Chornalth Adventures - Liga

RQ Evening 23
Delving into Delvenbrass...

578 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).

[13th of Readying, 578]

When last they had met, our intrepid band had split up to spend the winter months either studying, visiting relatives, or having their injuries repaired. Once reunited, Marcus told the others of the quest that the Olven Court of the Vesve had lain upon him, that he should journey to the ruined castle Delvenbrass and put to rest whatever continued to haunt that ancient site. After pausing a few days to learn more about the place, the party set forth to explore the ruin for themselves.

As they traveled, they pooled their knowledge, which amounted to the following. The castle had been built nearly 800 years before, by a Bakluni sorcerer named Vendrake bel’Adiin, who was supposedly a member of a mystical society known only as the Court of Stone. Some ancient texts mentioned that the fortress was built in remarkable time by servants who seemed to be made of the very earth itself, thus speeding the process immensely. Sometime over the next 200 or so years, his slaves carved miles of tunnels beneath the castle, and finally uncovered a source of powerful conjuration magic that was buried there… but the item discovered somehow overwhelmed the sorcerer and his allies, slaying them all and leaving none behind to tell of what had truly happened.

They arrived in the vicinity of the ruin almost a week later, but their approach to the castle was interrupted by a flight of tremendous bats overhead, that seemed to arc out over their position and then return to the castle. Before they entered the grounds themselves, Dracon stalked one of the deer native to the region and laid his will upon it, and with his magic asked it what it knew about the castle. The deer replied that the ivy that grew upon the walls of the castle tasted bad, and that many small two-legs, armed with “sticks that bite” could be found there.

A quick survey of the upper works of the ruin found it to be bounded by a square ruined wall, and a triangular shaped keep within.
The outer walls of the castle were in a state of advanced decay, though the brass-roofed towers at each comer were still mostly intact. The inner grounds held a ruined stable and abandoned smithy, as well as a roofless well near the back. Not trusting the stable to contain their horses (and suspecting that leaving them there merely shortened the flight path for their becoming bat-food) the party scouted the woods surrounding the ruin for a good place to hobble the horses.

While searching for such a place, they came upon the carcasses of four other horses, all of which were a week or more dead. Nearby the horses they found a pile of saddles, saddlebags, and packs, and in one of the packs they managed to recover an inlaid wooden box that contained a variety of letters written in a script that none but Kendradell (thanks to a necklace she owned) could decipher. While the name of the intended recipient was never mentioned, the writer called himself Barzail, and outlined the preparedness of the various olven settlements within the Vesve for assault. By consensus the group decided that the letters were most likely intended for Iuz, though the Hierarchs could not be ruled out, either.

Soon thereafter, a place was found for the horses, and the party returned to the ruin to explore the triangular keep itself. The first room they explored proved to be ceiling-less, brought down by the massive piles of guano from above. Several keen eyed members of the group noted that one of the piles of guano was oddly misshapen, and when Marcus drew back on his bow to send an arrow into it, a small humanoid form broke and ran towards the back wall, but was captured by Nikolai’s pet spirit and frozen in Time before it could escape. It was brought outside, cleaned up a bit, and recognized as a xvart.

The captured xvart gave his name as Qat, and claimed that “thousands” of his brethren dwelled below, and that they would soon rise up out of the ground to slay the party. After awhile, he began (through an interpreter, mind you) to hail Naazi as his leader, and congratulate him on the clever ruse by which so many hated over-worlders could be brought to the cook pot. The party soon grew tired of his obvious lies and knocked him unconscious, and left him tied to one of the poles that remained supporting what once was the roof of the stable.

A search of the other rooms off of the main corridor revealed only a variety of decay and broken ceilings, though the last room on the left seemed oddly shaped. The final chamber at the end of the hall proved to be a grand reception hall, with two sets of stairs leading down and one up; Nikolai’s keen eyesight spotted a door set along the wall where the stairs led up to the second floor, but when Marcus pried it open he was knocked off the stairs and to the ground by a giant bat lunging at him.

As the bat emerged from the door, a xvart could plainly be seen riding upon it’s back, but a quick burst of magic missiles from Murray sent the bat crashing to the floor near Marcus. Though dazed, the xvart quickly rose from the body of it’s steed but was quickly squashed by the party.

A survey of the small chamber beyond the hidden door revealed a small platform and two ladders, one leading upwards and the other down. It was quickly realized that Naazi would find it impossible to traverse either ladder, so Tarqualan transformed him into a large python and he began gliding down through the hole in the floor. Eventually, there came a point where there was more hole than snake, and Naazi began trying to signal his dilemma to the group. Thinking that they could hold his tail and lower him down some more, Marcus tried lifting the tip of the tail… Naazi, feeling this, thrashed to free himself, and in the process wound up dropping down the hole in an uncontrolled fall.

As the stars cleared themselves from his eyes, Naazi saw three more xvarts fleeing from the room he had just fallen into, and soon the heard of a clattering alarm could be heard in the corridors outside the room. Nothing happened until the entire group was assembled, however, and Naazi, returned to his proper form, opened the door the xvarts had fled down. Naazi nimbly leaped aside as the ballista at the end of the corridor let fly, but Dracon, several meters behind Naazi and unaware of any impending danger was not so lucky. A massive bolt pinned him to the wall with a crippling injury to his right leg.

While Kalik and Naazi (?!) scouted the hall where the ballista bolt had come from, Tarqualan tried to use his magic to heal Dracon’s wound, but managed to injure his companion far more than even the trap had done. Seeing that her companion was so close to death, Kendradell sang her most powerful healing song over him, restoring him to complete health.

As Kalik advanced down the right branch of the hall, he heard a strange sound coming from another intersection ahead and saw a veritable carpet of rats bearing down on him. He turned back towards the safety of the group, but as Naazi rose into the air in flight decided that it would be easier to climb aboard. The rats quickly passed beneath them, and Murray cast a flaming sphere within the doorway to the hall which killed nearly all the rats that tried to run through it.

While the bulk of the party either clung to the rungs of the ladder that led upwards or scurried about squashing those rats that made it into the room, Naazi and Kalik took the left branch of the tunnel before them, but soon ran afoul of a small band of xvart archers, who could see them far better than they could be seen. Once the tide of rats behind them was finally quenched, Murray sent the flaming sphere down that corridor, scattering the archers.

Further exploration of the winding tunnels brought them before a door where chanting could be heard; wasting no time, Marcus bashed in the door and quickly slew the xvart shaman, but apparently not before the spirit it had summoned had received it’s commands. As Kalik and Tarqualan made short work of the shaman’s assistants, the spirit in the summoning circle attacked Marcus, weakening him slightly. Nikolai soon struck the spirit a killing blow with his enchanted silver sword, killing it before it could possess Marcus.

The door at the end of the hallway they stood in proved to bear a symbol Kendradell recognized as belonging to one of Nerull‘s many sub cults. Again, Marcus opened the door to reveal a skeletal figure dressed in robes and holding a golden scepter. Calling upon the powers granted to him by Heironeous, Marcus’s axe shattered the skeletal form in one telling blow. The broken form on the floor showed little sign of reanimating, so the rest of the party joined Marcus in examining the other contents of the room.

Further exploration of the chamber revealed that one of the doors bore silver glyphs invoking a curse upon any who passed: “Those who pass this portal shall have their souls ripped from their bodies and consigned to the Lowest Reaches of Nerull’s Halls”. Opening the door showed naught but darkness, which proved to be magical to Tarqualan’s sight and which detected as evil to Marcus. The decision was made to ignore that door for the moment and to concentrate on the other, which proved to lead to a larger room full of xvarts that had been transformed into ghouls. As we ended for the evening, it was mutually agreed that the ghouls were eliminated handily, leaving the party free to explore what lay beyond the door at the far end of this room

[20th of Readying, 578]

View
RQ Evening 22
The battle continues...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia <absent>;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous <absent>;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).

{7th of Sunsebb, 577]

We picked up this week in the middle of the battle we didn’t finish the week before. As the battle continues, several members of the party notice that their attackers seem to possess strange abilities; on several occasions, the warriors simply stare at their opponent, who then feels his mental defenses (magic points) being stripped bare. Marcus is overcome by some force that inflicts unending agony that constantly distracts him, diminishing all of his skills. Dracon teleports himself into melee range with their leader, and discovers that some sort of electrical charge surrounds him, inflicting damage equal to that done to him to whomsoever attacks him.

As the tide begins to turn against the party, two things happen quite quickly; Tarqualan casts a spell of command over one of their assailants and discovers that all of them are joined together mentally; for the price of one spell he gains command of three of the enemy. Meanwhile, Dracon, sensing that all might soon be lost, calls upon Obad Hai for assistance in defeating his enemies, and is heard (though at great cost). Vines begin growing from the walls and floor, entwining his enemies and holding them tight, allowing the party to cut their throats. The enemy leader and one of his servants still manage to escape, vanishing from within the vines that held them.

A closer look at the bodies that remain reveal that all bear a similar if unusual countenance… all are pale, with solid red orbs for eyes. What passes for hair on their heads is a thick, spagetti-like substance colored white. None of the more learned members of the party recognize their species, however.

After pulling themselves together again, the group moves down the hallway towards the main audience chamber where they last saw their fallen companions. As Marcus reaches out to open the door to the small reception area that leads to the larger chamber, his companions gasp as he visibly shrinks, struggling clumsily inside armor that is now several sizes too large for him to wear comfortably. As Dracon and Kalik consult on what might restore their friend to normal, Dracon is struck dumb (Stupefied), and though Kalik quickly dispels this magic, it is beginning to dawn on the party that the lady vampire that they hoped they’d killed is obviously very much alive and toying with them.

While Mirella uses her spells to remove what appears to be glyphs warding the door before them against passage, several members of the party sight a shambling demon creature coming down the hallway towards them. Milik casts a fire spell in it’s direction, which causes it to sprint in his direction. As Kalik and Dracon attack it with swords, both learn the hard way that the demon in question uses acid for blood, costing Kalik his armor and very nearly the Sword of Nogre, as well.

Sensing time pressing against them, the party hurriedly passes the reception room into the great hall, and as they stand over the spot where Lucien lays entombed, their unseen assailant strikes again, this time filling Milik with poison and very nearly killing him in the bargain. Mirella observes at this point that perhaps retreat might not be out of order, and as if to punctuate her words, the closed doors behind the party slam open, inviting the party to leave. After a hushed conference, the party agreed, though Marcus inquired of Mirella if she had sufficient strength remaining to close the gate they’d entered through, lest Drelzna use it to follow them back to Perrenland

Skulking back out the way they’d come in, the party stood guard over Mirella as she closed the gate, an act which left her far too weak to even think of reopening it any time soon. The party, defeated and badly in need of rest, retired to the city to make further plans. A bit of research on the parts of Nikolai and Kendradell reveal that the strange warriors they fought are known as the diurge, a race of beings from another world strong in both evil and the mental disciplines (psionics).

Though the gnawing pain soon left Marcus’ body, his size and dexterity did not return. Not knowing what else to do, Tarqualan decided to bring his half-olven companion back to his homeland, to seek aid from the gods of his own people. Kalik and Nikolai elected to return to Umst to report their failure to their temples, though Countess Dianetta gave Nikolai a farewell he would not soon forget.

Dracon, so close to home, elected to travel north and try to rejoin his family for the coming holidays, though his clan’s wise woman gave him no peace about the foolish choices he’d been making recently. Milik elected to remain in Schwartzenbruin and train with Nerek Festil, the court sorcerer.

Once the mages of the Vesve Court have restored Marcus’ size and dexterity, they name their price for their services… must undertake a quest to clear out the ancient ruin known as Delvenbrass, located in the eastern reaches of the Vesve and the source of many troubles there….

And so the party split up, vowing to meet once more in Schwartzenbruin the following spring, on the 13th day of Readying, 578…

View
RQ Evening 21
Opening and reopening doors...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;<absent>
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh <extended>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

We began this with Naazi departing to undertake a quest for his unnamed patrons, while the rest of the group trained while waiting for Marcus’ leg to regenerate. Once everyone was ready to travel once more, Kalik insisted that they visit a temple of Pelor, so that they could gather what aid they could in rescuing their sometime companion Lucien, whom they had left entombed in stone in Iggwilv’s fortress.
Upon their arrival, Kalik was informed that an emergency had arisen, and that the expected reinforcements were no longer available. They could, however, donate the use of an amulet containing several spells that the local high priest felt might benefit them in their quest. Since the next phase of their plan required them to consult with the followers of Dalt in the hopes that they could reopen a gateway back whence they had come proved more difficult, since Dalt’s cult was almost unknown in the Flanaess, even in those lands that the Suloise held sway in.

Nikolai, however, was aware that Dalt’s cult often shared space with that of Wee Jas, so they set sail once more for the Duchy of Umst. While crossing the Nyr Dyv, Kendradell and Tarqualan happened to be on deck when a large dragon soared past over head, traveling north. After another week or so of uneventful sailing, they reached Leukish and began seeking information from the Temple of the Dark Eyed Lady.

After explaining their mission to Noella, High Priestess of the Lady in Leukish, she assigned them a young acolyte who led them west towards the Cairn Hills (the price for such aid was to be at least one book of magic from Iggwilv’s collection, should they recover any). After a short time, she asked that each of them don blindfolds before traveling further, as the location of the Obsidian Tower was to remain a secret. After another hour of riding, the party found themselves in the courtyard of a small keep, facing a tower that was neither especially large nor, apparently, built from anything remotely like obsidian….

Telling their tale once again, this time to Mica, the High Priest of Dalt, it was agreed that he would aid them in locating the initiate
Mirella (who had been the one who closed the gate they sought to open, and thus was the one most likely to be able to reopen it) and would transport them back to Schwartzenbruin, which was where Mirella happened to remain after leaving them almost three months before. Once more they were blindfolded, and led to the entrance of a small cave, which they were told would exit in Schwartzenbruin…

True to his word, the gate in the cave did lead to the capitol of Perrenland, but it exited in the sewers. The party soon located a large grated exit overlooking Lake Quag, and after cleaning up, made their way into the city proper. Though it took three days, the group eventually located Mirella in a gambling hall, and made their pitch for her aid.

Though initially reluctant, she finally agreed, though she drove a far harder bargain than Noella had; in addition to recovering the body and sword of her companion, Shallane, she personally wanted 1st pick of any treasure they uncovered, at least one additional tome of magic (should any be located) and the recovery of and delivery of her own body and sword to her own temple (which she indicated lay hidden in the far north, in the Bumeal Forest) should she fall while aiding them. Mirella seemed quite concerned that in all likelihood, Drelzna still lived, and had spent the last several months plotting black revenge…

Requiring a week to prepare, she then left the group to their own devices. Most spent the week in debauchery, living up to their local status as minor lords in the glittering circles of Perrenland nobility. Though many assignations were to be had, the most popular pairing was that of Lord Nikolai and the Countess Dianetta, who were often seen dancing together well into the night.

As the week came to a close, the party once again sought our Mirella, and told her of their initial plan (to reenter the Voorman’s palace and reopen the gate in the same place it had been prior to their arrival). Cursing them for fools, Mirella led them to a basement beneath a bakery where she had constructed a detailed copy of the portal chamber they’d originally left through, explaining that for setting a gate, a similarity of surroundings was far more important than anything else. After several more hours of preparation, the gate was recast and ready for use…
Finding themselves once more in Iggwilv’s stronghold, the party decided to first explore a door that they had not opened on their first sojourn here. As he passed through the door, Marcus felt a distinct tingling sensation upon crossing.the threshold. The large room they had entered was clearly once the grand dining hall, and contained three large tables, all currently occupied by what resembled petrified soldiers. As Marcus approached these frozen warriors, he detected malignant intent from the leader of the nearest table, and soon detected that the group seated before him was breaking free of whatever stasis held them in place.

Backing through the door he had entered and slamming it shut, the party soon found that the enemy they had closed the door upon was now somehow behind them, and attacking them from the rear. As we ended the evening, none had fallen on either side, but the battle looked to be a fierce one…

View
RQ Evening 20
Where darkness festers, wounds do too...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).

After a short (very short) breather and pep talk from Kalik regarding teamwork, the group set out to explore the ancient temple. As the first half of the party entered the main entrance, a large net dropped from the ceiling, ensnaring Marcus, Tarqualan, and Naazi. As this happened, several hobgoblins stepped out from behind some thick pillars located deeper inside the temple, as a force of gnolls stepped into the entryway.

Marcus fell backwards, holding his large hoplite shield over his body as he drew a dagger to cut away at the net, while Tarqualan struggled to cast a spell to free himself. Naazi, meanwhile, pitted his strength against the bonds of the net while both groups of humanoids unleashed arrows in his general direction. Kalik, who had managed not to get caught beneath the net, engaged one of the gnolls in melee while Milik (who had jumped the other way) rejoined the rest of the party and began unleashing spells against their enemies.

While the melee progressed, both Dracon and Murray attempted to hurl spells against the hobgoblins located deeper within the upper structure of the temple, but some force protected those ’noids from their spells. After the lead members of the party struggled and/or were cut free of the net, they quickly finished off the gnolls, and began to venture deeper into the temple to engage the hobgoblin archers.

After rushing forward to engage the archers, Marcus was the first to learn that whatever force shielded them from magic also delivered a chilling bolt of pain when his ax-arm strayed across the invisible line. As it did so, a deep, subsonic sound like a massive gong could be heard, even by those still outside the temple. With the sound of the first gong, those with keen eyes could detect a gathering darkness welling up at the top of the nearest pillar, causing shades (darkness elementals) to slither down from the shadowed vault above to attack.

Kalik was the first to be held in the icy grip of one of the shades, but Marcus was engulfed and knocked unconscious by one of the pair that engaged him. Naazi was partially engulfed by two of the shades, but neither possessed sufficient volume to completely surround him. While vulnerable to normal weapons, the shades provided poor protection for those they engulfed, so many of the sword and arrow strikes that helped to free those so stricken wound up injuring them in the process.

Though the party eventually finished off all of their obvious foes, the problem of the magical force field they’d hidden behind remained. Dracon was the first to recall that most temples made use of a warding spell to both dissuade intruders and sound an alarm when such were detected; it was beyond a doubt that those in the lower temple were well aware of their arrival…

After attempting to find and remove the wards that guarded what was obviously the only way down, the party soon realized that the wards were likely well buried either in the floor or the pillars, and that the temple below was unlikely to give them time to destroy them. So each member of the party crossed the line, endured the chilling shock of damage, and began to cautiously venture downwards…

On the first landing of the stairs, Milik located a secret door to a forgotten storeroom containing a variety of mauve robes, but the general consensus was that the robes were some sort of trap, meant to instantly identify any intruders as such. Another thing they noticed was that on the stairs beneath the landing, a copious variety of wispy shapes could be seen floating in midair; They seemed drawn to open wounds, as Naazi soon discovered… the wisps would enter a wound and vanish, but thereafter the wound so “infested” could not be closed, even by magic. Fortunately, his wounds were minor, but it did not bode well for the coming combat below, if such spirits were as common below as they were on the stairs…

A dark, empty corridor greeted them at the foot of the stairs, and a nearby chamber proved to be the lair of an enormous troll; most of the magic the group had placed on their weapons in the fight above was still active, so it fell quickly before their onslaught. While Naazi searched the ‘nest’ of the troll for treasure, he located several silver torch holders that seemed to be burning with an invisible flame, but little else.

As Marcus and several other members of the group kept watch on the disturbingly empty hall in which they stood, two things occurred in rapid succession. First, Marcus watched in horror as his prized hoplite shield began folding in upon itself from the comers inwards, and Kendradell noticed something odd about the shadows along one wall, and cast a light spell that revealed a half dozen hobgoblins who were almost upon the party, using some magic to completely cloak themselves in the cover of darkness. Marcus quickly dispelled whatever spell was destroying his shield, and then waded into battle against the now revealed hobgoblins.

As the supply of obvious hobgoblins dwindled, Marcus heard a familiar voice speaking in an unfamiliar language – he quickly recognized it as the voice of his hated brother, Flavius. His moment of glory was cut short, however, when a blinding pain seized his right leg, and as he lay writhing on the ground in agony, he watched his leg transform itself into a slimy, suckered tentacle!

Even through his pain and terror, Marcus remembered the charge Heironeous had laid upon him to end his brother’s life. Using the spirit in his ax, he called upon Heironeous (Divine Intervention) to deliver his brother for a face to face confrontation, and Heironeous answered the call by bringing Flavius out of the shadows at the end of the corridor to right before the group.

Quickly realizing that spells had little effect on Flavius, and ignoring Nikolai’s call to take him alive, Kalik leapt forward with the Sword of Nogre, which still shone with the sun’s own light from the battle above. The light of the blade made short work of the creature of darkness Flavius had become, and he soon lay dead before them. Marcus, fulfilling his vow to Heironeous, beheaded his brother, and dropped to his knees to thank his Lord for his assistance. What none noticed was that one of the shadows cast by Flavius’ fallen form had attached itself to Kalik….

It was Marcus, actually, who saw Kalik drop his flaming sword, mutter a spell and step backwards to vanish into the shadows; without a thought for himself, he called upon Heironeous yet again to free his friend, and was heard for the second time in one day. In the enhanced vision Heironeous granted him for an instant, Marcus saw the spirit that had possessed his friend depart his body, then drift back down the hall to enter a closed room where a strange, blue skinned man dressed in the black robes of a sorcerer leaned over a scrying bowl – in an instant, the spirit possessed the man, whose eyes went from gray to solid black in the instant of possession.

The rest of the party, who had noticed only that Kalik was suddenly missing, decided to vacate the temple with all haste, as the darkness around them seemed to grow more and more oppressive by the moment. Recovering their horses, they rode hard for the rest of the afternoon, seeking shelter in a cave for the night, and renewing the invisibility rituals Murray had performed on them earlier to pass unmolested through the valley the orcs controlled.

Once out of the mountains they rode south into Furyondy, where most of them could locate temples at least friendly to their own. Marcus, whose leg was still malformed into a tentacle, was sent to the priestesses of Beory, who cut the unclean appendage away and then regenerated a fresh, human leg in it’s place. While Marcus rested after this ordeal, Nikolai sequestered himself in a temple of Lendor and underwent intensive training, with an eye towards promotion. The rest of the party engaged in similar exploits, as they had almost 2 months to kill.

As we ended the evening, Kalik was visiting a temple dedicated to Pelor, explaining the fate of Lucien to his superiors, and making them aware of his plans to rescue the young knight….

View
RQ Evening 19
The Black Temple at last!

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest).

We began the evening with the party exiting the ruined keep they’d secured last time we’d met, and venturing out to a stand of dead trees to recover the ore’s horses. From the vantage of the ruined tower, they’d been able to make out several prominent features of the valley, including the forest that ran along the northern slope and the distant village perched atop a small hill near the center of the valley. A large sinkhole was also found just beyond the acre or so of dead trees, and Dracon cast flight upon himself to further explore it.

The bottom of the sinkhole proved to be of soft earth, in which no tracks could be seen. A number of small caves could be seen along the edges of the bowl, and one of these proved to contain the skeletal remains of a follower of Ilneval chained across the passage, as if in warning to others to proceed no further. Marking this passage for future exploration, Dracon returned to the group and they began heading north-west.

As the party moved along the edge of the forest, they came to a region where all of the local wildlife seemed to have died off, leaving only empty trees and the occasional skeleton poking up through the dead leaves that carpeted the area. The remains of a small stone building could be seen among the trees, which upon investigation proved to house a shrine to Yutrus, Plaguelord of the Orcs.

Making their way out of the dead zone, they encountered another ruin near where the forest began to reassert itself, but found nothing of interest there. When the forest finally ended, they were just slightly north of the village they’d spotted, and Murray made himself invisible to better scout the area.

Since Murray had once been a nalshavel (gray orc), he had a passing familiarity with the orcish pantheon and orcish works in general. The first thing he encountered as he crept up towards the hill was a large stone monolith, which seemed to serve the same purpose as a totem pole. At the top of the pole were carvings of Ilneval, followed by subordinate carvings of Bahgtru and Yutrus (which Murray thought strange, as few orcs would openly advertise such an alliance). Further down the pole, in an aspect that indicated a somewhat shaky alliance of forces, was an actual enameled carving/painting of a formless creature made all in black.

A further survey of the area around the base of the hill indicated slave labor working some meager fields, while young orcs moved about the top of the hill. The hill itself proved to be a massive lump of piled earth, certainly not natural, with numerous positions from which archers could easily fire downwards on any enemy who sought to reach the village above. By Murray’s estimate, perhaps as many as 100-200 orcs might live there, perhaps more if the hill itself contained living quarters.

Returning to the group, Murray relayed most of the information he’d gathered (though he neglected to inform the party about the configuration of the totem poles). Deciding that daylight was better cover than darkness where the orcs were concerned, they began a slow, steady ride towards the exit of the valley, noting as they did a number of caves situated both at ground level as well as higher up along the walls of the valley.

Eventually as they neared the exit, they spotted another sinkhole and a stone watchtower that clearly stood in their way. The northern sinkhole proved to have a muddy bottom, with occasional pools of stagnant water in the open. Near the base of the tower one cave in particular seemed to have evidence of use, and rough steps seemed to lead down to the base of the sinkhole from it. Once again Murray employed invisibility to scout ahead, and detected the sounds of horses within the tower (which he also decided was distinctly not of orcish or even human manufacture; the size of the stones used alone indicated that giants had aided it’s construction). The path that led upwards towards where they knew the temple they sought looked to be in somewhat heavy use, as well.

The party decided that while the orcs of the village might be mostly asleep, those in the watchtower were almost assuredly not, and that the placement of the tower almost ensured a deadly hail of arrows to anyone attempting to pass it. So they retreated to one of the caves they’d passed earlier, to recoup the magic they’d spent at the first ruin and to heal the wounds they’d received there as well.

Once night fell, the valley seemed to come to life, and shortly the sound of a signal horn could be heard coming from the direction of the ruin where they’d slain the priest of Ilneval. Patrols were heard riding past their hiding place, and it was eventually decided that they must make a run for it before they were discovered. The rest of the group then implored Murray to place the benefits of his invisibility spell on them and their mounts, so that they might escape without a battle none of them felt they could win.

Though it took nearly six hours, Murray eventually completed the lengthy rituals required for so many castings, and the group slowly rode out of the valley, thumbing their noses at the bleary-eyed orcs who held the pass. Their invisibility held throughout most of the rest of the day, enabling them to avoid at least one other ambush along the road, and as they made camp that night, they knew for certain that the next day would see them at the temple at last.

The following morning dawned rainy and cold, but the party drove onward. As they rounded the final turn in the narrow crevasse that led to the temple proper, Nikolai spoke up, voicing his hopes that they could capture Flavius rather than kill him, for his uncle, the High Priest of Lendor in the Duchy of Umst, had confided in him that Flavius, if he could be turned from the dark path he had set himself upon, might be instrumental in somehow healing the rift between the cults of Lendor and Darkon (IMC, Darkon is the son of Lendor and Istus, who was kidnapped as a babe by Tharizdun in the days before he was bound…). Marcus, however, held firm to his position that Heironeous demanded nothing less than the death of his brother for the crimes that he had committed.

As they drew around the final comer, though, gnoll archers appeared along the top of the crevasse and began firing down among the party. Most managed to spur their horses into charging across the bridge, but those in the back were startled as a large ogre dropped down behind them. Seeing the wicked two-handed blade the ogre wielded, Murray attempted to climb over the head of his horse and onto the back of the horse ahead of his own…. but failed, managing only to fall between his own horse and that of Kendradell who rose beside him. The ogre then struck Kendradell’s horse’s hindquarters a massive blow, but Kendradell managed to remain upright as the horse when down beneath her.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party (who had ridden across the stone bridge that separated the temple from the crevasse they’d just exited, began their counterattack. Nikolai commanded one of his temporal spirits to freeze one of the gnolls in Time, while Dracon took over the body of one of the gnolls and commanded it to fire upon his fellows. Tarqualan chose to dominate the ogre, and turned it against those gnolls it could still reach. Though it took several rounds, eventually the group was victorious over their foes, and Kalik spotted the hilt of a sword he’d heard described only in stories on the ogres belt… the fabled Sword of Nogre, a famous hobniz hero. Under Tarqualan’s command, the ogre dropped the sword literally at Kalik’s feet before stepping into the gorge between the crevasse and the temple….

The group did a short reconnoiter of the exterior of the temple, at one point tossing a coin with the Light spell cast upon it within, but were disheartened to see the radiance of the coin visibly diminish as it lay upon the stones within the temple….

And so we ended another evening….

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RQ Evening 18
Rings of Brass, Stones of Jet

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest);
and introducing: Naazi, chenxa (centaur) warrior of Tenh.

We began the evening where we left off three weeks before, staring at the aftermath of a battle between the party and a war party of hobgoblin archers supporting two ogres and a mountain giant on the trail leading to a lost temple of Tharizdun in the lower Clatspurs. The only distinctive feature all of their attackers held in common were brass rings set with large black stones, that each wore upon their right hands. In addition to the numerous slain enemies, they have found an unexpected ally in a mysterious centaur warrior who set into the archers soon after they opened up on the party from ambush.

Naazi soon introduces himself, and explains that like Tarqualan, he too is seeking the masked warriors the party has been trailing for so long, and asks to join them in their quest. Thus reinforced, the group continues on their way, still following the map produced by the strange skull their former companion Sabian fled with.

That night, as the party sleeps, Marcus and Kalik both have disturbing dreams. Kalik sees himself standing in the great reception hall where their erstwhile companion Lucien was entombed, facing the young knight’s ghost. Though speechless, the ghost makes strange gestures towards the ceiling, indicating some round or spherical object that seems of great importance to him.

Marcus, on the other hand, receives a vision from Heironeous, in which he sees his brother, Flavius, arguing with what he presumes to be the leader of the masked warriors. Though at the beginning of the argument Flavius wears a similar mask, he tears it off in anger and hurls it at the feet of the armored knight. As the knights surrounding him draw weapons in what can only be shock and anger, Flavius makes a wide gesture with his hand, and the assembled warriors seem to diminish and fade from view. Though a perception of scale is difficult in the strange, flickering radiance the scene takes place in, Flavius seems larger and stronger than Marcus remembers him, and he receives the distinct impression that his brother is casting at least one more shadow than he ought….

The next morning both Marcus and Kalik share their experiences with the others, but none are sure exactly what to make of the visions. Those who knew Lucien the longest, however, do remember him asking that if he were to fall in battle, that his body was to be burned, and his ashes then exposed to the light of day…

Several hours further along the trail the map indicated, the group was ambushed again, this time by another, smaller troop of hobgoblin archers, and almost a dozen goblins mounted on worgs. Though smaller in number, this group of archers had magic to aid them, spells that multiplied the arrows fired with each shot, and with such aid quickly felled not only Murray but Kendradell’s mountain lion and nearly Dracon’s wolf familiar, as well. While Marcus charged his mount up-slope to engage one group of archers, Nikolai unleashed a temporal spirit on another, while Kalik engaged the final one. About the time the party’s quick response eliminated the hobgoblins, the goblin cavalry unleashed their own volley of arrows and began their assault, but were quickly cut down. One rider tried to escape the ambush-tumed-rout, but was quickly ridden down by the swifter warhorses of the party and slain. On his body was found several rough sketches of Marcus, Milik, Kalik, and Dracon…. and as before, all of their attackers share the brass rings the prior group wore.

Later that afternoon, the trail led the party into a high valley between two peaks, where the ruins of a small keep could be seen approximately a kilometer away. Movement could be seen atop the sole remaining tower of the keep (fumbled ambush roll on the NPC’s part) so the party made their own preparations for meeting the inhabitants of the ruin….

Dracon cast spells upon Kalik that both made his figure indistinct and that allowed him to fly, while Marcus had Tarqualan give him the power of flight, alone. As Kalik came in low towards the ruin, Marcus elected to come in high “out of the sun”, thus to surprise whoever lay in wait there. Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the ruin, even though they fumbled their roll to ambush the party, could clearly see Marcus’ initial take-off, and their leader struck at the high-flying initiate of Heironeous with a powerful Dispel Magic as he began his descent….

Robbed of his power of flight high above the tower he sought to storm, Marcus called upon his god for deliverance…. and went unheard. The allied spirit bound to his ax had more luck in that regard, however, and Marcus came to a gentle landing there upon the parapet. He was soon surrounded by a trio of orcs garbed in red chain-mail, carrying shields that bore the device of a sword piercing a human (?) skull; their leader, whom Kalik quickly came up behind, bore a similar device, though his had a silver and scarlet circle surrounding the sword-and-skull device.

The rest of the group, seeing Marcus’ abrupt fall-and-recovery, began charging towards the ruin. As the battle raged on the rooftop, Marcus held his own against three opponents while Kalik fought desperately against what was obviously the orc in charge there. By the time the rest of the group finally arrived, Kalik had been forced to withdraw from combat with the leader (who obviously welcomed fighting Marcus, who had since slain his three lieutenants) and engaged the reinforcements who were just arriving atop the tower…

Once the rest of the group reached the ruined keep, they began a general ascent of the stairs (except for Murray and Dracon) seeking to aid their companions on the roof. As Milik (who for some reason was in the lead at this point) rounded the second landing, he narrowly avoided the kick of what had to be the largest, strongest orc any of them had ever seen. Wrapped entirely in black studded leather, his only other adornment, aside from the aforementioned boots were a set of wickedly studded fighting gloves, which he obviously wanted to use on whoever dared to face him.

Outside, Dracon cast flight on himself, while Murray angled for a view of the foe Marcus was engaged with; unfortunately, there was none left to notice when the magical missiles he conjured rebounded from their intended target and struck him full on, knocking him unconscious (again)…

As Milik began scuttling down the stairs between the legs of his companions, Naazi began trying to force his way upwards; Nikolai, who was next on the large orc’s list of victims half dodged, half fell off the stairs and Kendradell and her cat simply jumped… it began to look for awhile that no matter how fast Milik back-pedaled, he was still first in line….

Meanwhile, on the roof, Marcus began using more and more of his god’s divine magics in his battle with the orcish leader, who finally, in an act of desperation, disarmed Marcus of his shield, though too late to do him any good, as Marcus’ next attack practically disemboweled him.
As Dracon arrived on the rooftop to relieve Kalik, who had three opponents that were slowly wearing him down, two turned their attentions to the barbarian, leaving Kalik only one opponent to face, whom he soon managed to defeat. Though the orcs managed to wound him, Dracon managed to bring them down soon after, leaving the rooftop in the hands of the party….

Meanwhile, two floors below, Naazi and the pugilist orc came to blows as Milik hurled spells against the orc, many of which seemed to have little effect. In the end, however, the orc in question lay at their feet, dead. The ruin (such as it was) was completely theirs.

As we wound up the evening, Tarqualan detected fading spells on the swords, armor and shields of the orcish warriors (since identified as followers of the orcish war-god Ilneval) as well as upon the armor, boots, and cestus of the large orc (likely a follower of Bahgtru, Murray suggested). Kalik, though, seemed quite depressed at his lack of success against what was likely a full priest of Ilneval, even though Marcus continued to assure his companion that he had never witnessed such stalwart bravery in a hobniz before…

And so ends yet another evening…

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RQ Evening 17
Coelaxia closure...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

After discovering the secret doors to what they presumed was Drelzna’s lair, the group began forging ahead, first reaching what had once been a guard post and then a hall leading to the various private chambers of the dignitaries that had once dwelled here. In that hall, they were met by a half dozen wraiths, two of which were quickly blasted back to the spirit plane by Dracon and Tarqualan, but the rest engaged the party in melee and soon had Dracon, Kalik, and Sabian vastly weakened. In the end, however, the party was victorious and set about exploring the private chambers beyond.

Relying on Marcus’ ability to detect evil, they soon stood in a chamber off the main bedrooms, dominated by an enormous obsidian tub. As they attempted to pit their strength in moving this massive work of art, Dracon and Tarqualan were suddenly struck dumb, and moments later a mist began to rise out of the drain of the tub, forming into the naked and very angry Drelzna. The battle that followed was furious but short, and ended with Drelzna being forced to return to mist and flee back down the drain, which the party first stoppered, then poured oil down and set aflame.

Finally beginning to feel the effects of so prolonged a combat, the general consensus was to flee the scene forthwith, the bodies of Lucian and Shallane deemed unrecoverable (Lucian having been last seen sinking beneath the flagstones and Shallane’s fate completely unknown). A final raid on the library was commenced, with 120 volumes stuffed into the magical bag they’d recovered earlier in the caverns being deemed enough… a short jog down the hallway led them to a door that both Mirella’s sword and Sabian’s crystal skull said contained the gate that would permit their escape.

After Sabian’s unsuccessful lock picking attempt was rewarded by a poison needle, Marcus elected to simply bash down the door; while successful, his momentum carried him across the room and through the gate (with the door) to land unseen on the far side. When the rest of the group joined him, they found him at the mercy of a pair of guards wearing the livery of the Voorman; it seemed that the gate from Iggwilv’s caverns led directly to the Voorman’s castle in Schwartzenbruin!

After explaining themselves to the guards and to Nerek Festil, the court sorcerer, the party were hailed as heroes, as Mirella’s final act of passage there had been to close the gate that linked Iggwilv’s stronghold and the Voorman’s castle. A feast was held in their honor, and later that week (after Marcus had determined that no armorer in the city had sufficient wealth to buy Drelzna’s gold-chased armor), Marcus made a gift f the armor to Franz, Voorman of Perrenland. In response to their ‘generosity’, Marcus and his companions were awarded the title to a small keep on the northern borders called Kaverknoll.

As midsummer approached, several members of the group found it necessary to travel south in order to attend services in the varied cults (it seems that Midsummer’s Eve is a popular High Holy Day) while others traveled back into the mountains to recover their horses as well as Dracon’s wolf familiar who had been left behind to guard them. While journeying back upriver, Kendradell had the occasion to tell Marcus all she knew concerning the legends that surrounded the crystal skull Sabian possessed (most of which was pretty awful) which caused the skull to now include Marcus and Kendradell among Sabian’s enemies (one of the principal powers of the skull was that it would inform it’s master of the names and current locations of anyone who sought to do him harm – in the skull’s estimation, anyone who sought to separate them meant them both harm). Hearing that his erstwhile allies now meant to do him harm, he left one night under cover of darkness, likely never to return.

Before he’d left, however, he’d drawn an accurate map of how to reach the ruined temple of Tharizdun. The reformed party soon set out on the trail, and after two days travel soon met up with a patrol of two ogres and a mountain giant set to guard the approach to the temple. Upon spotting them, Marcus led out a bloodcurdling battle cry and charged to the attack, which focused everyone’s attention on the battle before them, causing the sudden appearance of hobgoblin archers among the trees to come as a total (and unpleasant) surprise.

Murray, who’d already launched a spell at one of the ogres earlier in the round received the attention of half the archers, and quickly went down in a hail of arrows. Kendradell, her mountain lion, Tarqualan and Nikolai also received arrows, but to much less effect. In short order, the giant and both ogres fell before a combination of Marcus’ ax, Nikolai’s temporal spirits, and spells from both Dracon and Tarqualan.
As Kalik rushed forward to deliver the coup de grace to the giant, a commotion on the hillside revealed itself to be a centaur battling the hobgoblins, and between his assault and the attentions of the group, soon had the hobgoblins either slain or fleeing for their lives….

And so ends another evening…

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RQ Evening 16
Light, Twice Entombed in Stone...

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

Now that MonCon is finally over, we rejoin our intrepid band right where we left them, in the chamber where they’d found the crystal skull.

Shortly after securing it in his pack, Sabian heard a voice whispering to him in his mind, offering knowledge and service in exchange for “a bit of his soul, and occasionally a slice of his vitality”. (As the skull explained itself, once bound, it would be able to provide him with the names of any of his enemies, wherever they might be, as well as answer any sort of other question…. at a price). Sabian, looking slightly paler, soon announced that he knew the shorted way to Iggwilv’s library, to the amazement and suspicion of his fellow party members.

Explaining himself, Sabian told them a little of his deal with the skull (Ja’vhan) and that their destination led that-away. Nikolai and a few other members of the party took to shouting at Sabian for his willingness to ally himself with the skull, and their shouts soon bore fruit in the form of another of the ranacoor demons emerging from a side corridor. Though soon dispatched, the need for caution and quiet was re-impressed upon the party, who set out on the path that the skull indicated.

After a few turns, the group came upon a strange sight, even for these demon haunted halls. Before one of the great doors they had faced before stood a quartet of stone statues, three female, one male. Of them all, one of the female statues was broken, and an examination of the doors themselves revealed a milky-white sword blade wedged between the great doors, partially breaking one of the magical glyphs emblazoned there.

While observing all this, Kalik and Dracon soon recognized the male in the stone party as their friend Lucian, the Knight of Pelor they had traveled with earlier in their adventures. Deciding that perhaps the sword was part of the problem, Kalik and then Marcus fought to pry it from the doors, and Marcus eventually pulled it free, which broke whatever paralysis had held the others in stone.

After questioning each other, it was determined that Lucien had accompanied Shallane, Mirella and Felicia (deceased) to this place, seeking to aid them in sealing a large gate that was located nearby. As it turned out, the three ladies were all followers of Dalt, the god of locks, keys, and portals, and it was their sacred charge to seal gateways not of their own creation. The two groups decided to join forces, and soon they passed through the parted doors and down the marble steps below.

Behind the doors lay a globular chamber ringed with five other doors and circular stairs leading down to a flickering white flame that burned at the center. Sabian led them down and through it, followed by the others, and finally the two female followers of Dalt. As they passed, the flame flared and died, closing the gate permanently.

Beyond the stairs lay a short hall, and then a grand reception hall, decorated with murals detailing the rise of Iggwilv to power. As they stood admiring the artwork, a lovely young woman, garbed in a gown of sea-green and belted with gold approached them; as she grew nearer, several members of the party noticed that the only flaw in her beauty was her complete lack of eyes. She introduced herself as Nadine, and asked the party their business in her Mistress’ house.

Marcus explained that they came there seeking information, and asked for permission to peruse the library. Nadine consented to permit Nikolai and Kendradell access, and summoned two squat, armored guards to take them there. Once inside they spent three hours perusing a wide variety of fascinating books; histories of the ancient Suloise and Bakluni, the diary of a man enslaved by a member of ‘the Host’ who had served his master as an archivist in the Inferno, a sketchbook detailing not only the construction of an apparatus of kwalish, but several of da’Vinci’s creations as well…. but no texts detailing the location of the temple of Tharizdun.

Worried that their companions were making no progress, Kalik was escorted to hurry them in their search, but eventually they had to conclude that the information they sought was not there. On hearing this, Sabian consulted the skull, and upon paying it’s price, knew for certain the location of the temple. The group, thus reunited, was asked to leave…

After much shuffling of feet, they finally owned up to the fact that the gate behind them was closed, and that they now requested the use of the other gate located nearby. Nadine declined them access to that gate, stating simply that her Ladyship Drelzna was now awake, and would deal with them as the intruders they were. Almost at that same moment, the doors ahead of the party burst open, and a raven haired woman in gold-chased plate armor entered the room, surrounded by fifteen or so of the squat guards. A melee ensued.

During this battle, Lucian was entombed beneath the floor of the reception hall after summoning a fire elemental (where he remains), and Drelzna used her magic first to warp the steel blade of Marcus’s axe into something more like a mace, and then, after he called upon his god for salvation (which lit every one of his companions’ weapons aflame with a flaming blade effect) turned the wood of his axe handle to air when he finally reached her and struck her with it once. During the battle, one of the Daltians vanished, and the other was nearly slain by the swords of the guards, but in the end the party stood victorious, though the mist-like form of Drelzna escaped through a secret door.

As the party searched for Drelzna’s lair, they uncovered more secret passages leading to and from the guard’s barracks (which connected both to the throne room beyond the reception hall and to the hall itself. Nikolai and Kendradell returned to the library, where they collected those volumes which interested them the most, while Kalik and Milik located the secret door behind the throne that led off into darkness….

And so ends another evening…

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RQ Evening 15
Blinding the Unwinking Eye

577 CY

Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

We picked up this week following the party’s defeat of the ‘rancor’ demon, as they searched it’s lair for treasure. They soon located a pile of boulders that covered the entrance to a long stair, and in the process of clearing the boulders uncovered a hollow one that contained a stone tablet.

Of course, the character who found it also dropped it, breaking the tablet, but the party’s magic soon had it whole again. Upon reading it, the group had another riddle to ponder, namely:

“In the center lies the gate
but opening it is sure to vex
many are the guards who wait
as you go to the center hex
randomly sent to find a way
back to a different iron door
a seventh time and you may stay
and seek the glowing prize no more
you have won old Iggwilv’s prize
her hoarded cache of magic
and freed the one with yearning eyes
whose lot was hunger tragic.”

After making (and breaking) camp, they finally took the stairs down, and soon Sabian’s scouting revealed a chamber populated by more of those wrinkled, multi-eyed baby-things, all apparently involved in some religious ritual. Though he returned to the party and appraised them of these proceedings, he soon returned bearing Kendradell’s amulet so that he could understand the words of the ritual.

Hearing their leader’s plea to the “unwinking eye” to “liberate” and “deliver us from bondage”, Sabian decided to put the ritual to an end. After freshening the sleep poison on his hand crossbow bolt, he fired a shot at the leader, but it failed to pierce the leader’s skin. In reaction to his attack, the leader and several of his followers began opening and closing their eyes rapidly, while emitting light from them (sort of an ocular strobe light).

Seeing the sudden burst of light from the chamber ahead, the rest of the party crept cautiously forward. By the time they reached an angle where they could see the interior of the chamber, they could see two of the creatures leading Sabian towards the leader, while cutting the straps holding his armor. Naturally enough, a melee ensued.

Though the followers were quickly slaughtered, the leader and a group of bodyguards led Marcus and Kalik out of the main chamber and into a connected one filled nearly 2’ deep with bones. Leaping to the center of the chamber, the leader began gesturing frantically to (seemingly) little effect. Kalik quickly tumbled between the legs of the guards as Marcus moved to engage them, seeking battle with the leader.

Just as Marcus finished off the last of the bodyguards and entered the room to do battle with the leader, a voice rang out from behind them; another member of the group (I’ll confess my memory forgets who) spotted two spectral forms closing on Marcus and Kalik, the first of which quickly engaged Marcus in spirit combat. Thus distracted, it was stunned to feel Kalik’s enchanted silver blades dig deep into it’s form and destroy it.

As Marcus struggled forward through the bones to engage the leader, Kalik found himself in battle with the second ghost, who quickly overcame him. As Marcus slew the leader, the ghost possessing Kalik began taking stock of the world around him. Due to his strange behavior, the possession was soon discovered and undone. The ghost’s objective, some tiny glyphs carved into the walls of this room, were left intact by the party, as they could not decide whether breaking them (which would free the ghosts here from their bindings) would be a good idea or not.

A search of the first chamber uncovered several scrolls, most of which were unreadable. One of the creatures had been gathering them up to flee with them, but was caught and killed with them in his arms; his blood soaked into the parchment, obscuring the blood they’d been written in. Those that were readable were discovered to be a sorcery spell (Tap INT), a roll call of the various demon breeds that Iggwilv commonly kept on hand as guardian, servants, and whatnot (the ‘rancor’ was of the breed ranacoor, and the multi-eyed babies were of the breed mirinogire). The third scroll was a letter (likely unsent) demanding tribute from a man named Lothar, who supposedly held a ruined temple nearby (perhaps the one they sought?). The final scroll contained only a wizardry spell (Flame Sphere).

Once satisfied that they had discovered everything of use, they continued on, and soon found themselves face to face with a hungry xorn, who demanded a tribute of gold from each party member who wished to pass. Their chosen route of travel soon brought them back to their origin (so much for the Rule of Lefts). Backtracking soon found them standing before one of the iron doors they sought, but their attempts to open them caused them to all be teleported to a small chamber somewhere else in the caverns.

The first exit they explored led them to the animated remains of a hill giant smith, who had apparently been folding and refolding the metal of the blade he’d been working on since Iggwilv’s day. Upon spotting the party, his only comment was “temper”, which the party quickly decided meant he wished to quench the blade in their blood. The giant zombie could not leave his own chamber, so the party elected to leave him to his fate.

In the next chamber, the group was ambushed by ropers, but they quickly escaped from them and set once more on their way, following the Rule of Left (the rule of left, BTW, means that whenever faced with an option of which path to take, always take the left-hand path first). Though they passed a number of other likely passages, their chosen course eventually led them to a chamber dominated by a large rock situated near it’s center. The only interesting feature of said rock proved to be a small niche which revealed a life-sized human skull, apparently made from a single piece of crystal.

Kendradell’s lore had only sketchy information concerning the skull, but she remembered a few tales from the ancient Suloise empire, where the mages of power had crafted such skulls to dominate and control other races….

On which note, so ended another evening….

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RQ Evening 14
... and I thought they smelled bad on the outside!

577 CY
Our cast of characters…

Dracon, human initiate of Obad Hai & Beastmaster of the Wegwier;
Kalik, halfling initiate of Avoreen;
Kendradell, female half-elf bard & initiate of Lydia;
Marcus, half-elf initiate of Heironeous;
Milik, halfling sorcerer;
Murray, human wizard <absent>;
Nikolai, Suloise human initiate of Lendor;
Sabian, gnome thief;
Tarqualan, high elf mystic (Vesve Forest)

We began this week with the party retreating from the cave where they’d last seen ‘the rancor’ (well, it’s arm, anyway) scraping away at the wall where they’d just all been perched. Returning to the main entrance chamber, they elected to take the one exit that they had not, thusfar, tried.

As they made their way eastwards, they came upon the ripening body of one of the strange creatures they’d met upon the stair. Though several weeks old, it had plainly been killed by several sword thrusts and left to bleed to death. After a short journey, they came to a branch in the tunnel, where the underground river they’d encountered before once again placed itself across their path. Two exits could be seen from their current position, both on the far side of the swift waters.

In an effort to scout the area, Tarqualan cast a flight spell upon himself, and soon discovered another ‘dry’ exit, the main exit for the river, a small boat resting on a shelf of rock out of their field of vision, and that some strange creatures that looked much like stalactites clustered on the ceiling above, ready to drop upon anything large enough to make a good meal. Not wishing to become such a meal, Tarqualan soon retreated to the tunnel where the party awaited his return.

Willing to trust in his body shield, Marcus consented to have a similar flight spell placed upon himself, and was soon securing a rope to the vessel as the strange stalagtite-creatures rained down upon his position. Soon the rest of the party either flew or sailed (under the protection of Marcus’ body shield) to the northern-most exit from the pool created by the river before them. A search soon uncovered the remains of a large campsite deep within the maze of tunnels, which most of the party assumed had been used by those they sought. Further explorations of the caves leading off the pool revealed that the southern-most led to a veritable maze of interconnected tunnels littered with realistic statues of bats, rats, cave lizards, and at least one of the hooded warriors they trailed; though his body and weapon were stone, his baroque plate armor was still normal, (though normal is an inaccurate word – at one point one of the lurid faces that decorated the armor spat in Marcus’ eye as he examined it…).

The party soon began nearing the heart of things, as evinced by the suicidal charge of a winged basilisk and a pitched battle with a pair of serpent tailed women armed with longbows and daggers. Using their superior knowledge of their lair to great advantage, they managed to get off several well placed arrows until a run of bad luck broke both bowstrings in a single round. One of the women was eventually slain and the other escaped, perhaps to haunt the group at some later date. A search of the lair revealed a small cache of gems and a nest with three eggs – though Nikolai argued for saving at least one, two were broken and the final one left to the fates.

Deciding to continue their exploration of the cavern they’d left to explore this aquacious demesne, they soon found the signs of another battle, where several ogres, three giants, and nearly twoscore goblins all fell to the sword in past weeks. Finding the lair of these creatures picked clean, the group finally returned to the river to explore it’s outflow.

Their journey down river soon led them to a place where a high stone bridge passed overhead, and they elected to explore the tunnels that led to and from this feature. Their exploration south led them to a small beach where a steel piton lay half-hammered into the wall, reminding them all of the ‘rancor’ they’d escaped from earlier. Quiet scouting northwards revealed the lair of the creature, who had apparently not yet noticed their presence.

Dracon, figuring this creature for some dumb beast, tried casting a control spell over it, but his chanting only served to alert and enrage the creature. It made it’s first business dealing him a crippling wound, before kicking backwards at Sabian, who managed to fumble his ambush of the creature. While the rest of the party battered the creature with arrows and spells, Marcus called upon nearly all his reserves of Heironeous’ most holy magics and with a single blow gutted the creature (though he wound up being buried first by it’s spilling guts and then by it’s falling body!). While Marcus lay trapped, the rest of the party managed to slay the creature and cut him free before he suffocated. (It was about this point that I reminded the group that Iggwilv, whose caves these had once been, had been infamous for her legions of demonic servants – doubtless this creature was just such a demon, leftover from the days of her occupation )

A quick search of the creature’s lair uncovered a magical bag containing a horn, three flasks, and a ring…

And so ends another week….

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