Jun 17, 2009

Return to Brightstone Keep

Having finally recovered the Gem of Amara, the party returned to Dun Eamon for supplies and a chance to plan their next move...

Inside the Grey Citadel, Hunter, Theo, Jes, and Adow were contacted by Caledon, a local druid and friend of Greybear. He reported that the local druids were watching the area around Brightstone Keep and there had been an increase in activity around the mine. The druids currently believed that the followers of the Black Scourge had retrieved as many as eight or nine of the ten bones needed to allow the Scourge to return to the prime material plane.

Everyone then packed up with fresh supplies for the journey back to the keep. En route, the party met up with the druids actually monitoring the area. They were reunited with Greybear, who informed them of recent events.

Many of the local hobgoblin and gnoll tribes had aligned themselves with this cult, and the main entrance to the mine was well guarded by these minions. Something they recently discovered, was that there was a seldom used second entrance that appeared to connect with the mine. It seems this alternate route was used only for the most clandestine meetings. While the entrance way was very well hidden, the druids were able to eventually find it.

Greybear and the party believed the best plan was for the druids to create a distraction at the front of the mine, while Hunter, Theo, Adow, and Jes sneeked in from the alternate route to get to the inner sanctum of the cult.

After making their way down a rocky slop the party was confronted by a group of slig guards. With their long polearms, the sligs put up a bit of a fight, but they were soon taken care of. The party then moved into the underground room that served as the sligs barracks. They avoided the various traps that had been set (sligs are notorious for trapping their lairs) and soon found the real enterance further into the mine.

Next the party found themselves just outside a larger set of caverns. Squeaking, coming from a ceiling covered in darkness, served as perch to unseen creatures. As the group moved further into the area, they could see into the next cavern. Two natural columns divided the cave opening into three smaller openings, while in the back of the cave, there was a huge monolith of ice, like a small mountain inside the cavern.

As the group entered the area, an arrow shot out of the darkness just missing Hunter. Meanwhile a pair of draconians emerges around one side of the ice pillar to attack the party while another pair came around the other side. Ignoring the shooter from it's dark perch against the side way, the party concentrated on the attacking draconians. In short order the draconians were crumbling to dust around the party.

Climbing up to the perch, they found the shooter gone, a crude, quick note promising swift revenge at a later date, and a makeshift latter leading to a simple trapdoor in the ceiling. Through the trapdoor, the party found themselves in a small room just off from the main chamber where the Black Scourge was still imprisoned in the guardian sigil.

Pacing the imprisoning square anxiously, eager to break out of it's cage, the ghostly image seemed more solid now that eight bone shards had been returned to the Scourge. Down the halls of the former mine, the sound of sword against sword rang out in testimony to the battle going on between the minions of the Black Scourge and the druids.

The air in the room felt as if it were electrified when the Gem of Amara was freed from the leather satchel it was carried in. The Scourge stopped it's pacing and stared, eyes fixed in their direction.

As Adow began to recite the words that Greybear had told him, the Gem began glowing, and trails of shimmering light spilled out snaking around the room. As the light swirled, it mixed with the gray and black shadows. Where light would fill one corner the darkness would overtake another. The shone brighter and the darkness pulsed as if the two basic forces were fighting for control in this one spot. Swirling around and chasing each other the darkness and the light formed a small whirlwind here.

Meanwhile the ghostly claws and wings of mist tried to propel the Black Scourge free from it's prison. As the whirlwind grew in strength, dirt and debris were pulled into it's vortex obscuring everything around the party.

Adow stopped chanting the words that invoked the power of the gem, and the gem, for it's part flared in white, blinding brilliance for one very long second, and then exploded.

As the wind died down and the room became visible again, the party could see that the Black Scourge was gone... no bones or ghostly images remained, and the protection sigil was like was shattered and broken. Bruised and bloodied, with not even the smallest shard of the Gem of Amara to be found, everyone gathered up their things and began to head out of the mine.

With the destruction of their dragon-god, the alliance of goblin and kobold, hobgoblin and gnoll broke down with everyone running for themselves. They scattered deeper into the mines or into the surrounding hills and mountains, while the druids did what they could to secure the keep and this mine.

Outside the party regrouped with the druids and celebrated this unique victory. Later that night as Hunter and Theo, Adow and Jes made camp each noticed a sharp stabbing pain. For some it was in the arm, others in a foot, or a shoulderblade, and looking closer, the source of the pain seemed to come from something that looked like the fragment of a bone embedded in their flesh, dark black and grey with shimmering light swirling around it...