Lament of Cerrec

Tomb of Clan Muil

Having returned victorious over the Dragon, our heroes were still no closer to locating Lictor Vitraeus. Remwar had found some new information however. After studying the amulets Goa’Dun had turned over to him, he found that they were some sort of telepathic communication device. He had been able to intercept some communications and found that the Lizardfolk were being commanded by one Sessimun Muil.

Remwar had encountered Sessimun before, when he was serving as Lictor Vitraeus’ right hand. When Remwar and his companions finally thought they had him cornered, Lictor Vitraeus sprang upon them through an illusory wall. While Remwar and co. defeated the Dragon, Sessimun fled and managed to escape. He had thought that this act of cowardice would have ruled him out as a successor to lead the clan, but it would seem that Sessimun has indeed seized power.

Due to the two-way nature of the amulets’ communication abilities, Remwar thought it would be best to disenchant them to avoid having his own thoughts spied upon. He did so, and re-enchanted them to that our heroes could use them as a communications device for themselves.

While he had learned that Sessimun Muil was now apparently running the clan, he was not able to discern his location. He had a couple of ideas on where our heroes might be able to find clues, and he sent Goa’Dun, Zander, and Gavin to scout out the location where he defeated Lictor Vitraeus several years prior.

The location was within the vast desert on the far side of the well. Remwar instructed to head in the direction of the rising sun and hold that bearing until they reached a large obelisk. Upon reaching that, they were to turn 90 degrees to the right until they met a cliff face carved with 7 giant figures. Between the legs of the center figure there would be a door.

Our heroes dutifully followed the directions, but when they reached the obelisk, they ran into trouble. A wandering band of lizardfolk were at the obelisk performing some sort of prayer ritual, but their party was crashed when Goa’Dun charged into their midst. He was surprised to find that the Lizard’s high priest was able to turn the sand beneath his feet into a quicksand bog, and he was stuck in position for much of the battle that ensued. Zander’s timely heals kept him alive, however, and our heroes finally emerged victorious. Wounded and exhausted, the party set up camp for the night and set out by morning to reach the cliffs.

By midday the next day, they had reached their destination. Entering into the cliff face, it was apparent from the beginning that this place was no longer occupied by the Muil clan. It was dusty, covered in cobwebs and obviously hadn’t been disturbed in some time. Our heroes ventured forward nonetheless, hoping that there would be some clue to Sessimun’s whereabouts inside.

Upon entering the first chamber, they were ambushed by undead remains of the temple’s former residents. They fought their way through to the final chamber where Remwar had fought Sessimun before. Upon clearing the chamber of undead, they saw an illusion of a great black dragon, tainted by undeath spring through an illusory wall in the back of the chamber, much how Remwar has described his fight with Sessimun and Lictor Vitraues in the past. Luckily, this time the dragon was merely an illusion. Behind the illusory wall, they found the former dragon’s lair, empty and filled with a murky black pool. They searched the area, and found no clues regarding their quest.

Havign defeated the main threat, our heroes quickly swept through the remaining areas of the temple, and made their way back toward Pouggia. Perhaps Mehii and Squeadle had more success in their mission…

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Remwar's Tale

You must be wondering how you came to be in this place, so I will tell you. I brought you here myself. I know this entire situation must seem bizarre to you. In order to help you understand, there is much you will need to know. First, I’ll give you a little bit of information about myself.

As you have no doubt learned, I spent much of my life doing precisely the sort of things you have been doing since you arrived here. I fought evils, slew dragons, saved villages, and was rewarded with treasures and accolades from all over this realm.

Eventually however, my companions and I met a challenge that was perhaps too great for us. We were, in the end, victorious – In a manner of speaking. All of my companions were slain, and I was forced into a rift that took me away from this realm. It was during this time away that my story turned completely. And it was during this time that my involvement with the four of you began – however indirectly.

After I passed through the rift, I found myself in a very strange place. It was somewhat like the home I had always known, but it was also many things this realm is not. Upon reaching a settlement, one of the first strange things I noticed was all of the temples. There were temples to dozens of deities all throughout the city in this place. Here in my world, we know only one God.

Also, this new world I had entered seemed strangely unchanging. Growing up in this realm, I had grown accustomed to things changing from one day or week to another. Distances between settlements, locations of forests and mountains… All of these things change here, but after spending a few months in this new world, it seemed that everything all stayed the same unless it was caused to change directly by personal intervention. This world was also unbelievably vast, and was home to far more sentient races of creatures than I had known.

This brought a multitude of questions to the fore about my home, and I vowed to uncover all of the answers to them as I struggled to also find my way back here.

My first questions were about the Gods in this world. Why were there so many, and why was the one I knew not represented among them? I learned that in far-away lands in this same world, they worshipped yet another new set of Gods. In another place, another set. I traveled all over this world, and never found even a trace of the God I knew – Cerrec.

During these travels and studies, I also learned that there were still more worlds out there, and that magic could be used to shift between them. I could not, however, find a way to return here. So instead, I traveled to as many worlds as I could, learning of more and more Gods, and still finding nary a trace of Cerrec among them. Eventually, through my travels of the planes, I learned that the Gods are in fact real beings, and that worship bolsters their power and recognition. It was then that I decided to bolster the worship of Cerrec in as many of these worlds as I could, hoping that doing so might strengthen him enough that I could find a planar path back here.

The plan both worked and backfired completely. I set out to create temples to Cerrec, to deliver his message of order and balance to the peoples of these worlds, but it seemed that the majority of the temples I created – after a short time of positive influence – would become a corrupted pit of villainy. Sacrificing women, children, and becoming general menaces to their communities. The only positive was that during this period, I was able to find my way back here.

Upon my return, I found this realm even more chaotic than I left it. Mountains had sprung from nothing. The Muil Desert on the far side of the well had grown in size by ten times. Catawen neared destruction. They needed my help.

I managed to clear the immediate danger surrounding Catawen, and knew that this evil must be the influence of the temples I had created. I needed to put a stop to them, but I was afraid that if I had done so myself, I’d need to make a safeguard to ensure that I could return if I left this realm and the level of worship decreased. During the calamity, Catawen’s great bridge had been destroyed, so I decided to rebuild the bridge, and infuse the new one with enchantments—to leave myself a beacon of sorts to allow my return home. You would have likely crossed this bridge on your way here.

And now – while I hate to be so long-winded, there is something else I must tell you about before I get to your personal involvement. There is one more key difference between this place and the worlds you all call home. This world seems to react directly and with force to the actions committed within it. It is governed by a perverse sense of balance. I suspected this in the final moments of the encounter where my companions were slain, but did not understand it until well afterwards.

For every action I had taken to help people, another action elsewhere had been done to harm them. Every dragon I slew would lead to another dragon being born. The creature we were fighting – named Ammanon Albackisth – had basically spent his life opposing me. I discovered some of his records shortly before we confronted him. He had been systematically following in my footsteps creating misery in my wake.

It was only when I created these temples that the full message had been driven home to me. This realm, this place governed by the will of Cerrec, was in a constant state of rebalancing itself. Every good act is met with evil. And what’s worse, I couldn’t do anything to change it. I knew that every act of good I would commit would be met with an equal response of darkness. Every act of good I HAD committed had brought misery upon another.

I needed to come up with a new plan. While I had killed Ammanon Albackisth, there was no doubt in my mind that someone else would be ready, or would perhaps simply materialize, to oppose me again if I started again down my former path.

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone. First of all, I needed to destroy the temples I had started. They were causing far more harm than good, both in the worlds they occupied, and back here.

So I worked with the local authorities in those worlds to hire adventurers to destroy the evil men who had taken them over. I left behind an item in each location that would be invisible to anyone who wasn’t pure of heart. That item was the crystals you now hold.

Each crystal was infused with a power of planar shifting, and was attuned to this place – specifically to the Rune Bridge. The bridge was built infused with crystals just like the ones you carry. Unfortunately, due to the chaotic nature of this place, they don’t necessarily always transport people directly to the bridge, but they generally end up fairly close. Now that the four of you are here, each possessing crystals, it’s possible that any others who might end up here will be transported to you directly.

So why did I bring you here? Well, it’s with a bit of hoping on my part, but it is my suspicion that since you are not from nor bound to this place, that your actions of good will not be directly met with evil repercussions. It is my hope that by bringing you here, you can accomplish the good that I can not.

Now, as for our friend Ruminast, I can not help him. I know that in your worlds, it is not unheard of to bring people back from the dead. Here, however, it is impossible. Those of us who were born here seemingly lack the ability to be brought back from the dead. I’m not sure if it’s because we have no souls, or that our souls simply lack the tether back to our bodies that allows resurrection.

All of the people here, when they die—they will not meet an afterlife the way you yourselves will. Our souls will simply spin off into nothingness, if we even have souls at all. I have found no evidence in my travels of the planes of any souls from this place. This is the current area of my research, and hopefully we can eventually find a way to save the people of this world.

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Lictor Vitraeus???

Filled with questions, and short on answers, our heroes set off for the city of Pouggia. Cyrus bid them farewell, as he had to remain in Catawen to run his shop. Halenk Redbark returned to work on his father’s farm, but the gang was able to convince Ruminast to accompany them to Pouggia. He felt his help was needed in the temple following the Kobold attacks, but he also knew Remwar from his old adventuring days and would like to see him again.

Riding their new horses provided to them by Olenk Redbark, our heroes crossed the Rune Bridge and followed the river to the city of Pouggia. They were delayed only once, by a pair of traveling lizardmen. While figting the lizardmen, they were surprised to have yet another stranger materialize in their midst. Mehii was his name, and his tale was again the same as all of theirs. They dispatched the lizardmen and traveled together to Pouggia, arriving shortly after dusk on the first day of travel. They asked around town for information on where they might find Remwar, and heard he had just returned the day before, and was staying at the Dancing Dragon.

They made their way to the Dancing Dragon, and asked the innkeeper if Remwar was there. “He is, but I believe he has already turned in for the night. Would you like to stay the night and talk to him in the morning? He always has an early breakfast at that table over there when he stays here.” Our heroes agrees to stay the night, and paid for several rooms.

In the morning, they met Remwar as he was eating breakfast in the inn, just as the innkeeper promised. They showed him the symbol on the items and letter they found and asked if it belonged to Lord Vandruth. “No, this is not the symbol of Lord Vandruth. It is the symbol of my old nemesis—Lictor Vitraeus.”

He explained to the group that Lictor Vitraeus was a black dragon who was the ultimate villain in charge of the Draconic operations in the area near Catawen. He and his party killed Lictor Vitraeus several years ago, and is surprised to now see his name again. “I am not sure if the name Lictor Vitraeus is the name of the dragon himself, or if it is simply a title, and someone else has taken over as Lictor. It has been brought to my attention that one of his brood has recently taken up residence in the sewers of the Old City. You should hunt him down if you want to find the answer to this.”

So, without delay, our heroes set off to the ruins of the Old City to find this member of Lictor Vitraeus’ brood. They entered the sewers through the large opening where they used to empty into the harbor, which is now a salty lake.

Inside, they found a single Kobold being teased by others, who were calling him “red-scale.” Just as the scene came into the view of the group, the red-scaled Kobold screamed, “STOP TEASING ME!” Flames leapt out from under his scales in all directions, singing the other kobold around him and knocking them back. The party jumped into fray, as kobolds were knocked in their direction. Not sure if this red Kobold was friend or foe, they fought off the stronger, obviously hostile kobolds, and let the small red one live.

He thanked them for getting rid of the “bad ones,” and introduced himself as Squeadle. He agreed to help them get rid of the other bad lizards, but doesn’t know the way to the dragon. The others never let him go inside.

After being attacked by a pair of Black Puddings, Art began acting strange, and insisted on calling himself Gavin. The party was a bit confused by his behavior, but since his talent with a greatbow seemed to increase, they decided to continue to stick with him. Eventually, he explained his story and he went through the same shard-vanishing act as the rest of them, and appeared inside Art’s body. About this same time, Mikhail vanished completely. His whereabouts are still unknown.

As they continued down the hallway, they found some Lizardmen dumping trash into a pit. They attacked the lizards, and an Otyugh leapt out from the pit, while an Elf walked out through a doorway of light coming out from the sheer stone wall.

The Elf’s name is Zander, and he assisted our heroes with the Lizards and Otyugh. Again, his story mirror’s their own. “I guess you’re with us,” Goa’Dun shrugged, becoming more comfortable with his ever-changing surroundings by the day.

Pressing on, they found the sewers infested with both Lizardmen and a collections of slimes, puddings, oozes, and a massive Gelatinous Cube. They dispatched them all, and finally found their way to the Dragon’s lair.

Ruminast balked at entering. He had earlier tried to lead them down a side hallway away from the Dragon’s direction, and he let it be known now that it was because he was too frightened to face the dragon. Ruminast has always seemed to be a bit too timid for the adventuring life, and it turns out that a dragon—THIS dragon, was the source of his fear. This dragon had killed several of Ruminast’s friends before his very eyes, including the brother of Cyrus. Ruminast himself would have been slain as well, but managed to hide and then flee when the dragon was distracted.

Urged on bu Goa’Dun and the others, Ruminast agreed to help them face the dragon, and they agreed to help him face his fears.

Into the Dragon’s lair they went. It was a huge room, filled mostly by a large pool of murky black water. A voiced boomed out from all directions, “What brings you here, fools?” Not one for chatter, the heroes challenged to dragon to come out and fight them. Upon hearing Ruminast’s voice, the dragon asked, “Are you here to join your friends too, Ruminast?” And leapt out of the water, charging at Ruminast and attacking him with acid breath and claw.

Gavin unloaded on the Dragon, followed by the others. Just when they thought they had the upper hand, and Ruminast had managed to get clear from the dragon’s grip, slimes emerged from the black pool and attacked. Ruminast was overwhelmed and was devoured by one of the slimes.

Beaten and bloodied, but victorious, the heroes vowed to return Ruminast to Remwar to see if he knew someone able to resurrect their slain comrade. Among the dragon’s posessions, they also found a note:

“Rumaz,

Remwar’s companions may be dead, but he is still a threat. I do not believe his “retirement” from hunting us one bit. He is up to something. Set up a base of operations in Pouggia’s old city and find out what he is doing there. Report back to me with good information on his dealings. Do not confront him directly.”

The note bore the symbol of Lictor Vitraeus, and appeared to be made very recently.

It appears that this dragon has not taken the title of Lictor, and is still taking orders from someone—but who? The gang decided to take this information to Remwar to see what he thinks.

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The Witch of Morast

Our new heroes, Goa’Dün and Mikhail – strangers to one another – found themselves united by a common past from uncommon roots. Having each quelled, in their own distant lands, a dangerous cult, they were transported through time and space to a new location which they found completely unfamiliar.

After an initial bout of shock and confusion, they managed to make their way to the Village of Catawen. The locals were friendly and cordial, but moribund over the loss of many of the village’s children. They had either wandered off or been kidnapped, and rumor was that a witch had been spotted in the forest.

Ruminast, a priest in the village temple, offered to lead the heroes to the forest where the witch had been sighted by a hunter the day before. The village Smithy, named Cyrus, had set out a few hours earlier to investigate himself and had asked Ruminast to join him, since both had done some adventuring in their youth. Ruminast refused, citing temple work, but in his heart, knew it was due to his own cowardice. When he met Goa’Dun and Mikhail, he saw his own fear for what it was and decided to go and do something about this problem.

On the road to the Morast Forest, the party was assaulted by Stirges and Fire Beetles. During the fight that ensued, they discovered that Cyrus had also been assaulted by these creatures, and had crawled into a beetle’s burrow to hide while he waited for the creatures to retreat back into the forest at nightfall. Hearing the commotion of the fight, he crawled out from the burrow and joined the fray, helping to dispatch the assailants in short order.

Cyrus, now reunited with his old friend Ruminast, and their new companions Goa’Dun and Mikhail, urged the party to move into the forest quickly to try and locate this witch.

A short while later, the foursome came upon an old house in the woods. The house had an enormous tree spring straight up through the middle of it, leaving the roof and upper floors in tatters. The tree’s leaves were unusual in that many of them were a natural green color, but may others were pitch black. In the yard in front of the house were two Goblinoid creatures, with pitch black skin. The Goblins seemed to be fighting over something, and noticed the party as they came around a tree in front of the house. “You don’t belong here!,” one of them hissed as he threw a rock at the adventurers.

Several battles ensued, as the group battled from the front yard, through the house, into the back yard, and down the stairs into the basement, with Goblins in their way at every turn. They noticed as they moved through the house that the trunk of the tree was like the leaves; half of it looked like a normal tree, but it had black streaks twisting their way up the trunk and out along the branches. When they stood close to the tree, the black material lashed out them with an acidic touch.

Finally in the basement, they could hear the chanting of the witch down the hallway. The path ahead was covered in black roots, coming down from the tree above. The roots, as the tree upstairs, lashed and spat acid at them as they proceeded down the hallway. When they turned the corner into the main chamber of the basement, they saw the witch holding a child by the neck over a pit that seemed to be filled with bubbling black liquid. She finished her incantation and dropped the child into the pit. A few seconds later, a black goblin crawled up out of the black tarry substance. It was then that they realized that the Goblins were, in fact, the abducted children.

They leapt into the room with their full fury born, destroying the witch and taking care to not harm any more of the children. In a small chamber behind the witch, they found a couple more children, who would have been next in line to be tossed into the pit. With the witch dead, the surviving children returned to their normal selves—but she had one last surprise up her sleeve. As the heroes turned to leave, the black substance in the pit took shape into a large tentacled beast, bearing in itself a writing mass displaying the faces of those it had already consumed.

Goa’Dun took up a position between the beast and the children, his hulking frame shielding them from harm as the beast was taken down. Finally safe, the menagerie of heroes and kids returned to what they presumed was the safety of Catawen.

Upon reaching Catawen, another story was unfolding. Several of the village’s houses were on fire, and the village square was under attack from Kobolds. Several dead and wounded lay about, and Halenk Redbark, the son of a local farmer, had just staved off the last of the attack with his herding dogs Fitch and Gritch. The dogs were not lucky enough to survive the encounter, and Halenk swore revenge for their deaths. He, an accomplished hunter himself, told the group that he knew where they were holed up, and asked Goa’Dun and Mikhail to assist him in putting them down.

Goa’Dun agreed, as did Mikhail, on one condition. First, they said, they had to get some rest. It had been a long enough first day in Catawen already.

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