Chapter 1: It Came From Beneath the Surface
It seems that by fate Riaardon, Aukan, Vec, Illikan, and Laenan all met at the Divine Peak Championship. It was their that they first learned of the impending threat. Over the course of 4 days they competed in Olympic style events. Because of their outstanding skill they were able to make it into the top 10 among the 1,000 competitors. Also in the top 10 was a half-orc named Tarak (who was their rival at the time) and his two lackeys (a goliath and a dragonborn). All of the members in the top 10 were able to compete in the final event: a dungeon crawl through the Divine Peak Temple. The first one to the last room would earn 500,000 gold pieces, second prize was 25,000 gold pieces, and third prize was 5,000 gold pieces.
The five heroes all entered the final room at roughly the same time. The room that should have been teeming with gold was completely empty except for Tarak’s dead body. After some time spent examining Tarak’s body another top 10 contestant entered the room just before being killed by a javelin that was thrown by an unknown source from out of the room. The heroes quickly prepared themselves for battle, but were shocked to see that the attackers were creatures that were completely unfamiliar to them. Several monsters with stone for skin and magma for blood entered the room in an attempt to kill the cornered adventurers. They, however, were no match for the well trained heroes. There was no time for celebrations after the battle because just as the last creature was killed several hundred more charged the heroes seeming to come from out of nowhere. The heroes tried to bar the door shut and keep the monsters out but, unfortunately, their were to many of them; the creatures swarmed into the room with the hopes of finishing what their allies had started. Unfortunately for them, however, as they entered Riaardon had a flashback to the death of his mentor, he was overcome with the same mix of emotions: anger, fear, hatred, and hopelessness. Those emotions unlocked something deep within Riaardon; he suddenly felt a surge of power. He raised his arm (which was glowing white light with bright flames coming off of it)towards the creatures. He fired spell at the creatures that created so much force it knock the other back against the balls of the room. Aukan was the first to stand; he to noticed that Riaardon was glowing with white flames coming off of him. The white flames started to burn at Riaardon’s skin causing excrutiating pain; Aukan, not knowing quite what to do, tackled Riaardon in an attempt to smother the flames. This was successful as Riaardon was no longer glowing, his surge of power and energy was gone leaving him drained. The heroes looked towards the hallway that the creatures were just coming at them from to see that it was completely empty; not even a body in sight. The heroes then left the temple trying to make sense of what just happened.
Outside of the temple the contest judges were waiting for them. The doors locked behind them and any attempt to scry on someone inside the temple was unsuccessful. The heroes told them what had occurred inside the temple. The heroes then decided to pay a visit to the man who ran the contest. However, he had passed away the day before. After a thorough examination of his room they found letters addressed to a human wizard named Thom. The letters often depicted dreams where monstrous creatures kidnapped him from his bed, brought him underground and forced him to make the traps in the temple lethal. After reading the letters the heroes decided to speak to Thom to see what he had to say about these creatures.
During a brief discussion with the wizard the heroes learned that the creatures they had encountered matched the description of the fossils that an archaeologist friend of Thom’s, named Ben Torren, had discovered just recently. The heroes decided that they should try to speak to Benn about these creatures.
On their way to the dig site they encountered a woman being chased by bandits. After quickly dispatching the bandits the woman told them that she was a noble, named Cassi Martizen, from the nearby capital and the bandits had kidnapped her daughter in an attempt to ransom her off to the highest bidder. The heroes took a detour from their mission while they attempted to save Cassi’s daughter. The heroes located the bandits’ hideout and defeated them, freeing all of the prisoners including the girl they were sent to find. Along with the girl they also found a bandit named Derrick cowering in the corner. He begged the heroes not to kill him, he would have left the group of bandits himself but he was afraid that they would hunt him down and kill him if he did. After some arguing and debating the heroes decided to let the bandit go. This did not please Cassi who in a state of anger told the heroes that they should have killed that bandit and she never wanted to see them again. The heroes then resumed their mission.
Laenan after being badly wounded fighting the bandits decided that he wasn’t cut out to be an adventurer. He then left the other heroes and has not been seen by them since. On the way to the dig site the four heroes encountered some guards looking for an escaped criminal named Lafavel. The heroes decided to help out, but after encountering the so called “criminal” he told them that the king of Tamorea was actually a cultist of Torog who sent the guards to kill him because he was a freedom fighter. The guards came back to see the heroes that they had hired talking to the criminal. The guards attacked but were killed by the combined force of Lafavel and the other adventurers. After the battle Lafavel decided to accompany the adventurers seeing that he had a better chance of surviving if he was with a group of skilled combatants.
When the heroes finally arrived at the dig site they saw that it was overrun by the same creatures that they encountered earlier. After killing the group of monsters outside the dig site they noticed that one guard was still clinging to life. With the last of his energy he told them that the monsters captured Benn and his wife Stasi; he begged the adventurers to save them. With his dying breath he placed a multicolored pearl in Riaardon’s hand and whispered the word Jenn. With the monsters outside dead the heroes delved into the dungeon to fulfill a promise they made to a dead man.
The heroes encountered many more of the creatures inside the dungeon. They also found pieces of Benn Torren’s journal. By reading it they discovered that the dungeon they were in was a dwarven fort that dated back to the Dawn War. They also learned that the creatures they had been fighting are called Vortera. In the final room of the dungeon the heroes found an altar with the original god’s symbol scratched out and a new symbol was carved in: a jagged stone. Soon after an earthquake caused the ground beneath the heroes to break away causing them to fall into darkness.
The heroes woke several hours later in an underground cave. After a little exploration they found Benn and Stasi in caged suspended above lava. The cages were hooked up to a mechanism that would release the occupant of one cage safely while dropping the other into the lava. Both Benn and Stasi begged the adventurers to save the other. After a difficult decision the heroes chose to listen to Stasi and save Benn. She thanked them for saving her husband and asked them to keep him safe. She told Benn that she loved him just before she was dropped into the lava. Stasi’s death caused Benn to cry from sorrow. However the area was not safe and the adventurers were forced to escort him out of the room.
Outside of the torture chamber they saw a large city in the center of a large underground cavern. Three roads led from the city, they were on one of the roads. Each road had thousands and thousands of vortera marching up the roads towards the surface. The vortera noticed the heroes and hurried their march to a sprint after them. Just as the heroes could see the exit a dragon made of stone blocked their path. Just then Illikan was filled with overpowering emotions: despair, fear, hopelessness. He suddenly felt a surge of power and he started glowing just as Riaardon had. With his new-found power Illikan defeated the dragon. The killing blow caused a sonic boom that caused the section of the cavern they were in to collapse just as they escaped. Outside of the cave they noticed that a giant blue barrier had section the world into three parts.
On their way back to Thom’s tower, Riaardon had a dream where he saw what looked like a human in black armor named Klemvar and an old man talking in a big throne room. During the conversation the old man walked over to a floating black jagged shard on a pedastal and green energy flew into the shard before being absorbed by the old man. When he absorbed the energy he seemed to get younger. Then Riaardon woke up in cold sweat.
After telling Thom about what had transpired at the dig site he told them to go to Arthas, the capital of Tamorea, and warn the royal army about the Vortera that will be coming soon. Luckily they were delayed when the cavern ceiling collapsed.
During their conversation with King Caleb Osmeer, he recognized Lafavel and attacked him after separating him from the other heroes. During the fight Lafavel felt anger towards the king and that anger turned into great power. Lafavel experienced a huge surge of power that caused him to glow and his skin to burn. With his immense power surge he was able to defeat the King. Shortly after though he was arrested and was going to be executed by the order of the next king.
The other adventurers received a letter from one of the princes named Jason about a deal: they help him become king and he not only gives them the soldiers they need but will also pardon Lafavel. The heroes agreed and were then tasked with getting the vote of as many nobles they could. They did many quests for the nobles which included giving Jenn Trason her dead brothers pearl that he had given to them. During a quest to kill a necromancer Illikan again experienced a surge of power, however he was unable to turn it off and after a minute of agonizing pain he disintegrated. Fortunately the heroes met a genasi swordmage named Yuriel who asked for them to help him find and save his mentor. Yuriel decided to travel with them in the hopes that they will be able to save his master together soon.
At the election the heroes were greeted by all of the nobles that they had helped in the past few days, and the ones that they had pissed off. In the senate hall Marc, Jason’s brother, told the nobles about all of the terrible things that the heroes had done in the past. Luckily Vec’s wit and charm was able to sway the crowd back in their favor. In the end Jason won the election 8 to 2.
Marc did not take failure lightly, he called upon the guards (who were actually zombies) to restrain the nobles and hold a sword to their necks threatening to kill them if they vote for Jason (In a short struggle Carric Fortham was killed by one of the “guards”). Marc explained that he got the zombie minions from a necromancer named Quinn, who the heroes had just killed the day before. His magic was powerful enough to bring himself back to life as a zombie. Jason charged Marc but both brothers fell into a pit that Marc created. Quinn and his zombie’s prepared to attack the heroes.
Vec angered at the mere sight of Quinn and his undead minions experienced a great surge of power that gave him incredible accuracy. The fight lasted long but in the end the heroes won when Vec stabbed his sword through Quinn’s back. When Quinn died all of the undead collapsed.
Almost five minutes later Marc and Jason were still not back from the pit. Finally The pit filled itself up again and Marc, soaked in blood, stood above his defeated brother wielding his and his brother’s swords. He asked Torog for strength who was more than happy to comply, all of his wounds only made Marc more powerful. In a final battle the heroes were able to kill Marc, the aspect of Torog, and save Jason. Jason struggled to his feet and was soon supported by Yuriel and many other nobles as they rushed to congratulate him and officially name him king of Tamorea.
While he was being sworn in, Cassi approached the heroes to apologize for her attitude and behavior towards them in the past. They did not entirely forgive her but the 1,5000 gold pieces she gave them loosened them up. Jason bowed to the adventures and thanked them for everything they had done. He told them that he would prepare the royal army for the impending vortera attack. He also asked them if they had any suggestions for how to improve the city. The heroes eventually decided on a temple to the Raven Queen. Jason agreed to have a temple made to the Raven Queen as soon as possible. Jason also mentioned that he would like to speak to them again after he started to recover from his wound; he wanted to speak to them about their next course of action . . .