Serren

A Whole New World
Part I

The walls of the Pyramid began crumbling and falling loose. A sight of the sky and a soft breeze greeted the group like long-lost friends.

“Wait, that’s it? We’re out, just like that?” Lazarus asked, pulling the razor-tips of his scourge out of the fleshy chunk of Karavakos’ body he had been beating to pulp for good measure.

“Looks like it, Thank… well… someone.” Gharr said.

“Sweet Gods, the sky! The air! Nature! How I’ve missed you!” Surric cried as he and Trista moved to the opening and breathed deep of the fresh air.

“Ugh, just like an elf. Might I fetch you a faerie ring for you to dance around naked in?” Lazarus growled.

The Goliath in the corner gyrated profanely, “Very nice, Gypsy! I would like this, yes!”

“Oh, gross. Shit, I forgot about you. Who are you, again?”

“I’m Zangief, yes! Perhaps now I can make return to Khazakstan!”

Surric turned, “That’s not even a real place. You’ve made that up.”

“No, gypsy! You are wrong. Khazakstan is real like my hair of chest in magnificent crest of manhood!”

“I’m well read on many topics, including geography, and I assure you. No Khazakstan exists.” Surric said, puffing his chest out.

“He is extremely well read, you know. It’s all he ever does. Read, read, read…” Trista said.

“That’s quite enough, Trista. It seems they get the point.” Surric said, nursing his wounded pride.

“Aye, aye, if you’re all quite done, we’ve got a great big hole in the wall practically screamin’ at us to jump out of it. Now, ladies first.” Lazarus interrupted. He motioned to Gharr. The human wasted no time in taking the hint. With a glare at the gnome, he leapt out of the hole and slid gracefully down the side of the pyramid. In turn the others followed suit. Finally, all but Lazarus and his lady friend remained in the room.

Gharr called up, “Laz, you coming or what?”

“Coming? Ha! I’m not even breathing hard!” Lazarus called down. His subtleties fell on deaf ears, save for Zangief who responded with a grin and thumbs up. “Nah, I’m not coming. Just wanted to see you gents and the lady out of here. It’s been fun, but there’s nothing really left out there for me. I got all I need right here! You guys go on, maybe come back to visit sometime!” at this, he gave his lady friend a heavy slap on the rear. The two turned and walked back into the pyramid.

“Too bad, I was really starting to get attached to him.” Gharr said dejectedly.

A shout came from inside the pyramid, “I heard that, you greasy ass-grabber!”

Part II

The terrain was familiar, but something was off; something subtle. Some unnerving chill was in the air. The party marched quickly through the forest, unsure of whether or not they could expect to find Parsnet in one piece. Surric’s knowledge of the land kept them on course, but none of them were certain of their destination.

A range of mountains came into view and Surric’s navigational skills told them that Parsnet should not be far beyond. They made their way to the top of the first hill and were astounded at the sight that lay before them. In the deepest valley within the range, a river of flowing fog ran from North to South. Their journey from the pyramid had been long, and they were anxious to reach Parsnet, so they steeled themselves and climbed down into the fog.

In the deepest part of the valley, it was dark as night and the fog felt as if were almost palpable evil.

Without warning, large amoebic creatures descended upon the party. Trista’s reflexes were quick and the twang of her bowstring gave the rest of the party enough warning to avoid a surprise attack. Zangief’s connection with the Earth caused a copse of magical vines and brush to spring up from the floor of the valley, protecting his allies. His scythe burst into lightning and swiped through the air, cutting a pair of the monsters down. Gharr’s dagger flashed about as he hunted for the softest spots to strike as the monsters flew about him. Surric spurred his companions on with his voice, infused as it was with arcane energies. Tendrils lashed out at Zangief, but they merely tickled him as his feet became as roots in the form of the Willow Sentinel, creating a healing bond with the earth. Trista struck down the last of the creatures with a final artrow. When they had dispatched the foes, Surric said,

“This fog is unnatural, as are the creatures within; they should not be here! I should consult the land and discover what causes this.”

He performed a complex ritual and everyone could feel the trees and the grass and the stones begin to whisper, but only Surric could decipher its words.

“This fog is old, far older than it should be. We should go, quickly. Let us make on to Parsnet without delay.” He said, with renewed zeal.

Part III

After constructing a fine, seaworthy vessel consisting of two trees tied hastily together, Zangief propels the party North along the river that should lead to Parsnet.

On the North bank of the lake, a small settlement of plain huts came into view. More importantly, the faster, safer vessels of the community were docked at the shore.

“We should stop and try to gain one of those boats. We’ve acquired enough wealth that we can afford to part with some of it.” Gharr said.

They docked and met with the Dockmaster, a heavy, fair-skinned fellow, a viking. He led the party to the hut of the village elder. The entire village claimed no knowledge of a town to the North and had never heard of Parsnet. Strange, considering their proximity. Still, the party held out hope. They offered a powerful staff with the strength of thunder and a regal crown to the elder in hopes of acquiring a ship. Amazed by such riches, the elder accepted and gave the party his good will.

The party sailed North in the longship, with Zangief and Gothak taking turns at the oar. The trip was quick and the party was dismayed to see the place where Parsnet had once stood.

“This town is lovely, gypsies!”

“This isn’t the town, you oaf. It’s not here! It should be right here, but it’s not here!” Gharr snapped.

The party broke up and began searching for signs of life. After a great time, they found a well, the only structure to be seen in the surrounding plains. Zangief climbed down the deep hole. He took notice of a nook that looked strangely like a window. At the bottom, rather than a resevoir of water, he discovered the remains of a temple.

“This is weird, gypsies! Very weird!”

The rest of the party joined the Goliath. Exploring the buried realm, they were unsure what to gather from what they had seen. A magical barrier was found to block off a small room, and on the other side of that barrier, the party’s worst fears were proven. This was indeed Parsnet, but it had been destroyed and buried. Still, they wondered, what could have destroyed such a mighty city so completely in the short time they had spent in the pyramid… or had it been a short time, after all?

It seemed the most likely place to seek answers would be in the Capital, Aegaederum. The party quickly packed the ship and departed along the coast.

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Ascension, Gates and Endless Peril
First Floor Cleared

After an arduous battle with a revolving floor, hordes of rats and a staircase haunted by a harpy and a pair of gargoyles, the party reaches the second floor via an immense staircase. Upon their arrival, they find an odd hallway lined with relief statues of faces, mouth agape. Shortly after their discovery, two waves of various foulspawn attack from hiding, teleporting using the open mouths as portals. As soon as the first wave appears, the faces spring to life clicking and snapping their teeth at those who venture too close, each begging for just a little nibble if flesh.

The party pushes through a secret passageway after they dispatch the aforementioned foes. The passage leads to an interesting, but empty room that’s only feature is an ornate gateway featuring two hooded figures. Upon passing through the portal one of the seemingly inanimate figures whispers to Gharr that Trista has been cursed. He keeps this to himself for the time being.

Once through the party finds itself faced with a quartet of of door choices one in each of the cardinal direction, the northern of which was the door that they just entered through. They attempt to gain access to the western passage, but after a maw of snakes consumes Gharr as he approaches, the group is hesitant about how to proceed. They decide to follow to try to save him. The party discovers that the snakes are illusory and the door ejects them into a room containing a very surprised Medusa archer and a blind ogre. Catching them off guard, these foes are no match and are quickly slain. Upon completion the group backtracks and follows the eastern passage offers another illusory obstacle and they find that this passage leads to the familiar white dragon’s den.

Returning one final time to the previous room the group takes the south passage and enters a truly revolting area. The walls, floor and ceiling in this are a covered in dark, necrotic, oozing flesh. The heroes fight off a pair of foulspawn, a grick, a destrachan and manage to narrowly escape through a secret passage before the area filled with poisonous gas. Their escape, while timely, only brought them to a more hazardous situation. They find themselves face to face with an abomination chained to two pillars and surrounded by a swirling vortex of prismatic energy, all of which introduced by an illusion of Karavakos himself. A bloodied and nearly dead group of adventurers emerge victorious and with possession of a second key similar to the one retrieved from an earlier incarnation of Karavakos.

A short rest and a march north bring the heroes to a refugee camp of humans and foulspawn. The leader of the camp, a foulspawn seer named Medragal, plays nice but attacks the group in the night. The instigators are easily overtaken by the superior firepower of the group. Medragal was in fact the first to die as Gharr was ready for Medragal’s betrayal, waiting to strike from the shadows. A showy ceiling entrance and a coup-de-grace left Medragal dead before he could even know that he was under attack. After the camp is totally annihilated, the party rests and regroups before making their next move.

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