DREAD IN THE DARK
As Elrian lay unconscious, a foul ghoul chewing on his exposed flesh, two arrows split the dark, with one finding purchase in the fiend’s skull. From the ink black stepped Anlyth Gythanyal, a Ranger of Daranthain and childhood friend of Peron Dalanthan. Delivering a healing draught to the felled bladesinger, the two rushed to join the others, where Nammosi was driving off an advancing rat host.
Deeper in the ruinous complex, Nodnal ran afoul of a trap in one of the back corridors, triggering a watchful gargoyle’s petrifying gaze. Kari raced to the Tabaxi’s aid, toppling the statue and it’s magical aura. The commotion roused goblin sentries to the north and soon, the party engaged the diminutive minions, making short work of them. One, however escaped through a secret passage, too small for the adventurers to give chase.
Peron, having detected elven footprints to the south, headed off ahead of his compatriots, but Nod was soon to catch up. Listening intently at the door at the end of the corridor, the Tabaxi overheard two anxious voices.
“They’ll soon be upon us,” an elf excitedly spoke, ” and they’ve cut off our access to the Axeholm portal.”
“That leaves us no choice but to pay a visit to the Summer Court.” This voice had a distinctive accent, one Nod was all too familiar with. It was one of his kind.
“That’s no choice at all,” the elf replied.
Nod, peering through the door’s keyhole, cast Misty Step. Once on the other side, he unlocked the door and drew his blades, allowing his fellow adventures to come pouring in. The villainous Tabaxi leapt over a desk and, speaking a magic word, escaped through a magically barred door. The elf, Peyton Dalanthan, called up a narrow passage, “Kill the prisoner!” he shouted, then bolted for the magic door. Both times a magic password was spoken, but it escaped our heroes’ grasp.
Racing up the passageway, they discovered a Kuo-Toan Archpriest preparing to enter the cell of an elven prisoner. A battle ensued, with everyone forced to rain all manner of blows — ranged, melee, and magical — to bring the powerful spellcaster down. The one moment the priest attempted to retaliate was met by a successful Counterspell by Nammosi.
Elrian had used Misty Step to enter the cell, putting himself between the priest and the elf there. As the dust settles, they realized the prisoner was none other than Peyton Dalanthan. He explained quickly that Tanatar Daranthain had taken his place, intent on seeing the Daranthains to power and toppling the reign of House Dalanthan. The ruse worked. They had claimed the Ring of Summer’s Kiss for their own. The Daranthains had long claimed to have a ring of equal power, but this had always been a lie. But the ring was never meant to be used, for it was created by dark magic — magic that held the Infinite Winter at bay, but at the cost of elven lives. A dozen prominent Alduin and Dalanthan allies were found burned alive, their gear stolen, before the deaths became those of half-elves consistently.
Anlyth spoke grimly, “We must see to the capture of this villain and see him punished for what he has done to our people.” He looked into the eyes of the Dalanthan brothers and saw them of one mind.
Peyton, recovered thanks to Elrian’s healing draught, dispelled the magical bar and the band made their way after the Daranthain and his Tabaxi ally. Beyond they found a magical portal, but to where they knew naught. Boldly they all stepped inside and felt themselves cross a great expanse.
They found themselves in a grand hall with an arched ceiling some sixty feet above them. The pulse of the portal echoed ominously. Two sets of double doors loomed ahead. One set, carved intricately with some sort of apocalyptic scene involving angels and demons beckoned to the north, while the other doors, along the east wall, reached twenty feet in height with delicate markings not unlike binding runes… but were they meant to keep something out…or in.
“Where the hell are we?”
Where the hell, indeed.
to be continued