The Looming Flames

Exiting the Darkness

"The sun shines brightest in victory."

Having just witnessed their companion Fenrik Levesdun fall down a 70 foot shaft, the party stands momentarily aghast before exploding into a frenzy of activity. Quickly gathering all the rope from their supplies and securing it to the nearby “throne”, one-by-one they begin their descent. There was a brief scare when Brogate Broadstone temporarily slipped from the rope, but he was able to regain his grip and finish his descent safely. However, by the time Baiard Broadstone began his climb down, the knots securing the various lengths of rope had begun to slip. The dwarf was just a few feet from the bottom when the rope gave out, harming only his dignity. The rope had snapped before both Django and Maraxus could descend. The pair was now cut off from the rest of the party. The magic-user and paladin inform the party to venture on without them, while they look for more rope or an alternate route down.

Now at the bottom they can see Fenrik’s broken body and any hope that the young warrior might still live are soon dashed. Both Brogate and Korlund confess that his injuries are far beyond their talents to heal. Taking a solemn moment to say goodbye to their brave traveling companion, they drape his body in a cloak and brace themselves for what the rest of this keep may hold. The seven adventurers started to cautiously make their way down a lengthy corridor. Exploring the various doors and rooms along the way, they eventually entered a room with several bodies laid in state. As Sitdun was searching the room he disturbed one of the bodies. All at once they animated and attacked the party. A brief melee ensued but the group handled the undead with relative ease. Continuing on, the companions come across a tunnel that does not match the rest of the carved surfaces they have seen so far. Following it downward for quite some time, the group is ambushed by a small group of piercers. After suffering minor injuries but successfully navigating past the threat they march on further down the tunnel. Eventually coming to a large, cavernous intersection, the adventurers discover the remains of a goblin encampment. Investigating the injuries the goblins were dealt, Tulindranadel and Broadstone brothers are certain that they were the work of a drow scout party. The party immediately turns around and heads back they way they came.

Entering back into more familiar confines, the party continues to make its way throughout this lower level. Passing through several small chambers they exit the keep enter a large, open area. Passing through a grove of small, harsh-looking saplings they come to an average-sized clearing that is the home to an unusual sight; a large oak tree as white as sun-bleached bones. Its sprawling limbs are devoid of leaves, giving credence to the assumption that the tree is dead, but those same limbs are bearing fruit. The fruit perfectly resemble large red apples in every way save one; their color is also the same stark white as the tree. Curious, Tulindranadel plucks a few of the odd fruit and places them in her backpack.

As the group is enraptured by the sight of the odd tree, they are snapped back to attention by a voice cutting the stillness of the underground grove. The voice is followed by the appearance of a pleasant-looking elf. He bears the grime and grit of living underground but otherwise is attractive and does not appear at all hostile. He addresses the party by espousing the beauty of the tree they are gazing on. When both Tulindranadel and Hothwyn L’Arsinth claim this grove and its trees appear unnatural the elf’s demeanor changes instantly. His eyes focus sharply on the pair of elves as his face contorts in a mask of rage. As he begins to shout that the party cannot appreciate the beauty they are beholding, a new group of previously unseen figures begin to make their way into the grove. An armored human male; a female half-elf bearing the symbols of Ehlonna; a middle-aged human male bearing the robes of a magic-user; and a halfling male in leathers all have taken flanking positions around the grove. As the party notes their appearance it is easy to see that all of these newcomers have a glassed-over look to their eyes. As the elf continues the speak of the majesty of the white tree, Hothwyn looses an arrow at him and chaos erupts.

During the course of the prolonged battle, many of the companions are wounded, some gravely. However the adventurers overcome this threat and their opponents fall to a man. After taking a moment to ensure their relative safety and allow the clerics to heal their companions, the group starts to discuss their next action. It is decided that the trees are an abomination and plans are made to put the entire grove to the torch. It is also decided that the group of four that attacked the party was most likely under some sort of outside influence, perhaps by the elf. Dousing the grove in all of the lamp oil they possess, the grove is set aflame and the slain elf’s body is tossed onto the inferno to serve as a pyre. The four fallen combatants are taken with the party as they exit the grove and make their way back towards the shaft.

Once there they find that Django and Maraxus have indeed managed to find more rope in the confines of the sunken keep. The party ties off the bodies of the four they slew in combat as well as their fallen comrade Fevlin and one at a time they are lifted up the shaft. The party members in turn make their way up the shaft as well. Once rejoined, they retrace their steps through the keep back to the entrance and reach the surface. Relieved to find the mage Marvolo Lewsyn unharmed, as well as Marla‘s pack donkey, the party begins to set up camp for the night within earshot of the chasm’s edge. Resolving to travel back to Crossford at first light despite their previous banishment, the adventurers are quite pleased to be spending the night under the stars.

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