“I will not let a ‘lil devil within the city limits of Sumberton,” Hennik states. “Not unless I get the go ‘head from the gatekeeper.”
“Very well,” Calha rolls her eyes, “I will escort these men to Castle Submerton and then return here. If the ‘lil devil shows up again, hold him and I will make a judgment.”
Before Calha leaves Justinian turns and says, “Yes, please don’t let his current appearance harm your judgment too much. He was cursed in that foul place and was made to look this way as a result. We are hoping that some of the Luminous Order or scholars can figure out how to reverse his appearance as it is most distressing to us as well as him.”
Gatekeeper Calha and couple of other militia men move you through the streets of Sumberton as night settles in. It is a short trip and once you are there Calha asks for Captain Donellgan. They briefly discuss a few things out of ear shot but then Calha and the other militia depart. Captain Donellgan moves up to you, “I am glad to see you have made it back to us. Though with the militia escorting you in here again I thought that perhaps our friendly priest had brought the wrath of Melora upon the gatesmen. Thankfully I see that is not the case. Anyway, I apologize for the tightened security that we have placed on the gates but it has been necessary. The Sumberton Militia is trying their best to flush out the Nighthand guild. Now that its leaders have been disposed of the militia is making every effort to chase out and keep out any other members.”
“Since you are here I know that Sir Tordell has instructions to meet with you at once. I will have one of my runners make a visit to Sir Tordell immediately. I know he will have many questions about what you have found.”
Justinian turns to Captain Donellgan as they wait for Tordell, “I fear the work of your militia has only just begun. You will want to hear the news we have for Harrak. It is very dire and worse than we could have imagined. I think it would be good if you could send a runner to the Scholars and the Cabal as well. I fear we will need all of their knowledge and aid if we are to survive what is about to befall us.”
Captain Donellgan does as Justinian suggests. Within a few hours Sir Falston Tordell, Naryalla of the Ebon Cabal, Chendra the White, Fenigan – Sage of the Azure Eye, and finally Hap (who is detained briefly until Naryalla goes to get him) show up at Sumberton Castle.
“You all have been summoned here because our fears about Slaughtergarde may be coming true,” Captain Donellgan stands at the head of a table in the large meeting hall. “The increased activity of gnolls on our borders, goblins in the interior of the vale, the dragons at Andrushel and now drow gathering to raid the Forest of Althaea, may be a coordinated effort by a great evil looking to make its return.”
“These three have done a great service by exploring and confirming what is taking place. Now we must hear them out and make the tough decisions that lay before us. Our enemies seek to spread our lines thin, we must figure out what our best course of action will be and where we need to shore up our defenses,” as much as Donellgan shows himself as a strong leader you can see his worry in the lines on his forehead.
“Friends,” Captain Donellgan directs his eyes at where Justinian, Hap and Grigori sit, “tells us the details of what you have found. The more we know the better we can focus our efforts in the right places to meet the threat to the vale.”
“We proceed to tell everyone at the table of our adventure. How we went to the cabin and found the secret passage into a portion of Slaughterguarde. We tell them about Mallik and his drow friend, the Oracle and what it told us, what we found out in the library, Kuthrakka, Goramnus, Goramnus’ sword, Palathane and his sword, the Screaming Sorcerer, the imp, the Sigil, the gate with creatures coming out, how only one more Obelisk needs to fall, and how the drow are going to attack the elves.”
Justinian also hands Fenigan the etching he made of the wall with the Stars on it. And mentions the relationship of Kuthrakka to Xu Tahn laa (as his lieutenant and the deceiver), and how he is poised to take over. We also mention the fact that under the Slaughterscar is believed to be the largest piece of the shattered mountain yet (compared to the Temple area and Laboratory area), and that the Shining Citadel is in grave danger if the gate is opened before it can be prevented.
Sir Tordell stands up when Justinian finishes relaying the tale of their adventure, “You must leave for the Shining Citadel first thing in the morning. I am certain Dragonlord Harrak needs to hear this directly from you. Grigori, you and your friends have done a great service to the valley. Make your way to the citadel and you will be officially ushered into the knighthood.” Captain Donellgan puts his hand up, “Before we can decide what to do we need to get a handle on how much time we have … “
Chendra, Fenigan and Naryalla are now in deep discussion over the etching that Justinian gave the sage.
“Around two weeks,” states Fenigan, “you have around two weeks before the stars have a similar alignment to what is on this etching. Though the precise timing cannot be known without the Tome of Forbidden Stars.”
“In that case our Luminous friends are far too short sighted,” starts Naryalla. “Surely what is going on in the Vaathwood and with the imminent raid on the Ethnari, we should focus on the Regalia of the Screaming Sorcerer. If the enemy were to reunite the regalia it could tip the scales in their favor.”
Sir Tordell looks to be growing furious.
Chendra stands and looks at Naryalla and Sir Tordell, “I disagree with the both of you. Justinian mentioned that the hero Parathane’s sword, Silversteel, may be still among the ruins of Castle Syrgref. What a find that would be! And in the right hands it would be a great weapon against any demon. Since there is time and if our adventurers have the inclination, the relic would count immeasurably in a battle against demons streaming out of the Slaughterscar or any foray that might go into the Slaughterscar.”
Fenigan, his elven eyes glancing slowly from Hap, to Justinian and then to Grigori calmly says “Even though my home may be in dire need of help, the sooner the gate is attacked and the demons prevented from gaining a foothold in this valley, the better off we will all be. My heart is with the Ethnari but my head knows that the overall safety of the valley is the greater concern.”
“Please, all of you sit,” demands Captain Donellgan. “I believe I will leave the choice of what to do to those who must do it. The only thing that I must insist is that you make your way to the Shining Citadel. Whether you go sooner rather than later is up to you but you will only have a short amount of time so choose wisely.”
Justinian attempts to put all of their arguments together into a timeline.
“So, the attack on the Ethnari by the Gnolls and Drow was to happen tomorrow. We did throw a few obstacles in their way (although minor) by killing the leader of the gnolls, and disrupting a few paths from the Drow territory into the vale – but we most likely did not by them much additional time.
While the sword would indeed be a boon, it pales in comparison to the need to alert the Order so that troops that are spread out can be informed, recalled, and placed in position for the assault. Getting word to Dragonlord Harrak as soon as possible is of the utmost urgency so that he can begin recalling his troops. Only then can they return in time to defend the vale from what may come forth from the Scar.”
(At this point he looks at Fennigan and Chendra) “Do we have any way of contacting the “Angelic Host”? I fear we may need their aid once more – especially if the Obelisks are no longer able to protect the Vale. Even if we manage to keep the one in Sumberton from falling, we have no way of knowing how to interpret the meaning of the Oracle. When it said, “Only one more Obelisk must fall…” did it mean this one in particular, or did it mean one more of the Major Obelisks? In which case it could be any of the few remaining that they will target now that the attack on Sumberton’s failed. Do any of you know of any significance the Obelisk in town here has over the others? Is it definitely this one the Oracle was implying?
Can any reinforcements be sent to the Ethnari if we travel south to the Citadel?
There is also the concern of the Surrinaks…. will they remain neutral under Ellistan and uninvolved, or will Mallik usurp the throne and lead them to war against us in alliance with the Drow? Hap, can you show them the list you discovered of the names of Surrinak collaborators with the Dark….?
Captain Donellgan nods with concern, “Let us decide quickly but carefully here. We stand at a crucial moment and I will ask something of all of you. Sir Tordell, the Luminous Order must call its knights from Kel’s Rise and have them converge on the Forest of Althaea. Make sure they give wide berth to the Surrinak lands. They must do their best to aid the elves against this Lanthurrae and the drow raiders. I will call the Crimson Guard back to Sumberton from Kel’s Rise and from Andrushel in order to make sure it is properly defended. Once they arrive the Crimson Guard that is currently here in Sumberton will march for the Shining Citadel. We will also send out a general call to arms throughout the vale. One quarter of those called will make for the Forest of Althaea, the rest will march for Fallcrest. Those in Fallcrest will be reserve forces for the Shining Citadel if the need arises.”
“I agree with Justinian, it would be wise to keep an eye on the Surrinaks as well,” Naryalla says knowingly. “I will gather a contingent of the Ebon Cabal and bring them Lukrimarr Keep. There we can watch over the Surrinaks and wait for any movement from their castle.”
Before Fenigan replies to Justinian, Sir Tordell interrupts, “The Luminous Order was founded with the help of the Angelic host. Dragonlord Harrak has brought your previous information with him to the Shining Citadel and now they are attempting to divine what is unfolding. If the angelic host is able to help they will. You should also know that the creature that you discovered in the Slaughtergarde Lab is a Maug. It was a soldier of the angelic host and for centuries it had guarded the very spot, a summoning chamber, that you found it in. Now it has been brought to the Shining Citadel where the knights hope to use its great skill in battle.”
Fenigan patiently waits for Sir Tordell to finish, “As far as the Obelisks go I am not certain which one the demonic oracle may have been referring too. The only significance of the one in Sumberton is that is one of the ten greater obelisks.”
“Maug? Angelic soldier inside the laboratory? I don’t recall meeting any… Wait—is this Maug creature large, and made of stone? Appearing as a Golem of sorts? We did encounter some large creature that patrolled a room that we did not venture into.”
“Mallik spoke of returning Kuthrakka to his “true form”. He also wears some sort of amulet that allows him to channel the words or Kuthrakka or another demon. I wonder if perhaps Mallik is little more than a vessel for Kuthrakka’s essence until he can be restored somehow. I wish we knew what “deal” the Host gave Kuthrakka in return for his betraying his lord.” Fennigan- do you or Chendra know of this “deal” that was cut with the Betrayer, and the form it took?
Inside the temple there were also some altars to a demon or god I am not familiar with – a snake god. Here are some of the icons we removed from the altars depicting the snake at varying stages of life. Lolth I am painfully aware of… but I do not know a snake god of the abyss…? Do you perhaps? Perhaps they or their servants play a role we should discover…. Chendra looks at the sketches, “Zehir. The demons must have been in league with the god Zehir. Snakes are his favored creations. Now that we have seen kruthiks (the reptile insect like things that tried to destroy the obelisk) I can only think that he was a part of their creation.” Fenigan looks over to Justinian, “I am afraid I know of no writing about the dealings the Angelic Host had with Kuthrakka. But it looks now as if he was spared in some way. Normally the demon would be let go to return to the abyss and barred from ever coming back to this plane but I can only guess that Kuthrakka did not make it, either by his own design or perhaps the Angelic Host never intended to keep their bargin …”
Naryalla continues Fenigan’s thought, “ … and if Mallik carries a phylactery and Kuthrakka wishes to be brought back to his true form then this can only mean that Kuthrakka wishes to open a gate and call forth a weaker demon. With the right ritual Kuthrakka can possess that demon and force his original form on it.”
“Captain, what of my people in the Vaathwood?” Grigori was showing a bit more emotion than usual. “How do we get word to them? I will go to the Citadel, Forest of Althaea, or wherever we decide, but not until I know my people will be warned.” Captain Donellgan makes sure that Grigori understands that they are not abandoning the Eladrin, “I have word that the Council of Seven and their loyal servant Hef Whitefoot have begun a cooperative relationship with the Eladrin. We will send word to them immediately so that they may warn your people in the Vaathwood. Anyone coming direclty from Sumberton would certainly be delayed.”
“So how does Xu Tahn Laa fit into all this? Because he certainly seemed to take an active part while we were there in the temple.” Hap shows them the tattoo that was part of his curse. “This allowed me entry to various areas, and the Oracle recognized it, and the library summoned a paper praising him when I asked about him. Could he not be in the Abyss, either?” “Xu tahn Laa was destroyed during the Battle of Slaughtergarde,” states Sir Tordell.”
Fenigan feels that much more information can be added to Sir Tordell’s basic statement, “Slaughtergarde was his creation so it is no surprise that much of the fortress still revolves around him. The demons and the forces contained within were supposed to be loyal to him. I believe much of what you are finding with the remaining pieces of Slaughtergarde are just remnants of what he created.”