Autumn Dark 431 AC
World Tree the 8th
Hope Outpost, and the concealed dungeons held beneath it.
Hope Outpost has fallen.
The Companions barely survived the sudden attack of Sir Karl Vinlaand, revealed at last as Kaalvahnand the Sivak Draconian and protected by the monstrous green dragon Seraphinoxia. Fleeing to the courtyard, the group discovered that most of the Order of the Phoenix had been routed. Fighting to defend the courtyard, they could only watch as one after another Knights of Solamnia, mages, clerics and freemen fell to overwhelming Draconian armies descending from the sky. High above Hope Outpost, the baleful presense of the dark citadel floated, raining Sivaks, Bozaks, Kapaks, and Baaz over the beleaguered forces of the Phoenix.
Ultimately, the dark magic of the Aurak Draconians that followed in their wake proved to be too powerful for the defences, and with dark magics and explosive ruins, one after another the walls of Hope Outpost were demolished. Overwhelmed by the might brought against them, scarce few were able to rally and defend the courtyard, under the cool command of Malar Uth Wistan. The Companions were ordered to retreat to the North West tower before it too fell, and there to help lead the remaining forces to a hidden retreat deep underneath the ruins of the Outpost. Struggling through the courtyard of death, the group fought to keep the path open to save as many of their brothers and sisters as they could.
Alas, even the wisdom of experience and the strength of steel was not enough to fight free however, and Malar fell to his knees under a wicked strike from a Sivak. Before he was disarmed, the Companions saw Malar bury his sword in the breast of the wicked beast, but ultimately he lay trapped before a mighty Bozak, Losse Hinge. Weakly, he beckoned the Companions to flee the overwhelming odds, facing his ultimate fate as written in the measure, and sworn in the oath.
Fearing losing the only avenue of escape left to them, and with Crixus determined to see as many survivors to safety as possible, the Companions retreated to the hidden chambers below the ruined Outpost, and collapsed the entryway behind them. Scarcely ready for another challenge, the Companions could already hear the pressing advance of the evil Dragonkin digging their way through the broken rubble above.
The Companions discovered several imprisoned Members of the Order restrained behind bars. In an effort to rescue them, the group attempted to free them from their restraints… with dire consequences. Unaware of the commotion above and, oathbound to follow Sir Karl’s orders, the Members serving as jailors found themselves face to face with the beleaguered Companions. With a heavy heart, they followed their duty bound and attempted to prevent the release of the prisoners; they were guarded against reason, but ultimately fell before sword and spell.
Pushing on, the allies learned of the true depravity that Sir Karl’s wickedness had led him to; trapped in numerous cells, the imprisoned Companions of the Phoenix were being tortured. Attempts to free them were largely unsuccessful, but a few stalwart fighters were ultimately released… in time to discover the forces of the Draconian army on their heels. Unable to flee any further, the prisoners sought to delay the pursuers as long as they were able, allowing the Companions to push onwards deeper into the dungeons; escape did not seem likely, and the prisoners chose to spend their lives to the cost of the Draconians.
Harried and weakened, the survivors pushed away from the sounds of battle joined, and encountered an evil trap; two automatons placed to guard the transition to the dungeon proper. With a clarity of purpose, the group fought through these monstrosities, only to discover that worse was yet to follow. Before them, the dungeon was transformed… no longer clean and attended, the cells before them were now abandoned, and covered in wicked devices of cruel and vicious purpose. Alchemical vials filled with blood and acids were carefully placed on benches long since covered in spider webs and dust; here at last was the lair of the beast… here, Karl conducted experiments of vile magics and alchemy beneath the very stronghold of the forces standing against him.
Moving forwards, the Companions disturbed the restless dead yet trapped in their cells before encountering a mysterious figure trapped in a cruel iron maiden. With growing dread and trepidation, the Companions freed the sobbing creature trapped within; Cur.
With the opening of the maiden, the Companions also released something much darker, and with a clattering of bones and swords, the mighty Tomb Guardian left to protect the dark secrets at the core of Hope Outpost burst forth from his concealed chamber.
Overcome with the horrors of what they found, and the ruined form of their formal ally, Blue, Crixus and Liara bolted in the face of fear. In truth, dark magics enspelled them, but the fear tugging at their hearts was not something they had the power to resist anymore. Steadfast in their bravery (or as some would say, stupidity), Red and Buck stood beside Cur. While the remaining Companions fought to flee the darkness before them, Red turned to face the dark Tomb Guardian, leaving Buck to help the critically wounded Cur to move after the other Companions.
The fleeing party ultimately triggered the vicious traps protecting a final secret beneath the Outpost; a magical portal surrounded by dead ends. With little reason to their flight, the party was compelled to dive into this escape. Red, beleaguered under the vicious four armed assault of the guardian, was rescued by an unlikely saviour… the Bozak last seen with Malar Uth Wistan had finally caught up to them. With a sibiliant hiss of defiling magic, a healing circle was thrown up around the undead Guardian… and with a howl of true anguish, the dark healing arts began to tear apart his unnatural lifeforce.
Red, Buck and Cur fled along the only path available to them, making poor time but closing the distance on the magical portal. Rounding into the portal room, they did not even get time to react before dark magic slammed into the wall beside them; the Bozak had caught them at last. Without even a word, Cur bodily shove the remaining Companions forwards into the portal; the last glimpse of Cur they had was of his wicked smile as he weakly turned to face his attacker.