So this week in the Anduwin Chronicles…

On the shores we find ourselves. There are a series of levels of ground to battle on, getting higher and steeper. We are on the second level, and all levels before and beyond us are covered in dense fog which our gaze can’t seem to pierce. Through the tops of the fog, and looking upwards, we can see some coldrons balanced in the distance bubbling with red embers. There are also three beams of light; red, green and blue; which are the same colours as the light which shone from the crowds into the barges in the previous stage of the race.

Brant acts first coming out of the crashes vessel. He dashes towards one of the steep rises and begins to flip and parkour up the wall before him, avoiding an array of metal dripping spikes designed to slow climbing. He reaches the next layer up, and is met with the sign of two giants and an archer. Seeing this and realising he is alone, he starts to try to hide himself. The halfling is able to nimbly shelter behind some dirty, being he is only small. The giants inspects the tumbling rock from where Brant came from, but sees nothing. The sea elves make their way across from the winged horses, which are being pulled into the sandy dirt and melting into dust themselves. The elves want to save Abraxos and Karl from their unconsciousness, and are assaulted en route by three small kobolds. The elves are able to dispatch two kobolds easily even in their surprised state. Lady Granuelle draws out her magical orb, and imbues herself with terramantic magics. She tunnels through the earth and up to the same level Brant climbed to, seeing the giants and foes. As she tunnels out, she sees a goblin and immediately strikes it with her warhammer enchanted with flames. The fire burns the goblin and then leaps to the giant burning him slightly. She glares at the goblin she struck and commands it to fight with her, and be spared. The goblin joins Granuelle in the interest of self preservation. The spear weilder stabs into the Greyborn piloting the ship now no longer under Kavan’s command, at the same time as the Greyborn parries the spear he avoids a sacred flame from Patch. Seeing this fail, Patch heals Abraxos and makes his way to the sheer climb, but doesn’t think he can climb this quickly enough due to his tiredness. Back at the Greyborn ship, the warrior gets away from Kavan and the spear solider and prepares to fire his rifle weapon at them. Being so close he chooses to fling a dagger, but injuries prevent him from striking true. Kavan then casts another magical suggestion at the Greyborn, but the warrior is now wise to this trick and is able to resist the effects on his mind. Kavan then choose to move up to the climb, and teleports up to the next level, and keeps running to the wall at the third tier. Farandril then follows the sea elves and speeds a divine word to heal the sea elves, Patch, Abraxos and Karl, bringing the samurai and paladin back to consciousness. Now awake, Abraxos stands and reaches out to Karl, and heals him further as he touches, and pulls the paladin further away from the cliff drop. Standing with assistance, Karl draws his weapon and slashes the long sword at the remaining kobold harassing the sea elves, felling it instantly. Karl nods at the sea elves, and distracted, the Male is unaware of the approaching griffin swooping out of the fog. The griffin grabs the elf and flies off with a terrific scream from the elf. Karlina is horrified by this and her brother being taken.

On the upper level, the giant slams its axe into the goblin, mistaking it for the one who burnt it. The axe swipes through the goblin leaving nothing alive in its path but a mist of red. Surrounded still, the remaining two goblins fire bows at Granuelle and puncture a section between her plate mail armour. She responds by using her Earth ability to tunnel to the next level where Kavan was heading. As she emerges she comes face to face with young green dragon, approximately 25ft wide in its wingspan, it’s mouth growling and emanating poisonous gas.

Karlina chases futility after her brother, climbing as fast as she is able, while the rankor, the ride of the cephalopod then vomits out more oozes which throw themselves at the cliff and start to form a pile for the rankor to climb upward. Patch clicks his boots of speed together to activate their magic and rushes up the climb, just, in his tired state, arriving at the giant’s level stood before a giant. He slashes out and cuts sections off the giant, but it seems ineffective.

The Greyborn steps away again, and unleashes an area attack on the spear weilder as well as the three survivors from the golden barge. Two survivors are blow off the ledge and fall thirty feet down to their demise.

Kavan climbs up to join Granuelle on the next level up. But finds himself face to face with a huge steel Jackal, guarding a small stone henge emitting blue light. In the centre of the light is a floating blue sword. As Kavan touches the sword time for him slows down and he feels he is much more agile. He then teleports up to the highest level behind a cauldron and kicking it over, causing it to spill down over the steel Jackal. The beast is quickly melted into nothingness.

The oozes manage to make it to the level Karl and Abraxos are on. Farandril charges the oozes but his weapon misses, as he is distracted but casting another healing spell for Karl. Two female warriors crest the climb and make it behind Karl. He calls out for a truce, due to the bigger threat of the oozes, but the snakes level two hand crossbows each, firing st him at point blank range. The close range means that most of the bolts connect with his armour rather than with him. Two more snake warriors climb up, and level their bows. One fires at Karlina who is still climbing after her brother. The arrow punctures her back, but rather than pin her to the cliff, she begins to fall, and the arrow heats up as it did in the arena causing the sea elf to explode. An arrow is shot at Abraxos but richoets off his bone armour and sails through the air over Karlina’s remains. Abraxos rushes after the arrow and knocks it into his own bow and tries to fire it at the snake warriors before it explodes. Having just come back to consciousness he is not fast enough, and whilst knocking the arrow it erupts in his hands, knocking him out again. Karl draws divine magic info himself and imbues his blade with thunderous energy and slams it into the ground with both hands to try and trigger a rock slide. His magic takes hold and sparks out of his sword. The ground begins to crack and crumble. One snake crossbow archer falls down, the other manages to keep its balance. In the shaking ground, Karl then tries to punch out and shove an enemy off, but the tremors cause him to miss.

The giants attention is drawn to the cat, Patch. It throws its axe down at him, but misses. The repeated strikes at the earth have unsettled the stability of the mountain, from axes, and thunder and grendades. This axe strike triggers a rockslice down towards Farandril, Karl, Abraxos’s body, snake warriors and rankor, as well as he Greyborn. The giant proclaims his actions in he name of the Mud Gods.

The dragon draws its breath and exhales a breath of poison at Granuelle. She avoids the bulk of the spray and casts a spell to absorb elements to help her resist even more of the poison. In the cloud of poison gas, the dragon lashes out with its claws at her twice. Thanks to her mastery over heavy armour, and her terramantic form, she is able to resist half of the slashing claws. She steadies herself and takes out Julio’s urn, but being empty, she is able to use the command word to cause the dragon to be sucked into the urn before she tunnels up to the top level.

Brant continues his climb in parkour following Kavan’s route, and discovers an intense heat up on this level. As he climbs up, he sees he has reached an area of calm surrounded by pooling larva. He skirts around the larva and then continues his assent upwards in rapid pace to avoid the risk of falling into the larva. Brant reaches the top and sees Kavan. At that moment the griffin swoops down again and takes one of the female snake archers into the sky as it did with the sea elf.

The ooze moves upwards and tries to bite at Patch, but in his speed, also misses the cat. From the first level, the rankor leaps high into the air, and breaks fog cover. Seen by all, before it continues its leap forward to be on a level with the giants. Patch takes his blade and falls his own thunder to him to teleport, killing the ooze and injuring the giant. He then dashes further and cuts himself on one of the poison spikes whilst climbing. His vision blurs and he begins to enter a more hallucinatory state of being and is dazed. He tries to push over a coldron of larva and although he fails, in his mind, he is convinced he has succeeded. Kavan then charges with the claimed blue blade and rather than running, he finds he is teleporting every ten feet using the sword and reaches he dazed and fallen over Patch who appears to be high on some substance.

At the base of the climb, Farandril heals the unconscious Abraxos again, and helps him to stand up by the edge of the rockslide the giant triggered. The snake leader takes a potion and becomes incredible fast and charges through the poison spikes in the rockslide to continue her pursuit up the mountain. Another snake solider takes her dagger and tries to stab the prone Karl but misses. Abraxos learns the paladin is still being attacks but in making his way to save him, he is caught by a poison spike. He too feels his mind effected by hallucinations. The arrow fires wide and misses, but Abraxos sees a perfect headshot and he believes he has saved Karl. He fires again out of habit, and he second shot actually does strike the snake soldiers head, killing it and letting the foe fall pinning Karl down. The paladin then shoves the deadweight body off him and stands up, walking to join Abraxos and stands on poison spikes as he steps. His mind is also impacted by the drug effect. Karl believes he asked Abraxos what the plan is, but in reality, in his drug addled state he calls the samurai Shirley and says he wants to “go again”.

The giant moves towards the rankor and hurls its axe through the beast at speed. The rankor then shoves it’s pinchers into the giant and brings them to meet each other, swiping through the giant’s spine and abdomen. The giant is cleft in twain and felled.

Granuelle follows Kavan and meets him by Patch’s side. The wind beats at them and the fog clears slightly, beconing her forward. She resists the calling. Patch then stirs and is convinced that Kavan and Granuelle are stood in the wrong orientation. Granuelle tells him to stand up. He believes he is, but she tells him to stand higher. He follows this instruction and teleports thunderously upwards without thinking. His spell damages Kavan and Granuelle as well as Patch being hurt by his fall from teleporting forty feet into the air. He then chases debris in the wind into the cleared fog, and the path closes behind him. Kavan stands and awaits Granuelle’s orders to possibly secure Patch.

Farandril continues his charge avoiding larva, whilst the final snake solider rushes upwards and engages the rankor in combat. Abraxos and Karl continue to be effected by the drunk and poisoning. The samurai is able to draw on his training and constitution reserves to snap out of it, and he pulls the effected Karl out of the area towards the other party members. Karl is then about to jump onto Abraxos back, believing his wings have reformed, but before he leaps, he too breaks free of the drugs influence. He rushes upwards and starts to climb, and in hpthat moment a griffin snatches at Abraxos and flies him away. He screams. From his perspective he is dropped into a nest and sees the sea elf and solider who were caught earlier in a terrified pose, as though all the life has been drawn out of them.

The larva continues its gradual flow down the mountain, and burns the rankor and imolates the last few goblins, still flowing and burning in its wake. The rankor moves up to the female warrior and attempts to striker and then engulf her, but misses.

Before Brant another pathway is opened in the fog and he toois called forth, but he chooses to stay steadfast. At another place on the top level, Granuelle and Kavan chase after their hallucinating feline friend. Kavan then points Granuelle in the right direction and then steps up to the cat, telling him to wait for Granuelle.

A fight continues to progress between the Greyborn and the spear solider, as well as between the snake warrior and the rankor, but no lives are lost yet. Farandril begins his assent following after where Abraxos was taken. Karl keeps his climb going but still cannot make it up the next level. He peaks over the edge and sees the tussle with the rankor and its foes and so he chooses to remain below the ledge. Meanwhile our samurai rifles through the bodies of the others in the nest looking for healing potions, it comes away empty handed. He looks out of the nest and sees a long tentacle feeling it’s way across the top tier past the nest and towards the grouping of Kavan, Granuelle and Patch.

The surviving giant turns to the snake warrior. She brandishes a spectral red sheild and blocks the giants assault with relative ease. The larva continues to flow and burns through the Greyborn and the spear warrior. The Greyborn dies, and the spear survives, dashing backwards to avoid the flow.

Brant continues to makes his way towards his friends seeking them out. In the fog he finds he is faces with two tentacles, massive in scale, either side of him and creeping towards him. He hears a voice in his mind from the tentacle being and it says “I can see you…” in a whispery tone. Brant casts a spell at the emberous cauldron to try to trigger a third larva flow. As the spell strikes, a weak point is illuminated and nightlights where another strike will be most effective. The pipe bursts and larva begins to spew down the mountain, given Brant opportunity to dash away from the tentacles. Granuelle makes her way to Patch, and picks him up to keep him safe. She and Kavan move away from the tentacles and the movement and lift seem to be enough to shake the cat out of his hallucinations. He panics briefly but climbs down from the half-orc and heals himself in a rush before surveying the scene.

Farandril’s assent completes allowing him to reach the green henge. He claims a glowing green wand and is teleported to the top tier into a rejuvenating pool. Is appearance triggers an effect which clears the fog from the cliff top. We see a massive snake being, whose tail splits into four tentacles. It rises upwards on its tail, out of its coil, lifting a massive cobra like head to 150foot height, before it hisses “I can see you feeble creatures”.

The snake warrior is also teleported up to the rejuvenating pool. She steps out, and sees Kavan, and fires at him. She misses her explosive arrow which flies into the distance and the explodes. Abraxos completes his climb down from the nest using his rope and makes his way to join the party.

Karl keeps climbing and as he dashes past, the last giant manages to kills the rankor with its club. The larva continues to flow down hill from the endless pipeline at the top, as the fog also clears from the rest of the mountain.

Brant is unsure what to do, but draws on his bardic power and tries to penitrate the snake beings mind. He gets surface thoughts of “kill kill kill”. He focuses his own mind, and probes his mental powers deeper. He asks about what the snake fears. Instantly, Brant’s psychic power show him a memory of a beautiful elvish looking woman emanating light, and fighting with this beast. He sees the woman unleash a torrent of energy from her hand, blinding the creature into submission. In Brant’s mind, he thinks this woman may have been the only female Anduwin based on her impressive powers. Granuelle rushes the snake warrior who had fired at Kavan, and smashes her warhammer into her at a vulnerable point. The blow crushes the woman’s ribs and ends her life. The half orc then picks up the red pulsing item, which becomes a magical phase sheild again.

Patch is panicked and unable to figure out any of the creatures weaknesses, so uses his warlock powers to assume an illusionary disguise of a miniature version of the cobra entity. He looks up at it, and cries “I can see you”. The crowd begin to chant and clap in unison “soul suck” over and over as Farandril steps out of the pool with his green wand and fires a healing beam from it at Abraxos, Patch and Brant, restoring them massively. It also restores magical energy to them all, allowing them to use more magic. Abraxos turns his attention to the cobra being and asks who it is. The being says he is the end stage of the challenge. It is a task to be judge as we choose to perceive, as we are unsure if this is a challenge of wit, or might, or something else. The being expresses that we must make the first move and we will be judged based on what we do. Brant asks it if we can end the challenge now, but the being declines and says we may compete together as we have defeated all of our foes. It stretches out a tentacle and pulls Karl up from where he was climbing 80 feet away. It demands the lives of two party members, but we decline. As we discuss our options, Patch moves into the healing pool and is restored of his tiredness. Brant takes out his banjo of ensnarement and plays a tune which the cobra being is taken by, and is more influenced by Brant’s charisma. He asks to leave without giving it anything, but is unable to shift the beings mind. Brant then offers four red eye pearls which the being says is a start.

Brant steps up and challenges it to a musical contest. He orders it to produce his own instrument and that the crowd will be be judged of each peice played. Kavan chips in with the need for songs to be original to prevent the beings telepathy from taking a song from the mind of the players or crowd. Brant is to play first. Brant steps up and begins to play a song about our parties journey from the race to the fight up the mountain. Patch uses his illusionary powers to change into different characters in the story to match with the song. Kavan unleashes magical sparks, while Abraxos, Karl, Farandril and Granuelle stamp and clap out a we will rock you style beat. The song is epic and the crowd love it as nothing they have ever heard. Brant taunts the cobra entity to do better than that. It then plunges a tentacle into the earth and draws it out wrapped around a large bone, which it squeezes and crumples into a bone flute. It starts to tell how it has seen many things, and many gods and pretenders over he centuries and then starts to play his flute. The story connects more with the crowd, but Brant’s bardic skill enables him to keep the attention of the crowd who start to chant “Outsiders” not knowing who we are. Brant plays an encore telling how he has beaten the cobra. The crowd throw confetti and cheer in celebration. The cobra being moves up to Brant and prostrates itself as low as possible spreading out. “Well played” it utters, and it opens its mouth and unrolls a long forked tongue. In its tongue coil is the Anduwin Chalice which Granuelle picks up. She offers a trade of her orb of elements to the cobra being. A disc descends to us with guards and we are escorted on to it. We are stood on the disc as it rises above the stadium, and we survey the massive crowd. Abraxos spots Ester Dark Shaper and her wife Venracka. Brant keeps playing and celebrating to his largest audience yet.

And that’s where we left off.