How Far Down Does the Megapede Hole Go? – The journey through the jungles of Xen’drik took a turn for the dire when the expedition came under attack by a pair of massive megapedes, savaging the leading elements of the expedition before the party could respond. One of the beasts was slain on the surface, while the other attempted to flee underground. Justal, never one to willingly let a foe escape, pursued it until he slew the megapede in a cavern deep in Khyber. The rest of the party pursued as best they could, finding Justal under attack by a group of corrupted drow. After weathering an assault by nothics and being joined by the expedition in a battle against a death tyrant beholder and swarms of its spawn, the party claimed the cavern: a strangely shaped form in the rock covered in Khyber dragonshards. Justal made sure to grab one for himself.
The City of Shadow, or ‘Charlie and the Eyeball Horrors’ – While the expedition remained behind to harvest the dragonshards the party and some companions pushed on to the city of the Umbragen drow, there to break the siege placed upon it by the Lord of Eyes. A series of events followed: Verdeloth helping to improve the drow’s crops, Darren’s crossbow becoming sentient in a magical mishap, and Justal leading a mindflayer and its frost giant thrall on a merry high-speed chase through the tunnels. Eventually the mindflayer and ‘Charlie’ were killed when the party went forth to destroy whatever was trying to free the Lord of Eyes from his prison. With that, and the multiple other monsters slain in the process, the siege wasn’t broken but WAS significantly weakened. The adventures around the city ended with Justal accidently freeing Dimmer-of-Flames from his dragonshard prison, and the Umbragen agreeing to lead the expedition to the fabled creation forge.
Cannith Calls Dibs – Upon emerging back upon the surface, however, the party discovered that they had competition for the ancient creation forge. A company of troops from the Riedran Empire of Sarlona were encamped around the forge structure, and the structure’s entrance was open. After an initial skirmish the Canniths and their guards engaged the company while the party rushed inside to secure the forge. Inside they found several of the so-called ‘Inspired’ who lead the Empire, including one with mannerisms much like one of the monks fought during Settling Into Stormreach. The fight for the forge ended when the party dropped the first batch of Inspired’s corpses on the leader of the Riedrans from up the forge’s great shaft, wounding her enough to make her easy prey. When the dust settled the forge belonged to the Canniths, the party learned a bit more about the mysterious Quori, Peren learned the origin of his Helm of Seven Deaths, and the party prepared to head to the Menechtarun Desert to find Justal’s father. Before leaving, Alek bid farewell to Darren, and left the younger artificer in charge of the Warforged Titan that had been recovered after the fighting.
Meeting the Scales – Far to the west of the party the kobold battlemind known as Capax was told to speak with the founder of his oasis settlement. The mysterious figure, distinguished only by the silver eyes and pipe visible beneath his cloak, told Capax to travel west. There he was to find a group of travelers and guide them back across the desert to the settlement. Some time later found the Stormhold adventurers ascending the Sun Pillars and looking upon the massive Menechtarun for (mostly) the first time. With Justal distracted by finally seeing his homeland again, and with the rest of the party distracted by thoughts of how miserable the trip was going to be, they didn’t notice until too late that they’d wandered near a beast giant lair. Thankfully, they were joined in their fight by a kobold of all things. Once the giants were dead, Capax explained that he’d been sent as a guide. The party accepted him, although became very suspicious when he described his settlement’s founder; after some confusion, Capax also recognized Justal as being related to one of the village chiefs. Descending the Sun Pillars towards the desert, Peren realized that despite Verdeloth’s rituals someone was following them. Looking back up the mountain, he thought he saw a blue-scaled dragonborn wearing gear not native to Xen’drik, but lost sight of his target. The party attempted to hunker down at the desert-side base of the mountain, but before the night was through a group of dragonborn rushed the camp from all sides, screaming “Death for the Daughter of Khyber!”