Year 814, Kiran 33-37
Before you is a dusty sea punctuated frequently by large craggy rock formations, some deformed from the spell blasts of the black sorcerers from the age of magic. Rarely, a barren tree stands, surviving off of the little water it can steal from any small weeds nearby. A haze sits on the horizon from a perpetual breeze that constantly stirs up the dust on the surface and causes a constant background noise of wind in one ear. The sky is clear with few clouds to give respite from the sun. Tempest forces of nature are hard at work here.
The party woke up the day after their disturbing excursion into Castle Irgoz to find that Willard had left, leaving all of his things behind. The locals reported him walking North further into the badlands, but nothing of interest lay that way. The party continued on without him as they knew he would come back for his hard earned gold at some point!
Walking through the barren badlands, the group decided to head for the coast and follow it West towards Thariss. On the way, some anklosauruses huddled in the distance and they passed through an abandoned and burned out town with no signs of life. They found no evidence of what happened or anything of interest there. Esbur realized after some time that the party was being tracked by some sort of large predator…
To get to a more defensible position, the party headed towards a large rocky hill and at its top ran into the more unexpected thing- Teutorix, Aleric’s old nomadic friend from when he was young! Teutorix, as surprised to see Aleric as Aleric was to see him, asked the party to help him storm a goblin fort nearby. The fort, aside from being a threat to the area, was also where Teutorix had tracked down a devious Orc hero from the Clans named Rantine. Rantine had pillaged Malakim and its allies lands from Vallus to Evermore and Teutorix had sworn to the Overcouncil to hunt him down. The party took him up on the offer.
The fort had clearly been poorly built by the goblins around the ruins of an ancient fort that existed here long ago. Under the cover of fog summoned by Esbur and a zone of silence sustained by Art, the party entered the fort unimpeded and proceeded to clear the goblins and hobgoblins inside the fort. They discovered Rantine performing a ritual of some sort focused around an evil artifact in the shape of a cup. After interrupting the ritual part way, random goblins began transforming into magmins who Rantine commanded to attack. By swiftly defeating Rantine, the magmins were broken of their influence from Rantine and began attacking anything that moved, threatening to set the whole fort on fire. The party quickly used the confusion to vanquish the goblin army and the last of the magmins. The party discovered the cup at the center to be known as the Infernal Chalice, an artifact that serves as a connection to the plane of fire. The plane of fire is ruled by Bhall, the goddess whose fall to evil allowed the Age of Ice to occur. As soon as the Infernal Chalice was removed, storm clouds quickly gathered and covered the previously cloudless, sunny sky and it began to rain. Heavily. They also recovered a magic warhammer, forged on the plane of fire, that Rantine had wielded during the battle as well as a shoddy storeroom near the back containing treasure.
With the rain clouds covering up the sun, the party discovered some ancient runes that began glowing near the back of the ruins the fort was built over. The runes were in ancient Patrian and at the time, the party could not read it. As they discussed what would happen next, Esbur spotted something huge in the distance heading for them. As it got closer, the party began to feel the ground quake with a thump…. thump… THUMP. It quickly became apparent that these thumps were footsteps…..