Chapter 07: Circles

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Session Number: 108
Date: Sunday 14 August 2011
Venue: Densial's
PCs & Players:

Arrian Rog1/Clr9 (Fergus) (kills: none)
Feren Rog10 (Yeran) (kills: none)
Rowaine Pal10 (Craig) (kills: none)
Tomen Rgr9/Drd1 (Ash) (kills: none)
Troll Wiz10 (Densial) (kills: none)

XP Awarded: TBA

Rowaine, Tomen and Harley return, recounting the details of their excursion to the others.

"I'm no ranger," Rowaine says, "but I've been around a few. This is an oasis," she says in warning tones. "Things would be drawn to this place. We should be on our guard."

Rowaine confirms with Tomen that all tracks lead straight up the middle of the immense cavern, following a path through the trees. He identifies three separate parties: 4-5 people in the first, followed by two other groups numbering 10-50 in total.

Before the group set out in pursuit, Feren calls for a closer examination of the trees. He doesn't want any surprises. Tomen has a look. He doesn't recognise the plant genus, but doesn't think they will move any time soon. The alive-smelling breeze disturbs the few leaves the trees have, then exits the cavern into the passage behind the party. Feren taps a tree with his rapier. It makes the sort of sound steel makes when hitting wood. He borrows Troll's sunrod and holds it within a hand's breadth of a tree trunk. The tree doesn't appear to care.

"Stand back!" Troll warns, then Acids the tree. It hisses and bubbles under the assault, more than an aboveground tree would. A sticky, opaque liquid oozes from the wound. Tomen investigates. The liquid smells sweet. Below the wound he sees a pattern of v-shaped scars cut into the tree bark. It looks like something has been harvesting the sap. Tomen casts a spell and inspects the oozing liquid. Whatever its utility, it doesn't appear to be poisonous.

"Give me an hour and I can know this place well enough to get back here," Troll says.

Rowaine agrees. "It would be useful to have other destination options, if we are hard-pressed."

Troll begins committing the area to memory. Rowaine and Feren mount Harley for an additional scouting mission, straight out to hopefully find the cavern's extent. Tomen studies the flora and fauna, interested in how the trees even exist in this sunless place.

Harley speeds through the air, taking her direction cues from Rowaine. After ten minutes they encounter a wall. There are no visible exits. Feren suggests following the wall to the left for a time. Five minutes later the wall still continues, unbroken and without end. They turn around and head back, realising that it might not be that easy to find their way back to the others. Rowaine directs Harley to climb to ceiling height, from which they see the distant glow of two light sources. They track towards them. The angle at which they return to the others suggests that they had wandered way off to the right on the way out.

Tomen sees many different plants, insects and animals that he has never seen before. The trees do not seem to bear fruit, or even flower. He continues being fascinated as Troll keeps studying. Rowaine prepares lunch. Once Troll is finished, he borrows one of Feren's empty flasks and harvests some of the tree sap with his telekinetic powers. He holds it up gingerly, at arm's reach. The substance does not eat through the flask's metal walls.

After lunch the party strike out, following the tracks with Tomen in the lead. The impressions do not venture off the trail and Tomen has no trouble following them in soft, moist soil. It becomes quickly apparent that the trees are arranged in rows. The trees show some evidence of being tended. Tomen spots old campsites along the way.

After nearly ninety minutes the party come to the cavern's edge. Wind whistles out of a passageway in the wall, smelling sweet and fresh. The tracks lead inside.

The party successfully follow the tracks for a further two days, encountering three more cavernous orchards like the first. As they leave the fourth into the passageway beyond, the constant breeze changes odour; it no longer smells fresh. The passageway grows steeper and colder as it plunges deeper into the Underdark.

Gradually the breeze gets warmer, with a dry, sulphurous tinge. The next bend is bathed in a red glow. Arrian and Troll cover their sunrods and the party turn the corner. About a dozen feet after the turn the passageway opens into a large, very familiar cavern. A river of lava flows a few score feet away, the source of the red illumination. A ruined keep is built into the wall, five hundred yards to the right. Arrian and Tomen see the glint of moving metal along its battlements. The tracks turn right and follow the wall towards the keep.


Tomen assumes the form of a halfling, then he and Feren scout ahead, following the tracks. When they are about twenty yards from an arched door in the outer wall, a head pops up over the battlements and looks directly at Feren.


Feren freezes in place.

"What are you doing here?" the figure asks. "How did you get down here? Quick - get inside!"

Feren recognises the figure - a low-ranking officer in charge of familiarising newcomers to the Kanafel keep. His name sneaks into Feren's mind - Swindell. He is not a Kanafel.

"Get in here," Swindell repeats. "It's not safe out there! Have you got someone with you?"

"I'm alone."

"Oh. I could have sworn I heard someone else out there. Anyway, it's not safe out there. There are still some undead out there."

The door in the wall opens and Feren enters. On the other side is a small courtyard, about thirty feet wide. To his right is a stable, unoccupied. A door stands in the far wall, closed, leading into the inner keep. Swindell leads Feren to a guardhouse to the left. Inside are seven other elves. Feren recognises some of them. Two have Kanafel associations; the others are Roielle loyalists.

"Is Elathon safe?" Feren asks.

"We don't know," Swindell answers. "He is further inside the keep. They've got him holed up in there."


"Theodric and his men. We are trying to harry them from behind so they cannot mount an offensive against Elathon."

"Theodric is here?"

"Yes, my lord."

"How many men does he have?"

"Twenty. Beg pardon, my lord, but what are you doing down here?"

"I have come in search for Elathon," Feren answers. "Swindell, can I talk to you privately?"

Swindell directs the others out of the guardhouse. "How did you get past the werebears?" he asks Feren when alone.

"That is not important."

"Are there more with you?"

"Yes, there are."

"Then we could possibly take Theodric's position. You outrank me, my lord, do you wish to assume command? I must confess I would consider that a matter of relief."

"I will consider it," Feren says. "Tell me what has happened."

Swindell tells the story. Elathon and his bodyguard apparently fled to garrison when Theodric pronounced the coup. It took those still loyal to the Roielles some time to rally support, and Theodric got to the garrison first. Outnumbered, Elathon fled into the Underdark. Theodric and his men took chase. When soldiers loyal to the Roielle monarchy arrived, they divided up. A small group took pursuit into the Underdark after their prince and Theodric, leaving the bulk in place to block any more Kanafel loyalists from entering. Swindell believes his liege to be somewhere within the keep, pinned down by Theodric's hand-picked men. Swindell advises Feren to bring any allies within the keep, as it is unsafe beyond its walls.

Feren is let out and sees Tomen. He motions for him to creep back to the tunnel. They both arrive and Feren explains the encounter.

"They appear to be loyal to the Roielles," he says.

"What?" Rowaine says.

"So let me get this straight," Troll says. "Theodric is over there? I'll be right back."

"Together, Troll," Rowaine says. "In a way that we all don't die." Troll drags his feet back. "Feren, do you believe them?"


The party leave the tunnel and move quickly to the keep. The door opens and they are let in. Swindell looks relieved as the door closes behind them. He leads the party to the guardhouse and explains the situation in more detail.

At present, there is something of a stalemate. There is a fifty-foot long corridor beyond the courtyard's far door, with doors left, right, and one at the end. Theodric's rear guard - at least five soldiers - is beyond the far door. Somewhere beyond that is Elathon and his group. Theodric's men guard the corridor well; volleys of arrows are fired upon anyone who dares open the outer door. There are arrowslits either side of that door; Swindell's team has cleared the rooms of the mummies that used to inhabit the area, losing two soldiers in the process. He has two elves stationed inside. There is a larger outer gate on the other side of the keep, but Swindell's team weren't able to get in that way.

"If we Earth Glide in," Rowaine says, "we could easily get surrounded."

"And there is no guarantee that Elathon would agree to being teleported away, leaving his men behind," Troll adds.

"Let's do this the old-fashioned way, room by room," Rowaine says.

The party investigate the area near the door. Arrian notices strange scratchings on the ground, laid out in a gentle arc. He calls Troll over. The mage thinks the markings are the runes of an antimagic circle - a large one that encompasses an area inside the wall. He thinks it will suppress the effect of any magic items or spells cast within its limits. Tomen thinks the runes are old.

"Swindell," Feren says, "are you aware of any funny things happening near the far end of the courtyard?"

"Our Darkvision rings seem to stop working."

"That confirms it then," Troll says. "No Teleporting. In fact, I'll be pretty much useless in there."

"Are you considering staying behind?" Rowaine asks.

Troll thinks for a moment. "Na. Gotta die some time, eh?"

"Not today, Troll. Not today."

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