At daybreak, we head towards the rendezvous point of the Dragon Cult and Zhentarim. We leave the large dragon parts, teeth and claws and scales, in the hidden chamber and conceal it once more. Having acquired a flying carpet, the group uses this while the female slave is carried by Steel Heart. As we get close, we set down and see that the Dragon Cult is on the shore, and there is a huge war galleon flying the banner of Cyric. Four long boats bearing approximately 50 members of an envoy are making their way towards the shore. There is no way to overcome the Dragon Cult, let alone the army of the Zhentarium galleon. The only way to be successful is to make these two parties turn on each other and undo their alliance.
We are going to try a dangerous gamble, but a good strategy. I will fearlessly ride Steel Heart, she in the guise of slain red dragon Flame Shoot, and attack the galleon. I’ll use my magic to make it appear that the red dragon breathed flames on the ship, and with any luck the Zhentarim will think they’ve been betrayed by the Dragon Cult. If this fails, the rest of the party will fly back up on the magic carpet.
The dragon soars high and then begins to dive, using the sun as a partial shield from sight. As we get close to the ship, she drops a few flasks of oil and I yell ‘Long Live the Dragon Cult!’, as I let forth a jet of flame to lights the ship. We do a fly over of the beach, and I scream ‘Death to the weak Zhentarim, take them now!’ and we make our way towards the path of Moortown. We then dive low and turn to regroup with our band.
As we had hoped, the two parties turn on each other. The wounded Zhentarim galleon is no match for the dragons, and what I had started with my false dragon fire is now finished by the real thing. The Zhentarim are defeated on both land and sea, but not before they take down one of the mighty red winged beasts and half the cult members. Wounded and dazed, the cult marks the sight of the battle, burns all that remains, and makes its way back towards Moortown. They will surely not be happy when they see what waits for them there.
Once the coast is clear, we asses to see if there is anything we can salvage for our efforts. On the beach, the only thing worth taking is the standard of Cyric, which I roll up and keep. It may be useful later. Stonebreaker walks into the Moonsea and goes through the wreckage of the galleon. I hope this makes him feel like a true pirate, as he returns with a chest of potions, coins, gems and jewelry. It’s been a very successful day indeed!
We hurry back to report back to the wizard Thusk to see that Glister is in some disarray. It seems an undead dwarf creature came out looking for death and other still living dwarves. It took the life of one of the bearded folk, but was then forced to flee by priestly powers.
Thusk is gracious to accept us at his tower again, and we regale him with our tales. He acts surprised to find out that Kaitlyn is really a dragon, and says Elminster would have known. Whether truthful or not, we collect our remaining reward and secure a safe room in his tower. No sooner do we finish sharing the information with him about the Dragon Cult and Zhentarim that he asks us to investigate the undead dwarf king. We know a little about this creature from our past, but attempt to get what information we can from Thusk.
We agree to move on in a day after I get some spells transcribed from the wizard as per our arrangement. Stonebreaker begrudgingly leaves some of our treasure behind, as well as the sword from the evil mage, the ax that slays elves, the standard of Cyric and a few other items not necessary to the next mission. He promises to get the woman to safety, and Broknar gives her his share of the reward so she may start a new life when she arrives back home. Steel Heart thanks us and says she will return to her homeland and continue to live amongst the humans there. She will stay vigilant to the Dragon Cult activities, and says that we may call upon her in the future should we be in the area or need her assistance. A steel dragon is a most powerful ally to have indeed!
Map of the ancient kingdom of the Undead Dwarven King
With only a few short days of rest, we head out in search of the dead dwarven king. We are always in such a hurry to defeat the next foe or take on the next quest, I sometimes wonder what the hurry is. I would have preferred to stay in the company of Thusk and see what he had to teach me about the arts, what knowledge he possessed, to discuss philosophy, to have a fine drink in front of a warm fire, perhaps even to have a conversation with his dancing cat. But this band is wayward bound and has no time for these things. When we get to Elventree I’ll have to insist that I stay much longer and visit with my kind.
We make our way towards what seems like the rocky outlier of a desert. We’re resupplied by a gracious Thusk, who too urges us to hunt down the undead bearded one. As we make our way through the mountains, we are driven into a cave for shelter by a storm.
Unfortunately, caves are also sometimes are home to other most unpleasant things. We set up a camp and Broknar and I decide to make sure that we are not going to have any unwelcomed visitors greet us unaware. A narrow channel leads to a smaller chamber, and we instantly recognize the stench of foul trolls. There are bones of creatures and steeds littered about the chamber, but no sign of the trolls, nor any sign of other passages out of the cavern. There is, however, a small box and two scrolls amongst the debris.
We bring what we have found and report back to Rochendir and Stonebreaker. Stonebreaker of course cannot help himself but to take a look in the small chest. Without even checking, he opens the box to reveal five small cubes with runes inscribed on them. I can instantly sense a powerful dweomer on them. Of the two scroll cases we have, one is open and one is sealed.
I read the opened scroll first to see if either has any clues to the functions or history of the cubes. It contains a message that seems to have never been delivered from Amin Al-Ra’Qib. It implores the help of a group of heroes to help a in a magic quest. The scroll mentions Elminster, and so Stonebreaker feels that this must be a just cause. I should like to meet this Elminster and discover his association with those that harp. Many times have we now run into the agents of that secret society, and still do not know truly what role they play in the realms and in our own journey. In any event, the scroll continues that the instructions to activate the cubes are on the other document.
I read the second scroll and assemble the cubes. In a flash we one by one tumble into a room, almost toppling its occupant. As we recover, the man scrambles to pick up the cubes which have become strewn about on the floor. He introduces himself as Amin Al-Ra’Qib and thanks the gods for sending us to him in this desperate time. He begins to tell a tale that may lead us on our next adventure.
An ancient and powerful wizard trapped an efreeti long ago. The wizard knew, however, that the evil would one day escape and wreak vengeance upon the land. So he conjured an ally, a djinn, one of Lemmy’s kind, to keep the evil at bay. The wizard also prophesized that when the time came a group of heroes would answer the call and bring him back to power. When restored, he could vanquish the efreeti once and for all. He set about a challenge for those would be brave souls to find the star gems and bring return him from where he slept. The wizard’s name was Martek, and have now been given the chance to help him.
We now have a dilemma. Do we allow this quest to distract us from our dead dwarf? How to choose the needs of which lands and which people need our assistance more desperately, more urgently. While I long to get to see my kind in Elventree, I cannot ignore the chance to help others. The Swords are also restless, but we are here today, and this is now our task at hand. Hopefully we can complete this mission in a timely manner so as to be able to hunt down the undead dwarf king before he slays again or gathers a dark army.
Our group is ready for action, our swords are poised and ready to go wayward once again. What will Amin Al- Ra Q’ib be able to supply us in terms of information and protections on this quest? Will he be able to return us on our journey to the trail of the abandoned dwarven realm and their king? What evil is there to overcome and wondrous treasure lay before us in these lands? When do we begin?
After seeking refuge in a cave from a storm of monumental proportion you found a box with five cubes. Placing them in the pattern described in the scroll found with the device you were teleported to a room of strange architecture. Greeted by the old wizard Aman Al-Raqid, who welcomes you to Bralizzar.
Insistently Aman calls us the heroes of the prophecy of Martek, Grand Vizier of Raurin, The Greatest of Mages. Over the next month of living as honored guests you discern from the wizard that Martek lived over 1,000 years ago. The prophesy which your arrival has triggered tells of an evil efreet (opposite of djinn) of great power will be unleashed and from Mulhurand cover the world in darkness for a 1,000 years unless stopped by a band of heroes.
Our quest is simple enough locate five large enchanted gems called the Great Stars which are scattered across the desert. Once the gems are found they can be used to locate or at least unlock the Sphere of Power, which will destroy the efreet, Khalitharius, forever and should return you safely to your homeland, which you discover you are now months of travel away from. Hesitantly and for various reasons, all of you accept the quest and graciously accept Aman’s hospitality.
While studying and practicing your skills, gathering supplies and studying the maps, legends and texts Aman provides you, you get to know (as best you can) Fuigarm, Aman’s body guard. Fuigarm is a mute hill giant, that stands 12’ 7” and weights well over 450 lbs. he is small for hill giant but sticks out among the smaller framed Mulloharndi that inhabit this area. As you explore Bralizzar, Fuigarm serves as your protector at the order of his master. No thief or charlatan dares target you.
You meet Alham Pasha Burak Hetmann of Bralizzar and friend of Aman. Hetmann, as he is called, is formal and reserved and very well respected by the people of Bralizzar. He is a just ruler. He enjoys listening to your stories; at least you think he does. You learn from him that there have been rumors of fighting in the desert not far from the sacred palm. He is concerned that it may be a sign that the war in Thay to the north maybe spreading south. He issues all of you a copper medallion as an affidavit of your transient status.
You also find your way to the Golden Palm, a small inn and tavern. Tekuna Chand, Female Innkeeper, imparts a few rumors:
- The Sheik of the Oasis does not trust strangers until they prove themselves worthy. He has been known to accept gifts, however, but these should be expensive or magical.
- There is an assassin working in the Oasis. His name is Zorath Blackblade. Beware of him. You also get the following information from several patrons:
- A palace of gold and gems once glittered on the northern horizon. Many people saw its spires of gold, but no one has ventured in that direction because of the curses.
- There are tall crystal obelisks in the north with writing all over them that tell of great people and deeds, but they are evil places where death awaits. No one who has gone to study those stones has ever returned.
- Beyond the hills the world ends. There the sky is bottomless. Ships sail the clouds and their spectral crews attempt to bring the souls they capture to the ancient Cursed City of Stone.
- Crypts are usually haunted by evil things, and this especially true of the crypt of the evil amphitheater. Don’t go there if you value your life
- The gates to the desert curse all those who enter, just to remind them that they are stepping into terrible ground.
- There are said to be caravans of slavers. These travel by night and will not allow any strangers to come near them.
Moments after we ‘drop in’ on our new host, we are met by a fellow adventurer. A surly erkatam (dwarf) comes through our portal. As I question the late arrival, he introduces himself as Bowser. I ask what he was doing and how he came to pass here. Apparently, the bold fellow was hunting for Drow in the caverns where we had sought refuge from the storm. When we activated the portal, it opened the floor and pulled him up from the level below us. Aman Al-Raqib smiles on this as providence and quickly proclaims that Martek has meant for this to be, and we are the heroes that he has foretold in his prophecy. While obviously not the brightest dwarf I’ve met attempting to stalk the Drow alone, I can’t help but admire his motives. He shall have my steel and spell should he need it.
Ravanthasi (friends), gather. For a great gift has been given to me, perhaps to all of us. I did not know its importance until now, nor truly understand its meaning, but I must tell you what I have seen.
As I stared down the dragon I battled at Moorstown, our gazes locked. I thought surely that I would pass to Arvandor before my time, but by the grace of Corellon giant arrows pierced through the beast and brought it down. Face to face with the dying dragon, I no longer saw its eyes, but something else. It was gone in a flash. That I was saved by giant arrows was no chance event. I think that I was given two great gifts that battle-my life, and this vision.
Time is not the same for elves as it is for you. It does not always move from one point to the next in a straight line. Instead of sleeping, we relive our lives many times over. What you call memories are a reality that we can touch and feel throughout the time we have on this plane. Sometimes our memories are dream-like, and our memories are that which have yet to come.
There is a great quest that we are now about to undertake. In order to be successful and to have many other adventures, I have seen us do things that we are not yet able to do. We have been in such a hurry to help others and gain reward that we have forgotten that we must also take time to ready ourselves. What we need is time. Time to prepare, and time to understand our place in this vision.
I think we should hone our skills before we pursue restoring Martek. I am sure that our host will grant us sanctuary here in these lands. I have acquired powerful magicks and have yet to learn to properly wield them all. I have texts that I have yet to study, and strange items that I do not yet know how to command. Perhaps our host Amin Al-Ra Q’ib can help us find tutors in this place, or even serve as a guide to me. Each of us should prepare in their own way for the challenges that lie ahead, and help each other improve the skills that we can pass along.
Let us make the best use of this time we have now, lest we rush foolishly into battle evil and not have the power to overcome it. Let us not pass up this opportunity. For that was the gift of my vision, that time is the key. As the dragon’s time expired, I gained this most precious time to prepare for our next journey. We all have. What say you, shall we take the necessary time to prepare for the great task at hand?