Dragons' Fall

Terror in Skytumble Tor
In Which the Adventurers Discover the Gravity of Their Situation

When we last left our heroes they had just slain the diabolist Wren and dramatically removed her head and thrown it down into the engine room of Steamhome. What they didn’t realize was that they were being watched by someone aboard the airship “Helen”. Westin, a human on the lam, purveys the scene from a safe distance. Once he decides the adventurers are the good guys, he introduces himself. Westin has already bought passage on “Helen,” so it looks as though they will all be traveling together.

The party heads down to the engine room and discovers that Wren’s mercenaries have all been captured. Upon questioning, these men reveal that Wren hired them to help her find Athiel, but she hadn’t given them any reason why. Since she was keeping company with a half-fiend, the mercenaries thought it best not to ask too many questions. These men are left for the Steamhome authorities to deal with.

Seeing as how our adventurers are no longer in a rush, Trover proclaims that they will leave in the morning. They are given rooms in The Keg Inn. That night, each of them are plagued by nightmares of Wren constantly chasing them. This is so unnerving that when it comes times to wake and leave, they are more than happy to.

Life floating above Athalan is quite peaceful for the next couple of days. Demos decides to start mapping the land below. That is, until Erik the second in command discovers that the wizard has the ability to make bombs. They discuss weaponizing the ship for the next day or so. Westin maintains a vigilant watch, in case his pursuers might now be capable of flight. The others rest in their various ways.

On the third day, as they near their destination, Fealton, rainclouds form and proceed to dump buckets of rain upon them all. Around mid-day, something entirely unexpected happens (isn’t this always the case). A wounded griffon flies out of the clouds pursued by some frightful looking giant birds with deer heads, antlers and all. Our heroes feel obliged to defend the wounded creature, so they lock into combat with these strange creatures. They best two of them, but one gets its antlers caught in one of the lines running up to the balloon. It struggles to free itself, pulling “Helen” every which way in the process. Tuatha manages to cut it free, and the injured beast flies off. Turning to the griffon, they discover a note tied to it’s leg.

Celestia Soulshadow,

I die and Skytumble Tor dies with me. My castle will soon crash into one of they cities. I beseech thee, do what thou canst to stop it. My griffon will bring thee here and my treasures will aid thee.

-Maelstorm Thunderclash

On cue, as soon as this note is read, the sun is blocked out my a floating mountain with a giant-sized castle perched on top. This must be Skytumble Tor. Demos recognizes the name Celestia Soulshadow as a famous wizard who died shortly after the War of Iron. So the chances of her coming to fix the problem are limited at best. The confused Maelstrom Thunderclash did get one thing right. His castle is about to plummet into Fealton. Seeing as how Fealton is their destination, and there will be no Fealton if they don’t stop this tumbling mountain, our heroes decide to do what they can. As if the gods are aware of their plan, three more griffons arrive to carry them to the castle.

More of the deer-headed birds attack, but the griffons make some dramatic evasive maneuvers and manage to escape long enough to drop their passengers off into a room covered with twigs and other detritus that use to form nests for creature that have recently perished. Also in this huge room is another galleon, similar in shape to “Helen,” but with no balloon. They figure that this must be a magical flying ship and that they are not alone on Skytumble Tor.

They party makes their way up the stairs and find themselves in a hall. They also discover that gravity has shifted and the far wall from the stairs is now the floor, requiring them to slide down what would have been the floor to get solid footing. Down the hall is a door on the same wall that they stand on. Opposite that are double-doors that are open and have a rope dangling out of them. Down the hall are another set of double-doors and soon a large piece of masonry gets thrown out of that.

“Torment me no longer, vile fiends!” This deep bellow follows the now shattered masonry. Westin, intrigued by this, ventures a peek into the room beyond those doors. It is a bedroom for a giant. The bed, which is mounted to the floor is the only furniture that remains. The giant (assumed to be Maelstorm Thunderclash) clings to the bed while the wind whips at him because there is no more ceiling to this room. “Take my treasure, kill me, loot my halls, but whatever you do, destroy the cubic gate in the great hall or cause the deaths of thousands.”

This is followed by a quick explanation by Westin that they are here to save Fealton, after which the dying giant tells him how to get at the treasure in this treasure room. Fortunately, the treasure room is in just beyond the single door now at the feet of the party. They open the door, tie a rope to the one that dangles from the double-doors above, and climb down into the treasure room. This is a bit of a challenge, since the shifting gravity and lack of a ceiling makes it tricky to walk/climb here. They locate the trapdoor in what would have been the floor of this room and remove the treasure located within.

Now they move onto the main quest, stopping the destruction of Fealton. Our heroes climb up into the room beyond the double-doors above them where they soon discover some of the other people that came in on the flying galleon. Crossbow bolts and arrows are exchanged, but then Arien notices that these men are being led by a cleric whose patron deity is the same as hers, Brother Udolf. An agreement not to kill each other is reached, followed by an agreement to stop this castle from destroying Fealton.

Brother Udolf explains that they were brought here by a wizard named Slake. He’s not sure if he trusts Slake, but the party leader, Erastil, vouched for him so they all went along with it. Slake said that he had to retrieve this cubic gate in order to free some of his brethren who had become trapped beyond the gate. Treasure was involved, and that is all it took to convince the majority of other party members. Udolf came along to keep his companions out of trouble.

All of them push on from this room, which puts them on a newly formed ledge (it used to be a room) exposed to the sky. This gives them a clear view of the ground spinning below. Westin experiences vertigo and has trouble keeping himself steady and sane. The deer-headed birds don’t help matters as they arrive and start picking off people (only extras, none of our main stars). The party manages to get inside with minimal losses to the perytons (Brother Udolf was kind enough to give them a name).

The next room beyond the ledge has no gravity at all. Bodies of some of Brother Udolf’s former companions float through the air, having been blasted by some sort of lightning trap. Demos recognizes glyphs on the door to one end of this room as being the cause of death. They decide to take a different exit. Voices can be heard beyond the other door, but they abruptly stop and it becomes clear that the party has been heard. The door is opened a crack and Brother Udolf discovers that two more of his companions are just beyond, left to guard this area. More agreements are reached and Darrin the fighter and Harper the sorcerer join forces with them to destroy the cubic gate and save Fealton.

The next room proves difficult to enter. Westin attempts to open the door only to have it blown shut. Arien tries to no avail. Brother Udolf joins with Arien and together they force it open. Unfortunately, the door whips in the opposite direction while Udolf still has a hold of the handle. He gets carried into the room and then flung out of the castle as they discover this room has no roof or floor. The only remaining structures are two staircases. Gravity has shifted to the western wall meaning they must jump from the doorway towards that wall. Once that is accomplished the party notices a rope ladder that has been strung over the gap between staircases. They make the climb up.

This gets them all to the largest room any of them have ever seen. Maelstrom Thunderclash’s Great Hall is enormous even by giant standards. Huge pillars hold up balconies on either side of the room. There is a massive table and chairs floating in the air. Above them is a simple cube made of some unknown substance. Gravity is minimal and towards the floor. On the balconies are mercenaries that Slake brought with him, along with Erastil, Darrin and company’s former party leader. Slake himself is on the floor trying to reach the cubic gate.

Combat ensues. Mercenaries start firing arrows. Erastil, seeing his companions with what he assumed would be the enemy stops short of attacking. Our heroes return fire on the mercenaries and start attacking Slake. The wizard commands Tuatha to fetch the cubic gate for him, which almost works, but the ranger is able to shake off the spell. He keeps his composure though and pretends to follow the order. A stray arrow hits the cubic gate and it releases some sort of bluish gas that heads right for Tuatha. His arm starts to turn to stone, but again he is able to resist the effects. No longer wanting to be anywhere near the cube, Tuatha drops down.

Slake, realizing that his spell didn’t work on Tuatha, takes up trying to climb the chair again. Harper has the good idea of casting a grease spell on Slakes’s makeshift ladder, causing him to fall, after which he drops his disguise and reveals himself to be a catlike humanoid known as the legendary raksasha. Finding himself surrounded, Slake starts firing off lightning bolts, nearly killing Darrin and severely injuring Westin.

Demos uses a spell to move the cubic gate away from his companions and towards the mercenaries. Erastil, realizing that the gate must be destroyed, attempts to make a daring leap at it. However, he isn’t able to resist it’s gaseous trap and he turns to stone. A handsome statue of the man that once was Erastil floats to the ground. The mercenaries, seeing that they are out matched and don’t want to become statues, flee the area as fast as they are able.

Slake releases another lightning bolt; this one is less devastating. Our heroes continue their attack. Harper makes a move towards the cubic gate and starts blasting it with fire. To her own amazement, the trick works. On her second attempt, the cube explodes, encompassing them all in a white light. Once this dissipates, they find themselves floating amongst gray clouds. Slake is there, but he quickly vanishes. The party has more things to worry about though as a huge shadow is approaching through the clouds. This soon reveals itself to be “Helen.” The airship got caught in the cubic gate explosion. Everyone climbs on board the now very cramped deck.

The situation is assessed and Demos figures out that they are in the Ethereal plane. There is no sign of Skytumble Tor, but they assume they were successful in saving Fealton. Now they must find a way home. The statue of Erastil is discovered floating around, so they tie it to a line and use him and some other weights as anchors, so they can lower their altitude.

Below them, again as though preordained by the gods, is an island. Figuring this might provide some clues as to how to get out of this plane, they head there. Unfortunately, this island is shrouded by clouds of negative energy. One of the nearby clouds releases a lightning blast that punctures the balloon. The crew jumps into action and tries to guide “Helen” into a controlled crash onto the island shore.

North to Steamhome
A Victory for Our Heroes

North turns out to be somewhat fortuitous for our bearers of the banners of good and righteousness. Wren had the road watched, but her mercenaries were all posted on the road to the west. So when she gets the news, she has to go and confront the party herself. Wren takes flight and begins to summon all manner of creatures to attack. Trapped on a bridge crossing a rather large crevasse, the adventurers have no room to flee and are forced to confront the airbound diabolist and her fiendish creatures. At one end of the bridge, a large snake rushes their way, on the other end are strange wormlike humanoids whose skin seems to ooze off of them. This battle seems to be a fair match until Wren causes a magical darkness to surround the party. Unable to see, our heroes try and force their way past the oozing abominations (actually, they are devils, but they look abominable). Tuatha makes it out fist and begins to plug Wren with arrow after arrow. She launches her own magical arrows that are made of acid. No good for Tuatha. Once the devils and snake are bested, our heroes pay full attention to Wren. They manage to cause enough harm that she flees just as her backup is about to arrive.

The party flee by horse as fast as they are able. Apparently, Wren holds off on pursuit to lick her wounds, because her group never arrives to ambush in the night. The next day is eventless as well. One more night of camping is quiet, and then the group are on the their way to Steamhome.

Steamhome illustration
Steamhome was built on the side of an inactive volcano by gnomes (To be fair, stone giants did the bulk of actual construction, but the gnomes designed it). As foretold by the name, Steamhome usess the natural steam vents of this volcano to power all manner of devices. The primary device is the enormous steam clock that encompasses all of Steamhome. The entire purpose of this place is to keep that clock running. No one is certain why the gnomes created this clock or what compels them to keep it going, but the clock has been functional for over 100 years and they don’t seem ready to let it stop anytime soon.

Just as the tower that is Steamhome comes into sight, our intrepid adventurers notice something Helenunexpected. A galleon, strapped to a giant oblong balloon floats overhead on the way to Steamhome. There have been rumors of gnomish airships, but certainly none in the party expected to ever see one. This immediately put a new option of travel on the table. If that airship is heading West, then hopping a ride seems the obvious choice.

Another odd occurrence happens on the way to Steamhome. A small wagon train lies in shambles having recently been sacked earlier that morning. The merchant, a gnome named Jebeddo, wanders aimlessly in shock. Upon spotting the party he pleads for aid, proclaiming goblins ambushed them, carried off his goods and his horses, scared the drivers so much that they fled, and mortally wounded the guard. This guard, Larry the Gnome, is only mostly dead and with administrations from Arien he is mostly alive. Jebeddo thanks them for their kindness and offers to escort them into Steamhome, which is fortunate, since entry is very limited otherwise.

The guards at the front gates carry an interesting weapon. A brass tube that bells out on the business end attaches to a wooden stock. A trigger is located below the stock. Tuatha de Danonn becomes very intrigued by the application of the “blunderbuss” as the gnomes call it in his further adventures and he makes plans to buy them later.

Inside of Steamhome our heroes are confronted with a cacophony so deafening that they find themselves shout to their hosts. They see gnomish engineers communicated to each other with complex hand signals. The steam engine that drives the chain dominates this lower level. Above that, the chains carry steel balls up the central shaft of the tower until they disappear from sight. A giant pendulum swings very slowly about 100 feet over head. It takes some time to adjust to everything.

Jebeddo and Larry guide the party over to an elevator, which consists of a metal plate with railings not fit for anyone taller than four feet, driven by their own steam engine that causes gears to climb up a sort of metal ladder. This brings them to the living section of Steamhome, which is somewhat quieter and less chaotic. Most of the party find their way to The Keg Inn, save for Demos who quickly locates a potion shop and asks to use their lab. In the common room of the inn, Arien, Tuatha, and Larry meet Trover, the gnomish captain of the airship “Helen”, and Erik, the second in command and the only human in Steamhome. A bargain is reached with Trover for a ride West on the airship (though it costs 25 gold a head). Beer is consumed.

Since they want to leave as soon as possible, the adventurers are told to help facilitate the loading of goods onto the airship. This process is short lived, however. Wren and company quickly figure out where our heroes went and decide to forcibly enter Steamhome. This turns out to be an ill-conceived plan, as the gnomes aren’t keen on being invaded. The mercenaries are quickly captured as Wren takes flight. A battle ensues on the clock face (which points up towards the heavens) of Steamhome.

Wren sticks with her strategy of summoning awful things to attack our heroes. Tuatha, now the proud owner of a blunderbuss makes good use of it, but then switches to his trusty bow. Demos launches a plethora of magic missiles at Wren. Combined, they manage to wound her so severely that she has little choice but to flee down, heading back down the chain shaft of the tower. Demos decides to launch one last magic missile and it does the trick. Wren falls unconscious and then plummets 50-feet, landing on an elevator and dying on impact. The elevator, already on the way up, brings Wren back up to the clock face. Tuatha quickly cuts her head of, to be safe, and then sends it down the shaft towards the engine room of Steamhome.

And scene.

The Start of Our Heroes' Story

By the Yurick Calendar the year is 770, if you mark your years in this fashion. The more appropriate Draconic Calendar puts Athalan 50 years after the return. Since much of our story directly involves dragons, we will use their system. It is late in Lamashan and our intrepid adventurers have recently made a trip over Corin’s Pass, escorting a merchant train to Styrewood. They were on their way back when the real story begins.

There are four of them, though this number will surely fluctuate. The majority are half-elven, a race not often seen on Athalan, but around the Aluseum Mountains, where our heroes hale from, they are somewhat more common. First is Arien, a paladin who seems not to have subscribed to any particular order of paladins, instead blazing her own trail of justice through the land. There is the ranger, Tuatha de Danonn, who sort of ended up in this group because he knew the mountain passes well and needed the gold. Aris Whiteleaf is a roguish fellow and the only full elf in the group, whose many talents have come in handy more than once. Then there is Demos, a wizard who needed to get out of town due to an incident in an alchemical laboratory.

In the Aluseum Mountains, winter has already began taking hold. Cold wind forces the adventurers to bundle up after leaving the shelter of the Styrewood. However, once they break the barrier of the trees, the weather is the least of their concerns. Two dragons, for surely that is what they must be, none in the party have seen a dragon before, circle each other near the mountain pass. Once our heroes recover from their initial shock, they realize that these dragons are fighting one another. The combat rages closer and the colors of these creatures can be seen. One is silver, immediately recognizable as a “good” dragon, while the other is blue, which are typically malevolent in nature.

The blue strikes out with his devastating breath weapon and lightning strikes the silver on the neck, causing it to falter in it’s flight and plummet towards the ground. It manages to slow the fall by spreading his wings, but the impact can still be felt by the party, nearly a half-mile away. The blue dragon wastes no time and dives towards his fallen opponent. The silver, not able to take flight in time, seems to brace itself. The blue lands on it’s back, claws first, then bites onto the silver’s throat, spilling massive amounts of blood onto the battlefield. The blue dragon takes flight, dragging the silver with it. Once they get 300 feet or so above the ground, the blue lets go, but the silver is able to keep ahold of his opponent. It twists its head to face the blue and releases his own breath weapon. A white mist surrounds the blue dragon; it stops flying,drops straight down and slams against the earth. The boom echoes off of the mountains, and nearly shakes our heroes off of their feet. The silver, not able to fly uses it’s wings to glide to the ground near it’s victim. It slumps over towards the blue, and apparently satisfied by the results of the fall, slumps to the ground in exhaustion.

Brave and curious by nature, the adventurers cautiously approach the dragons and are surprised to find that the silver is still alive, if just barely. It lifts its head and opens its eyes, though it seems a near impossible struggle to do that much. In a rasp it whispers, “Athiel, in a cave near the trail. Find her. Help her. They must not….” It can not manage to say anything further. The great head falls to the ground again, and the dragon’s breathing slows until it stops altogether.

Athiel” is not a name anyone recognizes, and for good reason. This now deceased silver dragon, Adelonda, was working hard to keep Athiel hidden. For ten years, they moved from one remote part of Athalan to another. Why? Good of you to ask. Athiel is almost unique. She is a half-dragon, half-fiend, constructed (for lack of a better term) by the pit fiend Nybrus from an egg stolen out of Adelonda’s nest. The only other creature like Athiel in existence is her brother Horkol, who remained in Hell when Adelonda tried to rescue them both. No one is sure what purpose Nybrus had in creating such creatures. Back to our story.

Demos, not wanting to miss an opportunity starts removing blood and a tooth off of the corpse of the blue dragon. This takes time, as it turns out too much of it. People appear on the mountain pass, immediately mount horses and start riding as fast as possible towards the party. When they get closer it is apparent that their leader is only part human. The other part has horns and leathery skin. They demand to know what the adventurers are doing and then demand to escort them over the pass, for “safety” sake. Being outnumbered, the party is obliged to follow along with the plan. They all take to the pass.

Yewell, the fiendish human is second in command to a crew of rough-looking mercenaries. Their leader is quite the opposite. Wren is a demure half-elf with dark eyes, hair dyed black and red, and tattooed vines crawling up her back and down her arms. She is pleasant to her new “guests” and then, when she finds out that they have nothing interesting to say, ignores them for the most part.

That night, Yewell leaves on patrol. He returns a short time later and tells our heroes that they must come with him. Something about the creature’s nature has changed. Enough so that the group is willing to risk heading out with him. On the trail, they run into another version of Yewell, the real one. Their escort is Athiel using her change shape ability. A fight breaks out, and our stalwart crew overcome the half-fiend. They make a run for it and don’t stop running until they reach Corin’s Pass (the town and pass share the same name.)

In Corin’s Pass they spend some time relaxing and learning a bit of Athiel’s story. The only other being she has ever know in this world just died, so the party offers their assistance. Athiel’s goal is to head West, where she hopes to find a legendary gold dragon named Zhuqul. A monumental task, but our team is up to it.

Rest doesn’t last long, and the party soon realizes they are being spied upon. They form a plan. Instead of heading due West, the direction Wren would likely assume they were heading, they decided to take the trail North. What they didn’t realize was that Wren had posted lookout near both of the roads out. Aris, with his keen eye for such things, spots one of these spies and heads off to confront him. He starts to climb up the building he saw the man on, but then the same appears over the edge with a crossbow in hand. He pulls the trigger. Aris is struck in the chest and falls to the ground, dying. The spy makes his escape as Aris’ companions work to save their friend’s life. Arien manage to stop the bleeding, and the elf wakes up long enough to tell them that they must go on without him. Reluctantly, they leave Aris behind and continue North.


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