Chains Unbound

Shadow's Path (Althea's Story) pt. 2

Blaze helps a couple of thieves out; the party arrives in Shade Enclave

When we last left Althea’s group, they had just engaged a pair of bandits who were attempting to rob them. They had the medusa surrounded, and had spotted the kobold taking cover inside the debris of some nearby houses. The kobold spent his time poking his head out and sniping at the party, while the medusa hacked away with his blade.

The medusa, seeing that he was surrounded, gazed upon the Avengers that were surrounding him, and managed to daze and confuse them long enough to make his escape. Althea hadn’t succumbed to the medusa’s gaze, however, and gave chase when he took off. She chased him to the other side of a pit, and began ripping into him with her rapier, spilling his blood everywhere.

Meanwhile, Peony and her wolf headed off to try to catch the kobold. The wolf sniffed her out in some ruins, and revealed her to Peony, who moved to flank with the wolf. They both took their shots at the kobold, but it proved too crafty for them, and dropped a small, pulsating ball on the ground before running off. When the wolf attempted to give chase, the ball exploded, sending spores into the air. Peony quickly succumbed to the spores, at first becoming slow and weak, then falling into a deep sleep.

The rest of the Avengers beat on the medusa, who finally had enough and surrendered. Althea ordered him to call off his accomplices, to which he replied that he’d try, but it probably wouldn’t do any good. He then called out to his partner, Nix, to stop. The kobold, safely hidden in the rubble of another building, said nothing.

One by one, the party chased the kobold down and managed to corner it inside the ruined building. J’tal yelled out that if it surrendered it would not be killed, and Blaze repeated a similar message. Eventually, the kobold surrendered and came out of the building, dejected.

Through the course of conversation, the party came to find that the medusa’s name was Meltak, and he, along with his partner Nix, had been attempting to rob the thieves here in Llorkh to gain enough money to book passage south. Meltak told the group that he was looking for a half-medusa girl, although he did not give a reason. J’tal and Blaze offered to take them back with the group if they led the Avengers through the rest of the city. Meltak shrugged and told them that he’d been there only a few days himself, but he’d do what he could.

Together, the group headed north, out of the town and into the territory of the Black Road Bandits, a group of slavers that operated on the old Black Road, a trade route from Zentil keep to Llorkh. Once Peony and J’tal saw the slaves up for auction, they were compelled to help them. Blaze quickly talked them out of doing anything rash, telling them that they would free the slaves after their mission was completed. Both of them skulked off from the group, Peony to hide in a ruined building, and J’tal to follow a slave that had just been bought.

Althea, Blaze, and the drow paladin Virgil found the man they were looking for, the Black Road Bandits leader, Kossas Tirith. They briefly questioned him and bought a scroll with a map on the back of it and a ritual (Open Shadowgate) on the front. The map lead to Shade Enclave, a perpetually dark city squatting atop a huge earthmote near the Sea of Shadows. The party gave Meltak and Nix 20 gold to book passage south onboard the Lyla Desari, as well as a copy of Balasar’s book, and sent them on their way. They then made the long journey across the desert to Shade Enclave.

The trip lasted nine grueling days across the unforgiving desert. Luckily, the group’s provisions held out, and they made it to the base of a cliff with a cave in it, as indicated on the map. After some discussion on how to ascend the cliff, everyone made it into the cave. Althea cast the ritual on the scroll and opened a gate made of coalesced shadows into a chamber in Shade Enclave.

The guards there, a pair of shadar-kai swordmages, drew their weapons and demanded to know who the strangers were. Althea and Blaze explained their situation, and the guards gruffly let them through the gate and directed them to an inn for foreigners, called the Twilight Inn. There, Althea asked around and found that Shinlea had been noticed walking towards the Eclipse district, an area known for its fortune tellers and soothsayers, as well as the poorer wizards in the city. The group rested up and headed out there the next day.

In what passed for “the next day” (as it was still pitch black out), the group headed out and looked for more information. They found an old beggar wizard who offered to magically clean their clothes for a gold coin. Althea refused, and instead offered a gold coin for information about Shinlea. The beggar pointed down the street and said she went that way, but never left the street. The street ended in a T-intersection, and Blaze paid the beggar 5 more coins, and was told that the elf went into the last house on the left, a house with beams of shadow pouring out of its windows instead of beams of light. The party went to investigate.

Althea knocked on the door of the house, and it swung open. The group wandered into the house and announced their presence. When Peony, the last group member to pass through the door entered, shadows flitted over the door, and it disappeared. Undaunted, the party continued exploring the house.

As they walked, a disembodied voice began talking. It said that it seemed that the elf had failed her mission, and when questioned as to what that mission was, showed a vision of a large shadow, in the shape of a dragonborn, getting its belly slashed. A shadow of a sword also floated nearby. Then the shadows melted away.

The group questioned the voice as to how it knew Shinlea had failed, and it said that it knew that she had failed because Balasar’s Avengers now exists, and some of its members are in its house. The voice said that he saw a vision, and in it, the Avengers would grow to become a powerful threat to his organization. But now that half of the Avengers were here, he would turn them to his cause instead. The shadows rose up out of the ground and off of the walls, and coalesced into humanoid shapes, leering menacingly at the group.

We will continue at this point next week. Also, see the forum for the conclusion to Blade of Thy Father (Hazarak’s Story), under the Trouble at Castle Crag post.

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Aikanaka

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