Dawn of Darkness

Intro : The Awakening

The awakening

The characters wake up on a battle field or a ruin. They have no memory of what has happened, but it is clear that a terrible battle has been fought.

In the the palm of their right hand is a mark that seemed to be burned into their flesh.

Orog’s Mark
Orog rune

Drow’s Mark
Drow rune

Duergar’s Mark
Duergar rune

When they touch it, it glows faintly red and they hear voices in their head speaking words of power, it hurts to even try to understand. Blood starts to flow from their eyes, ears, and nose , the voices grow to a climax and they black out.

When they get up, they are surrounded by enemies and the next weeks they spend in captivity. Until one day a cloaked figure appears out of the shadows and disables the guards. It is a female tiefling (Icel Labaeir). She frees the characters and helps them escape.

She opens a scroll and starts to speak arcane words … (casting geas) “Head to Maerimydra as fast as possible and find Matron Irea. If you encounter anybody with a similar mark don’t harm him”. Next a gate opens … they step through it and end up in an underground tunnel about 10 miles from the outskirts of Maerimydra.

After half a day of travel, they encounter each other in a cave. If they try to attack each other, the notice that they are suddenly frozen in place and are unable to strike these characters. Than they notice the mark on their hands and decided to coöperate.

The Outpost Sitzh Morcane

After 1 day of travel they reach the first outpost. A small cavern, here the walls are smooth and even narrowing to a short passage – set with a heavy iron doors – a small shuttered window is set in the door. The doors are open, behind it is a small cavern with a guard room, several dead guards lie on the ground, clearly a result of conflict.

Fire giant 270x310Beyond it the cavern mouth opens into a larger cavern, at a cliff, with large steps going down along the side of the cliff. Bodies of drow, and ogres lie scattered through out the outpost, part of it has been destroyed by fighting and fire. Some house are still smouldering from the fire. The hear harsh voices come from the central bazaar below. They see 2 Fire Giants giving commands to several ogres (8) who are setting fire to the houses or are loading treasure on chart.

The characters kill the ogres and the fire giants, but before killing the last giant they learn that they are part of an invasion army from Kurgoth Hellspawn and that they were sent to clear out this outpost.

Conclussion

After another day they reach Maerimydra. Two massive iron gates, twisted off their hinges, mark the end of this long tunnel and the entrance to Maerimydra. Four hulking figures (fire giants) block the path to the city. This time they decided to sneak past the guards and into the burning city.

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Chapter 1: The Burning City

The burning city

In Maerimydra, the city’s archmage Duneth Wharreil used the confusion following the silence of Lolth to hatch a plan to remove the Lolthites and rise to power himself by forging an alliance with the half-fiend/half-fire giant Kurgoth Hellspawn to launch a coup and invade the city.

House Naerthal, the ruling house has been able to rally the cities defenses, and the two forces clash with some regularity in the cavern as from time to time, Kurgoth gathers his warriors and tries to storm castle Maerimydra with the aid of his demonic allies. So far, the magical defenses of House Naerthal and their undead minions have frustrated Kurgoth’s attempts to take the castle by assault.

Fields of War

Ku xlarge

Dust and smoke hangs heavily in the air – for a brief moment the sluggishly roiling clouds part, permitting a glimps of what lies beyond the gate. In stark contrast to the ever-present darkness that shrouds most of the underdark, this enormous cavern is alight with fire. In front of them extensive fields of fungus and a paved road leading into the ruins of a once might city. Campfires are scattered through out the city. Far above the cavern ceiling is shrouded in roiling clounds of some.

All the city blocks are a mix of standing buildings, piles of rubble and burnt-out shells. Smoke and dusk hang in the air. Destruction is everywhere. Dozens or hundred of bodies, both drow and goblinoid lie unburied.
The stench is almost unbearable. Smoke and haze reduce visibility. The characters manage to sneak unnoticed through the ruins of the city to Castle Maerimydra.

Castle Maerimydra
A platuea nearly 100 feet in height rises at the eastern end of the city. A steep set of stairs leads up the gates, of a dark elegant castle. Its graceful curves and fluted battlements are weirdly beautiful. Encampments of ogres, giants and other creatures surround the castle. The monsters gather around cookfires squabbling, bickering and conversing in a dozen different tongues. A potent magical spell prevents Kurgoth’s forces from entering the castle.

Pondering a plan on how to get past the demonic forces and into the city, Drada spots as by wonder a drow patrol emerging from the castle shrouded by magic. When the drow patrol spots the marks they immediately take them to the castle shrouded by their magic.

A spider’s web
They are take to the throne room. The guards they encounter on the way are some kind of undead drow. The Throne room is 75 feet diameter, the walls are sheathed in magnificient fluted paneling of ebon and gold, the floors are made of black gold-veined marble and elegant furnishings are made of exotic hardwoods carved into beautiful if vaguely sinister designs.

Irea sits on her thrown, to her side stands a male drow necromancer (Laerekh). “Welcome I was expecting you” … she ask them to come foward, and inspect the rune on their hands …. for a moment she seems to drift away.

Matron“How rude of me you must be tired and hungry, lets eat.” Servants bring the best wines and food for the guests. She explain what has happened and tells them that indeed Lolth, Gruumsh and Deep Duerra have been slain, but somehow they managed to hide a fragment of their divine essence in three mortals… the characters.

She will assist the characters to find out how they can unlock the divine essence inside of them. At that moment they pass out due to poison or magical means.

When they wake up, they are in a lab on a stone altar marked with runes a gutter for disposing blood. A strange mixture of odors fills the air: the stench of death and rot, sweet spices and perfumes and few more chemical odors as well. A handful of tables are spread around the room, littered with metal tools and arcane components.

The room is crackling with magical energy. Brazers with incents are burning . Irea has a ritual dagger and while chanting she is cuts runes in the flesh of the characters.

The necromancer is assisting with the ritual and four undead guard are nearby.

As the ritual chanting continues they start to hear the voices again in their head. The voices start to repeat the same word over and over. The Duergar Psion manages to speak the unspeakable words and his face burst open in a bloody mess as a backlash. However not without effect, as the matron explodes, killing her instantly.

The enemy of my enemy …

During the combat that follows they hear screaming and cries of battle outside it looks like the death of Irea has removed the magical shield and the demonic army is assaulting the castle.

A Balor flies into the tower ready to kill them, when Icel, the tiefling emissary of Lolth intervenes again. She whispers to the Balor that they were infiltrators sent to kill the Matron mother. The Balor orders to take them to Kurgoth Hellspawn.

Kurgoth resides at the Coliseum. On the way to the coliseum Icel explains that the Matron Mother has betrayed her loyalty to Lolth by trying to steal the divine essence from them. The only option left is to consult The Eye of Ghaunadaur. It is not a preferable option, and it will require a sacrifice from them to gain the favor of Ghaunadaur.

As they near the arena, they hear sounds of combat, the clang of metal, the roars of angry warriors, the cheering of harsh voices echo from within the enormous building ahead. The building is oval, its outer walls are 60 feet high, six large double doors stand open along the long side of the building.

Fire giant king

Kurgath listens to their story and will announce them the champions of the demonic host and they get to feast with him. In addition they may choice any one item from his looted treasures. During the festivities the wine and blood flow non-stop, but the characters decide to sneak out and head to the library to learn more about where they can find The Eye of Ghaunadaur.

They learn that The Eye, is the high priest of Ghaunadaur, and he is known as the mad prophet. His temple is located deep within the lower dark, the area is known as Earth’s End.

It is said that the region has been touched by the realm of madness. The route to the temple is always changing, so it will be difficult to find it and possible even more difficult to get out.

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Chapter 2: The Mad Prophet

Journey through the under dark

The characters must find the mad prophet, the Eye of Ghaunadaur. In the library of Castle Maerimydra they learned that the temple of the Eye is located in Lorosfyr, the maddening Dark.

They decide to avoid the frequented travel routes, to not draw to much attention on to themselves, as most evil gods will attempt to absorb their divine spark to expand their portfolio. The route via River Channath takes them through the Deepfall to the lake of Shadows, from there they will go to the abandoned Dwarven city Brinnoroth which lies on top of the abyss Lorosfyr.

Lake of Shadows

Aboleth20 prison

After they managed to pass The Deepfall they arrive in the Lake of Shadows. The waters of the lake are dark, a darkness so impenetrable that its surface reflects any light back to its source.

On the second night they are attacked by 3 Aboleths. The Orog warrior quickly falls pray to the mind control of these aberrations, Ivar the Duergar psion manages to unleash devastating force lightning destroying two of these creatures, while Drada tumbles onto the third to plunge her daggers into the creatures head, killing it and breaking the mind control. Afflicted with a terrible disease they continue their journey to Brinnoroth.

Brinnoroth Dwarven Ghost Town
Beholder by andrew robinson d388z4r The abandoned dwarven mining settlement, lies at the top of a long sloped passage leading down to Lorosfyr, the maddening dark.

The dwarven town is deserted, except for dozens of grotesque statues – probably petrified creatures, arrayed around the walls, frozen in positions of horror or surprise and chipped or broken in ways that might be intended as artistic.

In the Hall of the Thane, they encounter the artist, an evil beholder looking to add them to his collection. With combined effort they managed to slay the beholder.

Using the mining shafts they descend into old dwarven mines.

Descend into madness

In one of the dwarven shafts they discover a cycoplean staircase which descends into the darkness along the walls of the abyss. Nearly 40 miles below the surface. Bitterly cold and unnaturally still, Lorosfyr’s depth, some unknown madness stalks through its chill space. Whisper of horror gather in the ears of those who walk too long in Lorosfyr’s horrible silence.

At the bottom of the abyss the walls come closer to form a very narrow fissure and the stairs suddenly stop forcing them climb through the narrow fissure. After some time they find a tunnel with sleek walls leading into an abyss, with a narrow bridge leading to rocky island on top of a spiral. On the spiral they see a temple.

Temple of Ghaunadar
An unspeakably vile stench, combining the worst elements of decaying flesh, refuse and waste, fills this small room. A fetid pool of slime glistens in the center of the temple, and a number of amorphous shapes twitch around it. Within the pool of slime something glows with a sickly violet light.

Two large stalagmites of stone stand near the pool, on the opposite side of the pool stands a drow male figure, dressed in a purple toga covered with eyes that blink and look around.

From two braziers filled with bones and other remains, a think smoke arises, spreading the smell of burning flesh. Between the smoke they notice that the priest has no eyes and one of his arms ends into a tentacle.

The Eye welcomes them and after inspecting the marks reveals that these belong to aspects of some of the grey gods.

  • The orog has the mark of “The Red Handed” an aspect of Khaine. He embodies the primal survival instinct, the struggle to survive, the ultimate predator.
  • The drow has the mark of “The Hideous Beauty” an aspect of Aresthenion. She embodies aesthetic expressions and experiences, both beautiful and ugly, pleasure and pain.
  • The duergar has the mark of “The Changer of ways” an aspect of Cymarion. He embodies vitality and volatility of change, bending the boundaries of flesh and mind.

For the knowledge of how to unlock the divine spark within and what it has to do with these marks, they will need to consult with the Eldar Eye, but to do so they need to gain his favour.

Part with that what you wish to sacrifice, and the priest gestures to the braziers filled with bones, flesh, …) and pray that his gaze falls upon you and that it may grant you the vision of that what you seek.

Ivar removes one of his eyes and throws it into the burning brazier, Drada cuts part of her face off and Grotak an ear. The smoke of the braziers seems to shift and reveal some images … in their head they hear a warm and pleasant voice.

Citadel small “You must find the lost temples of these grey gods. These temples are build on leylines, powerful sources of great magical power. Within these temples you must awaken the aspect of the god. Defeating the aspect of the god will unleash part of his power, power that your rune will absorb and re-awaken the divine entity within you.”

The priest shares with the location of the first temple. It is located in Frostfell, the freezing hell of the North of Norsca. Where the ice turns back and the sun doesn’t rise. Here they will find a citadel of the last guardian. This is the entrance to the temple.

They receive another gift, a jar of (8) eyes. Swallowing any of these will grant them a brief vision when in need of guidance.

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Chapter 3: Fury of the Frostmaiden

North of the Wall

The characters have traveled for several weeks, crossed the Sea of claws and they finally reach Norsca. These lands are inhabited by half-giant warriors (Vrykul) who often raid the shores of Lynn using their longships.

Frostfell

Outside the city Vangarde they spot a female Vrykul bringing a sacrifice to Auril the frostmaiden, the characters decide to also make a sacrifice to Auril. The Vrykul invites them into their home a small hunters lodge in the woods. They learn more about Frostfell and the next day they hire a crew for a sailing ship to cross the eternal ice sea.

They trick the captain to take them to Sudenheim near the wall, which is a formation of mountains rising steep upward creating a wall between the Norsca and Frostfell. The only passage through is a small crevasse. Once they near Sudenheim they try to force the captain with the elixir of love to sail to frostfell, when this fails they resort to more … bloody measures, killing most of the crew.

The last guardian

Last guardian

The cold has taken an unearthly character and the daylight has been trade by a twilight. When they arrive at the field of ancients. Dozens of ice statues rising to 100 feet high stand in an open field of ice. At that point they see a huge white dragon with a rider on it.

In their head they hear a voice “turn back or die”. They decide to continue. Next of the statues explodes and the debris falling down threatens to crush their ship. They make a drastic manoeuvre to avoid the blocks but crash into one of the statues.

The Dragon suddenly jets down into an attack move and attacks them with its icy breath weapon. The beast flies over them and turns back for another attack run as the characters ready themselves for the next attack. Kurgoth the Orgo takes one of the harpoons on a rope and readies himself to throw it at the dragon and Ivar is going to teleport Drada onto the dragon.

The dragon flies over attacking the enlarged Orog, who throws his harpoon into the dragon’s side, holding the rope he is pulled of the deck and dragged behind the dragon over the ice. Drada disappears and reappears on the dragon behind the rider as Ivar bends the reality with his will.

Stuggling with Orog, the dragon turns and attack the nearly half giant. The rider attempts to throw the drow off but is backstabbed by Drada. Affected by the drown poison the rider falls off his dragon and the Orog beheads the dragon with a mightly cleave of his flaming great sword.

Deathofthelastguardian When they remove the helm of the bound rider, they notice that she looks like a sort of elf, with slightly more archaic, slender face, glowing eyes and silver hear. Strangely familiar yet alien.

Questioning the arrogant elf, she insults them that they are an unworthy and vile breed that can not even begin to comprehend what or who she is and what they are about to do.
With those last insults a tear rolls over her cheek and she breaths her last breath. A stone embeded in her plate armour starts to glow for a moment as the life drains out of the elf.

Nightspire Citadel

After a 4 hour trip by foot they reach the jetblack sheets of ice that gleam with dark energy. It is here that they encounter Abaddon, a death knight that has been bound into service for centuries by the last guardian. With her death he has been set free and is bound on revenge, joining the characters on their quest.

Frostknight

Abaddon guides the party to the nightspire citadel. Once they arrive at the citadel it seemed abandoned.

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