travel out into the highlands to Explore for him.

Tenzikil explained that he would give them all time to determine if they actually wanted to join up with his plan and work for him. They ended the dinner and Tenzikil asked that if they were interested in picking up various jobs from him that they could return tomorrow where they would be able to see the jobs that he needed done and what he was willing to pay and give then for the jobs.

The PCs all decided to think on it over night and they each returned to their own respective inns and homes for the evening.

Ironheart returned the Inn The Pig King and while he recovered from his injuries he observed what the inn was named for as a man stepped into a ring with a greased up pig to wrestle with it.

Tinorian returned to his inn The Three Slippers to find that there were three slippers in his room, two green and one blue. When asked the staff and patrons of the inn would only smile and refuse to discuss what the slippers meant. Tinorian refused to touch them initially and planned to try to talk either the gnome Tixe or the sorcerer Zykir into coming to investigate if there were magical properties to the slippers.

Back at home, Zykir and Mace worked with Zykir’s adoptive parents to prepare the Ogre heads for pickling. They also spent the rest of the evening catching up and sharing their stories.

Tenzikil’s Tasks!

The next morning, Tinorian awoke early and made his way to Tenzikil’s inn to review the work being done by the gnome. He saw that Tenzikil had a massive map of the highlands posted on the wall with slips of parchment attached to the map in the various locations where such tasks would be needed.

As the morning rolled on the rest of the PCs eventually made their way to the inn to join Tinorian in reviewing and choosing which tasks they wanted to pursue. Tenzikil explained that for efficiency he would ask that they take more than one task at a time and that they attempt to work in a specific region of the Highlands.

After a lot of discussion and review they decided to take five different tasks:

1 – The Hunter’s Camp – Draedus

This task required them to travel to Camp Draedus out on the western edge of the Highlands to try to determine:
Why the camp was there?
What do the people in the camp do there?
Is there a curse, or corruption over the camp?
Why do people go there and never return?

To complete this task, Tenzikil gave them 60 gold each, A map, and The Eyes of the Eagle.

2- The Giants Walk

This task required them to travel into the hills in the northern part of the Highlands to answer the following questions:
Are there really giants in the Hills?
Where are they coming from?
Where are they going?
What history do they have?
What artifacts do they keep hidden?
Why do they hide from the Highlanders?

To complete this task, Tenzikil gave them 90 gold each, A compass, and a Boulderhead Mace.

3 – The Clans of the Torment

This task required them to travel into the hills in the northern part of the Highlands to answer the following questions:
Why have the goblins come to this region?
What is the goblins social structure?
Are they really hostile or can they be negotiated and traded with?
What incentivizes their relationship with the other races that the goblins subjugate themselves to?

To complete this task, Tenzikil gave them 180 gold each, Some ink pens and ink vials, and a Circlet of Persuasion.

4 – The Highland Spires

This task required them to travel to to the Spires in the western portion of the Highlands to the west of Camp Draedus to investigate the following:
Why do the spires exist?
What builds the nests?
Why does the Stratagos avoid the spires?
And for them to get an accurate map of the Spires.

To complete this task, Tenzikil gave them 180 gold each, a Journal, and a Stormlure Necklace.

5 – Gnomish Research

This task required them to seek out the gnomes that came to the highlands thirty years ago and find out:
Where did the Gnomes actually go?
What are they working on, and what are they building in there?
What did they discover?
Why do they hide whatever it is that they found?

To complete this task, Tenzikil gave them 270 gold each, a Golembane Scarab, and an Amulet of Elemental Strife.

With their decision made, and their meeting with Tenzikil over lunch over where they formalized their decision to take on the tasks chosen, the PCs developed a list of materials and equipment they believed they would need. They split up to get the gear, with the plan to reconvene the next day and leave at dawn to start their journey for Camp Draedus.

They bought horses, ponies, a donkey, feed for them all, tents, bedrolls, and food to travel with for about six months.

The Pig King – Ironheart

That evening, the dwarf Ironheart returned to his inn The Pig King and decided that he was recovered enough to join in with the namesake of the inn, though just a normal pig wasn’t enough so he requested that they bring out their biggest most fierce Pig.

While he stripped down to just a pair of breeches, the Pig Keepers brought in and greased up a Dire Hog that was twice the size of the small dwarf. Ironheart, true to his name, felt no fear and dove into the arena against the Dire Hog even though the odds were three to one against him.

He lept on the greased monstrosity and fought to maintain his grip before finally finding purchase on the tusks of the animal, which he used as leverage to show of the strength of the Earthborne Dwarves of the Wall Mountains as he forced the Dire Hog to the ground and claimed the title of The Pig King and his winnings.

The Three Slippers – Bashful Tinorian

Tinorian was able to convince the gnome Tixe through a myriad of misspeaks and confused intentions with her coming to his room, to come back with him to investigate the three slippers there. She saw nothing special and instead left him to it.

Deciding that he needed to explore the slippers, he put the on the green slippers and put the blue slipper on the handle of his inn room door.

Later that evening a knock came at his door, which he answered to find a human woman with the look of an adventurer herself, though she wore no armor and only normal town clothes, and a pair of purple slippers, though she held in her hand the other blue slipper to complete the pair for the one blue slipper Tinorian had.

The woman also had no idea what the slippers were for and invited Tinorian to join her for a drink at the bar, though the bashful Wood Elf declined and instead retreated into his room for the night.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 3
The Ettin and his 'Kale'

On the Road

The next morning at dawn the PCs headed out along the west road toward the town of Moul. While on the road they came across the other group of adventurers that they had met briefly during the dinner with Tenzikil. On the road though they looked different with their easterner clothing linking them to a much closer location, specifically the province just to the east of Mulkaeran, Druledk.

They stopped to chat briefly, with Tixe and Zykir speaking with the humans from the east, while Evayne studied their belongings. Hanging from one of their saddlebags Evayne saw a pair of Arcane Shackles designed for suppressing Magi and Wizards. Evayne brought this information up to the rest of them and they confronted the Druledk mage hunters about the shackles to which they admitted that they had crossed most of Mulkaeran looking for an escaped prisoner. They urged the PCs to keep an eye out and to avoid him if at all possible.

The meeting ended with neither party liking the other very much, and with the PCs heading off for the town of Moul. They stayed the night in one of the outskirt inns and did not spend any time in town.

Early the next morning they moved out east from the town into the wilderness and hills of the Highlands. They made for the coastline cliffs of the Highlands to follow the coast east toward Camp Draedus.

The Ettins

After a day and half of travel as they peaked over one of the small hills, they could see that over the next hill were two large humanoid creatures standing tall enough that they could make out their heads just over the hill. Evayne spotted an ambush however and brought them all to a halt as they realized that much of the shrubbery wasn’t in fact shrubbery at all, but camouflaged hobgoblins.

The PCs took up a defensive position, though without any real cover there wasn’t much that they could do. As they were trying to decide how to move forward they heard the raised voice of the giant humanoids calling someone “Kale” though who that was referring to and what the argument was about they couldn’t make out.

They were in a poor position and so they decided to sneak up on the giants over the hill and saw that they weren’t giants, but Ettins arguing with a single man that seemed to be holding both of the Ettins off at a distance. The PCs approached the conflict and brought the argument to a halt as the Ettins and the man looked at them.

Both the Ettins and the man pleaded for the PCs to join them. The lead Ettin identified itself as Chokol, and he identified the man as “Kale” the wizard. The PCs refused to assist either as neither side seemed trustworthy to them, but in doing so, “Kale” gave up on his argument and triggered a magical trigger to release the other Ettin from some form or magical binding. With that a necklace that matched those Tixe had removed from the Ogres back in Veik, fell to the ground.

Chokol thanked the PCs and turned to lead the other Ettin and the hobgoblins away to the north. The PCs approached “Kale” who was moderately displeased with them. It was obvious upon their approach that he was a powerful wizard and they presumed that he was in fact the wizard that the mage hunters were after.

The Hunted Wizard of Questionable Morals

“Kale” explained that he too was heading east and wondered if the PCs would travel with him for protection. When pressed as to what he needed protection from, he explained that he was the mage the hunters were after. The PCs then turned to questioning him about the necklaces, and he admitted that those too were created by him and they were enchanted to cause the wearer to obey a specific set of commands pre-assigned to the necklaces. He explained that if they wanted some, he still had three more and would happily make them necklaces to use.

When asked, he explained that he had been using the local goblin clans as a hiding spot from the mage hunters, but that in return they were demanding he grant them more and more power. Upon learning that the mage hunters were in the Highlands, due to a goblin spy, able to look like a human because of him, he gave three necklaces to some Ogres with an enchantment forcing them to seek out and hunt down the hunters, which is why they came to Veik.

The PCs were disgusted by his actions and refused to travel with him. Whatever his problems were, they were his, not theirs. They turned their back on “Kale” and left at a quick trot to put a sizable distance between them and the Wizard.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 4
Shimmering and Sparkling Camp Draedus

Finding the Camp

The PCs followed the coastline east for three days after their encounter with the Ettin and the wizard “Kale”. There were no tracks, trails, or roads, just rocky hills and sparse Highlands brush. Based upon the maps they had from Tenzikil as to where the Camp should exist and their calculations of how far and fast they were traveling, on the beginning of the fourth day out from the Ettin’s they turned north to head into the canyons and ravines of the sharp hills of the Highlands to find the Camp.

They circled around one large hill then moved to the east to circle around another. Tinorian went of ahead to scout their path and climbed up the steep hill, leaving his horse down with the party to keep moving north and east around the hill. After about two hours he returned with news that the had found the Camp and that they should be able to reach it by the end of the day.

The PCs continued to circle around the large hill and once they reached the north side of the hill they could see not only Camp Draedus seated in the valley to the west, but also a large sloping valley that stretched toward the Spires of the Highlands. There the Spires reached for the very heavens looking taller than the Wall Mountains behind them. At the tip of the Spires a show of lightning flashed endlessly bouncing from one spire to the next.

However that wasn’t all they saw, across the valley from them, down near the spires they saw about twenty humanoid figures marching west along the valley towards Camp Draedus. Something about these individuals didn’t seem normal, so the PCs decided to hold up and hide in the rocky outcrops of the hill to let them pass and get out of sight before they continued on.

With the rumors they had heard of Camp Draedus they also didn’t want to directly approach the Camp, but instead scout it from a distance and see if they could determine why it was considered a trap by Tenzikil and his researchers.

After about an hour or so they continued their march west around the large hill toward Camp Draedus. The Camp wasn’t exactly what any of them thought that it would be, with only a dozen large longhouses surrounding a single central keep and about two thousand or so tents and wagons filling the spaces between the longhouses, Camp Draedus really was just a camp.

The Shimmering and Sparkling of Camp Draedus

The PCs knew that with the six of them and eight horses and pack animals they wouldn’t really be able to hide, but they decided to climb up the north side of the hill some distance and camp as close to the top of the hill, about a half mile east of Camp Draedus.

Tinorian and Ironheart took the Eyes of the Eagle and climbed their way to the top of the hill to scout out the Camp as it got dark for the evening. Atop the hill, just to the south of Camp Draedus was a tower that sat just on the edge of the cliff overlooking the tower. There were men in Grey Cloaks with bows that manned the tower.

Meanwhile Zykir and Mace, who were setting up their camp while Tixe slept and Evayne prepared dinner for them, spotted two other grey cloaked figures escorting a single black cloaked figure west toward Camp Draedus from somewhere east of them. It was obvious that the grey cloaks saw them, but Zykir and Mace only readied their weapons and waited to see what the grey cloaks would do. Fortunately they simply just passed by the PCs camp and continued to escort the one black cloaked figure into the Camp.

Minutes later Tinorian and Ironheart also saw the two escorts and the single black cloaked figure, but by then they were too far out of the way to speak to, or stop. Instead as Tinorian watched them walk toward the Camp he saw a strange extremely faint shimmering bubble that seemed to encapsulate the entirety of the Camp. Pulling on the Eyes of the Eagle and using their augmented sight to help him he saw that there wasn’t just a shimmering of light that surrounded the Camp, but also several sparkles and seemingly random flashes of light from all over the Camp. Almost as though the light of the sun was being reflected from small mirrors, though most of the flashes appeared from the air and sky above the Camp.

Giants and Secret Trades

Tinorian and Ironheart returned to the main camp and explained what they saw upon scouting the Camp and they decided to maintain watches on the Tower and the Camp through out the night from the top of the hill.

Late in the night while Tinorian was on watch again he saw two grey cloaked figures head out from the Tower south on the top of the plateau of a hill. Moving from his scouting post he stealthed and follow them south until they came to a stop about a mile south of the Tower.

They waited there for a few moments before a Cloud Giant approached them from the south. There was a brief exchange that ended with the grey cloaks giving several large bags of what looked like gems and jewelry to the Giant and the Giant giving them nothing in return. Tinorian knew of Cloud Giants and knew better than to step up and expose himself to one of them. So instead he stepped back and observed.

He took all of that information back to the rest of the PCs and they decided that it was best to wait until the next day before they went looking for any answers.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 5
The Tower, The Huntmaster, and the Children

The Tower

The following morning, the PC’s decided that it was time to try to get some answers as to what was happening in and around Camp Draedus, however the shimmering, now visible to a couple others of the group, though no others saw the sparkling that Tinorian could see.

They hatched a plan to have Tinorian, Tixe, and Evayne approach the grey cloak Tower atop the hill south of the Camp. Ironheart would follow them but beneath the earth’s surface doing in the Earthborne’s earth walk. That way he could keep up with them and keep tabs on them, but could stay hidden incase they needed the help.

Meanwhile, Zykir and Mace packed up the PCs camp and prepared it to move out as soon as everyone else returned. That morning as they were packing up the camp they saw hundreds of people head out from Camp Draedus into the Spire and the surrounding hills, including Gryphon and Hippogriff riders that flew their animals into the Spires.

Ironheart also saw the Gryphons and called to them, grabbing their attention briefly, but insufficiently for them to stop or to acknowledge him.

Once they reached the Tower, Tinorian and Evayne began to question the grey cloaks at length while Tixe listened and scouted around through the Tower at what was there. They learned that the grey cloaks were the “officials” of the Camp and that they were the permanent residents of the Camp and followed the lead of Hunt Master Blaine as to how to keep the peace. They also learned that there wasn’t much peace to be kept in Camp Draedus, poaching another mans hunt was about the only real crime, aside from engaging in open warfare within the Camp.

When questioned about the trade that took place last night between the grey cloaks and the Giant they claimed ignorance as to what they were questioning. From the questioning, the PCs learned that the grey cloaks and Camp Draedus was relatively hospitable and would welcome the PCs to set up their own camp, or rent quarters for the night from one of their lodges.

The PCs decided to double back at return to the camp at that point.

Huntmaster Blaine, a Golem, and a Stranger

The PCs gathered again at their camp site and in force moved out for the Camp, though they approached slowly, as several of them could see the strange shimmering dome that surrounded the Camp. Approaching the dome cautiously they stepped through it without any noticeable ill effect, though Zykir required notable urging to trust it enough to step through. Eventually they all passed through the dome and decided to make their way for the keep in the middle of the Camp where the supposed Huntmaster resided.

On their way through the Camp they saw that even though there were thousands of tents set up all between the longhouses and the keep, the tents themselves were set up into “neighborhoods” of hunters, adventurers, and others who had come to stay at the Camp for a while.

Evayne noticed a pack of about five children pacing them as they moved through the Camp and she tried to keep a close eye on them.

Upon reaching the central keep, the PCs all went inside with the exception of Evayne who decided to stay outside and keep an eye on the horses and their gear. In an exchange in Elven between her and Tinorian it was decided that she would watch the gear and horses and he would guard the backs of the rest of the PCs incase something bad was about to happen.

The PCs, minus Evayne, moved into the keep and learned fairly quickly that Huntmaster Blaine held quarters on the third floor of the fortified fortress. Making their way to the stairs they began to move up them when Mace noticed something odd happening with the Golembane Scarab that he carried. The Scarab began to react without his activation of it as a man wearing a black cloak passed by them on the stairs and then just as suddenly stopped once the man was past them. Mace shared this with the rest of them, though quietly, and it was decided that they would look into the black cloaked figure later.

They continued up to the third floor to seek the audience of Huntmaster Blaine. On their way down the hall, they saw a room with several maps set up, one of which looked like a map of the Highland’s Spires, which was one of the many things they were sent to recover by Tenzikil.

Huntmaster Blaine was easy to locate at the end of the hall in a large room with windows that looked west over the Camp and towards the Spires. Upon their approach he stepped up to greet them. As he did so, Ironheart and Tinorian saw a shimmer of an outline of a strangely large creature hidden up against the wall as though he were a chameleon. Ironheart made no attempt to hide the fact that he saw the strange form, and Tinorian stayed back at the door to the large room to guard the backs of the rest of them, but he too kept an eye on the strange form.

Huntmaster Blaine greeted the PCs and welcomed them to Camp Draedus where he explained that it was a Camp designed for long term hunters to work this far west into the Highlands. Upon request by the PCs and at the cost of 200 gold he sold them a map of the Spires. He further explained to them that he was as close to a leader of the Camp as anyone was, but that his main purpose was to protect the Camp from threats that could come without warning and that no help would come to assist them because of how far out they were.

Upon being questioned about the grey cloaks that traded with the Giant he denied knowledge and said that the giants were at war with them once and that he had bought a peace with the giants. Once upon a time they hunted giants in the hills from this camp, but that the giants eventually organized and pushed back, and they almost lost the Camp before Huntmaster Blaine was able to convince them to back down.

The PCs gathered other general information from the Huntmaster, like that there was a Naga in the Spires that was a major threat, and that he only commanded the grey cloaks and the rest of the hunters were their own people.

Meanwhile outside the keep Evayne saw the children approaching from the side and she took a couple steps away to catch them. The children glowered at her as she informed them that she saw them and that they shouldn’t do anything. After a quick lecture, she shooed them away and returned the few steps back to their horses only to find that one of their pack horses, loaded only with feed for the animals, was stripped of its cargo.

With the rest of the PCs still in the keep she couldn’t pursue the children right then, and instead just doubled her vigilance to prevent any further thefts.

The PCs exited from the keep a couple moments later and Evayne explained to them what happened, which of course brought some minor teasing, but ultimately Mace and Tixe agreed to help Evayne conduct a search through the Camp for their belongings, while Tinorian, Ironheart, and Zykir took the rest of their belongings to set up a camp along the cliffside to the north of the Camp.

Jimmi and the Children of Draedus

Evayne, Tixe, and Mace all headed off in different directions looking for the thieving children, or really any children that they could find. The first to come across any was Tixe, who approached a group of children ranging from 8 years old to 15 years old. The older children were larger than Tixe and didn’t take her questioning and scolding appropriately and one of the 15 year old children drew a knife and lunged at the gnome.

Tixe, with a now cut arm, decided to decisively end this conflict and called forth the powers of nature to rise up and entangle the whole lot of the children. This commotion was enough to bring Evayne and Mace running back to where they left the gnome, fearing something much worse.

The children were easily captured by Tixe and after one glance at what was occurring the other people in the Camp kept clear. One of the children began to plead with Tixe to not turn them into strange creatures and the Gnomes were known to do. She promised that she wouldn’t but only IF they helped her to locate the stolen goods.

Evayne arrived then and recognized a couple of the children. Though regardless of which ones she recognized, Tixe decided to pick on the smallest of them, an eight year old named Jimmi. Evayne and Mace tied the hands of the rest of the children into a “chain gang” and let Jimmi lead them to where he believed their belongings were taken to.

The Jordarians

On the northeast side of Camp Draedus was a single longhouse to which Jimmi was able to show them a secret entrance that would lead them into a cellar down below the longhouse. Evayne and Tixe decided to go down and leave Mace up top to guard the other children.

Inside the cellar below the longhouse were dozens of men and even more tables loaded with a large variety of goods and standard equipment. It didn’t take them long to locate a corner of the large cellar with an enormous amount of feed stock piled. Upon their approach to the pile of feed they too were approached by one of the men working in the cellar.

He eventually explained that they were Jordarians, smugglers who worked for the Stratagos ever since the Emperor closed the gates into the Stratagos and forbid normal trade with the Wizards. He said that all that was gathered here was to go to the Wizards and that they would release any of it to them even if they claimed it was stolen. However in an agreement that they would simply go away, he offered to pay them 200 gold.

They took the gold and walked away, releasing the children, but also taking note that there was an organized smuggling operation taking place out of Camp Draedus.

Meeting up with the rest of their members at their own camp on the north side of the Camp they spent a bit of time shopping and resupplying within the hunters markets of the Camp and then called it a night.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 6
Sylphs, Kaz, and Bugbears

Morning Commotion

The following morning the PCs speed out through the Camp to start shopping for supplies that they might need or could use. Ironheart bought a bandolier for his flasks of booze that wore to facilitate his raging and then returned to their camp to ride around the town with Tixe.

Evayne went with Tinorian and Mace into the Camp to try to get replacement supplies from what was stolen by the children. While moving through the Camp Evayne was able to spot the sparkling within the Camp as well and as a Light Elf she was able to identify them as Lurkers in the Light – Light born creatures that typically were thought of as mischievous fey creatures, but would also be used by the Light elves as scouts and spies. These however were not working for the Light Elves but instead seemed to work for Huntmaster Blaine.

Meanwhile, Tixe took her pony Spot out for a ride around the outskirts of town, and Zykir stayed behind to watch their own camp on the northern part of the Camp. From there she had a good view of the entire Camp and was just watching the flow and movement of the hunters and campers as the day began and most of them flowed out into the Spire and Hills to do whatever it was that they did for the day. Zykir did keep an eye on one of the westernmost longhouses, which the PCs had learned that a band of Bugbears with a prisoner had arrived in a day ago. They hadn’t seen any of these Bugbears yet, but they presumed that the prisoner they had was likely the rogue Wizard “Kale” from before.

While down in the Camp nearly everyone saw an event taking place near the keep as a large creature, which stood nearly two feet taller than Huntmaster Blaine and while it was humanoid it also wasn’t human or elven, come storming out from the keep with the Huntmaster following him closely and arguing / pleading with the creature to return to the Keep.

Ironheart and Tinorian immediately recognized the creature that was in the Huntmaster’s room in the keep the day before, but hidden in the corner. The argument and march of the creature brought a large amount of commotion to the center of the the camp. Surrounding this scene was the strange black cloaked figure that Mace’s Golembane Scarab reacted to. There was also a Seeker of Nisus named Arelakth that the PCs saw and briefly met the day before.

The argument came to a halt in the middle of the markets as Huntmaster Blaine grabbed the creatures arm. The creature turned and confronted the Huntmaster directly and the PCs could hear it arguing with the Huntmaster about the Bugbears that were in town and that he was going free their prisoner, and that he didn’t care about the peace of the Camp that the Huntmaster claimed was more important than settling any scores. This immediately drew the attention of the PCs which also didn’t like the bugbears and wanted to take them down.

The Sylph

Meanwhile just as the commotion was beginning back in the Camp, Tixe and Spot were out riding west of the Camp and were approached somewhat suddenly by a strange tall, thin, and slightly grey/blueish individual. Speaking with a strange accent the man introduced himself as Cifli.

Cifli began to question Tixe and Ironheart about a key of some kind. Ironheart nodded and stated that they had the key, which immediately drew Cifli’s attention.

However around that time the commotion down in Camp Draedus had drawn enough attention that Tixe, Ironheart, Cifli and Zykir over at their camp a short distance away were able to see the Bugbears come rushing out the back of the longhouse they were in and start moving west away from Camp Draedus and toward the Spires.

Zykir grabbed the PCs’ horses and started making to pursue the Bugbears while Tixe, CIfli, and Ironheart rode down toward the Camp to find the rest of the party.

The Kaz

Back in the markets of the Camp, the larger creature pushed off Huntmaster Blaine’s arm and turned to head for the longhouse that the Bugbears were supposed to be in. The PCs moved in the same direction and all together now except for Zykir they intercepted the large creature. Up close they were able to identify it as one of the Kaz, (which Cifli knew immediately). Tinorian, hating goblin kin, offered their help against the Bugbears and the Kaz accepted it even though Huntmaster Blaine was there asking them not to fight.

Tixe and Cifli explained that the Bugbears they saw were exiting out the back of the longhouse and with a promise to Blaine from the Kaz that they wouldn’t fight until they were out of town, they barged into the longhouse only to find it empty with the backdoor open wide and Bugbears in the distance running for the Spires.

Pursuit and Slaughter

The PCs, now including Cifli, rushed through the longhouse with the Kaz running with them and met up with Zykir on the back side of the building with many of their horses. They quickly mounted and pursued the Bugbears towards the Spires.

On horseback they were able to catch the Bugbears just on the other side of the first of the large Spires and as they rounded the corner they saw the Bugbears lining up in skirmish lines to fight them, as two Bugbears pulled their prisoner around the side of the Spire.

The Kaz with them explained that they needed to save the prisoner, who did appear to be the rogue Wizard “Kale”. The Kaz explained that his name was really Caelum and he too was one of the Kaz hiding in a disguise of a man to blend into this part of the world.

With that objective, the PCs rushed into the battle, Evayne, Mace, and Ironheart riding directly into the Bugbears, while Tixe, Zykir, and Cifli moved up the right flank next the Spire, and Tinorian moved up the left flank to make for the Bugbear archers in the back.

Ironheart kept from pony back into the fray of Bugbears while Evayne pulled out her Boulderhead Mace and launched the boulder from it to crush several Bugbears.

With flaming spheres, a barrage of arrows, hexes both good and bad from Cifli, and a flame spear wielding Kaz, they were able to crush the 18 Bugbears in only a few moments.

Though they took some injuries in the quick skirmish they knew that the battle wasn’t over and instead, leaving their horses behind where they dismounted from them, they moved to follow the two remaining Bugbears around the side of the Spire and prepared for another fight, though they had no idea what could be waiting for them there.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 7
Morf, Caelum, and the Husk of Chokol

Entangled Pursuit through Spires

Two Bugbears escaped with the rogue wizard “Kale” around the north side of the spire. With the other 18 Bugbears dead, the PCs and the Kaz with them, who called himself Morf, continue to follow after the capture wizard which Morf refers to as one of his own kind, one of the Kaz known as Caelum.

On the north side of the large spire, the PCs see a host of Goblins, Ogres and an Ettin, they recognized from when they first first met “Kale”, who called himself Chokol.

Across a field of smaller spires, boulders, and rocky outcroppings the PCs could see three Goblin Shamans beginning to perform some kind of ritual with Caelum / “Kale” in the middle of it.

The PCs immediately leapt into the fray following Morf while they tried to save Caelum from whatever it was the goblins were doing. Tinorian rushed widely around the side of the battle to flank the Goblins, while Mace, Ironheart, Evayne, and Morf moved directly into the fray with Tixe, Zykir, and Cifli hanging back to support them from range.

Morf engaged the Ettins with spells and spears of flame, while the rest of them fought off the goblins and Ogres that came with them.

In an attempt to restrain the field of battle Tixe once again, just like with the children of Draedus, cast Entangle bringing large plants up from the ground to grapple and restrain everyone in the area, which unfortunately also included Ironheart.

The fight was quick, with the majority of the Goblin forces dead within only a couple of rounds though as Ironheart tried to rip his way out of the entangle a flailing vine was able to grip and pull his axe from hand leaving him standing face to face with a goblin and no weapon in hand.

Tinorian was able to land a couple of arrows into the goblin killing it before it was able to strike the defenseless dwarf. At the same time across the field of battle, Chokol was able to stun and knockout Morf knocking him against the side of the spire. Mace, Evayne, Zykir, Tixe, and Cifli all focused their attentions on the Ettin then. Cifli rushed to Morf and immediately stabilized him with a curing Hex before returning to battle against Chokol.

Weakened from his battle with Morf, Chokol didn’t stand a chance against the PCs and against Mace and Evayne’s flanking combined with Tixe’s and Zykir’s spells he fell quickly into a heap on the ground.

However the Ogres and Chokol did their job and as Chokol fell the Goblins across the battlefield who were casting some ritual on Caelum, completed that ritual and the rogue wizard ceased to resemble a human as he briefly changed into his true form as one of the Kaz before being ripped apart into what appeared to be pure energy.

The remaining Ogre and goblins moved to stand in the way of the PCs who were trying to pursue the Goblin Shamans. Ironheart retrieved his axe and tore through the guards with the help of Tinorian, but by the time they were done the shamans were long gone.

The Husk of Chokol

With the battle won, and Morf stabilized they PCs stopped to recover their own strength and to loot what they could from the goblins, ogres, and Ettin. Ironheart thought it would be hilarious to cut open the Ettin and make a giant Ettin suit that they could wear. Despite the revulsion of the rest of them he decided to try, and much to all of their surprise they found out that Chokol’s body was already hollowed out. It was nothing more than an empty husk.

Cifli and Tixe were able to revive Morf around the same time and they informed him what happened to Caelum aka “Kale” Morf took one look at the husk of Chokol and immediately began to explain what he believed the goblins were trying to do. He believed that they were trying to evolve. He explained that goblins were not like normal creatures and that their life cycles were strange allowing individuals to evolve into large and greater versions of themselves. He believed that Chokol had already evolved and was using powerful magic to animate his old Husk and use it as a weapon. And with the energy from Caelum he believed that the goblins were going to try to force another evolution to make Chokol even more powerful.

Morf answered their questions about the goblins, the Spires, and about Camp Draedus, where he explained that he believed that Huntmaster Blaine was a very dangerous man with powers they hadn’t fully figured out or understood yet. Morf explained that Huntmaster Blaine liked to “collect” things that others couldn’t, including people and powers.

Morf then went on to say that with Caelum dead, his task was over, he was sent here to find and recover Caelum and the knowledge that he acquired before he was captured and imprisoned in the Labyrinth of Druledk. Morf was now heading back through the Vortex of the Spires to his world to report, though he encouraged Cifli, in private, to continue on with his mission and to find the Key to the Door of Four.

Robo Gnome in a Rock

Using the Golembane Scarab, the PCs identified a construct that was hiding nearby. With further investigation they found a Gnome sized metallic construct hiding in a hole in one of the larger boulders there to observe the energy fluctuations of the spires as well as the movements of the hunters in and out of Camp Draedus.

The Construct would only speak to Tixe though and seemed confused when she didn’t know some of the simple things that it thought all of “the makers” knew.

They were able to learn from the construct though that there were dozens of other construct spies set up through out the spires, and the the Gnomes had a research station somewhere west and north from their current location, though the construct couldn’t explain exactly where.

The PCs decided to leave the construct there for now and return to Camp Draedus to investigate a bit more of what Huntmaster Blaine was doing as well as to prepare for an expedition into the Spires sometime in the next couple of days.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 8
The Stratagos Wizards and Phaseworms

Return to Camp

The PCs, alone and without Morf, returned to Camp Draedus. They were wounded and weakened, but they had stopped the Bugbears, goblins and Chokol for now. However they collectively decided that it was time to start getting some answers and they made plans to scout the camp and to seek out the assistance of the Stratagos Wizards. (To which Cifli also wanted to partake in due to his own possibly familial connection to the Wizards.)

The Stratagos had a longhouse in Draedus, the grey cloaks had a half dozen of the longhouses just for them, and Huntmaster Blaine knew more and had many more secrets. With gold, salvaged treasures, and the need for some healing, the PCs spent the evening scouting through the Camp for additional supplies.

Cifli using his ability to fly, went to explore some of the grey cloaks longhouses and their crafting and forging halls. Ironheart also scouted out the longhouse looking for supplies and trying to casually find out some of the Camp’s secrets.

Secret Searches

That night after the PCs returned to their own smaller camp to the north of Camp Draedus, and after Evayne cooked dinner for them, they settled into rest, though agreed that that evening would be a good time to explore the Camp through other means, and Ironheart used his Earthborne talents to meld with the earth below their camp.

Moving through Camp Draedus beneath the surface, he began to scout out several of the buildings and their basements. He found that nearly every longhouse had basements that were generally unused, and that beneath one of them he found a cave like basement with cut gemstones set into the walls at even intervals, though there weren’t any exits or entrances into the room that he could see.

Beneath the Keep he found dungeons and by moving up through the walls he was able to find Huntmaster Blaine’s secret stash of “Collectables” including several dozen items that appeared to be enchanted with a variety of different enchants.

#12

The following day the PCs decided to spit up and half of the group decided to head for the Keep to speak with Huntmaster Blaine while a couple of their number headed for the Stratagos Wizards to gather information there.

Just outside of the Keep was the strange black cloaked and masked figure they had previously seen and identified as a Construct. Tixe decided to stay outside with it and speak with the man. As with the small gnome sized goblin in the hills the day before this one also was amenable to Tixe and answered her questions as though she were its boss. The construct identified itself as #12 and said that it was here to gather the items that were in the cart next to it, and that it would spend the rest of the day trying to fulfill the requests on the list that it had, but that it would be returning tomorrow to the main gnome camp.

Tixe asked to see the list and #12 was happy to comply and give her its list, which contained dozens of general goods as well as many rare and expensive goods such as several dozen bars of Mythril and hundreds of precious gemstones.

Though the conversation Tixe was able to learn that #12 would happily travel with her back to the main gnome camp. She decided to take this information back to the rest of the PCs.

Phaseworm Assault

Meanwhile Tinorian and Cifli headed to speak with the Stratagos. They were able to talk to one of the Wizards, who was somewhat reluctant to give them any information.

The rest of the PCs who go into talk to Huntmaster Blaine are quickly shooed out without much information gain, aside from that he seems somewhat desperate to prevent wars with the Kaz as well as with the creatures of the Spires even though he encourages their hunting.

As the PCs exit from the keep, and while Tinorian and Cifli are speaking with the Wizard over by their longhouse suddenly several of the flying worms spotted previously as being the cause of the shimmer around the Camp, manifest and descend upon the Wizards.

In the middle of the markets two Wizards before the PCs are torn to shreds in moments and the PCs and grey cloaks react quickly to strike back. The PCs are able to kill one of the worms or so they think before it vanishes again, and the grey cloaks begin running around through the Camp hecticly seeking to prevent more deaths.

Tinorian and Cifli see the Wizards stand up in a defensive stance as worms descend. It is a quick and instant strike that ends almost as quickly as it begins, but it starts a commotion throughout the Camp that it is no longer safe here.

Decisions on a Path to Walk

The PCs meet up later that day and discuss the information they’ve learned about Camp Draedus and the attack as well as the opportunity that presented itself with #12’s offer to take them to the gnome camp.

After much discussion they decide to go with #12 at first light. The construct said that it would take one full day’s march to reach the gnomes, and doing so would answer another of the PCs tasks given to them by Tenzikil. They were going to head into the Spires, but this option to find the gnomes seems too good to pass up.

Camp Draedus still holds many secrets but they were secrets that could be discovered later, and the PCs had learned much of the place including why it had such a nefarious reputation through out the rest of the Highlands.

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The Story So Far - Chapter 9
Ruins, Hostile Reception, And the Conclave of Gnomes

Crossing the Highlands

The PCs met up with #12 a first light and began to trek out west from Camp Draedus. #12 pulled his own cart without any beasts of burden and even doing so was still quicker moving across the uneven pathless ground of the western highlands. Two grey cloaks from Camp Draedus escorted the black robed #12 construct from the Camp.

’#12 had nothing to say to any of the PCs with the exception of Tixe who he treated as though she had personally built him. He explained that it would take about 12 hours at a steady march for him to reach the facility but that he could push the entire distance without rest. The PCs decided to also push their horses to keep up and try to make it all the way to the Gnomes in just one days march.

‘#12 led them around the southern edge of the Spires and then northwest across the hills of the Highlands. As the sun was setting behind the Wall Mountains they rode into old Dwarven ruins built right up against the cliff side of the mountains. #12 didn’t stop on his way through the ruins and eventually only stopped when he reached the cliff face itself.

Just before the cliff face was a statue of a Dragoon Knight, that was hardly damaged even among the rest of the devastated ruins and Mace, using the Golembane Scarab informed the rest of them that the statue was in fact another construct.

’#12 pushed on several of the stones on the cliff face seemingly at random until there was a noticeable and audible click from the wall as part of a large door began to swing open from the cliff face.

Famous Tenzikil

’#12 opened up the otherwise invisible door on the cliff face and strolled into a long hallway with arrow slits on either side. The PCs seeing no other way to enter the facility grudgingly followed #12 into the hall.

Behind them the golem statue moved and closed the door behind them as dozens of small halfling faces could be seen behind bows and crossbows on the other side of the arrow slits. The halflings and a single gnome begin questioning the PCs and accusing them of being servants of Huntmaster Blaine here to spy on them.

Eventually Tixe, as the PCs resident gnome, explains that they were actually sent here by Tenzikil. At the mention of their ‘employer’ there is a long silence from the gnomes and halflings behind the door and arrow slits. Finally though the door leading deeper into the facility opens and they are met by another gnome who introduces himself as Torzil Hedfin, and cousin to Tenzikil.

The halfling guards, who seem to be working for the gnomes, force the PCs to turn over their weapons to them, which will be kept in their barracks and will be returned to them when they finally leave. Torzil explains that they have been waiting for the time when Tenzikil would come looking for them again. He says that the Conclave of the Research Facility would be interested in meeting with them tomorrow after they have a chance to settle in.

For now though, Torzil leads the disarmed PCs to their residential quarters, and takes their horses and animals to a valley behind the first ridge of the mountains that is connected to the facility where they have a large stable complex.

The Gnomish Research Facility

The next day, after the PCs have slept, they are allowed to freely roam most of the facility so long as they are around to meet with the Conclave around noon that day.

The back facility opened into a large valley with a waterfall and a clean pool of cold water, but flowing enough that the PCs could bathe and clean up. The halflings were also using the valley for their own training and military exercises. They welcomed the large folk to join in and help to teach their soldiers how to fight the large folk. The PCs got the impression that they were getting ready for a war against Camp Draedus.

Also in the research facility there was a large room being used to build constructs, including about a dozen man sized clockwork constructs as well as a large dragon construct and a horse construct.

The PCs explored what they could of the research facility learning of the elemental binding halls, the workshops, forge, and even school for younger gnomes not yet members of any of the individual conclave factions.

Meeting the Conclave

At around noon, the PCs all ventured with Torzil up several floors to a large square chamber that had been modified to hold 7 large chairs / desks. At five of them sat gnomes with the sixth being a halfling and the last chair was Torzil’s.

The Conclave consisted of the gnome leaders for each of the five conclaves, the Master Magister of the Facility, and the halfling’s Master Defender. The Master Magister, Gar Gathalon led the discussion where he asked the PCs, as representatives of Tenzikil, to record what they are able to learn from this research facility and give it over to Tenzikil to make their facility look good. There are of course a few restrictions on what they can know or write about, but that they would pay the PCs for a favorable report about the operations of this facility.

The PCs ask for some time to discuss this proposal among themselves and the Conclave agrees but asks that they have an answer by tonight for dinner.

On their way out of the Conclave chamber they are met by a gnome who introduces himself as Mykris Skelp of the Workshop Conclave, and he asks that if the PCs are willing that they please come and meet with him and several others tonight at midnight in the Workshop and they will be told what the Conclave doesn’t want them to know. When asked who sent him, he says a gnome named Eaus Kop.

Footsteps and Spies

The PCs are given classroom #1 within the facility to use to discuss their options. They ultimately decide that they will at least agree for now to do what the gnomes want as there really isn’t much downside that they can see.

As they are about done with their discussion they hear a loud explosion and the room shakes and they start to head for the door, however on their way to the door Tinorian hears footsteps behind them. Turning and seeing nothing he uses prestidigitation to raise the dust on the floor up and sees the outline of a gnome in the hallway behind them that quickly darts away.

Tinorian calls out to the rest of the PCs and Cifli casts see invisibility, while Ironheart rushes around to block the other exit from the class room. Tixe beats him too it though by putting a flaming sphere in the hallway leading out the other side of the classroom.

With Evayne acting as an Elf wall in the other hallway the invisible gnome finally lets go of the spell and shrinks back against the far wall pleading with the PCs not to kill her.

She introduces herself as Zorla Yeg and she explains that she is not working for the Conclave, but instead is just overly curious and has learned how to make an invisibility potion that operates better than usual. She says that she will help them if they agree not to kill her. The PCs agree that only if she gives them each one of her invisibility potions. She agrees but says that it will be a bit of time for her to make enough for all of them.

Zorla continues to claim that she is not working for the gnomes and that in fact most of the gnomes believe that she went missing weeks ago, and that she’s been mostly hiding with her potions and observing from the shadows.

She goes with Cifli to the alchemist lab to start working and as the PCs exit from the classroom they are confronted by dozens of halflings and a couple of gnomes they don’t know who are blaming them for some explosion that happened.

Torzil Hedfin eventually gets involved just before the PCs are detained to be interrogated and he clears them of any wrong doing saying that they have been watching the PCs and know that they didn’t have anything to do with the explosion. Torzil seems to know what is going on, but he won’t explain it to any of the PCs.

The PCs return that evening to speak with the Conclave and explain that they are happy to help. The Conclave agrees that in payment for their actions they will augment the PCs gear with any augmentation requested, within the bounds of their enchanters. They also explain that tomorrow they will arrange for Torzil to give the PCs a full tour of the facility.

The PCs head back to their rooms to wait for the midnight meeting.

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