Shadows of the Dragon

Spectres and onward to Graystone

Returning to Overlook you learn that Rolen’s mother has been kidnapped by the vile Rand Staven. Having no choice, you track him through town to an old temple. There you infiltrated the hideout while rain water poured in from the broken roof above, mixing with the blood that quickly spattered the floor. Rescuing Rolen’s mother you were then witness to a dramatic confrontation between Xavier and Elora; learning that Elora’s daughter was the reason she betrayed Xavier to Rand all those years previous. Overwrought with emotion Elora fled into the storm darkened streets of Overlook, her tears mixing with the rain.

Returning to Ironfell manor that night you notice an additional setting has been laid out at dinner and you are presently joined by a human woman with short dark hair and a lithe figure. She wears a dark vest over a white blouse and dark pants. Half of her face is obscured by an abstract tattoo, its whirling patterns of green and blue highlighting her deep green eyes.

Bram introduces your new guest. “Agent Talianna has graciously come to Overlook to transport you to the chamber of solitude.” Talianna nods as she is given introductions."

“It is my honor and duty to safeguard the portal code of the chamber of solitude. The shadow council will meet with you tonight. But first let us enjoy whatever delicious feast Bram has prepared for us.”

After the dinner Bram escorts you all back to his sparing chamber. Here, you see that the white square now contains a circle of orange runes, drawn in chalk. Close to the circle Talianna has begun a complex chant combined with the somatic gestures of Traveling. The spiraling shapes pulse with a faint light and inside the circle a hazy image forms depicting what appears to be a large stone chamber. If there are any furnishings in that chamber you are unaware of them, but a circle of light illuminates part of the floor. Talianna continues to chant and move her hands in the fluid forms of magic while Bram ushers for you to move forward. “We will reopen the portal to return you here, good luck!”

As you step into the portal you find yourselves in the stone chamber. A pool of light surrounds you, revealing a featureless flat floor of stone and beyond it, only darkness. After a few baited breaths, you notice the chamber is quite cold.

Minutes pass before your eyes detect movement, three figures in long gray robes approaching from out of the darkness. Their cowls disguise any features you might have recognized and they stop at the edge of the light. Behind you the portal snaps shut with a slight hiss. There is a slight edge of cinnamon to the otherwise musty air.

After a few moments the center figure begins to speak in a voice like the bones of the world. “Hail those who would become as us, are you prepared?”

An awkward pause grows before you realize you need to respond, giving a quick affirmation.

“Are you trained?”

This time you know what to expect and quickly respond confirming your training.

“Are you tested?”

Again with the affirmation, you begin to wonder how many questions you are going to have to answer, and what happens if you answer one incorrectly.

“Are you trusted?”

After your last response the figure removes three goblets from his robe, their golden surfaces reflecting strangely in the pale light. Into the goblets the left figure pours a roiling liquid from a small crystal decanter. The liquid fluoresces bluish green in the dim light of the chamber

As she pours you hear her voice, soft like the wash of the sea shore. “The ritual of enjoinment is about conquering yourselves, this liquid contains the essence of the feywilde, the elemental chaos, and the shadowfell; a brew that proves deadly to those of weak stamina. For generations Spectres like yourselves have submitted themselves to its sway to inure themselves to the hazards of our work; not all who have done so have survived.”

The central figure then presents you the cups, and seeing no other choice you and your companions partake of the strange brew.

You find the liquid in the cup fascinating. It is sometimes cold and sometimes hot, thick yet thin, sour and sweet and it burns like nothing you’ve ever known. You see from your companions faces they feel much the same thing, their expressions shifting rapidly as they feel the varied and often contradictory sensations. Suddenly your muscles tense and your eyes water. Gasping you fall to your knees and the room goes black.

You awaken some time later, in a darkness so black it must never have known the warming touch of light. The blackness seems to move and pulse, twisting ribbons of shadow forming a sea so vast it overwhelms the senses. The smell of sulfur and the stench of rot fills your nostrils and you can hear the slow intake and exhale of some great creature breathing.

Somehow you begin to be able to perceive, the darkness only to willing to show you what lies within it. Hundreds of feat long, a great beast rests in that darkness and somehow you know this is not your world. The beasts five heads writhe in unison, one blue, one green, one black, one white, and one red. Each head moving in sinuous, hypnotic patterns, their draconic features somehow reflecting and amplifying the darkness. The great beast seems to become aware of you, its ten eyes fixing upon you as it unleashes a roar, shaking the aether around you. You feel yourselves being pulled, attracted, compelled to move closer to the beast; horrible temptation and lust mixing with your fear.

Awakening in the chamber of solitude once more, the three councillors stand around you their hands outstretched and glowing with a faint aura of shadow. “You have seen the beast?” the third asks, his voice like the sparks of hot coals. He does not wait for your response. “So it is. One step remains, be quick.”

With that proclamation, the robed figure produces a small knife. “Swear yourselves to the Spectres, let your blood seal your oath, and know that the power of this place will bind this covenant to your bones.”

Taking the knife you make a quick slit in the palm of your left hand, the sharp pain quickly overwhelmed as you feel something grating on your soul. As your blood pours onto the floor of the chamber it seems to be drunk in, the dark liquid disappearing quickly until not even a stain remains. The chamber seems to hum slightly and the three seem satisfied for the first time. There voices in unison they welcome you. “Welcome brothers and sisters, welcome to a brotherhood older than this world.”

With this proclamation the main speaker reaches into his robe and produces three small crystals, each no bigger then the nail of your thumb. "These will allow us to contact you; keep them safe. I’m afraid there is no time to recover, though you did well in handling the elemental rift in the Karak lode and have our thanks. Already things greater are brewing. You have been chosen for a mission of some importance. Agent Redfur…

You watch as Tor emerges from the shadows of the chamber, how he came to be here or for how long you are uncertain.

“The four of you are being given a new mission, one of critical importance. Decades ago, a race of monastics born of the Elemental Chaos established a fortress in Elsir Vale. These were the Githzerai, and they lived secretly in their remote outpost for many years before suddenly vanishing. Their Fortress of Graystone was well hidden, and remained uninhabited for hundreds of years, it’s location lost to the annals of time. It did not remain lost.”

“Some months ago, one of our scouts reported activity by a pack of gnoll mercenaries calling themselves the Wicked Fang. The interrogation of one of these mercenaries proved quite illuminating. With its blood spilled around it, the beast admitted to our agent that the gnolls have rediscovered Graystone Fortress. Our agent also learned that their leader Fangren, a follower of the demon lord Yeenoghu, has managed to open a conduit of power to Yeenoghu’s realm in the Elemental Chaos. We believe he plans to claim some small fragment of the demon lord’s power, transforming himself into an exarch of the Beast of Butchery. Exarchs are no small power and if one were to come into being in the Elsir Vale we fear the entire vale could fall and thus be pushed beyond our control. Though we are an old agency our resources are not limitless and we were not prepared to strike such a well defended and remote outpost but now we have a opportunity.”

Voice like waves interrupts. “Fangren has begun the ritual to turn himself into an exarch, the ritual is complicated and takes time so Frangren will be distracted. We believe with his distraction a small team has a chance to infiltrate Graystone Fortress and destroy Fangren and his pack. Only a skilled and competent team would have any chance of survival. You must find Fortress Graystone and stop Fangren’s ritual.”

The councillor with the voice like flame then holds up a leather tome. “In this book you will find a ritual to seal the portal that should be at the center of Fangren’s ritual and the portal key to this Chamber. Guard them well, the longer it takes you to burn this book the less your life is worth.”

Behind you, you here the slight hiss of a portal opening and the hazy outline of Bram’s sparring room can be seen.

Returning to Overlook, Talianna and Bram greet you with hugs and congratulations, but upon hearing of your new mission encourage you to set out immediately. Though the location of Graystone has been lost Bram suggests looking for a map at the Hall of Heroes, a small museum for local artifacts in Brindol. Realizing how precious the seconds were you quickly gathered your possessions and using horses provided by Bram set out that night. The cool darkness swallowing the clack of hooves as the rain from earlier in the day turned to snow.

The weather worsened as you traveled the several day ride to Brindol, the onset of winter leading to chill nights on uncomfortable ground. Arriving in Brindol you found an old and brittle map of the vale within the Hall of Heros. The map showed the location of Graystone fortress to the North. Before you could gather the map, one of the windows shattered as a flaming molotov cocktail was thrown in as several gnolls attacked. The cocktail quickly set the wood floor alight and you found yourselves having to deal with the flames, smoke, and the gnoll intruders.

Successfully managing the fire and the gnolls you then made your way towards Graystone. The terrible weather and hazardous journey took their toll and the journey was only made more hazardous as you became aware that someone or something was attempting to sabotage your expedition. After finding many broken bridges, false paths, and deadly traps the saboteur spooked your horses in the night causing them to run off a nearby cliff. From here on out you had to continue by foot.

Finally the gates of Graystone stood before you, huge stairs carved into the mountain leading up to a large stone door. Flanking the stairs stood four giant statures of Githzerai monastics, each posed in a different chakra stance. Besides the stairs a large waterfall poured icy cold water down from the mountain top, and combining with the winter conditions to make the stairs very treacherous. The gates were not unguarded and the gnoll guardsmen fought a pitched battle to hold the icy steps. The battle was rudely interrupted when a spirit of the earth who animated the large statues, their massive fists raining down bone shattering attacks. Your Brave actions and strategic thinking saw to the defeat both the guards and their summoned monstrosity.

Now you stand at the gates of Graystone, tired from your long journey but knowing their will be no rest.

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PatrickPhelps

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