The Tower of Life

When I was young, I once asked my grandfather: “What happens to us when we die?”

“We burn your body and scatter your ashes in the wind,” was his gruff response, as he continued his scribing.

I stopped playing with my toy blocks and stood up.

“But what happens to our spirit? Where do we go when we die? Akira says we go to be with Daciana to help her fight against the Umbra.”

Grandfather agreed to watch me as mother and her sisters were away, dancing the Ardor Tanebrosos at a nearby hamlet. He instructed me to be silent, not touch anything, and play with my toy blocks. He didn’t want to be disturbed as he wrote important missives to distant cabals of the clan. But I either didn’t care or understand. I was a child who wanted answers to what I thought were important questions.

Grandfather stopped writing, placing his pen down and rubbing his eyes. He turned and stared at me with those smoldering eyes that swirled flames into the Umbra.

“Akira is a romantic and a fool, if not a total ass. You’d be better off befriending a flea-infested rat,” he said with annoyance.

“As they say,” I retorted in the best formal tone a seven-year old could muster, “Ask a fool a question and get a foolish answer. So I’m asking you.”

“You’re too wise for your age,” Grandfather said with a sad smile.

He got up from his chair, grimacing in pain, and stretched his right leg. Grandfather had been injured in a fight against the undead a week prior and the wounds hadn’t fully healed. He grunted under his breath as he sat on the ground among the toy blocks. He gestured for me to sit with him and I did.

“Gin, you ask a question that all seek an answer to and none are able to find.”

Grandfather picked up a block and examined it as if looking for impurities.

“There are those,” he continued, “Who have chosen to ignore any of the religious and philosophical teachings of the past. They believe that when we die, we become nothing – we cease to exist. “

The toy block in grandfather’s hand suddenly vanished and I flinched.

“Like the Umbra,” I piped, excitingly.

“You sometimes frighten me with your knowledge, child,” Grandfather smiled. “Your words speak truer than you know. For these people believe that when you die, all memories past, all present concerns, and all future dreams, are no more; never to have existed. That is the heart of the Umbra and these people unwillingly and unknowingly follow the very thing we stand against as Sentinels.”

“But if their belief was true, then where do the undead come from?”

Grandfather chuckled. He moved his finger in a flash and the toy block reappeared: decayed, warped, and malformed. “If what they say is the only truth, then the only answer would be that the undead come from the Umbra.”

I was not comfortable with that answer. It frightened me.

“Do you believe that?” I asked. I wasn’t sure I wanted the answer.

“I believe that they believe in it, and belief can be the strongest force in all of Creation.”

I didn’t understand and he saw the confusion in my face. He gently crushed the decayed block and lightly blew the dust and tiny pieces away.

“I do not believe that fate is for me or you.” Grandfather picked up another toy block. “As our family has traveled the lands, you’ve seen the makeshift sanctums of Amenoth?”

“Yes, but we don’t worship Amenoth, do we?”

“No. We do not.”

“Why not?”

“There are reasons,” he gravely replied. “But that’s not important.”

Grandfather placed the block down between us. “The followers of Amenoth believe that when you die, your soul goes to Abyssum De Purgator, realm between realms, and there you sleep.”

Grandfather picked up another block and placed it next to the first and then placed another next to the previous block, until he had a circle of blocks.

“Some in the Amenoth faith believe that when we have atoned for our transgressions, and when Amenoth finds us worthy, then the Blank God will bring back the gods of old. And the gods in turn will see the sleeping souls and awaken them!”

Grandfather held up his arms and the blocks began to float. Each block brightly illuminated a different color: red, blue, green, yellow, and so forth.

“And the gods,” he continued, “will give the sleeping souls new bodies and bring them back to the living. Families and friends will reunite, and joy, bliss, and love will wash over Ur-Delth. No one will ever die again as the gods will forgive all creation, and there will be eternal peace and prosperity for all, forevermore.”

“That sounds like a lot of wishful bullshit,” I said with a crumbled expression.

Grandfather laughed out loud and the blocks fell; their colored lights diminished. “You have your mother’s pessimism,” he said. “But understand, little one, it’s a strong belief and people will believe what helps them have hope and a reason to live each day in this shadowed world.

“Now, there are those who still cling on to the belief that the old gods are still around, but unable to commune with us. These people tend to be rabid and insane. But yet, some of them hold to concepts of life after death. What those other gods are and their afterlife – I know very little. I did hear one rumor of a fire goddess. Those who die in the service of this goddess are granted into her great army of vengeance. They will ride on great steeds of flame, wielding weapons of fire. When the time of tribulation arrives, they will take to the skies and banish the green storms, bringing forth the sun, stars and moons once more. Again, as you said, wishful bullshit.”

“But the gods are all gone,” I said.

“Yes, most people only believe in the Blank God and his purgatory.”

“But what do you believe happens when we die?”

Grandfather smiled again, but with a hint of warmth. Once more, he placed a single block between us.

“Life is messy, but it moves forward and upward. You start with one generation of life,” he gestured to the single block, “And on top of that you build more generations of life.” He placed another block on top of the first one.

“Every new new generation is built on the generation before – all of the previous generation’s knowledge, wisdom, morals, and everything else are shared with the new generation. Life continues on in such ways.” Grandfather said, placing more blocks on top of each other; higher and higher he built the tower of blocks. “Each generation is built upon the one before, and higher and higher the whole of life becomes.”

The tower got so high, grandfather had to stand up.

“The current generation is the block on top. But that generation could not be there unless it had the blocks underneath. That top block is a part of the bottom block, and vise versa. The bottom block never dies and lives on in the current top block. And so, I will never die and neither shall you as long as the tower of life continues. For when our time passes, we will live on in the future that has built its life upon us. As long as no one comes to break this tower of life, all peoples live forever.”

Grandfather knelt and pulled out the bottom block, letting all the others fall and tumble on the ground.

“The Umbra,” I whispered.

“No,” grandfather snapped. “That is not what Umbra does. That is what we do to ourselves.”

I blankly stared at him.

“Now pick up your toys,” Grandfather said, patting my head. “I still have much to do and these things are heavy even for a grownup.”

Grandfather sat back at his desk and began to write again. As I gathered the toys, I asked: “Is it dark where Amenoth puts the souls to sleep?”

“In Abyssum De Purgator? I suppose so. It would be difficult to sleep if it was all light,” Grandfather chuckled.

“If it’s so dark all the time there, then does Amenoth know the Umbra?”

After five days, my companions and I were almost ready to leave and were still arguing about our next course of action. Shundara pushed hard in her doubts about opening the portal. She thought we should fly out of the double doors, explore the area, and if we found nothing to return and then use the portal. It was a reasonable plan, if our goal was to return home. She didn’t understand her home was gone. None of us had a home to return to. Our only hope was to find the cause of the world’s blight and end that blight.

When Digby and Merrill learned that the portal took travelers on a one-way trip to Tisthorrak, our course was clear. A while back, we had encountered a horrific shadow beast that mentioned that word: “You cannot stop the return of Tisthorrak!” it said. Going through that portal was another step closer to solving the riddle of Ur-Delth.

As Shundara argued, I felt the stark and harsh sensation of severance from Malum. She was suddenly gone. During the past five days, she would periodically communicate on her distance and condition – how close she was to the source of the lightning and her ability to continue. But now that I could not sense her anymore, something was wrong. I needed to resummon Malum and that meant I needed time alone.

To Shundara’s irritation, I excused myself and drifted away from her constant babbling. I overheard Digby telling the others that he wanted to use arcane powers to explore the land around us, which he felt would help us make our final decision easier. I was in distress, unbeknownst to them, and didn’t care what Digby was planning. I needed Malum back. Reality was wrong without her.

Gin!” my ring spoke, nearly making me trip. “Gin! You said we were heading back to the monastery! You said…” I removed the ring. I didn’t need to hear Krallak while performing the ritual.

I found a corner obscured by shadow and started the dark ritual. I began by slitting my palm and used the blood to trace a circle five feet in diameter with a border five inches thick. Using black chalk dipped in my blood, I drew the lines of the Sentinels within the circle. Then I traced a small crescent within the larger circle, but making sure not to touch any of the lines. I sat in that little crescent, knees underneath, and lit a crimson-colored candle placed before me. With my flute, I played “The Sparrow’s Sorrow” – a melancholy song about the Dark Sentinel and his lost love who fell to the Umbra. It always pierced my soul in sadness.

During my solace ritual, the others readied themselves with the final preparations while Digby used his magic to explore more of what was outside. They took the pitons out of the doors we had sealed, recovered the traps we had placed, took inventory, and tested and experimented with modified weapons and tools.

An hour later, Malum was summoned and she told me what had happened. I returned to the others as Digby was explaining what he discovered outside.

“Wouldn’t it be better that we explore the area and find out more about this place?” Shundara demanded. “Digby says we are close to the [[God’s Hammer]]. We don’t know what is beyond this portal and it’s a one-way trip. As far as we know, it could lead to the Nine Hells. We should investigate this God’s Hammer, or Heaven Rock, as you call it. Isn’t that what you said was the cause of everything?”

I could tell the others were starting to side with Shundara.

“The answers we seek aren’t out there,” I said. Malum, in shrike form, sat on my shoulder.

“But shouldn’t we learn more about this Heaven Rock instead of going somewhere we don’t know? Surely it is better to investigate something we know rather than something we don’t know?”

“My home is gone,” I said, “and so is yours. The world is not what you remember, and the calamity that has brought ruin to everything you know is not out those doors, but, I believe, through that portal.

“The Heaven Rock came to our world eons past; so long ago that it doesn’t hold in anyone’s memories, not even through legends or myths. But I have learned that it did not come alone and it came with intent. When the rock came, it brought with it vile beasts, winged aberrations, and demented abominations. When it came, it changed everything, reshaping the land, altering the sky, resurrecting the dead, and plaguing the living in a perpetual nightmare with no hope of ever waking.

“That rock was a symptom, not the cause. It was the ship that brought whoever did this to our home and also scattered the gods. Through my travels, I’ve discovered clues and hints that perhaps the gods did not willingly leave, but were forced to abandon us. I say we take our ship and bring our own calamity to them!

Tamar! You follow a fire goddess that, somehow, for whatever reason, has reached you and granted you powers. Have you ever thought as to why? Why you? Why now? Why has your goddess continually empowered you to protect us in our travels? It’s because your goddess has chosen you to end the blight of this world, and bring your goddess’ fire back into the sky. You won’t be able to do that if we go out those doors into a death trap of a storm.”

Tamar grunted. “Gin is right. We go through the portal.”

“And Digby,” I said, noticing the little Gnome scribbling in his notes, “you said you are a scholar and researcher. What better opportunity than this – to discover and record true mysteries of all Creation? To walk in places no one has traversed since ages past and uncover secrets that are lost or denied us. Going through those doors will only hinder, if not, stop your studies.”

“Well, I guess, when you point it out that way…” Digby replied.

“And Crunchy,” I continued, but saw that the goblin had left, so I said nothing more.

“Fine!” Shundara huffed. “If you’re all decided, then let’s get going. The sooner we get this done, the better.”

With final preparations complete, Shundara activated her flying ship. With the sound of a thousand tornadoes, a massive, rushing wind swirled and encircled the hull of the ship. It slowly lifted with a lurch, jerked, and began to hover over the ground below us. We were flying – truly flying! This was the power of the air elemental Shundara had entrapped.

I stood with Tamar, Crunchy, and Digby on deck, close to the bow. Shundara steered the ship at the stern, under a canopy and Merrill stayed under the deck.

“I feel bad for the thing,” Tamar commented, looking at the elemental. “Feels like we’re enslaving it.”

“Perhaps you’re right,” I said, “but its efforts will not be in vain.”

Shundara glided the ship over the portal and Digby used his magical hand to activate the mechanism. The portal opened. Black lightning exploded all around us and a dark veil slowly consumed us. I felt a dreadful sensation of icy fingernails clawing into my flesh, but nothing was touching me. I was falling, or so I thought. What was up was right. What was down was backwards. I had no sense of direction. There was a brief whiff of a horrid stench I had never smelled before and it forced bile up to my throat. I thought I faintly heard a low rumble in the distance. Laughter? The terror was real. Something was very wrong.

All went dark and the sensation disappeared.

I opened my eyes and my eyes flared like never before. Malum was gone and I was alone again. Panic threatened to overtake me, but I quickly regained control.

The portal took us to a large chamber. It was absolute dark. But with my Umbra eyes, I saw other portals all around us and the whole ground was covered in a strange vegetation that incorporated a gooey, pus-like substance. It did not smell very pleasant.

Digby activated Lumen and nearly blinded me with the sudden eruption of light. But that was when I noticed that the air elemental was gone – the ship was not flying anymore.

“What is going on here?!” Shundara shouted. “What happened to my air elemental and where are we?!”

“It would appear that going through the portal banished us of our magic,” I replied.

“Look! More portals,” Digby pointed. “Interesting.”

“What’s going on up there?” Merrill shouted from below deck. “Can I come up yet?”

“No!” Tamar shouted. “Stay down there.”

With a spell, I took to the sky to get a bird’s-eye view and then noticed the gooey vegetation on the ground bubbling and molding into a huge humanoid-shaped creature off the port bow of the ship.

“Looks like trouble!” Tamar hollered. She unsheathed Solemn and leapt off of the ship with a war cry for blood, or maybe in this case, tomato juice.

“There’s another one over there!” Digby pointed toward starboard. Another creature had formed.

“Gin, this is your fault!” Shundara yelled and she drew her sword and jumped off the ship towards the second creature.

“Well, at least it’s better than ending up in the Nine Hells, no?” I yelled back.

In the far distance, in complete darkness where Digby’s dagger could not illuminate, I saw, with my Umbra eyes, a large double door slowly open.

Below, Tamar roared and with two powerful swings, slashed and bashed the huge shamble of vegetation with Solemn. Even from my height, seventy feet above, I felt Tamar’s power smashing into the creature. She brought the thing to its knees, wounded and near death. And following that, Crunchy threw a dagger and finished the great beast once and for all.

Out of the double doors emerged fish-like humanoids. They reminded me of the sahuagin we had faced before, but more fishy. But behind them, floating through the door was a large spheroid body with a giant eye in the center. It had multiple tentacles protruding from its body and at the tip of each tentacle was an eye.

“Shundara!” I shouted. “Get back and start up the ship again!”

Shundara and Tamar were fighting the second beast. Digby was tossing magical spears of fire at the thing. Even Merrill had mustered his courage and came up on deck to throw fire and acid vials at the creature. Crunchy was hiding under the deck.

“Gin!” Shundara shouted back. “I don’t know where we are!”

Within my mind I heard a terrifying voice: “Surrender! Your torment and death will be quick and painless.”

It was then I realized that I had forgotten to place the ring of Krallak back on my finger, and I felt vulnerable.

Crunchy popped his head out of the deck and yelled out: “No!” and then popped back down again. The others had heard the voice as well.

“We got a whole lot more company coming!” I screamed. “We need this ship moving and now!!”

“You better listen to Gin,” Tamar yelled at Shundara, as she dodged a swing from the beast’s massive arm. “He’s usually right about these things.”

“I’m not starting the ship and using my last elemental until I know where we are and where we’re going,” Shundara replied as she struck the creature with little effect.

Tamar struck the beast with Solemn and the sound of thunder echoed through the dark chamber.

“Gods damn you, woman!” I yelled. “Tamar’s a genius compared to you! They’re coming…”

Three bolts of magical energy shot towards me. Two of them missed but the third….

It was excruciatingly painful. The pain didn’t feel real, but was more real than what reality could perceive. The body was not harmed but the mind was shattered. All my thoughts swirled and collided. My memories crushed and blended in the mortar of my mind – the energy bolt was the pestle.

I felt a strong, cool breeze. My legs and arms flapped above me. My hair fluttered and wrapped around my face. I heard the whooshing sound of the wind. I was falling and I was going to die.

I thought of the tower of toy blocks and saw my grandfather as he pulled out the bottom block. Everything crumbled and fell down. Down! Down! Down! The tower of life! The generations past! All of it was gone now. I was the last of my clan, the last Sentinel, and I had failed. I had failed as a Sentinel. I had failed my grandfather. I had failed my clan. I had failed Tamar. I had failed the people of Osmarren and everyone from Ur-Delth. And most importantly, I had failed my sister, Circe. In my death, all would be forgotten and nothing of my people would remain. Everything would scatter in the wind and all would be lost forevermore.

Then I felt lightness and my body slowly descended to the last five feet above the ship’s deck. My feet gently landed and I saw Digby wave and smile at me.

“You okay?” he asked.

I nodded, unable to speak with the massive headache that pounded within my skull.

I scrambled to the stern of the ship, under the canopy, and summoned an illusionary brick wall around us. Crunchy darted around the illusion and held up the elemental gem that activated the ship.

“This is what you wanted, right Gin?” he said with a smirk. “Know how to use it?”


“Hey, Merrill!” Crunchy said. “You know how to get this thing started? Here! Catch!” He tossed the gem to the Halfling tinkerer.

“They’re coming,” I hoarsely whispered. “One of those giant eye things. We need to get the ship up and moving, and now!”

The Raven

Long into the future in a land far, far away..

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Shundara and Merrill, continued exploring Base Golakth. Cages containing balls of blue arcane light suddenly illuminated the area and then quickly winked out. Just then, a haggard derro emerged from a door to the south but ran away once it saw the companions.

They discovered that it was Merrill who had fixed one of the strange cabinets below in order to activate the lights. A thorough search of the area led them to believe that the pool in one of the rooms had been some sort life-supporting mechanism. In addition, another room held The Raven, Shundara’s airship that she had repaired right before the derro attacked Syrill.

After much debate, the heroes decided to repair both The Raven and the large teleporter in the central chamber. The hope was to transport all of them, along with the airship, to the unknown beyond the portal. Digby turned into a gaseous mist to discover more about the sneaky derro. He found that it was the old, young and female derro who fed on fungus and each other to survive. They appeared to be of no threat, but the companions sealed and trapped the door just in case.

Meanwhile, Malum flew through the storm raging outside the base toward the source of purple lightning crackling in the distance. After five days of flight, Gin suddenly lost connection to his fiendish familiar…

Discoveries in Base Golakth

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Shundara continued battling derro that tried to ambush them in an area beyond Vod’s Spire. Tentacles that Gin summoned kept the creatures at bay as the heroes continued to make ranged and spell attacks against the insane creatures, but the battle seemed to stall.

Gin ceased the tentacles and called on the Umbra to hypnotize many of the enemies. Tamar rushed out and sliced two of the derro down, Digby blasted them with fire bolts and Crunchy insulted them to death. The derro were simply no match for the heroes. They kept one alive and secured him for questioning using an immovable rod. The creature refused to answer until Gin spoke in the derro’s head and convinced the creature it was talking to itself.

They discovered they were in a place called Base Golakth. Through generations of oral history, the derro conveyed that they were instructed by Tisthorrak to kill the Sentinels of the Umbra and Daciana’s Kin. He also told them that the only exit was through the large sliding doors to the north and that outside was a great sea storm. But they still had no idea where they were from a geographic standpoint.

Suffering from a strange malady, Gin rested while the rest of the companions searched the area. They discovered that most traces of movement was from the south where they suspected more derro. They opened another door and discovered a large pit filled with excrement and body parts. On the far wall was a large cabinet similar to others they had encountered in the base. But this one appeared to be in better working order.

Crunchy lit the methane in the area on fire as Digby produced a lavender smell to quell the stench. As Digby and Crunchy went to investigate the cabinet, the entire area was suddenly illuminated from above…

Ambushing the Ambushers

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Digby Folkor and Crunchy Malone, along with Shundara and Merrill, took a much needed rest after several battles in a strange lair beyond Vod’s Spire. They used the time to examine some strange items they discovered, exchange weapons and magic items, and discuss how they all ended up in this unknown realm. Once recuperated, they decided to head up the last metallic tube where they supposed the remaining derro quartered.

As a joke, Crunchy cast mage hand to flick Gin’s ear. Unaware of the goblin’s penchant toward innocent tom-foolery, Gin suspected treachery and used his staff to unleash tentacles against Crunchy. Tamar quickly berated the goblin and warned him that Gin had little use for sneaky pranks.

They then found themselves in a cramped room with one exit. Digby used his exploratory “archaeological” abilities to turn into a vapor and search beyond the door. He found that there were a gang of derro readying an ambush. One of the insane creatures noticed the strange mist floating near him, but right then Crunchy tried to open the door, causing a lightning blast trap to shock everybody in the cramped chamber. The blast knocked out Merril, but Tamar used the power of her fire god to save the halfling.

Digby returned to the group and explained the precarious situation. They quietly made their way toward the ambush. Gin cast an image of Circe whistling which the derros sprung to attack. Gin then caused tentacles to emerge from the ground, trapping several of the creatures as they were bludgeoned by the appendages.

The heroes then blasted their enemies with crossbow, daggers and spells…

Another One Bites the Dust

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Theren Nailo and Digby Folkor faced strange tentacled humanoids and an undead beholder in an unknown area beyond Vod’s Spire. Gin wrapped his companions in umbral darkness in order to protect them from the beholder’s dangerous eye rays. Tamar leaped from the darkness to attack, but was immediately blasted by the beholder’s necrotic ray. The wound was enough to kill her, but her orcish desire for battle sustained her as she fled back into the protection of the darkness. With the lesson learned, the companions used ranged attacks from cover to eventually take their foes down.

They were then able to explore the room. It was lined with metallic beds that had humanoid indentations within them. To their surprise, two of the beds were occupied; one with a male goblin and the other with a yellow, elf-like female. Both were naked and weren’t breathing, yet neither appeared dead nor undead. An unseen force prevented anybody from making contact with the creatures. Gin used his magic to read the dimly glowing purple runes on the beds which allowed him to wake the female from her slumber. She awoke confused, agitated and defensive. The group managed to calm her down and provide her with her belongings found in a drawer at the front of the bed.

After some discussion, they decided to wake up the goblin. As the goblin awoke with a foul curse, Theren grabbed is stomach in intense pain. He keeled over as his stomach exploded and a green, undulating mushroom emerged from his bowels. Suspecting that it was a spawn of the plant-insect creature that had captured the elf and Balor earlier, Gin crushed the fungus and confirmed that it had killed Theren.

They then turned their attention to the two new companions. The female claimed to be a Githyanki named Shundara from a place called Habannen in Syrill. The goblin, named Crunchy Malone, claimed to be from Syrill also. They both had a similar story of derro on vulture-like mounts attacking Syrill with lightning-tipped lances. From their stories, Gin gathered that they had been in stasis for thousands of years since they claimed the Heaven Rock, which they called Gods’ Hammer, had only fallen from the sky 300 years ago. Previous clues gathered by the heroes pointed toward the Heaven Rock falling thousands of years in the past.

The remaining companions then burned Theren’s body, along with his magical bow, before deciding their next move…

Funeral Rites

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Theren Nailo and Digby Folkor stood in shock as the noxious green spores that erupted from Balor’s stomach settled. The poisonous effects of the cloud were easily remedied, but the death of their friend left them all bewildered. Ever practical, they solemnly retrieved Balor’s personal effects with Tamar keeping the dwarf’s deck of cards.

As they burned his body to ensure he would not rise to undeath, Tamar played a dirge on her trombone with Gin accompanying on his flute. In the flames, Tamar heard whispered words and saw a vision of a greataxe that she interpreted as an encouraging sign from her fire god.

Meanwhile, Digby discovered the same strange device on the insect plant creature that Theren had earlier found on a derro. However, this one looked to be in working order. Digby manipulated the device in an effort to understand its workings. A bolt of lightning erupted from it, nearly scorching the gnome. He stowed the item away for further investigation.

The companions climbed up another metallic shaft that led to a hallway infested with ghouls. Gin realized that the ghouls were devoid of clothing and of various races without a trace of what caused their initial death. They made quick work of the undead and explored several rooms. They appeared to be deserted living quarters with broken pieces of strange metallic furniture.

Digby discovered a metallic sphere with two amber crystals attached to it. Once again, he stowed the object for later inspection. The last small room had two more ghouls and appeared to have held finer decor. However, they quickly closed the door to avoid a confrontation and did not explore it further.

A door to the north led to a large chamber that contained strange metal beds with indentions in the shape of bodies, as well as more strange cabinets on an upper balcony. Before they could examine the room, a humanoid with tentacles protruding from its back attacked in a rage. Another of the creatures emerged from the darkness of the room. And to their dismay, an undead beholder floated up to join the battle.

Tamar ignited Solemn and with the help of her comrades defeated the first tentacled monster. In an effort to protect his allies from the glare of the beholder, Gin cast a darkness spell to veil them within the Umbra

The Exploding Dwarf

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Balor Windhelm, Theren Nailo and Digby Folkor continued to battle the metallic gargoyles that guarded a chamber in an unknown location beyond Vod’s portal. Gin tossed the Staff of the Umbra to the floor and uttered a command word. The staff mutated into a giant tentacle that grabbed one of the creatures, preventing it from fully entering the battle.

As several of the gargoyles were destroyed by the heroes, a hole appeared at Theren’s feet. Several insectoid arms reached up from the hole and dragged Theren down. The portal closed, revealing only solid floor where Theren once stood. Soon after, the same mysterious being also grabbed Balor in a similar fashion. Digby used his magic to locate Sever in order to find Theren and Balor. The axe was somewhere below them.

One of the metallic shafts in the room went down to a lower level. Tamar climbed down and slid the door open to discover an insectoid looking creature standing over Balor and Theren. The duo was covered in green goo up to their necks. Gin quickly used his power to banished the creature. Tamar cut Balor and Theren loose, but they both seemed disoriented from their experience. The heroes then prepared themselves for the return of the creature from banishment.

As soon as it appeared from the extra dimensional prison, Digby blasted with magic missile, Theren blasted with his bow, Gin blasted with eldritch blast and Tamar cut it in half. A green cloud erupted from the creature, causing no harm. But suddenly, Balor’s stomach cramped up. He yelled that he felt like he had to take a deep bowel movement, but then his stomach exploded in another green cloud that this time poisoned Tamar, Digby and Sasha

Stranger in a Strange Land

Long into the future in a land far, far away…

Gin, Tamar, Balor and Theren caught their breath after a battle with aggressive derro beyond the portal in Vod’s Spire. Balor tried to question a captive derro, but the insane creature would not give up its secrets. Gin used his mental powers and Umbral ties to pierce the derro’s chaotic mind. He discovered that the derro had a mate and children elsewhere, but could not get additional information. This meant there were more of these hostile creatures in this strange place. With no more value to be gained from the derro, Theren casually killed their captive.

Suddenly, a door to the room slid open and a gnome appeared with arms raised in a gesture of peace. He introduced himself as Digby Folkor and claimed that he had been hiding in a chamber for several days. He had traveled through a portal he found in a suspected templeto an ancient god in the land of Yatellnor. The starving newcomer was given food by Merrill who was especially excited to have another “scholar” among the group.

The companions decided to make camp for the rest of the day and evening. They talked through the night, discovering that Yatellnor was once part of the Ten Realms found on Gin’s map of Delthrand. However, the land now suffered the same curses as Ur-Delth. Digby knew of Ur-Delt and Garron the White. And the small island even had visitors from a place called Selts.

The next morning, Gin woke with extreme fatigue and his muscles cramped. His wounds had not healed through the night and left him exhausted. He shook off the malaise as the heroes decided to explore the strange metallic area with Digby in tow.

Theren snuck into an unexplored room and discovered more debris, strange cabinets, a twisted hunk of metal and several metallic silver ovoids high on a shelf. Malum flew into the chamber and Gin talked through his familiar to speak with Theren.

The noise caused the eggs to unravel and reveal metallic gargoyles perched as sentinels. With Theren hidden and Malum invisible, the creatures remained motionless. Gin cast an image of his sister into the room, and the creatures sprung to attack. Balor tried to rush into the chamber for a fight, but Sasha stopped him. Theren then shot one of the creatures with his bow and the battle was begun!

Gin unraveled the tentacles from his staff to take one down. Tamar jumped on the cabinets to reach one of the flying creatures and sliced it in half with Solemn. Digby used his magical powers to cast firebolts at several. And Balor threw Sever, striking two of the metal guardians and then held out his hand for the magical axe to return…

Beyond the Portal

Long into the future, in a land far, far away…

Gin Okami, Tamar, Balor Windhelm and Theren Nailo battled small, blue-grey skinned dwarf-like creatures in the strange chambers beyond the Sinarthaax portal. Gin’s darkness spell hampered the efforts by his companions to effectively fight their foes, so Theren ran down the stairs he had noticed before the darkness descended only to come under immediate attack by two of the creatures. Gin dispersed the darkness and killed one of the creatures with his eldritch attacks while Tamar and Balor headed into the next chamber to deal with the other two foes.

Unfortunately, after Balor knocked one enemy unconscious, he then came under the influence of one creature’s madness and stood agape as the world swirled around him. Tamar rushed to destroy the remaining enemy and with the help of Gin, Theren and Sasha, the mad creature was slain. Balor was roused from his confusion and woke their captive for questioning as the companions rested…

Leaving Sinarthaax

Gin’s Journal, Day 42, Page 117

Sensing through Malum, I saw as my companions rushed into the dining hall and charged towards the vile creature inside. Malum followed them to give what little help she could. During the battle, Theren found what he was looking for – an ancient bow crafted by the Sinarthaax elves of old, and used it against their opponent as his weapon of choice. There were casualties in the fight.

As my companions and Malum surrounded the vile creature, it let out a putrid stench that affected Malum and “killed” her. “Killed” is a word for mortals, and Malum is far from being “mortal.” Her corporal form was destroyed but her spirit returned to the realm of her origins, whatever that truly was. My psychic connection with her broke and I lost contact with my companions.

I sighed in resignation at the fact that I would have to give time and effort to re-summon Malum again, but I did not have time at that moment. I only hoped my friends finished off the vile creature without further incident and would quickly return to the portal. Without Malum on the other side, I knew I had to pass through myself once more.

Again, with effort, I recalled the words to open the portal and stepped through. My companions had not arrived back at the portal yet, so I took the time to write down on parchment the runes from the broken mirror-portal along with the partial runes from the scroll I found at the Starwind Monastery; no more having to recall the activation words from memory.

Thankfully, in time, my companions arrived. They obviously defeated the vile creature without further trouble. Using my newly inscribed parchment, I opened the portal and sent Tamar through first. And unsurprisingly, the portal closed behind her. Again, I used the command words to open the portal and sent Theren through. Next I sent Merrill through, followed by Balor. Finally, I opened the portal one last time and stepped through myself.

My companions stood around the portal, shocked and bewildered at the place around them. Like me, they had never seen a place such as this. This place felt…wrong. The walls, floor and ceiling were all made of metal, like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The air was stale and old, and the floor was covered in dust and debris, untouched for generations.

We cautiously searched the room. On the far side of the room were shelves with strange mechanical devices that interested Merrill, but, even he found them strange and puzzling. There were metal doors to our right and left. We discovered what appeared to be another portal next to the portal we came through, but this one larger. I wondered if the activation command I had would work on the newly discovered portal when Merrill announced that one of the doors close to him had opened and he thought he saw someone.

Balor quickly took point, with me following behind, and we approached the door. The door was closed and it had no keyhole or handle. Balor used his immense strength to pry the door open and it slid to the side, inside the wall. On the other side of the door was another room with more shelves with strange mechanical devices but also three gray-colored dwarves with dirty white hair aiming crossbows at Balor.

I cast a darkness spell in the room and the battle began…


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