The story so far..

The last room in this twisted reality was a long, dark room. As soon as the heroes each stood on a glowing rune, the wall behind them opened and a wave a fire started to rush towards them. Kane, attempting to scamper over the walls, tripped and was consumed by the fire (reappeared back at the central platform with the fear of being roasted alive still assaulting his brain). Varis was the next to fall, unable to keep up in his heavy armor (he too awakens on the platform writhing in remembered agony). Hesikiah fell victim to the flames as he finds himself against a dead-end wall (the comforting warmth he normally feels turns to teeth as he awakes on the platform still yelling at the biting flames). With his powerful legs thundering under him, the Warlord Didymous leaps forward, slapping the silvery symbol and with a white flash the licking flames are gone and he is with his friends back at the central platform.
The party is reunited and the silvery compass is complete. It begins to lift out of the groves on the stone floor and spin slowly in the air. In a flash of white light, a woman in a white robe appears on it. She calls herself the librarian and thanks the heroes for saving her. With a wave of her hand, the party and all the others trapped in Vecna’s sick prison find themselves back in the university. The librarian explains that she is the book they had. Instead of writing them down, he stored many of his secrets with her. She is not entirely sure what is true and what isn’t but she will share what she has. She tells them the tale of the 5 Warriors of light who last banished Vecna from the mortal world. They never succeeded in killing the maimed god but did send him and his undead minions reeling for many years. They used 5 sacred artifacts know as the The
Lightbringer’s Regalia. Her head is a little fuzzy after escaping her prison but she does remember where two of the artifacts we last noted to be. One is in the possession of a corrupt art dealer in the town of Haven’s Rest. The other was in the possession of a powerful wizard who lives near the town of Low Water.
The heroes decide to press forward on this quest and head back to Fallcrest the head east past Hammerfall to the dirty mountain town of Haven’s Rest. They discover that the art collector has used his wealth to bully his way into controlling the town. It has become a den of stinking evil where thieves and smugglers come to fence their goods. The collector’s false store fronts by almost anything of even minor value for a fraction of their worth and then try to sell the goods through apparently legit in larger towns like Hammerfast and Fallcrest. The heroes try to be coy and blend in but their inquiries about The Lighbringer’s Regalia alert the dealer to their presence. After some brief negations break down at the dealer’s front door, the heroes storm the keep. They battle their way through heired thugs, half starved trolls and even rust monsters to face the collector. He turns out to be a lazy, green dragon. Briefly the heroes consider trying to parley with the dragon , but their last draconian contract didn’t end well. After defeating the winged pretender, the heroes discovered the part of the Lightbringer’s Regalia, the Plate of the Bright Champion. Varis donned this silver/white armor and knew that the denizens of the underworld would find his skin even tougher. After freeing the people from their corrupt dictator, a relative of the long dead lord and a band of freedom fighters begin to take back their town and restore it back to a peaceful mining community. After briefly checking in on their bar in Fellcrest, the heroes return to the university. The Librarian has still not fully recovered from her ordeal inside the book so the heroes decide to press on to Low Water. Before they go, they are met by a Halfling from the Daleland’s in the north. His was a Bard who took up the bow after his family was almost completely wiped out by a plague spread by the walking dead. He has spent the last year looking for the source. He tracked the heroes down and discovered their quest might help him in the search. He asked if he could join them and they welcomed the extra help. Kane decided that it might be best if he stay at the university to aid the Librarian in research once she starts to feel better. So with their new Halfing ranger/bard, the party set out to Low Water in search of another artifact.
The party was aided through the Feywild to a different gate about a day’s travel through the woods. The gate itself appeared to be merely a tree bent into an arch but the skilled elves touched the tree and spoke a few words and the air shimmered revealing a different (less magical) forest beyond. The party was given a wooden whistle and told to play three notes at the gates when they wished to return. The whistle would open the gate for a short time and alert the nearby guide-post of their presence. Thanking the elves they made their way through the gate and down the north side of a valley to a sprawling town below. Low Water is larger than Fellcrest and is a major shipping port. It sits on a major river that flows all the way out to the coastal cities. They supply grain and ship much of the ore and minerals from the Dwafforged Mountains. In return they receive fish and goods that can only come from exotic lands beyond the sea. The heroes start their search for the wizard in a small crammed magic shop run by a old, bent Gnome. He thinks the heroes are looking for a wizard named Benjamin the Grey. He doesn’t know much about him only that he used to come to his shop nearly every week but hasn’t been here for 10 or 15 years. He advised the heroes that they may inquire at the other shop in the west part of town (if they can suffer that arrogant Eladrin who runs that place). They heroes inquire at the other shop and after a lecture of dealing with dirty Gnomes, the graceful Eladrin gives them a rough sketch of a map and asks if they wouldn’t mind dropping off this chest that was delivered here 10 years ago. His men had tried to deliver it but met a few magic wards and after escaping with a few scorched cloaks they decided it is best to just wait until he picks it up. It is large chest that is magically sealed. The heroes pick up a mule and cart to haul the chest with them and within about a day’s journey they find themselves looking at a large house that looks like it hasn’t been touched in 15 years. The outside is caked with dirt and covered in ivy. After the warlord bursts down the front door, they find themselves in a grand foyer. Two staircases ascend either side of the room to a balcony. A double door is straight ahead of them. It is sealed with some very strong magic barrier. Glowing lights of purple, green, red, yellow and blue dance under the door jam. Some unseen force is locked behind and it is doing… something. The bard and the cleric inspect the magic and notice that it is tied to the 5 doors in the upper room. The climb the stairs and enter the first room. As soon as they touch they handle they find themselves on a mote of rock floating above a lake of fire. The ski above them seems to be on fire as well. They appear to be in some form of hell. They are greeting by lighting throwing and confounding demons that draw power from runes scattered on the rock. The heroes quickly find out they can also tap into the runes and use this knowledge to quickly turn the tides of battle. On an adjacent mote, they hear cries of battle and see a half-orc monk battling two of the largest demons any of them have ever seen. Rushing to his aid, the heroes overcome the massive abominations. They find a key on one of the slain demons and when they touch it they all appear at the door. This time when they open it they find a simple bedroom. Hesikiah notices that the barrier seems to have weakened just a little… What is the key used for and who is the monk? Stay tuned to find out more.

Reflections

We last left our heroes in a dust covered study where they just crushed a mind-melting brain in a jar.  Kane noticed that the magical energies of the area shifted with the death of the brain.  Hesikiah started to sweat and giggle slightly.  The mirror with the trapped spirit inside commanded he smash it over the red hand on the floor.  With the death of the brain the spirit had no fear of being trapped once released.  As soon as the mirror was smashed the spell it had over Hesikiah was broken and the spirit rushed into the body of Princes Celeste.   She rose out from her grave under the red hand, thanked the heroes for keeping her safe and promised them a place of stature in her undead army.  She then rushed forward to help the heroes into the afterlife.  The heroes were very battle weary.  Kane carefully kept a safe distance while Sarge and Hesikiah kept her from the rest of the party.  Kava darted in and out managing to keep on his feet for the entire fight.  The princess used her horrific visage to cause fear in the hearts of the heroes but through sheer will they were able to stand their ground.  She blasted and blinded them with waves of necrotic energy.  Sarge was able to pin the princess.  Hesikiah finally put everything together and discovered that she was an agent of the sworn enemy of his god, Vecna!  He ran up to her, traced the symbol of Ioun on her chest and begged his god to remove this abomination from the world.  The Raven Queen was also eager to claim the soul who avoided the shadowfell for too long.  As the spirit of the princess left her body, the heroes saw a shadowy angel with wings of raven feathers grab the spirit and pull it into the next plane.

With the death of the princess they were able to study this dark library.  With the help of the local cleric they were able to determine that the princess has lured the brain (who was at one time an evil wizard) to her tower so she could steal his knowledge of dark rituals.  However, the brain was able to disrupt the princesses during one such ritual and trap her in the mirror.  Because she was so powerful she was able to have some of her undead minions move her to the safety of the upper levels.  Exhausted and completely drained both the brain and the mirror slept for hundreds of years.  They only recently awoke because the mage in the thieves’ guild stirred the dark energies of the area.  During their research they find mention of a dark monastery somewhere in the Whitestone Mountains.  They also find a crude map of path through the mountain.  No one in town seems to know about a monastery but they advise the heroes to travel to a dwarven marble quarry called Craigfoot Keep.  If anyone knows anything about monastery in the mountains the dwarves would.  After a few longs days of shopping the heroes make their way to Craigfoot Keep.

After a few days of hard travel the heroes reach the keep.  It is a simple yet strong stone keep with an active marble quarry behind it.  After meeting with a few of the keep’s residents the heroes had a vague idea of where to begin their search for the monastery.  They were also asked to take care of a gnoll problem, find a missing alchemist and take care of a dragon.  With their plates full the heroes’ set off looking for the mountain pass.

Not far from the keep the party encountered a Halfling and a Teifling who claimed they were attacked by bandits.  The bandits emerged from hiding a ways down the road.  As the party rushed forward to dispatch the bigands, the Tiefling and Halfling attacked their flanks.  Even with this disadvantage the heroes rallied and sent the thieves to the Shadowfell.

Traveling the mountains is always dangerous.  How will our heroes fair as they continue the journey.