Guild of the Platinum Dragon

Elthanias’ adventure log - 3rd entry

The Legacy of Alaric the Red - 20th April 2016

Great success! We found his tomb and retrieved the binding ring. The northern tribes are united once again, under the rule of Queen Tuzneuda.

Our tomb raiding story starts about two weeks ago. I was sitting at my usual farthermost corner table at The Platinum Dragon Inn, drinking some pretty decent elven wine and studying some old arcane texts from the local monastery’s archives, when I heard the front door opening, so I lift my head. In comes Dragar, our Dragonborn Fighter and comrade in arms. He takes his heavy armor off and sets it down on a table with a thud. He skims the room, his cold breath steaming around his mouth. He notices Krack, the Half-Orc Sorcerer, in one corner, drinking mead, his poison of choice. Couple of tables away, the two brothers (well, half-brothers) Argetlam and Tarian Welden, Wood Elf Monk and Half-Elf Bard, respectively, are talking about their father, whom Argetlam never met, and how they should definitely look him up one day. Speaking of ‘up’, Caelynn (pronounced with a ‘K’, for some reason) was doing her usual weird thing sitting on one of the vaulted ceiling beams, observing the room. I guess it’s an Elf Rogue thing. In any case, it was pretty much an everyday sight at our base of operations. The inn itself is part of the bastion stationed atop a gorge within a region called ‘The Border’ where the lawful and the lawless meet. We turned our heads as we heard footsteps coming down the stairs and saw Benito, the Dwarf Bard I met on my last adventure. He points to the six of us and says: “The old lady wants to see you upstairs. She has a mission for you guys.” This was… weird, to say the least. Usually quests and missions are posted on the guild’s board. What’s with all the secrecy? Then I remembered hearing about not one, but two barbarian delegations from the far north visiting the fort, so maybe that was it (as nothing new was posted on the board). So we got up (or in Caelynn’s case down) and made our way upstairs. Dragar decided to leave his armor on the table, so before he came along he used his freezing breath to glaze it with a thin layer of ice, marking it as ‘the property of Dragar Kilprax Dotrin’.

We got upstairs and entered the room on the far side of the hall. Sitting at this massive oak desk there was our boss, our matron, Visiguard. Maybe the desk only looked large against her petite hobbitish stature, as she was barely peeking over the top. As we walked in we also noticed two people standing on the side; a burly black guy and a fair-skinned, strong, red haired woman caped in polar bear pelt. The barbarians, undeniably. Visiguard made the introductions. The woman was Tuzneuda, princess of the northern tribes and a sole heir to the late king Theodorik, accompanied by her guardian Bindu. It seems that after her father’s death the twelve tribes of the north fell into a strife, the cause of which was Klovik “Longlegs” II, head of the Kutrigur tribe and, obviously, a usurper to the throne. Tuzneuda told us about her ancestor, Alaric the Red, a hero of the north who united the twelve tribes many centuries ago. It is told that Alaric wore a black ring/band on his beard which he used to bind twelve braids together, symbolizing the unity of the tribes. He was, as is tradition, buried with it, so Tuzneuda wanted us to find his burial ground and retrieve the band, thus helping her claim the throne again and end the rivalry between the tribes. Our compensation would be any and all valuables that we would find in his tomb, which she will gladly relinquish to the guild, as she is only interested in the black band. Not an unusual deal, but we still glanced towards Visiguard, and she nodded in approval. Now, since the whereabouts of the crypt were presently unknown, we are to go to our monastery’s library and find the book titled “The Life and Deeds of Alaric the Red”, which should contain some information that would help us on our quest. Tuzneuda and Bindu thanked us for our kind help and headed back to their lodgings. “Be wary, though”, said the matron as they were leaving the room, “As the princess is not the only one that is seeking help from the local organizations. My sources are saying that Klovik has employed the services from our rivals ‘The Jade Tiger Guild’, so tread lightly.” Just what we needed… the Shou of Kara-Tur.

We got to the monastery and the entrance to the archives building. The whole complex was very ascetic, as is usually the case with monasteries. As we were entering the building we were greeted by one of the monk librarians. He helped me out numerous times before, so I’ve asked him if they kept “The Life and Deeds of Alaric the Red”. He seemed very excited to see all of us, saying how there’s usually little to no visitors to the library, but how today we’re already the second group to come here and ask for that very book. Uh-oh… Jade alert. We immediately asked if they’re still here, which he confirmed, so we rushed to the main chamber and ran into them just as they were heading out, carrying the book with Alaric’s crest on it – a sort of a Celtic swastika against the setting sun over a meandering river. There were five of them and, not gonna lie, they all looked the same to me. Now, they were pretty hostile towards us right from the start, so there was no use in persuading them to hand us the book, so Krack and Dragar tried to intimidate them, but to no avail. They just started screeching and taunting us, one of them (the leader, we guessed) waving the book above his head. Yellow swines… There was no time for squabble, we had to think fast, so Argetlam shot the book from the leader’s hand with one of his darts and I managed to catch it mid-air with my Mage Hand spell, lifting it out of their reach, 30 ft above us. And then chaos ensued. The five of them scattered around almost “instantaneousshly”, surrounding us, when we noticed that Argetlam disappeared somewhere. Caelynn quickly climbed the bookshelves to get some terrain advantage, while Dragar stepped in the middle, brandishing his flail and shield, with Krack standing right behind him, ready to cast some Fire Bolts (a grand idea in such a burn-happy place). Tarian and I stood in the back, me trying to keep the book levitating up in the air, and him getting ready to buff us all with his Bardic abilities. Two of the Tigers started flanking us, throwing shurikens. Dragar managed to deflect most of them with his shield, but a couple found their way towards me, so I took some damage, but I powered through. Keeping my eyes on the book I’ve noticed that one of the Tigers climbed to the top of the bookshelf and was just about to grab it, when all of a sudden a couple of shelves down the row started falling over like dominoes. Losing ground he jumped and grabbed the book, now hanging from it in mid-air, which made it a tad more difficult to maintain the spell. As everything started crumbling down we saw Argetlam far in the back, grinning like a bushel basketful of possum heads. His foolhardiness paid off this time (kind of), as one of the Tigers got trapped under the rubble, but taking Dragar along with him. Luckily, the ice dragon managed to free himself easily. At the same time Caelynn managed to keep her balance and dropped right on top of one of the flankers, cutting him down with her rapier. She got knocked out in the process, somehow, so Tarian quickly stepped in and sang her back to health. Krack started to take care of the other flanker Tiger with Fire Bolts (thankfully being very precise), while Dragar managed to shake it off and pummel their chief down, knocking him out cold. Tarian, seeing that I’m struggling with the added weight, put the dangling Tiger to sleep, rendering him unconscious as he slammed on the floor, and I managed to pull the book back and hand it to Dragar for safekeeping. I immediately turned to the one remaining flanker and cast Ray of Frost, but that still wasn’t enough to take him down. Now, seeing all his comrades down he starts charging towards the exit, Caelynn chasing after him. Being slowed down by the spell he was definitely no match for her, but Argetlam, in his unending state of haste, also started sprinting after him. The lone Tiger dropped a smoke bomb trying to get away, but Argetlam wasn’t fazed by that and saw his movement through the smoke. Caelynn also wanted in on the action so she starts shouting to Argetlam to tell her where the guy was, but he was having none of that. That guy is his and his alone. Anyway, they caught him pretty easily and brought him back for questioning. The guy was thick as a brick, though, so we had to wake the chief up. Before that we had to make sure we have the right thing, so Dragar handed me the book back, and I skimmed through the pages, looking for any relevant bits. This was indeed it, but there was a page missing (of course). Rummaging through their stuff, Argetlam happened upon a cylinder-shaped leather container, like the ones where you keep the scrolls, but being as level-headed as always (/s), he just threw it away. Luckily Tarian, always looking over his dimwitted older brother, picked it up and looked inside. Sure enough, the missing page. It was a map outlining the location of Alaric the Red’s final resting place. Once we were sure we got everything, Dragar smacked the leader awake so we could question him about Klovik and the orders they got. Pretty much what we’ve guessed; Klovik had the same idea as Tuzneuda. It was time to report back to Visiguard. As we were walking out, escorting the Tigers to the guild’s holding cell (one of them calling Argetlam a traitor, which was odd), the monks came rushing in. Witnessing the mess we left behind they start screaming at us (never in my life have I heard a monk scream), so we tried to ease the situation a bit, but they were beyond furious. Needless to say, we got banned from the library (I’ll have to talk to Visiguard to take care of that. For me, at least).

Back at the guild we reported in with the matron and briefed her on the events that transpired at the monastery. She wasn’t too happy about it, obviously, but since there was no other way… Anyway, she referred us to Gunther, our head of supply, to stockpile before we head out the next morning. Gunther set up shop on the ground floor, right next to the inn, and essentially carried the basics. I asked for some enchanted items, but no dice. Even so, at those prices? Fuggedaboutit. Dragar and Krack bought some oil flasks, Caelynn got herself a healing potion and Argetlam went for… a lock. A lock … Oh-kaaay… We stepped out of the shop and got into a carriage that Visiguard arranged for us. We noticed that the horses were exceptionally fresh this morning. Dragar took the reins, with Argetlam as his crossbow rider, and the rest of us got to chill in the coach. And we were off…

According to the map, this will be a week long trip. Not only that, but the location of the tomb appeared to be far off to the west instead of the north, which was unexpected, at first. During this off time I got the chance to study the book in more detail and we found out that Alaric was perceived as ‘The Sun God’, and the red color symbolized not only his hair and beard, but also victory, as in the blood of his enemies, thus the red setting sun on his crest. And where does the sun set? That’s right, in the west. I also saw mention of Typhon, his trusty black steed, and learned some more tidbits about the history of the north. Flipping through the last couple of pages a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up and, to my excitement, recognized it as a Daylight spell scroll. That’s, like, a level 3 spell, bro! At any rate, as the days were passing by, the civilization gave way to wilderness, with only an occasional settlement scattered about. After about seven days of travel we got to our destination, a hamlet called Woodland Vale.

We got out of the carriage and were met by a crowd gathered to see who we are and what’s going on. They obviously don’t see a lot of strangers in these parts. We’ve asked them about Alaric’s gravesite, but they didn’t know what we’re talking about. They did tell us, though, about the mound that lies beyond the forest, next to the river, that’s said to be a tomb of a nameless ancient warrior, but that nobody really goes that far into the marshes. They were afraid of a tribe of gnolls roaming around. Since that was most likely it, we started getting ready to head to the forest, but not before we secured a tour guide, much to our Wood Elf’s displeasure and, might I add, jealousy. Our guide was a burly young lad named Djohnni (the ‘D’ is silent, he said). He agreed to take us to the tomb in exchange for 12 gold pieces. That was a little steep, especially for such a remote little community. Luckily I remembered I had that fugly, rugged leucrotta hide from my last adventure in my bag. I took the hide out and presented it to him as an alternative compensation. He observed it for a bit, then put it on; “Alright, this hide and 2 gold pieces”. Fair enough. I gave him the money and we were on our way.

I took us a couple of hours, but we finally got there. Well, close to there. Right where the forest was turning into marsh we could see the mound and the meandering river about half a kilometer away, but Djohnni was too afraid to go any nearer. That wasn’t the deal, so Krack tried to incentivise him by giving him one of his knives in exchange for him to take us all the way there. Djohnni was determined, though, and you could clearly see fear in his eyes. We figured that it was no use in pushing him any further, so Krack, being a kind hearted piece of Orc meat, gave him the knife anyway, as a thanks. Djohnni was stunned by such gratuity, so he started to fiddle around his pockets until he pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to Krack. To his amazement, it was a Bless spell scroll. Krack was lost for words and Djohnni obviously did not know what he was doing, bless his heart. We parted ways with our guide and continued towards the mound.

As we were closing in we saw a campsite of sorts on top of the mound, with three hideous gnolls gnawing at some bones. Luckily we noticed them before they figured out someone’s approaching their camp, so we quickly hid among the trees and bushes. Argetlam set one of his traps between us and the gnolls (Dragar and Krack soaking it in oil from their flasks so it burns, if necessary) and we all tried to blend in with the grove. And by that I mean that Krack and I tried, while everyone else actually managed to make themselves disappear. Yes, even Dragar, who hid behind a big tree. Caelynn and Argetlam were somewhere up in the branches, while Tarian smeared mud all over his face. Krack and I, while being in the back, still stood in plain sight, so when Dragar used his shield to reflect the sunlight and draw those foul beasts out, we were the first ones they saw. They ran towards us, screeching, so we got ready. The trap was only made to capture one creature, so while one of them got caught, now seething in oil, the other two continued onward paying no regard to their fallen comrade. As they were passing him by, Dragar stepped out of his cover and slammed one of them with his shield, knocking him down. The other one was met by Argetlam, boosted to perfection by his brother. He jumped off the branch, did a double axel and landed on the creature with an elbow to the head. Caelynn dropped beside Dragar to help him out and they soon dealt a deadly blow. Meanwhile, the one in the trap got out. He was just about to attack when Tarian projected an ominous song to his mind, instilling him with fear. He turned back and tried to get away, but Krack and I quickly finished him off with a couple of well directed spells. We climbed up the knoll to inspect the camp, but didn’t find anything of relevance, so we examined the perimeter a bit closer. Three standing stones on the eastern side of the mound made for the main entrance. We didn’t want to walk into a trap, so we circled around and found a huge slab on the northern side, which could’ve been a side entrance. In the meantime Argetlam left us to go check out the river (no doubt the one on the crest) and came back with a frog. Let that sink in. At any rate, after a fruitless effort to push the boulder with our bare hands, Dragar figured we should try and make a lever of sorts. He went back to the gnoll camp and returned with a sturdy branch. We were in after a few minutes. Argetlam threw his frog in to scout the perimeter. Sigh…

We entered a dark corridor, about a hundred feet long, walls decorated with reliefs of berserker warriors. We got to a fork with one passage leading west, the other one east. We didn’t want to split up, so we opted for the westbound passage first and reached a double door. Being cautious again I used Mage Hand to open the doors, which revealed a chamber with frescoes and tapestries all over the walls, depicting ancient barbarian warriors, no doubt the founders of the twelve clans. The center of the room featured Alaric’s symbol – the setting sun over the meandering river. More important than all that, what good is a king’s tomb without his skeleton guards? And there they were, of course. Twelve of them lined against the walls, each one wearing a helmet and standing beneath a shield, each with a different clan’s coat of arms on it. We needed to be extra careful here, so of course Argetlam swooped in, took the shield from one of the skeletons and smashed it over the head with it, crumbling it to down to a pile of bones, then turned around and dashed towards the door, carrying the shield. All that in a span of approximately 12 seconds. Of course, just as he was about to reach the exit Alaric’s skeletal friends woke up, eyes glowing bright red, and started marching towards our cocksure Monk. Rendered optionless, he flings the shield towards them, doing little to no damage in the process, but at least slowing them down a bit. He made it through the doors, closed them and, guess what, used that lock he bought from Gunther to seal them shut. Huh… Yeah, no, he couldn’t have predicted that. Anyhoo, we got into formation; Dragar and Krack in the front, myself behind them, followed by Tarian and Argetlam, and Caelynn in the back. It was not long until the bony army started to break through the door. As soon as they made a big enough hole, Krack and Dragar threw in some leftover oil flasks. Once the doors came down – showtime. Krack blasted a Cone of Fire at them, burning down at least half. The rest of them emerged through the smoke and blaze, one of them coming straight at Dragar. They went into a clinch, but he managed to wrestle it off and break its skull with one swift swing of the flail. Caelynn took one out from way back, with her trusty crossbow, and I did my usual Ray of Frost thing. Tarian and Argetlam banded together again, Tarian boosting his brother while he lurched amid the remaining three skeletons with a whirlwind kick. All he did was just clear out the smoke, because he missed all three of them. They were pretty weakened at this point, so we managed to take them out pretty easily. After the inferno died out we checked out the room once again. There was nothing else to see in there except the molten remains of shields running down the walls in a silver sludge. Krack and Argetlam figured they’d make some use of that so Krack dipped the tip of his staff in it, to give it bit more pizzazz, and Argetlam dipped his… Fists. And he started calling himself… Silverfist. Btw. what ever happened to that frog he threw in?

We left the skeleton chamber and went down the other passage. Caelynn scouted the area a bit earlier so we knew what to expect. Two doors, one on the left, the other one on the right-hand side of the corridor. They were both covered in mortar, so I took my dagger (the non-enchanted one) and scrubbed some of it off the door on the right. It came off pretty easily, so we opened the door and went in. The inscription above it read “The tomb of Olafstrud, Chief to the Kutrigur clan” (Klovik’s ancestor, neat). We chose this one for no particular reason, as the other inscription read “The tomb of Skalagrin, Chief to the Ant clan”, so it was all the same to us. It was a sepulcher, alright, with big stone grave in the middle of the room. Something else drew Argetlam’s attention, though. A shiny golden bow, mounted on the wall right next to us. He took it down without thinking, of course (What are you, a fucking magpie??). This, naturally, triggered a not so favorable event for us. The stone cover slid off, revealing Olafstrud in all his wighty might. He sat up and said “You have disturbed the tomb of the king. Now you die.” Simple and to the point. As soon as he stepped out of his grave, Dragar met him with a swift blow to the chin. He was very quick to return the favor with his sword, though, so Caelynn stepped in and started cutting him up with her rapier. Neither that nor Krack’s Fire Bolt did exactly a ton of damage. This did not look good. Luckily, we remembered that wights are vulnerable to light, and I still had that Daylight spell scroll from the book. This was a level three spell, however, so I had to use my staff to help channel the power. As I was reading through the scroll, the tip of my staff started shining white hot (teehee). A blinding ray of sunlight hit the wight, weakening it enough so Argetlam could pounce it and he dealt some pretty severe damage with his silver fists. Dragar then tackled it on the ground and Caelynn continued poking it with her rapier while he was holding it down. Seeing that bludgeoning damage was taking the toll on the creature, I took my staff and shoved it down its throat. That did the trick, surprisingly. Seeing the light from the staff beaming through its eyes and ears was awesome. No rest for the wicked, of course. The moment we finished Olafstrud up we heard a growling noise coming from behind that other door. Soon enough the door broke down and we saw another wight staring at us from the doorstep. Hey, Skalagrin. As soon as the creature stepped in, Argetlam lunged at it, throwing several silvery blows. This time it did not go as planned, even though this one was also weakened by the Daylight spell. He got him once, but the second time his fist got stuck in it and the silver padding broke, giving the wight the chance to strike him with its sword. Argetlam fell down and Skalagrin raised his sword to finish him, but I somehow managed to disarm it with my Mage Hand. Dragar took the chance to tackle him down, and beat him to a pulp with Caelynn and Krack’s help. We waited a few seconds just in case some other undead creature was about to show up, but everything was finally quiet. Since there was no other passage in either room, we looted the two chiefs and went back out.

The sun had started to set, so we didn’t have much time left. We were just about to head back to the main entrance when we noticed that a new one had opened on the western side, overlooking the river. This must’ve had something to do with the whole “setting sun” symbolics. We entered a large chamber and were met by a huge three headed statue of the god Trihead. According to the lore in the book we figured that the heads represented the past, the future and the present. There was a door on the right hand side that featured Alaric’s crest, and above it his motto “Live every day as if it were your last.” This was it, we just had to figure out how to enter, as it was, of course, sealed. At that moment, the statue spoke; “In order to enter the sacred burial ground you have to prove that you are the rightful descendants of Alaric the Red and provide an answer to the following conundrum – It never occurred before, it will never occur again, and it is almost gone.” Great, another riddle. The last one I’ve encountered in one of my previous adventures remained unsolved to this day. But then it hit me. The answer was in Alaric’s motto. I turned to the statue and said “The answer is: today.” For a few seconds there was nothing but silence. But then the door started to open and the statue said “You’ve answered correctly. Descendants of Alaric the Red, you are welcome to enter his final resting place.” We went inside and saw a massive stone grave. We’ve opened it and there he was, the legend that is Alaric the Red, The Sun God, King of the twelve clans, the black band binding the twelve braids on his beard. Buried alongside him was his trusty steed Typhon, among a variety of riches. We took the black band and all the treasures that we could carry, including a very fancy bow (much fancier than the one in Olafstrud’s tomb), some enchanted Slippers of Climbing which went to Caelynn, and the Ring of Warmth, which I took on merit for solving the goddamn riddle. It was finally the time to head back to the guild.

Days later we arrived at the inn, where we were met by both Tuzneuda and that prick Klovik. Klovik was first to step forward and offered us unthinkable wealth if we gave him the ring instead of Tuzneuda. “No chance, our word is our bond” said Dragar with a thundering voice and handed the ring to our matron Visiguard who gave it to the Queen. Tuzneuda thanked us immensely and said that we’ve made an ally, but more importantly, a friend, in the North. On the other hand, Klovik said this wasn’t the last time we’ve heard of him and that we will regret not siding with him. Yeah, whatever. Mission successful!

End of Elthanias’ adventure log.

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