Tashkil nar (The forge of fire)

Emerging from the portal, Dagaard finds himself on an island of basalt in the middle of a lake of lava. A stepped structure stands before him atop of which he notices the figure of Jundiin bent over an anvil. The sound of clashing swords brings his attention closer to home. On the stairs in the gloom he can just make out the form of Al’Ahmaq battling one of his Zilal Brethren on the stairs. They are equally matched and the stairs prevent the dwarf from aiding the rogue Zilal. He chooses to wait for others to come through the portal and allow Al’Ahmaq to continue the battle alone.

He regrets his decision. Un-noticed, another of the Zilal approaches unseen in the shadows his blow to the dwarf’s shield shatters the elbow joint. Surprised and stunned the immediate future does not seem long for the dwarven warrior. The red stones in the archway glow again. In the nick of time, Aerandir steps through and launches a surprise attack on the Zilal closing to finish the dwarf. Reprieved, Dagaard recovers while Aerandir and the Zilal exchange blows. On the steps, the evenly matched battle continues.

Ready to join the fray again, Dagaard stumbles leaving Aerandir to continue to battle on alone. The half-elf’s defences are not strong enough to hold back the flurry of blows of his opponent and he receives a blow to the side before Dagaard has recovered enough to aid his companion. Unfortunately, he loses his grip on his weapon and juggles it vainly trying to retrieve a firm grip. Fortunately, help arrives in the form of Fulton who steps from the portal and rushes to engage the enemy. Fulton pays the price for distracting the Zilal as a swift sword thrust cuts through the sailor’s defensive stance and slashes the muscles of his lower leg: leaving him on one good leg.

The Volcanic Forge – Two Minute Tabletop

Knowing that he now longer can be an effective combatant, Fulton limps from the battle as Aerandir and Dagaard rejoin the fight. At that moment, Jundiin strikes from the shadows as Aerandir, who is fortunate to only be lightly wounded. Jundiin appears to be wreathed in shadow making it difficult for Aerandir to find his mark. Fortunately, Denig appears through the portal and quickly joins Aerandir in engaging the leader of the Zilal Ramadiatan. More good fortune follows as Al’Ahmaq dispatches his opponent and is able to engage his former master.

With Dagaard able to press matters, having dispatched the last of the Zilal masters, the battle with the shadow shrouded Jundiin looks like it is in hand, so Denig withdraws to attend to Fulton. The opening created allows Jundiin to strike out and sever Al’Ahmaq’s hand from his wrist. Suddenly, events have turned for the worse again. Jundiin takes the opportunity to reposition his two remaining opponents face on and places himself between them and the portal. With a yell, Dagaard leaps to engage and promptly chokes on his tongue leaving Aerandir to fight on alone against the full force of Jundiin’s battle prowess.

Meanwhile, Denig abandons his assessment of Fulton to leap to Al’Ahmaq’s aid, reasoning that the party need their best fighter back in the battle. However, he is unwilling to succumb to the full horror of the Zilal’s wounds and prays only that the hand be joined and not bleed. With a quick word to an uncomprehending Al’Ahmaq he charges into the fray. Blows are exchanged and wounds are taken by both sides until, with a flash of brilliant skill, Aerandir opens up Jundiin’s defences and cleaves clean through the leg. Jundiin drops as the heroes breathe a sigh of relief that battle has finally gone their way.

The first thought of Denig is to loot the body of the Jundiin while his companions recover after their exertions. He finds an amulet that enhances his connection to Cloch and on the cloak worn by Jundiin half of a cloak clasp shaped in the wing of a bat or dragon. He determines that the the brooch has many spells woven into it but the only he is clear on is that it will haste the wearer for a limited period of time. As he discovers this there is a groan and a thud as Al’Ahmaq falls to the floor.

Denig races to his patient’s side and realises that the joining he has sought whilst effective was not complete enough and the damage has caused the wound to bleed internally. The lack of bone or muscle to support the hand and Al’Ahmaq’s inability to understand the instruction have ruined the effect of Denig’s prayerful requests. Forced to petition Cloch again, Denig is aware that he has finally tested his totem spirits patience too far and heals bone and blood vessels before strapping the wrist and hand and leaving his patient unconscious on the floor for safety.

The sudden collapse of Al’Ahmaq causes the party to stop and think about their situation and the threats they face. They are concerned that the portal may collapse and they will be unable to escape, but they are unwilling to pass through with the current number of wounds taken by the part. In addition, they are not sure if they could get the unconscious Al’Ahmaq through the gateway. The again what if the remaining Zilal find the dead masters and come through. The sheer weight of possibilities almost paralyses the heroes from logical action.

Finally, they begin to organise themselves. First, checking the bodies for significant loot, Aerandir takes Jundiin’s scimitars as a trophy. Then, the heroes turn their attention to the shards of Shawat which they find laid out on an anvil at the top of the platform built on the basalt island. The black metal shards appear to have sigils that appear on the surface and then disappear. Again the merits of how to treat the shards rage, but Denig is only interested in their potential to aid him and seeks to discover the abilities contained within. As he examines the shards he feels a promise of great power within but he devotion to Cloch causes him to pause and the inherent evilness of the items are revealed to him. He recoils and insists on the party throwing the shards into the lava nearby. There is still some worry about the chances of this causing the volcano to erupt and the speed at which they might escape. In the end, Dagaard takes responsibility and after a couple of shards have caused the lava to erupt decides to stop.

Eventually, they decide to rest and wait for Al’Amhaq to regain consciousness and ask him what he thinks will await on the other side of the portal. When he does come round his assurances convince them that it will be safe as Al’Amhaq is now the de facto elder of the Zilal Ramadiatan. With Jundiin’s influence removed, he plans to lead his men to Mustiq Eali to swear fealty to the Amyr. With these assurances the heroes return to the training complex and rest and recover.

The return of the Avenger of Tubki and his companions at the head of the Zilal Ramadiatan is greeted with great praise and delight by the Amyr. The Zilal are accepted into the forces of the Amyr and the heroes are feted with many feasts. In addition, the Amyr personally rewards them with the rank, armour and clothing fitting of a minor captain of the fleet.

Rewards and Reputation

The heroes are now ennobled with the title of Qubatan’aqala with the rights and responsibilities of that rank. The party have gained a reputation of being great heroes on the island and are instantly known across the island, especially if Denig or Dagaard are present. Their level of fame is now such that many on the island chain will have heard of the Avenger of Tubuki, Heroes of Mustawdae or The Defenders of the Children of Khalij Aldhahab.

+10OB Scimitars recovered from Jundiin
An amulet (x2 PP)
Half cloak clasp shaped in a wing (Haste III)
Items conferred with the rank of Qubatan’aqala
+5OB Scimitar
+5 DB normal shield
+5 DB rigid leather coat
+5 Perception normal metal helm (no perception penalty)
A set of clothes suitable for rank.

Wadi Aldabab Alkhafii

The heroes travel for several days through the jungle. Guided by Al’Ahmaq the journey is easier but not without its own hardships. Finally, they reach a region where mists seem to writhe though the trees and undergrowth making it difficult to see more than 300′ with any reliability. Clearly, they have arrived at the Wadi Aldabab Alkhafii (Valley of Mists). Breaking out of the jungle they are stopped by a large lake in which stands an island marked by a large cone shaped mountain. Having repeated his instructions for the plan and wished them good fortune Al’Ahmaq disappears into the misty surroundings.

A silence follows Al’Ahmaq’s departure, as the adventurers consider the mile of green steaming water between them and the small islet known as the Phantom Ship. Dagaard declares that there is no way that he will swim and that someone had better have a reasonable boat. Other’s consider consider seeking divine aid. Whereas, Fulton is confident that he could swim the distance but thinks that first they should see if they could build a raft. A plan that Dagaard feels is acceptable but Aerandir and Denig continue to think about seeking help from their respective deities.

Finally, Fulton’s idea takes hold and the party set about foraging for the wood that they need to build a raft to transport them. Perhaps it is the earlier religious devotions or perhaps the bounty of the jungle but there is soon enough suitable logs gathered. Under Aerandir’s watchful eye, the party set about lashing the logs together and creating crude paddles. There is little to do after that but wait for darkness to fall.

There is enough starlight making its way through the persistent mist for Aerandir to confidently guide the raft with the aid of Fulton. Which is just as well as Denig has to sit at the centre of the raft to avoid overtipping and Dagaard refuses to sit anywhere that would risk an accidental swim. Slowly the sailors paddle the raft, until the dark bulk of the Phantom Ship looms out of the ragged strands of mist.

The Avenger of Tubki and his companions are soon on the islet with the raft pulled up for safety. Within a few minutes the exit of the tunnel is located; a small cave covered with loose rock piled to hide it from a casual glance. Upon entering the cave the party are inconvenienced by a swarm of shrew (Zabbat Almawt). Soon beaten off, the shrews flee and only a few minor bites require Denig’s attention.

Healed up and with Dagaard at the vanguard to defend against unexpected attack by virtue of his better eyesight in the dark, the party descend into the dark tunnel. Soon the walls of the tunnel become smooth like glass and the overwhelming stench of sulphur dulls the heroes senses. The darkness seems to stretch for eternity, but apart from a few small fissures the way is clear and eventually the breath of sweet air begins to fill their lungs.

Knowing he has not the skill to scout ahead, Dagaard beckons Aerandir to check the area around the exit. Peeking out, Aerandir finds that the tunnel exits behind an animal barn. He is also acutely aware of a palisade down at the lake edge. Guard towers overlook the water beyond and also into the interior of the island. Deeming it safe to move from the entrance, Aerandir moves from the exit, using the cover of the barn to view the lay of the land beyond. He finds a scattering of dwellings beyond, along with expected barns and sheds. The small hamlet of buildings sits on the ground before the central cone of the mountain that dominates the island. Beyond it he can see a large domed building with a few lights further up the mountain. The training complex that Al’Ahmaq described. The approach is a clear path that runs from the hamlet and makes its way up the contours, until finally zigzagging up to the main entrance. With a quick prayer for guidance to Manwe, his senses widen and he is reassured that the nearby area is quiet.

Village at night
by UnidColor

Aerandir returns to the party and relays the information he has found. The party discuss the best way to approach the training complex about a third of the way up the mountain. Deciding that they need to avoid the path they plan to use the hamlet buildings as cover and then cut up the side of the mountain to come down the complex from the shadow of the mountain peak.

Stealthily, the heroes make their way from the tunnel and across the shoulder of the mountain. The journey is tense as the loose ground constantly forces them to pause and check for detection. Eventually, they are standing at the bottom of the tower where a rope dangles invitingly.

Swiftly, Aerandir scales the wall and drops into the room at the top of the rope. He finds only Al’Ahmaq alone in a simply furnished room. A quick call and the rest of the party begin the ascent. The rope creaks alarmingly as Denig climbs, his heavy mass straining the rope. Nearing the top, the rope gives up its fight with the weight straining on it and snaps. Denig grasps at the window ledge but misses and plummets to the ground below. His stone skin and the low height of the fall mean that the damage is low and easily healed with a dose of herb.

Having climbed using ropes supplied by the rest of the party, Denig is soon in the room and Al’Ahmaq reveals that Jundiin plans the forging now. Following the Zilal master through the darkened corridors the party race to the arena level where in a side room they encounter Jundiin and five Zilal masters. Behind Jundiin, an arch contains a red glowing portal, through which the leader of the Zilal leaves with the brooch and knife shards. The portal winks out. The remaining Zilal attack to protect their master.

The battle doesn’t start well. Denig prays for a personal blessing causing Fulton to hesitate as the rest of the party rush to engage the dual scimitar- wielding Zilal. Aerandir successfully engages and creates an advantage over his opponent. Al’Ahmaq is hard pressed by three of his former brothers at arms. Whereas, Dagaard is cut down immediately with a slice through is carotid artery. The shock to the party as the usually doughty dwarf is cut down is palpable. Fulton rushes to engage the assailant, while Denig races to save the dwarf’s life.

The battle rages on around Denig who prays over the recumbent form of Dagaard. Al’Ahmaq receives several minor wounds but also delivers one of his own. Fortunately, Aerandir manages to gain an advantage causing his opponent to stagger under a flurry of blows.  Unfortunately, Fulton receives a serious wound despite using all his weapon skills to deflect the attack as he attempts to defend Denig. He retreats as the a grinning Zilal master follows up on his bleeding opponent. The situation for the heroes looks grim.

At this point the portal glows red again and one of the Zilal masters leaves the fight with Al’Ahmaq and steps through. The portal blinks out as the battle continues. Denig collapses into unconsciousness and the rest of Cloch as the weight of wounds he has transferred take their toll. The restored Dagaard though launches straight into the fray disarming Fulton’s opponent with a swift blow of his war hammer. He then turns his attention on one of the Zilal engaged with Al’Ahmaq leaving Fulton to finish off the now unarmed opponent: a task that Fulton singularly fails to do.

Extraplanar Lens (Aether Revolt Masterpieces) MtG Art by Noah Bradley

Again the portal glows red and another Zilal master retreats through the portal leaving Aerandir to switch his target. Meanwhile, a woozy Fulton tries to escape his now rearmed foe by retreating into the central arena. The poor sailor looks doomed as blood streams from the wound in his leg. At the moment of highest peril though Denig recovers from his death trance and races to his aid rapidly dispatching the scimitar wielding opponent. Dagaard dispatches another and the final Zilal falls to Al’Ahmaq’s blades. It is too late for Fulton though, as true to form he collapses into unconsciousness.

Denig’s first concern is for the wound taken by Fulton which he prays earnestly will stop bleeding. He then sees to Al’Ahmaq’s wounds relying on Cloch to heal some of the damage and many doses of Draaf leaves to restore his companions to full health. Some minutes later the party are ready to step through the portal. But who will go first? It is decided that the fighters will lead the charge. Al’Ahmaq steps through first and thirty second later Dagaard follows. Aerandir is next to step through followed by Fulton and then Denig.