Two days after Bal-Darok’s call for vengeance echoed across the canyon of the Dampwalk Bridge on the 12th day of the Fading, a young and beautiful blonde cracked open the doors of the Moon Hills Inn. She sat her bosom upon a cold wooden stool, catching the eye of all those who have an appreciation for the female form (notably Rozzo) as she stuck her nose into an ominous looking book made of bark and twisting twigs.
All the while Steeb sat upon his little legs while discussing magical intricacies with the serpent tongued dragonborn named Talimar. Seeing some potential in this wayward band of adventurers and grateful for providing him with a lump sum of gold from Hailstead’s petrification crisis, Talimar offered Steeb a chance to do his bidding: to venture west beyond the Dampwalk Bridge and locate the fabled ‘Misty Rock’. Within the rock, Talimar claimed, lies numerous magical treasures, artifacts and two items of particular interest: a stash of smoking Serpent Herb and a necklace bearing four mummified fingers of an elf. If they were able to bring these artifacts to Talimar, he would award them handsomely.
Suspicious but nodding in agreement, Steeb the aspiring gnomish scholar agreed – but not before selling the dragonborn the ominous bone smoking pipes he had come across a week prior. It became clear how important these smoking pipes were to Talimar, who offered 50 pieces of gold and a magical scroll of his choice.
During these moments, Rozzo, who had successfully introduced himself to the bodacious blonde and brought her fine flagon of ale, found himself at odds with her strange and chaotic personality. Nobody around could quite put their finger on it, but there was certainly more to this strange woman than their eyes could detect. The blonde quickly darted away and approached the table righteousness in the far corner – Jesus, Tirlonde and a Knight of House Belster gazed upon her with suspicion.
Concerned over the well being of this blonde’s sanity, Tirlonde inquired upon her strange, ominous book. When grasping it with a tremor of divine sense, the elven Paladin nearly dropped the tome, immediately tossing it back to the beautiful woman. As also confirmed by Jesus, they both sensed dark whispers from ancient fey. Smiling as if in retort, the blonde tossed her twisted book into the nearby fireplace, laughing as it burned. Turning to Jesus, Tirlonde insisted that Jesus keep a keen eye on this women – especially now that she joined ranks with Rozzo and Steeb who were preparing to explore a tumultuous magical vault.
Each with their own goals and tasks before them, the adventuring crew (an unnamed human blonde, Rozzo, Steeb and Jesus) decided to head west towards The Misty Rock. Trekking far across the autumn coloured plains lands of the west, Steeb shared with them his recent discoveries in his absence. The curious gnome had traveled a days march north of Hailstead and found before him the fortress city of Frosthold, located at the base of the Winterspire Mountains. This city, the local guards claimed, is now considered the capital of Winterspire. While his time within the great city was brief, Steeb had learned that a Yeti cave was located east of the city on the side of the great mountain range – but divulged no further information.
Suddenly, their conversation was interrupted as they arrived at the wailing canyon of the Dampwalk Bridge. Bursting from the tall plains grass, a monstrous owlbear lunged towards them. Roaring and squawking with rapid ferocity, the monstrosity charged towards Steeb. Out of nowhere, the blonde (Colin) shouted she knew the language of monstrosities and spoke nothing but gibberish to the Owlbear. Ignoring her words, the owlbear pounced upon Steeb and snapped down upon his small body with its beak, knocking the wizard unconscious.
After lobbing an arrow from his longbow forward, Jesus drew his greatsword and charged forward as Rozzo and the blonde dashed to safety across the bridge to the opposite side. Despite his valiant effort, Jesus found himself no match for the owlbear and after a series of piercing swipes and clasping pecks, he was thrown to the ground. Meanwhile, Rozzo and the blonde fired as many deadly bolts, vicious words and shadowy hexes they could muster.
Steeb, now lost within his own unconsciousness, felt the surge of his gnomish heart beat rapidly as his lungs suddenly gushed with air. With his black, gnomish eyes looking to the sky he rolled over only to see the rear of savage Owlbear squawking at his allies upon the broken Dampwalk bridge. Realizing how dire the situation was, the gnome conjured a phantasmal force – building a wall of illusionary flames behind the monstrosity. With flames rippling at its back, the Owlbear leaped forward in desperation, slipping upon the cold stone and falling to its demise.
Gasping for breath, Steeb fed one of Brunnhilde’s goodberries into Jesus’ unconscious mouth, returning him to conscious life. Nodding in mutual agreement, they decided to rest for an hour, heal their wounds and continue as quickly as possible to their destination.
With Steeb performing a ritual of detect magic, they arrived at the Misty Rock that stood in the distance. With every step, the fog thickened until they could see no further than their own reach. Placing their hands upon the ominous 30ft rock, Rozzo crept ahead, placing his Rapier in every random crack he could find. As luck would have it, the bard’s rapier piercing directly into an illusionary keyhole, opening a door directly inside the strange rock.
Inside was a fanciful hexagonal room made of polished marble stone and covered with piles of embroidered carpets. On each side were bookshelves, swords and suits of scaled armour. In the middle and in the north corner, two oak tables stood: one covered in tools of a herbalist and one with a single decorative chest.
Anxious for any magical treasure he could get his hands on, Steeb darted forward towards the far chest, quickly opening it with his stubby gnomish fingers. Naturally, the chest was trapped with a trick of sorcery, sapping all the magic from Steeb’s spellbook, scrolls and nullifying his goodberries. As the rest of the adventurers wearily explored the strange room, they discovered piles of papers, notes of the occult and songs of Baphomet – the goat headed demon lord popular among ogres, giants and fiend worshiping warlocks.
Yet, their investigation was interrupted as Rozzo lobbed a trusting punch towards the helmet of a conspicuous suit of armour. As his fist touched the armor, a magical trick engulfed his mind – swapping his consciousness with the nearby human blonde. With that, two long swords, both suits of armour and an embroidered rug animated with enchanted life and quickly floated towards the trespassers.
The animated rug quickly flew into the air, blocking the entrance and smothering anything in its path, wrapping itself around them in hopes of suffocating the life out of their fleshy bodies. In assistance, the swords and armour clashed with their foes. Rozzo and the blonde, both lost in each other’s minds, managed to toss witch bolts and a shattering boom, rattling their foes. In celebration of one another’s spellcraft, they struck a pose together and their hand’s touched – immediately returning their minds to their proper place. Meanwhile, Jesus drove his greatsword forward as the creatures swarmed around him, echoing a thundering smite and ripping one of the floating swords to pieces.
Despite their initial acts of triumph, all didn’t go as planned. Steeb, who hurled chromatic orbs of lightning at all those in his path, found himself on the brunt end of a spiked fist of a suit of animated armour, knocking him unconscious and with internal bleeding. Jesus, on the other hand, seemed to have expended all of his luck as he escaped the Rug of Smothering’s wrath only to be smashed with an uppercut from one of the suits of armour, followed by a crushing stomp upon his knee, completely severing his leg from his body.
Steeb, once again finding life within his wee gnomish heart, slowing stood to his feet. Brushing his bloodied hair out of his eyes he gazed towards the carpet with vengeance, conjuring a massive chromatic orb of flame and hurled it towards the rug, quickly igniting it. In assistance, his allies poked and prodded with rapier, spell and staff at the remaining animated objects, vanquishing those that remained.
Nonetheless, their victory was not without deep injury. The blonde pulled Jesus’ decapitated body from beneath the burning rug as Steeb channeled frosted orbs at the remaining flame within the enchanted room. Coughing with exhaustion, they decided to rest for the remainder of the day within this strange dimensional room – full well knowing the risks it might entail. As expected, the room trembled with instability within a few hours, swapping all of their minds. Knowing they only need to touch one another, they quickly reached their hands forward and decided against any antics in one another’s bodies.
During the rest, they brought Jesus back to life who quickly pulled out his carpenter’s tools and fastened himself a peg-leg from the remains of a burnt table. Bitter over his seemingly permanent injury and mistrustful of his misfit allies, Jesus scoffed in their direction. The righteous Paladin stood upon his last remaining foot and bid them farewell – planning to locate Bal-Darok (Dylan) and seek retribution for his perceived transgressions.
The blonde, realizing her jig was up, decided to reveal her identity to those who already suspected it. Removing ‘her’ spell of disguise self, it was revealed that ‘she’ was indeed a tiefling man with long grey hair and bearing the horns of a ram upon his head. His name was Niloc (Colin), a Warlock of the Archfey. Cackling in utter madness, he pulled the twisted spellbook out of his backpack in confusion – believing it to have been destroyed earlier in the fire.
With two vengeful Paladins now hidden within the wilderness, the remaining misfits decided it was best they travel as quickly as possible back to the safety of the Moon Hills Inn. With Steeb carrying Talimar’s artifacts safely in his scholarly backpack, Rozzo and Niloc joined him as they trekked back to the Moon Hills Inn – even subduing a pack of wolves that attempted to derail them.
It was then on the 13th day of the month of the Fading that Talimar’s jagged smile stretched across his copper dragonborn face as Steeb and his allies returned into the warmth of the Moon Hills Inn…