Travador and I arrived late to the gather, and quickly sought out Kivuli to see where our lodgings were and get caught up on things. I was glad to see that Logenn had arrived as well. I vaguely tried to discuss the “plan” for this gather, but since I did not have a plan, and did not know what would happen, it was not much of a discussion. We headed to the tavern to see who all had arrived, and what was expected.
I saw many new faces, and many others who I had not seen in quite some time. Count Shadowmancer was there, as well as some other members of RoseWidow. Kier was present, and he had managed to convince Michiko to attend as well. It has been such a long time since our last meeting in Tyrangel. I also met a Kyrillian named Endar, and a Storm Elf named Kestrel aka “Gnoll” from Old Tyrangel. Count Wyndham was also there, and informed me that his scouts had seen no sign of Du’Kratha ~ something I expected. I was quite sure he was trapped on Havoc, and told others so. A month trapped on another plane... and still no idea of how I could help him.
Quite out of nowhere, two Chaos Lords entered the Tavern. They are the same ones that were bargained with at the May gather, to unite against Kauffe. This time, they were offering to open a gate to the planar bubble of Havoc, again for mutual aid. They wanted us to retrieve a wax castle that was protecting Kauffe’s plane, if we removed it they would be able to attack Havoc and take back what is theirs. It was also a chance to find out what had happened to Du’Kratha. Count Wyndham appointed me as the leader of the expedition, and gave me the task of choosing who would go. I think everyone in Greyhelm wished to go and do what they could to help Du’Kratha, but of course not everyone could leave- if we did Kirran would be undefended. In the end it was I, Kivuli, Logenn, Kestrel, Endar, Kellian, and Sandrine. Kier reminded me of what I had been repeating to myself… the primary objective of this mission is not to save Du’Kratha, but to find the wax castle. We were all given planar asylum to Chaos, and the gate was opened there in the Tavern.
We all entered the gate single-file. I found myself standing on the edge of what in Tyrra would be a field with the gate in the center, completely alone. My vision was swimming with strands of silver and black, and the ground seemed to be moving, spinning. I could not see any of the others that had entered. For all I knew, my allies had been killed or worse by the magics of the gate, or by enemies waiting nearby. But since the gate was in the center of the field, and I had arrived on the edge, I reassured myself that the chaos magic which constructed the gate must have separated us. The circular field was bordered by darkness, in which occasional movements could be seen. I could see shadowy figures moving farther away in the middle of the field, but none of them bore the familiar silhouette of my allies. Or at least were not my allies anymore. For I could not ignore the fact that any elemental I saw could be him.
I edged around the rim of the field, staying to the shadows. There was a shimmering pathway nearby to my left. After considerable debate, I decided that if my allies were here with me they would decide to follow this pathway as well. My best chance of finding the others –alive or dead- was down that path. Almost immediately after I decided this, I faintly heard the sound of Sandrine casting magic, then silence. Hurrying down the path, I saw some sort of elemental monstrosity attacking her, and it dropped her. Seeing as I was alone, I decided caution was the better part of valor and snuck up to her body as the elemental wandered away, giving me the chance to heal her. The elemental came back before we had even stood up, so we both cast imprisons on ourselves and sat there, listening to it pacing, snarling, growling. And still no sign of anyone else. The darkness was so complete I could barely see myself.
There were a few elemental creatures that were patrolling the path. I was not sure what their commands were, but they did seem to have specific parameters. Sandrine and I continued down the path, and were able to mostly avoid combat. Although I am sure the growling elemental creature saw us, it would not attack us unless we were directly in its path. Luckily, we stumbled onto Kellian, Kestrel, and Endarr, all whole and well. There was still no sign of Kivuli or Logenn. I told the others my suspicions about the elementals- stay off their path, and they will not attack, and we continued down the glimmering path, pulling to the sides and acting paralyzed every time an elemental would stalk by. There were a few times that Kellian or one of the others was attacked, but each time the rest of us remained silent and waited, giving us the opportunity to heal him when the elemental left. As we made our way down the path, we were joined by another. In the darkness I could make out the pale skin and pointed ears of an Elf, and was glad we had found Logenn again. As we continued onwards, we could see that this pathway led to a castle, which seemed to be spinning- it was dizzying to watch. We regrouped in a patch of silver light to discuss the plans. As I informed everyone of the Plan – steal the wax castle- and distributed protective magics, I noticed that “Logenn” was not Logenn at all!
Surprised and once again worried that one of our allies was lost, we interrogated this male Surface Elf, and found out that he was a new adventurer to Greyhelm and had accidentally wandered into the gate. I was amazed that one so young and inexperienced in adventuring could have survived this far, and on his own. Since we had come too far to send him back, and he obviously had some skill, I decided he would come with us the rest of the way.
The path widened, giving us a clearer picture of the Castle and the layout. I have heard that some planes mirror Tyrra in their creation, and this was one of them. The sky swirled with silver and black and black pillars resembling Tyrran trees rose up to meet it. The ground was covered in flakes of something that crackled when stepped upon, very similar to the fallen leaves seen in autumn, even though it was midsummer on Tyrra. The silver light was illuminating much of the ground between us and the castle doors, and I had my doubts about our group being able to sneak the rest of the way up. Not to say that my companions are not competent- I trusted their abilities even more so than my own- but that we were mortals in a hostile plane, with little cover to protect us. We cautiously made our way forward, moving from pillar to pillar, circling around the building. I asked Endarr and the Elven male (name?) to circle around and see if they could hear anything. Kestrel was also checking out the building. When they returned, they reported to me that they heard voices, but since they have never met Kauffe, Du’Kratha, or anyone else who might be here, they could not tell me what or who was within. Since I was the only one present who had spoken to all of those who might be here, I decided to circle around and check it out myself.
There was a window and two figures speaking within. I could hear the voices of Kauffe and Du’Kratha…and as close as I was, their words were still indistinct. Silently cursing Du’Kratha’s ability to stop his voice from carrying, I moved in closer… and stepped knee-deep into a hidden ditch that had been covered by havoc-leaves. Kauffe looked out the window and demanded to know who was there. I said nothing and hoped my ankle would work once I managed to pull myself out of the ditch. As Kauffe gave Du’Kratha an order and ran out of the building with some of his elementals, I shouted a warning to my companions so that they could run or hide. I was on the other side of the building, but I believe Kestrel attracted Kauffe’s attention and then bolted off into the darkness. Kauffe and his handful of elementals followed.
Peering around the door, we could see Du’Kratha clearly standing guard at the entrance to the Castle. Despite my warnings about the changes to his personality, Kellian attempted to speak to him, and was taken down. Fortunately Kauffe’s orders were limited enough that Du’Kratha could work around them, and only attacked us when we came too close to the entrance. To my surprise and disappointment, Du’Kratha was capable of turning incorporeal, and evaded all of our binding magics. Frustrated and angry, I could see that there was nothing we could do to help him here. I focused on finding the wax castle. Kestrel returned to us, and by working together we were able to draw Du’Kratha away from the door long enough for Kellian to enter. I did not see Kellian enter, so I got around Du’Kratha and entered as well. We quickly found the wax castle and left the building just as Kauffe and the others were returning. I told Kellian to run for the gate, stopping for nobody. Knowing that we had no hope to win a fight on Kauffe’s own plane, I called for everyone else to retreat. We were already greatly scattered, and I could not even count to see if all of us had been able to run, though thanks to Sandrine’s healing I did not see any bodies on the ground. Sandrine and I were among the last of our group to leave, stopping on the way out and on the path to make sure nobody else had fallen. From what I could tell, Kellian had already made it out, and the others had followed. As we neared the field, I tripped over the shield of a fallen comrade. Since Kivuli and Logenn had not been seen for this entire trip, I assumed it belonged to one of them. Thinking it might have been Kivuli and remembering my promise, I went back to search for his weapons, but could find nothing in the darkness. Seeing that Sandrine was still waiting for me I gave up and joined her in running towards the gate. Around this time a rip opened in the sky, and a stream of black ooze started pouring into the plane. I can only assume this was the Chaos elementals invading. We heard Kauffe order Du’Kratha to him, as well as his other elementals, and they ran to meet battle.
To my surprise, Kivuli joined us near the gate. As it turns out, he had not died, but had approached the Castle from a different direction, and was going to join our battle when I had called the retreat. The shield and pouches I was carrying belonged to Logenn. Not knowing for sure if the rest had made it out, and already carrying the guilt from the one resurrection I knew of, I waited by the gate for as long as I felt possible, with Sandrine and Kivuli next to me. Although the Chaos lords had granted us planar asylum to Chaos, that would not protect us from their elementals or from the damage that was being brought to this plane. When the ground began to shake so badly we could hardly walk, we all decided we had waited long enough and jumped through the gate back to Tyrra.
Baron Travador and some others were waiting on the other side, ready to attack us. I suppose elementals had been coming out of the gate as easily as we had come in. Endar was there, and I am glad for the Kyrillian’s presence, for I think he is the only one who retained the presence of mind necessary to keep track of everyone and count those who exited. Aside from Logenn, all had returned. The Chaos Lords were also present, and once we knew for sure we had all made it back, the gate was closed.
Upon identifying the wax castle, it appeared to be no more or less than what it was- a protection for the Plane of Havoc. We gave it to the Chaos lord, who destroyed it using High Magic. Everyone present was informed of what had happened, and we prepared for a battle. Surely, if Kauffe survived the Chaos Lord’s attack, he would come for vengeance. Kivuli and I also visited the Earth circle, and thankfully Logenn resurrected.
It did not take long for Kauffe and his remaining havoc elementals to arrive in Kirran. I am not sure if he thought we would still have the wax castle, or if he just wanted vengeance upon us, but it did not matter. Their numbers were almost equal to ours, and they had Du’Kratha on their side. The fighting was fierce, and I think it is only due to the determination, endurance, and skill of those in Greyhelm that we even survived it. Du’Kratha was still doing what he could to disobey Kauffe, and managed to save a few adventurers while he was killing others. At one point late on in the fight, just when we thought we were winning, Kauffe transformed. His features melted and reformed, and we saw the death and darkness elements drip away from him. He had become the Chaos Lord he once was, and he was weaker for it. We all felt a magical burst as our skills renewed, and the fighting continued. I thought the fight might be over soon, any minute now Kauffe would give up, rift away and take his elementals with him- and still Du’Kratha had not been recovered. As the realization hit me that we may never get him back, that my expectations for his rescue had been … in error, I became far more emotional and far less rational than I should have been. And despite my best efforts, the fighting was too intense for me to keep track of him.
Yet the fighting continued.
As I felt the Daystar’s light burning my skin, we finally killed Kauffe and his minions. There was no sign of Du’Kratha. Everyone was exhausted; some stretched so beyond their endurance that they had lost the ability to speak. All the sane people drifted off to their cabins to sleep. I had a hunch about what might have happened, and have never been known for my sanity…so I stayed awake through the dawn and eventually found Du’Kratha in the forests nearby. He was himself - any sign of his transformation as a Havoc Elemental was gone. Finally able to rest we retired to our cabin and slept through most of the next day, which was far too hot for fighting.
We attended Feast, and sat with newly-squired Crazyeye Sam and Douglas, and took some time to share information. I was keeping a wary eye on Du’Kratha, who was showing signs of his extended stay within Havoc. But by and large his changes were positive- he seemed happier, and seems to have come to peace with his hatred of spiders.
A trio of rat scavengers arrived in the Tavern. It seemed like they were looking for a place to hide, and after reassuring them of our ability to protect others, they eventually confided in us. They had an object to deliver to Ralair. Anything Ralair wants would be bad for us. Fortunately, the rats had second thoughts, and were afraid of the undead. After more reassurances of their safety, we were able to convince them to give the item to us, and to lead us to this meeting with Ralair. One of the larger rats, named Scabies, took a liking to me and my castings of “powerful dark elfie magicks”, which was amusing. Michiko was given the item and hid it, then later passed it on to me. I suspected it may be one of the items necessary to empower Traegor. Even if it was not, it was a very valuable item, which had some unusual magical properties.
The main fighting force followed the rats out to a field to meet with Ralair. Meanwhile, Sereg and I crept around the area, looking for a place to hide the item. We made our way cautiously and eventually hid the item in a dark abandoned building. We quietly returned to town without incident, but could not find anyone in the Guild hall or Tavern. I was a little surprised that Du’Kratha had not waited for me, but I know he is usually needed in battle.
Still keeping an eye out for any wandering undead, or perhaps Malshaar, Sereg and I slowly progressed down the trail towards where we believed the battle to be. As we neared the field of combat from the forests, we realized we had no idea which side of the field contained our allies. Since we felt very exposed in the moonlight, and some of the shadowy forms were moving closer, we decided to wrap a magical representation of a circle of power around our waists, and continued onwards. It was fortunate that we had done so, for one of these shadows was Malshaar, the shadow wraith that used to help the Lich Malyon. He spotted us and moved forward, and I dropped our circle. We attempted to exchange some “friendly” banter, but he was not interested. We were able to approach the battle in increments, periodically dropping circles of power while Malshaar was near, then lifting the magic and continuing on. Conveniently, we happened to be headed towards our side of the fight, which was also where Malshaar was lurking, picking off people who were not paying attention. Finally we got close enough where our allies could see us, and Malshaar was drifting away. We even had an amusing moment, as Sereg and I were approaching Baron Travador, and Eristhadt came up upon us as someone mentioned the name “Malshaar”. Apparently, he saw my shadow standing behind Sereg and assumed I was Malshaar, or maybe that our combined silhouette was Malshaar, and with a flying leap Eristhadt ran past me down the trail, presumably to find us. After much shouting and laughter we all reunited and joined the battle.
I saw Ralair right away, his transform as a Green Dragon Knight clearly distinguishable, with a small undead army at his back. He was egotistical, rude, and woman-hating as ever. I think he is one who was meant to be born into a different race. Or something. Certainly not a Vornae.
We encountered another figure on the battlefield, one which we have never seen before. My suspicions are that this raised corpse is Tonzen, the one who originally tried to resurrect the Drakeolich Traegor. Of course, that is nothing more than an educated guess. I had also found Du’Kratha. Apparently he had waited in the town for my return, but somehow we missed each other. I guess there is such a thing as “too” sneaky.
There was also a glowing sphere that floated on the battlefield. It could have been one of the same green spheres we have seen before, but they have always been stationary. We suspected that this may have been the source for the renewal of the undead forces we were fighting, for no matter how many we slayed, more came out of the mist to join us.
The rats were helpful, when they became truly motivated. I continued to place minor protectives on Scabies the Rat, and he continued to bring me friends of mine who had fallen unnoticed on the battlefield. Although I know many people criticized helping them, as they were only rats, I feel that they were incredibly useful, as I know Baron Travador would have resurrected during that battle had it not been for one of them.
The fight did not go well. Ralair now has the ability to channel his Master Traegor and can throw obliterations as if they are spells. The rat leader died, and we were nearly out of resources, so a retreat was called. Looking to make sure nobody was left behind, Baron Travador noticed Kier, who was trapped in one of Ralair’s imprisons. Luckily Baron Travador was able to rally enough people to get to Kier without any losses.
Fortunately for us, Ralair also had enough of the fighting and transported away. I am unsure if the floating orb was destroyed, or if it disappeared with him.
We all thought the night’s battles were over, but we were mistaken. Just as many of us were leaving the Tavern to go to bed, we were attacked by panthergasts. There was at least one for Surface Elves, and an Alpha for Dark Elves. Kier had already retired for the evening and regrettably missed out on his favorite sport. The panthergasts were being assisted by Malshaar, who would occasionally attack us when our backs were turned. Since our resources were already heavily depleted by the fight with Ralair, we ran out of our remaining life spells quickly, and many of the younger Quentari Elves were forced to resurrect. Fortunately the Surface Elf panthergast was killed. As soon as we were given the chance, we directed all those who were not Dark Elven to make a run for the Guild hall and the protection of the circles. Then the rest of us ran for the circles in bursts. Although a few were attacked by Malshaar, all who were still alive made it to the Guild hall and took refuge in the Earth and Celestial circles there. It was cramped, but it was safe.
We tried circle-jumping to kill the Dark Elven Panthergast, which would attack non-Dark Elves if it felt they were in the way. But it was a useless endeavor, for the building had 5 doors and all the Panthergast had to do was exit to regenerate all of its abilities. In addition to that, every time we left a circle, Malshaar would pop in through one of the doors and pelt the person with spells. It seemed this would go on all night. Eventually we all discussed the possibility of placing a Ward upon the building, so that we would limit our enemy to one door, and could spread out to sleep here for the night if necessary. I was the only one left who could cast the spell, and with an Alpha panthergast after me, 5 doors to defend, no life spells, and a Shadow Wraith lurking outside, I was not willing to take such a risk. As I said so, Malshaar began to cast a Ward on the building. We interrupted it instinctively… but then thought about it. We are in the Guild Hall, with a large supply of Formal Scrolls, including lesser and greater DFM, and we have a supply of components here…and Malshaar and the Panthergast can only wait outside till dawn… so the next time that Malshaar decided to Ward the building, we let him.
After this, Malshaar opened the door and let in the Alpha panthergast, and locked it inside with us. Although I am sure he thought this was bad for us, it actually allowed us to pummel it into dust without giving it the chance to regenerate. With the combined efforts of Du’Kratha, House Talias, myself, and the adventurers who could distract it, and drag/ heal us, we were able to defeat it relatively quickly. After this we were able to speak with Malshaar through the windows of the building. After dallying around to taunt us for a while, he departed. In the morning a soldier walked by and found us - which must have been an amusing sight- and the ward was DFM’d.