WIth Captain Xytan incapacitated, and the party lacking the resources to rid her system of the chitine venom, they had to use their wits and skills to escape the Underdowns. Finding a winding passage to the Northwest littered with the corpses of a few unfortunate goblin adventurers, they traversed the twisting caves and scrabbled up a steep scrabble slope to emerge back onto the surface just as the sun was going down.
On a small dirt path heading Southwest, they approached a camp with several figures surrounding a fire. Hailing the camp, they found two of the rivals from the Iron Tower games, Tarul and Guldra, waiting for the party with their horses. They also were introduced to a half-elf bard named Rooster, and an attractive elven healer named Aurora. Using her abilities and components, Aurora was able to cure Captain Xytan and restore her to consciousness.
THe party cut loose a little bit after drinking Rooster’s strong wine he offered the party, and Panterra found out first-hand just how aggressive bards can be in their passions. Whisperwind and Grant also both vied for the attention of the lovely Aurora, but she seemed particularly attracted to her fellow elf.
Qamodeus updated the Iron Towers on what happened in the caves, and expressed their intentions to continue to Faldred’s tower. Xytan again expressed her gratitude for their assistance, and told them that the large, strange brown gem they found on the Chitine Queen was actually one of her summoning stones, very powerful magical gems that when thrown on the ground can summon powerful creatures. She told the party that this particular gem would summon an earth elemental to fight for them, but only to use it when the time was dire.
Rooster and Aurora both said they were headed to the small forest village of Wolfrend for their annual Moon celebration. The party told the bard they were headed for Stonemeet, and Rooster said that he would also be heading their in another month or so for the dwarves’ large Ring crafting festival, and hopefully would meet them there. Aurora bid a very fond farewell to Whisperwind.
Travelling south to Faldred’s tower, the party was instead greeted with a large crater of earth where the tower stood. Panterra used her knowledge of the arcane to detect strong portal magic that seemed to have ripped the tower and its foundation from the spot. They also saw a large number of bodies, both Snaketongue cultists of Zehir, and legion devils of Asmodeus, littering the crater. In the center of the crater was a large black dias, with a black sundial made of purse opal mounted on top. Although the sun was high in the sky, the strange sundial cast no shadow.
Slumped up against the dias, a wounded and bleeding goblin in robes lay close to death. The party quickly healed the goblin, and he introduced himself as Jimo, Faldred’s apprentice. He told the party he was on his way back from Stonemeet when he discovered the crater and the two armies of Zehir and Asmodeus battling one another. He tried to fend off a few of the monsters, but was injured as a result. He did not know what happened to his master or the tower, but he knows that the sundial has strong magic tied to it, and was afraid to touch it.
Whisperwind reached out and grabbed the sundial, and thick black shadows enveloped the party. When the shadows departed, the landscape the party was had changed. The land before them was bleak and barren. Dark clouds choked the sky, and the sun was only a distant mote barely hanging over the horizon. They had been transported from the natural world and into the Shadowfell (for more information on the Shadowfell of the 4th edition cosmos, check out the section on the Planes, Dungeon Master’s Guide page 160)
Although there was hardly any light in the sky, the black sundial now cast a shadow that pointed southwest, and the heroes realized that the magical device was more of a compass than a sundial. They stuck it in their bag of holding and took it with them.
To the south was a walled compound, and standing in the middle of the road was an attractive, pale-skinned and dark haired woman. She told the party she had been waiting for them, and asked them kindly to turn over the thing she knew they carried. When the heroes reached for their weapons, the mysterious woman summoned mists that brought forth rotting zombie hounds and vicious ghouls.
The ghouls has bites that paralyzed the heroes, and the woman, baring her vampire fangs, used her powers to entrance Whisperwind and turn him against his allies. After a short but brutal battle, the party reduced the vampire to ashes and defeated the ghouls and hounds.
Approaching the compound, they were hailed by guards from the parapets. To prove themselves as not creatures of evil, the heroes had to withstand being bathed in radiant energy, causing them minor injuries but gaining them inside the fortified House of Black Lanterns.
Safe behind the fortified walls, they approached the inn.