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January 10, 2015

…22nd of Thaumont, AC 1003, while touring the town of Hopswych we encounter a young Ethengar student of the GSM named Ganbaatar who had traveled to Hopswych in search of me. He wanted to join our band, spouting readrict about being fed up with all the corruption in the land. He seemed sincere but only time will tell if his convictions will keep him on the path. We invite him to join us at the Jade Crucible Inn to get to know him better and to take stock of his worth and true intent. While there another student, Red Giulius, of the GSM hailed Ganbaatar and spoke with him about their Master at the GSM the Red Titan and mentioned a battle of the wizards would soon be starting. Red Giulius was surely a student of the Red Titan, as he was dressing in red robes and bore a frog headed spine totem. This battle of the wizards he mentioned sounded intriguing and likely unsanctioned. It would be nice distraction if I were not in exile.

During our conversation with Ganbaatar, Baron Turnglass arrives unexpectedly with a tray of sparkling ales. This particular one enchanted you to see the dwimmers of magical auras as if under the effects of a strong detect magic spell. Not to mention it was tasty. After serving our ales the Baron got down to business. He wanted us to break into the tower of an elf named Armistyn. He has a bad feeling about this elf and thinks there is something wrong or suspicious about him. He met him on a trip to Glantri City and noted how Armistyn never drank alcohol the entire trip, only drinking water, which Turnglass found odd. Armistyn’s tower is located in the Bluwyter area. After some debate we agree to investigate Armistyn’s tower during the upcoming Arcanium.

The tower set alone on the top of an hillside outcropping. The tower and area around it held the aura of transmutation magic. At our approach on the steps leading to the front entrance two large serpents appeared. One at the front door and another out a balcony window. As the party conversed with these supposed guardians I heard the sounds of a great reptilian beast moving below us climbing the hill. I shouted a warning and sent a scorching ray at each snake head only to see the illusions poof into nothingness. Rising from the valley below a great black five headed hydra crested the hill and attacked our party unleashing its flaming breath. Now wise to the nature of hydra my knights and I fought it carefully eventually bringing it down. Before it could heal I used cold magic to slow its regeneration and tasked Ganbaatar to finish it with his acid magic. The inside of the tower held a number of magical traps and barriers. Suggestion spells on scrolls and the stairs, a wall of force blocking the stairs, a decanter of poison, an enthralled mimic, and a unique spell that gave everything within the room a magical aura. Quite a subtle illusion to distract the naive. The second floor held a large library and laboratory. I also found the astral doorway to a mage’s magnificent mansion spell. Armistyn must use the mansion spell for his quarters and the tower for his research. A search of the lab found more suggestion traps, one nearly causing Elias to fall from the top of the tower. Either this wizard was overly protective or he did have something to hide. Armistyn’s research showed he had developed a number of new spells. Many of which we had already seen employed in the defense of his tower. Other than his research notes and his spells books the only other items of interest were a small pile of magical mushrooms and a small inscribed ring on one of this workbenches. So far we had found nothing suspicious or incriminating and we were beginning to think the Baron’s suspicions were unfounded. I perused his spellbooks and one particular spell caught my eye, Rings of the Chasm. Perhaps this spell had something to do with the ring we found on the workbench. We decided to take the time for me to scribe, memorize and cast the spell. We discovered the mushrooms made one small enough to fit in the ring and the spell itself opened a gateway between this ring and another. Where the gateway lead we did not know but we chose to find out.

The gateway lead to an enormous cavern miles across in size and black as night with lights like the stars in the night sky all over the ceiling. I realize instantly this is the realm of the shadow elves and that Armistyn must be one of them. Hearing one of their great winged mounts approaching we quickly fled back through the portal only to find the tower surrounded by constables and Armistyn approaching the front door. A voice called to me through the portal beckoning me to return, that SHE wished to speak with me. With resignation we returned through the portal to face our fates. We are surrounded by soldiers and lead towards a great temple built into the side of the cavern by an old gaunt shadow elf wearing purple and black robes carrying a metal staff. We see a stream of workers carrying soul crystals into the great temple. I can feel the a familiar power radiating from the temple, it is Radiance like and powerful. As we approach an entourage emerges from the temple. A small army of warriors armed with metal weapons including their bows and crossbows. There are a number of priests and at their center a priestess garbed in robes of orange, white and blue. She wears a huge soul crystal about her neck that glows with power. Her name is Porphyriel and she is the head priestess of the great temple of Rafiel and all the Shadow elves. She knows who we are and as restitution for my crimes against her people she wants us to help in retrieving a vein of particularly rich soul crystals located on the far side of Dragon Lake, home of an ancient dragon turtle. They want us to go to Dragon Lake and slay this great leviathan so they may safely retrieve the crystals which the dragon turtle jealously guards. To restore my honor with these elves I accept their offer.

Dragon Lake is a great underground lake some 800ft deep, on the east side a boiling river heated by lava flows pours into the lake keeping the water warm and providing a home for thousands of steam bats. When the SE’s first saw the dragon turtle they thought it was an island. It is gargantuan in size and no SE has ever attempted to fight it though they know it is capable of breathing out great blasts of super hot steam. It seems recently three elves exploring the lake found the vein of crystals but in doing so they awoke the leviathan which swallowed two of the three in one bite.

The priestess I first encountered, whose crystal I took and inadvertently destroyed, is tasked to guide us to the lake. Her name is Esliy and attitude to me is cold and filled with distrust and anger. She thinks of us as uncouth barbarians and would rather we leave at once. However, this situation she deems satisfactory because either we will die or her people will be able to get what they want, although I think she is hoping for our deaths. It took us several days travel by boat to reach the lake. We spent our time wisely preparing for what we would face. Even so none of us were prepared for the sheer size of the beast.

When we reached the lake and appropriate location we took to the air. As the SE ships retreated Esliy used a spell to strike the ceiling of the cavern like a great gong dropping rocks into the dark waters. As if called the dragon turtle leviathan erupted from the dark waters rising into the air blasting forth a great gout of blistering hot steam. IT WAS HUGE. Never have I seen a creature so vast in size. A terrible battle ensued. Its blows were titanic, one nearly killing me instantly. Were it not for the arcane protections I had employed on us all I fear we would not have survived the encounter. Four Polar Rays later and a number of heavy attacks by my companions and the ancient dragon turtle fell. I froze the water around the leviathan so its great body could be recovered and brought back for all to see our triumph. We also delved into the deeps of the lake to find the dragon turtles treasure hoard which held a number of magic items, a large soul crystal, fist sized pearls and even gold coins from the era of Blackmoor!

As the SE ships return to retrieve us I present the large soul crystal to Esliy. She is still outwardly hostile but her eye betray her awe at what we had done and the prize I had brought to her. I am hopeful this is the first step of many that will mend the past between us…△

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Karameikos onsilius Thaljun