A note from BloodneverLies

341 game days until Launch

160 game days untill meeting at the Cairn of the Fallen Chiefs

10 Days until the Greater Harvest Market

Tomb of Eternal Night
Palace of Night- Command Center

Jacob stared at the map of the Arathia Basin as the reports from the last week had been uploaded. Little villages and clusters of more than 8 homesteads were marked in blue. Each tagged with a population estimation by the forces that had encountered the people there. Dungeons were marked in large red skulls, three to be exact. The Evergreen Forest had a bright golden line drawn around it signifying the Empire of Nights Non-Aggression treaty and agreement to not cross into the forest uninvited. Middlebrough was highlighted in blue colors while Inefords upper fortifications were highlighted blue-green. The Guilded Handz base of operations had not been found yet, but their presence had been both seen and heard as the calvary squads of the Third Legion spread throughout the basin. What they thought of the Legion actions, Jacob had no idea yet.

More important were the suggestions for possible sites to set up outposts and checkpoints where multiple roads congregated. The major roads the between Ineford and Middlebrough, and the road the led east from Ineford all the way to the Evergreen forest, would someday be paved as well to increase travel speeds and mark safe routes for trade caravans and the people of the Basin. The most important thing was incident reports from the Calvary riding through the basin, both good and bad. Mostly good so far.

Next, Jacob flipped to the map of the Underdark and highlighted the region the Tomb was located, all the allied locations were highlighted neon green, while everything else was blue, signifying that the Tomb controlled the region of the Underdark. Patrol routes and the limited roads that had been constructed were outlined as well. Fortresses with troop counts were listed, the forces being trained were also listed, but the new people were a big blue question mark for now.

Jacob frowned at that, but the situation would be rectified soon enough. Jacob flicked the map to the newest region the Empire had pushed in, most of it was greyed out as unexplored or closed off. Part of it had a hint of green where Clan Darguun was supposed to be, but it was unconfirmed information. Two pulsing blue lights with large flags signifying the First and Second Legions at the Fortresses of Hope and Redemption pulsed a bright blue. The bright red star was what interested him the most, the Stronghold of Gahlin and next to it was a bright red skull. Darren had found the entrance to the Dungeon below the Stronghold and uploaded the info.

Dungeon Name: Pit of Suffering
Age: Elder (5% increased experience, better items, +10% money received)
Level: 35-40
Recommended Party Size: 5 to 10

A Dungeon run to break up the monotony of everything going on would be good right now, and when he got back hopefully Eiloma would be done polling all the new people. Darren and his scouting group were already back at Hope resting and recuperating from playing hide-and-kill with the drow garrison for 12 hours. By the time Jacob grabbed the remainder of his party and ported out there, June and Chalxae should be good to go on a dive.

Outside the Stronghold of Gahlin

The series of caves dispersed and reflected the sound of the portal opening and closing if any patrols or Stealthed Rogues were present as Jacob his War Party and the scouting group emerged from the portal. Everyone had already drunk potions and dispensed Buffs so even the tell-tale flash of magic would give them away. "Ok, once we emerge from the caves, then entrance is about twenty feet away. Strait shot and the last time we were here, no guards were present at the entrance. Stay as quiet as you can and you should be good." Darren stated as his team started leaving while Jacobs party were moving slower.

"Goodluck and thanks for the intel, stay safe!!" Jacob told Darren who smirked before vanishing into Stealth. Damn Rogues!!!

Jacob pointed to Chalxae and she nodded before turning away and heading out. Jacob counted to 10 before following with the rest of the party on his heels. Thelgrum would bring up the rear with June, hopefully between Chalxae and June, no Stealthed Drow would get anywhere near them and they would be taking a portal home from the Dungeon so they wouldn't have to worry about any patrols on the way out.

As they emerged from the caves, Jacob could see the large walls of Gahlin in the distance, 15 feet tall and 8 feet wide, was the measurements of the outer wall. When they breached that the second wall was 12 feet tall by 8 feet wide, then beyond that was the fortress itself. Currently, they should have a garrison of just over 4,000 troops and had enough food and water to withstand a siege for three months. Jacob looked away, it was a thought for another day. Today was about clearing the prison, not the Stronghold.

The first level of the prison was full of level 35-37 Elite Prison Guards and Elite Maddened Prisoners. The Guards were not too bad, but the Prisoners swarmed in groups of 4 to 6 and attacked anyone, guards or Jacobs party. The worst part was all the corpses hanging from various instruments of torture hanging from the walls and racks. It wasn't as bad as the House of Thorn, but it was a close second Jacob thought as they pushed deeper into the prison. Jacob brought up the pop-up that had come up as soon as he entered the dungeon.

Dungeon Quest Issued: End the Suffering!!!
Description: For hundreds of years the SIsters of the Damned have put every sort of prisoner in the Pit of Suffering, this has changed both the occupants and their guards. End them and free them from their existence.

Kill Maddened Prisoners: 18/200

Kill Mistress Dar'Sinnoa: 0/1
Kill Guard Captain El'Carnoa: 0/1
Kill Guard Lieutenant Grimtooth: 0/1

Rewards: 50,000 Experience, Unknown

Three bosses at least were a nice bonus on top of clearing the dungeon for the first time. "Woohoo, chest!!" Chalxae called out as she stumbled on a hidden compartment and causing more than one of her companions to chuckle. Jacob heard the clink of coins and an alert popped up about loot, but he would check out all the loot after the run, and not before. "Ready!" was called out as Chalxae finished checking the room and started the descent to the next floor but as soon as her foot stepped on the first stair, screams and howls were heard ascending toward them. Jacob reached out and threw her behind him as he prepared to meet whatever was coming.

Hollowed Tombs
Central Stronghold- Grand Council Chambers

"What he does is intolerable, he should be reigned in. It is one of the reasons why we allowed Cathrine On'tel to marry a Vampire in the first place. To reign in their ambition, instead, the On'tel's have assisted in furthering this so-called Empire of Nights expansion." One of the Council spit out before sitting down. The Grand Council met every 3 months and elected new members to the Nine if they felt that they had failed in their duties.

"Pray tell, what would you have done instead?" One of the Nine asked.

The Council member smiled, "A knife in the dark would have ended things and curbed this new kings ambition." Anastasia and Mikeal hands' kept Cathrine in her seat as the low laughter of her father filled the room.

"Yes, kill the King and start a war. Truly wise counsel...Tell me, how would you kill the Immortal King of the Empire of Night?' Ishmael asked as he hopped off his seat and walked around looking at the various factions of the Grand Council. 'You cannot destroy an Immortal easily, certain weapons and conditions have to be meet and he has done nothing to incur our ability to truly destroy him. Do you even realize everything he has done since this Immortal has become a Vampire? Or do you just see a possible threat to your own power?" Ishmael drilled the fool with the last question.

Another of the Nine stood, "Enough, you cannot stop a river from flowing. You can try and direct it or divert it though. We cannot stop the Vampires ascension, it is beyond our control and assassination would only assure that we would eventually go to war with the Empire of Night. For now, the Hollowed Tombs is stronger then the Empire of Night, but the gap between our two peoples is rapidly closing. When Jacob Longstrider became king the gap has closed even further. We need to befriend him and his people, not make enemies of them." The Council member nodded to Ishmael before resuming his seat.

Ishmael looked at the other Council member for some reason beyond Cathrines understanding before turning back to the Grand Council, "Enough talk about alienating the Vampire Nation, let us talk about how we can bring them closer to us as they rise in power."

House On'tel Estate

Cathrine paced back and forth while waiting for her father, her mother had tried to calm her but seeing no headway against her anger, had left the other Banshee alone instead. Suddenly the doors opened and her father walked in, exhausted-looking, but alive and well. "Well?" Cathrine asked.

Ishmael sighed, "I am still one of the Nine and the faction that wanted direct action against your husband has been blunted and snubbed. They spent most of their political power trying to force the issue and they lost. I am more worried about the more subtle factions, they would try to get to your husband through you."

Cathrine scoffed but Ishmael simply stared at his daughter causing Anastasia On'tel to glare at her husband, "They would harm my daughter over my dead body!!" The air crackled with power as if she prepared herself to fight now but Ishmael quickly moved closer to his wife and lay a calming hand on her.

"They would not harm her, they would hold her a political prisoner with the understanding that Jacob would do as told," Ishmael explained and causing Cathrine to chuckle.

"He might be compliant long enough to find me and kill whoever took me and that would result in a war between the Hollowed Tombs and the Empire of Night. Those that think he would be a leashed animal would be dead fools." Cathrine explained.

Ishmael nodded, "I agree and I would do the same with your mother. Even still, I think you should stay with your husband and his people for the foreseeable future until the situation changes and those that want to control Jacob Longstrider are reigned in." Cathrine nodded and left to prepare to leave. She did not see the concerned look pass between her parents.

Pit of Suffering

Jacob felt both his passives and an HoT mend his bruises and few open wounds before he triggered Shield Charge, Thelgrum moved out of the way pulling three of the Maddened Prisoners with him as Jacob slammed into Grimtooth. The Orcs eyes bulged as Jacob slammed into his armored foe and drove him into the wall. Grimtooth grunted under the impact and Jacob triggered Piercing Lunge, Moonlight glowed brighter as it plunged into the Orcs stomach. Grimtooth backhanded Jacob away as he pulled himself away from the wall.

De-Buff Fractured Jaw: Spoken Skills/Abilities are disabled, Charisma is halved (Duration 3 Minutes)
De-Buff Cracked Eye Socket: Accuracy is halved (-50%)(Duration 10 Minutes)
De-Buff Open Wound: Lose 50 HP per second (Duration until healed)
Jacob grunted as a couple of healing spells landed on him countering the Open Wound De-Buff, but did nothing for the two others. Jacob yanked the Minor Healing Tonic and tried his best to drink it as Grimtooth stomped toward his position. Jacob screamed as his jaw popped back into its proper place and the double image quickly settled to one pissed off Orc. Jacob smiled and lept to meet the deranged guard.

Jacob wiped the blood of the dead Orc off Moonlight then leaning over and looting the corpse of the Mini-Boss.

Do you wish to loot...Guard Lieutenant Grimtooth? YES/NO
Your group has received...300 Gold
Your group has received...Braided Whip of Torment (Rare-Unique)
Your group has received...Plated Boots of the Warden (Epic-Set 1/3)
You have received...Rusted Iron Key (Unique-Quest)
Jacob whistled at the amount of Gold, and it was the first mini-boss of the Dungeon, not even the Dungeon-Boss. Jacob shook himself, the loot was not the most important thing here, freeing the prisoners and gaining Nadal Despval loyalty was. Anything else was just a bonus, a very, very nice bonus though. "Ready?" Jacob called out to his part while he checked on the status of the Buffs he had. All of them were on their last couple minutes if they had not already expired so he started renewing those he could and his party quickly followed his example.

The third floor of the Dungeon was more of what Jacob expected with jail cells, shackles, holding areas but it was dominated more by level 37-39 Elite Prison Guards with a few Maddened Prisoners that would burst out of cells at odd times. Everything had gone slow and steady on the floor until they got to the Captain, Jacob had assumed they would have to fight and kill the Drow but Jacob had been surprised when he started to talk instead.

They had been set to part ways peacefully right up to the point Jacob asked about the prisoners and specifically Nadal Despval clan members. Mentioning them had made the Captain nervous then terrified when Jacob would not allow him to leave until he responded.

The Guard Captain had screamed and charged at Jacob which brought a small swarm of the Maddened Prisoners running up the nearby stairs. Thelgrum was holding the swarm at bay by the stairs while Jacob was in an all-out brawl with the Captain who hadn't even bothered to draw his paired swords. He just threw himself at Jacob using his hands and teeth, it would have been amusing if Jacob didn't know what he could do with just his own.

Jacob had immediately kicked the Captain back and drew Moonlight as the Drow summoned a short-sword made of black flames and conjured a Firebolt of black flames that slammed into Jacob shield as he charged toward the enraged Captain.

De-Buff Hellfire Damage: 25 Burning Damage, Resource regeneration decreased by 50%. (Duration 1 Minute)

Jacob cursed as he read the status as he met the Drow blade to blade, how the fuck did a Warrior use a Warlock ability? Jacob considered the implications as he exchanged blows and did his best to keep the enemies sword away from him.

Jacob cursed as he sat on the remains of the former Captains desk so Thelgrum could work at removing the Curse the odd Drow had placed on him. Chalxae was checking for any hidden items, chest, or compartments while June was looting the corpse.

De-Buff Soul Scarred Curse: All primary Stats decreased by 10%, Resource and Health regeneration reduced by 25% (Duration 1 Hour)

"Nasty Curse you got there lad, give me a moment and I should be able to remove it," Thelgrum stated while Jacob looked at Fenwyn who was studying the corpse while talking to the Prime Imp next to her in the Demonic language it spoke.

"Fenwyn, what the hell class was that? I have never heard of a class that can sling spells like a Warlock while wearing medium armor and moving like a Warrior. Ideas?" Jacob asked the Gnome who looked up as soon as Jacob spoke while the Imp continued to study the body.

"I think he was a Demon Knight, similar to a Warlock but his abilities are more combat oriented. It is a rare Class in the world. Usually, they are only found within the ranks of the Legions of the Abyss. Not some remote prison, it is odd." Fenwyn stated before turning and leading the Prime Imp further away. Suddenly a golden and silver glow encompassed Jacob and Thelgrum stepped back. Jacob checked and the De-Buff was gone, Jacob quickly thanked the Dwarf as June made her way over and tossed him a key. It matched the Iron key he had received earlier but this one was made out of Silver.

"Buff and prepare to head down, hopefully, we have one more level," Jacob called out as he rose from his seat and headed toward the stairs down.

The last floor and the fight against Mistress Dar'Sinnoa had been...anti-climatic but she had gone down and she had given up a gold key. The catch was no apparent doorway or cells had been revealed. Only a Teleport pad to the beginning of the dungeon was apparent after finishing the Drow off. She had been more traditional Drow Curses, Whip, and Knife combination. "Chalxae, we are missing something. Something is hidden, these keys go somewhere...where do they go?" Everyone spread out after that combing through every pile of trash, moved the books from the bookcase, and even destroyed the desk.

Eventually, it was Snaggletooth that had found something, he had sensed some strange magic and Jacob had called Fenwyn and Chalxae over to look for anything. After conferring together and another ten minutes of searching they managed to finally pull out three bricks from the wall. Then they had to figure out which key went into each lock but eventually, they got them all in the right holes revealing something he had never seen. A Portal Stone.

"We have no idea where this goes, it could literary take you anywhere. Portal Stones are anchored to two points, it does not matter the distance between the two points, they will always work. Even across planes of existence, if you activate that stone...we have no idea where we are going or what we will face." Fenwyn informed Jacob as he continued to study the stone.

"It is a two-way path though...So once we get there, we can come back...Ok, I am going in. Buff up and follow 30 seconds, I will clear out anything on the other side or distract whatever is over there long enough for everyone else to come through safely.' Jacob told his party. More then one objected but of all of them he was the expendable one, he was an Immortal, they were not. 'Enough, stop acting like children. You guys will know if I die if that happens, portal out and we will think of another plan." Jacob told them. The grumbled but they did as he ordered and 30 seconds later he activated the Portal Stone.

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