A year after the first party made its delve into a castle on the borderlands of the Dwarven Mountains, the local Sunstone temple of Luxia sent three more adventurers to recover those still alive, as well as shut down portals that allow members of the Dark Races to spill forth. The party was made up of a mage (Hazukaiyah), a thief (Jaco), and a paladin of Luxia (Wire). They entered the castle and proceeded through in quick order, meeting up with a few kobolds. Already hurt from prior battles, Hazukaiyah and Wire made a hasty retreat. Jaco, however, managed to slip into the shadows, and began talking with the kobolds, playing at being The Cloaked One. He slipped around the back of the kobolds, and attempted a backstab. He slipped, and was quickly dispatched by the monsters. Huzakaiyah and Wire, hearing this commotion, rushed back to try and save their companion, but it was too late. The Kobolds overpowered them, knocking them out. The party woke up, fully healed, at the temple of Luxia. The clerics looked on the party as foolish, and warned them to proceed more carefully next time. The party headed into the dungeons once more, and found themselves quickly assailed once again: this time by gnolls. The gnolls, on the verge of being defeated, beat a hasty retreat into a side room. Discovering this room, the party popped their heads in to see a large group of gnolls guarding a pressure plate with an intricate blue and glowing design. Jaco, leading the group, made a hasty retreat, and lay traps outside the door. The party retreated to the empty northwest tower, where they attempted to set traps, and slept on the ground. They were ambushed by a group of gnolls, and fought bravely. But their number perished once again.
Some deity, perhaps, must favor the group, for they were once more awoken by the priests, and sent back to the castle. This time, they made their way towards the abandoned throne room, and found it not so abandoned: a large group of goblins occupied the space, sloshing around as if drunk. The goblins were not drunk, only in the throes of some goblin-secret ecstasy, but the party confronted them anyways. Hazukiayah let fly a Magic Missile, while Wire waded in and began chopping apart the dark enemies in front of him. Jaco, too, joined the fray, preferring to hang back and act as ranged support. But the eleven goblins in the room were too much, and once again the party was wiped out.
This time, however, some different God interceded. Hazukiayah, Wire, and Jaco found themselves in the restive barracks of a strange dark place. A man in a shroud of dark nimbus came to them, and asked they sign a contract that they might live. They all readily agreed, and this increased their constitutions substantially. The party again awoke, and this time managed to beat back the Goblins. They searched the room,finding little of interest.
The party pushed on, meeting with the dwarven shop posted on the highest level of the castle. Jaco tried his hardest to steal from the dwarves, and it was let slip they held some magic items. The party tried to haggle a price for a special ring, but the dwarves would only part with it in exchange for the party closing down the portals that plague the castle. The dwarves revealed that the castle had been built right into the mountain, violating all treaties with the dwarves, but they were attempting establish the castle as an embassy. Jaco offered instead of the ring, to take the treasure from an open room next to the dwarves. The lead shop-dwarf laughed and agreed. Jaco could take all the treasure.
The party set off through the hallways, combing them for clues as to the whereabouts of the portals they were tasked with closing. They found themselves in a room guarded by an adventuring party that radiated evil. Attempts at parley failed, so Hazukaiyah, Wire, and Jaco withdrew.
P. They worked their way into a former harem barracks, guarded by two Troglodytes (these very creatures had a hand in dispatching the party of a year prior). After finishing off the foes, Jaco searched the room, shiftily taking a mass sum of gold, silve, and copper for himself, along with a silver model of the earth, and a glassie globe. The other furnishings of the room were a poster-hung standard of the dark Jeltin Protectorate, the sides all gilded, and two small potion bottles, both full. Emboldened by his success in secreting the treasure away from the party, Jaco pushed into a courtyard where a Gem flashed from the waters of a fountain. It looked like a rather large and intricate gem, and Jaco grabbed for it. Blinding light flashed all around the room. Everyone but Jaco managed to blink, however, leaving him to take the full brightness into his eyes. He was blinded, and stumbled into the fountain. Wire helped him out. Hazukaiyah offered a swig of one of the potions to Jaco, who accepted, and took the blue potion from Hazukaiyah’s left hand. After a drink, he found himself flying and falling down all at once. The world seemed to change around him, and his blindness gave way to the mouth of a dragon crunching at his sides. This past, and he saw his former friends for what they were: owlbear-doppleganger hybrids. He lunged for them, but missed. A few more moments passed, as he teetered back into the fountain, and finally the feelings dissipated. He was still blinded, so the party made the trek back into town, where a cleric deftly healed the party. Jaco then led the party to a jewelers, where he had his gems identified, and sold them. (He had turned down the Dwarves in-dungeon offer of identifying and then buying the gems half-priced). Making quite a bit of gold, he cast his ear to the underground and learned that the Dwarves held a Ring of Chameleon Power, and also of the one wizard in Sunstone, Elron Hubbard. A wizard with a bizarre penchant for paying three to seventeen times more than the value of an item, he quickly brought Jaco into his tower, where he checked him for Energon Cubes, and offered him the means to control them for only a twenty gold piece base class starting price. He also bought the model of the earth, identified the banner as being Jeltin-made (suggesting it be taken to Wilhelmgrad), and finally looking at the glassie globe.
“Dost thou not know what this is?” Elron asked Jaco. Jaco shook his head.
“This is the Glassie Globe of Mambrino,” Elron said, “It is worth to me twenty thousand gold pieces, as it can causes fear and control of monsters from three to three hundred times the size of its bearer. Will you sell?”
Jaco would not sell, and as Elron raved about the benefits of his science of Deminautics, he backed out of the tower. He then made his way to Cirrub the Money-Lender’s, where he purchased a lockbox under thieves discounts, tipped the man well, and placed the Glassie Globe of Mambrino inside, wrapped in the banner of Jeltin.
Meanwhile, Hazukiayah and Wire spent their time at the temple. A helpful cleric identified the two potions as an Elixer of Madness, and a Potion of Human Control. Wire also spent this time in prayer and meditation, as well as tithing the required ten percent of the funds he’d gained so far to the church. Jaco left word at the temple that he was heading to the castle ahead of the party, where he made a deal with the dwarves that he would be gifted the Ring of Chameleon power, in hopes that he could blend in with the evil adventuring party. He would trade between five and ten slaves (or ‘prisoners-of-war’, as he explained to Wire) to dwarves working in the mine just beyond the east wall, in exchange for the ring. He agreed, and met up with the Hazukaiyah and Wire once more. They combed through the castle, first coming to a room with a lovely princess.
Close inspection revealed that the princess was chained to her bed. She called out to the party meekly, addressing Wire specifically, saying that an ogre held her captive, and someone brave must defeat him. To Wire and Hazukaiyah, she seemed airy and not all there. To Jaco, she seemed a complete person. Wire and Jaco rushed into the chamber, where they found no princess. Instead, they found themselves staring face to face with an ogre. Jaco attacked first, and missed. But one quick blow dissipated the ogre.
Searching the room revealed a secret closet with a square plate, and a book. The book told the story of the castle: once the holding of Rathar nobles, dwarves had broken through from their mines, and declared the land within their domain. Slow negotiations took place, working towards a bi-racial embassy, a place of cultural exchange between dwarves and humans. However, portals opened up in the underground level of the dungeon, and members of the Dark Races from the Jeltin Protectorate began to overrun the castle. One of the wizards on hire was Elron, whose mind was warped after he laid down a protective princess-ogre illusion in the castle, and Gringar, the other wizard was affected by the portals, turning against Rathar, and joining gnolls, kobolds, and other things in the invasion. The party also discovered that touching the square on the ground teleported them to the front door of the castle.
Moving on, still searching for kobolds to exchange for the ring, the party reached a luxuriously padded den of thieves. They thieves flashed their swords, and demanded one of the party drink from one of two goblets set out. The rules were simple: one person must drink from each goblet, and all the liquid must be drank. One bandit would drink, and one member of the party must drink. Jaco first swilled the drinks together, and then he borrowed the Elixir of Madness, which he poured into each drink, using up the potion. Both he and the bandit drank at the same time. However, Jaco’s tolerance to the potion (built up during his bout of madness), allowed him no ill effects. The elixir must have also reacted with the poison, rendering it inert. The bandit, however, went mad, and attempted to leave the room. The other bandit attempted an attack during the confusion, but was quickly slain by Wire. The mad bandit made an attack, but missed, and was then easily subdued by the party. They put him in chains, and attempted to glean any information from him, slaying him when he proved useless. Weary from a days work, they quartered in the chamber, taking from it the fancy chandelier, and the gold scattered about the table. They woke, however, to find a Homonculus standing before them. It quickly attacked them, and knocked them unconious.
They woke in a room surrounded by an evil circle, with the words “turn back” written in a blazing magical scrawl signed by Gringar. They continued on their way until they found a room filled with kobolds and a goblin prisoner. Jaco had started towards town, but was called back to action as a fight broke out. Hazukaiyah made quick work of one kobold with his quarterstaff, and pressed his advantage. Just as the kobolds began to overbear on his companions, Jaco arrived, and forestalled the encounter by accepting a challenge to dispatch the kobold champion. He did so in one stroke, but attempted to talk the leader into surrender. A kobold never surrenders when there are numbers, so the battle renewed. The party attacked to knock out kobolds, as they needed the slaves to trade for the ring. Hazukaiyaha was wounded severely, and retreated, but he was faced with the Homonculous once more. The creature attacked, missing Hazukaiyah, who ran towards the secret exit of the ogre room. Wire and Jaco defeated the kobolds and shackled them, freeing the dwarf the kobolds held prisoner. Jaco went with the Dwarf to trade the slaves to the dwarves of the mine. Then he sprinted back to town to find Hazukaiyah. Wire also sprinted after Hazukaiyah, but he met up with the Homonculous, who knocked him out.
Wire was tied up in a room filled with gnolls. His sword was guarded by a hyena. It took him some time, as the party made their way to town and back. But eventually, after several attempts to break bonds, and one failed escape, Wire returned to the room with the evil adventuring part—which was the next place of attack for his own party. He found both Hazukaiyah and Jaco dead, amongst the remains of the adventuring party. Only one thief remained, and Wire made quick work of him. He dragged the party back to town, payed the costs for resurrection, and they headed into the dungeon once more, descending down the stairs towards the second level.