“Finish him Tahlavain!” yelled Mutu, his arrow trained on his quarry, a bloodied orc priest. The spellcaster had fallen to his knees a moment earlier when Tahlavain had struck him a crippling blow. Around them Cah and Jihad were fighting off the remaining unimaginable half lizard half man creatures that had tried to cut off their escape. Seeing Tahlavain hesitate for an instant Mutu yelled again, “Finish Kalarel now!” The orc glanced over at the bow toting elf with his one good eye. The other was missing, and in its place was a jagged scar left from the sacrifice he had made to his god. The orc let out a low, rasping chuckle and then coughed up a mouthful of blood.
“I’m not Kalarel, you fools! You’ll never defeat the mighty Kalarel!”
The orc hacked up blood again, and wiped it off his mouth with the back of his brawny forearm. “You cannot stop us. It’s too late!” Tahlavain looked over at Mutu quizzically. He could not understand what the orc was saying.
“He’s speaking the tongue of the round-ears,” Mutu explained. He was as shocked as Tahlavain. At the moment a wave of revulsion swept over Tahlavain as he glared at his most hated enemy. He thrust his blade through the mighty chest of the orc, shouting the only word he could remember in the common tongue, “BAY-CONE!!!”
The heroes stood at the end of the pit, overwhelmed by the heavy, metallic odor of blood. Two wide streams of it poured down into the dim light some 30 feet below. Four thick iron chains hanging from the ceiling of the cathedral descended into the pit. The heroes could see the ends glinting in the torchlight just above a massive pool of blood that was accumulating at the bottom. Cah looked at his companions and said,
“Who wants to go first?” He tried to crack a smile, but the severity of the situation didn’t warrant it.
“The only fair way is to draw lots,” chimed in Jihad. “But, I will sacrifice myself if it serves Corellon.” He slammed the butt of his axe into the cathedral floor to emphasize the name of his deity.
“You’d love to be the hero, wouldn’t you?” remarked Tahlavain, drawing an icy glare from the Paladin. “Why don’t you let me go since I seem to be able to stay on my feet longer?”
“No,” stated Mutu. “I can move like a cat in the night. You cannot with your skins of iron and glinting blades.” I have the best chance to go unseen. Jihad and Tahlavain looked at each other, shrugged, and stepped aside. Then a shrill scream erupted from below sending shivers down their spines. Dead silence filled the cathedral a few seconds later, and the blood continued to stream through the pit. Cah adjusted the collar of his chain shirt and looked at his friends.“I think they already know we’re here.”
Knowing full well that the evil plaguing Shadowfell lay below, the heroes prepared to descend the chains to face Kalarel. A powerful voice stopped them in their tracks. Theron Silvertree had left the crypts, feeling that the evil was near its end. He brought gifts for the heroes. To Jihad he presented a terrifying greataxe that would strike fear into the hearts of his enemies. Next, Cah received the horned helm of an ancient captain. To Mutu he gave his best archers bow, one whose thunderous shot was followed by lightning quick death. Lastly, Theron turned to Tahlavain, only to tell him that the exotic blade of his weapon master had gone missing. To save the day, a goblin emissary of Prince Splug arrived, bearing a gift. It has a suit of hide armor that could tie to the wearer’s vitality, strengthening and protecting him.
Newly equipped the heroes entered the lower chamber. There the rift stood—a horrifying portal of dark energy. In front of it, glowingOpposite the rift stood a towering statue of Gruumsh. The party was greeted by three robed creatures. Two wielded falchions, one glowing with a magical aura. The leader stood by an altar and he greeted the group with a hiss.
It was too late Kalarel said. The Black Death was already here. How ironic that the Eladrin have returned. Then, out of the shadows, the dark one hit Tahlavain with a dagger. Another invisible being attacked Cah with a mind blast. The party scrambled to finish off the two attackers, but Jihad couldn’t wait any longer. He charged the two guards. As he approached, they dropped their robes, revealing humanoid forms with dragon-like features. Fire poured from their mouths as they charged. Jihad was hard-pressed and suffered many wounds before the others could rejoin him.
Their quick surge was short-lived. A magic word from Kalarel teleported the dragon-creatures to the runes. Healing energy flowed out from the glowing lines, invigorating the trio. The party fought hard, knocking the guards out one after the other—but Kalarel was strong. And the rift! From out of nowhere Jihad was grabbed by a massive scaled claw. Tahlvain narrowly saved him from being drug into the portal. As the group struggled to stay on their feet, only the healing power of Corellon kept them alive. But soon it ran thin. Cah called for a retreat, but a pair of arrows from Mutu turned the tides. Kalarel was on his last breath.
Tahlavain surged forward dealing a great blow to the sorcerer. In response, Kalarel laughed and let out a roar. A gust of acid burst forth. Tahlavain fought through it only to see two of his comrades fall. He bellowed a curse and swung with all his might. Kalarel’s head fell from his shoulders and his body slumped to the ground. The black scaled claw snaked out once more from the rift, dragging the half-draqon’s body into the portal. Then, the energy stopped and the rift turned to stone. The heroes had won.
But the victory was bittersweet. Cah and Jihad lay in crumpled heaps, disfigured by the acid breath. They were dead. As Tahalvain mourned for his brethren, Mutu realized what lay on the altar. There sat a large, speckled egg.
Bringing the egg with them, Mutu and Tahlavain took the bodies of their companions back to the Eladrin crypts. Theron Silvertree placed them alongside his best soldiers. Then he thanked Mutu and Tahlavain for closing the rift and laid down to rest. It was finally time to return to Winterhaven…