The Threat of Tharizdun

Shouren's Wizard

Chapter 1

Shourn’s Wizard

The Serpent’s Snare

The world is dangerous. Sinister things lurk around the world, waiting for their next prey. Amongst all of this blackness are points of light, safe havens for the weary traveler. There are adventures who brave the dangers of this world. Sometimes for personal glory, other times for the protection of the innocents. Whatever their reasons, these people are strong willed and their stories deserved to be told.

As we draw closer to one of these points of light we see that it is a town, known by the name of Shouren. People go about their daily business, merchants travel through with their caravans of goods and amongst the throng of people move four figures.

While walking through the streets the one at the head of the party, an Eladrin, glanced with his orb-like blue eyes at one of the wooden building lining the streets. He saw that it is the tavern “_The Serpent’s Snare_.” The party followed him inside.

The tavern flies watched these newcomers wearily. A drunken man stumbled blindly into the second party member, a Dragonborn, and then, realizing his mistake, did his best to get away from them. The party took a seat in one of the corner tables. An observer would have noticed what an odd group of men they were. An Eladrin, Dragonborn, Elf, and a Human, all sitting at the same table was quite an odd sight. An even more careful observer would have noticed that they all had a patch in their armor that said “Wolverines!”

“So,” said the Dragonborn in his grumbling voice, “How much further past this town must we go?”

“Some fifty miles, Buddadudda,” replied the elf from under his hood.

“Why don’t you take that hood off, Dante,” suggested the Eladrin, whose name is Berrian Jacque.

“Because that would ruin his rouge like appearance,” spoke the Human. Dante nodded in agreement.

“Plus,” Dante added, “I can do stuff like this. Watch.” A barmaid walked past their table and

Dante taped her on the shoulder. She turned around only to find his eyes staring at her crazily; she screamed and fell to the ground in her terror while he roared with laughter. “See? Look how great that was!”The other adventures giggled to themselves before helping her up.

The group stayed in the tavern, having a few drinks and a good time, when suddenly they heard a scream. Something within their very blood began to rise to the surface, fighting the alcohol on its way. They rushed outside, Dante staggering a bit more than the others, to see a group of people surrounding someone in the middle of the street.

The party pushed themselves forward through the crowd, with Berrian leading, to get a better look at what was going on. In the center of the circle stood a woman. She was dressed in fiery red robes, which matched the color of her long, waist length hair almost perfectly. Above her head she wielded a large staff, which emitted fire from its ends. She pointed it at one of the houses across the street from the tavern and it erupted into flames. Screams of women and children could be heard coming from it.

Just as Berrian was drawing his weapon, ready to fight, Dante rushed past him, his hand cocked to the side. Dante got up close to her and swung the back of his hand in what looked like a nasty back hand, but missed and staggered past her instead.

“All right. That didn’t work,” hiccupped Dante. She turned angrily at Dante but was suddenly cut off by the swing of a sword which caught her in the side. Buddadudda came tearing down the sidewalk swinging his warhammer. She deftly dodged the assault, even though the pain still hindered her.

“Stanislav,” he calls to the Human, “Let’s do this!” Stanislav brings his hands in front of him and seems to concentrate before sending a blistering cold ray of white frost at her. The frost hit her and she screamed. Ice crystals started to form on her robes and fingers. She glowered with fury.

She turned to Berrian and aimed a scorching burst of fire at him. The fire swirled around him but it left him with only mild burns.

Dante’s alcohol seemed to drain from his blood as he turned around and tried to take a stab at her with his dagger. She brought her staff down and blocked the attack. Berrian lunged forward with his sword and caught her side again, but wasn’t able to penetrate the armor. Buddadudda brought his warhammer across, slamming it into her chest. She stumbled back, the wind knocked out of her. Stanislav brought his hands up again sending more frost to her while she was momentarily dazed.

Blood started to seep through her robes. She grunted and brought her staff up above her. She is consumed in a dazzling spectacle of fire, she is obscured amongst the flames. The fire was so hot that the adventure stepped back so as not to be singed by it. When the fire’s had subdued, the woman had vanished.

Dante stared glumly at the place where she had been. Stanislav turned to the burning building and cast a series of spells on the fire to put it out. As the crowd was starting to disperse, families gathered themselves and began heading home, merchants packed up their goods and the tavern put a closed sign up, a soldier came up to the party.

“The mayor wishes to speak with you,” he said gruffly.

“On what accounts?” asked Buddadudda.

“Not sure. But it’s best if you just come along with me.” He turned to leave and they followed him. They walked through the streets until they finally reached the town hall. They entered almost immediately, to find the Mayor, an old man, his grey hair receding and wrinkles were beginning to grow more prominent, sitting behind a table.

He looked up as they entered and his dull brown eyes seemed to light up slightly when he saw them.

“Ah, good, “he said, getting to his feet. “You are the ones who fought off Kelandra?”

“I’m not sure who Kelandra is, but we did fight a wizard in your streets,” answered Dante.

“Yes, that was Kelandra. She has been coming by this town for years now, terrorizing the folks in it frequently. The only reason the town is so populated is the trade route running through it. Without it, this would be a ghost town.

“You all fought with a sort of finesse that I haven’t seen in a while. And best of all you were able to scare her away. No one has been able to do that. The guards just run from her anymore. If I’m not mistaken, you all are adventures.”

“Sir, you are talking to the Wolverines!, the best Adventuring Company on this trade route,” spoke Buddadudda proudly.

“Excellent, excellent,” nodded the Mayor. “Well then, I am willing to pay each of you two-hundred gold if you could rid this town of Kelandra. What do you Wolverines! say?”

“Excuse us a moment,” said Berrian drawing the party into a small huddle.

“This could be our big break,” Dante said excitedly.

Stanislav chimed in, “”I see no sign of deceit or trickery. In fact, he seems like a very honest, compassionate man, concerned for the safety of the town.”

“I say let’s do it,” said Buddadudda, his scaly blue head nodding vigorously.

“It’s settled then, let’s do it,” Berrian finalized breaking up the huddle. They turned to the Mayor.

“We’ll do it,” Buddadudda told him.

“Oh! Wonderful! Thank the gods that you were sent to us! Now we don’t know much, but our sources tell us that she resides somewhere north of the forest. Here’s a map. The best time to go get her would be tomorrow. Oh, thanks ever so much!”

The party smiled and walked out of the office, the map and their duty in hand. They made their way back to the tavern to reclaim their gear, and then stopped off at the local inn.

The Woods

The next day the party found themselves out in the woods. It was a normal day. The warm air drifted lazily through the trees. Sunbeams reached to the ground between the emerald leaves. Berrian was in the front of the party looking at a bug as it passed by him.

“So, we’re going north right?” he asked.

“Past some kind of river or something,” answered Buddadudda. Dante jumped into some nearby bushes.

“What’re you doing?” Stanislav asked trying to see through the bush at Dante.

“Shhh. I’m walking sneakily.”

From up ahead, they both heard a crack and a “GAHH” as two trees tumbled onto Berrian.

“Ah, dang it,” Buddadudda said under his breath. “Berry, you okay?”

“Ugghhhh.”

“What happened?” asked Stanislav running up next to Buddadudda.

“I don’t know.”

Much to their surprise, at that moment three humans covered in camouflage jumped from the trees. One rushed up to Buddadudda swinging his sword, but before he could hit him, Buddadudda brought his shield up to defend himself. Another one ran around to try to flank the Dragonborn, while the other stayed back a little and lunged his sword at Stanislav who was caught in the side, the sword piercing his side drew some blood.

Stanislav staggered away and balanced himself against a tree, breathing heavily. Buddadudda swung his warhammer at the head of the first bandit, but the bandit ducked from the blow. Dante sat watching from the safety of some bushes before he came running out with his sword and it caught the bandit flanking Buddadudda in the back. The bandit swung around with his sword in an upward sweep but Dante was quicker, bringing his catching the sword with his own. Meanwhile Berrian was struggling underneath the trees. He could hear the fight going on but he couldn’t see anything. Putting his hand against one of the trees that lied over top of him, he pushed with all the strength that days of training had given him. Muscles pushed and pulsed with blood as he pushed against the tree finally he had lifted it high enough for him to slide out from underneath him.

Dusting some dirt from his armor he took a quick survey of the battlefield. He saw a blast of ice jump from Stanislav’s hands and onto the bandit who had hit him. The ground and trees around the bandit crackled as they froze and became covered in ice, steam rose from the ice as it engulfed more of the small battle field. When the bandit tried to run from the ice he slipped and fell face first on the ice.

Stanislav noticed Berrian standing up and he shouted to him “Save the wizard!” Just as Berrian was moving to help the bandit fighting Buddadudda was able to bring his sword around and catch Buddadudda in the left arm. Buddadudda roared in fury, his blue head whipping around. Berrian called to him, “Budda, I’m going to help you out.” He ran forward taking his katana out of its scabbard. His blue pupil-less eyes found the right spot on the bandit and brought his sword to it, catching the bandit across his shoulder.

Dante was busy fighting the bandit toe-to-toe. It was like a very deadly dance that they were engaged in, one attacked and then the other. As the bandit scored a slash across Dante’s face, everyone in the forest heard something.

It sounded like the stomping of very heavy feet at first; it was then matched by the rattling of chainmail. From the trees burst forth a very angry dwarf. He swung his warhammer around wildly while screaming a war-cry that could strike fear in even the most battle hardened warrior that dwarves were known for. He crashed through the underbrush but hit a tree as he emerged throwing him off course a little. He stumbled backward, shaking his head and he launched a white lance which suddenly was in his hand. The lance arced through the air and hit the bandit in the back. Dante took the opportunity to stab attack the bandit, but the human was able to jump over the blade aimed at his legs.

“Who are you?” Dante called to the dwarf.

“Name’s Hokima. I’m a friend,” he called back gruffly. “Let’s not talk, just focus on killing this guy.”

The ice surrounding the bandit melted away and he got back up. He went towards the Dragonborn, attempting to stab him in the arm, but Buddadudda brought his warhammer against the attack. Buddadudda opened his mouth with a roar and then, past the his sharp dragon-like teeth sprung forth acid breath. The acid splashed everywhere around the clearing. The bandit were hit full in the face with it, besides the one fighting with Dante, but Berrian and Stanislav were able to hide behind trees. The backsplash of the acid hit Buddadudda but he shook it off.

Stanislav looked to see that the one of the bandits was closing in on Hokima, and he cast a cloud of daggers right in front of him. The bandit rushed through the daggers and a couple of them jumped out and stabbed him, but he kept running through to the dwarf and he brought his sword against Hokima’s warhammer. Hokima swung his warhammer around and hit the bandit in the chest.

Berrian blocked another attack from the bandit before he brought his sword down between the bandit’s neck and shoulder blade. The bandit’s legs crumpled beneath him as he fell to the ground dead. Buddadudda sung his warhammer around and caught the bandit next to him in the arm. The arm shattered but the bandit only stumbled slightly.

Dante dashed around the daggers nimbly as he ran for the bandit that was attacking his new found friend. His sword made a gash deep in the bandits back. Hokima backed up and launched another lance at the bandit. The lance bored a radiant hole in the bandit’s chest as he fell.

The final bandit looked around at the five adventures, figuring he would die if he ran away he tried to stab at Buddadudda with his sword. It was a desperate strike and it swung too far from Buddadudda. Then the Dragonborn decided to return the favor by bringing his warhammer crashing across the bandits chest. One last blast of pain was felt from the bandit before he slipped into death.

The party turned their attention to Hokima at this point. As they were putting various bandages and healing salves on themselves they talked to Hokima.

“What were you doing out in the woods?” Buddadudda asked, eyeing a holy symbol of the god Moridan which was hanging from the dwarf’s neck.

“I was going to the northern ruins with a band of scouts sent from the town of Shouren,” replied Hokima, through his beard. He didn’t say much more but instead prayed to his god. When he did so an inner holy light shone through his wounds as they closed. “But the wimps went back to town. They said they were scared of what might be in the ruins so the cowards fled. I stayed out here a few days longer, then I heard y’all makin’ a ruckus and I wanted in the fight.”

“So you just jumped in and helped some strangers?” Berrian asked, his eyes were closed but his white hair caught some sun rays and seemed to shimmer.

“Nay, not strangers. It’s obvious y’all are adventures such as me-self , and adventures help each other out.”

“You said you were going to the ruins, what ruins?” Stanislav asked.

“The ruins north of us, or supposedly north of us. We didn’t make it that far, like I said, them cowards turned tail and fled.”

“Would you like to join us, it looks like you’re god shows favor on you with healing,” Buddadudda said.

“If I won’t be a burden, I would like to come along.”

“Well then Hokima, welcome to the Wolverines!” Buddadudda extended a hand to the dwarf, who clasped it.

“Hey guys, look what I found on one of the bandits,” said Dante as he came back from rifling through the dead bodies. “It’s a note.”

The party looked over it curiously.

“They seem to be directions,” examined Hokima.

“Maybe we have to follow these directions and everything else will be trapped,” offered Stanislav.

“I think that we should find out,” said the Eladrin getting to his feet. He took the note and followed the directions printed on it. He came to a spot that it mentioned and he looked around with his blue orbs. Directly in front of him the ground seemed to change, he picked up a large stone next to him, and tossed it onto the ground. The ground gave away and the stone crashed into a ten foot deep pit.

“This is probably a bad idea,” he observed. “It seems it had led me to a trap.

“Let me see this again,” Hokima said.

“Look ‘ere at this star, wonder what’s next to that one.” The he started off, following the directions. He came to the edge of a river and looked around him. At his feet there was a slight bulge in the ground, he jumped back, but nothing happened. Upon a more carful inspection he saw that something was buried there. Excited at the thought of treasure he began to dig and dig before producing a chest. He dragged it up from the ground and looked inside. A ball of gray rags were kept inside of it and before he was about to close it something glittered and caught his eye. He removed the rag and underneath it he found gold, and lots of it.

“Treasure!” Hokima shouted to his companions. He dragged the chest back through the woods to the place where they had rested before. The party split the gold up amongst themselves.

“All right, we found some treasure,” said Buddadudda. “Now I think we should go to the other side of this ravine and get to these ruins.”

The part murmured in agreement. They walked through the woods until they came to a ridge. They climbed up it and at the top they heard water rushing. They looked down the other side of the ridge and below them, about thirty feet, was water rushing very fast.

“This looks bad,” Dante said. “How’re we going to get across?” Berrian looked across to the other side of the ravine and teleported himself there.

“What if we tie some rope to your crossbow, Dante, and shoot it across so Berry can grab hold of it and tie it to a tree,” suggested Buddadudda.

They tied some rope to the end of a an arrow and shot it across. The arrow hit a tree but bounced off and looked as if it was going to fall into the river, but Berrian dived to the ground and caught hold of it. He tied it to a tree as Dante tied his end to a tree as well. Dante jumped onto the rope as tightrope and began to carefully walk across. As he was halfway to the other end his foot slipped. He felt himself falling through the air before he reached a hand out and was able to grab the rope. His feet dangled in the air and the rope held fast. Breathing a sigh of relief he pulled himself back on top of the rope and continued. A fter he jumped off, Hokima grabbed on the rope and shimmied over the water, he looked down once and mumbled something about rather being in the mountains before going onward. He landed safely. Buddadudda grabbed the rope next but before he started, Stanislav spoke up,

“Wait, I don’t think I should be the last one to go across. If goblins come then I shan’t be able to defend myself.” Buddadudda looked at him with his golden eyes.

“You’ll be fine,” he said before starting across. Soon after, Stanislav followed him.

“I’m thinkin’ that I don’t want nothing to be following us. Mind cutting the rope, Dante?” Dante nodded in agreement and cut it.

The party looked over the land stretching before them. It was barren, unlike the other side, rocks jutted up from the ground and there were only a few trees in one little place.

Not far from them were ruins of what looked like a fort.

“Anyone know anything about that?” asked Dante.

“It was once a fort inhabited by humans,” Stanislav remembered out loud. “But a while ago it fell during a goblin attack. The attack left only one survivor. He said that the attack as much better organized then what normal goblins could do. He also mentioned a mysterious figure among the ranks.”

“Kelandra,” whispered Dante and Buddadudda together. Hokima checked the note from the bandits again.

“More directions are on here starting at that grove of trees yonder,” he pointed out. “Anyone want to check it out?” Berrian took the note and followed the directions. As he got to a particularly high mound of stones his foot sunk into the ground. From the stones burst fire pointed directly at Berrian, it engulfed him in flames as he tumbled backward, shielding his face.

“I don’t like this!” he shouted.

“Maybe there’s more treasure round ‘ere,” Hokima said. He followed some of the directions. When he got to the place that it said he glanced around himself, he looked up to see a very large stone positioned above his head. He took a few steps backward.

“No treasure,” he said. “It ain’t worth it. Let’s head to them ruins.” The party gathered themselves and entered the ruins.

Through the Ruins

There was a large courtyard inside the ruins. There was an elevated platform in the middle of the courtyard with statues lining it. The whole place had a gloomy feel to it. They saw a small passage heading off to the east.

Dante held up his hand for silence. The party stopped and listened. Voices drifted through the otherwise noiseless courtyard. They were speaking in Elfish.

The party tried to move up silently to the courtyard but Berrian tripped on a stone and yelped with pain, as well knocking a stone across the ground. The voices stopped. Scurrying feet were heard as giant rats ran from the passage to the left followed by three elves.

Berrian ran up to meet the rats and brought his sword to attack them, but he missed as it dodged under his sword and bit him in the leg. The other rats followed and surrounded him.

One of the elves hopped up onto the elevated platform and aimed his longbow at Stanislav hitting the wizard full in the chest. Stanislav staggered back and aimed a bolt of ice at him but the elf ducked and jumped off the platform. The second elf started to run around the platform making sure to keep low as he did so, and the third elf stood behind the rats waiting for a chance to get to the party. The rats continued to bit Berrian as Hokima ran up and tried to kill one. But the little thing ran from underneath the warhammer.

Dante darted up to the platform and aimed at the third elf’s head as she leaned against it. He got her with a barrage of daggers, his hands moving like a blur. The second elf jumped onto the platform and shot an arrow into Dante’s back. Dante lurched forward a little. Before the elf could jump down Buddadudda ran up the stairs and hit him in the chest with his hammer.

The first elf darted around the corner and aimed at Stanislav, he sent an arrow whistling through the still air at Stanislav. The arrow embedded itself in his arm. Stanislav grunted and turned another ray of frost on the elf. It got him full in the stomach and ice started to form around him.

As Hokima missed another rat he looked back at Stanislav and said a prayer to Moridan. Light shined from Stanislav as his wounds closed. Berrian was busily fighting off the rats that were closing around him and caught one with his sword.

Dante used another barrage of daggers against the unfortunate elf near his feet. The daggers kept coming and she couldn’t see a thing, but Dante noticed he was getting increasingly tired. Meanwhile, Buddadudda and the elf were locked in tight combat, Buddadudda getting the worst of the fight. His eyes began to half close, and his wounds started to pile up. Hokima looked up to the platform and saw his reptilian friend’s plight.

“I’m coming, Budda,” he called to him, as he rushed to the stone steps. But as he was running an arrow found its way in between the chinks in his armor. He turned himself and through shimmering white lance at the elf. It flew through the air with all the power of a dwarf and blasted through the elf’s head.

Berrian’s sword glimmered with rat’s blood as it swept down again at the last rat. The rat tried to escape but was too late as its head came off. Berrian then turned to see Dante looking fatigued from all his barrages and he leaned up against the statue. Berrian ran around the corner bring his katana down across the elf’s back.

Buddadudda didn’t know how much longer he could keep this up. The elf found another hole in his defenses and Buddadudda roared in pain again. He brought his hammer up and was about to swing when the hilt of the elf’s blade found its place under his chin, then everything went black. Hokima watched as the Dragonborn fell, his blue scales full of blood. Hokima stomped up the stairs and ran next to his fallen friend and brought his hammer across in a wide arc. The hammer caught the elf in the right arm. He backed up a little bit.

Dante’s barrages had taken a toll on him and he sunk to the ground his back resting against one of the statues. The elf turned around to face Berrian only to find that a katana slipped through her rib cage and found her heart. She fell to the ground.

Stanislav watched all of this with fascination before he decided to go to the platform to help Hokima. But Hokima, it turned out, didn’t need any help. He brought his warhammer around one last time and hit the elf full in the chest, killing him.

“Come on, Budda. Wake up!” muttered Hokima. He made another prayer to Moridan. Buddadudda’s eyes fluttered open. “Thank Moridan. You shouldn’t scare a dwarf like that.”

“You okay there, Dante?” asked Berrian as he leaned over him concerned.

“Yeah,” he answered, while removing the red scarf from around his mouth to get better air. “I just used that barrage three times to many. I’m good though.”

The party took a short rest while looking around them. A little to the north of the courtyard were some steps heading down into the earth. Heat rose up from the opening.

“I say we go on down there,” said Hokima. “Could be treasure.”

“Or something lethal,” retorted Stanislav. “This place fell to goblins, there could be some of those down there.”

“I agree with, Hokima. Let’s go on down,” said Buddadudda. The party gather themselves, Berrian in the lead with Buddadudda next to him. They went down the steps into the darkness.

As they were going down the air around them got hotter. It wasn’t overbearing, but they could feel the difference. At the bottom of the steps was a large iron door. The party stopped to listen at it.

Beyond the door they could hear the chattering of goblins. The party looked at Buddadudda and he nodded to them. He brought his foot up and slammed it against the door. A loud bang filled the hallway and beyond the door the chattering stopped. Berrian grabbed the door and pushed it open, to reveal a large chamber. Goblins moved toward the open door.

Goblins and Lava

The chamber was lit with a reddish glow, but no torches could be seen. Five goblins and two fire beetles came towards the door.

The ensuing battle was tough but the party emerged victorious. Dante lowered the last goblin to the ground after cutting its throat. The party looked down a hallway branching off east from the chamber, at the end of it stood a wooden door.

Dante crept down the corridor and peered under the door. He saw some table legs and a couple of books. The rest of the party came over and they opened the door.

This room was a complete mess as the party walked in. Books were scattered over the floor and tables, some of them open. Stanislav picked one of them up off the floor and saw that the script was in a dialect that he didn’t understand.

“Hey, look at this ‘ere symbol,” Hokima pointed out. “It’s on most of these books. I’ve seen this symbol somewhere before. It’s got something to do with a dangerous god of some sort.”

“We should take a couple of these back with us,” Stanislav said, putting a couple of the books in his backpack. Berrian flipped one of the tables over.

“Dang. No potions,” he said before walking out of the room.

The party left the room and went back to the chamber where the bodies of the dead goblins and beetles lay. Another corridor heading north stretched into to a set of metal stairs, heading down further into the ruins. As the party walked down the corridor the heat grew stronger and Buddadudda noticed an ashy smell to the air.

The party peered as far as they could see down the stairs.

“Who wants to go first?” asked Dante.

“I will,” answered Buddadudda, his blue head was starting to sweat. The party went down the step for a long time. Step after step, around and around they went down. It seemed to take forever. Then, without warning, the steps stopped in a small hallway. At the end of the hallway was a large iron door, glowing red.

Hokima walked bravely up to it, grasped one of its massive handles and pulled it open. In this vast chamber the most notable thing that the heroes saw was a stream of lava running around the sides. Above them the ceiling was covered with stalactites. In the middle of the chamber was a small glowing platform that was connected by a small walkway to the door. On the platform stood a figure with red robes and red hair in front of an altar, which had a similar symbol as the symbols on the books that Stanislav had taken.

The figure turned around and the party, except Hokima, recognized her as Kelandra.

“What are you doing here?” she screeched at them.

“We’re her to stop you,” Berrian said, drawing his sword.

“Actually we were just here to inquire as to what you want, specifically from Shouren,” added Stanislav hastily.

“What I want is for you to be dead!” Kelandra then drew her staff and held it up above her.

Buddadudda rush forward swing his warhammer and caught Kelandra in the chest. Berrian, then, tried to run around and attack her with his katana but she was able to dodge his blade. Dante ran and tossed shuriken at her while running to the northern part of the platform. Hokima stood back a little and throws another lance at her but it misses her and splashes into the lava. Stanislav, meanwhile, focuses his power and aims a ray of frost at Kelandra, which hits her and starts to form some ice crystals on her robe.

Kelandra rears back and yells in fury and brings her hands above her as a blast of lightening bursts forth from her pushing Buddadudda, Berrian, and Dante backwards.

Budda rushes towards her again and brings his hammer in a downward arch but she deftly jumps out of the way of the blow. Berrian, too, jumps forward and slashes at her, and he makes a cut along her back. A second shuriken whizzed by Berrian’s head and it caught Kelandra in the arm. Hokima ran forward with his hammer and smashed her foot with it.

She ran through the gap between Budda and Berrian, and reached under the altar to hit a switch. Back at the door fire burst forth from its hinges hitting Stanislav and catching his robes on fire. He shrieks and staggers out of the flames as he aims more frost at his enemy, but in the confusion misses her. He then proceeded to try to put his robes out.

Budda swung his hammer for a swipe at Kelandra’s left arm, and crushed it. Berrian sliced at her with his sword but the blade was caught mid strike by Kelandra’s staff. Dante ran around the group and aimed another shuriken at her, it whistled through the air and embedded itself into her stomach. Hokima backed up a little bit, teetered over the bubbling lava, before launching another lance at her, this caught her in her right leg.

Kelandra, looking worse for the wear, brought her hands above her again and from it cast the whole platform on fire. The blast hit the party and in the confusion Stanislav fell to the ground.

Stanislav was sure he was dead. He could no longer fell the pain from his corporal form, but he remembered it as very real. Suddenly images flashed across his vision. Before him lay a battlefield, littered with many bodies. Then he was in a tower, with the rest of the Wolverines!. After that he found himself battling it out with an unknown foe and he heard his friends calling his name. A mysterious figure entered into his vision, clouded in shadow. The figure was holding a knife, and in the knife’s reflection Stanislav saw his parent’s faces. He heard his name being called, and behind the figure was fire.

Suddenly he was back on the platform with Hokima standing over him, lifting his coin to Moradin. Hokima’s dwarven face looked down at Stanislav, he reached out his hand and pulled him to his feet. Stanislav heard the sounds of his comrades fighting. “Come on, Stanislav! There’s a battle to be fighting!” Hokima yelled as he rushed back into the fray with Kelandra, his dwarven war cry resounding through the chambers.

Stanislav aimed another brust of frost at Kelandra and hits her full in the chest. This act gave Berrian just the opportunity he need to bring his katana through her defenses in a brilliant strike. The blade pierced through her rib cage and found her heart. She doubled over, blood coming to her mouth, and slipped off the blade and into a heap on the floor.

Budda reached down and picked up her staff. He saw a similar symbol as was on the altar and the books. Before he had time to contemplate, though, the ground shook and the lava began to rise on the platform.

The Wolverines! ran to the door, the fire had stopped at this point, and rushed up the steps. About halfway up they felt the base of the stairs melt away and the staircase swayed slightly. Rocks fell from the ceiling and clanged on the party’s helmets and heads. Once at the top of the stairs they came out into the first chamber, they had visited, they bolted across the chamber and up the first set of stairs. Out in open air they felt safer, but could still feel that the ground was weak beneath them.

They continued to run until they were a safe distance from the ruins. When they turned back around they saw that the ruins were falling into the earth and being eaten up by the lava, but luckily it didn’t advance any further.

The party looked at each other, shared a relieved laugh, and headed back to town. As they entered the town, bloody and beaten, people admired them from the safety of their doorsteps. Some people gave a small cheer or offered a pat on the back. The group reached the Mayor’s office. When they entered, he turned to face them and gave a huge grin.

“Oh! You are back safely and successfully! I’m so very glad! Is that her staff you have there?” he asked Budda.

“It is.”

“Fascinating!”

“Hey, Mayor,” Dante said, his hood ripped in a few places. “You said something about some money before we left.”

“Oh, yes! I have her what I promised you, 20 gold each.”

“I thought you had said 200 gold.”

“Did I? Oh dearest me. I cannot believe I should offer you so much, I haven’t the money to pay that much.”

Stanislav looked around the room and saw that the room was bare.

“Is there anything else you could offer us?” Stanislav asked.

“I can give you free lodgings and food, for as long as you need it.” The party nodded their heads in satisfaction.

“Before we go,” Hokima said, reaching into Stanislav’s pack, “might ye be able to tell us anything about this ‘ere symbol.” He passed the strange symbol that was on the books to the Mayor. The mayor took it in his hands and studied it for a bit.

“I have no knowledge of what this might be,” he said, handing it back.

After a few more words were shared the party took their leave to go and have a well deserved rest.

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Tetakeo

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