All three of the slayers sat in the taproom of the Rat in what functioned as an official guild meeting. Grom had managed to concoct 5 doses of highest quality healing salve and Magiia would have to wait for the month it would take the artist to finish her portrait. During their conversation about the current situation and what they should do about it the subject of the Gate Stones arose (see the Dragonslayers II Pt.14: A Black Moon Rising) that they, sans Magiia, had previously acquired in their battle against the God-King of Troll-Guard (see the Dragonslayers II Pt.16: The God-King Awaits!). The players figured that none of their characters could use the stones and the casting check to use them was just too high. Plus, none of them had the proper skills to even try. Then Cris (and thus Vorwulf in the meeting) had an eureka moment.
Cris [snapping his fingers]: “The Druid! Vezik!”
Vorwulf ran out of the Rat east along Sirti Street to the Town Center, past the blackened oak and into the beerhall where the druid’s party had decided to catch some drinks and a meal. A few minutes later the Haldred’s group was meeting with the Blackwings in the Hopping Rat. They let Vezik borrow the manual for the Gate Stones overnight and were set to meet up with him and his party at Town Center at sunrise. He would send them direct to Blackbrow where they could hopefully end this in one fell swoop. The rangers, Canohk the bard, Olf the healer and 6 Achaánal warriors would accompany them. The Achaánal were seeking to redeem themselves as they felt ashamed of their performance against the zombie dragon the previous night. The elders of Merdna when contacted could only wish them luck as they had no warriors to spare. The Blackwings began checking their equipment and packing their gear. The Hill-Lander warriors, Canohk the bard, and Olf had decided to stay in the Rat. Magiia sneered at the bard (Ferenoi are somewhat racially biased against Fauns).
Grom decided to cast Clairvoyance on the sword Magiia had “inherited” from Bers, the silver single-handed great sword with the stamp on the blade of an anvil being struck by a hammer. This after Vor told him that the sword had come from the ruins of tower Blackbrow. It had been acquired by Bers after her and his master had looted the place and cleansed it of its resident wyvern (see The Dragonslayers I Pt. 6: Part the Sixth). The visions and whispering of the spirits told that the sword was named the Anvil and was the twin of the magic sword named the Hammer. He saw that a young man with a blue hand painted on his cloak wielded the Hammer against the undead under his war-banner. His forces were camping in a clearing in a wood, a wood rife with faeries and errant magic. When the Blue-Hand wielded the sword against the undead hordes it emitted beams of sunlight and was able to hold the creatures at bay while his men copped and hammered them into dust. When he came out of his trance he relayed the information to his companions. The anvil was required to trigger the full magic stored within the Hammer both blades must be stuck into the lich’s body and would destroy the creature and its phylactery wherever it may be hidden as well as the 3 phylacteries in the form of crystals it wears on its right wrist and the comparably very large one it wears on its left. Grom gave Magiia his last Guardian Bear Totem.
Come night fall, the shaman took it upon himself to go to the Woodcutters’ guild at the North Gate to try to recruit some axe-men but was predictably turned away. While he was walking back along the snow covered street a sudden twinge up his spine caused him to turn to the northern horizon and there he saw a red glow as a forest fire hovering above the trees. He shook his fist and shouted: “Damn You!” By the time he arrived back at the tavern the others were asleep, he soon joined them in dream.
Vorwulf suffered the dream-haunting of the Lich-Fighter of Blackbrow and suffered a nasty constitution drain (he rolled a Natural 1) and was deathly pale upon waking in the morning. The shaman had also had a dream and while Vorwulf drank down a Potion of Purification he told it to him with the Hill-Lander warriors as an audience while they geared up. The shaman related that he had been having the same dream for a while now about a large red dragon wearing a necklace of three dragon skulls laughing as it burned the forest and the monster’s desire for a giant glowing mushroom the height of a great redwood. The dragon he had recognized, it was the very same that had destroyed his tribe in the far north. An Achaánal perked up and said the dragon didn’t mean much to him but the mushroom sounds like the one that sprouts every snow-melt at the very end of winter in a placed called the White Heath among the cursed ruins which lie there. The White Heath was directly north from Merdna along the Barbarian’s Tread in what was their homeland and former kingdom, Norusk. The Achaánal had been ousted by a Low-Lander rebellion agitated by a fitful Hyvalian Paladin named Chinsalis. The High-Lander fighter spat on the ground to clear his mouth of that despised name and went back to quietly honing his claymore.
At dawn the party of Blackwings and Druidic marshals left the tavern hauling the Gate Stones with them as they made their way to the town center all wearing the war paint on their faces painted on by the shaman before departing. Soon they found themselves at the center of stones with Haldred Vezik chanting the inner glow of the various precious Gate-Stones pulsating with his voice each time growing in intensity until the final pulse was a blinding burst of light. When the light faded and their vision returned to them the war-party found themselves in an unexpected place.
They were at the foot of a mountain slope atop a range of foothills with a frozen lake visible a few miles off at the bottom of the foothills. Vorwulf and Magiia turned around towards the mountain and could see a large ruined fortress being dug out from under the snow, dirt and rock of the mountainside not far off further up the slope. It was being unburied by a horde of worker-zombies and skeletons. Vor was able to get his bearings and realized that they had been teleported to the foot of the Central Mountains at the northern border of Cleft-Rills overlooking North Lake with the North Gate Pass a few miles to the east. To their immediate north-east was a large canyon between the outcroppings of the mountains. The ruins of Blackbrow tower were about 12 miles directly south. That’s when they realized that since the Gate Manual was very ancient and thus the Blackbrow referenced within it written in Trollish Magical Script no less must have been referencing Castle Blackbrow. The map of Cleft-Rills and the position of all of the old ruins made perfect sense now in Vor’s mind (he had had his suspicions), they were watch and guard towers ringing the outskirts of a central fortress. They looked at the distant fortress ghost-lights aimlessly haunted it’s still earthy battlements.
Grom cast Clairvoyance again on the sword named Anvil. He told the others that its twin lay somewhere called Horn-Wood near a place called Hornstone.
Vorwulf: “Well, I guess we better go find the Blue Hand then.”
Cris [to me]: “This is a one-way trip through the stones isn’t it?”
Me [the GM]: “Yup.”
They began trekking east.
To Be Continued…