Key of Destiny: Chapter 4 & 5
The party successfully fended off two Scraggs (Sea-Trolls) that boarded the ship. The quick thinking of Tyric combined wit Skywardens mobility minimized the loss of life for the elven sailors. (two crew died, 4 wounded)
The ship Captain was grateful the party and offered to return their goods from Port Balifor free of charge.
Port Balifor’s a rough and tumble port town on the west side of a mountain range which protects them from the worst of the Desolation. It’s a smuggler’s den which over the years has been occupied by the Dragonarmies, Dark Knights, and most recently the forces of Malystryx. The last one in particular brought great ruin as red dragons flew by breathing fire on houses and smashing buildings for sport. The locals got tired of rebuilding every few months and discovered a network of massive sea caves in the cliffside with the help of the dwarven community. Huge sections of town were left in ruins as they went to live in these caves, and the refugee population of afflicted kender made residence in what is known as “Gloom Town.” The neighborhood is filled with traps and they never bothered to rebuild the homes, not wanting to alert the dragons that anyone was living there.
The Dark Knights operate openly in Port Balifor, but even then they avoid large sections of town, keeping close to their headquarters in night patrols. Upon arrival the group separated as Skywarden went to seek out his contact. He was approached by a dark night patrol, but he kept his cool and was allowed to go on his way on the condition he would be in the city long enough to finish his business and then leave. The rest of the party ventured into the underground cave system near the shore and began haggling with different business owners on selling the goods they brought from Ak-khurmann. After coming to a deal with a group of afflicted kender on a price, the party made their way to Hopes End. The most popular bar in town and met with Sherriff Harlowe Barstool, an afflicted kender, robbed of his childlike wonder and constant desire to “borrow” things due to the immense trauma of Malystrx’s siege of Kendermore. He is the closest thing the town has to an authority figure, and he’s cut down men and ogres several times his size.
Harlowe is an afflicted kender with a scar over one eye and short, spiked yellow hair. He dresses in a black overcoat and carries a hefty serrated falchion in a scabbard on his back.
Meanwhile, Skywarden circumvented a few trap in the downtown area that has been vacated by all but the kender. This area is known as “Gloomtown”. Halfway to the other side of town he ran into Blight Thistlegnot. (nephew to the sherriff) After a short discussion, Skywarden revealed he was looking for Kron. Blight believed his story and lead him into the ruins of an upturned land wrecked ship, the Peryton.
You are led by the kender, climbing over fallen planks and timber frames, through the hole in the side of the shipwreck. Within, lanterns and hanging sheets of canvas form a sort of warren of dimly lit rooms and offices, where other kender sleep, throw dice, carve scrimshaw, and converse over maps and charts. The largest of these makeshift rooms offers a magnificent view of the bay through a series of portholes, and a desk made from a brightly painted wooden door supported by barrels.
A grizzled, serious-looking kender with iron-gray hair looks up from a bundle of hand-drawn maps. Beside him a well-muscled Wilder Elf in a red cloak looks on silently.
“So,” says the kender, removing a lit cigar from his teeth and exhaling smoke. “Are ya here to join the cause?”
DM Note: It’s like all the kender in Port Balifor just got a serious Badass Upgrade or something.
Kronn’s “cause” is basically reclaiming the lands of the Desolation from the remaining forces of Malystryx (who scattered into separate groups upon her death). He’s enlisted the help of experienced Kender veterans and Elijayess, (“Eli”) the elf, to scout the land beyond the mountains every week. His nephew, Blight, convinced him to remain in Port Balifor after one-too-many dangerous encounters which nearly claimed his life.
After Kron hears Skywarden story he nodded and accepted it and decided to go about his business. “You’re in good hands with Elijayess,” Kronn offered Skywarden. “Fella’s got something on his mind, but he aint’ never let it get in the way of the cause. He will get you to where you need to be…as long as you continue the cause”
The party was given two weeks worth of food and water, a pair of tents, bedrolls, and other supplies. Once they’re ready to depart Elijayess will lead them out of town without delay, up the shoreline slope and the mountain trail beyond…
At this point “Eli” becomes a party of the groups (Barb 2, Ranger 3)
He lead the party through the mountain pass. They traveled for 3 long ardeious days through mountain passes. One day saw the party run into an insane Giant who blamed the worlds problem on the party. On the follow day the two goblins fell into a fissure that opened from an earthquake. This was not the worst of what happened as soon after a rockslide, caused from the earthquake, came tumbling down and filled the entire fissure. There was a long debate on what could be done for the goblins, but in the end the knew they would be surely dead by the time they could move 40’ of rock to get to them… the party night pourt a vial of holy water over the graves to the irritation of Jak the Minatour…
There goes another investment wasted.
The followind day ELi leads the party through the mountains and the party came across a small camp and spring.
Everything that you have heard about the Desolation is true. As a matter of fact, you probably have not heard the worst. Even with the Red Marauder dead these last six months, the Desolation has not changed. The mountains still spew their bile, the earth shakes in pain… it’s a tortured land."
Elijayess sighs softly, his gaze turning towards the campfire as he stares into the past. “In a way, it is worse than when the Silvanesti Forest was caught in the grip of Lorac’s Nightmare. There was something to fight against, some hope to hold on to… here in the Desolation, however, there is nothing.”
Gazing up once more, Elijayess offers a small, sad smile. "But that is neither here nor there. We have a long journey ahead of us. Get some rest; we shall leave before dawn. Luckily, it is still winter, so we shall only travel for a few hours before the heat gets too bad and we have to find shelter. After the heat has passed, we will then travel some more until nightfall. Unfortunately it is too dark to traverse the mountains at night. Once we get to the desert, however, we will only travel at night. Although more creatures come out then, they are less dangerous than the desert heat.
Finally, you see a crest and hill, spread before you, is the Desolation.
The desert sands are black and crimson, a field of soot seemingly stained by the blood of every living creature that has been slain upon the harsh sands. The sky is covered by the black shadows of smoke belched from volcanic peaks scattered throughout the Desolation.
Even across the great distance separating you from Kendermore, you can see the infamous Peak of Malys towering high in the distance, a dark shadow illuminated by rivers of lava spilling from its lip. Kendermore sits in the shadow of the peak, a journey of many days across some of the most unforgiving land in all of Ansalon.
The Desolation was formerly known as Goodlund, home to lush forests, rolling plains, and the sprawling city of Kendermore. This region was home to the majority of Kender in eastern Ansalon, before the Dragon Overlord Malystryx came along.
Malystryx possessed great sorcerous powers, and she used it to shape the region to her twisted whims through the use of her skull totem. The fertile region gave way to a barren wasteland filled with treacherous crevices, active volcanoes which fill the sky with soot and ash, and lava floes which continue to reshape the land to this day. The region is now simply called “The Desolation,” and it’s one of the most dangerous places climate-wise in Ansalon. Traveling to Kendermore, and thus the Peak of Malystryx, from Port Balifor takes 80 miles and thus approximately 3 to 5 days. However, Elijayess heavily cautions to only travel at night for the heat is so great it can kill even hydrated people.
Only the most resilient flora and fauna adapted to survive these changes, and even then Malystryx’s lingering magic spawns new, insane mutations of creatures seemingly daily. Hundreds of thousands of dire boar herds serve as the primary food source for dragons and humanoids, as farming is impossible in this region. Giant scorpions are all over the place, and the most common animals are mule deer, mountain lions, crows and vultures, silt snakes, desert hares, and mountain rams. However, many of them stick far from the desert, and dragons are the top predators; all over animals know to avoid them like the plague.
Halfway to Kendermore, the terrain turns rocky and the flat land gives way to hills and thorny undergrowth. This place is known as the Crags, as Elijayess informs the party, the former site of the Wendle Wood before Malystryx burned it to the ground. Even then, the numerous hiding places and small springs around the area make it filled with the most life in the entire Desolation. Creatures from all over congregate to the area and attempt to hold it.
Elijayess knows of one spring which is neutral territory, looked over by a trio of three hags known as the Oracles. As long as they do not spill blood they can rest up in safety and restock their water supplies. A crescent-shaped pond with trees surrounds three sides of a small hill, from which green flames emanate forth from a cave overlooking the area. The Oracles watch the party descend the slope to the pond and greet them.
“Greetings, strangers…” the one in the center speaks in a low, sultry tone. Dressed in a loose caftan of nearly translucent white silk, her pale skin contrasts against the flowing raven locks that cloak her shoulders and back.
“Welcome to our spring…” the one to the left picks up, her voice a soft whisper. A delicate hand reaches up, brushing silvery white hair back from an equally delicate elven face. Her caftan is of sheer crimson silk that matches the stain of her lips.
“We have been waiting for your arrival.” The last one finishes in a deep, rich voice. Her hair is of a brilliant shade of scarlet, her skin a rich shade of ebony that marks her of Ergothian heritage. The flowing black silk caftan molds itself to her strong body as she holds her hands out in welcome.
The Oracles are three hags, Sorrow (black-hair), Mourn (elf), and Lament (Ergothian), their true forms disguised.
As you speak, the three Oracles all gaze at you with their dark eyes.
“Yes,” murmers Sorrow.
“We shall answer your questions,” murmers Mourn.
“But first, you must agree to our price,” continues Lament.
“For one question, you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you,” Sorrow says in a smooth, sultry voice.
“For two questions you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you and you must perform a task for us,” Mourn whispers softly.
“For three questions you must agree to carry a burden we shall place upon you, you must perform a task for us, and you must also give us something you hold dear,” Lament murmers deeply.
“Do you agree to our price?” the three speak together, their voices melding in an oddly disturbing symphony.
The oracles answered two qustions to Skywarden and Tyric. They were asked to wear an amulet for 30 days and retrieve a staff somewhere near the peak of Mayls in return.
The party left the next day, in the afternoon they arrived at Kendermore…