City of Splendors

Episode XVI Recap

King of the Hill

Upon returning to the streets of Waterdeep, it did not take long for word of the adventurers’ exploits to spread. After Fidelio’s secrets of the Runestone were revealed, it became clear that they were not the only ones to know something was amiss within the depths of Undermountain.

The party was first beckoned by Ellithral the Golden in the Yawning Portal, the ever-savvy half-elf who was eager to learn of their adventures. Keen to find out more, and suggested the party should locate the artifact and use it to their own ends. Afterward, the group was summoned to Blackstaff Tower, Waterdeep’s centre of arcane research, wherein Lady Mage Laeral Silverhand explained the City’s stake in the Runestone. Recognizing its power, Silverhand stressed that the Blackstaff mages were the only responsible stewards of this great artifact, and asked that the adventurers locate and secure it for them. After this meeting, Vyurek suggested that his Illumian Cabal may learn much from the Runestone and offered their assistance in its security. Finally, upon returning to the Monastery of the Sun, cleric Quilynn Dryadson insisted to Aystra that the only responsible fate for such a powerful object would be to destroy it, for allowing it to exist would only be a liability.

With several options at hand, the party contacted Preelix to teleport them into the Runestone’s chamber — a remote cavern deep beneath Undermountain, so protected by Halaster’s magic that they knew there would be no turning back from this trip. They fought past the guardians left by Halaster, only to discover that a team of Drow researchers had beat them there. Although the Drow had seemingly been studying the cave and its arcane inscriptions for some time, it seemed as though they had made little progress in decoding the Runestone’s function. But as Aystra approached them, she felt a strange energy drawing her in. From the depths of her rucksack, Yeldoon’s Medallion called out to her, compelling her to wear it and gaze upon the runes’ magical text. Within minutes, she was completely overwhelmed by an innate understanding of the arcane device, left disoriented by such a sudden and complex absorption of information.

As the party made their way to the top of the mountain, Aystra learned more about the Runestone’s abilities along the way. Approaching the console at its summit, she began to experiment with its controls, only to awaken a powerful crystal guardian. This hulking beast put up a fierce battle, pushing the party to their limits before being defeated, and leaving them will the ultimate question of the Runestone’s fate. Using the device to locate the entrances to the chamber, they learned that both the Drow and the Adventurer’s Camp were in possession of keys. But the simple act of opening a portal to the Camp caused a fissure wide enough to allow a mysterious vampire and her undead army to teleport in and catch the party off guard.

A great battle ensued, with the ghastly villain using her powers to dominate the minds of her enemies. Using all their might, the adventurers finally vanquished this new foe, impressing upon them the urgency of deciding the Runestone’s fate. But a consensus would not come easily. Aystra insisted that its destruction was the only safe option, while Havard remained adamant that such an act would be an atrocity in the name of research and ethics. Despite their differing opinions, Aystra took advantage of her lone understanding of the device to trigger its self-destruct sequence without Havard’s knowing. Outraged, Havard refused to be complacent in such an act, only rejoining the party as the entire chamber began to collapse around them.

Certain that their woes were behind them, the party jumped through the portal as the great structure destroyed itself, and emerged back in the relative safety of the Helmwatch. But as they materialized within the grand hall, they were greeted by Malvar and a bevy of armed guards, who seemed none too pleased to learn that the Runestone had been destroyed…

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