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Sep 01 2012

Chronicles of Netheril, August 17th, 2012

Kazzak’tul – Ulag’s Throne Room

Upon entering the throne room, we were faced with a large group of ogres. At the back of the room was another ogre of standard appearance. He was sitting on a throne and was flanked by a pair of very large white wolves.

Ulag, as he presented himself, was not particularly impressive; at least for the moment. And we must have already faced his most powerful ogres, because these ones ended up being real pushovers {minions}. The wolves on the other hand were an actual threat. They were quite strong and had magical attacks to support their more mundane physical attacks.

Yet somehow we were very lucky because we were able to pin down both Ulag and his wolves; preventing them from running around the battlefield and outflanking us.

And just as we thought we were about to defeat him, Ulag somehow regained all his strength and grew to gargantuan size {adjective not size category}; and since we were standing right next to him some of us were thrown to the ground.

Trying to take advantage of the situation, Ulag went for a cheap kill and attempted to crush Ash under his foot. The outcome was not as planned. Ash had regained his senses quickly enough that he was able to slash at the underside of Ulag’s foot and inflict a grievous wound. {99 damage with an at-will attack}

From this point, things went downhill quite fast for Ulag. Basically, the bigger the target, the easier it is to hit.

After Ulag and the last of his defenders were defeated, we took a few minutes to catch our breath, and then we explored the throne room.

Apart from the throne and the portal that we were here to close, there was nothing of interest. The throne was a solid block of stone, but it was encrusted with a large number of precious gems. “Was” being the keyword. After we were done with it, it was more pock-marked than gem encrusted.

Then, with nothing left to do, we concentrated on the portal. We took out the Sceptre of Rift Closure and performed the portal closing ritual just as we had back at the Neglected Cemetery. But something went wrong and we were pulled through the portal just before it closed.

The Unknown Fortress – Prisoner Escape

We found ourselves in a darkened room face a large contingent of soldiers. Based on their uniforms they were netherese. Their leader, a man with a decidedly regal air had piercing orange eyes. It was Lamorak Tanthul, the netherese prince that had imprisoned the Sharn.

Lamorak was very displeased at our interference with his plans. He wanted to interrogate us, but had other pressing matters to take care of, so he had us locked up in a cell.

To make sure that we couldn’t cast a spell on them and make them release us (something we couldn’t actually do), the guards had been instructed to keep away from the cell and watch the door from across the hall. Taking advantage of this unexpected privacy, we were able to come up with an excellent escape plan.

Drake and Eramus both had hats of disguise and they used them to make themselves look like guards. When the shift changed Voulge used his cloaking device to turn himself invisible, leaving only three of us to hide on either side of the door.

When the new guards arrived to take up their posts, Drake and Eramus, in disguise, called out to the guards and told them that the prisoners had escaped and locked them in the cell. Eramus asked that before the guards leave to sound the alarm that they unlock the cell so that he and Drake could start the search for the escaped prisoners immediately. When the door opened we knocked them out and tied them up before locking them in the cell.

We proceeded with the next step in our escape plan; walking out the front door. If we tried sneaking out and got discovered, we’d be stopped right away because of our suspicious behaviour. But by walking slowly and calmly in single file with Eramus at the front and Drake at the back we would be able to convince any guard we encountered that it was a simple prisoner transfer. Voulge, who was still invisible, would be our ace in the hole.

When we encountered our first guard patrol Voulge quickly got behind them so that if necessary he could quickly knock them out with a couple of good whacks to the back of their heads. But Eramus talked a good game and they moved on, completely convinced with the story of a routine prisoner transfer.

We eventually reached the main security checkpoint at the entrance to the prison block. It took a bit more work convincing these guards that there was nothing going on beyond a routine exercise. So while Eramus and Drake did their thing, Voulge, who was still invisible, decided to take a quick look around the offices at the back of the checkpoint.

What he found was a large and ornate book lying on a table. With guards distracted, it was easy to take the book without any one noticing.

Eventually the guards let us pass and we made out way to the main staircase that led out of the tower.

The Unknown Fortress – The Courtyard

But we weren’t free yet. The staircase led to a courtyard that was guarded by a large number of orcs. Their leader, a Shade named Naramus, tried to scare us into surrendering by boasting that he was Lamorak’s top lieutenant. The fact was these guys were chumps {Orcs: heroic tier minions | Naramus: very low paragon}, and their boasting and bravado was more insulting than anything else. We had just killed the Ogre King after all.

Dirty Pig’s patience which had been steadily fraying finally snapped. Conjuring up a gust of arctic wind he flew up to a position above Naramus and unleashed a barrage of arcane fury at the shade. The powerful glacial winds shook the shade like a rag doll and threw him against the side of the well in the centre of the courtyard. In his disoriented state, Naramus fell in and dropped to his death.

At the same time, Ash spotted a flaming skull behind a low stone wall at one end of the courtyard. In a burst of speed so fast his movements appeared blurred, Ash closed the distance in what seemed to be a mere instant, and destroyed the undead creature with a single searing burst of holy light.

After seeing a display of such ferocity, the orcs made a decidedly un-orc-like decision and left. Based on what little of their speech we could understand, it would seem that these orcs were the dumb marauders typical of their race, but professional mercenaries from the Many-Arrows clan. That would explain their above average intelligence for orcs.

All that was left between us and freedom was the shade’s eidolon bodyguard. While clearly the most powerful of our opponent’s in the courtyard, on its own it was no match for us.

Loudwater

Upon leaving the vicinity of the tower and getting our bearings, we realised that we had been in the fortress of Stormkeep. Luckily, it was in the same geographical area as Loudwater, so we began the long trek back to our home base.

We now had time to look over the book that Voulge had taken with him. What we found was quite interesting.

Prince Lamorak Tanthul’s Journal

There are multiple entries within this journal, much of which is useless information. However, some passages of note stand out to you:

Stormkeep will make an excellent base of operations. It is already an ancient netherese fortress, and I need somewhere away from my family to work on my various projects.

I have led some troops to Daggerford. There is a plagueland there from which I wish to harness some power required for my ritual. Some local militia’s betrothed walked in…I simply killed her for bothering me.

From Gloomwrought, we have found a means to traverse directly into the realms. Its mirror location is Loudwater, within a run down tenement. A font lies within. I have sent one of my Dark Creeper minions to get a foothold there. She has acquired the name “Lady of Shadows” by the locals. With the aid of a local Dwarf named Zark, they can move the slaves quite easily, some for the glory of Netheril through to the Shadowfell and a few being sold to the serpents of Najara.

This Dwarf…Zark…a coward…he found the old portal in Zelbross. I will instruct Tzevokalas the Shadow Dragon to imbue him with some power of the Shadowfell. He can be a good spy sneaking around the shadows in Loudwater.

My Lieutenant, the Shadar-kai, Thoran, I have sent to Spellgard with other Dark Creeper minions. They are to sneak in from below and retrieve the Alabastr pillars in order to perform the binding ritual as per the Analects of Kuryon on Lady Saharel. She will be able to perform the Portal ritual I need.

I have sent an agent of Netheril, Kal Clewsoro, to Spellgard to keep a tab on things. He will pose as a merchant.

Kal Clewsoro reported overhearing someone named Dernan speaking to sister Cherra about a weapon to defeat the Netherese called the “Last Grasp of Shadowbane”. I will need to learn more about this.

No report back from Thoran. I must assume he has failed in his task. I may have to find another way to open the portal. In the meantime I should concentrate on my other…project.

The Dark Ones report a group called the “Heroes of Loudwater” stopping our plans. They left Spellgard with Dernan, heading for Loudwater. They will surely go through the Smear, so I will have Clewsoro have his ally, Terror, stop them. I will also send a troop by boat to Loudwater just in case they fail as Thoran did. These Heroes of Loudwater need to be punished for interfering with my plans.

My spies inform me that Dernan has learned of the Last Grasp of Shadowbane being in the Well of Dragons. I will send troops there to try and negotiate access to it. It is in the hands of the Cult of the Dragon, whom we are working towards an alliance with.

My new spy, Zark, has learned that Dernan will meet an elven bard by the name of Kiriolanis in Evereska who knows of the Well of Dragons. He must not be allowed to learn anything and gain this weapon. Irwana, one of my best spies, a Vampire Muse, is a minor official in the Evereskan Government (a shrewd placement after what happened a century ago). I can have her put this Kiriolanis under a spell.

There is a disturbance at the old Barrow south of Loudwater. A rift has opened to the Shadowfell. And here I thought the goblin shaman was just crazy. This has potential.

The Ebony Guard in Gloomwrought are now under our grasp. This will facilitate turning the city into a netherese enclave. We have also found the ruins of a smaller sister city of Shade not too far from Gloomwrought in the Shadowfell. Perhaps we can find some relics of ours within.

I have met with Larloch, perhaps the most powerful Lich on the face of Faerun. An ancient Netherese Arcanist who survived the fall through his own means. I’m surprised he agreed to meet with me. His advice regarding advanced Necromantic procedures will go a long way in aiding me to take the ultimate spell for myself.

I have discovered an alternate ritual I can perform in which I will not require the Alabaster Pillars or the Lady of the Scepter Tower, but rather, a key of light and a key of dark, tied to the Reversed Obelisks nearby. With necromantic power in my grasp, along with the power of shadow, and a hint of the essence of Karsus himself, I will be able to perform the Portal ritual. I will require some time to gather all the other necessary components.

A battle broke out at the Well of Dragons. My troops were supposed to use diplomacy with the Cult, but I am told a small rogue group broke in to steal the “Last Grasp of Shadowbane”. Now my plans will be delayed as I have to contend with the Cult of the Dragon as well, and the Last Grasp is potentially in the hands of an enemy of Netheril.

Ulag informs me that those who hold the “Key of Light” have penetrated Kazzak’Tul, and that they and the Heroes of Loudwater are one and the same. Stupid Ogre thinks the old fortress’ guardians, as well as his troops, will be able to destroy them and prevent them from making their way to his throne room. I somehow doubt that, if all I heard of these heroes is true.

The Heroes of Loudwater have fallen within my lap, and I have grasped the Key of Light from them. Now I need but to find the Key of Dark, and I will be able to perform my ritual. I must go back into Stormkeep proper and continue Scrying its location. Between that, and finishing my ritual for Lichdom, it could take tendays, if not months before I can even hunt it down. No matter, time will be meaningless to me once I am successful.

Once we were far enough away from Stormkeep we made sure stop and setup camp regularly along the way back. As a result, by the time we reached Loudwater we were completely refreshed.

We had a lot of interesting items to sell in the market, and Curuvar would be interested in both what we had to tell him, and in the netherese artifacts that we had acquired.