The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 16 - Into The Unknown Continent!

A casual visitor to Stormreach...
Upon approach to the city of Stormreach, aboard the airship graciously loaned by Queen Aurala of Aundair, Connar hears screams far off in the distance (thanks to a natch on the listen check) and alerts the others to something happening within the city. Spyglasses are used on deck and Connar's supreme vision together can make out an enormous green creature ripping a section of the city to shreds.

Connar takes flight and moves to engage the beast, taking a blow from the thing that would have killed most normal men. Battle ensues, and the group try to contend with the beast and a small man at its feet that is assumed to be controlling it, when he is witnessed casting a spell on the thing. The gigantic creature brings more destruction down on the city before it and the small man beat a hasty retreat under the pressure of attack.

The rest of the group who were unable to engage due to no flight capabilities of their own finally make shore, and the band sets to working disaster relief and trying to figure out what/who that thing was, but find very little that convince them to follow up on the attack.
...and his pet.

Thereafter, they split up to see if they can find someone who would be willing or able to help them acquire the knowledge they came to Xen'drik seeking. During this time, Kitty is approached by a miserable-looking, hunched man who says that he could lead her to his master, who would be able to answer her questions and only would ask a small favor, in return. Kitty tells him that she would need to consult with her party about the matter, despite the man's persistence, and he finally agrees to meet her in the taproom of the inn they are staying at in the morning, after breakfast.

The next day, the group had barely settled in to their meals when the man approaches their table and begins to repeat the offer he had made to Kitty. This man's master could give them the answer to many of their questions, and more, but the information would come at a cost; the price to be named by his master. He demands their answer immediately, and urges them not to pass the opportunity. The band of heroes debates only shortly before deciding to agree to go with this mysterious stranger to meet his even more mysterious 'master'.

Trustworthy chap.
The man leads them outside the city on foot to a large soar sled that would be able to accommodate about twenty people, shaped like a semicircle with a railing on the leading, curved edge that was set with Khyber dragonshards. At each of these shards, a dark elf was bound with chains made of some dark material. When the stranger activated the sled, the drow writhed in agony. Some of the group guessed that the drow powered the vessel with their lifeforce, but made no question to their host about how. Connar, knowing not much more other than how much he dislikes people being enslaved or confined, was visibly shaken and angered by the mechanism, but also held his tongue, taking care not to jeopardize his newfound friends' mission.

The sled flew deep into the jungles, slowly approaching a volcano that loomed in the distance when they started their trip. As they approached it, the jungle canopy became thicker and thicker, completely obscuring the sky until it was pitch black, then the heroes realized at some point, they had traveled underground to a massive cave. As far as they could see within the confines, giants were encamped or doing drills. Great pyres and runnels of lava gave the whole place a sinister glow and finally, a massive keep, looking as if it had sunk or slid into place, comes into view and the mysterious man turns to them and says, "Welcome to Apokalips."

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