Cycles of Shadow

Into the Mine
Part 1

From the journal of Adrik Stoneskin – Caravan Guard Adventurer

I write this crouched on blood-drenched soil while the others sit off to one side while Kathra and Elrik administer some healing to the group. My axe is discarded on the ground nearby, my faith in it – once unshakable – now utterly lost. My uncle once said to me ‘a craftsman’s tools bear no blame for poor work’ but he quickly changed his tune when I knocked him unconscious. Poor tools bear ALL the blame for shoddy work, and my axe is evidently the worst tool of the lot. Anyway, I can see the others rousing, time is of the essence after all. We’re about to head into the mine which, I must say, doesn’t excite me as much as it perhaps should. I find myself dreading the appearance of another one of those – what did Ezekiel call it? – Displacer Beasts.

Speaking of Ezekiel, if he doesn’t stop calling me ‘Alrik’ he’s going to be taught the same lesson as my uncle.

*

The party stood amid the carnage of their last battle ready to enter the mine. Cael, ever-cautious, darted silently towards the entrance holding to his eye the gem Alan bestowed upon him to enhance his sight. After a moment’s observation he signalled to the party that the way appeared to be clear. Stepping past a derailed mine cart, the party followed the elf inside, abandoning attempts at stealth for the time being.

For several long minutes the party followed the tunnel deeper into the mine. Eventually they came upon what looked like a security checkpoint of some sort – a crudely assembled loose stone wall several feet in height behind which stood half a dozen of the shadow creatures the party fought outside the mine. Before the wall was a large pit with jagged rocks lining the bottom.

The party deliberated for several minutes over the best course of action. Cael suggested retrieving the fallen mine cart from outside and hiding someone inside, hopefully sending it across the breach to catch the shadow monsters by surprise. Adrik – still crestfallen over the previous fight – hastily volunteered.

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Ezekiel's Perspective - The Beast and the Hound

Dubiously, I swallowed the mysterious red gem I’d been given, as the rest of the party did the same. They were instantly revitalizing! A relief after yet another near death experience. I Wish I had time study these bizarre gems; or to study the corpses of these things we were fighting. Their blood seems to evaporate when it touches air. How infuriating. But Costa argued that we needed to go on the offensive immediately- a sentiment the rest of the party shared.

Costa guided us through the tunnels until we exited a cave and found ourselves on the mountainside outside of town. Now we had to get to the mine; and thwart our enemies’ evil scheme… whatever that might be.

Costa’s plan seemed simple enough. Whilst the sun was still down: sneak through the forest, back into New Deepstone; skirt the perimeter of the town; avoid the sentries; scale the cliff to the higher region of the town; stealth through the woods: and we would reach the mine undetected. Unfortunately, there was a slight snag.

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The Elf Whisperer

I was vomiting at the same time as I was firing arrows.

Disgusting.

We didn’t have enough pairs of hands to sail both ships, so we scuttled the pirate hulk. I would have loved to have joined in, but I had an urgent appointment with the rail. Ezekiel joined me for conversation between retches and hurls. I hate the sea.

*

Korinn Island is lovely this time of year. Snow-capped mountain. Evergreen forests hunched around the rock. A blasted-apart wreck of a ship lounged in the shallows of the bay. The reason for lack of contact from the island for two months was apparent.

Real tourist hotspot, the wood-elves travel for miles to lie on the beach.

Ragnar graciously offered to wait for us for two days. He was all heart.

*

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New Beginnings

From the journal of Adrik Stoneskin – Caravan Guard

I woke up this morning to find myself still with the bloody caravan. I had hoped it was just a bad dream. Kathra seems to enjoy it though, she’s always up front talking to one of the drivers about something or other. She seems excited about heading into Baldur’s Gate. I’ve told her time and time again that when you’ve seen one big city, you’ve seen them all, but she won’t listen. I hope she’s not too disappointed. And I hope I don’t die of boredom.

*

After their ordeals in the caverns beneath Belston, where the adventurers Cael ‘Kenny’ Kennyr, Elrik Dreyar and Rane and Ezekiel Asurlan halted an incursion of time-displaced ogres, they wanted nothing more than to return to Baldur’s Gate and take a well-earned rest. Aided by the spoils of their previous adventure – namely a giant marble elephant – the party were making excellent progress.

*

From the journal of Adrik Stoneskin – Caravan Guard

The men in this caravan are insufferable. They will not shut up about their families in the city. I want some adventure, some excitement. Kathra seems perfectly happy here, but I am going out of my mind. I think the life of a caravan guard may not be for me.

*

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The Catacombs of Koptila

As they made their way back from Winterhaven, the party stopped for the night in the town of Belston, a settlement of moderate size located a few days outside Baldur’s Gate. Shortly after arrival, the town was rocked by a small earthquake. Asking around, they discovered that similar earthquakes had been occurring for nearly a week. The mages of the town had determined that the earthquakes were magical in origin, and their source seemed to be somewhere below the town.

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Keep on the Shadowfell

The brothers Rane and Ezekiel Asurlan, students of magic in the city of Baldur’s Gate, had travelled east to the town of Winterhaven in search of Ezekiel’s mentor, Douven Staul. Douven had journeyed to the town after discovering a map purporting to show the location of a dragon’s tomb, but upon arrival he dropped out of contact. Accompanying the brothers was Elrik Dreyar, a cleric of Bahamut who hoped to find relics of his god in the unearthed tomb. Their guide on the road was Cael “Kenny” Kennyr, an elf who claimed to hail from the deserts of Calimshan. Though it rapidly became apparent that Kenny knew little of the route to Winterhaven, the party successfully made their way to the frontier town, fending off a kobold assault along the way.

In Winterhaven, they questioned the locals about the missing mage. A farmer by the name of Eilian directed them to the dig site which Douven had been excavating. There, they found the old mage captured by a gnomish mercenary and his band of thugs. Though no dragon bones were in evidence, the villains appeared to be hunting for something nonetheless. Their efforts were overseen by a spectral apparition of a robed man in a horned helmet. When the heroes finally defeated the gnome, he cried out to someone named Kalarel, begging his forgiveness.

After dispatching their foes, the party spoke with Douven, who told them what little he knew – that the gnome and his men had excavated a relic of some kind and sent a rider to carry it north. He thanked his pupils for rescuing him, and bequeathed them a magical amulet before striking for home, eager to be reunited with his family.

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