The Beginning of the End

Lord of the Iron Fortress

6th April, 1370 DR

Upon arriving back in Waterdeep, the party notices a commotion in front of Brian the Swordmaster’s shop. When they investigate, Brian’s store-front manager, Jarish, invites the PCs through the line of guards surrounding the shop and explains what happened. He says that he returned from eating lunch to find Brian slain, lying on the floor of the shop in a pool of his own blood. Jarish leads the party into the store where they find tables and display cases broken and strewn about. Near the counter across from the door two clerics of Lathander kneel near Brian’s body. Off to one side stands a heavily-armored dwarf who seems to be staying out of the way while trying to observe everything that is happening. Jarish explains that the dwarf was overseeing the protection of an adamantine shipment that Brian had been expecting, but that never arrived.

As they survey the scene, Hucknor and Kevros notice deep gouges in the floor that look like large claw marks, and a few pieces of steel that look out of place. The party speaks with the clerics, who say that they have tried resurrecting Brian twice, but his soul cannot be found and will not return to his body. At this point they also notice that Brian seemed to be reaching for an adamantine sword when he died. Then the PCs speak with the dwarf, who says his name is Zyzyxx. Zyzyxx tells them that the caravan he was guarding was enveloped in total darkness and attacked, and that the adamantine was stolen. As the sole survivor, he felt it was his duty to return and report what had occurred.

A short time later, two men enter from the back of the shop: Lord Piergeiron Paladinson, Open Lord of Waterdeep, and a man in black robes carrying a black, intricately-carved staff. Lord Piergeiron speaks with Jarish, Zyzyxx, and the PCs, while the other man speaks to the clerics. Zyzyxx gives the Open Lord a more detailed account of his travels, from which the party learns that the adamantine shipment was coming from Rigus (which the characters had never heard of). Sharing all of their thoughts and observations in hushed tones, Lord Piergeiron and the man in black seem to reach some sort of decision. They approach the PCs and Zyzyxx and ask if they will travel to Rigus to investigate the missing adamantine, believing that there is a connection between the ore and Brian’s death. The party agrees to set out the next day after they’ve had a chance to rest.

The next morning, the five of them set out for the portal leading to Rigus. They find the portal about a half-mile outside the walls of Waterdeep. After arriving in the Outlands, the party travels the remaining 5 miles to Rigus. As soon as they enter the city, the PCs are approached by a group of soldiers who insist on making them wear plaques which denote them as visitors. The party then seeks out the man who Brian purchased the adamantine from. As they were searching, they see what looks like a large metal cat prowling into an alleyway. The PCs go to the mouth of the alley, and Kevros sneaks silently behind the creature as it pads down the alley. At the end of the alley, the cat-like construct enters a small smithy and quickly slays the dwarven smith at his forge. Turning back toward the alleyway, the predator spots Kevros and freezes, watching his every move. The rest of the party begins to move slowly toward the rogue while their enemy remains perfectly still at the entrance to the smithy.

Without warning, Kevros dimension doors behind the creature, causing it to act. It charges straight at Balian, clawing and biting in an attempt to defeat its prey. At the same time, another of the creatures drops from the roof of an adjacent building, landing directly behind Balian and attacking him as well. The two metallic beasts fight ferociously for a time, focusing all of their attacks on the half-ogre, until they are too damaged to continue. The PCs decide that these creatures must be hunting those who are skilled in weaponsmithing.

As they emerge from the alley, they see a fire giant walking down the street, leading the way for a large, red-skinned humanoid riding upon what appears to be a 12-legged, wingless dragon. Zyzyxx indicates that the red-skinned creature is an efreeti named Varachus, and that he is the merchant they seek. After finally getting Varachus’s attention, the PCs discuss with him who may have taken the adamantine, and where they may have taken it. After convincing him that they had no interest in the adamantine, only in investigating the theft itself, Varachus, and those he manipulates, gather what information they can. The party learns that someone in Acheron is collecting adamantine from across the planes and transporting it to “the lost cube” (Kolyoral) on Avalas. Valkor is given a scroll by Varachus that will allow the party to “cubehop” straight to Kolyoral when they reach Acheron.

The PCs decide to rest for the remainder of the day so that Valkor can learn and prepare the new spell. In the morning, they descend the mile-long staircase down to the portal that will take them to Acheron. As they pass through, their ears are filled with the sound of clashing metal, and their eyes widen as they see a red-eyed spider with a 40-foot leg-span moving toward them. Astride the colossal spider is a drow preistess, who seems just as surprised to see the PCs as they are to see her (and her mount). The party’s surprise only increases when drow asks (politely!) if she can pass. Seeing an opportunity to glean some information from this “friendly” drow, Hucknor and Valkor begin asking her questions about the missing ore and the metal cats.

Still cordial (though with a hint of sneering displeasure), the drow imparts a few nuggets of useful information: 1. She had just been meeting with Imperagon, a half-duergar, half-red dragon who has plans to build an army and conquer Faerûn; 2. Imperagon can be found on the “lost cube” of Kolyorol, which is the cube the party sought in the first place; and 3. Imperagon claims that he is a descendant of the great dragon Ashardalon.

After watching the drow depart through the portal, Valkor casts cube hop and takes the party to Kolyorol. Upon arrival, they are attacked almost immediately by a pair of rocs. Though the giant birds succeed in dealing a small amount of damage, they posed no serious threat and were eliminated quickly. After inspecting the harsh and forbidding landscape around them, Valkor, Kevros and Zyzyxx think it would be a good idea to split up. Hucknor and Balian set out together, while Valkor, Kevros, and Zyzyxx head off in the opposite direction. They will teleport back to their original starting point after 10 hours.

Hucknor and Balian find nothing for nearly eight hours until they reach the edge of their face of the cube. Looking “down” upon the other face, they see hills and crags; a vast difference from the flat land they were standing on. At the end of their appointed 10 hours, the gnome and half-ogre teleported back to the meeting point, where they heard quite a tale from their three companions. After six hours of travel, Valkor, Kevros, and Zyzyxx saw a flicker of movement in the haze in front of them. The dim light and constant sounds of clashing metal in the distance masked the movements of whatever was out there in the gloom. A couple of minutes later they saw two larger shapes in the distance in front of them. At the same time, they noticed horse-sized beasts charging at them from the sides, and two small boulders flying toward them. One made solid contact with Kevros, and Valkor grabbed his companions and teleported them directly behind the two creatures in front of them. The two fire giants turned to face their tiny foes and began pounding on the taller, poorly armored one instead of his smaller, more heavily-armored allies. Just as Kevros decided that they (he) will die if they stayed and fought, he turned to grab the two dwarves, giving the giant next to him an opening to attack. The blow landed solidly, and just as the rogue felt his legs grow weak, Valkor touched his arm and his strength was renewed. Activating his helm, Kevros took his companions away from the battlefield where he could lick his wounds while waiting for Hucknor and Balian.

After sleeping and preparing, the PCs all set out together. Hucknor teleports the party to the spot where he and Balian had reached the edge of the face, and they stepped over onto the new face. After spending the entire “day” travelling over ridges and ravines, the party notices a large crag rising up before them, and the dark maw of a cave near its base. Deciding it would be better to explore while fully rested, they each get their needed sleep before striking out for the cave. When they arrive at the cave mouth, Kevros is sent sneaking in to explore the dark interior. After taking a slight turn about 80 feet down the passageway, two steel predators leap down from their hiding places and begin to punish the rogue for trespassing. After what seemed like hours, Kevros called out to his companions. Rushing in, the rest of the party finds one of the predators blocking their way, and past the metal beast, Kevros, lying in a pool of his own blood. Thinking quickly, Valkor considered a dozen possibilities (well, 7 or 8… and not too quickly) before deciding upon one option that would definitely work. Reaching his fallen companion, Valkor pulled Kevros back from the brink of death, then placed him a protective bubble where he could stay safe until the battle had ended… and just in time! Shortly after, a steel predator nearly twice the size of its two brethren emerged from the darkness and issued a bellowing roar. While its sentries posed little threat to the four remaining adventures, this creature was a different story. He succeed in dealing more than enough damage to kill Balian before he himself was finally brought down. Were it not for the healing skills of Hucknor, the half-ogre would have fallen just as Kevros had.

After exploring the cave and finding nothing of interest, the party decides that they should take some time to rest and recover before determining where to go next. Unfortunately, they don’t have much time to rest as two huge tigers charge out from the darkness. Balian loses more than half his hit points in the first round and Hucknor is forced to heal him. Just after the tigers attack, an arrow flies out of the darkness and strikes Kevros, dealing a substantial amount of damage. In the next round, another arrow strikes him, and this time he is slain and drops lifeless to the floor. (wow, twice in less than half an hour!) Hucknor casts revivify (another 1,000gp gone) and another arrow flies at Valkor. Now that his own life is threatened Valkor decides to take action. He calls up a blade barrier to separate him and his friends from their assailants. One of the tigers gets caught in the barrier and takes substantial damage. Valkor then calls fire down upon both tigers, killing the one in the barrier, and wounding the other. Dismissing the blades that are hemming in the party, Valkor heads off after Balian who charges the archer, while Zyzyxx and Hucknor try to bring down the wounded tiger. The tiger dies quickly, and when the archer (a hobgoblin) realizes that he cannot escape he drops his weapons and begs for mercy.

He is very forthcoming in order to save his own skin, and provides good information for the party. He draws a map of the cube and shows them where they are, where the iron fortress is, and where to find a blue dragon’s lair. The party then makes him walk in the opposite direction that they will be travelling and keep an eye on him until he is out of sight. They travel for as long as they can before needing rest. They make camp about 10 miles from the iron fortress and get their much needed sleep and preparation before traveling the last few miles to their destination. When they arrive at the door to the fortress, they find a recessed archway flanked by steel predators. They are dealt with quickly, but their battle to reach the door isn’t over yet. As they step in front of the archway, a large blade-armed golem steps out to attack them. The party deals with it quickly, but again Balian is wounded, thought not severely. Passing through the front doors into the sweltering heat within, Kevros pokes his head around a corner, and almost gets it knocked off as a red-eyed, bat-winged cloud giant attacks him with an enormous morningstar. Kevros is forced to retreat to the back for healing while Balian and Zyzyxx engage the giant. Thanks to some fortuitously low attack rolls by the giant half-fiend, they suffer very little damage before their enemy is killed. They search the giant’s room (and find a handful of gems) before continuing deeper into the fortress.

They head down a hallway with doors on either side. The choose a door on the right, then hear high-pitched screams of pain from a door on the left. Zyzyxx charges in with Balian on his heels. In the room they find a small, dust-covered, winged creature, and a human-looking figure covered in chains, torturing what appears to be an elven female with a serpent’s tail instead of legs and a set of multi-colored wings. As the PCs enter the room, the dozens of chains hanging from the walls and ceilings animate and begin to attack the intruders. The dusty creature turns invisible while the party engages the chain-covered torturer, who quickly becomes blinded and almost useless thanks to a spell from Valkor. Meanwhile, Hucknor is able to keep track of their other enemy’s position thanks to his blindfold. It moves into a corner of the room closer to the door and creates an impenetrable darkness that covers the room. In the next round she casts another spell, but remains in her corner while Hucknor fires a searing light spell in her direction. The following round, the creatures descends toward Valkor, who is blocking the door, and strikes hard with her dagger. Unable to kill her target, and unable to flee by normal means, the creature leaves the room by way of a dimension door.

Still cloaked in darkness, the party extricates the tortured prisoner from her bindings and leads her into the hallway. Once again in the light, the party hears the Lillend’s account of her capture and imprisonment. She also tells them that Imperagon has captured the souls of many forgemasters and reconstituted them as petitioners, spirit beings that can still perform physical acts. When the party asks if she would be willing to accompany them, she states that she is too week from the past few days’ ordeals and does not have the strength to be of any assistance. After she departs the fortress, the party continues down the hallway, deeper into the stronghold’s hot interior.

Moving to the door that they originally chose to open, the party finds a room that is decorated in stark contrast to the rest of the fortress. Fine tapestries hang on the walls, a large rug covers the floor, and four plush armchairs sit in a circle near the middle of the room. Continuing through the sitting room they find a set of stairs leading upward and another door, which they choose to open. Inside they find two mind flayers and their thralls; a shield guardian and an elven monk. As the party charges into the room Balian lands particularly powerful blow on the closest illithid and cleaves it in half. Freed from the mind flayers’ control, the monk attacks and kills the other illithid with a ferocious flurry of blows. Surrounding the shield guardian, the party attacks and destroys the construct. They then turn to the elf, who explains that he had been under the control of the mind flayers for quite some time, and was painfully aware of all that he was forced to do at their bidding. His former masters were here to meet with Imperagon to discuss an alliance. He is able to give no new information about the fortress or its denizens, but is able to confirm all that they have learned thus far. He offers to join the party as they seek to end Imperagon’s machinations.

Continuing through the fortress, they enter a room with three steel predators who are quickly dealt with. They then encounter a duergar monk who takes considerable damage before vanishing from the room by way of her monk abilities. (Now there are two enemies on the loose that know the party is here.) At last they find stairs descending below the fortress. They can tell immediately that the intense heat and loud noise that permeates the keep both emanate from below. Guarding the stairs are two blade golems. Defeating them was more time consuming than the PCs would have liked due to the golems’ thick steel exterior, but eventually they are brought to bear without any wounds that Hucknor and Valkor couldn’t easily handle.

Relegating Kevros to the back of the group, the party descends the stairs to the subterranean forges. As soon as Balian and McSquid step foot on the first landing, McSquid and Hucknor feel their strength decrease dramatically. Promoting Kevros to the front, the party continues down the stairs into the enormous underground forge. There they see 40-50 people seemingly made out of force working hard over an assortment of weapons and armor. Watching over the petitioners are what appear to be two flame-covered dwarves, a humanoid creature with metal spines protruding from its entire body, and perched on ledges high above, two dragon-ish, lion-ish things. The party deals with the assortment of creatures quickly… or so they they think until unholy fire rains down upon them. Locating the flame-wreathed cleric near a door at the back of the forge, the PCs charge over to deal with the threat. In the midst of pummeling the cleric, Kevros slips behind him to stab him in the back. He ends up being the one to take damage from behind, however, as three fire elementals punish him for entering their territory. The rogue barely escapes alive just as the azer cleric is brought down.

As the battle ends and they start to take notice of their surroundings, the party sees that each of the petitioners is watching them while continuing to work… except for two, a human and a dwarf, who exit from the fire elementals’ room and approach the PCs. The human stops 10 feet away, surprise on his translucent face as he recognizes the party. The dwarf continues until he stands in front of the PCs, then asks them what they are doing in the Iron Fortress. After telling him that they are here to free Brian (who seems to finally rouse himself from his stupor at the sound of his name) and recover the missing adamantine, the dwarf become friendly and helpful. He says his name is Durgeddin, and explains that the only way to free Brian would be to slay Imperagon and his cronies. He also informs the adventurers that they have mere hours to do this, as the last piece of Imperagon’s plans of conquest will be complete by the end of the day. Brian explains that he and Durgeddin have been working to reforge the legendary Blade of Fiery Might. With this weapon in hand he would lead his army into the Realms to begin his conquest.

Deciding that rest will need to be put off until Imperagon is vanquished, the party ascends from the floor of the pit to find an enormous golem blocking their way. As the PCs charge up the stairs to engage the golem, Kevros tumbles behind it in order to allow space for his friends to fight the construct. As soon as he does this, the golem turns and lays the smack down on the one that managed to get past him. Barely alive, the thief tumbles back behind his friends and waits for the battle to end. Balian and McSquid take substantial damage and require immediate healing, and even Zyzyxx takes a few solid hits from the golem. As the battle wears on, Valkor casts a couple of spells to add his own share of damage to that of the melee combatants. When combat finally ends, all but Hucknor and Valkor are bloodied and weak. More healing ensues, then the party continues up the stairs to ground level.

As soon as Kevros reaches the first step past the landing that the golem guarded, he senses a trap. The rest of the party runs back down stairs and around the corner before Kevros attempts to bypass the trap. A few moments later, they here incoherent mumbling coming from the stairwell. The party moves to the bottom of the stairs and see Kevros staring at nothing and murmuring nonsense. Suddenly the rogue turns and charges down the stairs, weapon’s drawn. He makes one attack against his friends, then drops his weapons, eyes wide. He explains quickly that he doesn’t know what’s going on and can’t control himself. Hucknor quickly dispels the magic that is confusing the thief, and Kevros returns to normal. They then continue up the stairs again.

As Kevros checks for traps at the top of the stairs, everyone feels a faint tingle pass through them. The rogue indicates that he accidentally triggered a magical trap, but since no one notices anything wrong, they continue through the door. They find a curtain to their right that separates them from whatever lays beyond. The monk decides to take a peek past the edge of the curtain to see what awaits them. He sees a large chamber with a high ceiling rising all the way to the top of the 2nd floor. Another curtain lies opposite the one the party stands behind, and above curtain, a balcony which seems to be empty. Hoping for a better look, McSquid puts on some slippers of spider climb and walks up the wall to the 20ft. high ceiling where he can better see what may be on the balcony. He catches a brief glimpse of four figures standing on the balcony before the whole area around the party erupts in fire.

All pretence of secrecy gone, the party charges into the main room. The duergar female that they faced earlier leaps from the balcony and charges into their midst. Just behind her, what appears to be an angel flies down to fight alongside her. Wielding his massive greatsword, the angel lays into the party with impressive force. The duergar monk holds her own for a moment, but is soon overwhelmed and slain. Now surrounded and getting pummeled, the angel transports himself instantaneously back to the balcony to stand beside a figure that can only be Imperagon. The Lord of the Iron Fortress is built much like his duergar kin, but bears physical attributes that are clearly draconic. On Imperagon’s other side stands a large red creature which must be the pit fiend that Durgeddin mentioned. As the fiend launches another fireball down on the party, Hucknor gathers up Balian, McSquid, and Zyzyxx and casts dimension door to transport them all to the balcony where they can engage their foes.

The balcony erupts in chaos as 7 combatants try to fight in the confined area. Before McSquid can get in position to attack, an unseen assailant buries a dagger in his neck, killing him instantly. Hucknor revivifies the elf, slides his blindfold into place, and prepares to fight the invisible dust mephit the party encountered previously. After being healed, McSquid walks along the wall to the stairwell, where he engages Imperagon from his perch on the banister. By this point the fallen angel has already be slain, and Balian and Zyzyxx have begun weaken Imperagon and the pit fiend. In the meantime, Valkor and Kevros remain on the ground floor. The dwarf fires spells up at his enemies, while Kevros shoots his bow at the angel until it dies. At that point the thief drops his bow and runs back behind the curtain, apparently looking for something. Confused and frustrated with his crazy companion, but unwilling stop stop fighting to find out what is wrong, Valkor continues to fire spell after spell up to the balcony.

When Imperegon has nearly fallen, the pit fiend retreats a step, shimmers, then curses in Infernal before retreating through a doorway. Kevros flies quickly up to the balcony telling everyone that if they kill the fiend, they will all die. Hesitating only a moment at their friend’s words, Zyzyxx and Balian pursue and finish off the pit fiend quickly. The thief then realizes that the voice in his head was the fiend, and apologizes to the party for his behavior during the battle.

Knowing that there is still one more enemy out there somewhere, the party sets off the search the remainder of the upper level. They finally determine that they can’t reach the rakshasa’s room from this side of the tower, so they descend to the ground floor and go up another set of stairs. They find their enemy in his bedroom, and he welcomes them with a fireball. Valkor summons a blade barrier to force the sorcerer out toward them, then the rest of the party rushes in. A few rounds of pummelling ensue until Balian realizes they aren’t really hurting him with their weapons, and Kevros convinces Valkor to drop his barrier so he can flank their opponent. With the rogue adding in his sneak attack damage the rakshasa finally starts to be weakened… and finally starts casting damaging spells. It is too late for him however as he is quickly killed after that.

Once they verify that the petitioners and elementals were actually released, the PCs loot the fortress before deciding on their next course of action. After a heated debate about whether to return to Waterdeep or seek out the dragon that the hobgoblin mentioned, the party decides (after they all have a strange vision of their den with THREE large dragons) to return to the City of Splendors.

Upon the PCs arrival back in Rigus, Zyzyxx takes the portion of the adamantine that doesn’t belong to Brian and returns it to the efreeti merchant. He then bids the party farewell, stating that he has enlisted in the US Army… I mean, that he has decided to return to his previous employment and will not be returning to Waterdeep with them. After saying their goodbyes, the PCs head out of Rigus to the portal leading back to the Toril.

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