Three days later, Kao-Tsu, Vivian, Nathan, and Talia arrived in Green Dew. Markedly, they came a bit too late to the village….the tiny town showed distinct signs of ruin from an attack. Green Dew had been long abandoned by its inhabitants. As they searched through the foggy and eerie debris of the village, Kao-Tsu disturbed a magical rune on the floor. Suddenly, they were besieged by magical guardians of the village: gorgons! A furious fight ensued, with Talia and Kao-Tsu pulling out all their tricks; after all, they remembered the last time they fought a gorgon with Belcoot and almost perished. Thankfully, this time they proved victorious, however, with one setback: Nathan had been turned to stone! Vivian shrank his statue and agreed to not play with it as an action figure after some admonishment from Talia. A solution would be found soon for his petrification; for the moment, they should move forward through the town. Kao-Tsu after all had found a magical trail, leading through the woods…..
After about an hour and a half of walking through swampy lands through the fog, Kao-Tsu followed the path and lead his friends to a tiny goblin village. Upon their approach, all doors were slammed shut and windows barred to outsiders. Old distrusting eyes peered with deep-rooted hatred from the cracks in shambled windows onto our heroes as they tentatively ventured deeper into the impoverished hamlet. As the fog deepened, a wizened voice cracked out of the cold silence to the adventurers. “Travelers? Here?? Old Yammel cares not. Surely you seek the story of Isorn’t? For that is the only reason the village of Kull exists anymore…It is but a faded memory and a shadow of what we once were.” Out from the heavy mist hobbled a goblin crone with a walking stick. Interested yet apprehensive, the adventurers listened to her tale.
“Once, our village of Kull was teeming with life. We goblins were not wealthy, never rich, but full with families and farmers and crops. Next to us lived the barbarians of Green Dew. Humans. Hotheaded. Vicious. Cruel. Often raided our crops. But still, what could we do? We were farmers. They were warriors. Strong. Still, we kept to ourselves and so did they, mostly. Until one day. Illam. He was but a boy. Wandered into Green Dew. He made friends with a boy, a human boy. The humans found him. Only saw one goblin amongst many humans. They used his invasion of their territory as an excuse to raid our town! Murder. Rampage. Killed everyone except the oldest of the women who could not bear children. This was our punishment as goblins. Buried all in a mass grave. But HE escaped . . . Isnorn’t. He was a baby still! Dug himself out of the grave, he did. Vowed revenge on the humans. Waited until he was strong, as strong as the humans . . .he killed them all. Every last human. He found something in the swamps, something that made him strong . . . and when he came back, he was not goblin. No, he was more. . . but terrifying. Yammel too scared of him. No longer the scared boy he was. No. Isnorn’t wants more than what we goblins can offer him . . .” the old woman covered her face. “This place is dead now. No more will Yammel hear the cries of goblin babies. All is lost but the old things waiting to die . . . all is lost. . .” Her voice cracked as she cried into her dirty handkerchief. The fog enveloped the old crone as they backed away from the emotional old woman and the haze obscured their view of the village of Kull. Kao-Tsu continued to follow the magical path deeper and deeper into the swamp and they tried to put the story of the old woman behind them. They knew their enemy better now. . . for better or for worse.
Farther into the woods, Vivian (going off the the directions of a bullfrog), discovered the magical trail led to a sinkhole. Uncertain, the threesome jumped into the water, and attempted to swim to the bottom, despite a slight issue with piranhas attacking. Luckily, they escaped, although bloody, and swam to the bottom of the pit, which teleported them to a dry cavern below the surface of the water. The magic of the teleportation also restored Nathan to his human status! After some time resting from the piranha attack, Taiass was also able to catch up with his compatriots. It was agreed that they were most likely walking into a trap of the enemy; however all they could do was move forward.
The next room proved their theory true, as they walked into a temple room with a enchanted sleeping avatar of Mellora, guarded by evil Dagon fish-men. After some difficulty, Talia was able to magically awaken Ariella, the water fey, as the rest of the party slashed and hacked at the fish people. She explained that an aspect of Tiamat had invaded her holy temple to Mellora and had attacked her as well. He had entered her temple after a small goblin had asked her access, which she had granted. . . however, she remembered that upon his exit, he was fearsome, and unnatural. As the adventurers shared a glance and realized she spoke of Isorn’t, pitiless laughter filled the chamber. Ariella shrieked and turned into a trail of water as she saw the familiar figure teleported in behind the heroes.
Isorn’t spoke plainly and cruelly. He told the five that they were the strongest the Calicans had at their disposal, yet they were no match for his might. He offered a choice. Join him, and become manlin, and perhaps a truce could yet be made. As the heroes rejected him, he proved his might, shrugging off their most powerful of attacks. Vivian tore at his flesh simultaneously to Taiass’ stabbing psionic polearm attacks. Talia pulled on all of her blood magic, casting the most forceful of her magic missiles while diverting her very life force. Kao-Tsu’s whirling mantis step hit harmoniously to his best friend Nathan’s unrelenting shield bashes. Still, the manlin did not submit; indeed, he was barely hindered by the five!! Nathan and the others did not go down without a fight. Indeed their fierce leader was dropped three times by his enemy before submitting to unconsciousness. Finally only the monk remained standing before the manlin commander. As Isorn’t prepared a devastating spell against the unmoving Nathan, Kao-Tsu dived in front of his friend’s body, his right arm absorbing the impact of the spell and disintegrating painfully in a blast of white light that knocked both Isorn’t and Kao-Tsu to the side. The pain itself was unbearable and enough to kill a weaker man; Kao-Tsu immediately blacked out.
As the group revived one by one to Ariella’s splashes of water, they realized their luck. Isorn’t had left them alive; for what reason, they did not know. Taiass conferred quietly with Nathan, and a somber tone filled the chamber. There was much the eladrin knew about healing, but this much was for certain; the monk would forever be without his right arm. The wound was cauterized and although it would be painful, nothing else could be done for Kao-Tsu. The monk awakened to his own horrified screams. No jokes could mend his sorrows. Angrily, he agreed to push forward. The aspect of Tiamat still lay in the unexplored chamber ahead. Even though they could not vanquish their true enemy yet, all that was left was to keep gaining strength for the inevitable final battle with Isorn’t.