Buried Secrets

Chapters 24 and 25: Return to Sunvale and Searching the Moon Wells

The Frozen Monastery

The heroes returned the marooned Githzerai to their home in the Frozen Monastery, having commandeered the ship of The Red Hand. Speaking to the head monk, Zorin, they requested his assistance to travel to Sigil. Zorin explained that the monastery’s gate to Sigil only opened once every three weeks, so they would have to wait for a while if they wanted to use it. Upon discovering that the heroes’ home Sunvale hosted a stable gate to Sigil, Zorin proposed that he use a Plane Shift spell to take the heroes directly home, provided they would let him use their gate to travel to Sigil. The heroes agreed, and they returned home that very night! Thia decided to throw her fate in with her new allies, and bid farewell to Captain Algrin, who hoped to form a new crew from some of the more promising ogres and Githzerai.

Happenings in Sunvale

Returning to Sunvale, the heroes discovered that the constables had assumed they had died in the Temple of Tiamat! The treasure horde behind the statue of Demogorgon was undisturbed, and they claimed it quickly. Thia claimed a onyx comb with a series of tiny rubies embedded in it. That night, she had a dream of watching a fierce storm from the parapets of a mountain fortress. Somehow, she felt that the comb had caused the dream.

Unfortunately, the heroes’ absence had resulted in some ugly consequences for the town. While they were away, a small warband had entered the town through the Sigil gate. The gate couldn’t be closed without one of Batal, Wrathy, or Elzin present, and much damage was suffered in the town square. After some tense negotiations with officials of the Borinean Empire, it was decided that Elzin would stay behind in the city to actively control the gate in times of crisis. This would also give the party an ally embedded in the empire’s power structure.

Discussing their plans with Regild the next afternoon, the party decided it was time to solve the mystery of the lost elven kingdom of Eladain. Sending word to the Eladrin exiles in Starwhisper of their intent, they agreed to meet in Sunvale in one week’s time. The heroes then set out to find Kelsis, the Eladrin hunter who had gone searching for the lost moon wells after getting tired of waiting for the party to join him.

The First Moon Well

Following the map that Kelsis had left for them, the heroes went to the location of the first moon well. En route, they discovered corrupted plant life like that they had seen in the forest many months prior, with reptilian scales replacing the tree bark. However, the corrupted trees appeared to be dead.

Reaching the site of the moon well, they discovered a small pond, which under the light of a waxing moon faded to reveal a stairway below. Exploring the site, they found no sign of Kelsis, although the extinguished candles suggested that a ritual may have occurred here recently. Searching the site, they found some parchment that confirmed that someone was using the magic of the moon wells to corrupt the forest. They left the site shortly before the moon was covered by a thick bank of clouds, causing the stairway to vanish once more.

The Second Moon Well

While the adventurers didn’t have a map to other moon wells, Ragnar felt he would be able to recognize another moon well now that he had witnessed the magic in action. Meanwhile, Thia found humanoid tracks leaving the site. Travelling in that direction, they found more of the corrupted fauna, and the vegetation was becoming more swampy. Wrathy burned each of the tainted trees they found, announcing their presence to anyone nearby.

Finding a clearing around a small lake, they spotted a lone cloaked figure standing in front of the lake, with a set of stairways leading into the moon well below the water’s surface. A cage of purple energy was set above the stairway; Ragnar and Wrathy determined that this was keeping the well’s entrance open while the moon’s light was covered. The party also noticed a half-dozen snakes moving towards them, possibly with intelligent purpose.

Wrathy addressed the cloaked figure, who revealed herself to be a worshipper of Dendar, the Night Serpent. Recognizing this to be a god of evil, Wrathy called his allies to attack … when suddenly the six snakes shapeshifted into foul serpent/human hybrids and attacked!

The battle was short and brutal. The snake-people had potent hypnotic powers, and one convinced briefly convinced Thia to return to the trees Wrathy had set on fire earlier and extinguish the flames. However, the spell was broken when the creature was slain. Between the speed of Thia’s assault, the holy rage of Batal, and the arcane might of Ragnar and Wrathy, the enemies were quickly dispatched. Moving to the lake stairway, Thia discovered an evil druid performing a ritual in the heart of the moon well, while two larger serpent-men looked on. Before she could warn the others, Rangar and Wrathy provided an arcane artillery assault, killing the druid in seconds and alerting his guards. While the larger serpent-men were more of a challenge, they were still dispatched readily. The last one brought forth the paralyzed form of Kelsis, threatening to kill him if the creature wasn’t given safe passage. Ragnar used mind-controlling magic to force the creature to let go of its hostage, and then the heroes dealt with it quickly.

The Woman in the Portable Hole

Kelsis had been paralyzed by the venom of the snake-men, but Batal’s divine healing cured him. He told them that the snake cult had been using the moon wells to transform the forest in the profane image of their dark god. The heroes in turn told Kelsis that a key had been discovered to enter the lost Eladrin Kingdom, and that they would soon set out to explore his old homeland.

Wrathy started exploring for magical treasures. He found a set of pipes that radiated magic, which appeared to be in a hole. He tried to reach them but had no success. When he used a pole to reach down, something grabbed the pole and took it! He called into the hole, and a hand emerged … quick as lightning, it caressed his cheek and then vanished again!

The others joined Wrathy to explore this strange phenomenon. Thia tried lifting the hole and found it was portable! As she lifted it, a voice inside the hole protested! Thia demanded that the woman vacate the hole at once. The voice explained that she had been cursed by the Great Witch Alzara years ago, and she would burn if she exited the hole. Wrathy decided to enter the hole himself.

Inside he saw a short human woman with a mechanical arm that had a normal-looking hand attached. She introduced herself as Dellic, and explained that she needed the arm after the last time she exited the hole. The area around her seemed to be a workshop and storage area. She promised to store the heroes’ items if they let her stay in the hole. Wrathy feigned acceptance of this to get close, and then with a huge effort he threw her out of the hole.

Dellic emerged from the hole … and immediately was set on fire by the ancient curse. Horrified at what they had done, the heroes quickly took her back into the hole and healed her wounds. Wrathy left the hole after apologizing, and receiving a hydraulic punch in the jaw. Having determined that her story was most likely true, the other heroes agreed to take Dellic’s portable hole along with them, and to explore the history of her strange curse.

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