Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

March of the Firelands

Dragonborn Flambe?

Z’alden had to smile as he stepped out of the Kengi shrine to Bahamut. A young dragonborn tugged at his leg. Dragons teeth but that itched. The cleric shook his head to pay attention. “Please Brother Zenithar, tell us the story of the Rift, again!” A small crowd of other youngsters nodded vigorously, “Yes, yes!” The Half-Elf just grinned. These youths had seen the ravages that the Fire Elemental army had wrought upon the warriors of the dragonborn Kengi. Thousands had perished before Z’alden’s friends had vanquished the primordial force that compelled the elementals forward. Z’alden shuddered at the memory of the behemoth Ryolith. 6 staff lengths of molten lava rising into the sky. A stomp of the monster’s feet could open cracks of lava-filled ground below one’s own. His new scale armor had been singed when he had fallen into one of Riolith’s staff-deep crevices.

He suppressed the shudder and turned to the leader of the young group. “Now, Laren-Tioth, surely your father has told you this story ten times already.”

“Yes, but want to hear it from you! My father was fighting the elementals with Ilkhan Felsmon and General Barrick." All fell silent at mention of the great dwarf. Laren-Tioth was too riled about to think about mourning, "But, he wasn’t there to face the snakeman or the evil fire elf, much less the mass of lava Ryolith!” All the dragonborn children hissed at that name. The Kengi had come to understand what danger the molten monster represented. The massive scar in the land, a chasm of unknown depths, 10 staff lengths across and an hours walk long, still smoldering days after the battle. The scar served as a reminder of just how close the Kengi had come to the brink.

The Cleric sat down, his leg itching. The Kengi healers had miraculously restored Z’alden’s severed limb. He still couldn’t believe how they had managed to obtain the necessary component, a half-elven leg bone, but he was lucky that they had. The leg had healed well and was actually much stronger then before. But, oh, how it itched. The skin was surprisingly hard, too. The healers assured him that the itch would stop eventually, but Z’alden couldn’t help noticing the worried looks they would give each other after answering his questions. Still, this was not the time to reflect. Just scratch and talk, the children were waiting.

The little circle of dragonborn surrounded the cleric. Each child held one or two small swords, and some waved them as though in battle while they waited quietly for him to start speaking. One burst out, “Take that Staghelm! I am the daring Ranger Erik and slash you with my twin swords.” Laren-Tioth growled, “No, shellhead, Erik slew Staghelm with his magical Moonbow. He slashed Ryolith. Brother Zenithar, would you tell Dandiflan that he’s telling it wrong?”

Again, Z’alden couldn’t help but smile at these youngsters. Brother Zenithar, yes that is the formal name he hardly ever uses. The stiff dragonborn clerics and warriors always call him by his proper name. Not even his mother calls him Zenithar, preferring her nickname for Zenithar al Denithar, her little Z’alden. Oh, if his elven father Denithar could see him now! With the safe return of his friends from their quest to seek out and understand the Dark Cloud in the south, and now the defeat of Ryolith, he had all that he could possibly need – good food, friends, and many young ears eager to hear him recount the recent battles. Well, almost everything. He had already mourned long and hard. Now, it was time to turn to tomorrow, and maybe he could work in a little sermon or two.

The cleric’s voice was practiced at story telling, a key skill for a preacher. And, how he loved to preach for the causes of the great Dragon – Hope, Justice, and Law. “Yes, good Kengi children, the story you shall have. First, there are the dragonfriends, Felsmon your noble Ilkhan.” The children cheered at the naming of their dragonborn hero. “Next, the great dwarven figher General Barrick who freed your great Dragon Aurumendor from the Yuan-ti and then came to Kengistan himself and led so many Kengi to victory despite the apparent hopelessness of the battle – the enemy was two to one against them!” The children and a few kobolds who had gathered bowed quietly at the memory of the fallen warlord fighter, the dwarf who commanded dragonborn. Z’alden heard sniffles. “Next is the quiet warrior of swift blade and sure arrow, Erik the Ranger.” The youngster with the two swords waved them in the air as everyone cheered. “And, the Sorceress exemplar Tira Duskmoon,” Z’alden made the very beginnings of his healing light illuminate his hands with a purple fire,” whose many colored chaos shredded the minds and bodies of the Kengi enemies.” The children jumped to their feet and slapped swords. They waved their swords like Tira’s powerful magic dagger, slaying unseen foes. It took several minutes before they quieted. Z’alden waited patiently. “Finally, the Eladrin wizard Rift whose magic rooted our foes to the place, rendering them fodder for my friends’ greatest powers!” Clawed hands extended as a gaggle of wizards surrounded the cleric, “You will bow to my powers!” the children shouted in one melodramatic voice.

Z’alden couldn’t help but wish that his dwarven friend was here to hear his re-telling of the tale. Barrick, General Barrick the Kengi called him, had gone into battle with Felsmon, leading thousands of dragonborn warriors. At the front line of the Kengi army massed against thousands of Fire Elementals, Z’alden’s two friends had held the elementals rooted in place while the cleric and the others were teleported behind enemy lines to break the power of the Fire Generals who controlled the elementals. If only he could have been there to save Barrick.

The children settled down and the cleric began to weave the tale.
“The Rift of Fire formed in the sky and on the ground. Just as in the dreams the Great Dragon had granted me. My friends and I would not stand idly by as thousands of Fire Elementals poured into the homeland of Clan Kengi. Your Tarkhan called to us and we answered!” The dragonborn children cheered wildly! A Kengi cleric brought Z’alden a tankard of ale, and a few other brothers stood by smiling as the half-elf continued.

“The Kengi mages penetrated the magic shield that guarded one of the Elemental’s Generals: Fenderal Staghelm, an elf turned by some primordial force into a fire elemental himself but with cunning and power, armed with twin swords full of evil to spread chaos and destruction across the Earth. This is just what I was called to stop, my little ones. This is the evil that I was given my powers to fight. We are all called to stand against evil in all its forms – this is just one of the most tangible.” He lost the youngsters at that point; too much sermon. Back to story.

“Using a magical potion, my friends and I disguised ourselves as Fire Elementals, and the mages teleported us into General Staghelm’s presence. The elf was surprised and paid the price. I called on Bahamut’s justice to send this elemental sprite back to the chaos that spawned him! By Dragon’s Claw, By Dragon’s Might, Prince of Darkness now beware, today you feel the Dragon’s Light! Claw daggers of blue light erupted from my fingers in answer to my prayer. The sapphire claws tore into Staghelm, ravaging his body, and more importantly his mind – leaving him stunned in place before he could even swing one of his twin swords against us. Tira the Sorceress beguiled his mind with a dazzling ray and stole one of his burning hot swords out of Staghelm’s hands. Then, Rift the wizard created a giant icy hand, a spell learned from the master wizard Bigsby! The Hand of Ice grasped the fire elf. Flames shot out of the icy fingers as the spell squeezed the fallen son of air. Rift grabbed our foe’s other sword. I called upon Bahamut and divine light washed over my friends, empowering them with the Dragon’s ferocity, even as the light seared the evil Staghelm. Then, with his own twin swords flashing as though some huge Wolf’s jaw had opened and closed on our foe, Erik slashed and tore into the flaming elf. It was as though slashes from a mouth full of razor sharp teeth engulfed our foe. The battle was in our favor and Staghelm was reeling. But, always remember, the battle isn’t over until the enemy is felled. Staghelm was far from defeated.”

The children’s eyes went wide as the cleric sipped his ale for effect. The gathered kobolds rocked on their heels. “Extending his hand, the flaming black sword of the elf flew from the wizard back to Staghelm, and the silver sword from the Sorceress. In a few short strokes, the powerful figher had penetrated the defenses of the Ranger with a quick backhand slash and a punch to the head. Erik was on fire and reeling, unable to think straight. Dragon’s claws! but I evened the tide by sending brilliant blue light into the eyes of that elf, blinding him. Violent winds erupted from Tira as a tempest battered our foe. The elf lashed out at me, and even my dragonborn scale armor couldn’t stop those sharp weapons. Emboldened, the elf looked to close on me for a kill. Little did he realize that my friend the Ranger’s staff had turned into a radiant Moonbow. Dazzling arrows flew at our foe, a volley of biting shafts wounding the elemental general. Tira’s lightning scored the elf further even as the great Hand of Bigsby’s magic squeezed him. Lightning and arrows rained down on the elf, but he wasn’t finished, slicing his swords into me and into our wizard. But, our flaming foe hadn’t reckoned on the Ranger’s arrows striking true, through his helm, and into his burning brain, felling the elf with a powerful enchanted arrow.”

Laren-Tioth stuck his forked tongue out at Dendiflan, “See, I told you the amazing Erik slew Staghelm with the Moonbow.” Dendiflan stomped his foot.

“But, good children, Staghelm wasn’t quite finished, yet. Even as he perished, he uttered a curse. The flaming elf shouted, as sizzling blood poured from his lips, ‘You shall fall before Ryolith’". The dragonborn children hushed at that name.

“We did not realize just what a curse that was. A name I had heard in the visions the Dragon had granted to me, giving us warning of our foes.”

“There was no time to ponder, as the mages returned us from behind the lines of the Fire Elementals before those monsters could realize we were there and as vulnerable as a plucked chicken. We barely had time to breathe, as the mages teleported us to the area of the other Fire General, the flaming man-serpent called Executus – a Yuan-ti turned into an elemental by the same great primordial power that had transformed Staghelm. Staghelm’s superior in every way. This was no foe to sneer at. Underestimate your foes and come home dead, General Barrick always told me, Respect them and have a tankard the next day.” The children nodded at the wisdom of the great fallen dwarf. Z’alden found it hard to speak for a moment as he remembered his friend. He took a deep draught from his own tankard and thanked the Dragon for it. He looked around. A crowd of Kengi had gathered. Most had tankards, many large, just the way Barrick would have wanted it. They raised theirs to the cleric. He continued.

“The shields protecting the huge man-snake were more powerful than those of Staghelms. The mages did their best but we were not as close nor as well placed. I was more than 10 staff lengths away and found myself with a fire elemental in my face rather than the flaming scales of Executus that I longed to extinguish. My children, those scales have haunted my dreams for the past moontide and here they were, so close but barred by an elemental. Such creatures are not to be ignored. Tira and Rift each had one in front of them as well. Singed we were but more annoyed than harmed. The Sorceress sent a wave of thunder all around, sending the elemental back to the chaos that spawned it. The wizard had no such patience, she sent a vortex of wind around Executus, battering him and tossing him into the air, leaving him dazed and wounded. Erik was not about to let such an opportunity pass. Quickly, arrows of light flew from the enchanted bow, ripping into the flaming scales. Dragon’s claws but I was not going to let these evil creatures bar my way to victory. Silver flames erupted from me in all directions, destroying the elemental in front of me and reaching all the way to Executus. Oh, that former Yuan-ti began to wish he’d never left his shell as the Dragon’s power froze him to the spot even as the wizard’s whirlwind bound him in the air!”

“But, the wizard’s power is not infinite, and as he arrived back on terra firma, waves of flames erupted from the snake, burning Tira, Rift, and Erik. The Ranger was on fire. Then, in an instant, the leather armor protecting Erik glowed and the fire was out. The Ranger’s eyes went like steel, arrows flew, destroying more fire elementals that Executus had summoned. If the Ranger was steel, the magic of the wizard was like titanium. The Eladrin called upon great powers, icy cold and warmth enveloped Executus. The snakeman’s eyes grew heavy. At first, he was simply moving slowing. We punished him for this weakness with spells and arrows, blinding light that seared his eyes. But, he had not yet seen the power that my friends could wield, nor would he, as he dropped unconscious from the wizard’s magical might.”

“Two perfect arrows flew from the Ranger’s bow. Never have I seen shots that were more perfectly placed to extract a price from an enemy. Two more flew, equally well placed. From the flaming snake, something akin to flaming pus flowed freely from each penetrating shaft. By the claw, this creature would fall! Bahamut’s brilliance erupted as white radiance engulfed the flaming Yuan-ti. What little breath the Ranger had left in him, by the Great Dragon, this Executus was no more!”

Cheers erupted from the crowd of Kengi and kobolds that had surrounded the circle of dragonborn children and clerics. Tankards chimed together like victory bells. Heads nodded and mugs foamed. The half-elf took a deep draught, even as he gathered as thoughts, “But, what about Ryolith?” young Larn-Tioth asked. Everyone hissed again at the name of the molten giant. Z’alden’s eyes narrowed as thought of the monstrosity, the exarch and general of the primordial Ragnaross.

Deep below the surface, not far from where the cleric spoke, a dwarf marveled at the filigree ring on his finger. Magic. I think it might have its uses. Told Felsmon I just might need this when Erik found it in that Devil’s muck. His beard singed, his armor blackened, the tough dwarf stowed his shield and axe. He looked to his left and right. Hundreds upon hundreds of Kengi dragonborn and kobolds lay dead around him. Most unrecognizable from the impact. He looked up and far in the distance; he could just see the faint outline of light. How many miles above? Who knew. But no flaming little cookies and their overgrown campfire were keeping this dwarf down. He pulled out his climbing rope, swung the climbing hook, and started to ascend. Barrick was getting out of this hole, no matter how long it took.

As the crowd quieted from the mention of the molten monster, Z’alden nodded, “Yes Laren-Tioth, the Exarch of Ragnaross put a sour end to our victory. Even as Executus fell, the elementals were strengthened by the arrival of the living Lava mound. The mages got us closer to our foe this time. A little too close. I was next to the giant. A full 5 staff lengths across, he was, in a crater that his heat was generating. We were all too close to the flaming arms and molten body. And we knew it. Strategic repositioning was in order. Little did this Exarch know that an Arch of Magic was coming his way, courtesy of the mighty Eladrin. Even as Tira flew on a dragon’s vestige, the Ranger was surrounded by lava as Ryolith melted the ground under him. What sort of monster was this that even the very ground became our enemy? Flaming cracks extended further, dropping me into another pit of fire. Rift also fell into the cracks but she would not despair."

“Calling upon that amazing Icy Hand of Master Bigsby, she tried to grab the giant. Even when times seem dark, and the enemy more than you bear, stand fast and have faith! By the Claw, I let that molten muddle know that I was a cleric of Bahamut! Silver flames engulfed his own fire, and Ryolith knew the pain of the light of the Great Dragon. The monster was rooted to the spot and his brightness dimmed by the Bahamut’s radiance. In that moment, the Eladrin saw her chance. Her powerful enchantment surround our foe, and he became slow and then, unconscious! The Ranger knew he had not a moment to lose. His brilliant arrows attacked the most vulnerable parts that had become exposed as the monster lagged under the magical lulling of the wizard’s sleeping spell. With 6 arrows in just heartbeats, Ryolith was much less than he had once been. He knew the bite of the Ranger’s volleys! Then, Tira battered the flaming hulk with wind – a tempest to extinguish the flames and send the creature back to his primordial master. Indeed, his flames were dimmed greatly. As I called on the Great Dragon, brilliant radiance from Bahamut stole more of the living flames from the mighty hulking lava mass. Ryolith’s flames were going out!”

“Then, the hulking mass awoke.” The crowd drew in its breath, even as Z’alden continued.

“100 of the Fire Elementals on the front lines of the battle with the Kengi vanished and as one, their flames poured into the molten monster, restoring him. He waved his hand and the ground under Rift turned into lava, searing the wizard. Ryolith moved closer to us to engage in melee with his great arms of flaming lava. The Ranger would have none of it. Arrows flew and huge chunks of lava could no longer bind to the mass. Thunder shattered more off of Ryolith’s flame as the magic of the Sorceress would not be denied. Even so, the beast stomped his feet and huge flaming cracks erupted in the earth, swallowing me. Tira answered with lightning that burst upon the monster. His flames were again dimming. Hope swelled within me. By the Wing, I called forth the image of the Great Dragon and silver flames poured forth over Ryolith. The monster was teetering even as the filled ground burned the wizard and myself. We were winning! But, never rest when the enemy is still above ground,”

“Or you’ll be the one below!” A dwarven voice growled. There from the edge of the crowd, a soot-covered dwarf stood. Z’alden jumped to his feet. “Barrick, by the Wings, you’re alive!”

“Aye, and thirsty.” The dwarf found himself with four of the largest tankards of dragonborn ale, two for each hand. The crowd cheered wildly at the return of the mighty dwarf. “Now finish the tale. I want to know just how that scratch in the ground formed.”

Z’alden just shook his head in wonder and thanked the Dragon for all that he had. “Thousands of the elementals in front of your troops vanished and Ryolith restored himself further.”
The cleric found it hard to speak. He was too full of emotion at the return of his friend, but the crowd called for more.

“Rift’s Icy Hand had just grabbed Ryolith but, newly restored, he escaped. He charged at Erik, but with a deft maneuver, our Ranger was too quick for the hulking creature. Little did Ryolith realize what lay in store for him in return for his trouble. In a blink, the Ranger was no longer holding his moonbow, but instead, his twin blades were in his hands, and he began to carve the beast as though it was soft dirt. Lava chunks fell in all directions. Tira, seeing a weakness in the creature, directed a thunderblast from her dagger straight into his chest. The thunder reverberated and Ryolith’s right arm flew off! The wizard summoned a magical gate to get closer to the beast, and twin arcs of magical missiles tore away at the outer shell of the creature. His lava shell began to fall away revealing an inner core of an iron skeleton that teetered.”

“It roared and shouted, you will never defeat the son of Ragnaross!” All eyes in the crowd went wide. “The earth shook and a wave of fire and a great wind blast flew from the front lines back across the iron skeleton into the rift in the sky. It was as though a raging storm of heat blew to the Rift, sucking up the fire elementals and the remains of Ryolith. Then we heard a massive explosion. Thousands of Kengi fell into a monstrous chasm that formed where the Fire Elementals had once stood. You, Barrick, were at the front of the line and also fell. Dragon’s Teeth, but it is good to see you!”

The dwarf accepted the embrace of his friend. A few seconds before another draught would be alright. “Does anyone have a meal for a hungry dwarf?” Kobolds appeared from all directions bringing food for the hero. Others ran to tell the adventurers of the return of their friend.

Comments

note: everyone had 30,620xp now everyone has 34195xp each

March of the Firelands
 

Plus, before jaunting off to Kengistan, the party (sans Felsmon) returned Berune the Dwarven wizard’s stolen books for 600 XP, so everyone now has 34,215 XP.

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It had been a long time since Tira had drawn a breath and simply relaxed. The Kengi yurt provided for her wasn’t half bad. The furnishings were spartan, but the floor carpets were surprisingly soft, and the bed was comfortable. The eggshell wash basin always had hot water thanks to the Kobolds that constantly refilled it. She had to shoo them away when she wanted privacy. The full length silver mirror was a bonus.

She stretched out her feet and reflected on just how dirty she was since the battle of the Rift had ended. As she prepared to bathe, her hand passed over her Amulet. She felt along its gilded edge and realized just how dirty it was. Tending to it first, she washed the grime and soot from Ryolith off of her treasure. Layers of dirt, probably from Ichyrot and the explosion of the Portal covered the central diamond. As she cleaned, she was surprised to find that along the edge were five gems that she had never seen before. She was certain that they had not been there when she had recovered the Amulet from the thieves, now so many months ago. And, they had not been there when she had unlocked the Elven spirit of travel and used it to teleport herself and her companions. They had not been there when she had sacrificed the Amulet to close the portal and stop the devil’s invasion.

No, these were definitely new. The gems reminded her of the several colors used in the inlaid runes on either side of father’s portal. Had those been gems, also? No matter, now. These gems were here in her hand. At that moment, she felt a close connection to her father Corel. She remembered how he promised to be with her, even from his prison in the Place between the Planes. She extended her consciousness into the Amulet. Probing its magic, she realized that each stone held a wondrous power, and through the diamond, granted her access to the Astral plane for a brief instant. Using several stones, she could hold the plane open for even longer.

Elven Amulet of Corel Corellonson Level 16 (+3)
This diamond set in gold is surrounded by 5 stones: black opal, ruby, sapphire, emerald, and amethyst. The diamond helps you control the mind while the others access the planes.

Item Slot: Neck 32,000 gp
Enhancement: Fortitude, Reflex, and Will
Property:Gain a +2 item bonus to saving throws against effects with the charm or
fear keyword.

Power (Daily):Immediate Interrupt. Use this power when you would be dominated by
an effect that a save can end. Make a saving throw against the effect. On a
failure, you don’t expend the use of the power and no daily use of a magic item
power occurs.

Power (At Will, 5 stones/day, Teleportation): Move Action. Use the number of stones to teleport that number of squares. An individual stone cannot be used more than once per day.

Power (Special, Zone): Free Action. Range 10. When a stone is used, a zone is created in the vacated square and adjoining squares (Close Burst 1). If multiples stones are used, only the last stone used creates a zone. The zone lasts until the end of your next turn.
Sustain Minor: the zone persists.

Black Opal: Power(Arcane) An area of complete darkness is created. Any creature within the zone without darkvision is blind. All light sources active within the zone are extinguished. If the zone is sustained, any light source activated within the zone is extinguished.

Ruby: Power(Fire) An area of fire is created. Any creature entering or starting its turn in the zone takes 2d6 + Constitution + 3 fire damage.

Sapphire: Power(Cold) An area of ice is created. Any creature entering or starting its turn in the zone falls prone and takes ongoing 5+Charisma cold damage (save ends both). If the zone is sustained, any creature within the zone falls prone and takes ongoing 5+Charisma cold damage (save ends both).

Emerald: Power(Poison) An area of poisonous gas is created. Any creature entering or starting its turn in the zone takes 2d8+Dexterity+3 poison damage.

Amethyst: Power(Necrotic) An area of necrotic energy is created. Any creature entering or starting its turn in the zone takes ongoing 7+Intelligence necrotic damage and is slowed (save ends both).

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Studying the Amulet, Tira also senses that she can see the Place between the Planes a little more clearly. She is confident that she could move the Astral plane and then to it even further than she could before.

Wild Plane Step
With a chance opening of the planes, you vanish from one place to another just when needed.

Divine Boon
Property: Gain a +2 to any teleport distance.

Arcane Teleportation Personal
Trigger: A roll of yours is a multiple of 3.
Power (Encounter) Free Action. Until the start of your next turn, you can teleport up to your speed, ignoring the line of sight limitation. You must have seen the destination location at some point in your life. At the end of the teleport, you are dazed until the start of your next turn.

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Day turned into night and then back into day. So when the adventurers awoke, all was well in the world as far as they were aware. Foes vanquished. No new foes to fight. No impending doom. Bellies were full and bodies were rested. Barrick was snoring comfortably under the table. Yet just days before many and much had been lost to the enemies from the Firelands. And so it was that hearts still hung heavy and the adventures knew that it was time to head back homeward to the Nentir Vale.

As the adventurers passed along the city streets toward the road home, Kengi of all ages lined the streets to give them a hero’s send off. To each adventurer were their own thoughts, from astral planes to last night’s exploits. They thought of past victories and of an unknown future. Maybe it was time to find a new quest. Maybe it was time to settle down.

Under a bright afternoon sky, the adventurers stopped to rest, having put many miles upon their feet. No sooner than the first Kengi gifts of food were devoured, the six adventures could hear a carriage approaching from behind, also heading toward the Nentir Vale.

Erik (in a whisper): It is drawn by one horse.

DM: Soon enough, you all see the carriage. It is indeed pulled by just one horse – a magnificent white beast that exemplifies the finest traits of its species. The carriage itself is oddly roundish, almost like a pumpkin, but instead of orange, it is purple with intricately carved golden trusses that run between each section. You can just make out expensive looking storage chests that are mounted on a rear ledge. Smallish in size, the carriage appears only big enough to hold four people, but the most strange thing is that despite a bench up front, the carriage has no driver.

DM: As you watch from your lunch spot at the side of the road, the carriage pulls up next to you and stops. What do you do?

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We cautiously approach the carriage. Hands on hilts, but no weapons drawn, as yet.

“Greetings fellow travelers. What brings you along this road?”

Rift uses her arcane skills to see if there is anything magical or untoward about the carriage (other than the fact that there is no driver!). Assuming someone emerges, she also tries to determine if they have any arcane skills as well.

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Z’alden stands close to Rift (increasing her Diplomacy). “Well met, this day! The Great Dragon’s blessing be upon you.” Z’alden uses his most genuine greeting and warmest diplomacy, assuming nothing beastly materializes.

Z’alden wonders if the carriage is not oddly familiar. He courses his mind over his studies of history to see if he can recall any tales about such a conveyance.

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Time passes as the horse’s breath grows calmer and only then from the carriage window appears the face of a beautiful Eladrin. Blond hair flows down around her well maintained, middle-aged complexion. Sparkling jewels adorn her ears and neck. The door remains closed as she looks Rift directly in the eyes, studying the young wizard. Finally, her ruby-red lips speak in the soft, high-Eladrin voice:

Lorelei: “I am by the name Lorelei. This carriage travels this dirt road for reasons plenty… to visit an old friend… to meet a new one… after all, we must all travel some road.”

Lorelei nods to acknowledge Z’alden’s greeting while she continues to study Rift, occasionally making courteous glances at the others so as not to appear rude. So too does Rift study Lorelei and the carriage, but despite her intellect and wizardly powers, Rift cannot quite discern what to make of it all. Rift is puzzled why there is no real effort to hide the magic and opulence of the driverless carriage, yet she can sense that the true nature of the little caravan is being masked, by some unclear magic. Erik too senses that something is not right, but specifically with the horse. Meanwhile, Tira observes that such a fine carriage is very expensive (including the finest elven Gucciara travel trunks that could have been spotted a mile away) but has no entourage of skilled archers and swordsmen. Despite all this, Lorelei’s voice is strong and reassuring.

An awkward silence ensues. To break it, Lorelei speaks once again in a strong yet friendly voice.

Lorelei: “The carriage is better than walking.”

Lorelei smiles.

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Rift gives an imperceptible shrug of her shoulders, that indicates to her companions that she has no idea what is going on, but is certainly willing to make the best of it.

“Well met, cousin, if I may be so bold. Have we perhaps been introduced in the past, and my intellect fails to recall it?”

“No matter. Your carriage certainly looks comfortable. Is it possible that you have room for myself and my companions. We are returning from a great adventure, and would welcome a chance to rest our feet. And perhaps, if you are interested, we could repay you with a short tale of our wanderings.”

If she agrees to this, then while we are all gathering our stuff and clambering aboard, Rift will do a quick Fey Step, hopefully without drawing too much attention to herself. While Rift is twisting the arcane fabric from one location to another, she will try to glean any extra information about Lorelei. Does she appear any differently in the Fey Realm? Does Rift get the sense that anything is amiss?

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Z’alden will lend his aid to the suggestion, and see if he can sense any evil or malicious intent.

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Lorelei smiles at Rift’s little shrug and suppresses a laugh at Rift’s bold comment and replies.

Lorelei: “Your intellect fails you not, yet forward and back you do not yet discern.”

With that, Lorelei smiles and opens the carriage door and gracefully descends a little set of stairs that automatically unfolded as the door swung open. Confidently striding up to the ranger, Lorelei faces Erik almost nose to nose, puts her hands on his sword belt buckle, pauses while looking him in the eyes, grins a naughty grin, and deftly removes the belt. The bewildered ranger has never seen such an elegant lady up so close and for her to do this he is momentarily stunned into inaction. Quite quickly she then places the swords in trunk and returns to the ranger. Taking him by one hand like he was a young boy she pulls him up with her into the carriage as he willingly follows.

As Erik is being lead about like a dazed little puppy, Rift enters the Fey Realm. A visage of Lorelei, as Eladrin, can be seen but as if in a dreamy fog. Rift can tell that Lorelei is completely unsurprised by this little stunt. In fact, Lorelei seems to be benefitting from this more than Rift. While Lorelei remains somehow opaque, Rift feels transparent and vulnerable to Lorelei’s insight into her. The impression that Rift is left with is that Lorelei is indeed Eladrin, is of a high social status, and is extremely powerful – somehow. Neither Rift nor Z’alden sense malice, but they do get the impression that Lorelei is still a mystery and much more than a wealthy Eladrin with some simple, acquired magic carriage.

Leaning out the window, Lorelei says, “Dragonborn and dwarf, there is little room in here for such strong men, would you mind riding on top? Ladies, join me and the young ranger.”

Lorelei: “Well, are you coming?”

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Barrick turns to his larger companion. “Well, Fels, it’s steerage for us, as so often. Keep your eyes open though, this carriage gives me the creeps.”

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“My old friend, I would most certainly agree there’s always something strange with fey magiks. Stay aware, as i fear this is not as simple or friendly as it appears.”

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“Good lady, if you mind, where shall I go?” the cleric asks humbly, “If if please you, I would hear more of your comings and goings from inside the carriage.”

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While he awaits a reply, Z’alden will wander towards the horse, using his best skills with animals, to see if he can discern more about the creature.

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Lorelei looks a bit embarrassed but quickly recovers, smiles, and says, “I’m sorry, I have been terribly rude. Humble cleric, please collect your things, stow them and then join me and the others within this carriage. You too, you two (looking at Barrick and Felsmon).” Then, continuing to look at Felsmon and Barrick she asks, “Oh, would you be so kind as to brush yourselves off a bit? I’ve had stains in here you wouldn’t believe. Very tough to remove.”

A grinning Erik peers out of the carriage window from beside her. Lorelei smiles.

What do you do?

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Z’alden cannot discern much about the horse, but, like Erik, he thinks that this horse is just too perfect. It’s tall and and powerful looking, with show-winning quality musculature, stance and proportions. Its pure white coat is only surpassed by its silky white mane. Still, flies buzz around its posterior.

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Rift racks her brain, trying to think of a witty saying about flies and a horse’s posterior.

From outside the carriage, she shoots a grin back at Erik. “Why not?” she says to no one in particular. Then gathering up her staff and backpack, she clambers aboard the carriage.

Once she is comfortable seated, she whispers to Z’alden, “Do we know where we are going?”

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As Tira moves passed Lorelei on her way to her seat, she pauses, tilts her head slightly, inhales deeply, gives Lorelei a quick wink, then moves forward to sit. During the moments Lorelei is looking elsewhere, Tira looks Lorelei over carefully, smiling all the while. She is looking at her clothing, her footwear, rings, amulets, headwear, cloak, belt and bracelets. Does she see anything out of the ordinary, anything that might be magical, or worth trying to pickpocket?

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The cleric looks at Lorelei. “Good lady, thank you for your offer to ride with you. What is your destination? Perhaps we know your old friend or your unmet new one?”

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As the six adventurers climb onboard, they realize that the carriage is much larger on the interior than they would have guessed. It is clear to everyone that the interior dimensions are larger than the exterior dimensions. Instead of each bench seating just two across, they fit at least three. The benches face each other and above the traveller’s heads are nooks for various interesting things such as vials, books and lockable boxes.

Lorelei directs everyone’s seating. On one side sit Barrick, Rift and Felsmon, in that order. On the other are Z’alden, Erik, Lorelei and Tira. Rift is directly opposite from Lorelei.

As Tira passes close by Lorelei, Lorelei just grins, raises an eyebrow and whispers to her, “naughty girl”. With four on Lorelei’s side of the bench, seating is quite tight, but she seems to enjoy it, placing a hand upon both Erik’s and Tira’s thighs. This is a bit unexpected from an older lady of such seemingly high refinement, culture and stature. Try as she might to hide her inspection of Lorelei, Tira knows that Lorelei knows and is unoffended, unconcerned and perhaps even relishing the attention. Lorelei’s clothing is finest silks, velvets and leathers. Her skinny waist is shown off by a corset and her tall shoes are not fit for walking most village’s cobblestone streets. Expensive jewelry adorn her fingers, neck, waist and hair. Essentially, all of Lorelei’s garments and jewelry look incredibly steal-worthy. Much of it wreaks of powerful magic.

With everyone seated, the carriage starts off, quickly accelerating to a good pace, leaving the adventurers impressed by the power of just one horse. The ride is smooth, but not without some bumps. The cool, luxurious interior with leather seats and mahogany woodwork make for quite a nice ride.

Lorelei: “Where are we going? You ask now?” (She laughs.) “Oh, we’re going on the Trade Road through Fallcrest. That wouldn’t be a problem for anyone, would it?”

When she asks that, Z’alden can’t help but feel that she holds her gaze upon him a little longer than would be expected, but he’s not sure.

Lorelei: “To answer your question, cleric, I have an old, an old friend there. You would not know him. My new friend, you have certainly met her.”

She laughs, knowing that her answer leaves even more questions.

Lorelei: “So, I am at a disadvantage. What are your names? Who are you?”

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“have certainly met her.” At the sound of “her” Tira’s left eyebrow arches involuntarily before she can recover, the smallest hint of a smile tugging at the corners of her lips. “Begging your pardon fair lady, where are my manners? I am Tira, Tira Duskmeadow. My companions and I are returning to the Vale, seeking much needed rest after a long adventure in Kengistan. Fallcrest would be an excellent place for us to disembark, if you would suffer our presence until we reach the city. Perhaps by then we will also be new friends. New friends are always good right?”

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Nodding his head, the half-elven cleric says “and I am Zenithar al Denithar, a cleric of the Great Dragon Bahamut, my friends call me Z’alden. As to your new friend that we have met,do you by chance go to meet my former patroness, Marla, the high priestess of Pelor in Fallcrest?”

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“Ah, Tira”, replies Lorelei, “your fiery red hair is something to behold yet your heart burns stronger, no? Your amulet tells much. And it is rest you seek and so there is an idea I have, but more on that later.”

Then Lorelei turns to the cleric, “Zenithar al Denithar, now I will call you Z’alden, just like your friends do.” Lorelei pauses with her face looking up at the roof, as is often the case when one reflects. Without moving her head, her eyes turn back down to look at Z’alden. “Marla, Marla, Marla. Yes, I used to be friends with Marla, but that was quite a while ago. You know how things go. Sometimes.”

“Well, enough of that”, Lorelei pronounces, “We can rest for the night at Hammerfast, but there is still a long road between and so libations are needed to aid the traveler. Who would like a drink?”

Even before the adventurers can answer she stands up (to stoop in the carriage) and pulls some short bottles out of one of the cupboards and offers them to her fellow travels, “Let’s see, we have a 18 year dwarven spirits, a probably 100 year drow wine and oh, some halfling ale, made this year, in a tin. What’s your poison?”

What do you do?

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Rift perks up at the mention of wine, saying “Ah, I could never pass up a good drow wine. I remember my old mentor Nimozaran used to keep a stash of Death’s Head behind a secret door in his tower. First time I ever used a Knock spell, if I remember clearly…” From the faraway look in Rift’s eyes, it seems like she might not have remembered much else from her training days.

“But how rude of me. I am Rift, Eladrin wizard and Arcane Wayfarer, mistress of fire and ice, rescuer of bears, and along with my companions, heroes of the Kengi.”

“But enough of us. Tell us more about yourself. Who is this friend of yours in Fallcrest? We have but few friends in Fallcrest, since we had a bit of a misadventure there a few moons ago.” Rift looks at Z’alden intently, and once she has his attention, warns him with her eyes to be careful of what he says when recounting our adventures in Fallcrest.

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“Death’s Head?”, replies Lorelei with dramatic flair, “Death’s Head? Now that’s poison. Maybe at one point in my life I would have tried it, on a dare, but now it’s only their finer spirits for me, like Dark Garden and Loslirioth. Let’s see, hmmm, if you still like the deadly stuff, try my flask of orcish Pal-Maker.”

Lorelei then rummages around in one of the cupboards again (which, like the carriage, seems to be able to hold more than its outside dimensions would indicate) and pulls out a crudely fashioned flask. For those who read Orcish, the label on the flask would say “Pal-Maker” and then below, “Death is easy, Waking is Hard”. Lorelei hands the flask to Rift.

Mile after miles goes by as the other adventurers introduce themselves and talk about monsters, heroic deeds and the stuff of legends. Lorelei remains coy about her “old friend” and subtly points out to Rift that she never said one way or the other that the “old friend” was in Fallcrest. Lorelei remains much of a mystery as she speaks in vagueries and even riddles when it comes to personal topics. On the one hand, she rides in this opulent carriage, wearing the finest clothing and most expensive jewelry. On the other, she does have a magical carriage and rides without guards. Perhaps she was born into wealth. After all, she comes across as very well bred and skilled in etiquette – a true lady of grace and composure. Though it is very rare, it also would be possible to acquire magics through wealth and position. Being a middle-aged Eladrin she could have married into it. Perhaps she has invisible guards that shadow the carriage? Though clearly intelligent, her interests seem to be about fashion, fancy liquors and gossip. Tira and Lorelei’s conversations have the others looking out the windows. However, Lorelei also shows a great interest in Rift, who cannot be sure if this is because they are both Eladrin or something more. Lorelei is not naive or unacquainted concerning politics and magics.

Past nightfall, the carriage pulls into Hammerfast. Greeting the carriage is a servant of one of Lorelei’s friends, Mr. Braken, a half-elf who, by appearances, is a successful merchant.

“Come, come, welcome guests of Lorelei”, says Braken, “I will have rooms readied for you shortly. Please, come into the house’s great room and relax.”

None of the adventurers sense that anything is amiss. Mr. Braken seems very genuine and by his interactions with Lorelei you can tell that they are long friends. You can overhear them talk about his latest inventory of liquors, jewelry, clothing, etc. While this is going on, a stableboy leads the horse around back.

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Does Z’alden have the sense that they are captives here, or are they free to go? If so, he will politely take his leave of Lorelei, “it has been long since I have had a chance to worship at shrines to my god or any of the others. The dragonborn Kengi do not keep shrines. Please excuse me for a little while so that I can pay homage at the shrines to Bahamut for all that he has done for me, my friends, and victories in battle, and to Moradin to thank him for allowing us in his city.”

OOC: Does Lorelei have any problem with this?

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Lorelei does not inhibit the adventurer’s in any way. They feel free to move about and explore. Mr. Braken’s home is warm and inviting and quite normal for a successful shopkeeper. There are no “brutes” hanging about.

Erik decides to stay and have a drink with Lorelei (and whomever else) before turning in.

Lorelei: Oh, I completely understand Z’alden. To get to the shrine of Bahamut, go down Gooseberry Way and turn right on Lord Raven street. Maybe 10 minutes by foot. Can’t miss it, but I do suggest you take Felsmon or Barrick with you. We have a long journey to Fallcrest tomorrow, so we’ll be leaving just after sunrise.

Z’alden notices that carriage has been taken off the street too, presumably around back where the horses seem to be stabled. Off in the distance toward the center of town, boisterous, drunken folk can just barely be heard entering and leaving the bars.

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Z’alden invites Felsmon and Barrick to come along. At the shrines, in addition to prayers and offerings (out of his meager coin holdings, Z’alden gives up 10% at Bahamut’s shrine and 5% at Moradin’s), he asks around about Lorelei and the half-elf Braken. His streetwise senses are open and aware.

OOC: Does he learn anything?

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At the shrine to Bahamut, that 10% is a 20 gp gem. At the shrine to Moradin, 5% is 1 peloran gold crown (10gp). At the shrine to Bahamut, Z’alden also asks whether the resident clerics have any rituals to share for advancing Bahamut’s cause in the world.

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The three adventurer’s night out on the town first takes them to some taverns. Outside, Z’alden meets a couple of men who look to be farmers. They’re a fair bit drunk. As soon as he asks about Lorelei and Mr Braken, both of the men open up and start freely talking.

Urquat: Yeah, Mr. Braa-a-ak-en (he belches), he seems nice enough, but I ain’t never been able to afford that fancy stuff he sells. Rich folk come through and do, though.

Blandy: Oh, ain’t that the truth. We sees that magical carriage come through every once in a blue moon, or two. Creepy if you ask me.

Urquat: Yeah, but she ain’t done nobody no harm.

Blandy: (Interrupting) That ain’t true you fool. Remember Weyland? He and his brother got busted up by her real bad.

Urquat: Nimbicile, they was trying to rob her, remember? She done something to one of them. Turned Weyland’s brother into a frog or something.

Blandy: Newt.

Urquat: (Turning back to Z’alden) Well, he’s got all better now. She may be a fancy-shmancy, high-faloot’n, richy rich, but she ain’t permanently done nobody no harm.

Blandy: Shucks.

Urquat: Yup, she rolls through very rarely. Think she goes on shopping trips. Hits the best spots is what I reckon. Probably will go through Fallcrest too, but ain’t she gonna be in for a surprise! That Mr. Goodright gots himself killed just a moon ago.

Blandy: Yup. Ain’t gonna be sell’n no fancy stuff no more.

Urquat: Blandy, you idiot. They ain’t stupid (looking at Z’alden, Felsmon and Barrick). Ain’t nobody able to sell noth’n when they dead.

Blandy: I heard all abouts it. These real mean, tough dudes held his beauty daughter hostage. Then theys come back to collect the ransom. He wouldn’t pay, so they killed him dead, right there in the middle of the street. Some kinda death ray.

Urquat: Dangit Blandy, ain’t you ever gonna get your stories right? Mr. Cleric, please ignore my friend, he’s what you call an idiot. It went down like this. Those real mean, tough, nasty look’n dudes came back for the ransom, but they was clever. When he wouldn’t pay, they threatened him real mean like and then the wizard blasted poor Mr. Goodright with a fireball. Cooked him right up on the spot. But, see, then came the clever part. They healed him! Mr. Goodright got back up and made it home, but the magics was only temporary. He died that night. Sure enough.

Urquat: You three ain’t head’n to Fallcrest ain’t yah? Well, if yous are, I’d be on the lookout for that mean bunch that killed Goodright. (Looking at Z’alden) Your two friends look pretty tough, but that gang is bigger and tougher. Yous see them, you run. They killers.

Blandy: So sad for his beau-ti-ful daughter.

Urquat: You still got a crush on her? You only seen her once.

Blandy: Do not.

Urquat: Yeah, yous do. (Mimicking Blandy) “Oooh, Mr. Goodright daughter, I’m in luuuv wiff you!”

At that point Blandy punches Urquat. Urquat punches Blandy. They take turns punching each other in the gut until they’re both on the cobbles gasping.

Conversations with other locals confirm that Mr. Braken is indeed an upstanding citizen and, to help his business, often does favors for wealthy patrons. It is also confirmed that Mr. Goodright is indeed dead, but the accounts of his death vary. The only consistent part to the stories is that his daughter was ransomed, and some group did attack him and then heal him. Little is known about Lorelei. Most have never seen her carriage pass on through, though they have heard stories of such.

On their visit to the shrine to Bahamut, Z’alden, Barrick and Felsmon have quite a different experience. After quite conversation, one of the clerics replies, “No, I am sorry brother Z’alden, we have no rituals. Wait. Though we do not have rituals, I believe we do have something that can aid you in your quest to advance Bahamut’s righteous presence. I’ll be right back.”

The cleric disappears behind some curtains. Z’alden can hear quite the racket and some not so holy words as the shrine’s cleric searches the store room. “One minute more!”, the cleric shouts back to the main room where Z’alden waits patiently.

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When the cleric returns to Z’alden, he looks very pleased. Almost giddy with excitement, he describes the potion he has brought forth, “Brother Z’alden, we have been saving this potion much too long. None of us here at the temple venture out much into the dark places, preferring to do Bahamut’s work here where there are plenty of people. We feel you should have this. Drink it and glow with the divine light of Bahamut. The unholy, the undead will wither within Bahamut’s righteous light. But be careful, though it hurts them, it hurts you too.”

With that, the cleric hands over to Z’alden the following potion…

Potion of Righteous Luminescence (level 15, 2200 gp)
Drink this potion and begin to glow. In your light the undead do wither.
Power (Consumable): Minor Action. Drink this potion and spend a healing surge. Radiant light emanates and surrounds you in a close burst equal in size to your wisdom modifier. All undead within the burst at the start of their turn receive 1d12 + wisdom modifier damage. In addition, undead creatures attack and do damage to you with penalties equal to your wisdom modifier. The potion can be sustained through a minor action of spending one healing surge per additional round. Creatures that are not undead are not affected.

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Before sunrise, Lorelei and her traveling companions are up and about getting ready for the long journey along the Trade Road past Fiveleague House and Thunderspire Mountain, all the way to Fallcrest. As Erik, Z’alden, Felsmon and Barrick are all eating breakfast, Lorelei pulls Rift and Tira aside and into a quite room.

“Girls”, she says to Rift and Tira, “I have some gifts for you. First, Tira, you and I are kindred spirits when it comes to fashion – wow, we could talk forever about hair and belts and… well, if we did the big brutes back in the other room would just kill us. I think we’d drive them insane. (Lorelei giggles) Anyway, I got these boots some time ago but I just never wear them. They should go to a good home. Tira, maybe you’d like them?”

From a long box Lorelei pulls out some very provocative boots and hands them over to Tira. While Rift and Tira check them out, Lorelei describes them…

Boots of Intimidation (level 7, 3700 gp)
The wearer of these shiny boots is taller and more intimidating to both friend and foe.
Item Slot: Feet
Property: Gain a +3 bonus to intimidate humanoid creatures. Gain a +1 bonus to streetwise and bluff. These boots can be used as part of a basic attack on prone creatures with +3 to damage rolls.

Lorelei then presents a box to Rift and gives a little speech before opening it. “Rift, now I know you’re not like Tira and I when it comes to fashion and feminine wiles, so I don’t have anything for you like what I got Tira but oh, you have some potential. Anyway, given that you’re all wizardry and intellectual, I have this for you. I’m told it’s very powerful.” Lorelei then presents Rift with the following:

Circlet of Amplification (level 17, 65,000 gp)
Focus the mind, increase the damage.
Item Slot: Head
Property: Increase an arcane power’s damage dice.
Power (At-Will, Daily): Use this power as you make an attack to increase the damage by one dice step (d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20). For example, a power that normally does 3d6 is increased to 3d8. Note that d20 increases to 2d12.

“Oh, Rift”, concludes Lorelei, “wear it a little higher on the forehead, not so low. Looks better that way.”

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Z’alden thanks the clerics profusely. He ponders deeply the stories he has heard about Goodright’s passing.

He tells his friends about the stories of Goodright’s death. In the telling, he absently fingers the Tiamat side of his holy symbol.

All the while, his thoughts churn. His healing has never failed. Did Bahamut not like his act of justice of Goodright – acting as judge and jury in one fell swoop? If he had not, why would his prayer for radiant light have been answered? If the Great Dragon had not approved, why would his prayer for healing have then been answered? No, the cleric cannot believe the Beloved Dragon turned from him that night or any night in those that followed. His powers under the Dragon have grown, not diminished. Through the Dragon, can he not give healing to all his allies who stand within 5 staff lengths without drawing on any of their own personal energy?

A more of a sinister thought occurs to the half-elf. Did someone take advantage of the cloud of uncertainty around Goodright on that night and kill the man who cheated them at the insistence of his foul daughter? The brat Elena may have used Z’alden’s actions to take some of her own.

As her ponders, he speaks with others of the group about potions, explaining his new potion and wondering if he and Rift should make some for protection, such as Elixirs for improving Reflexes, Fortitude, or Will? Unfortunately, Z’alden has no elixir components. Perhaps some shopping once in Fallcrest would be in order? Z’alden appreciated Erik’s tale of how an Elixir of Reflexes consumed before the battle with the necromancer Tal Lorvas allowed the Ranger to dodge an exploding trap – to see the flames and dance around them unscathed. Z’alden or Rift’s own Elixirs would not be as powerful as that one, the cleric figures, but still might do some good.

OOC: and only cost 125 gp per Elixir to get a 25 in that defense as an immediate interrupt.

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Tira is shocked at hearing of Mr Goodright’s death, but not surprised. Perhaps the Tiamat evil that is now part of Z’alden’s soul was already starting to manifest itself back then, causing Bahamut’s power to function differently than expected? Maybe old Bollo, the one that helped poor Elana with her scheme, killed the old guy, knowing that the timing was perfect? Elena did try to kill all of us, maybe it was she? Maybe it is the chaotic nature of magic? Tira easily remembers many spells of hers that have not had the intended results, the last mishap literally stunning herself. Ah, memories. She chuckles to herself remembering accidentally knocking Rift into the snakes.

She takes the boots from Lorelei and rubs her hands over them, “Thank you, thank you very much. We do seem to have many similar tastes and interests. I can see where these might come in handy. If we had more time, I’ll bet you could tell a story or two revolving around these boots. Alas, I have nothing of worth to give you in return. Peradventure, someday…”

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Right at dawn the carriage is brought around front, with the perfect white horse looking rested and ready for a long, fast day. Lorelei and the adventurers climb on board and soon they are off, on their way, first past Thunderspire Mountain and then to Fallcrest. There is some frivolous chitchat to start, but then Lorelei announces that she has something important to say…

Lorelei: My dear traveling companions, I have a surprise for you.

She hands out parchments to all except Erik that read:

Eye of the Beholder Masquerade Ball
You are cordially invited to an exclusive event for the Fallcrest region’s finest. Feast on the finest food as you are entertained by the great troubadour Yager Dillin and a delightful crew of merry jesters. Please see it in your hearts to donate generously to the Fallcrest Orphanage as this charity is now near and dear to our very own Elana Goodright.

The parchment continues on to give the location as the “House of Goodright” and the date: tonight.

Lorelei: I know this is very short notice for you but I think you really need the break. You’ve been subterranean for too many days and battling great evils for even longer. Trust me, I’ve seen this before, you need to have some fun! So, I have some things for you."

From a seemingly endless bag, Lorelei happily pulls out some very fancy dress for the adventurers, including masks for both men and women. With these cloths, the adventurers should fit right in with the rich and powerful of the Fallcrest region.

Lorelie: Oh, yes, I have heard that you might have trouble returning to Fallcrest (she winks at Z’alden), so I also took the trouble of acquiring five of these for you."

She then hands out potions to everyone but Erik and explains the details…

Potion of Incognito (level 14, 2000 gp)
A strange guise covers you; you are no longer recognizable as yourself.
You still appear as you are, but all creatures around no longer recognize you as anyone they have seen before. It is if you have become strangers. No one will recognize you unless you, or anyone else, specifically reveal your identity; if that happens the spell is broken and you instantly become recognizable to everyone that might recognize you.

Your Arcana check determines how long the effect lasts:

Arcana Check Result Duration
15 or lower 15 minutes
16–24 30 minutes
25–29 1 hour
30–39 2 hours
40 or higher 4 hours

You are still perceived as the type of being you are, e.g., Barrick, the dwarven fighter still appears to be a dwarven fighter, he is simply no longer recognizable as Barrick while under the ritual’s effect.

Lorelei: Those should help you get in past the guards, who will search you, so don’t do anything silly. If they find a weapon, you’ll get booted and won’t have any fun. Remember, you’re there for a good time. No need for armor or weapons – you have to let go and break out of the cycle of one violent encounter followed by another. Just have fun! The tickets are on me. The invitation was originally for me, and though I really would like to join you, Erik and I will be attending to other important business and will keep your items safe. Do not worry.

The carriage speeds on toward Fallcrest.

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Rift bows low. “Lorelei, we thank you for this lovely invitation. We would be delighted to attend the ball, and especially with these fine new clothes. Corellon knows that I have but little interested in attire, and I would have made a poor showing. I would also like to thank you for the enchanting circlet. I was so surprised by your gift earlier that I was speechless until now!”

“Although I must say, I do wonder what you and Erik might be up to?” Rift gives Erik a nudge and a wink when she says this.

“By the way, do you know much about this Fallcrest Orphanage? We have had some contact with Miss Goodright in the past, and if I may be so bold, her character did not quite fit the, ah, charitable type.”

“Erik, seeing has how you have a previous engagement, would you be so kind as to watch our weapons? I’m sure with Lorelei’s help you’ll keep as good care of them as with your own weapon.” After saying this, Rift smiles innocently at Erik.

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“Oh,” Tira actually squirms, “A costume ball, how fun. This outfit will go perfectly with the new boots.” But then a look of doubt crosses Tira’s face. “But I am not so sure about leaving my dagger behind, it almost feels like a part of me. When I was younger I heard of a friend of the family, Anna Valerious, who went to a masquerade ball, with less than enjoyable results. I hope the same fate is not in store for us. But I suppose so long as there are no real beholders invited, we should be fine.” Tira’s laugh is not as free as it normally is.

“I also was wondering about this charity. As my good friend here mentioned, the last time we encountered her she did not seem very, how to put it, …, giving.”

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Eyeing the invitation, Z’alden smiles. “Erik, take great care of this mace. And my little shield.” Z’alden hands over his mace and his parrying dagger. “Oh, and my crossbow. Who knows. Maybe in this magical carriage it will be repaired.”

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“Now these clothes make me think of dragon lords. Perhaps I can keep my scale armor and be a great dragonborn?” Z’alden is very reluctant to be parted with his new armor.

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If there is time in fallcrest Felsmon will look to buy a dagger as it would not be out of place to have a seemingly ornamental dagger belted to onesself.

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Lorelei discusses the House of Goodright, saying that though she stopped by Mr. Goodright’s shop many times, she only saw Elena a handful of times. When she did meet Elena, Lorelei thought her a precocious brat, not at all uncommon for smart children of wealthier parents. She continues to wonder if Elena has had a change of heart due to the shock of her father’s sudden death. Perhaps it had a great impact on her and has forced her to grow up. As the group discusses Elena, the story of the mindflayer comes up along with Elena’s apparent obsession with it, including its possible control over her. With this bit of news Lorelei seems more sympathetic toward Elena, but ultimately shrugs and says, “Who knows the mind of others?”

Lorelei looks amused as the adventurers worry about their daggers and armor. In a jokingly patronizing tone Lorelei says, “Well, if you really do need daggers, you can kill Fallcrest’s rich and powerful with your steak knives, or club them over the head with a chair leg. No, seriously, in the case of you, Tira, I’m sure you can charm an male guard, hmmm, or female, with your incredible beauty and sexy boots. Just tell intimidate them until they feel like a newt.” She laughs. "And just who goes to a fancy ball wearing armor? They’ll not let you past the door. It is a masquerade ball, but the dress code is “fancy”, not come in the costume of a knight in shining armor."

Erik then pipes up, “Hey, my Moonbow can be transformed back and forth between longbow and walking stick – perhaps Rift can use it if she feels naked without an implement. Tira can bluff her way past the guards with a dagger in each boot – one for herself and one for someone else. I have two spare daggers that others can borrow.”

“Wait a second Erik”, commands Lorelei, “I need you to have your Moonbow with you on our little mission. Gotta be ready to shoot off some missiles.” Lorelei winks at Rift and quickly returns to her usual refined demeanor.

Lorelei reminds everyone that it’s just a party and to have a good time.

The carriage speeds on to Fallcrest.

March of the Firelands
 

“Very well, then,” says the cleric. He gets out of his scale armor and puts on the fine clothes. Z’alden says, “I will be armored only in faith.” He pats the holy symbol underneath the extravagant tunic. “Just what sort of costume is this meant to represent, good lady?” The backwoodsy half-elf isn’t sure what the costume is portraying.

March of the Firelands
 

Tira nods at the suggestion to try and smuggle two daggers in. Her dragontooth dagger is just small enough that it fits under the insole of the boot, whilst the other that she borrows has to ride against her calf. The new boots are just tall enough to completely cover the dagger on her leg; she tucks it in and smiles at Lorelei. She waits to change her outfit until they reach town and a discrete room in which to undress.

Tira suddenly cocks her head to one side and freezes. “Did you just hear something? I thought I head another faint demonic wail, like the ones I heard when we passed Thunderspire. You all heard those didn’t you? I was going to ask what that could be, but got lost in our conversation.”

March of the Firelands
 

Lorelei looks at Tira, frowns and sternly says, “Interesting that you noticed the demonic wail over the conversation and noise of the carriage. Perhaps you were specifically listening for it?”

Then Lorelei goes back to her smiling demeanor and answers Z’alden. “Believe it or not, this is normal attire for the wealthier folk of the Nentir Vale. What makes it a masquerade ball are these little masks. On sticks. See, like this.”

She holds up one of the silly masks to her face and offers her hand gracefully to Erik, who blushes and takes a firm grasp. Turning her head to look back over at Tira, Lorelei jokingly pities forth an, “Oh, how do you stand it?”

“Well, just a short distance to go now”, says Lorelei, “We’ll stop before town so that you can freshen up and change into your new clothes.”

March of the Firelands
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