Episode 10 : Desolation's Return
 

Day 69. The party cast protective spells and enter the Desolation. With the skilful guidance of Pecan the party avoid most pitfalls until they are attacked without warning by four Hieracosphinx. The creatures do great damage, bringing down Hildegard, Shiloh and Moon. With the battle going poorly, Pecan turns into the form of a bird and flies away. Grog dances with the remaining Hieracosphinx and eventually despatches them.

After the battle with the Hierocosphinx, Grog manages to stumble in the gore and stun himself. Pecan returns and uses a healing potion to revive Moon. The healing process is then begun on the rest of the party, a rope trick is cast later for the nights rest.

Day 70. As the morning dawns Moon is very excited, chattering away it appears to be her birthday. After appropriate celebrations and protective spells the party move on into the desolation. Just before lunch the party is spotted and attacked by four Desolation Arrowhawks.

Shiloh manages time to cast a rope trick and lures Pecan and Moon into it after him. Hildegard ties the rope around Grog preparatory to hauling him into it as well but is attacked before he can get Grog off the ground. Luckily a lightning strike snaps Grog out of his stupor and he is able to help defend himself.

Two of the Arrowhawks enter the rope trick, one is blinded by Moon and strikes out randomly but the other fights on. Hildegard and Grog kill one on the outside, this forces the other to a safe distance to engage in ranged combat. Finally both Arrowhawks are killed inside the rope trick and Shiloh is able to dispatch the remaining one using ranged spells.

After the clash with the Desolation Arrowhawks the party rest and heal as best they can before moving on. Towards evening they spot a single figure and warily approach to find a very attractive woman asking for help. She identifies herself as Shilandra and begs the party to come with her to a cave where her brother is gravely injured.

On the way to the cave she takes quite a liking to Hildegard but seems to be shy of the clerics. At the cave she introduces her brother who is unconscious with a mysterious ailment, as well as broken legs. The clerics are unable to make any real improvement in his condition but promise to try again in the morning. Shiloh however is suspicious of her motives and begins to cast inquiring spells in her direction. Shilandra appears to take an active dislike to Shiloh, but Hildegard is by now quite taken with her.

Eventually Shiloh becomes more aggressive and is able to penetrate her disguise, seeing a half lion, half human Lamia. At this Shilandra suggests to Grog to protect her favourite Hildegard, a challenge that he eagerly accepts. Shiloh, Moon and Pecan attack Shilandra, Hildegard is not happy with this and fights to protect her with Grog close by his side.

During the battle many animals are summoned, but these occasionally prove difficult to control as they are charmed by Shilandra. Grog follows his duty and attempts to protect Hildegard by fighting off Moon, but is stopped by Ralph who warns Grog not to attack the party members. Confused, Grog eventually realises that he has been duped by Shilandra and joins the rest of the party in attacking her. Eventually she is killed and Hildegard is released from the spells that Shilandra had bound him with.

A search of the cave reveals hidden Dark Knight armour and some coin. The party rest overnight.

Day 71. The clerics manage to heal the 'brother' to consciousness. He identifies himself as the Dark Knight Captain Brandel Bloodstone and thanks the party for saving him. He fell into the clutches of Shilandra several days ago and had been steadily drained of wisdom ever since. Brandel recognises the party as one that the Dark Knights at Darkhaven have been warned to watch out for. He feels indebted to the party regardless of his loyalties and warns them not to travel to the town. Before he can say more however he is executed by Hildegard when he refuses to renounce his vows as a Dark Knight or meet Hildegard in single combat.

The party leave the cave, taking the possessions of Brandel with them. By mid-morning they are on their way again through the Desolation to Dark Haven.

In the late afternoon they encounter a patrol of dark knights. From a distance the Dark Knights observe the party and finally send two of their number riding in the direction of Dark Haven, only then do they approach. The party refuses demands to surrender made by the leader, and eventually kills the Dark Knight and his squires in the ensuing battle.

Day 72. The journey continues. Around midday they encounter a large group of dragonspawn. The leader is Vargard Bloodmane, mate to Sindra whom the party defeated in Malystyrx. The following battle is long and bloody but eventually the party emerge victorious. They camp again for the night. During the battle Hildegard wields Huma's Dragonlance, but strangely it does not appear to be as effective as the legends would make out.

Day 73. Soon after they begin to walk again the party is assaulted by a larger force of dragonspawn. There are too many to count, and more arrive all the time. As the party faces its doom another battlecry is heard and a huge force of mounted Dark Knights charges the battle from the flank. The dragonspawn wheel to face the greater threat, temporarily the party is left to its own devices.

On the edge of a great battle, with Grog unconscious and the rest near death, there is seemingly little that can be done but run as best they can. Suddenly two figures appear in front of the party and beckon them forward. The figures are introduced as brothers Kieran and Farren, from their red hair and pointed ears they are readily identified as Phaethon. They lead the party down into tunnels under the desolation. In a narrow and twisting maze they force a hurried pace.

Towards the afternoon they emerge near an outcropping of rocks, these they enter through a hidden passage. Inside is an open camp of stone buildings surrounded by towering rock walls. The party are told to rest and are given food and water.

In the evening the party is met by a circle of Phaethon elders who reveal much about their quest and recent events.

It is revealed that they must eventually travel to the Dragon Graveyard at Noordmar to unlock their destiny. The Key that will open the gateway to the graveyard is the Key of Quinari, but it is not the box, it the music contained within that will unlock the gate. They are also taught how to use the Key to record sounds.

After travelling through the gateway they will need the Tears of Mishakel to perform the task allotted to them, Both Tears are required, one has been corrupted and will need to be purified before they can succeed. The Phaethon elders present the party with one of the Tears and instruct them on its use. It is also revealed that the Tears may be able to restore the stricken elves of Passion. The have protected the Tear for many generations, waiting for this moment. Grog falls asleep.

The corrupted tear is revealed to be nearby in the Dark Knight fortress of Dark Haven. The Dark Knights have been scouring the desolation looking for the party, they have heard that the party is in possession of the other tear and will stop at nothing to retrieve it. After the corrupted tear is retrieved they are told to travel to Flotsam where they will be able to gain knowledge in order to purify it.

The elders identify some of the other relics collected by the party and instruct them on their use, after which the party rest in the Phaethon camp.

 

 
(c) 2007 Dragonlance Roleplaying Campaign Journal by Chris Burton  
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