Thule: Gateways to Darkness

poking into the unknown 2
second in a series

The face I present to the world is one I have the most control over. When you live as a underclass in the courts of the elven high-born nobles you cannot afford to lose control in public. A faux pas never goes unnoticed. Or at least it never used to. Sure the other half-elves are as critical of each other as a full blood elves (sometimes more so if they seek your diminution), but the grand parties and social events have all but gone away now. Of the high, only my former master resisted the call of the Black Milk. Now he is gone and the Imystrahl I knew is lost to me.

Of late, I feel my discipline eroding. My manners, speech and self control are deteriorating. Quoddeth is unrefined, but it is home now. My companions are my household, I will attempt to be an example, a pillar of civility in this place. It is a challenge. Even the respectable priestess of Ishtar has the manners of a urchin back in Imystrahl.

What is of particular concern to me is what has been happening during those times when the path of action is necessary… I feel my power changing, growing. I feel greater control over that power and it will be mastered. I am its master.

Yet I am noticing the feelings I get when I use the power. The courtly voice and manners that has defined who I have been my whole life change in a heartbeat. I can feel the heat behind my eyes, the growl in my voice. I recognize now that I delighted at the terror on the thug’s face. I recognize now that a part of me hoped that there was not a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The thug was already burning in my mind.

To be sure, I need to reassure my companions that I am still the same polite and civilized Lucien and that perhaps I just have a flair for the dramatic at times.

The important thing is that we are now masters of the Tower of the Black Flame. I will unlock its secrets. I will not be distracted by the promises of power and prestige that comes with this arrangement. There are BIG things happening in the world and we appear to be running out of time.

We leave tomorrow for the Ghan Peninsula. It looks like a merry outing. It could not come soon enough, my powers practically itch to be used. I pray that the trip is not uneventful.

Tower of the black flame #3
We finally come face to face

At some point in the night I realize that Lucien is no longer on the floor that we are sleeping on. I go downstairs and I find him slumped over looking very sick and clutching his book. He motions to his water which he finishes quickly when I bring it to him. His book is filled with memories of many people and he tells me that he considers it a curse that is necessary in order to gain the knowledge he seeks. I bring him more water. " The tower has always been mastered by very important and powerful men." He tells me. He thinks that there must be portals in the tower linked to ancient armies and wars.

I think that the sickness that came upon him so quickly must have to do with the fact that he was trying to learn of the secrets of the Tower which is clearly well defended by some dark magic. With these thoughts weighing heavy I decide to settle down to rest finally.

After our rest Lucien and Vulash go downstairs to check on the trap that they set. they find nothing. Timbo and I look at the skeleton and the bronze box that are fused into the door. they are deeply embedded in the stone and will not come freeI do not know how they were put there.

We investigate the stone walls of the room that we are in. Osaiya notes it must not have been made by human hands, for there are no seams to be seen between the blocks. We moved to open the next-door and into the next stairwell. Before climbing up, Vulash observes that it looks exactly like the other stairways.

At the third step, a glowing skull, just like the ones at the bottom of the tower, appears. It descends and Vulash swings his axe at it but it moves through him and it flashes, momentarily blinding him. At the fourth stair, another skull descends and he dodges it and stays to the side. On the fifth step another skull comes towards Osaiya and hits her, momentarily blinding her and catches her breath.

Vulash takes off running up the stairs three more skulls hit Osaiya. She dodges and I see one coming at me and then…… Nothing.

I wake up to Lucien giving me a potion. I am not used to such bad luck! Lucien blasts the skull and we take a short rest. When we get to the top of the stairs, the door has a bronze skeleton with a skull sized hole. Terrifying and intriguing.

The next room is domed eith pillars raining it and a high-backed throne in the center. The throne back is a serpents head and I curiously walked towards it. When I get close and tap it with my staff, a large bulbous-bodied maggot creature comes out from behind. We kill it, but Osaiya is troubled by it’s seeming discontinuity with the serpent theme of the tower. We notice that some parts of the throne are waxy and others are oily. In a small compartment in the back of the throne, we find a small box with gems and a potion of healing.

Vulash moves for the next staircase. Osaiya notices that some of the steps be be traps if depressed. Timbo disables the trap and we move up to the next room. WE Are face to face with a man who stands behind a wall of snakes. Three skeletons stands guard around the room. We fight and defeat Kelaklith. He must have spent too much time with snakes, because he seems to look like one himself. Even after he has fallen, the skeletons mov for us of their own volition. We , such a worthy band of warriors, kill them as well.

We find a trunk full of gems, an amulet, boots, and the cube. But the cube has 6 cylinders missing from each of its faces. A pile of papers, uninteresting to me, but seem to show evidence of summons to the great powers of Thule, but needing to power the components of astral focus (this is what Lucien and. Osaiya tell me so I take their word for it ).

Lucien seems to have lost a few of his marbles, he seems to want to move in….

Where will the next adventure take us?

Needs a fire pole
a new home

Lucien stands up from sketching the fallen master of the Tower where he lay dead. “unworthy… but I know some who might be” Lucien walks around the upper room appraising and approving.

“This place is great. When can we move in? I’m gonna get my stuff. Hey. We should stay here. Tonight. Sleep here. You know, to try it out.”

Lucien is beaming ear to ear, no sign of his former weariness.

“Let’s go check out that basement.”

poking into the unknown
one in a series

After the group decides to rest, Lucien is restless. He goes from room to room, sketching jars, vials, a glowing footprint and the ornately carved bed. After a bit of writing, he settles down in a corner to read.

The group happens upon Lucien, he has slid down onto the floor from his reading spot. his face is taut and chapped, his lips are cracked and bleeding. When he is propped up, his bloodshot eyes open, he tries to speak, but voice is but a croaking moan. The odd black book is shut and still clutched tightly in his hand.

Tower of the black flame #2

Coming out of our reverie of victories com and gone, we begin to remobilize within the tower. The bones of the conquered Minotaur are ancient, possibly older than this city even, when minotaurs and humans allied during wars long past.

Lucien pokes around the barrels and finds food stuff and casks of oil. He opens the large trap door which is counterweighted and reveals a staircase. Out comes the terrible stench of sewage. Another door, opposite the entrance to the tower, reveals a staircase. Not wanting to encounter the source of such a smell, we choose the latter path. A box of snakes greets us and Vulash is careful to avoid them. We set a trap in case the thugs decide to come back for more. Halfway up the stairs, a glowing footprint appears on the stair and we wonder if there is a trap set for ourselves too. The print appears to be some man/bear beast but Lucien assures us that it is an illusion. Is it meant to aid us to our destination or to our doom? We look around trying to understand the nature of the illusion but can conclude nothing. Next step and we hear a whisper “come closer”.

Vulash rushes for the top of the stairs and we follow closely behind. He kicks open the door we enter a room containing shelves and shelves of jars. Lucien begins opening them to determine what they hide. A black cat taunts me from the other side of the room. A dark spirit perhaps? Across the room, two heavy stone doors with effigies of dragons in battle depicted on them beckon the way forward. Another voice “what is the secret that’ll keep you alive?”

Lucien finds some useful items and in the lt jar he opens, a large black key. Timbo makes a move for the doors and finds one of them Seems to be spring loaded. We decisively open the opposite door and enter another stairwell. At the top of this one, a dark shadowy figure appears and causes us to draw weapons, but neither spells nor steal seems to affect the apparition. It passes through us and we move forward, if shaken.

The net room seems to be living and sleeping quarters. We search and find a wand in the bed (an odd place to store magical items if you ask me), a chest with silver, gold, and garnets, and a wicker basket from which flying snakes spring forth. We manage them well enough. I do not believe snakes to b inherently evil, but by the gods, the do seem to be used for vile purposes most often.

We enter into yet another staircase and begin the ascent. Above the seventh step, we are plagued by the image of a noose dipped in black tar hanging above our heads. What foul man resides here? Vulash taps the rope with his javelin and bell tolls. We dash to the top of the stairs where a skeleton, fused into the door, with snakes in the rib cage, protrudes from the door. We manage to kill the snakes and enter the next room.

This fourth floor contains rows of shelving and pigeon holes for scrolls, dividing the room. From down the first aisle, a dragon attacks! It seems to grow as it moves. As we fight it off, another appears in the next row over and a Minotaur skeleton behind it. We realize the dragons are illusions, but it still takes some courage to pass through them. We manage to take down the Minotaur, but Vulash is gravely injured. We decide to rest here. Three scrolls sit in the pigeon holes, but only one of them with writing on it. I Do not understand the symbols that people seem to be able to read, but Lucien takes interest in the leaflet.

It seems that each floor is a test and they are getting more and more difficult to overcome. We must bring ferocity with us to the remaining floors.

Fight of the Undead Under the hill

As we rest in the room with the slated Minotaur, several of us begin to recount previous victories:

We had been asked to go out to a tomb in a hill near some farmland. You see, until this point, we were allowed nowhere near the tomb for fear we would pillage it (which we would have of course). But recent events had put fear in the minds of the farmers in the area and we were asked to cleanse the tombs.

As we get to the entrance, Timbo does a quick check of the perimeter before we enter. There is a large stone that has been pushed out from the hill and lies face down. I wonder if there could be carvings on the other side. We pass through the main entrance to the tomb (we know it’s the main entrance from the map a former adventurer had scrawled. Vulash leads the group and points to a smeared trail of mud and blood. Once we are all inside we observe that this this seems to be some sort of. “Waiting room’”. Whatever that is.

Osaiya casts light as we move towards the darkness. The light illuminates shapes moving towards the party. They are three undead that we fight. As we battle these most unnatural creatures, another beast flanks us from behind. Although the amount of time each has been undead varies, all prove to be rather formidable and Osaiya is gravely injured in the foray. We must return to town to rest.

Upon re-entering the tomb we find that the bodies, now truly dead, have vanished and in their stead are very deep groves in the floor. We follow these grooves hoping that they might lead us to the true monster buried here. All the while, Timbo is outside the tomb distracted by one bodily function or another. He catches up as we round the corner to the large central chamber where we hear whispers in the dark. A large, fleshy creature with rows and rows of sharp teeth sloshes out of the well in the center of the room. As we advance, our group realizes the ground around the beast is spongy and soft. Our frontline fighters have to watch their step but also guard their mind against his tempting whispers. We are victorious yet, and find a hidden door in the chamber that leads to a secret room with a bow meant for creatures much larger than I can imagine. On the wall there is a skull of a spectacular looking beast with one eye and one horn. Maybe ’twas that very bow that killed such an animal. I wonder if it was at all majestic or just plain evil.

We return to town with the bow and other plunder and I file the story away to keep in the oral tradition as my people do.

From the journal of Vulash
Vol. 1

I am Vulash, slayer of cave bear. Son of Thagnar, slayer of remorhaz. Son of Astrid, the frost giant bane. I earned my name today, but it was a fleeting triumph. I stared into the eyes of the cave bear as it took its final breath, and saw only respect reflected in the dark orbs. I stared into the eyes of another, and saw the death of my people. The eyes of Sven, my brother.

He was waiting on my journey home. I should have known. He is always waiting to disparage my victories. With the wind whipping the snow into a blinding fury, he was on me before I could react. I knew that I could not win. I have never won, but I am Vulash, grandson of Astrid, the frost giant bane. I do not surrender, I fight. Fury overtook me, and I tapped something deep and primal within myself and fought him with a ferocity I’d never felt before. He beat me senseless.

As I lay bleeding and broken in the snow, I stared into his eyes and saw the death of my people. He would continue in my father’s footsteps and take by strength, with no regard for wisdom, and we would die. But I also saw hope, for I had finally hurt him.

Destruction awaits my people. The earth herself squeezes us in her bloody vice of ice and starvation. Corruption threatens to destroy us from within. There is only one who can rise from the ashes of my brother’s corpse and save us.

I start this journal to document the rise of a hero, and the savior of my people. The rise of my younger sister, Alvilda, who is wiser even than Astrid. I vow on this, my naming day, to destroy Sven and erase the sins of my father. I vow to see my sister as the ruler of our people. I am Vulash, grandson of Astrid, the frost giant bane, and brother to Alvilda.

Encounter at Tower of the Black Flame

Our group has convened in Quodeth after accomplishing several gravedigger missions together. The grave digging gig was getting a little slow and the spoils have been divided by many. Recently we have been joined by a priestess and a half elf so our group is even bigger than before.

Back in Quodeth, Crothia tells us that he has an artifact he has been trying to have researched. But the man who was looking into the artifact, Kellaklith, has disappeared. The item in question is a some sort of granite rock in the shape of a cube. He tells us that there is a book that has a sketch of the artifact in it and so we go to the library to hunt for this book. We find the sketch of the cube. But it seems to have been scribbled over and the symbols on each side of the cube are not really distinguishable.

Our next move is to go to the tower of black flame where kellaklith is rumored to be. The tower is a huge black stone tower of some dark magic possibly in connection with snake magic. It is dust in this is a neighborhood that has been fairly abandoned and it is a rough neighborhood. We talked to a man on the street but he is very wary and gets rid of as quickly as he walks away he hides find a corner and tries to keep an eye on us. We Walk up to the door which is big and heavy and reinforce with metal. Timbo pick the lock and we walk into a room that is empty and undisturbed.

Inside the room there is a giant statue in the center. The statue is of the Minotaur and it has a plaque at the base that says go back or perish. There are six floating skulls with glowing eyes in the back of the room. We get into the room and asaiya lights it up. There are three men hiding behind barrels to the side of the room. We killed three thugs and then the Minotaur statue comes to life. We managed to kill it using magical items. When the Minotaur Falls the skulls disappear.

Welcome to the campaign!
Adventurer meet and greet.

End of January- get together to sort out group dynamics and roll up characters.


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