grasp-of-the-emerald-claw

Grasp of the Emerald Claw. Part VIII

Posted on Posted in Eberron, Eberron

With the death of Scarlet in the last session.  We had to introduce a replacement PC.  So here is the Klara, who tells us her part of the tale…

Klara
Klara

You say you wish to hear of my adventures? Let me begin by saying that I would not call them such. I have never been motivated by a desire for wealth or fame. I have never been drawn to danger or violence. Rather it was been a sense of obligation, responsibility or loyalty that have lead me to strange places and perilous situations.

Let me tell you of how I met my companions.

The circumstances surrounding my mentor’s death had brought me a long way from Breland.  I will not describe how I travelled to Storm Reach or how I navigated up the river. They are both long tales and I suspect you will find them rather dull. Instead I will begin my tale as my gaze fell upon the giant’s temple for the first time. Those who have seen the temple will all recount the same impressions, its vast scale, the great weight of its stones, the aura of ancient strength. The temple demanded my attention and in my inexperience I stood there gazing at it with little regard for my surroundings. Suddenly I was seized by several sets of strong hands. With a start I realised that I was surrounded by six armed and armoured men in the garb of The Emerald Claw.  I was outnumbered and caught off-guard and had no choice but to surrender. The soldiers seized my pack and subjected me to a rough search for concealed weapons. Then they bound my hands, gagged me with a foul-tasting rag and marched me towards the temple. This was certainly not how I had imagined myself entering the temple but Fate moves in strange ways.

Just as we reached a set of massive stone stairs that ascended into the temple one of the solders signalled his companions to stop. In a hushed whisper he reported that he had heard something suspicious up ahead. He indicated that three of his comrades should stay back to guard me while he and two more headed up the stairs.

No sooner had the three solders reached the top of the stairs when they were caught in a ball of fire. It killed none of them but all three were badly hurt. Before they could recover a fierce and unusual tall shifter sprang among them and started to lay about herself with her sword. The three solders that had been left to guard me reacted instantly. Two drew their swords and ran up the stairs. The third paused only long enough to push me to the ground. “And stay down” he barked as he too ran up the stairs. I, however, had no intention of staying put. Pulling myself to me feet I dashed up the stairs catching up with the last guard at the very top and executing a Tsumuji attack; three roundhouse kicks in quick succession. My opponent went down and I felt a brief moment of pride that I had retained enough self-control in the heat of battle to only incapacitate and not kill him. Just like that the fight was over. One soldier was unconscious, four were clearly dead and the sixth, seeing that the odds were against him, lowered his weapon and surrendered.

And thus I met my five companions; the fierce shifter ranger Altera, the implacable elven priest Toryil, the jolly human priest Aaron, the distracted half-elven wizard Vorj and the timid elven priestess Muroni. I was grateful when they unbound my wrists. I was even more grateful when they ungagged me; I had only had to endure for a few minutes but I found it particularly humiliating.

I told my rescuers that I was a seeker of wisdom who had come to the temple to learn what I could discover. Not altogether a lie but not the whole truth either.

It seemed wise that we talk to our prisoner but on the landing between two staircases seemed to be a rather exposed position. My new companions said that they knew just the place and we escorted the prisoner, and carried his unconscious comrade, to “the Scorpion Room”. The reason they called the chamber that became apparent as soon as we stepped inside for it housed the corpse of the biggest scorpion, indeed the largest creature, that I had ever seen. The fact that it appeared that it was Aaron and his comrades that had felled the beast was a testament to both their skill and bravery.

The Emerald Claw soldier gave his name as Tavis. His unconscious comrade was Alarnic. Tavis was very cooperative; in exchange for our promises that he would be released when we left the temple he informed us that was one of three-dozen solders under the command of a changeling called Garrow. Garrrow had two lieutenants; a war-forged called Scimitar and a mummy called Arkaban.

Garrow’s mission was to awaken a great power that resided within the temple. This caught my attention; was The Dragon’s Eye here? If so I could not let the Emerald Claw leave with it. Indeed I could let no one leave with the artifact; would my new companions listen to reason? If they did not what options did I have?

As far as Alarnic knew Garrow was in the temple above us trying to fathom the secrets of a throne that they had found in “the observatory”. This struck a chord with my companions. During their exploration of the temple they had found two large pyramids each of which had the names of three constellations on them. The Scorpions Tail, The River’s End and Garrick’s Eye on one pyramid and The Monkey’s Paw, The Unicorns’ Hoff and Io’s Twinkle on the second.

It was decided that we should go directly to this Observatory and stop Garrow. Leaving Alarnic and Tavis secured in the Scorpion Room we ascended the stairs to the next level.

From their comments I gathered that my companions had clashed with Arkaban already and that the mummy had escaped them. They also estimated that there was probably only a dozen or so Emerald Claw solders left.

Once we reached the top of the stairs we veered of to our left into a section of the temple that I gathered my companions had not searched yet. We found a few passages and chambers but did not linger to examine them in any detail once we found a staircase heading upwards.

Concerned that we were about to run into the bulk of the Emerald Claw forces Altera volunteered to head up the stairs and scout about. Vorj was able to augment her already impressive stealth skills by casting a spell of invisibility upon her. He informed us that the spell would last about an hour or until he either stopped concentrating or Altera attacked someone.

Unseen and unheard Altera ascended the stairs. She was not gone long and then we heard a disembodied whisper saying that the room above was full of stores for an extended stay but otherwise safe.

As quietly as we could we headed upwards. The room at the top of the stairs was much as Altera had described.

I think that Vorj would have liked to stay and check through all the boxes but the majority of us were more interested in confronting Garrow before he could achieve his goal. There was only one door and Altra pushed it open, a strangely eerie sight as she was still invisible, just wide enough for her to crane her neck through. In a hushed voice she reported that she could see two Emerald Claw guards in the room beyond and they looked like they were coming our way to investigate. The fate of the first guard to reach the door was, I’m sorry to say, sealed. As soon as he got within sword reach of Altera she cut him down with two powerful blows of her sword. In doing so she dispelled Vorj’s invisibility charm. We rapidly moved into the room to overpower the remaining guard but quickly discovered that there were two more solders that Altera had not spotted. One of these new guards ran over to back-up his comrade but it looked like the other intended to flee and get help. A quick fight ensued. My companions quickly killed the two guards putting up a fight. I concentrated on the one who was fleeing, employing a Zesshou Hohou technique to quickly close the distance between us and incapacitating him with quick punches.

It seemed that we had been lucky, the fleeing guard had been able to call for help but it appeared that no one had heard him. Certainly there was no influx of armed soldiers.

We searched around. There were a few doors and a staircase leading further up. Altera once again volunteered to go up and scout but quickly returned. The passageway above, she reported, as clogged by spiders’ webs suggesting that The Emerald Claw had not gone that way. Even more worryingly the spiders that had spun the webs were of enormous size. Not as big as the scorpion but still large enough to be a danger.

Since it appeared that the Emerald Claw had gone no further up we tried one of the doors on our current level and were rewarded with the a weak daylight.

Beyond the door was a rooftop some forty feet wide and maybe eighty feet long bounded on two sides by tall “towers” and on the other two by a drop of some two hundred feet to the jungle floor. Apart from the door we were looking through there were at least two more doorways opening on to the roof. While the roof was open to the sky there was a think covering of webbing some thirty feet above our heads that blocked out the sun and cast a shadow across the roof. All these details I took in later as what commanded our attention initially was the massive chair, a throne fit for the mightiest of titans, which sat in the middle of the roof and the woman who was studying it.

The woman, who seemed surprised and perhaps a bit relieved at our arrival, identified herself as a Professor Eugene of Morgrave University. She claimed to have be a captive of The Emerald Claw who seemed content to leave her here to study the throne safe in the knowledge that she had nowhere to run too.

We asked the professor if she knew where the rest of the Emerald Claw were and she pointed to two doorways and said she believe there were some in those two directions.

I will admit that she seemed genuine enough to me and her story sounded plausible enough but events would soon show that I had been completely fooled.

Even as she talked Professor Eugene had been carefully examining the base of the throne, which stood on an iron disk inlayed with runes. When she was on the far side from us she suddenly vanished and we heard her voice calling out loudly that there were intruders.

Her cry was answered by the sounds of running feet coming from one of the doorways and out rushed eight or so Emerald Claw solders with a war-forged following on behind. At the same time a cloaked figure that my companions recognised as Arkaban emerged from a second doorway.

The on-rushing solders ran headfirst into a storm of spells thrown by Aaron, Toryil and Vorj. The deluge was so deadly that only two actually made it all the way to us. Altera slew one of the remainder and I incapacitated the last with the quick “one, two, three” of a Rekkaken attack. Noticing that Scimitar was heading straight towards me I assumed a defensive stance and prepared to receive her attack.

Meanwhile Aaron had tried to drive back the mummy by invoking the divine power of his god. Unfortunately Arkaban was not so easily cowed and he closed on the priest and delivered a punishing blow with his fist. Though I did not know it at the time the danger of Arkaban’s attack was far more then the fact that he had superhuman strength. The mummy’s touch carried with it a deadly curse that promises a lingering death to even the most hardy of warriors.

Before Arkaban could strike again Altera attacked. As she struck the mummy with her longsword she said a few magical words causing vines with viscous thorns to spring from the ground and entangle him. This gave Aaron the opportunity he needed to get back to safety while Toryil came over to back-up Altera.

Scimitar and I dueled. I concentrated on defense, mimicking the action of the waves in flowing around my opponent and avoided most of her attacks. I struck here and there with punches and kicks but Scimitar’s artificial body shrugged of most of my blows. The stalemate lasted long enough for Altera and Toryil to dispatch Arkaban. Now it was Scimitar against the six of us. Despite being outnumbered the war-forged never once looked like she was going to ask for mercy. She sustained hit after hit and eventually even her armoured body could withstand no more and she collapsed.

The fight may have been over but the danger did not seem to have passed. While we had been distracted by the battle the Titan’s Throne had begun to glow with an ominous, pale light. Instinctively we know that this was the harbinger of some unpleasant development and we braced ourselves for whatever would come.