As the dust settles, the group settles at the only unbroken table left in the tavern. The bodies of the dead followers disintegrate into dust as they were touched leaving only a mound of dust and the scene of carnage on the walls and surroundings. But the scene is not what steals your attention rather it was the stout dwarf that is now walking towards your group that piques your curiosity yet pulls a string of caution within the group.
Zelinas is not fully sold on the fact that Forfinn was still alive and has her guard up in case of magical trickery. Borborygos, however, sits down calmly, pulling a wooden chair up from the ground, his eyes glowing with magic as he perceives the dwarfish individual piercing any magical properties hidden within him.
The astute dwarf who had earlier identified himself as Forfinn smiles as he calmly takes a seat at the table. Forfinn was one of the individuals within the Zealots, and he had been one of the more adventurous types. You had gone on many a misadventure with Forfinn, often with disastrous consequences as you had to pull him out of troubles way beyond your capabilities.
“It seems that this motley crew hasn’t changed even after all these years,” said a cheery pitched voice.”I understand that you might suspect me to be a manifestation of sorts or even an illusion made to confound, but as Borborygos can see and Zelinas will tell you, you will find no such oddity within me”.
Boborygos then finishes his scrying and his expression reveals that the Forfinn in front of us is the real Forfinn. Zelinas reluctantly sits down next to you, taking a deep breath of relief before falling into a light slumber.
“Forfinn, how are you alive, and where have you been all this time? How did you end up here and why open a tavern?” you asked.
“I know you have many questions, but I cannot answer them now, I know where you are going, and I have been prepared for the time when you would have to pass through this town. We have little time as the enemy’s plans are beginning to take shape, these followers you see here are just the tip of the mossberg” said Forfinn, as he begins to take out a small parchment from his inventory.
He begins to explain about his journey here, as well as how he had come upon a sinister plot to bring back another Daemonic Lord from the Void. The group is known as the Tribunal of Calamity, and they have hidden members all over Dwendil. They were smaller when the Zealots first encountered them many years back, and that was their very first acts of ritualistic summons. They aim to bring forth a Daemonic Lord in exchange for knowledge of Daemonic magic, which they intend to use to suppress the current empire and open up the borders once again.
The Daemonic Lord they intend to summoned is named Kaerok, and he is one of the generals under the command of the current Daemon King, Tyrannel. The demons have been making a push to open borders to begin their conquest yet again, but they have failed to do so thus far because of infighting within their various tribes. The Incubi and Succubi factions have chosen not to follow Tyrannel because they see nothing in it for them, while other tribes such as the Infernus, Exombi and Zultani are all on the middle ground.
“Where did you get all this information from, and how sure are you that this information is as true as they say” asked Borborygos. “My StoneScrying would have been able to pick up these activities if they are happening as you say”.
Forfinn then conjures a scrying orb from his pouch.
“Allow me to show you our informant,” he says
The orb darkens as Forfinn incants a spell into it. A familiar goblin face appears sneering cunningly at the group.
“SNEED!!!” you exclaim out as the goblin face turns towards you.
“Oh so you are here as well, I always knew you were something more, you had that funny around you whenever we met, I guess this explains everything”. Sneed snickered
“You knew about me, even after you sold me that damn dagger didn’t you,” you asked.
“I wouldn’t have sold it to any ol’ adventurer, but you looked like you could have handled it well enough, though sadly I was mistaken, if not we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Sneed turned back to Forfinn
“Enough, we must make haste, the Goblin Kernel of Intelligence has just told me that the Tribunal is on the move again, you must head to the north to stop whatever it is they are doing before we see another Stryfe happening,” Sneed said before disappearing from view within the orb.
Forfinn then beckons the group to the back of the tavern whereby horses are made ready.
“I will not be able to follow you for now, as I have to head back to the capital to prevent another frontal conflict, but take this crystal, it glows whenever a follower of the Tribunal is nearby, I have imbued one of their followers blood within the crystal and it is attuned to their mana.”
Forfinn then donned a cloak, climbed up his steed, and headed west towards the capital. The three of you looked on as you prepare to head out to the north.
As they prepare the horses, they realise that the building around them are crumbling apart. The villagers vanished as the village is now empty and the surroundings slowly melting. Zelinas beckoned us to quickly get on to the horses before the enchantment mistakes us for one of the constructs.
Moments later, you ask Zelinas about the strange phenomenon
“It is one of Forfinns hidden talents, he can create illusionary constructs using Hyborian crystals found in the Oriannic region. Forfinn and his kind owns a deep vein within Dwendil that is connected to the South Orian, allowing them to manipulate these crystals and researching them for different uses, one of the uses is for long term illusions such as these,” she says
“But the buildings and the villagers all felt real, and we could touch and feel them?” you asked.
“That is because Hyborian crystals convert mana into denser forms, creating textures and forms unlike those you have experienced before, explaining the full powers from this crystal will take up an entire month’s worth of study at the Academy of Magisterium in the capital, so it’s best we just leave this as is” said Zelinas, who was beginning to feel weary with explanation.
Boborygos who has been silent all this time had also mentioned his surprise at the depth of detail these illusions even though he had handled these crystals before. He did however remark that the kind of magic that these crystals used are specifically attuned to the dwarves, as any other race that tries to use it would find the effects diminished.
The three of you make your way down the trodden path until you reach a fork which says Rittenborough to the left and Cullenhorde to the right. Zelinas mentions that it is best to head through Rittenborough as it is a straighter path to the valley however the path is filled with dense swamps, while Cullenhorde is the long way around, but has Boborygos stone paths to help ease the travel.
After a short discussion, you take the left path to the swamps, as all of you felt that time was of the essence, and you would all have to power through the swamps.