S105 2022 Summer Epilogue
With enough funds to channel the remaining research into magical prosthesis, Astral returned to the city of Vale. There he worked tirelessly to ensure that these magical devices became accessible to as many as he could. He never forgot the sacrifice of his friend, and much of the work that he did was dedicated to the memory of his friend. After some years he returned to Mistwatch, where he honoured his friend’s memory by helping to train a new generation of adventurers and heroes.
Glad to be able to afford the money to see his sister cured, Hjortr returned to his magical studies. Before long, however, he too found himself back in Mistwatch as part of the ruling nobility. Determined to not let Dayereth’s sacrifice go forgotten, he commissioned a statue of Dayereth, which now stands proudly upon the Mistwatch green.
Inferno settled his debts, but could never really escape the lure of a life of crime, cunning and adventure. Stopping briefly in Mistwatch and helping his two friends for a bit, he eventually set off into the Domain of Nethralyx and was never seen again. To this day, rumours are heard of a secretive town deep in the ruin that is able to somehow escape the notice of the ever-watchful dragon.
Even with Reyalon’s involvement in the Day of Monsters and the evils that he wrought having largely been set right, Nethralyx still continues to prowl the ruins of the ancient Elendri Empire, attacking any and all who delve too deep or tarry too long within its ancient borders.
Both elves and dragonborn refugees managed to escape from the baleful gaze of the dragon, settling into their own small towns and villages near the domain’s edge. The heroism of Dayereth and the sacrifice he made helped pave the way for peaceful relations between the people of the Vale Kingdom, the elves and the dragonborn. Within a couple of decades both groups had become well and truly integrated into the Vale Kingdom and are to this day found throughout.
S104 Righting Wrongs
After waking, the group discussed various options of how to get out. Realising the stair trap and the stone statue together would be too difficult, the group instead asked D’Zazn about the secret stairs. He informed them the stairs could be accessed from the basilisk’s lair.
Drawing on his detailed magical knowledge, Hjortr realised that the gaze of a basilisk would be deadly even if they did not look at it. Since that they did not have the equipment to make any kind of mirror, the group decided instead to fashion two shields out of some old, abandoned tubs and some tables.
As they worked, D’Zazn shared that the basilisk was chained in the room it lived – a danger to all who entered, but confined to within its lair.
Hjortr performed a magic ritual to summon a bat familiar; using its senses to guide the group through the dark. However, simple bad luck resulted in an ancient statue – a victim of the basilisk from long ago – skittering across the floor! The basilisk, alerted to the noise, began to hunt the group!
Thinking quickly, Dayereth and Astral each carefully kicked stones to distract the basilisk’s attention. The group got part-way to the exit they needed, but the basilisk was not fooled for long. Realising they needed a better distraction, Inferno called upon the powers of the God of Night in order to create an illusionary duplicate of himself – one that the basilisk could not transform into stone as it was not real. The illusion then led the basilisk on a winding path through the pillars, causing its chain to be wrapped in knots around the pillars.
With the basilisk effectively immobilised, the group quickly proceeded outside into the fresh air where they said their farewells to D’zazn and his two kin. D’zazn revealed information of the secret door that would allow the group to get into Reyalon’s private vault where all his treasures were kept!
Emboldened by the promise of treasure, the group descended once more and bypassed the basilisk a second time using the same trick. With D’zazn’s instructions, they were easily able to enter the vault via the secret door, which they immediately set about looting!
Unfortunately, the decision to take a peek through the vault door to where Reyalon’s laboratory was, got the attention of the now ancient archivist – now an undead lich! Hjortr nearly died of fright when he went to peek and check, and finding the lich staring directly back at him! In a panic, the group grabbed what they could and immediately began to flee. However, their flight was halted by the lich, as he addressed them quite calmly and pointed out that they had not taken all the treasure.
Surprised that the archivist meant no harm, the group cautiously returned to the vault to hear out the undead wizard.
Reyalon explained that, in the intervening centuries, he had come to realise the folly of what he had done – both in his work to create dragon-human hybrids, as well as his work to tap into the powers of the realm of light and the realm of shadow – places that, due to his own mistakes, many of the ancient elves had become trapped in. He further explained that he was struggling with a moral quandary – if he were to undo the magic that was keeping his people trapped, the magic that was keeping the kobolds and dragonborn alive would also be unravelled.
Moved by his contrition and plight, the group discussed various other options. After further pressing, the archivist reluctantly revealed that he could both free his people and keep the kobolds alive, but in so doing he would have to sacrifice his own life. Even then, his life force alone would not be enough. He still needed a little more – a willing assistant who would also assuredly perish.
Without a second thought and before his colleagues could speak, Dayereth stepped forward and offered his services. Reyalon repeatedly tried to convince him not to, but Dayereth was adamant. The three other heroes – Astral, Hjortr and Inferno – loaded up the treasures of the vault in Dayereth’s pot and said their farewells to their friend before making their way to the surface.
True to his word, the high archivist performed the ritual that spelled doom for both himself and Dayereth, but in so doing gave both the elves and the dragonborn the opportunity to flourish.
The Archive’s Secrets Revealed
The group decided to remain in Mistwatch for the better part of the week in order to allow Astral time to study and make a copy of the documents recovered. In so doing, the group found out many more details about the Archive’s history.
Firstly, they were able to confirm their earlier fears – that the Archive had been experimenting on citizens of the Empire. More importantly, they discovered references to experiments involving extraplanar energies – both from the hells as well as from dimensions mentioned simply as the realm of light and the realm of shadow. These included references to a demon along with its true name, which had been summoned by the Archive. The strangest discovery of all, however, was the repeated mention of the dragon, Nethralyx! According to the papers, Nethralyx was some kind of guardian or protector of the Empire – one that the head archivist Reyalon saw as an impediment to his goals.
The group also identified the magical treasures they had found – the two vials being healing potions, and the ring – enchanted with powers that could grant its wearer resistance to acid.
Armed with this new knowledge, the group began to make preparations to return to the Archive. Around the same time, the group also got word of another expedition by the Dragon Killer Crew – in which only two of the original five members returned from.
The four heroes returned to the Archive, discovering that the Dragon Killer Crew had already been there. This was clear from the body of a dead crew member lying outside. This time, however, the cause of death was far more apparent – severe burns and claw marks that looked very dragon-like, though strangely suggested a much smaller dragon than the mighty Nethralyx. Hjortr supposed that perhaps there was a baby dragon, while Astral instead suspected treachery within the Dragon Killer Crew themselves. He suspected that this was the work of the surviving mage known only as The Masked Mage.
On guard but undeterred, the group descended once more into the Archive. Here they found evidence of the Dragon Killer Crew’s expedition – the first obvious sign being indications of a second secret door uncovered in the Hall of Statues. More interestingly, it was very obvious the Dragon Killer Crew had opened the secret door by turning one of the other statues, before closing it again in a hurry. No effort had been made to conceal the scuff marks and disturbances.
Astral proceeded to open the door, revealing a very narrow staircase that descended downwards. Dayereth went first. Below, the group found further evidence of battle – more claw-marks and scorch-marks, made no doubt by whatever slew the dead adventurer outside. Not wanting to stumble into a trap, the group decided to retreat out and seal the door – making, instead, for the much wider stairs they had found earlier.
Returning to the octagonal room and the stairs beyond, the group discovered another thing that had changed. Magical lights had somehow been turned on in the stairway and the chamber beyond – revealing the body of another adventurer at the base of the stairs along with a very unusual smear of blood that trailed back up the stairs. Not wanting to meet the same fate, Astral took the time to probe and test the stairway before allowing the group to proceed forward.
Astral’s caution once again paid off, as he discovered that the stairs was a trap, and that in certain circumstance not yet determined, would transform to become a rather steep slope! Astral proceeded to spool out some rope to help anyone who might become stuck to climb back up.
Dayereth, though, shared no such caution. He leapt down the stairs in one great bound and headed straight into the room beyond. There he discovered the reason for the death of the adventurer – a great stone statue of an elven warrior wielding a greatsword, carved to resemble a knight of the Elendri Empire. The statue was massive, towering nearly twice as tall as Dayereth. Before he had a chance to speak, it ground to life – bringing up its massive stone sword up, ready to crush any oncoming intruder rogue.
Realising that something was up, Inferno called upon the power of the night to mask Dayereth’s presence. Protected by this sanctuary, the great statue was no longer able to strike Dayereth. Laughing at his great fortune, Dayereth proceeded, against the advice of his companions, further into the room to search the chamber beyond – one from which came a glow of great magic!
With an exasperated cry at Dayereth’s foolishness, Astral quickly recovered the rope and charged down the stairs to grab him back. Inferno’s protective magics upon the rogue provided no such benefit to Astral, and while he was able to roll to avoid the first blow of the great stone sword, the second caught him, leaving him knocked out cold!
Hjortr and Inferno then proceeded part-way down the stairs to fling spells at the great stone warrior, while Dayereth – still blessed by the Night – stole back into the room to drag the downed Astral to safety. He also managed to administer on Astral – a healing potion. The stone statue headed towards the stairs, but because it was too big to fit on it, instead stabbed its massive sword up the stairwell in an attempt to dispatch the pair!
Realising his ice magics to have no effect, Hjortr retreated back up the stairs, only to discover that he was ascending the very stairs that had triggered the trap! The stairs promptly transformed into a slope, causing both Inferno and Hjortr to slide right back down to the base, next to the animated statue!
<TODO: more description on the magic room! [Quest]>
Quickly, the pair dashed past the great statue while dodging its mighty swings and joined Dayereth and Astral in the room beyond. Inside this great chamber was a mighty portal that led far below. The group decided to follow the much narrower ledge away from the statue. Realising the statue could not follow, the group took a moment to catch their breath and rest before proceeding on. While resting, the group could hear the unmistakable sound of weapons clashing; a fight was happening deeper in the complex!
The only other exit from the ledge that they were on was another door – barred and likely trapped in the same method as the first. Knowing what to expect, Astral once again used a rope to pull the bar away, allowing the trap to trigger harmlessly before they proceeded forward.
It was here that the true extent and purpose of the ancient Archive revealed itself. The room beyond was wrecked and devastated. What was once many interconnected rooms and chambers, was now effectively one great room thanks to the walls and doorways being destroyed in some ancient cataclysm.
Hjortr took no time in recognising that this was once a vast magical research compound – housing a secret laboratory rather than a storage chamber! Quickly the group identified areas that would have once been prisoner cells and another – a summoning chamber. They could also easily make out three areas that were less damaged.
To the left, they spied first an area marked out as a summoning chamber where they could make out the slumped form of a human woman – appearing to be in a state neither dead nor conscious. Second, across the wreckage, an intact hall with many pillars shrouded in darkness, and with it the promise of doorways that lead towards a more intact part of the complex.
Finally, to the right, the group could make out some more of the strange crystal cylinders – similar to the ones upstairs with the strange brains in them, but far larger and holding what appeared to be human-sized shapes.
Wary and cautiously, Dayereth snuck towards the crystal cylinders where he discovered he was not alone. Three small dragon-men were hidden near the cylinders – themselves recovering from a fight with some of the mold-encrusted zombies and – more worryingly – a basilisk. The defeated zombies, in this case, being not human but other dragon-men!
After a tense stand-off between the two groups, the lead dragon-man introduced himself as D’Zazn. Initially wary, the two groups soon realised they were not an immediate threat to one another. D’Zazn revealed that he had collapsed a tunnel to prevent the zombies from invading his home. This tunnel could clearly be seen where the three were hiding.
He further explained that they were looking to escape, and that their current troubles – the strange zombies and suchlike, as well as the experiments to create dragon-men – were a result of the head archivist Reyalon – who was still very much alive! Unfortunately, reaching the archivist would mean passing through the dark pillared halls where the basilisk lurked.
Dayereth, Hjortr and Astral discussed the situation and realised that, perhaps, Nethralyx may well have been in the right mind to destroy the ancient Empire, as it meant stopping the machinations of evil mages like Reyalon!
Fully prepared to risk being trapped by the dragon for the sake of putting a stop to Reyalon’s evil, the group made camp with D’Zazn and his allies, and prepared for a face to face with the ancient archivist who was, quite possibly, the one truly responsible for the Day of Monsters, so many centuries ago!
Secrets of the Vault
After spending a week back in Mistwatch selling treasures, training up and preparing for further adventure, the heroes set out once again to delve further into the Archive.
Before doing so, the group learnt of another adventuring party – the Dragon Killer Crew – led by a boastful braggart by the name of Dervin Wolfwind. The Dragon Killer Crew made their way into the Domain of Nethralyx, though not all returned.
En route back to the Archive, following the same path as before, the group noticed that the Dragon Killer Crew too went about the same way. However, their paths diverged about an hour out. As the true path to the Archive had been concealed – the Crew ended up heading into the wrong direction. Worryingly, the path was being concealed by trees and terrains that were constantly moving and changing.
Alarmed but undeterred, the group returned to the Archive in order to plumb the true vault behind the false one.
Returning to the false archive, Hjortr performed a ritual of magic detection to better study the three unbroken statues. In so doing he determined very quickly that all three likely contained the same black mould as the broken one, but also detected a source of magic beyond a section of the wall where there was no door.
Astral thus concluded that there was probably more than one secret door. Upon further checking, he realised that some of the other columns could be turned. Proceeding to open the second door, the group discovered an ancient store-room, filled with ancient alchemical equipment. The true prize here, however, were two vials of a strange and magical blue liquid, which the group took.
Descending further down the stairs, the group entered into a long hall lined with statues – each one depicting a former senior archivist from the long-gone days of the Empire. On the left, they noticed that one of these statues had been turned to unlock a secret door. The group passed beyond, discovering a small guard post. Even though most of the weapon racks were empty, the group was still able to recover two exquisitely made halberds inlaid with silver and gold. On a more disturbing note, however, they saw that the cots where the guards would rest were not empty, but occupied by mannequins carved to look like armoured soldiers. The group decided to take the weapons but leave the creepy mannequins and proceed onwards.
At the end of the hall, the group spied the last statue – an obviously elven man labelled as Reyalon. While every other statue had two dates, which Hjortr deduced as most likely being the start and end dates of their tenure, the statue of Reyalon had only a starting date. Astral surmised the reason for this was because Reyalon was the head archivist on the Day of Monsters.
Passing through a large set of doors, the group entered into the central main vault. Inside was a large, octagonal room with doors set in each wall and a deep pool of murky, dark water in the middle. Suspicious of the pool, Inferno stepped forward and used his magic to remove much of the water – leaving it only knee-deep. Dayereth proceeded to step into the pool, where he located a sunken box at the bottom. Unfortunately, the water was also home to some ancient, mummified hands that sprang to life – attempting to grab Dayereth and drag him under to his doom!
Thankfully, the water was shallow enough that Hjortr could make out what was happening. With quick thinking and an even quicker Thunderwave spell, Hiotr managed to blast the crawling claws off a drowning Dayereth – along with most of the remaining water! With the threat of the undead hands passed, Astral stepped in to rescue Dayereth, while Inferno called upon the God of Night to ease the rogue’s wounds.
Taking a moment, the group opened the box that Dayereth found. Inside they found more ancient jewellery – including a ring that Hjortr detected as magical.
The mighty noise of the magics, however, created further disturbances. From behind one of the doors, the sound of something heavy and metallic being dragged, along with the clink of a heavy chain could be heard. Suspicious that such noises likely represented a further threat, the group diverted to check the other doors instead.
The first door – carefully opened by Astral who suspected a trap – turned out to, indeed, be trapped! A bolt of lightning arced out from the chamber beyond, followed by a thrum of magic building up to a second blast! Counting the deafening blasts, Astral quickly ascertained that the blasts repeated approximately every five seconds! Timing it right, he managed to leap through the door just after a blast. On the other side, he saw a strange gem-encrusted disc on the far wall – the source of the lightning! In an attempt to disarm it, Astral threw an axe at it whilst diving aside in caution. This proved to be the right move as the axe successfully struck the disc, causing it to fall to the floor and the magic to cease.
No longer threatened by lightning, the group took the opportunity to search the room. Inside were two stone sarcophagi. Cracking one open revealed an ancient, mummified corpse lying half-submerged in a back jelly-like substance – very similar in appearance and smell to the black mould of the zombies! The group quickly ascertained that it was very likely two different states of the same mould, and promptly proceeded to close the sarcophagus. Astral then recovered the fallen gem-encrusted disc and the group proceeded to check on the other doors.
Dayereth found a room – this time without a lightning trap – containing similar sarcophagi. Cracking one open revealed a mummified corpse that had all but dissolved. Before he could react, the strange ooze leapt to life and struck him – knocking him out and almost dissolving his flesh! Astral lashed out with a sword at the ooze, which unfortunately resulted in it splitting into two! Making things worse, the acidic black ooze resulted in significant damage to Astral’s sword. Thinking quickly, the group sealed the sarcophagus to prevent the ooze from escaping, while Inferno, once again, tended to Dayereth’s wounds.
At this point, Astral and Dayereth concerned about the dangers they faced, were apprehensive about proceeding without further rest. Hiotr, however, worrying about the possible imminent return of the dragon, ignored their concerns and proceeded to quickly check the remaining doors – all except the one with the worrying metal scraping sound.
In so doing, the group discovered three chambers with strange crystal cylinders. In the first, all cylinders were intact and contained, suspended in a clear gel, what looked like human brains. Alarmingly, one of the brains had four strange, clawed feet. In the second they found much the same, though only two of the cylinders were intact; the remaining four had been smashed, and their contents long gone. The final chamber, however, contained the greatest prize of all – a writing desk stacked with ancient papers!
Astral and Hjortr looked through the ancient papers carefully, and in so doing learnt about some kind of disagreement between the Archive and another ancient institution identified only as The Academy. The dispute suggested that the Academy had some kind of ethical or moral objection to the actions being undertaken by the Archive. Further documents lent proof to this – it suggested that the Archive was involved in experiments on people! Realising the value of these ancient missives, Astral took them and carefully packed them away for further study.
The final door opened to a flight of stairs descending even further underground. Once again concerned about the risks of being trapped by the dragon, the group decided instead to return to Mistwatch, study what they had found, sell their treasures and come back another day.
Entering The Archive of Biological Magics
500 years ago, on the Day of Monsters, a portal opened above the mage-tower of Elendril and out poured many monsters – the greatest and most terrible being the dragon Nethralyx, who laid the great city to ruin, and put its immense treasures out of reach.
Ever since that day, the once-great city-state had been shrouded in strange mists, and populated only by monsters. For those brave enough to enter, some lucky ones managed to emerge days and weeks later with nothing to show, while many more would simply disappear without a trace.
One day, in the neighbouring Kingdom of Valewind, four adventurers with an urgent need of cash, decided to try their hand at this promise of treasure (and risk!). They decided to make their way from the port city of Vale to the village of Mistwatch, where rumours of successful forays into the ancient ruins of the Elendri Empire, now known as the Domain of Nethralyx, had been heard.
The 4 Adventurers
The discerning Astral, played by Matthew, was a veteran of the Valewind army seeking funds to help a wizard friend with the development of a new magical prosthetic limb.
A somewhat shady cleric of the God of Night known only as Inferno, played by Keon, was seeking money to pay off a debt – owed from fines for crimes committed.
The noble wizard Hjortr, played by Nat, needed to raise money to cover the exorbitant cost of medicine needed to treat his sister.
The heroic and idealistic rogue Dayereth, played by Ryan, seeked money to rebuild farmlands in his home community that have been destroyed by war.
Arriving at Mistwatch
Following the rumours of wealth and treasure, the group arrived at Mistwatch. There, they discovered that the magical Mists of Netharlyx had begun to dissipate – exposing the ruins of the ancient Elendri Empire and its many magical treasures within.
The group then took a contract from Magister Ezrek’s Archaeological Consortium (a grand name for a small, one-man operation run out of a tent) to recover treasures and magical goods from the nearby Archive of Biological Magics.
After venturing a few hours into Nethralyx’s domain, they saw that the ancient Archive had been destroyed and reclaimed by the forest.
More worryingly, they spied in the ruins a dozen zombie-like creatures covered in a strange black mould, as well as a hastily abandoned camp of former adventurers. Also, inside was a dead adventurer with a zombie hunched over his corpse!
Upon observing the zombies, the group noticed that the local wildlife was being ignored entirely by the zombies – and vice versa. Heeding Hjortr’s suggestion to fashion a deer costume, Dayereth was able to sneak up and scrape a sample of the mould from one of the zombies – an easy task thanks to Inferno being granted a blessing from the God of Night.
Taking his time to study the sample, Hiotr realised that there was necromancy magic at work. As he studied the sample, he also managed to accidentally got some of the mould on his finger - which he could not rub off.
After further deliberation and several failed attempts to distract the zombies with thrown rocks, Dayereth decided to sneak up to the zombie closest to the dead adventurer. Up close, he observed that the zombie was simply rubbing its mould-encrusted cheek on the dead body rather than eating it. The adventurer’s possessions (pack, etc) were also missing – most likely taken by his former companions. The adventurer had in all likelihood attacked the zombie, which then resulted in a lethal response.
Deciding that the best course of action would be to simply leave the zombies alone, the group proceeded into the ruins.
The group then found an entrance into the underground vaults of the Archive and descended. Passing through an ancient arch inscribed with warnings of death to intruders, the group came to a barred stone door with the bar only half-on. The squashed remains of another adventurer lay next to it.
After some quick observation, Astral worked out that the barred door was trapped, and that lifting the bar would cause a great stone block to descend from the ceiling and crush whoever was opening the door! Securing rope to the bar and stepping well back, Astral worked the bar free – triggering the trap with the group well clear. With the trap reset, the bar was now out of the way. Nevertheless, Hjortr thought it better to be extra cautious and used magic to pull open the door from afar instead. With the way forward secured, the group proceeded.
The chamber they found themselves in was clearly a false vault. What little remained had all but rotted away, save for four column-like statues carved to resemble people. Breaking one of the statues open, the group discovered in its hollow insides some old bones, as well as valuable-looking gold jewellery of Elendri-make. It was clear that this jewellery was most-likely the source of the strange black mould found on the zombies.
As they recovered the jewellery, the group discovered an interesting fact – that gold could be used to counter the black mould! This was confirmed when Hjortr was able to successfully remove the black stain on his finger with some of the gold they had found. At this point, the group decided that while the remaining three statues were likely to be filled with similar treasure, it was also likely to contain black mould – something they were keen to avoid.
Looking ahead, they saw a secret door leading further into the vault – left open by whomever was last here – and with it a certain promise of treasure and adventure.
Before they could proceed, however, the group was distracted by a disturbance on the surface, which prompted them to investigate. Back on the surface, they found the dragon Nethralyx snooping around the area! Deciding that the prospect of being stuck in a trap-filled dungeon by a dragon was not something they were ready for, the group took their meagre earnings and made quickly for town to recount their experiences, sell their jewellery and train up to better face the dangers of the Archive!