Beneath The Mountain

Deception, Deceit, and Diamonds

As the three heroes followed the trail from the ravaged corpse, Jethro suddenly remembered some important wizard errands he had to run, and mysteriously vanished from the adventure. Now reduced to too, Saqqua and Urzogg none the less pressed onwards, soon arriving at another entrance into the mountain caves. Here they found a group of barbarians deep in conversation with a woman they recognized as Serrela, one of the adventurers from the tavern at meadowvale. 

The barbarians it transpired, were of the Moruhdain tribe, which lived near the mountain. They too had been tracking the heart-stealing monster, but were unable to follow it into the mountain, which they believed was cursed. Thus, they asked Saqqua and Urzogg do to slay the beast, promising blessing from the tribes shaman in exchange. Serrela had also come to  track a monster, this one a powerful fire giant. She soon pressed the heroes into service on this quest, and ventured into the dungeon with them.

This entrance led to the fire pits, a realm of stifling heat and bubbling lava. There they found a strange monument covered in barbaric script. Returning to the barbarians with a copy, they found that the writing had been left by the "lost tribe" of the morudhain, who had lived within the mountain but vanished about a year ago. According to the message, they had ventured deeper into Mount Moru. The barbarians were very excited by this, and begged the heroes to look for them on their adventure.

Firstly, though, Saqua and Urzog would need to survive the myriad deceptions of the fire pits. They found a captured centaur who claimed to be a princess, but who was in fact a disguised Lamia, the creature responsible for the brutal murders and heart thefts plaguing the area. Fighting through her illusions and tricks, they put the monster to the sword.

Further in, they met an efreet, queen Saitara of the fire pits. She sent them on a quest to destroy one of her subordinates, a fire giant and Serrelas target, who in fact proved to be a monstrous giant Hag. Again,magic and illusion were overcome by the application of violence, but not before the Hag revealed another secret: Serrela, their companion and quest giver, was also a Hag, and the entire charade was part of a contest organized by the efreet queen. Whichever Hag proved herself the most cunning, ruthless, and evil, was to be granted a wish and become an apprentice to the queen. Stunned by the deception, the heroes nonetheless destroyed Serrela before heading back to Saitara to claim their reward for eliminating the "fire giant".  Though their journey was interrupted by an encounter with an immense giant guard, the heroes managed to survive by the skin of their teeth and made it back to the throne room.

Each of the heroes was granted a wish, though Saitara naturally intended to twist the wisher to ill effect, as is the way of efreets. Saqua fist wished, very specifically, for 25,000 silver credits worth of jewels in a suitably portable form. To this, Saitara responded by giving him a single massive diamond, which he would never be able to sell in such a small town as meadowvale. Urzogg, however, proved to be one step ahead, immediately asking for a gem merchant to appear in town to whom they could sell the diamond.

This accomplished, the adventurers realized that the evil efreet would surely seek revenge when she realized that the adventurers had in fact killed all of her prospective apprentices, and so launched a surprise attack. though the efreets flames were hot and her magic was powerful, she could not stand before both heroes, and was slain.

Congratulating themselves on a job well done, the two adventurers headed back to meadowvale. But Saitra was to have the last laugh after all, for upon arriving they found that several building had been wiped out by the sudden appearance of "Joes Gem Emporium". Worse yet, hideous screaming and eerie ;laughter echoed from within the building. What horrors had been unleashed by the careless use of wishes? Could they be overcome? and how many disasters could a small town like meadowval possibly survive? Find out next time.

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