Hollow's Last Hope

Rebel Tendencies

What of the children? That was the question plaguing the party after the strange encounter with Kerrdremak, a mystic malcontent of the Truescale Tribe. It seemed Kerrdremak and his band of five kobold warriors were rife with rebellion and did not want to follow the kobold king,Merlokrep, any longer. Kerrdremak is a hunch-backed kobold with dark blue scales. One of his ears is immensely oversized (a birth defect) and droops under the weight of several human finger-bone earrings. These grim trophies jangle obscenely whenever he nods his head. The presence of the ghost of Glintaxe put the kobold warriors into a frozen shock. How long had this ghost roamed the halls of this temple and claimed unwary kobold lives? They were easily convinced that with the Ghost on their side they would soon topple the evil reign of Merlokrep.

The three children were secreted away in the Abbot’s chambers (area 10 on the map) after his remains and those of his homunculus were removed behind the secret door. With Hollin and Jurin still missing below the party began to formulate battle plans before descending the lift to the lower level and throne of the Kobold King.

Kimi’s stalwart ranting of not wanting to be left behind while they look for Hollin can be heard through the baracaded door and down the hallway. She sees the missing children’s plight as her fault and will not rest until they are all safe.

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Curious Encounters Jeva and an Imp

Kieyanna was brought out of her memories by the sound of someone trying to discreetly follow her companions. The others noticed it as well and after some quiet conferencing left Zandu to try and surprise their interloper while Kieyanna, Rumble, and Dhohar carried on following the trail of the children.

Kieyanna enjoyed for a time discussing her Firefoot…she and Dhohar talked about its favorite foods…fish of course, and strangely also raspberries. They also discussed spending some time training it after they found the children…and then they heard a shriek and a scuffle and went running back to where they’d left Zandu.

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Dhohar's Journal: Full Strides and Full Stumbles, Meeting Jeva

I must confess the next portion of our journey and adventure was most unusual. I have held a number of thoughts of what the outside world might be like, but many I thought would prove false once getting out into it. Sadly, some were not. I had persistent concerns over the last several days about the possibility of lycanthrope attacks and a hidden, growing scourge that existed just beyond sight in the woods.

As we departed from the burnt out husk that was Elara’s Halfway House I tried to banish the thoughts of the owner’s last moments from my mine. Perhaps she’d gather the weapons to fight the beasts and to at least begin the war – only to be found and tortured in her own basement. I could only think some innocent child happened upon the scene and started the fire inadvertently, or perhaps purposefully?, to scare off or kill the “wolves” harming their mistress. Only the entire thing went up in a conflagration that consumed all. Yet, perhaps it didn’t consume all. No other signs were noted regarding what might have torn out her throat. The thought unsettled me.

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Revelations on Zandu

After the fight with the Kobolds and meeting the two children and Edgrin, Zandu knew he needed to take a break for a little while. His stomach grumbled reminding him that he had been about to eat when they heard Kimi scream. He retraced his steps to the bed chamber and retrieved his backpack. Returning to the mess hall he righted a bench and sat at a table. He was weary. He thought it must be after dark for sure. A depressing silence had fallen on the living making them all too aware of the five dead kobolds around them. Zandu picked out part of his rations and looked around the room. Gloomy faces from Kimi and Mikra looked expectantly from adult to adult. Kimi was stoic and putting on her best face for Mikra but Zandu could see her sorrow and uncertainty. Kieyanna looked like a fortress in her new armor and he didn’t know how she could move in all that metal. But she looked good and comfortable. Much more comfortable than he felt. Dhohar looked about like he felt. The druid must not be comfortable underground and encased in all this stone. The air was stale and hot. It made breathing more difficult than it should’ve been. He locked eyes with each of his companions in turn and offered them a seat at his table. He laid out the rest of his ration to share. He began to speak.

Life is complicated. It sure has a way of sending the unexpected at you at just the right time. I have not been completely honest with you about my background. I am not originally from Varisia. I did live there but before that I came from an island off the coast called Hermea. I had a privileged childhood. I was afforded the best education, the best training, and the choice of whatever I wanted to study (as long as I was deemed worthy by the Council of Enlightenment). While still young I trained in multiple fields to identify my aptitude. I was trained in martial arts, music, history, magic, and some others. Magic was everywhere in Promise. Under the close watch of Mengkare our town flourished. The benevolent dragon was a shelter from the terrors of the world. Our isolation gave us the time to focus on honing our skills and reaching our potential. If you failed to reach that potential, you were quietly removed from the island. So everyone performed to their best. We want to be our best. In my studies I learned the basics of spell casting. I love reliable methods with which they can be studied and reproduced. It is an ancient art that goes back ten thousand years to when mages first tamed the wild magic. I did prove gifted in the magic arts. It was one of the reasons I was allowed to become an agent of Hermea. But in my quest for perfection I found the meditative arts at the Temple of Mengkare to be much more in line with what I believe. I joined their ranks and studied with them for four years after finishing my childhood schooling. I continued to use some of my magic but it was no longer the focus of my attention. When I was chosen to begin training as an agent it did not fit into my cover very well. My mother was orriginally from Varisia and I had the blood as well as her stories and cultural knowledge. I studied long and hard with her to know the ways of the people and their practices. I also spent much time in the libraries in Promise learning all I could about the world I would soon enter. At that time the Council believed it was better if I did not use my magic except to communicate with them. They gave me a token to boost the power of the spell and allow me to communicate anywhere in the world, as long as I can see the moon. I use it very rarely these days. I fear I have little to report as of yet. But such is the way when seeking perfection. I have found that it is a sore few good adventurers who wish to leave this world of wonder…and I will attest that I share their reasons. I must now do what is best for our party in this dark time. I cannot afford to ignore part of me that might give us an edge in this battle. There is far too much on the line. If you will give me but a quarter of an hour, friends, I will refresh my mind as to the spells we may need.

The others shocked at the revelation of his homeland which they had never heard was not all-together unexpected. They had each had a feeling that perhaps Zandu was not telling the whole truth. But his actions spoke louder than his omissions and if he had been hiding a bit of who he was, they now understood. But what more could this near-elitist man be hiding from them? Respecting his wish to review his spells the others withdrew to another table and fed the children and Edgrin. They had not seen palatable food since being captured. The raw rat meat fed to them by the Kobolds tasted like cardboard and made their stomachs turn inside-out on occasion. The availability of common hard tack trail rations was like seeing a fresh stew with all the vegetables and chicken you could imagine. They ate through one whole ration without talking. This gave Kieyanna and Dhohar the time to move off down the hallway for a private discussion about Zandu’s story.

SpellbookZandu withdrew his old beaten spell book that he had rebound with wood covers to protect it against the perils of the road. Opening it he sat at the table in the mess hall and studied the glyphs and arcane words while the others ate. He still prepared spells occasionally, usually about once a week. Just to keep his mind sharp. He hadn’t cast a spell in months. But this dungeon of evil certainly seemed like the place to start. He didn’t consider himself a crusader for good but children did not deserve to be ripped from their families and die tortuously at the hands of others. It felt good to feel the surge of power grow over his body. He felt stronger with it. More ready to face the world. When he was finished studying he looked down at the end of the table where a part of his dinner ration lay. With his mind he reached out to the bread and willed it to him. With a gesture of clenching a fist and the utterance of a word in Draconic the bread lifted from the table and flew to his hand. He reached out his clenched hand and took the bread. With a big satisfied bite he ate the rest of the bread and felt on top of the world. Knowledge would win this day.

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First Strides

Dhohar awoke refreshed and began to prep for the day. He knew it would a long one but he hoped it was somewhat calm and without incident. He doubted that would be the case but it was possible the children simply wandered outside of their comfort range or one was injured and the other’s stayed to comfort them. His mind wandered in that vein for a time building his dread and anticipation. Perhaps one was injured and the others left to get help and then go lost or suffered further harm. The worst scenarios were finding them dead, having succumbed to some terrible fate. Or separated and each was alone, taking days to track them down. He firmly squashed those thoughts as pulled on his boots and strapped on his small bag and weapons. He headed out a bit before the time he was to meet Kieyanna and Zandu for breakfast and ducked into the meat shop of Cobrin Jabbs. Again, he requested organ meats and undesirable cuts and dropped them into a cheap jute sack for Rumble and Mischief. It was only fair that his companions enjoy the luxury that civilization offered as well. With that accomplished he headed back to a breakfast of pancakes and spicy sausages with his friends.

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A Harrowing Memory

S piders. Kieyanna shivered as she walked, lost in thought, though she did hope neither of her companions had noticed. She HATED spiders, and already there had been two encounters in her time adventuring with Zandu and Dhohar. First there was the huge spider in the tower outside of the Dwarven monastery…and now the rather large (but not as large as the first) spider and all of its evil spawn at the ruins of the halfway house. She shuddered again.

When she’d gotten the report that there were hundreds of spider babies pouring out of the dead body in the basement, she’d forced herself to at least try to go down and help her companions. She’d made it only most of the way down the ladder before being paralyzed with fear and memories. Thankfully her companions decided a retreat was in order so she was able to rush up the stairs and escape the situation. She was so glad Zandu had brought oil with him and they were able to burn the little evil beings to nothing.

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Musings and the Hook

Typical tavern

Dhohar was enjoying the quiet evening with Kieyanna and Zandu. They seemed like-minded individuals and Dhohar found Kieyanna’s recounting of Ralla’s story to be especially interesting. He’d heard some things regarding Kabran but the specifics –they turned his stomach in away that meant he’d be facing that particular man soon – and he intended to smash him like a force of nature.

In the middle of this conversation and (a fine dinner of ham and potatoes) a loud interruption – the door blasted open and one of the town criers, a man that worked for the Gavel, burst into the Inn. He seemed somewhat calm for the news that followed; a simple declaration that the Gavel’s son was missing and there was a 50 gold piece bounty to find him and bring him back safely. The Inn burst into a flurry of motion, commotion and chatter. Dhohar turned back to Kieyanna and Zandu and ambled into a discussion of what they thought about the announcement. He showed them the ioun torch and explained his agreement with Shavaros to find his son. He relayed what he knew of the group of kids that formed around Kimi Eaveswalker and their various exploits, both the good and the bad reports. After they chatted for a bit more the group decided to split and learn what the good of the children – it seemed Dhohar would have his newfound companions along for the investigation.

He was glad of this as they seemed to be highly capable individuals each able to fend for themselves and they seemed to be of the same mind regarding the various unsavory types around Falcon’s Rest. Zandu’s Varisian background was of interest to Dhohar who had little interaction with the nomadic people. While Zandu did have the scarf and costume of the people he didn’t seem particularly inclined towards dancing, singing or musical instruments. From the stories Dhohar had heard as a growing up, the Varisian nomads loved music and dance would find every occasion to partake in both. Perhaps like many other stories he’d heard they were wrong or prejudiced against them. Perhaps they were stereotypical in the normal way. Amidst the excitement and the desire to find out about the children and what would happen next, Zandu realized that many of these people likely held similar views of him and other elves. Certainly the local weaver/seamstress was viewed somewhat differently and he’d heard little in the way of regular elven interactions. He supposed that most people likely saw his elven heritage in his features but figured him for a human – the exact opposite of how Dhohar saw himself. With that reversal in thought he decided to ask around the Inn for others’ thoughts regarding the children and then figured he’d head to bed early to get some good rest. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.

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Mess Hall

Weakened from the Stirge, Zandu, sat down on the bed. He let his mind replay over the day. It was getting to be late; he felt it in his bones. Or perhaps that was just fatigue. He tried to caculate how long they had been down here. It was just mid-day when they had entered the monastery. There were the kobolds, the grick, dire rats, the Ooze, shocker lizards, and then these stirges. His stomach rumbled reminding him that it had been a while since he last ate. Not since morning.

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First Encounters

Kieyanna and Dhohar crept down the overgrown stairs to the edge of the light. Having left her torch above and Dhohar having put away his Ioun stone they were well hidden in the darkness. Each could easily distinguish the difference between the armed and armored Kobold warriors and the skinny slaves wearing nothing who labored at the base of a destroyed obsidian obelisk. Dhohar readied his spear as Kieyanna drew back her longbow. At a silent signal they both unleashed their attack.

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Walking, Zandu's Ambitions

Zandu passed the hours of walking in the dense Darkwood Forest by chatting with Kieyanna and Dhohar. Jeva led the way where they could all clearly see her and watch if she tried to turn on them. Jeva was guiding them along game trails through the dark forest. Barely any light passed through the high canopy creating a sense of dark and danger. Zandu had been traveling with Kieyanna for nearly two weeks and had just met Dhohar four days earlier. They had become something of what Zandu considered friends. They spent a while walking and talking. Dhohar started by asking about Zandu about why he was traveling. Zandu thought it over a minute before answering.

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