We took our new treasures and decided to rest and recuperate before we ventured forth from the vault. As we camped we discussed and experimented with the items and discovered much that was not apparent at first glance. The Arrow is the last of a quiver that was used to slay an iron skinned beast. The Sword is indeed Esserial, but apparently the Grimorden it was used against was not trapped in the sphere, but rather hurled up to the stars. Diamasin decreed that the sword should used against the demon when it returns, but not be reforged until that day (which seems like it could be any minute now). The Armor was indeed that of great-great-great-grandfather Diamasin. As we thought, the sapling is the cutting of the Tree of Life, although it had an unexpected companion in the Silver Apple, which is possibly the last fruit of an unknown Tree of Knowledge. The Ring and Torc were both wedding gifts for Diamasin and Aedrinia. Lastly, the Tooth was both pulled from and used to slay the last known dragon in these lands. As we camped we divvied up the equipment for their best use and protection and then we began planning. I ended up with the shards in a sack on my hip, wearing the torc, and wearing great-great-great-grandfather's armor. I hope that as i wear his legacy he looks down upon me from the undying lands and protects me.
After some discussion it became clear that we would have to journey to the unknown two destinations on the teleport pad if we were to find the missing Kinstone. This seemed safe enough, and so we picked one of the unknown symbols and said a small prayer as we travelled around the world in a flash of light and magic. Our first try landed us on what we could only assume to be Guardian Island. We saw the small island and the temple, and made a note of the symbol and moved on. Our second try, and the last symbol on the teleporter pad, placed us high in the White Knuckle mountains, just inside a shallow cave but well protected from the weather. We were soon visited by a large hag who apparently had some dealings with other creatures on the other end of the teleport pad. We attempted negotiations, but these failed. So we entered hostile negotiations and she was soon knocked unconscious. Bound and beaten, the hag submitted to both our questioning, and Kanar's musical abilities. It was quite a sight to see these two mammoth wills battle it out before the hag finally broke and cowed before Kanar. Occasionally when i see Kanar use such an awesome mental power i begin to wonder exactly how it was that she came to travel with Dukek and I so easily, but she has proven herself loyal and true time and again and so these thoughts are soon quelled.
We learned from the hag that she had had ownership of the Kinstone we were seeking, that she had given it to The Guardian at the temple on the island we had just visited, that The Guardian had a habit of melting intruders (we saw evidence of this first hand), and that she was given a key by Sothoth, a member of the cult of the Black Flame. Also from the witch Kanar learned that she has some sort of invisible mark on her forehead, a mark described as that of Famine, and that the only way to remove it was with the Blackfire we are already seeking. We also ended up with her... prisoner, a small human child from a village down the mountain. We decided to retrieve her key first, and then return the child. It would not do to have many of these keys floating around. Our journey up the mountain was uneventful and before we realized we had arrived we were outside of her hovel. She ducked in underneath a flap of skins that protected the entrance and then made a break for it. Dukek and Adderwood attempted persuit, but fell into a pit trap just beyond the door. I leaped the pit and, accompanied by a flying Adderwood, ran through the tunnels behind the entry way in an attempt to find the beast. She must have prepared well for such an eventuality as this, however as we were unable to find any trace of her. A search of the room at the entrance rewarded us with the key we saught, so we took it and began our trek down the Bear Clan village. We found the village easily, but found no survivors. Left with few choices we started back up to the cave with the teleportal and discussed the child's future on our way. Luckily for us a hunting party of Bear humans soon found us and, after a few barbaric negotiations involving Novarg and a massive amount of alchohol, took the child and left us to go our own way.
Back at the cave we again decided that rest was the way to go. While camping we discussed and planned for the following day, eventually deciding that we would interrogate the melted cultist's corpse, scout the temple, and then possibly invade Baltron's Keep. We rested and the night passed with no cause for alarm. In the morning Bariel called forth the dead man's spirit to answer a few questions for us. From it we learned that the Cult was actively seeking the Kinstone, and that there was apparently a faction war within the cult. We are assuming that Leptor and this Sothoth fellow are the two main rivals. As we sat discussing this new information we were greeted by the rank smell of another half-melted human coming through the portal from the island. We now knew that there was a group of cultists on the island near the portal, as the man didn't have a key on his person. We immediately took up arms, formed a defensive circle on the portal and went through to the island to remove a few of these blights from the face of the world.
As we materialized on the other teleportal we found a half a dozen cultists led by the wizard Leptor surrounding us, not exactly surprised, nor exactly prepared. The expected brawl soon broke out. Leptor was near psychotic with a drive for revenge against Adderwood's previous fireball assault, and dropped a fireball on the platform scorching even his own men. The fireball was devestating to our party, and freed and enraged our lycanthrope prisoner. Rufo, Novarg, Dukek and I were willing to step off the circle and continue the brawl as Bariel, Adderwood and Kanar were considering a retreat through the portal. It soon became apparent that such a tactic would not be necessary as Leptor's minions fell like dry branches in a strong wind. Rufo engaged a cultist in light armor and a cloak, knowing full well that he would not want that man to get behind any of us. Novarg rushed a man in robes with a staff before he could even get off a spell. I stepped forward and assaulted a man who had called upon his dark gods for some unholy energy, managing to cut him down in three quick strikes. The battle up until this point could be described as 'civilized' or 'orderly' as what followed can only be described as 'chaos'. Leptor unleashed a spell to befuddle our minds and once again managed to ensorcel the three remaining warriors of the Cult (one of whom i noticed later to my horror was the paladin we had failed to save in the tower). I, thank Tarimth, was uneffected by the spell and continued to fight with my full capacaties. Dukek, Bariel, Adderwood and Kanar were not so lucky. Verna, the weretigress, was either befuddled by the spell or enraged due to her disease, as she immediately attacked Leptor, her former lover! By the time the spell wore off we had managed to kill Leptor, his two cultist warriors, and the paladin. We had also knocked out Bariel and Verna, although not before she roughed me up quite a bit, including a nasty bite to the neck. Every time one of her blows came close i thanked Tarimth for the gift of such wonderful armor, as it truly saved my life today. Adderwood passed out from his wounds, but we managed to stabalize his condition and there is no doubt that he will live. The largest surprise was yet to come, though; as we were tending to the wounded we heard a sound as if the air behind us was suddenly and massively heated. Turning we saw Leptor's unquestionably dead body vanish as if it had been teleported away. Surely we have not seen the last of him, and a small part of me looks forward to defeating him again.
We are now going to sit and catch our breaths for a few minutes, but not too long. We need some healing, yes. And Bariel needs to look at my bite wound, yes, but if we assault Baltron's Keep now we know for certain that Leptor is in no condition to defend it well, and that many of his defenders now lie dead at our feet. This is the perfect opportunity to retrieve the Black Fire we need for the spell to contain the Star of Diamasin, and we shall take it!