Return to Windcliff

Freedom

Following the beacon of daylight issuing from Esbeth’s pendant, you scrabble and scrape along the stone incline propelled by the urgency of knowing the surface is near. You do not understand how you know, only that you do. Around you, the Windcliff families that you have saved breathe heavily with the exertion to keep pace with you. But when they falter or stumble, your hand is always upon their arm. Lifting them up. Guiding them forward. You have sacrificed too much to allow them to fall behind now. They have sacrificed too much.

Unbidden, tears stream down your cheeks. Your repaired mind, for the first time, able to comprehend the horrors you have seen: the slaughter and enslavement of Windcliff, your home; the slave pens of Velknyvelve; the unceasing pursuit of the drow; the hideous spiders of the Silken Path; the mad giant fighting to make sense of his insanity through sublime creation; the fratricide and madness in Sloopbudoop, the almost inconceivable rise of Demigorgon; the brutal city of Gracklstugh; the gruesome garden of Zuggtomy….

Eldeth and Turvy. While all the losses of your companions on this bloodsoaked road have been painful, they were perhaps the worst. Companions and confidants for months, your tragedies and triumphs had been their own. And while they were not a part of your Windcliff family, they had—in a way—become much more.

You choke back the tears of their memory. It was through their sacrifice that you survived the Garden, saw Stool returned to his people, and made it to Blingdenstone; the first place that did not seem so harsh and alien as those before.

But even Blingdenstone was not safe, beset by the horrors of Jubilex. But here the doughty gnomes would not give way. They would not surrender their home to the madness. Like you, they seemed to have wills tempered of steel, and they had rallied around you. Trusted you to lead them. To reclaim their home. And you had. There. At least there. You won. Securing a home for the deep gnomes.

Home.

You barely breathe the word. Almost as if the mere act of saying it will make it vanish like smoke.

Your features harden, not everyone will make it home. Behind you, your drow pursuers lay dead, but Seraphine, brave Seraphine, refused to join you. Instead trusting Jorlan’s promise to guide her to Yoseph. That you could not join her leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, but she spoke wisdom in her parting. The people of Windcliff must find their way safely home, and none can guarantee that better than you. At least Ront had chosen to go with her. Who could have imagined that an orc could become a trusted companion?

Gasps from the villagers break your reverie, and on instinct you draw your weapons, the beginning words of an incantation on your lips. You whirl around to look for the threat. You will not be denied now. NOT NOW.

The gasps give way to laughter, and around you, everyone breaks into a run. Their exhaustion suddenly absent. Only then do you notice the air has lost its dry and dusty temper, and the pendant’s light has given way to a brighter light. The glory of the sun. For the first time in six months you feel its warm rays upon your face. You lift your head, facing it, embracing the warmth. Your scowl gives way to laughter as you race into the light.

You’ve made it.

HOME.

Soundtrack: Remember Me by Thomas Bergersen

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Storm Queen Tribe
Ront eulogizes our fallen heroes.

“Ront not like dwarfs.” Ront stated matter-of-factly, the light from Eldeth’s pyre flickering in eyes. The massive orc turned to the smaller pyre of Topsy and snorted, “Ront not like small dwarfs either.” He stood straight and defiant, his eyes narrowed, lightning crawling across them. “But they not dwarfs, they ORCS.”

Beside him, Stool shivered. It was the closest approximation to tears the little myconid could produce. Ront placed a large clawed hand on its cap. “Do not dishonor them with sadness. They Storm Queen Tribe. They fight in the lightning now. Storm Caller and Bear Demon and Little Dragon and Ront are Storm Queen’s Fury. We will kill all the elfs and all the demons. Then we will join them in the sky.” He cast a glowering look at Hammer, “That one does not yet understand. He will. Or Ront kill him too.”

Stool seemed to calm at Ront’s words. “So many have died though.” Stool’s childlike voice sounded in Ront’s mind. “I think maybe we will all die….” He shivered again at the thought.

Ront broke into a shark-like grin, his massive tusks and fangs gleaming. “Yes!” He roared. “Yes! We will all die.” Ront laughed, lightning arcing across his skin. “If we do not, we did not fight hard enough!”

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A Fork In The Road
Stool and Rumpadump find a way home

Five days out of Gracklstugh the first drow scout was seen. The elf was silent and deft, but Donarr and Topsy’s eyes quickly picked out the skulking figure lurking behind the party. Kinkaid suggested an attempt to take the drow alive for interrogation, but at first contact Donarr’s bow took the drow in the throat killing it. With unease gnawing at the back of Kinkaid’s mind, he watched Donarr remove the arrow, a deranged glint of pleasure in his eyes and a smile upon his lips. The normally fastidious ranger returned the arrow to his quiver still dripping with blood, and Kinkaid noticed the bottom of the quiver had grown brown with crusted blood from past arrows.

Donarr had slowly grown accustomed to travelling in the Underdark, and now guided them through the alien caverns with all the skill and assurance he possessed upon the surface. Though his methods had changed. Gone was the patient study and disciplined approach he had previously used in his craft. Now he moved like a predator, instinctual and always searching for prey. On occasion, Kinkaid had seen Donarr cast that predatory look upon his companions, but always the dragonborn flinched, a conflicted and haunted look falling across his features. “What happens when he no longer flinches?” Kinkaid wondered.

Behind him, Athame hovered. The elf never remained more than a pace or two behind him anymore. If he glanced her way she cast her eyes downward and mumbled incoherent apologies, but never retreated. Over the last few days, he had ceased mentioning it, so as not to embarrass her further. Even in that he had to be cautious. One day he said barely a word to the druid. That night she silently cried, her face buried in her knees as she attempted to conceal her muffled sobs. Kinkaid did not understand her obsession, but he felt certain it somehow aligned with Donarr’s uncharacteristic behavior. It had become a delicate tightrope to walk, and Kinkaid had difficulty reconciling that the two companions he should trust the most had become, perhaps, his biggest fear.

Topsy and Seraphine had quickly become thick as thieves. Ranging far ahead, behind, and apart from the party. Almost a week into their journey Kinkaid saw why. The young girls had somehow recaptured the shrunken death dog from Erde and were attempting to keep it secret. Confronted by Kinkaid they confessed that Topsy had used the pgmywort to brew an elixir to maintain the death dog’s small stature and they were attempting to train it. From the multitude of rends and tears on both the girls’ hands and forearms it did not seem to be going well, but they were determined, and Kinkaid did not have the heart to force them to stop.

Most of his time was spent discussing theology with Ront and their newly found companion Hammer. The conversations were unique to say the least. Ront only cared about the stories of Umberlee’s fury and thunder. It did not take long for Kinkaid to realize that with his perceived failure to Gruumash, Ront was attempting to force his worship of Umberlee through the same prism with which he viewed the orcish god—one of rage and violence. Sadly, Umberlee was only too willing to oblige. Hammer, however, was curious how a supposedly good man could worship a being of such capricious evil. It was a struggle Kinkaid keenly felt, and he found it comforting to discuss it with the stolid dwarf with unshakable faith. Eldeth had joined in their conversations as well. The dour scout still spoke little, but it was obvious she had become heartened at finding another of her kin so far from home.

Stool and Rumpadump had remained inseparable, and had stubbornly refused to use their rapport spores to facilitate conversation. Fortunately, Hammer had taken the opportunity to begin the party’s education in undercommon. The language proved to be a close cousin to surface common, and despite some stumbles, everyone was learning. Kinkaid could not really blame the little myconoid for its new aloofness. All it had wanted was to go home, and the party had treated it as little more than a tool. In Rumpadump it had found a little piece of the home it sought so desperately. So it was with some surprise, that nearly a fortnight into their journey, Kinkaid felt the warm tingle of the myconoid’s rapport spores infiltrating his mind, and the touch of the others’ minds upon his own as their telepathic link was established.

“We feel home,” Stool’s childlike voice bubbled with enthusiasm.

“Indeed,” Rumpadump joined, “it is nearby. Perhaps only a few days from here. We feel its pull, and can find our way.”

“Home! Home! I finally get to gooooo home!” Stool sang.


Question to the party: Will you accompany Stool and Rumpadump on their journey home. Or will you wish them well, part ways, and continue to Blingdenstone?

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Exit Gracklestugh
Resolution, of a sort, is had.

Our brave Heroes, after a brief split, are reunited outside of Gracklstugh. There they meet a new friend, the dwarven paladin “Hammer”. During their encounter they are confronted by a Stoneguard Gate Captain and our Heroes are drawn into the corrupt captain’s greed when he discovers their possession of the dragon egg. Betraying his kin, the gate guards are slain.

After much discussion, our Heroes report their findings of corruption to Erde Blackskull. She rewards them each with 350gp and a map of a temporary route to Blingdenstone.

Afterwards, they head to the Keepers of the Flame in a bid to use the egg as leverage in securing the Windcliff slaves. They succeed in their endeavor and rescue 14 Windcliff residents who are overjoyed with their rescue.

The Heroes then strike a bargain with the Duergar merchant Ylsa for the safeguarding of the Windcliff citizens, and transport of them to Blingdenstone, once they have secured safe passage. In exchange for this service Ylsa requires that they deliver a small pouch to a contact of hers in Blingdenstone. Providing them with the pouch and a scroll, containing the contact’s details, which she says to open only upon reaching Blingdenstone for the magic upon the scroll will fade quickly with time.

Rewards:
* Level 6!
* Pearl of Power!
* Obsidian Ring: Stoneskin for 1 hour 1/day!
* Eternal gratitude of Windcliff’s rescued citizens!

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The Whorlstone Tunnels
A winding dungeon of madness.
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The Keepers of the Flame
A Dragon, An Egg, A Secret
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Into the Slums
Our Heroes Journey into the West Cleft
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