The day began mid-morning at the Half Moon Inn with the adventurers peering over a letter recovered from Krand's quarters. The letter instructed Krand to ship the women out on an airship named the White Lion, which was bound for the city of Delos. The letter also elicited that the women should be human with black-hair and possess some sort of magical abilities.
Next up was an activity quickly becoming a party favorite: interrogation. The doppelganger claimed to be sent from the Grimmerzhul Duergar (who were earlier discovered to be shipping out magical relics for Lord Ackann). Always astute, Thorn quickly determined the creature was lying. After some additional persuasion, the doppelganger admitted to being sent from a tiefling named Noristro of House Lassar. He was instructed to secure G'indelis Aldorian, whom he believed to be Gentoo. He was also instructed to make it seem as though the Dwaregare were responsible. He knew little of the motives behind the plot, but did have some additional information to offer: Lord Ackann and Noristro were rival members of the Redwater Guild.
When it was determined there was little else to be learned from the changeling, in a surprising act of mercy, Thorn pushed for the release of the creature. Shocked, the party could only agree and allowed the changeling to bolt from the inn.
In light of the threat of creatures that could pretend to be anyone, the members elected to use a "safety word" to distinguish friend from foe. The word chosen was: "BANANA."
Alas, Thorn's mercy was short-lived, for she once again turned her typically sour demeanor on Gentoo. Gentoo, still sore from the previous night's activities, conceded that his true name was, in fact, G'indelis Aldorian. He also admitted to having problems in the past with the Redwater Guild, though he was vague about what the issue actually was. Further questioning once again ensued about the mysterious burden he concealed within his pack; but he insisted such matters were unrelated.
At this point, the party's inquisitiveness redirected onto Thorn as she was exposed lying about her relationship with Zerrixa (she claimed to have known her as an old friend, but it was clear in the Chamber of Eyes that that was the first time she had seen the woman). Promising not to harm Zerrixa and to share anything she gleamed from her conversation with the woman, the party acquiesced to letting Thorn speak with Zerrixa in private.
Tired of bickering, the party tromped down the Half Moon's stairs. Surina informed the halfling innkeeper of the trouble that ensued in the night and the mess in Gentoo's room. Aghast, she sent her nephew up to tend to the mess. Thorn had a private conversation with Zurixa, from which she shared that the Shadar-kai had been the ones responsible for the wanted poster. After checking on the dark-haired women, the party set off with the Deepgem Company of dwarves.
After descending the deepstair, the adventurers took an elevator down through the dwarves' mines into a natural cavern. There, they encountered several Troglodytes speaking Draconic and wearing the symbol of the chain god known as Tharizdun the Mad God. They also found badly beaten bodies of several dwarves. Continuing deeper into the cavern, the party encountered a Barlgura, several zombies, and some aberrant-like carrion crawler entities like those seen around the portals. The room where this encounter took place contained several large cracks on the floor, at the bottom of the which could be seen a gray-colored twisting force of raw energy. Passing over these cracks had various effects on the travelers and the monsters.
Continuing still further on, the company came to a ledge over a much more expansive cavern made up of several step-like ledges. In the cavern could be seen several putrescent sacks, several large glowing crystals, a stream of water, and a gigantic skull. The entire place seemed to be lit up by an eerie gray glow like that seen in the cracks of the previous room. The badly warped bodies of several dwarves could be seen on the cavern floor below. Extra eyes and limbs covered the bodies such that it was not initially clear that, at one point, the cadavers had been dwarven miners.
Tzira launched an arrow into one of the sacks, after which it popped and released several aberrant creatures. The other sacks also began popping and spawning similar abominations. After some initial volleys from both sides, a mass of tendrils and eyes began to rise up out of the skull on the cavern floor. It was clear that the creature was a Grell; and that the Grell had a strong interest in Gentoo. It began floating across the cavern toward him. Surina charged at the Grell and leaped through the air taking a swing with her weapon. A close miss, she sank rather than fell down from the ledge
- she had been caught in a large jelly. and in front of the portal stood a black-robed figure. While silently observing the portal and the battle, Thorn abandoned Gentoo to the wiles of the Grell and the others to the clutches of the jelly and made a savage attack against the black-robed figure. However, her blade was repelled by a strong, invisible force. The figure slowly spoke in a loud yet whispering voice, "There is nothing you can do." then disappeared into the gate.
As the battle ensued, Gentoo found he could use the crystals to teleport large distances around the cavern. The party also struggled to release Surina from the jelly's grasp without becoming engulfed themselves. Progressing further into the cavern during the battle, a portal, clearly activated, was observed -
Locked into a battle of wills with the Grell, Gentoo was forced to drop his pack, which basically disintegrated as it fell onto the floor. As the party dispatched the last of the creatures, the cavern began to shake violently, particularly when Gentoo, holding by its drawstrings a suede bag in which was visible a bright, orb-shaped light, drew past the large skull on the cavern floor. However, the rumbling subsided as the party made their way up the steps and back out of the cavern.
Shaken by the encounter, an argument ensued within the party. After heated debate, it was decided that both the Mages of Saruun and The Talon should be made aware of the manner at hand. After a return journey to Thunderport, the party met one of the Mages at the front gate to the city. However, the party's concerns were repelled with blatant disinterest. The Mages could not be bothered with matters outside of the city's borders; and the magic required to seal the gate would be far too expensive to be worthwhile.
Realizing that additional dealings with the Mages of Saruun would be futile, the party was able to meet with The Talon aboard their airship. After hearing the travelers' story, the Falcon and her brother Gerhart members were able to provide some insight into the events at hand.
The party received both a history and a magic lesson. <Greg will fill in later…>
The lesson ended when Gerhart mentions that the crystals encountered by his adventuring party were black on their first excursion to the portal, which was when they contracted their various sicknesses. On their return to the portal, the crystals were found to have turned white. At this second exposure, the Talon's ailments were cured. At the mention of crystals reacting to gates, Tzira began chattering about Gentoo's pack. Thorn attempted to silence her, but it was too late. Gerhart offered his help in identifying the item in question.
Weary from his burden, Gentoo conceded to displaying the item once and for all, sighing, "Very well." He brought up the drawstring bag from his lap and folded it inside-out to reveal an onyx-colored, fist-sized orb with golden runes spinning about it. As soon as the orb emerged from its holding, it began to glow brighter and brighter such that nothing else could be seen. The light then subsided. As each of the members looked about, they found that all their companions looked different.
Kaelvar: Kael, dragonborn fighter
Grizzled dragonborn with dozens of scars. He wields a waraxe, a large two handed axe, the blades of which are the profiles of dragonheads.
Thorn: Mirana, human Cleric of the Raven Queen (woman from Wanted Poster)
Raven hair, with a white complexion and sad eyes. Her equipment is emblazoned with the image of the Raven Queen. She wears blue, white, and black, and upon her back she has a tattoo of black wings.
Thorngrim: Inathriamkavendil, kindred warlock
This humanoids face seems to fluctuate and phase in and out of existence as you behold it. Runes are scribed all across his skin. He has a hard expression, as one who has witnessed horrors. His eyes glow a vibrant blue, and he wears rune inscribed clothing with imagery or circles, particularly, the ouroboros.
Tzira: Naivara, eladrin of Cendriane, rogue
This eladrin has vibrant violet eyes and moves with fluidity and grace. Her face is like porcelain, without a wrinkle or mar. The only marks upon her skin are tattoos of a a green crescent moon. She has golden hair that seems to glow, and she wields a pair of daggers that have blades like bolts of lightning.
Gentoo: Aban Aldorian, half-elf wizard
This half-elf has the most normal appearance of everyone. He wears an unassuming tunic and breeches. He carries an orb in one hand (which you recognize), and in the other, he wields a staff with four floating discs above it. Despite his modest clothes, he has a serious expression. With dark hair and a dark beard, he wears a serious, thoughtful expression. His eyes are dark brown, almost black.
Surina: Sunliin, genasi of Crysanth, paladin of Vanya
This elemental humanoid appears to be partly made of water, fire, ice, and earth. She bears a shield of pure crystal that seems to contain an elemental storm within it surface. On the shield is the symbol of a multifaceted crystal in the shape of a chrysanthemum. She wields a longsword that looks like platinum and glows white. It has an angel for the hilt, and the angel is clasping a red jewel. She is clad in platemail. She has a soft, merciful expression and bears a holy symbol that looks like a set of metallic angel wings in the shape of a V.
Looking about their new surroundings, it was clear that it was the cavern in which they had encountered the most recent portal. However, now there was no portal. There was also no water, stairs, crystals, or skull. Instead, there were several aberrant creatures about. It was also clear that a battle had been ensuing for some time now. Still more apparent was the main antagonist of the battle, standing where the skull had been in the cavern the party knew. Standing before the combatants was a giant, fiersome dragon.