As you were exploring the house, you see that it has transformed from the cosy little cottage you thought it was, to a horrible, stinky, disgusting rock hut. In the kitchen you find bones picked clean, and broken shackles attached to the wall, with a hard blanket underneath them. The little house had very little in it besides the chest and bones. Suddenly, a tiefling appears in the entrance of the kitchen. (he was a Jin and Jods new slave, and since they were killed, he escaped from the shackles and reclaimed his gear that they had taken off him)
Cody feels the dwarf tap on his back.(PI sets him down) The dwarf looks confused for a moment, then his eyes go wide, seeing where he is at and makes a move to bolt for the door. (PI) He bends over the ground and starts to write in the dirt.
“My name is Manus. When thaegan came to my land, she took my peoples voices. Now we cannot speak.” he looked at you intently and asked “whom do you serve?”and drew two marks on the floor V and (,””). Since you seem to know neither, i will explain. The marking of the hand is the shadow lords making. The V is a freedom mark, secretly used between those who resist the tyranny of the shadow lord. By it we can recognize friends from enemies.(PI)
“I have been a prisoner of Jin and Jod for five long years. I had been traveling back to my home when i was lured from the path by the tempting scent of the sweet plumb bushes, and had fallen into the quicksand and had been captured. I was forced to work like a slave, beaten, starved, and treated with terrible cruelty. Tied to the kitchen wall, i had been forced to watch helplessly as they trapped, killed, and ate victim after helpless victim. Finally, I had managed to escape, but on my way back home i was captured by the goblins, and forced to go with them, until they circled back around on patrol and could drop me back off with Jin and Jod.” (PI)
He shows them the secret way of getting thru the quicksand on the stones.
As you travel,and take brief breaks, he scribbles in the dirt and tells you about the fall of the Empire, since you are new to this land.
“As the undead armies marched on the capital, a large dragon, bigger than any other, as my ancestors told it, flew into the highest tower and dropped off its rider. Soon after, the rider flew off toward the Lake of tears. They discovered the stone gone, and believed that the shadow lord had given it to the evil sorceress Thaegan.”
“I see you know much.” said a mocking voice from the shadows. “I felt the deaths of my children, you know.” said the silken voice as the figure emerged into visible half- light. She had long red hair and was strikingly beautiful, but something about her aura seemed twisted. “I felt their pain, their suffering as u killed them. No need for alarm though, i won’t harm you… directly anyway..” she let out a silken laugh that seemed to echo around the forest as she sank back into the shadows.
After defeating the marauders, josh’s stone goes off very insistently, and you hear “Can’t just roll over and die eh?” from behind you you hear “saw what you did to my chums, couple days back. Down right savage of you.” a voice from the side says “Yeah now ur gonna get it!”
“I must go back to my home town, Raladin now. Thank you for rescuing me. If you would like to come to relax for a night or two, you are most welcome to do so. But to warn you, the town is very close to the lake of tears, and since thaegan heard us speaking of it, she will no doubt be very attentive about protecting the stone.”
When they get to the city
A pebbled path ran down from the opening to a beautiful village of small, round homes, workshops, and halls, all simply but craftily made of curved, baked earth bricks. The buildings surrounded a square, paved with large, flat stones. In the center of the square a fountain splashed. But there were no lights on in the houses of Raladin. Spiders had spun thick webs over he windows. The doors hung open, creaking as they swung to and fro in the gentle breeze. And there was no other movement. None at all.
He leads you to the fountain and picks up a long flute, wedged between a paving stone and the fountain edge. He picked it up and played a long, sorrowful melody. As he finished, one of the huge paving stones started to tilt and move aside noiselessly. Several dwarves spilled out, all running hurriedly toward Manus. They reached out and hugged him and cried in joy and relief. As they start walking with manus back underground, he beckons for you guys to follow. (PI) As you go further underground, you enter a large cavern filled with hundreds of dwarves.
You rest for several days underground with the dwarves, who don’t have much but share it very generously, including a complimentary item chest, recovered from some gnomes that they had killed not a couple days before you arrived. As usual you choose a single item or item upgrade of your level or lower, and an enchantment chest pops out. They tell you all about the demon army that thaegan is raising for her master, and how she has spawned many children so that she could rely on them to do the dirty job of feeding and raising her army. Every now and then, the older daemons, which are strong enough to journey in the wild in packs, venture into the city above and make quite the ruckus tearing up and eating any poor victim they caught, usually gnomes.
On the last day you announce that you are heading off. They ask you where you could possibly want to go. (If they say lake of tears, they will freak out and talk about soldeen) Soldeen, manus tells u, is the guardian of the lake of tears while Thaegan is not there. Manus offers to lead you to the Lake.
Manus leads you out of the city, and south west. You walk for a good part of the day, the road being empty of all life, and the usual sounds of the forest starting to decay into nothing, except for strange, unidentifiable noises in the bush. As you walk down the path and round a curve in the road, you see 6 figures standing in the middle of the road.
“She said they’d come this way! There they are! get em!” sounded a deep voice from one of the figures.
As you kill the last of either hot or tot, they say, “Fool, this matters not… cough cough my mother has sent out such a high bounty on your heads that not even your petty resistance friends will remain loyal to you for long. You… are dead men… cough cough (dies).”
As night starts to descend you make camp.
The next day, you travel a bit more. By mid-afternoon, the way had grown rough and the hills more rugged. Dead trees held bleached, white branches up to the pale sky. The grass crackled under the your feet, and the low growing bushes were dusty dry. Your surroundings are dead still, except for the scuttlings in the bushes, and rustlings in dark holes beneath the tree roots, but you saw no living creature. As the sun sank lower into the sky, Manus began to walk more and more slowly, his feet dragging as though he was forcing them to move. You trudge behind him in single file, (i’m assuming?) watching the ground which had become more treacherous, filled with cracks and holes, and littered with stones.
Finally, you come upon a place where the bases of two steep, rocky hills met, making a narrow V shape. Through the gap you can see the red stained sky and the fiery ball of the setting sun, glowing like a danger sign. The dwarf stumbled to a stop and leaned against one of the rocks. His skin was as grey as dust, his small black eyes were blank with fear. (he doesn’t leave though) “You have saved me twice from death, my life is yours, I will follow you anywhere.” He suddenly took off, up into the gap between the rocks.
Not far below you, is a murky lake ringed by banks of thick, grey mud riddled with what looked like worm holes. In the lakes center, a slimy rock oozed water which dripped ceaselessly into the pool, causing slow, oily ripples to creep across its surface. Twisted, barren peaks of clay rose beyond the lake like haunted things. There is not one green, growing thing to be seen. There was no sound but the dripping water and the faint, squelching movements of mud. there were no smells but damp and decay. It is a place of bitterness, ugliness, misery, and death.
Manus bent down and scribbled something in the dirt and pointed at the lake. “D’Or.” It read. This is what Thaegan had done to the grand city of D’Or that you read about in Jane’s diary. (do u go down to the lake?) You scramble down the last of the rocks and reach the mud that circled the lake. You sink to your ankles in the fine, grey ooze, but that was all. As soon as your feet touch the mud bank, cody feels the belt start to warm.
Your ankles start to itch as you stand in the mud, and as you absent-mindedly reach down to scratch it, your fingers touch something that feels like slimy jelly. You look down to discover, to your horror, your ankles are covered with huge pale worms. Even as you hurriedly start removing them from your skin, they start to swell and darken as they suck your blood. Suddenly, the mud was alive with slimy things, twisting, creeping, and slithering out of hiding. As you try to retreat, thousands of the things crawl all over you, trying to find warm, bare pieces of flesh to feed on.
Then, abruptly, as though on some sort of signal, the creatures froze. By the hundreds, they began dropping to the ground and burrowing beneath the surface of the mud. In moments, they had all disappeared. It was then that you notice a trail of bubbles moving from the center of the lake towards you. Moving fast. The oily water beside you heaved and a huge, hideous creature rose from the depths. Slime dripped from its skin. Its gaping mouth, lined with needle-sharp teeth, swirled with water, worms, and mud. Wicked spines sprouted, gleaming, from its back and sides and sprang like narrow spears from the flesh under its eyes, which burned with ravenous, endless hunger. It lunged for you with a hissing roar, throwing its body onto the shore. You know that this, is the monster Soldeen.
Soldeen lets out a roar and plunged back into the depths from whence it came. Darkness started to set in. As you stand on the shore, Manus starts doing a victory dance, and starts to play his flute. The bubbles returned, and slowly, very slowly as if mesmerized, soldeen emerged from the oily water, mud and grubs pouring off his monstrous back. He did not attack though, he instead watched, waiting.
“DO NOT MOVE!” the hollow, growling command lashed out at you. “PLAY!” he ordered. Manus forced his lips and fingers to move. At last the music began again, hesitating and feeble at first, but gaining in strength. Soldeen’s eyes seemed to be looking off into a far away place, but suddenly snapped back. “why have you come to this place? Do not try to lie, for i will know, and kill you.” The music fluttered and stopped as if manus had lost his breath. “PLAY!” roared soldeen.
“I know of the stone… I knew that one day, someone would seek it.. It is in my keeping, my prize-the only thing in this bitter and lonely place that comforts me in my misery. Do you think that i would let you take it, with nothing in return?” “I will give you the stone in return for- a companion.” He turned his great head to look at Manus.”
“Give the little man to me,” hissed solldeen. “I like his face, and the music he makes. He will come into the lake with me and sit upon the weeping stone. He will play to me through endless days, the lonely nights. He will ease my pain, for as long as he lives.”
Manus took a shaky step forward and held his chin high. (if you let him he gets on soldeen to retrieve the stone from the weeping rock, but as he gets there Thaegan show up) (if not see below)
“GIVE HIM TO ME OR YOU WILL DIE!” roared soldeen as it lunged forward to attack.
Soldeen stopped fighting and looked up into the sky. At that moment, the sky seemed to split open with a jagged streak of light. With a fearful, rushing sound, a cloud of foul-smelling, yellow smoke belched through the crack, churning the lake to mud and filling the air above it with thick, choking fumes. And in the midst of the smoke, hovering above the water, was a towering beautiful figure, with shining red hair. It was as if the whole lake, the creatures, and even the rocks seemed to shrink back and tremble.
“You shall never have it!” cried Thaegan, her voice crackling with fury. “You, who have dared to enter my lands! You, who have freed one of my minions! You, who have killed four of my children and mocked my power! I have followed you. I have smelt you out. Now, you will feel my revenge!!!”
Half way through encounter…
“You are to become part of my creation. Soon you will forget everything you have ever held dear. Sick with loathing at your own ugliness, feeding on worms in the cold and the dark, you will creep into the ooze and slime with Soldeen, Forever! HAHAHAHA!”
The sorceress shrieked in rage, shock, and pain, and started slowly dropping to the mud. Her eyes widened, unbelieving. Her body shuddered and writhed and turned as yellow as the smoke that still hung about her. Her face became a hideous blur, melting and re-forming before your eyes. And then, with a high, whistling hiss, she began to shrivel, to crumple, to collapse in upon herself like a rotting fruit left in the sun.
You hear Soldeen bellowing in the lake behind you, crying out in either triumph or terror. Then, with a low terrifying rumble, the earth began to shudder and heave. Icy waves pounded on the shore as the water of the lake swelled and crashed, and receded at the same time. The roar of the lake sucking in on itself was deafening.
Then suddenly, everything stilled. It was if the earth had caught its breath. Waiting… The tempest had almost emptied the lake. Now it was just a broad sweep of shallow water gleaming in the moonlight. A multitude of slimy creatures lay stranded in heaps around the edges, and along its flattened banks.
Soldeen was in the center, by the weeping rock. He was motionless, his head upraised. He was staring at the moon as though he had never seen it before. As you watch, Soldeen let out a long sigh, and vanished. Standing in his place was a short, golden dwarf with a mane of tawny hair. The tall weeping rock quivered, and cracked from top to bottom. The two halves crumbled away in a cloud of fine, glittering dust. A woman stepped from the shining cloud. She was golden like the man, but her hair was black as night. In her hand, held high, was a huge, shining silver gem. The man and woman joined hands and together began to walk towards you.
As you look around, the earth started to dry and bloom with grass and flowers under your feet. Color and life sprang from the man and woman, carpeting their footsteps and spreading outward as far as the eye could see. All around the margins of the lake, creatures were dissolving and reforming. Golden people were rising from the ground, dazed from their long sleep, murmuring, weeping, and laughing. Birds were fluffing their feathers and taking flight, singing their joy.
The man who had been Soldeen, and the woman who had shared his long, long suffering stood before you now. “By the gods…” said Manus, with his voice. “Of course! “He exclaimed. With Thaegan dead, all of her spells have been undone! The people of Raladin and D’Or will not be the only ones in these parts with reason to be grateful to your heroism!”
Soldeen approached. “We met before as enemies, now at last, we meet as friends. My name is Nanion, this is my lady Ethena. We are the Chiefs of D’Or, and we owe you our freedom.” The woman smiled. “I think you have need of this.” She held out her hand, and balanced in the palm was the Diamond, shimmering brilliantly.
A clamor of shouting and singing arose from the valley. The people had seen Nanion and Ethena from afar and were running towards them. Ethena smiled. “Stay with us a while, here you can rest, and feast, and be at peace. Here you can regain your strength for the journey ahead.”