The Color Red – written by the White Mage

Session 26 March 2023

“I forgot something!” We hear Cross say when he runs from us towards our base, leaving us all before any of us can utter a single word. At the same time there is a flash, and Patience is gone as well. “Well, apparently it’s just us three”, we say at the same time. Mohan, Farrýn and me, Jaf’ar. The three musketeers, until Cross and/or Patience returns.

We decide to go west, the Shadowfell is no place to go when we’re not at full force. Let’s check the rest of this floor first. It might be infected by the plane of shadow, but at least it’s our own plane. Maybe we can find some more information about what’s ahead.

While we walk, we suddenly hear a low voice that we do not recognize; “Turn around, or lose all hope!”. I turn around, see nobody, and turn around again. I decide to ignore the voice and am happy to see the rest does the same. We continue to walk through the halls with the black candles and the purple light it shines. Mohan’s sword also still shines a bright light, my light is still cast on Snitch and even my manifested mind shines a little bit of light. A nightlight, no more than that, but it’s better then nothing in these deathly halls.

To our left we have two doors that, according to the map, go to the same room. Farrýn opens the second door and we see a room with dense fog that does not shy our light. I send in my mind and can barely see that there are chains and hooks hanging on the walls. Mohan turns of the light of his sword and walks inside, probably to open himself up more for visions, and is swallowed by the fog. After about two minutes he comes back out with blood all over his hands and his beak, as if he went all out on an overly bloody buffet! Worst of all, he doesn’t even seem to notice! Farrýn grabs his mirror and shows him.

Mohan is startled for a second, and then tells us that he saw something sticky on the hooks on the wall. He got a little of with his finger and tasted it to check if it was blood. He also tells us he got another vision! As we don’t want to have blood all over us, we just let him tell us about it.

““Umbraxakar, give these idiots their death, they deserve it!” sounded the voice of the deathknight Vanrak Moonstar, as I watched through the eyes of the shadow dragon again. I blew out a purple cone of dragonfire over a dwarf that looked familiar to me. I think this dwarf was a royal heir of the Thurumbra clan that disappeared in undermountain with a very valuable item!”. I see Farrýn’s head look up at these last three words. Mohan continuous his story: “I heard the dwarf scream in agony and saw his life being sucked out of him. I could latterly see his soul leave his body as some kind of shadow, devoured by me, de beast”.

It sounds terrible, but more information is always good. Even after death you’re not safe from this dragon if you are devoured by its fire. “I have a theory” I say to Farrýn and Mohan, but I don’t think Farrýn is paying much attention. “I think that Glyster and Umbraxakar are one and the same. I think that the bronze dragon Glyster was corrupted somehow, and changed into the shadow dragon called Umbraxakar”. Mohan nots his head in agreement and adds “But who corrupted who? Was it Vanrak who wanted to turn his friend into that abomination or was is the dragon that placed a seed of corruption in Vanrak? I think it’s the first. A bronze dragon wouldn’t try and corrupt someone by itself, would it? And it doesn’t sounds like what you told us about Glyster before, Jaf’ar. Him being a good friend of the Moonstar family and all”. I completely agree with Mohan, I think Vanrak was corrupted somehow and that he changed the dragon, his friend, into this new shadow creature.

During this conversation Farrýn is completely distracted. He is searching the walls for… something? We ask him and only hear him mumble in reply: “Secrets, secrets can be anywhere, at places you least expect them. Always keep your eyes open”. Farrýn’s head is clearly sometimes a few steps ahead and sometimes a few steps behind, a real special figure. As if we are on to different tracks that are parallel most of the time, but sometimes… As long as he doesn’t put us in danger, it is just part of him. I kind of like his curiosity. It’s attractive.

Suddenly Farrýn looks up “No, nothing to find, let’s go on!”, so we do. We come at an intersection in the hallway. Both directions lead to a hole in the floor, so we just choose a route. The north direction has a very dark hole, so I let my mind go down. I don’t see anything, this isn’t normal darkness. This is magical darkness. Mohan started a ritual for which he heavily uses a feather, so I cast dispel magic myself. We don’t want to be surprised by something hiding there. Nothing. It’s just a hole, 20 feet deep, nothing more. I go and check it again with my mind, a closer inspection, but don’t find anything. Farrýn doesn’t seem to believe me and also checks, but doesn’t find anything either. I don’t really know what to think of that, doesn’t he trust me? Or does he just like to check everything again? I decide it’s better to think it’s the second of the two options, I like guarantees, let him check things again, no problem!

Mohan and I fly over the hole without anything happening, but Farrýn decides on his own to head south to the other hole. He ignores Mohan’s question about where he is going, and why. I let my mind follow him, it’s dangerous to go alone. Here he goes again, his track moves away from us.

Farrýn and my mind both inspect the other hole, nothing special, but is does have a lot of small skeletons on the bottom, probably rats. No magical darkness this time, why did the other have it? Snitch moves forward so that Farrýn isn’t in its bright light anymore and Farrýn flies on Grond to the other side of the hole. All of us convene again, but Mohan doesn’t look happy about the fact that Farrýn went the other way without talking to us about it. I understand his curiosity, but he’s taking unnecessary risks. If you want to inspect things, never go alone.

We go south and find a door. Farrýn examines it thoroughly and, after a brief moment, says he hears a single person mumble on the other side of the door. He couldn’t see anything through the keyhole, nothing but fog. Mohan finally finished his ritual, and we see a blue glaze cover his eyes. He can detect magic now, always a good thing. He notices the candles aren’t magical, just a special kund of candle, but who lights those then?

Mohan listens to the door as well, good idea, everything should be double checked for safety. He doesn’t hear anything more then Farrýn did, and so we open the door. The fog in front of us disappears by the light we bring, Mohan lighted his sword again, of course.

“Hello?!” says Farrýn with a loud and shrill voice to the man that is hanging from the ceiling in the corner of the room. The man has very pale skin and dirty black hair. At a second glance we see he is using his toe nails to hang, what is this creature?! The man looks back shortly at Farrýn after his hello, but then turns around and starts mumbling again. I saw red eyes. Red eyes, pale skin, this doesn’t look like anything good, “I think it’s vampire spawn. Some undead abomination created by vampires”. Mohan doesn’t see anything magical about him, but he does not seem to like the light we shine, so Mohan backs up to just outside the room and waits there. It doesn’t react to my mage hand, so I decide to probe into it’s mind. I cast detect thoughts and I see what is mind is so occupied with.

I see a vision of a cleric (Keresta?) that walks past a group of these spawns. Keresta turns around to this man and says he did something wrong. Something that can’t be tolerated and he will be punished accordingly. Keresta banished the undead creature. It begs Keresta one last time “Please! Please, don’t do it!”, but Keresta calls fourth a shadowy hand that lifts up the spawn and puts it outside of the shadow curtain. I want to see more, so I try and poke deeper, but it fails. It seems there is still more in that head then I expected. He knows I was in it’s head, but barely responds to it. We quickly discuss what to do with this creature, but none of us really knows what to do with it, so we just let it be. He doesn’t seem to hurt anyone at the moment. Farrýn tries one more time by saying “Keresta”, but it still doesn’t react.

We go on. At the south side of this room is another door, Farrýn checks it. He notices nothing special, opens it and walks inside. I walk behind him, but stop at the entrance. I see coffins. Lot’s and lots of coffins. Some open, some closed, as if it is a coffin junkyard. Farrýn just keeps walking and is almost halfway through the room. I whisper loud enough that Farrýn can hear me: “Farrýn!! Watch out! Coffins, there could be vampires!”, to which he responds loud and sarcastically “I don’t know what you are talking about” and completely ignores me. Two seconds later. Je guess it… More vampire spawns. Three of these filthy creatures. Two of them attack Farrýn and on goes for me!

Mohan hears we are being attacked and starts running. Although I warned Farrýn beforehand, they managed to surprise us. STUPID! I was warned for this kind of behavior from him! This is partly my own fault.

I get scratched, but they miss almost all other things. Farrýn casts a spell on himself (protection against good and evil), so all three spawns decide to go for me! How dare he, first let us fall into a trap and then only protect himself?! In my anger I somehow am able to dodge all their attacks, although it costs me some magic to counter a very well executed attack on my eyes. I retribute with a powerful chain lightning spell, changing its damage to radiant, aren’t undead creatures weak to radiance?! It doesn’t seem to hurt them more then expected, but I still hurt them badly. One of them is heavily bleeding, a trick used by some undead creatures to seem more lifelike.

Mohan finds us with a blue flaming sword. As he hits one of them, the blue flames jump over to it. Now I have three vampires around me, from which one of them has a melting face. I can see blue flames curling upwards over his bare skull now… Farrýn comes from the other side and attacks the creature that was hurt most with his big hamer until there is almost nothing left. The burning vampire grabs me, after which Mohan takes it down with his sword. The gigantic black bird standing behind these blue flames looks magnificent! Grond and Farrýn attack the last spawn and then I take it down with a radiant grasp, something I usually do with a shock. I now know the radiant flames don’t do anything extra, but it just feels right as a cleric from Silvanus. Finally rest for the three… ex… undead creatures.

After finally having a little time to think, I can tell everyone with certainty that these creatures are also only spawns. They don’t need anything else to keep them gone. Real vampires are harder then that, these creations miss some of their powers.

Farrýn starts looking around in the room while I’m standing there, perplexed about everything that just happened. He finds some kind of silver staff with a key attached to it. He puts it in his bag and just wants to leave through the way we came from.

I. Let. Go.

“FARRÝN! What was that idiotic behavior?! You bring us all in danger by completely ignoring my warning!”, to which Farrýn just looks at me as if he is not aware of why I’m mad. “What are you talking about? You said vampires. These weren’t vampires, they were creations from vampires, so you were just wrong. Again.” he replies. “This might be the most disrespectful, antisocial thing I have ever heard! You should learn some respect for your elders young man!” I respond, and Mohan comes in between. Mohan agrees with me that Farrýn has to start listening to the group. We work together here! I’m glad about this. If Farrýn goes a different direction, or when he ignores us, then he brings himself and others in danger. I’m happy to hear this wisdom from Mohan, he might not be the most intelligent, but he sure is wise. He seems like the exact opposite of Farrýn in this. Farrýn acts as if his nose is bleeding, so I decide to end this discussion for now. “Farrýn, let me say it this way; if you bring us in danger with this kind of behavior, or if one of us goes down because of it, there will be consequences. Let this be a warning for you, young man”, and I put a clear emphasis on ‘young man’.

We decide to continue our journey and let this rest for now, but I’m afraid this will come up again some time in the future. On the west side of the coffin room is another door that Farrýn almost missed. Well, missed…. He said the door would go directly to the hallway, but after another inspection of the map we saw there was another room in between. I don’t feel like talking at the moment, so after listening at the door (I don’t hear anything), I open it a bit and let my manifested mind inside. As I don’t see anything remarkable, I follow it shortly after, as do Mohan and Farrýn. We see some pillars in this room without mist (because of the light), but they dont seem to have anything special. Farrýn and Grond are digging for secrets so much that they’re practically riding the pillars. At one point I think I can even hear Farrýn tell Grond that he is stuck to a pillar, but shortly after he is free. He doesn’t find anything special either, so we take the door west, towards the hallway.

After checking the map again, we decide to go look at the portal that should be connected to a portal on level 15, the obstacle course, so we head south. After a few empty and quiet hallways without candles, we arrive at some large double doors. Mohan doesn’t hear anything on the other side, so we go inside.

We enter a somewhat larger room with an big and beautiful, inactivated portal in front of us. On the portal are images carved of fighting dragons and I see a sentence written in draconic; ‘Only a dragon can open this portal’. I try speaking some sentences in draconic, but nothing happens. Even though it’s pretty clear what needs to happen, I start an identify spell, just in case.

On the east and westside of the room are two fountains, not very big. They are spitting images of each other, dragons about 4 feet high that ‘blow’ crystal clear water into the fountain. Mohan and Farrýn are going to look at these fountains, see if they can learn more. Mohan starts playing with the water and says out loud that he would like to have another vision so that he can learn more. I doubt that anyone specifically listens to him, but it is clearly someone of faith. Who am I to argue with that. Farrýn examines the water, and sees that when he looks into it, he sees an aged, corrupted version looking back at himself, matching the Shadowfell. Mohan has the same, almost half-dead reflection of himself (when I look later, I just see myself, but with some dust on me. Maybe because I don’t really age physically…). When I’m done with my spell it’s confirmed what’s written on the gate. Only when a dragon touches this gate will it open. When I say this out loud to Farrýn and Mohan I see our big bird think for a moment, look at Farrýn and decide not to say what he is thinking. Sometimes that’s the better thing to do. We’ll take a break and I’ll think about things for a while. Suddenly it comes to me that dragons cannot change into shadow dragons themselves, but that an external source must be used for this. Vanrak must be the one who corrupted Glyster and turned it into Umbraxakar. There’s no other way. If Glyster really was such a good friend of his, he must have trusted him completely.

While resting, Farrýn suddenly startles. He was sitting close to the fountain and saw his Shadowfell reflection suddenly look at him! Mohan sits down close to a fountain and keeps half an eye on his reflection while pretending to be busy with other things. At one point, his reflection also turns his head towards Mohan and looks straight at him, despite the fact that it still seems to mimic his movements. All this is very remarkable. Mohan even puts his head in the water, but sees nothing special. He does note, however, that the water viewed from underneath the surface is not as clean as it seems.

When we look at the map we see that the dragonhoard should be pretty close to this room and we discuss this for a while. I could teleport 1 of us there with a dimension by spell, but then someone would have to be left behind. Tomorrow I could prepare a more powerful spell that could teleport us as a whole group, but it sounds like a risk. “Didn’t you have another spell, Farrýn? To create a hole in the wall? Didn’t you use something like that to open a hole in the door to the mind flayers?” I ask, to which Mohan responds “Stone Shape!”, but Farrýn indicates that this is inconvenient and would use up just about all of his magic for the day. I sometimes forget that he’s not as magically learned as us. Farrýn still checks how thick the wall is by tapping it, but it seems that despite (in his words) ‘doing everything right’, the wall seems infinitely thick, nothing but stone behind it. Maybe I should make a spell to measure the thickness of walls. I quickly write down my idea. Farrýn looks for secret passages, but finds nothing.

Rested long enough. Farrýn asks if I want to cast light on Snitch again, and despite our discussions earlier, we are a party, so I cast it. We take a quick look at the map and decide to go to the large room to the west of us. If there’s a room that could pay off, it probably has to be that one. We have to go through the corridors to the north and then turn west. The room has huge, beautiful double doors, like an entrance to something important, something with power. We hear nothing and see no traps, so we open the door. Mist. Mohan doesn’t hesitate and just walks in, and we listen tensely for his reaction. After about a minute he comes back and tells us about a vision he had received. We would rather see it all with our own eyes and also go into the room.

A skeleton with red eyes and in full red metal armor sits on a stone throne. He says in Vanrak’s low, dejected voice: “Is this Vanrak Moonstar’s legacy? A shadow king doomed to rule these moonless halls? Stop all adventurers, assassins and crazy wizards? Is this all Shar has to offer? I have drunk from my cup of darkness… and lost, my old friend”. The deathknight looks at me. I’m back in the body of Umbraxakar I notice, the body of Glyster? Vanrak sounds like he’s sorry, so very sorry. And I’m back.

We walk further into this room, clearly a throne room. It’s old and worn out. There is not much left of the red tapestry here either. At the end of the room we find a stone throne, shattered by time and violence. As we take a step closer, the shadowy head of Umbraxakar appears and menacingly begins to protect the throne like a faithful dog guarding its owner’s grave.

“Red” whispers Mohan. “Red everywhere…”

Mohan casts a spell and tells us it’s to see if he can find Vanrak, he thinks he might be in the Shadowfell part, but he’s not getting a ping. He doesn’t get a location. I don’t think Vanrak is still around either. I think only Umbraxakar is left and he is aimless without Vanrak.

We go into the room opposite the throne room and find out where the candles come from. Candle wax, oil, etc, everything you need to make the candles. So someone is lighting them! But where is that person?

We go back to the corridors. Mohan has a plan to blow out the candles and maybe find out who is lighting them. We’re all working together, I’ve heard worse plans in my life. As we are busy I see Mohan’s head suddenly rise up, something I have seen before with him, he hears something. He says he hears humming further on, as if several people are chanting. We go that direction, follow the sound, but realize too late that we can’t really be sneaky because of our many lights.

We come to a room. Farrýn sees nothing yet. Me a little, but Mohan sees everything. We see several kneeling cultists in red robes (Shar’s faith? Shar seems continuously connected to the color red? Wasn’t that Vanrak in one of our visions, when he wore a red robe, was he also a cultist of Shar back then?!). Mohan and I both see this.

Mohan sees something else… In the midst of the cultists is someone. Someone who has rats running all over him or her. Friend? Enemy? Volunteer of this ritual, or a victim? One thing is clear though… we’ve been noticed!

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