JOURNEY THRU THE SEA OF FALLEN STARS

Chapter 27

CHAPTER 27

It´s the 4th day of Eleasias .The Swift White Dragon Company is in the Gray forest and has just stepped thru the portal opened up by Andhova.
The search for the cave where the Hreydasdottir clan last was seen working , and where Batra discovered some clues begins. Although Batra knows the general direction of it , the right spot eludes him , because the first time he was there , is God Mielikki guided him , so the Company has to rely on their tracking skills , and Brastil´s knowledge of the Forest he once called home . Nevertheless , their search takes them to the northern portion of the forest , and Brastil´s tribe inhabited the south part of it.
During their journey the party senses great instability in the forest , and manages to see a lot of creatures killed in fights between themselves , and the bodies left undamaged by predators. Further investigation ,even amongst Brastil´s tribe , let´s them conclude that all the attacks have a single common aspect , either the attacker or the attacked ,were of Fey origin. This is corroborated by Mindartis , that starts feeling strange urgings to attack someone. With the party keeping a close watch on their comrade , they continue.
The importance of this knowledge , or if it is even related with their current quest , is left for later , since the company has more pressing matters up north , and the have to keep looking.
After 3 hard days of forest tracking , on the base of the Earthfast mountains , the Company comes upon a patch of terrain where nothing living stirs. Cautiously , they investigate , and discover that this area emanates from a cave. A cave that Batra recognizes as the one they are looking for.
Upon entering it , and after awhile descending inside , they start to hear voices speaking in a language neither of them understands , and Mindartis starts fo feel strong magic at play nearby. Magic with the awful taint of lichdom.
Carefully inspecting, they come upon a cave where escavation was made , but with nothing of interest uncovered , and with a manmade stone circular area , that is emanating the blue glow that illuminates the area. Upon it , is a creature with ashen skin , sunken eyes and strange looking wings , using a staff to perform a ritual . They quickly discover it´s a Vampire , and that he is performing a ritual of banishing .
So the Company jumps into action , attacking the Vampire to interrupt the ritual. When they attack they discover that he is not alone , and ten of his minions, with the help of a zombie and a ghoul , jump into the battle to delay the party , and allow their leader to finish the ritual.
The interference of the minions , and the discovery that the circular area has some kind of defleting magic , serves to delay the party time enough , to let the Vampire finish his ritual , and with a blink , the glow disappears , lefting them in the darkness . Neverthless , the experienced party , quickly gather their wits , and defeats the Vampire , having already done that to his allies.
The last strike made to the Vampire is done while he was in the process of activating a strange red gem , and so when his form dissolves and is dispersed in the wind ,the party picks it up , and after some investigation , decides to finish the activation.

When the party entered the cave , it was the middle of the afternoon , and although they sense that it´s still daytime , the sky above them is gray and there is only a dim light around them.
In front of them , amongst countless columns of smoke that are the reason for the low light ,lies what must once have been a substantial fortified city is in ruins with no signs of life visible. A barren trench about three hundred paces across surrounds the walls, a dried pit filled with a strange green liquid and a screen of dead-black vines fills this area.
Skeletal faces in the crumbling black wall seem to watch them as they approach. A great Statue of bone is collapsed and inside reveals the sprawling ruins of shattered buildings. Sinkholes have torn the city apart, belching smoke up to the sky. Near the city’s center, a great hill rises like a barrow mound, it has the form of an enormous shattered skull, that sits wreathed in black flame.
On the front gate , two huge statues of humanoid , but featureless , form observe them , in silence.
Mindartis and Batra , remember from their studies , that this must be the ill-famed Skull City , home of the Black Academy of lichdom and necromancy study and an important enclave of the Cult of the Dragon , wich puts them near Mulmaster, on the border of northern Vesperin. And this is also the place that they heard where their next clue might be , the lich Wulgreth.
They start to investigate , and scout the perimeter of the city, if this small enclave could be named a city. The company comes upon at least a dozen places where the walls have collapsed , and where they can easily enter it.
Choosing a place that leads to a portion of the city that seems inhabited , instead of a few zones where some activity might me seen , upon a more careful observation , the enter Skull City.
The presence of the Skull mount dominates the city , but they can make 3 areas , isolated and with it´s perimeter guarded , besides a huge building made of black stone on the base of the Skull mount , where humans and other humanoid races roam.
The party decides to enter the perimeter of the lesser zone , but to their dismay , are discovered in the moment they approach it.
A human with a black cloak appears, and upon the brash responses of the group unleashes a horde of skeletons on them.
The party , that starts to know how to best work in conjunction with their new ally , Batra , wins , what appears to be an easy battle , managing to even capture the cultist alive , when they see even more skeletons arising to fight them.
When the Company is bracing themselves for the fight , they a a commanding voice saying:
“Stop all of you , in the name of the Skullbreakers”.
The skeletons stop , and sensing the power that emanates from the figure that spoke , and from it´s 3 companions, the party stands down. A little…..
The 4 figures that stand before them are of a Human fighter , a Shifter Barbarian , a Deva Warlock and a Half-elf Ranger , and the party can see that they carry themselves with the self assurance of someone who knows he doesn´t fear no one in battle.
The leader then speaks once more:
“Before you answer why you are attacking members of the Blackfire , and why did you enter the city without registering at the gates , release your prisioner , as a sign of your good intentions”.
After the party , grudgely , doing so , Nermathed tries to lie his way out of the situation , but the foursome quickly inform that they know they are lying.
So the company chooses to tell the truth , part of it , at least.
This leads to a less belligerent conversation , where the party learns more , and from the cues left from the Skullbreakers , manages to be escorted to the zone where they live , the Old Market area , and to a small , semi destroyed inn called “The Haven”.
In the conversation they learn that there are two major forces working in the city , the Blackfire´s the tend to the Black Academy and that believe that Sammaster is alive , and the Faithmarked , that also study lichdom and necromancy at the academy , but that are followers of the current leader of the Cult of the Dragon. Between them stands the Skullbreakers , the neutral force that ensures peace in the city, escorts the adventurers to the tomb , serves as it´s guard and that is made up of cursed adventurers defeated within the famous tomb inside the Skull mount.
The Tomb of Wulgreth.
The company also learns that this tomb is home , supposedly, to an enourmous treasure , and this is been serving as a call for hundreds of adventurers in search of glory and riches . The tomb exists for more then four hundred years , and the academy was built on top of it , the tomb was closed for some years , but twenty years ago , lights were seen inside , and rumours told that it´s master , Wulgreth had returned , thus restarting the flow of adventurers to brave it´s interior. That was the case of the four current members of the Skullbreakers.
With the way barred to any other place in the city , and with their goal clearly within the tomb , the party decides to rest for the night in here , and in the morning , to enter the Tomb of Wulgreth.

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