The adventurers of Post #132 stood in the Summoning Chamber of the Black Keep eight strong. Rahzon, Kazak, and Sunshine had just arrived down below and everyone was preparing for what was to come. Due to some quick thinking on Sunshine’s part Smatters avoided a grim fate on the trek down to the Keep. Kazak stayed back with the horse, and they began their way back to Duncaster. Presented with two doors, the group decided to split; Lyra, Markas and his brother Rahzon would take the west passage; while Dakath, Rylie, Sunshine, and Gale would follow to the east.
The east party was greeted with a familiar tunnel, winding ever downward into the depths of the Dewhurst Mountains. It became clear that several hundred feet in that the walls were adorned in intricate carvings. Symbols of humanoid or goblinoid creatures worshiping demonic and draconic beings. After careful inspection, there appeared to be the holy symbol of Pelor in some of the carvings. Also of note, the carvings became dense and older the deeper the party crept down the tunnel.
Eventually the tunnel opened into a large cavernous room. After Dakath did some expert surveillance in the form of a rat, it became clear that they were to face ever more goblins. Dakath led a number of goblins into a funnel of a trap in rat form, only too bad for the party, Sunshine’s feline nature got the best of her as she caught a glimpse of the rat. With a ‘Squee!’ the goblins were alerted and a battle ensued. The party was making quick work of the foes they had become so accustomed to dispatching, maybe with the exception of the apparent leader who was at least a bit adept at using magic.
Sunshine rushed ahead to deal with the magic user, and did so quite handily. As she pivoted to fell another of the foul creatures, she was faced with a terrifying sight. What was once a goblin attacker was now a body hanging lifelessly in the jaws of a giant reptilian beast clad in shining black scales and gnarled horns. With a quick swat of its tail it flung another goblin to its death. Sunshine, certain of her impending doom began to flee, but as though compelled to do so, she froze. The serpentine beast approached and began to speak, just as the rest of the party arrived to Sunshine’s side. They were looking face to face with a creature known only by legend. A Black Dragon.
What happened next perhaps took everyone by surprise. The dragon spoke in a booming whisper and simultaneously questioned the party and told his story. His name was Slyborn, and he told the adventurers that he was the only remaining dragon in the land. Son of the great Black Dragon Cheynth, he was left as an unhatched egg when the warding ritual was enacted, locking away his family hundreds of years ago. He had been waiting down in the Black Keep, gaining his strength so as to one day free his mother and escape to the Netherlands of the world.
He, as it turned out, had taken control of the weak-willed Brumblemar to not only gain access to the Black Dragon Stone, but also to seek out worthy allies that would be able to help him with freeing his mother. The Black Dragon Stone, along with two other artifacts; The Staff of Eglain and the Symbol of Tiamat, would allow Slyborn to perform a ritual that would free his mother so they might be reunited. These artifacts, to Slyborn’s knowledge, were property of the Temple of the Sun, though he knew not where in Auchindale they may be housed.
Clearly trusting a dragon would prove difficult for the party, and Slyborn knew this. He offered them access to his treasure horde, which was enough to make even Viscount Armstrong of Windemere blink in disbelief. Additionally, he agreed to entrust the Black Dragon Stone to the Party, partially as a show of goodwill, and also as a means to communicate telepathically with him. Perhaps this was enough to convince the party, or maybe it was the sour taste that the Sun God’s acolytes left in their mouths, but whatever the case they agreed to help Slyborn.
Gathering all the loot they could find and a few improved weapons, the four adventurers decided to head back to Duncaster, following the western tunnel their companions took earlier. This tunnel, unlike the other tunnels, sloped upward and was very straight. It continued for what seemed like miles, and eventually opened up into a thicket somewhere between Blackfathom Hollows and Duncaster. Realizing Smatters and Kazack were still probably back at the Hollows, Sunshine and Gale double-backed to meet up with them, while Dakath and Rylie continued on to Duncaster.
The two Tabaxi met up with the horse and raven man some distance down the trail, fit the ornate horseshoes they found in Slyborn’s horde, and set off at a shockingly fast pace back toward Duncaster. Some hours later, as the thought of home grew closer, Dakath recognized an ominous sign. The Chimes that had never missed the signaling of an hour had gone silent. And the sun… it appeared to have hung in the sky far too long.
Dakath and Rylie approached a hill, knowing that on the other side was Duncaster. And as the sun was finally coming to a rest behind the horizon, they noticed an orange glow and plumes of black smoke. From behind them they heard the hurried clopping of Smatters’ hooves on the dirt path. Together, the party crested the hill to see Duncaster set aflame, bodies strewn about the ground in disarray, the cries of tortured and desperate souls ringing through the air.
Most of the town was gone. Most of the people dead. The Hayrettan sisters comforted a grieving mother with child at the edge of town. Balen had perished. Bartha and Devin described the scene; an army led by a 10 foot tall winged beast with demonic horns and long, slender fingers sharpened to a point. They marched in and laid the town to waste – their first target was the Temple of the Sun and Brumblemar.
Continuing into the town, what the party saw was a horror show. Familiar faces frozen in tortured expressions, twisted into charred abominations. They approached Post #132 to see the half-elf brothers kneeling in in front of a twisted body impaled on a large wooden pole, burning in an unnatural flame.. Drawing closer it became clear that the body was that of the great Eilein Al’en. Too much to bare, Dakath used the Black Dragon Stone to ask Slyborn for help. He agreed, though taxing even for him, and was able to cleanse the blight from Eilein. A magical light emanated from her torture corpse and spread in a circle out to about 50 feet. The flames were extinguished, the blacken signs of death crept away, leaving a small patch of relative peace and purity floating in a sea of blight, death, and destruction. At least, they thought, Eilein could be put to rest with the respect she deserved.