Rise and Fall of Arela

Session 16 Recap
Out of the Volcanic Frying Pan...

We’ve made a huge mistake

Having successfully eluded the insane clutches of Veroxx but unable to proceed past his guard in their current state, the party decided to retreat to the relative safety of the antechamber just outside of the teleporter room. There they set up watch and began to plan for how they would get to the crystal.

After much preparation, they decided to apply a bevy of buffs to protect them from Veroxx’s wrath. Ignomine extended the protection of Abadar against Chaos to his companions, while Vyktor requested Calistria’s protection from and resistance to fire and make him invisible, and provide a boon of Haste to the party and Polycarp in particular. Drael likewise made himself and Polycarp invisible, while Artas cast his own protective shields. The plan was to try to distract Veroxx long enough so that Polycarp could bypass whatever protections were on the stairs down and use the Chisel given to them by Etzio Damien once he had found the Soul Gem. If he was unsuccessful, or the party was unable to distract Veroxx, or anything else went wrong, the backup plan was to attack Veroxx with everything they had.

Rested and prepared, the party executed their plan. After triggering the portal to the mountain’s heart and Veroxx’s lair, Artas led most of the group into danger. Polycarp held back, waiting for an opportune moment to sneak past. Right off the bat the plan started to go awry. Before Artas had even gone thirty feet into the room a skeletal warrior with a dragon skull wreathed in flame and magma crawled out of the fiery pit and blocked their way. Immediately Artas attacked. Far off, lying directly on top of the gate down, slept the form of the lava drake they had battled the previous day.

Ignomine charged in alongside Artas to deliver the killing blow, splintering the skeleton and dropping its flaming skull upon the path. Invisible to the rest of the party, Drael cast Spiderclimb and wall-crawled his way above the party for a better vantage point and began summoning fire elementals to combat the dragon. Artas, seeing an opening, signaled to Polycarp to begin his assault. He sprang from the shadows, nimbly flipped over the ten feet of lava separating the paths to the way down, and sped across the remaining distance… all completely invisible and impossible for the rest of the party to see. But it was awesome-looking, I’m sure.

Artas and Ignomine continued farther down the main path, tentatively waiting for Veroxx to make his appearance, which Veroxx obliged in suitably dramatic fashion. He emerged from the magma, molten rock dripping from his obsidian scales. “Oh, it’s you again. I thought I had allowed you to leave with your lives. No matter now.” With a glance, he set off the flaming skull in a burst of acrid smoke, blocking the path back. Thankfully, Drael and Vyktor were high above the poisonous cloud and avoided the worst of its effects.

Polycarp, meanwhile, prepared to eviscerate the still-sleeping drake. He readied his rapier, chose his target, and struck… only to have the illusion disappear, and as his invisibilty faded he realized his mistake. Luckily their plan to distract Veroxx seemed to be working, so he set to work disarming the traps and locks on the gate now barring their passage forward.

Veroxx attacked Artas and Ignomine, showering them with a blast of his furnace-hot breath and shattering their hope that they could solve this with words. Thankfully the wards cast on them by Vyktor held, and the heat of his attack did not reach them. Ignomine’s curved blade, bound to the principles of Law, slashed out in retaliation, and Artas struck home with a mighty blow of his greatsword. Veroxx decided it was best to attack from outside the range of these fighters and flew up beyond their reach.

Drael continued to summon allies to the fight, clinging to the walls and invisible to Veroxx. The fire elementals, unable to fly, were ineffective once Veroxx became airborne, but he summoned a swarm of lantern-archons that pelted the dragon with multiple beams of light. Vyktor boosted Ignomine’s size, trying to get the dragon within reach, while Artas followed suit with a scroll of his own. Faced with the two fighters and a swarm of impinging fire, Veroxx retreated to the archway to the stairs, feet away from the no longer invisible Polycarp.

Polycarp faced a dilemma: having already disabled the poison gas trap, he could unlock the gate and escape down the stairs but risk alerting the dragon. Alternately, he could use the element of surprise and attack the dragon and extract every advantage he could… but at the risk of incurring its wrath and far from the help of his compatriots. Instinct fought with reason, but in the end reason won out. He eased his lockpicking tools into the gate and was satisfied with an audible “click” as the lock sprang free… and a booming voice said “Oh, hello.” Despite his best efforts, Veroxx had noticed.

The rest of the party looked on with dread as they realized that Polycarp had been spotted, and far from their help. Vyktor launched a bolt of energy, sapping the dragon’s strength with a wave of exhaustion. Seeing the path wind off into the distance and far too long to help Polycarp, Ignomine instead clumsily launched himself across the lava, teetered on the edge, and blessedly regained his balance before falling back in. He waved to Artas to follow him, only belatedly noticing the red-hot tentacle waving menacingly between them… and that had just missed pulling him into the molten rock. He paled, but figuring one heedless act deserved another, he charged into combat with the dragon once more.

Despite knowing what might lurk beneath the pool of lava for him, Artas leaped across the chasm as well, slashing away the tentacles and closing to the fray. Blocked by Ignomine’s enlarged form, he tried to shove past. The walkway was too narrow though, and he found himself stumbling over the blistering hot inferno. Drael’s fire elementals came to the rescue, sweeping beneath his gigantic boots and supporting his weight enough to escape the flames and fires of the mountain’s heart, while Drael himself summoned even more archons to join the fight. Soon nearly a dozen of the creatures were swarming about the dragon, blasting it with holy light and orbiting it like some bizarre star system.

Veroxx ignored all this, and instead unleashed his fury upon the exposed Polycarp. His serpentine neck snapped out, catching the rouge in his jaws and holding him in place. Veroxx blasted a wave of antimagic energy out, eliminating or suppressing the magics that the party had cast to protect themselves and hinder the dragon. Sensing an opening, Vyktor sent his thrush Raven to boost their protection once more, and slammed Veroxx with another exhausting wave. Unheeding, the dragon assaulted Polycarp with a barrage of teeth and claws, wings and tail thrashing. Faced with the focused onslaught of a wrathful dragon, it wasn’t long before Polycarp succumbed to his wounds.

Veroxx’s obsession would be his undoing. Focused on Polycarp, the dragon didn’t notice Drael summoning more archons to the fray, or Artas relinquishing his enlarged state to charge into melee, allowing Ignomine to use his magically enhanced reach to fight from behind him. One of the archons was able to boost Polycarp back to consciousness, allowing him to slip into the passage unnoticed, while Vyktor continued to keep the party on its feet. Under the assault of dozens and dozens of ray attacks, the dragon was clearly becoming overwhelmed. Victory seemed at hand… and then it all went wrong.

Ignomine, sensing the end was near but not wanting to see the end of such a majestic creature before its time called out for Veroxx to yield. Surprisingly, the dragon bowed its head in acquiescence, and Artas held up a fist and called for their allies to hold their fire. The archons, however, did not stop, and unleashed a final barrage. Veroxx exploded into a cloud of smoke and flame, washing over those near in a singeing wave, and Ignomine felt his protective shields fail. A shudder went through the entire mountain, and the party feels it’s beyond time to get their mission over with. They spend a few moments patching themselves up and descend into the room beyond the stairs.

Down there, the find a spectral figure with wings of radiant energy and a brilliant white hood with nothing but darkness beneath the cowl, apparently guarding the door on the opposite side of the chamber. To its left lay a decomposing corpse wearing brilliant armor. Close to them, and to their right, stood a ghostly shape of a hobgoblin. The ghostly hobgoblin introduced himself as Lancer, a paladin of Abadar, and greeted Ignomine as a fellow member of the order. “So the Guard has finally come? Good, it was about time. I was worried I would never get out of here.”

It took some explaining, but apparently Lancer had been part of a cosmopolitan civilization from before Arela was abandoned where Elf, Orc, Goblin, and Man all worked together. During Lancer’s time thousands of years ago, the races were all fleeing the continent because of some great cataclysm, and he had been ordered to destroy the crystal beyond the door facing them. The Angel standing in front of them had bested Lancer, however, and the properties of this room had prevented him from seeking his eternal rest, for it was his body lying before the door.

For the last thousand years Lancer’s ghost had been attempting to get past the Angel, to no avail. However, he believed that he could delay the angel long enough for the rest of the party to get through, as he had fought it multiple times to no long-term ill effect. The Angel stood silent sentinel while they debated what they should do. In the end, the agreed to Lancer’s plan, his allegiance to Abadar and his previous mission to destroy the crystal clearly easing Ignomine’s mine about their task.

As Artas advanced the Angel spoke its first and last words: “Begone from this place.” Lancer leapt into action, tackling the Angel’s spectral form and dragging it off to the side. “HURRY!” he shouted, and the party pushed through the door.

The massive chamber chamber beyond was nearly filled with an enormous crystal, 60 feet in height, 20 feet in diameter, and perfectly flawless, hovering slightly above the ground. Polycarp stepped forward with the Chisel given to them by Etzio and pushed it against the faceted surface, fighting against a field of energy before it contacted with a light “plink”. Using the hammer from his tool kit, he gave the chisel a solid thwack.

The entire crystal, chamber, and mountain seemed to give a sonorous toll as a wave of energy washed over the group, and a resounding CRACK revealed a foot-long fracture piercing the formerly flawless crystal. Two of the party were momentarily stunned by the wave of energy, but Polycarp pressed on with another blow. There was another ring, another wave of energy, and another crack that reached the very heart of the crystal and broke off a shard from its side, the tide of energy knocking most of the party unconscious with only Ignomine and Raven withstanding its effects to bear witness to what happened next.

First, the wave of energy came with the collapse of all the wards and barriers that had been in the mountain complex; runes, sigils, and other formerly visible arcane marks flared to visibility before collapsing to inertness. The barriers preventing the detection of magic and evil fell soon after, allowing Ignomine and Raven to see the effects of their handiwork. A hand reached out from the gap where the crystal shard had been liberated and began grasping around, while a portentious voice rasped freedom. One glance at the hand and Ignomine was blasted with a wave of revulsion, the Evil searing his sight and roiling his stomach. His unconscious compatriots groaned as the wave washed over them, all of them beset by horrible visions. Ignomine felt a wave of despair wash over him.

Then a crash from outside the room announced the approach of a gargantuan creature. With a smash, a figure thirty feet high crashed through the wall and slammed a hand the size of a wall against the breach in the crystal. In a booming voice the size of thunder it ordered them to “LEAVE, NOW! WE CAN’T HOLD IT FOR MUCH LONGER.” Veroxx swooped in, landing upon the outstretched hand and swathing it with his wings, lending what aid he could, his large body looking like nothing more than a pet bird perched upon his hand. The mountain shuddered ominously once more.

Ignomine stood dazzled, for before him stood Lawgiver himself, the aspect of Abadar, and what else but the creature that had yielded to him and been slain instead. Relief flooded him, because it would be all right now. “SAVE YOUR FRIENDS, AND GO! THERE’S NO TIME” the giant repeated. Ignomine stuttered an apology for releasing whatever evil was inside the crystal, and filled with the presence of his god’s aspect Channeled Divinity to heal his friends to consciousness. “YOU COULD NOT HAVE KNOWN, AND ABADAR DOES NOT BLAME YOU. BUT FOR YOUR ACTIONS HERE TODAY, YOU MUST ATONE.”

The healing energy still suffusing him, Ignomine felt his connection to his god, the sheltering warmth of his protection, and comforting weight of his presence lifted from him. He had Fallen. The mountain gave another alarming rumble, and the party scooped up the crystal shard and fled into the main chamber. From the far doorway they heard the sounds of the undead much closer and seemingly not as preoccupied with combat. With no time to waste dealing with their fear and despair, they took the door to the mountain top and surveyed the scene.

They saw that the army of the undead that had swarmed over the mountain and guarded it for ages had collapsed, and the other undead army was pressing to the main entrance. Thankfully, the side entrance they had taken still seemed unobserved. The party, however, could not say the same for themselves, as they saw large flying figures in the distance swerve in midair to point in their direction. They had to get down the mountain, and quickly.

Polycarp had his ring of Featherfall to protect him, and Drael had his Cape of the Mountebank. That left Drael to summon dire bats to carry the remaining three down the mountain to more passable terrain. With the aerial scouts bearing down on them, they scrambled under the protective and disguising layer of ice to their airship and began preparations for launch. Polycarp took the helm, while Vyktor and Drael manned the engine crystal. Artas and Ignomine relayed directions, as without his healing Ignomine could no longer power the engines.

His healing would have made little difference, though. When Vyktor and Drael entered the crystal room, they saw that the suspended Soul Gem had a large crack in it. In addition, it no longer glowed with the warm yellow-white light it had previously, but instead a sinister purple-black. It seemed the wave of energy that burst from the massive crystal had reached as far outside as here, and probably explained the collapse of the undead as well. In any case, the crystal had sufficient charge to get underway, though it was clear the crack was causing it to lose power continuously, and they had little enough time left.

Polycarp launched them into the air, and they made a speedy escape south going as fast as the crystal’s compromised state would let them. They outpaced their pursuers and spend a dark and fitful night traveling. They arrived near midnight at one of the border castles along the Great Northern Causeway, and eventually convinced the patrols that they were not undead and to allow them to pass. The last of the crystal’s energy was sucked out as they passed the gate, and the airship ground to a halt just inside the gates.

There they alerted the garrison, seemingly composed only of teenagers and other green recruits, and requested the presence of the Commander for the Ceres garrison as soon as possible. Looking at the stars revealed that, whatever their perception of time had been within the mountain, apparently nearly a month had passed in the outside world, and apparently many of the Great Cities were on the brink of war. When told that it would be a day before he could arrive, the party settled down to process all that had happened.

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Session 15 Recap

Interview with a Vampire Dragon

With the red gem placed into the statue’s hilt, the massive doorway opened onto a hellish sight. An enormous room opened up before them with a flat ten-foot-wide walkway winding its way around to the left, arcing in a half circle before coming in and doubling back on itself, closing in on a pillar or walled circle in the center. Level with the path was a lake of lava, liquid molten rock radiating heat into the air and making it shimmer and ripple, its red hot contents bubbling and oozing languidly. It was going be uncomfortable for the foreseeable future, given the cold-weather gear they were all wearing.

The party cautiously advanced along the walkway when a booming, mellifluous voice sang out, filling the chamber with its sound. It was clear it was a language, but none that the party understood.

After a moment of confusion the party answered the voice, and a massive shape moving beneath the lava sent a bulge across its surface. The voice responded, this time in Common.

They could not force me like they did you lot.
For the same reason the bane couldn’t take me I think.
They had said it was because I am mad,
but I just don’t see the link.

But I have new visitors again, so can it be true?
Have the manlings returned to the land they once knew?

I’ve been here so long it is hard to track the years.
A few decades I’d guess, not the centuries I’d feared
since the last manlings came and entered my room.
They were fun and tasty but gone far too soon.

I grow bored and am curious now, so I’ll give you this offer:
a series of games and challenges I proffer.

If you win, this room I will let you leave unmolested
Lose, I will release my pets and you get ingested.

I want your full attention, and threats to your life may be too light a touch.
After all, coming here shows you don’t value them much.

So with your lives I’ll offer another prize to pay.
For each challenge you beat, answer one question I may.

Ask a question to which I am not permitted to answer
and I’ll grant you two new ones as a prize enhancer.

First, I will ask of each of you a riddle in turn.
Guess right and you win some knowledge to learn.

Guess wrong and you lose, but you may guess again for a fee.
Just answer a question and sate my curiosity.
Answer the question for me and another guess you receive;
You forfeit if you don’t answer or you try to deceive.

Next I will ask of each of you a task.
Complete them and you’ve won another question to ask.

If you all make it through we can part ways in peace.
But I’m willing to bet this day ends in a feast.

So let us not delay any longer.
Let us begin with the one who is stronger.

Turning to Ignomine, the Voice continued:

My mother is a strong and proud Orc female,
We live in an Orc village like from a fairytale.
One day a dark god came to the village, insane.
He struck dead every creature with orc blood in its veins.
So tell me Paladin, can you contrive,
If all this is true, why am I still alive?

Ignomine, thinking of his own upbringing, responded with the only thing that made sense to him: ‘You are adopted.’ The voice chuckled, and the singsong response came:

An answer you gave, but a wrong one I fear.
Perhaps you did not understand, or were unable to hear.
Regardless, you’ve lost, but fear not! You still have a chance!
You can answer again and still get to advance.

If you would continue, I would know where you’re from.
Where were you born? From whence do you come?

The paladin had a sudden fear of this dragon running loose in his home, burning the only place he’d truly felt welcome and loved. Still, he figured that a dragon trapped in a mountain for centuries or even decades probably wasn’t aware of his little home town, so he responded honestly: ‘Fragnick.’

There was a momentary silence, then came the bemused reply:

Very well, you’ve responded, and honestly I deem,
Though where Fragnick is I know not, nor what it might mean.
You may answer once again, but be warned!
Future trick answers may mean you are harmed.

Dealing with this rhyming madman had led Ignomine to what he was certain was the right answer, because it was something he wished were true right at that moment: ‘You were somewhere else.’ The response came swift: ‘Correct. You may ask your question.

Ignomine, who had been pondering whether destroying the crystal was the right thing to do for some time, asked the voice, ‘What does the crystal do?’

Alas, a subject about which I cannot reply.
Two more you may ask, though more of the crystal I’ll deny.

Thinking hard, Ignomine came up with what he thought was a clever workaround. ‘What would you do if the crystal was destroyed?’

I would leave,’ came the response. Ignomine elected to save his second question until the others had gone, clearly needing more time to ponder his phrasing. The sing-song voice resumed:

For the Half-Orc, of course, I gave an easy one first,
Now the Drow will get a chance at my next rhyming verse:

I have a mouth, but cannot talk.
I can run but never walk.
I have a head, but never weep.
I have a bed, yet never sleep.
What am I?

Vyktor spent some time pondering this riddle. After what seemed an interminable period, he responded with the correct answer, ‘A river.’ His question came more quickly; holding up the chisel, he asked, ‘Will this destroy the crystal were we to use it?’ There was a pause, as if the voice was pondering or examining the artifact that the drow held aloft, but Polycarp noticed two brilliant shining yellow beads set into a faceted obsidian ridge emerge from the magma. He nudged Vyktor and pointed it out, giving him just enough time to identify it as a Magma Dragon before it disappeared under the glowing surface.

It appears that it will.’ The party braced themselves for an attack, but none was forthcoming. Vyktor shared the news of what it was they were facing, and the fact that they were considered unpredictable and even insane by other dragons, a group not always known for their stability. As a few of the party members processed the realization that they were in the presence of a very powerful, very real, very likely to attack them dragon, the beast realized it had been seen and emerged from the volcanic pool.

Molten rock dripped from its glittering obsidian carapace, and cracks and gaps between its scales glowed with the fires the inferno within. Rivulets of lava continued to spill down its flanks as it emerged, and guttering lines of flame cascaded from its toothy maw.

Veroxx

So nice to finally make your full acquaintance.
I’ve been wanting to make a dramatic entrance.

The party stood in awe of the large creature, but managed to resist the aura of fear and menace emanating from it. Seeing that the group of intruders was not going to run, the dragon continued.

Veroxx, you may call me, spelled with two ’X’es.
Your continued cleverness begins to vex us.
Answer your next riddle more quickly this time
for I am growing bored and tire of rhyme.

Turning now to Drael, the voice continued:

A strange earthen house
that brings nought but disdain.
And yet those who stay there,
Never do complain.

The sorcerer hemmed and hawed, trying to think of a response. True to his nature, he also began chatting up the 15 foot tall reptile, asking him if he had any children. The response was chilling.

Yes. None living.

The silence stretched awkwardly, until Drael finally blurted out, ‘The privy?’

Wrong. Now answer me, how long has it been since Manlings returned to this continent?

They answered as best they could, approximately 400 years ago. Drael was given a second chance, and answered correctly with ‘A Grave.’ His question was ‘Who are the Council of Nine?’

Veroxx was much more brusque with his response, and did not rhyme this time. ‘Another topic I may not discuss. You have two questions you may ask.

The sorcerer, thinking of his friend Artas, then asked, ‘What happened to Sidus?’

The gruff reply: ‘The Betrayer.

Nonplussed, he soldiered on. ‘My second question: Who is the Betrayer?’ At this the dragon acted coy, and replied,

I am forbidden from telling you that Rovagug was the Betrayer.

While the party pondered this, Polycarp was next.

Not Buckets, not barrels, not baskets, nor cans;
What must you fill with empty hands?

‘Gloves,’ he answered confidently. ‘Who are you here for?’ The answer was similarly dissatisfying to his previous answers: ‘I am here for myself.’ Finally, it was time for Artas to respond.

It can pierce the best armor,
and make swords crumble with a rub.
Yet for all of its power,
it can’t harm a club.

Artas gave some serious thought before replying, “Rust.” At Veroxx’s nod, he asked his question: “What happened to Rovagug?”

At this, the dragon seemed to lose patience, the cracks between its obsidian scales flaring with light and heat.

You should know that is a forbidden topic, and your impertinence makes me think you imagine this is a game just because I amuse myself with riddles. You forfeit your question… answer another riddle, or face my wrath!

The party noticed with some alarm that any pretense toward rhyme had been dropped. They also noted a dark significance to his last question…

What must be kept after it is given
or else you may not be forgiven?

Artas, very carefully, responded with the answer: “Your word.”

Very well. You have passed the first portion of the amusements I have devised for myself. I grow tired of riddles and rhymes. The second phase begins now.” The dragon pointed towards Ignomine and Vyktor. “These religious ones shall go first. I wager that you have experience fighting undead, but how good are you? Kill my challenger before it hurts you, or else you lose.

With that, a fiery demon appeared on the walkway before them. Polycarp nocked an arrow and Drael and Artas readied themselves for combat, but from Veroxx’s demeanor it was clear that the orc and the drow would have to face this challenge alone, without their help.

Though the flames and embers wreathing the figure, Vyktor was able to identify it as something like a bearded devil. He warned Ignomine, then cast protective spells around him and sped his motions as the fiend made its slow advance towards them. Ignomine called upon Abadar to strike down the outsider, pulled on the power of his cloak to guide his strike, and charged the devil once it was in reach. Shouting “The Mountain Falls upon the Unwary!” Ignomine banished the demon with a devastating overhand blow.

Hmph. Very well. Next, your disfigured friend. You must touch the ceiling, or touch me, without getting hurt.” With that, the dragon retreated into the magma pool and sunk until only its head was visible.

The rogue thought about his next move. The walls in the chamber were smooth stone forty feet tall before they began curving to the ceiling eighty feet above them. With Drael’s Spider Climb spell it would be a piece of cake, but he got the impression that would not be accepted by the dragon. Touching Veroxx, on the other hand, would require a thirty foot leap over open magma, and who knew what would happen after he landed on the beast… would it submerge itself, allowing his victory but taking his life? He decided to avoid trusting the creature and instead took matters into his own hands.

First, he borrowed one of the mighty bows his compatriots had, and though they looked at him suspiciously (was he going to try to shoot the dragon? Was he crazy?!) they complied. He then took some of the fine elven rope they had, the really long length, and tied it to one of the Arelan Steel longbow arrows he’d bargained for from Etzio. Finally, he nocked the arrow, drew with all his strength, and fired it into the ceiling. The extra punch from the bow was enough to overcome the weight of the slender rope and smash itself into the rock hard enough to support his weight. After a few experimental tugs he easily clambered up the rope and patted the rock ceiling above. He then slid down the rope and undid the knot with a complicated tug, though the valuable arrow was left embedded far above.

Very well, the dragon growled, “you’ve passed. The final challenge goes to you two. Keep my minion from touching any of you. Make contact, with any of you, and you lose. Let’s see you get out of this one!” Suddenly, a large dragonoid burst from the surface of the pool and landed in front of them, the lava dripping from its scales and hissing as it hit the walkway. It advanced upon the party and now they had to avoid getting hit by the creature while still being forbidden from helping.

Drael identified it as a lava drake, a male and slightly smaller form of dragon, and came up with a solution. While Artas distracted it with a fierce and intimidating show of force, the sorcerer made the rest of the group invisible. Then, he summoned a herd of horses, counting on the drake to favor the easy meal over the much fiercer party. Its reptilian head snapped forward, its jaws snapping as it took a bite… out of the summoned steed! Artas quickly retreated while the beast was distracted, was made invisible as well, and Drael kept the drake supplied with more summoned horses as it tore through the herd, banishing them from the plane often after a single bite or fierce slash of its claws. Once time was up, it left to return to the magma pool.

With a roar Veroxx launched himself out of the magma and onto the path just outside the archway into the pillar that led down to, presumably, the crystal and the object of their quest. “Fine. You have beaten my challenges. You may leave in peace, instead of pieces.” The party looked at each other quizzically; wasn’t the whole point of this so they could go forward? Seeing their confused expression, the dragon’s annoyed tone turned to one of supercilious glee. “I never said you could go on, if you’ll recall. I only said we could part ways in peace. So go. Before I change my mind.” The last part was finished with a snarl.

Seeing no other options and worn out from the ordeal, certainly not capable of challenging a dragon in its lair, the party had no choice but to retreat, regroup, and plan for another attempt.

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Session 14 Recap

(The following provided by Michael. Feel free to add detail/make corrections as appropriate.)

The party decided to sleep in one of the barracks. They surmised that with only one door to guard, it would be the safest place to rest. Safe, of course, is a relative word. So while their bodies lay in slumber or at watch, each felt something tugging at their minds. In their dreams, wisps of smoke came oozing from around the door, prodding along the stone cold floor to where they slept. It always came from beyond the door. When the smoke reached them, they would stir, maybe wake and the drift back into uneasy sleep.
When on patrol, they felt like they were being watched. Something outside was feeling for a way in; but it was like looking at a star sideways, always out of vision straightaway. Though they all experienced it, none had the words to describe it, other than the creeping feeling of horror that lay beyond the door.
Polycarp felt a rough hand shake him. “Get up.” It was Artas, already suited into his armor. Polycarp rubbed his eyes and sat up. Drael was looking through a spell book. Vyktor and Iggy were not in the room. “Where are the rest?” he asked. “Outside, communing with their gods.” Since they had come to this place of hell, the cleric and paladin were without the help of their dieties. In order to gain their spells, they needed to cross the magical line in the cavern that led to this place.
Soon, all were ready and Polycarp led the party through the passageways to the huge spiral staircase that led a lower chamber. “Are we ready?” he asked turning round to look at his….friends? Polycarp had to stumble over the word. It still felt uncomfortable, like he was learning a new language. He was as amazed as anybody that he had remained in the party this long. A wry smile flashed across his face. He wondered if anybody saw it. Let’s not get gushy, he said to himself.

The staircase was 10 feet across and kept going. Every time they thought surely the end is right around the bend, it kept going. It seemed like hours, but really was only about 20 minutes when the stairs stopped at two large doors. They spanned the distance of the stairway. “Hold here and I’ll check for traps on the doors,” Polycarp said over his shoulder. Slinking forward with deliberate steps he made his way down the last couple of steps towards the door. Click. Shit. He was so focused on the door that he neglected to check the passageway. From the floor above, he heard the sound of grinding portcullis. We’re stuck in here. No going back. To add insult to injury, the door wasn’t trapped or locked.
“I set off a trap.”
“What do you mean?” Iggy asked. He shifted in his spiked armor.
“It’s not the door. There was a pressure pad on the floor. I heard a noise overhead. I think we’re trapped down here.”
“Only one way to go then,” Artas huffed.
Vyktor and Drael took hold of each door, while Iggy and Artas stood before them. Polycarp was in the rear, arrow notched in his bow. “Okay,” Iggy said, “Open them.” The door swung inwards easily.
The doors opened into the middle wall of a huge room illuminated by low light. Six massive stone pillars square, some 20 feet on each side and 50 feet high stood in the room. The room itself was 120 feet wide and 200 feet long and the pillars were set 30 feet from each other and 10 feet from the walls. They were set at corners to the open door. They didn’t reach the ceiling, leaving a space of about 10 feet from the top. Iggy and Artas could see small sconces jetting out 10 feet from the top on the two furthest to the left. On the left wall, two massive statues of creatures with huge swords stood as silent sentinel for the huge vaulted door. On the right wall was another vaulted door without sentries.
[editor note: I forgot the information of the symbols on the ground.]
“By the gods,” Iggy drew in his breath. Carved in horrifying detail on the pillars, hacked and mutilated bodies of all different races writhed in stone for all eternity. For a moment, they had to blink to ensure that they were not, in fact, real and somehow melted into the stone. As they moved into the room, Artas moved around the first pillar to the left.
Immediately, he was struck by a bright flash of light in the face. Had he not had his shield spell activated, he might have been seriously injured. But for the moment, it was more annoying than anything. “I’m being hit by something,” he called out to the party. The rest of the party entered the room. Iggy went to the right of the pillar, followed by Vyktor. Drael stood in the doorway.
Polycarp scanned the room. On seeing the body in the far corner, he ran like a shadow against the wall. The mummified body was clad in a cloak and light leather armor. From the look of it, it must have been here for decades. In its hands were a book and quill, which Polycarp took and placed in his sack.
Again, more flashes of light struck the shield as Artas moved to inspect the sentinels by the door. Vyktor, ever watchful, noticed two things: the first was the statues had eyes the moved and the second that the source of the flashes came from the sconces on two of the pillars. “It looks like magic missile. Must be some kind of defense for this place. It has something to do with the stateus.” He called out to Artas. Looking back to Drael, he asked “Why don’t you see what you can do about this.” Drael nodded, pointed his finger and let fly a barrage of energy missiles. As soon as the darts exploded on the sconces, they heard the scrape of stone on stone.
“There are things on top of the pillars!” Iggy called out.
Stone gargoyles lurched from their stations and flew down to engage the party. One flew down and struck Drael with its claws, ripping his flesh. Another dropped down in front of Iggy trying to grapple him. A third flew from its perch to the ground. It was near Polycarp, but had not seen him. Polycarp notched a bow and shot the monster twice. It screamed in pain and turned to face him. Another came and attacked Iggy. The fifth flew towards Polycarp. The last stayed on top of its pillar.
The battle was fierce. Artas was far removed from the fighting, making his way back from the huge archway door. Iggy made quick work, hacking one after another into rubble. Drael was wounded badly when he suddenly disappeared from the melee.
After the battle was over, the party began to search the room. Beside the dead body and the remains of the gargoyles, the only things in the room were weapons strewn about. While Artas began searching the room, Vyktor noticed the eyes of the constructs had a target: Artas. He surmised that someone this was connected to the magic missiles attacking him. Vyktor shared his thoughts with the group and Polycarp used one of his old sacks to make blindfolds on the constructs. The missile stopped coming.
The huge door was surrounded by a stone arch. Polycarp inspected the door and found a complicated mechanism. He tried to open it and failed. “I’m going need a lot more time to get this open.” Hunkering down, he got to work. The others searched the room and found another secret door on the opposite wall that they entered. Like the first, it was seamless to the walls around it. They waited to open the door until Polycarp got done with the lock.
As they waited, Vyktor noticed a gaseous form appear near the statue on the left of the archway. Suddenly, all felt the chill they had experienced the night before. The creeping horror was here, present among them. They felt it like an ooze surrounding them, suffocating them, choking them of light and goodness. Then it appeared.
It looked like a man, old and scraggly with fanged teeth and long boney fingers that ended in sharp claws. Drael and Polycarp shuddered, fighting every urge to run, to flee from the horrible site. Iggy screamed and went rigid. As soon as it appeared, it faded from view.
“What the hell was that!” Artas screamed loudly. So loud he startled himself. I must get hold of myself.
“I don’t know,” Vyktor answered, “but this is bad news for us. Look, something is wrong with Iggy.” He moved over to the Paladin. His face was bone white and locked in a horrible frozen scream. Vyktor couldn’t help but notice the similarity to the carved images on the pillars. Drael and Polycarp shook off whatever fear had taken hold of them. Polycarp cursed. “I’m gonna have to start over again on this door.”
The blindfold on the sentinel to the left feel from its perch. Immediately, magic missile struck Artas’s shield.
“Screw the door!” Artas said, “Cover those eyes! That thing is still in the room. You don’t have to be a cleric to feel it.”
And he was right. It was there, on the edges of their minds, trying to poke holes in whatever defenses the mind constructed. It was hungry for their souls, but how much sweeter for it would be a soul caught in a snare of fear.
Vyktor murmured some words of magic and began to shimmer. Suddenly he morphed into a giant bugbear. Putting his great head into the air, Vyktor-as-bugbear began sniffing and scrambling toward a pillar. “This way, I know where it is!” he cried as Artas followed. A bust of light from Vyktor’s hands shot out and enveloped the creature in glitterdust. Polycarp jumped on the sentinel and covered its eyes again. Drael called forth lantern archons who immediately set upon the foul beast.
Drael then turned to Polycarp, “I’m going to make you invisible.” Polycarp faded from view.
The creature, a boogeyman, struck wildly with its claws. [editor’s note: I didn’t take detailed notes on the fight, so I don’t recall if anyone was actually hit and all the hits that it took.]
Polycarp strode to a spot on the floor where he could see the shining aura. He took two arrows from his quiver, notched them, and let fly. The creature screamed out and fell to the floor.
“Thank the gods that it’s dead,” Vyktor said turning back into his drow self.
The party sat exhausted on the floor. Slowly Iggy came out of whatever affected him.
“What’s next?”Drael asked. They all sat looking at one another.
“I should get back to that door,” Polycarp said getting up.
“Wait,” Artas responded, “Let’s go through that secret door first. Better to face whatever might be back there than have to interrupt you again.”
It was a solid plan and the group went to where the door was, opened it and stepped into the hallway. It was 10 wide and about 60 feet long. Polycarp scampered forward like a shadow to the where the passageway turned right. Peeking his head around the corner, he motioned them closer. The hall went the right for another 50 feet and opened up into a small room.
There were three columns on the wall to the right of the hallway. In the middle column, the tallest, was a pulsating yellow gem. On either side were two gems on shorter columns: one light blue and one red. Polycarp took the yellow gem. The pulsating stopped.
“Should you of done that?” Iggy said irritably. Polycarp glanced back at him, shrugged and picked up the other two gems as well and put them in his sack.
“Before we go any further, I have something you all might want to hear,” Polycarp said pulling a sheaf of paper from one of his many compartments.
“Where did you get that,” Artas asked.
“From the dead guy.”
“You didn’t think it was important enough to mention before?” Artas muttered. What else is that noseless bastard hiding? And you, spoke a voice that only he could hear, what are you hiding? Artas clenched his lips. That voice. When would all this stop! [editor’s note: didn’t remember if this happens to you, but I think you get some communication from other planes? Also not sure if you like them or not, but sounded good in my head. If not, eh…]
Polycarp ignored him and read ….[I forgot the sheets at Tyler’s, so just pretend! Dude who hired us, hired them. It was the last party of 30 years ago. All died, except for one who went crazy.]
“That explains a lot,” Drael said. “Since it looks like we came through a secret door, we were lucky enough to avoid whatever it was that they fought. At least for now.” They discussed the implication of the journal entries and what that would mean for them.
“You all figure it out. I want to get back to that door,” Polycarp.
It took him two hours, but finally Polycarp unlocked the mechanism. While they waited, they opened the door on the other end of the room. It opened out into the snowy expanse they had walked through to get to this place. The door pulled open to reveal a solid wall of black obsidian polished glass. They could not see through it.
“Great,” Iggy said, “What now.” He leaned up against one of the statues. He happened to glance down and noticed something on the hilt of its sword. There was a space missing on the hilt. It looked like……“Hey Polycarp, let me see those gems you took from the other room.” Polycarp gave him the gems. He hunch was confirmed. He placed the light blue gem into the hilt.
The gem and the glass began to shimmer. The obsidian turned dark red and melted into white and faded. They could see a tundra, windswept snow and could hear the sound of battle.
“What is this?” Drael asked. None wanted to go through for fear they would be teleported or caught in the scene they were looking at.
“Try the other gem,” Polycarp said.
Iggy placed the red gem into the other sentinel’s sword hilt.
The gem and the glass began to glow and shimmer. The black turned to red and the red melted away. Before the was a stone path way through what looked like a lava path.
“Shit,” Artas said, “Didn’t the journal say something about big bads coming from fire?”
Nobody answered. They all continued to stare into the hellish landscape where they all knew they would soon have to go.

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Session 12 Recap
A series of unfortunate decisions

When the party regroupd, Artas Menethar and Ignomine recounted all they had been through and how the orcs had been influenced by outsiders to form war parties. Attempts by Vyktor and Ignomine to supplicate their respective deities were unsuccessful, leaving them unsure about the proper path forward. In the end, they decided to take Etzio Damien’s offer.

The party traveled to the field outside the city limits and activated the gem, teleporting them once more to the mountain door. However, when they tried to gain admittance, they were informed that the master of the stronghold was busy with other guests, and would attend to them shortly. After a short wait, they saw some familiar faces leaving the complex: Jenet, Aurora, Gordimar, and a half-elf and a half-orc they didn’t recognize. When asked if they had taken the deal, Aurora rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah right, you’d have to be an idiot to take that deal.” Well then, this seems promising.

Discussions with Etzio proceeded quickly, with the party negotiating for several very valuable weapons, armors, and other artifacts as an advance for completing his quest to get a chip of the Soul Gem. Artas selected a suit of Chitin full-plate, while Ignomine took an Arelan Steel elven curved blade. Etzio also gifted them a Refilling Spoon, a wondrous item that would provide food for at least one of the party members and cut down on the rations they needed to provision, and a couple of gems that had lesser fire elementals bound to them to provide heat. He also presented two gems, distinct in shape and color, and explained their purpose: one would be used when they had succeeded in their quest, and the other when it was evident that they had failed in their quest. Either gem could be activated by crushing.

That completed, Etzio explained that he could teleport them as far as the northern forts, saving them a week’s travel, but that they would have to make their way through the Northern Wastes from there and it would be prudent to prepare for the trip. With Artas and Ignomine having already chosen their payment, they volunteered to return to Shivar and procure the winter clothing, climbing gear, camping supplies, and other items while the rest of the crew looked over Etzio’s merchandise on offer. They got crampons for climbing on ice and glaciers, pitons for climbing sheer cliff faces, ice axes and picks for climbing in rough terrain, insulation and padding for those in plate, parkas and gloves for those that didn’t use armor, insulated tents and sleeping bags to keep warm at night, supplies of rations for the trip, and some miscellaneous other items. Ignomine also took the time to provision Godfrey and give him money and directions to some mercenaries to hire as guards, instructing him to send word of what was going on to his mentor Alduin Halfar in Fragnick, and to spend his time their learning of his training and to prepare himself martially for when Ignomine returned, or if he didn’t, to gain his fortune as a mercenary or soldier.

Reunited, the party was teleported to a spot on the northernmost Great Causeway that served as the barrier protecting most of Arela from the undead that still plagued the north. Based on the information that Etzio had given them, they decided to follow the Causeway east to get closest to the reported location of the Soul Gem. Drael provided the party with an invaluable resource in the form of summoned mounts that greatly sped their progress. They passed a few of the fortresses on the way, taking the time to learn what they could about the Wastes; generally, it was bad and they were suicidal or insane for trying to go out rather than further in. Regardless, at the last fortification they convinced the general there to allow them to pass through the main gate and into the Wastes.

Several days into the journey, they were ambushed by another wartribe of Orcs heading east to join the main War Party. Surrounded, the party was threatened with nearly 30 of the creatures. Despite Ignomine’s pleas for peace (or maybe because of them, for the half-orc’s presence seemed to infurate them,) they attacked, launching the brunt of their assault on the heavily-armored Artas and Ignomine. With careful positioning and superior battle-prowess they were able to hold off the assault and eliminate the orc threat, including an orc shaman that evaded sight with a spell of invisibility but could not evade Detection of Evil. Once again, their equipment seemed too fine for orc-make, and indicated that the outside interference was much larger than they had guessed thus far.

As the party progressed into rougher territory, it became clear that they were being followed.

Huge pack of wolves, one could talk, evaded using Drael’s mounts and him teleporting, Vyktor sealed up the small cave they hid in, wolves left.

Emerged from hole, saw message written in dirt, something flying in the distance was clearly searching for the party, revealed to be several griffons. Tried to avoid them, but were spotted. Griffons were on intercept course, several well-placed fireballs and Smiting arrows killed the one that was a mount for an armored foe, the fall severely damaged him. Other griffons engaged, headless armor called out Artas Menathar’s full name, Ignomine challenged him and smote him quickly, remaining Griffons were quickly dispatched.

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Session 11 Recap
The Ballad of The BroCans

So I’m writing this summary of the last D&D session so that my DM will get off my back about it, so here it is, enjoy it or whatever.

The group was supposed to go on a quest and get loot or something, but most of the party couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed that day so that didn’t happen. Instead the two meat heads in cans of the party (we’ll call them BroCans for simplicity) had to entertain themselves. With nothing better to do, they made the decision to wander off by themselves and make decisions for the rest of the party. This included using a very magical and probably dangerous magical artifact to teleport to Calistria knows where. The BroCans found a door in the side of a mountain but were too meatheaded to see or know anything about them. Luckily, the door spoke to them just like that scene at Jabba’s Palace with the popping eye thing. Despite all of the meat in his head, Artas was able to form words which got the door open. Inside the mountain there were a bunch of crytals that looked magic, but Artie was again too dumb to figure out what they were. The two BroCans were met by a shadowy construct, to which they mostly responded with a collective “Whoa” and followed him. After spending some time in a sitting room where they still were not smart enough to learn very much, they were met by a really old dude named Ezio Daemon, who was super old. Enzo Demon talked a whole bunch but basically said “I want to hire you get a super powerful soul gem for totally ‘legit’ reasons.PS everyone else I’ve hired to do this has died…maybe.” While the two BroCans have a hard time thinking sometimes, they both knew that this Mr. Elmo DeLorean was super crazy and obviously didn’t give a shit about their lives buuut he pretty much offered to give the group Bonkers Lootz if they would do this, so the two BroCans kept listening. Then Eskimo Deforestation took them into his back room to show them his “Chisel”, which was super big. Artie and Iggy basically forgot about everything else because their meathead brains were to busy drooling over all of the lootz. Esposito Dudeman said he would totz give Iggy that Crooked Eleven Sword of Fancy Metal and Artie that Swank Meathead Can of Super Light Metal if they just did whatever he said. Artie and Iggy looked at each other and said “We are too much meatheads, we cannot make choices. We will totally hit you back.” So the two BroCans let the magical crazy mountain man.

Oh yeah, I forgot, E.L.O Dimethylethanol told the two that the last group he sent north went with an expedition that included their old “friend” Torridan Honorforge and <dm>. With nothing better to do the two BroCans went looking for miserly Dwarfadin. They found him at an in along with fucking RUFUS! And there was much rejoicing, because Rufus is awesome. Anyway, Torridan basically told them that they should stay the frak away from the North. Either you will freeze your balls off or zombies will totally eat them off. Bad news bears. Then Rufus asked for his soul sucking rock back, Artie gave it to him, but threw him some wicked shade about it because nothing is more fun than messing with good old Rufus.

Iggy then decided that he was feeling all pious and junk and dragged Iggy to church. The clerics at his big ass temple were all impressed by Iggys Paladininess and his Orciness and they gave him mad respect and let him do his thing up in the fancy vault thing. So Iggy was doing his thing talking to god and whatnot, saying “Hey, I want that Wacky Elfish sword but that guy seems hella crazy, can you help me out here god?” but god was all like “Nope, you on your own sucka”. So then Iggy was like “well shit” and needed to calm down by polishing his piece. As he came out of the vault one of the clerics snatched him up and ushered him into an office with one of the temples muckety mucks who gave Artie some hardcore side eye for following them in.

The muckety muck guy told Iggy that there are some Orcs up north that were getting all gentrified which gives the god of civilization the warm and fuzzies, but recently those same Orcs have been causing a bit of a ruckus. The temple dude asked Iggy (and Artie I guess) to go north and tell the Orcs to calm the F down, or figure out what all of the noise is about. Iggy and Artie looked each other and said “Eh, why not?”

So Iggy and Artie left the city all by their lonesome…well except for Iggys man servant Godfrey who could probably be knocked down by a stiff breeze but is now the owner of a nice tower shield and some leather armor. If they had been smart, Iggy and Artie would have acquired some health potions or scrolls or other restorative magical items, but this is what happens when you let the two meatheads plan the expeditions.

The trio took to the road and it wasn’t long before Artie barely, just barely, saw something in the tall grass. Artie took a step forward and whipped his sword around a lot and screamed and did other very scary stuff. It was super effective and the thing in the grass was shaking in its boots…or hooves…Artie didn’t know at the time. Then out of the tall grass steps the ugliest thing either of them had ever seen. It was like part Lion, part bull, part cat hairball. Artie peed a little. Luckily Iggy was ready to bring the pain and he stepped up and called upon the power of his magical cloak so that his blade might strike true. Iggy raised his gleaming Elven curved blade above his head and cried a mighty oath as he brought the instrument of the hairballs ultimate doom crashing down toward its head. In that instant Iggy new that he was truly one of the masters of the universe as all his martial expertise, and all of his divine grace, and all of the powers of the arcane were guiding his sword home. Iggy knew that he could not fail.

And then he missed.

Fortunately, Artie was nearby to help by letting the Lion-Bull-Hairball thing gore him a bit and then put a spell on him to make him bleed a whole lot. Artie continued to soak up damage while Iggy was dropping mad pain bombs on its hairy ass until the thing was unconscious. At that point Artie stood over the beast, touched it, and said “BLEED” and the thing died and Artie was very satisfied. Godfrey tried to heal Artie but instead nearly choked him to death, and Iggy had to step in and remedy the situation.

The pair was a little beat up so they decided to find a camp, unfortunately, their meatheadedness took over and they did not find a comfy Motel 6, instead they were packed into a tiny clearing in the tall grass. Artas was the first on watch because he was in the worst shape. During Iggys watch, another lion-hairball showed up. Artas was still nearly dead and had no armor on, so he mostly provided support (i.e. was mostly useless) and then proceeded to pass out. Iggy once again dropped stupid amounts of hurt on the hairball, but the hairball did a number on Iggy too. The hairball died, but then two jamokes started coming through the tall grass looking for their, now dead, hairball. Iggy tried to talk to the jamokes, but they didn’t seem interested. Artie did his scary sword thing again. It was super effective, but that was about the only effective thing he did. Iggy pimp-slapped the first jamoke so hard his head came off. The other jamoke was kind of dumb and thought he could take Iggy. He was wrong. Iggy kicked the shit out of him too, but didn’t kill him. Iggy then had a long conversation with the Orc jamoke trying to figure out why they were causing a ruckus, the conversation involved the jamoke refusing to talk and then Iggy backhanding him into unconsciousness and waiting until he woke up. Artie stood by acting real tough, but was basically clueless since Iggy and the jamoke were talking in Orc. The jamoke told Iggy that him and his bros were acting all hard because they had joined up with a crew that called themselves the “War Party” and were following around another jamoke named (I don’t remember). He also said that there were a bunch jerk face humans that were giving all of the jamokes crazy gear and telling them to cause all the ruckus. Iggy and Artie were not happy about this. Eventually, Iggy let the poor guy go. The trio then got some sleep and then head back to the city because they were all in danger of dying. On the way home, Artie looked in his bag of holding and found some potions of Cure Light Wounds along with some other loot. Again this is why you don’t let meatheads plan the expeditions.

And so ends my session summary. Do I get lootz?


Alternatively…

Uncertain of what else to do, the party (which at this point only included Artas Menethar and Ignomine) decided to use the mysterious teleportation gem provided by Edagener when they ran into him at the local bar. Curious about where it might take them and who would be the boss of someone as powerful as Edagener, they traveled far outside the Shivar city limits and activated the gem. Polycarp had no interest in being summoned, as he saw it, and elected to stay behind and do whatever it is he does on his own (like assassinate Kharlin generals…)

The party minus Polycarp appeared near the summit of a mountain before a massive door set into the rock face. Seeing little else to do, they approached to knock but were startled by the appearance of a magical eye surveying them. Once they stated they wished to enter the doors opened, revealing a fuzzy and shadowy figure dressed as a servant. Drael suspected it was a construct of some kind, but it was intelligent enough to offer them the rules of Guest-Right to the party; the party were promised protection from harm and safety from danger by the host, while the guests were responsible for keeping any secrets found there and to be considerate guests. There was also the assumption that any words spoken would be true to the best of the speaker’s knowledge.

The construct led them to a large waiting room where it informed the party that its master would be appearing shortly. In the meantime they were free to make themselves comfortable. One corner of the room had a fireplace with large comfortable chairs set around it, where Ignomine decided to wait patiently. Another corner had a small table littered with many small crystals, a crystal ball, and what appeared to be notes and workbooks, which to Vyktor appeared to be magical research. Along one wall was a series of banners and crests, all with a slash marked through them, which Artas realized were probably some ancient and long-forgotten Houses. The other corner had a large bookshelf full of old tomes.

About ten minutes later their host appeared, a wizened old figure of indeterminate old age and race who introduced himself as Etzio Damien. Gesturing to the table of crystals, he revealed that he had made a lifelong study of them, items called Soul Gems. Holding up a purple crystal about the size of his hand, he explained that the Soul Gems were developed during Arela’s ancient age and allowed for the storage of massive amounts of power. Larger and purer crystals, like the one he held, were even capable of holding the life force of a creature and using it to power unknown arcane devices and energies.

Etzio explained that he had been researching these crystals for most of his life, and that there were rumors and signs of a crystal larger and purer than any other deep in the Northern Wastes. He had sent at least seven expeditions out to find it, but all had failed. The latest one, several years past, was the closest yet but had only one survivor return, and even then not entirely sane. When asked why Edagener or Etzio himself didn’t go to reclaim it (seeing as they were clearly much more powerful than any in the party), he responded that the nature of the Soul Gem would be immediately fatal to persons such as themselves, but that the party should be able to approach safely. He also mentioned that one of the past expeditions had traveled for a time with acolytes of Alion, including a certain Toradan Honorforge.

When asked what they would do once they got there and what they would get for doing the job, Etzio led them into another massive room carved out of the mountain. A large worktable littered with items and artifacts ran the length of the room, and there were racks of weapons, armor, and chests full of gold and jewels scattered about. Moving about near the work table was a small stone or metal figure that resembled a garden gnome working on some kind of item. Etzio picked up a metallic spike engraved with runes and sigils and said, “I want you to take this chisel, break off a piece of the crystal, and bring it back here for me to study. For this service, I’m prepared to give you anything in this room.”

Taking another look around, Artas could see a suit of what appeared to be Mithril Full Plate. Vyktor seemed immediately drawn to the magical gnome construct busy at work building magical items. Drael thought of all the gold and powerful magical items that could be had to aid his spellcasting, while Ignomine noticed a weapon rack full of Arelan Steel weapons… including an Elven Curved Blade, proof that elves and their martial tradition could trace itself back to the times of Ancient Arela. Thinking better of defacing an ancient artifact about which he was ignorant, Ignomine asked for a guarantee that altering the gem would not destabilize civilization or cause it harm. Etzio explained that he wanted the piece to study it, and could not be sure he could grant that guarantee until after he’d researched the gem. The best he could offer was to share what he learned once they had broken off a piece of the gem for his study using the chisel. He continued…

“These chisels are incredibly difficult to make, and require a… significant amount of time to fabricate. I fear that this may be the last one I am able to complete, so I’d be willing to even advance you some of your reward if it will help you accomplish my task. I just ask that you make claiming the crystal a priority if you do so. There is a necromancer moving about near the location of the crystal, and though I do not think they have discovered the crystal yet I fear they may do so.”

Though sorely tempted, the party decided to wait and discuss their options later. Their host bade them farewell, but cautioned them not to draw any more attention to themselves. When they responded that they didn’t know what he was talking about, and Ignomine swore that he was unaware of anything else, Etzio replied that he could say no more. The party left out of the mountain door, activated the gem, and found themselves back in the field far outside the city that they had left.

Seeking information on what to expect in the Northern Wastes, the party set out to find Toradan Honorforge. Luckily he was at a local bar, and they caught him before his departure back north to Ceres. His advice was that only people with a deathwish went to the Northern Wastes; between the cold, the undead, the ancient trapped fortresses, and the remoteness, there were a multitude of unpleasant ways to get oneself killed and very little to get out of it. The only reason he had gone up with a bunch of his brothers was to defeat a powerful Lich, though he did recall another group joining them for part of the journey. As for advice for those foolhardy enough to go to the wastes, he suggested “wear warm clothes, avoid the undead, and Don’t.”

The party split up to reflect on what their course of action should be. Drael went to gather more information and develop his network, while Vyktor went to pray to Callistria for guidance. Ignomine likewise went to the high temple of Abadar, requesting one of the prayer-rooms of the First Vault. Though he prayed extensively for guidance he heard no response from his god. Ignomine prayed harder, worried that his actions could inadvertently destroy some of the last signs of Ancient Arela, or that conversely he could do great good for civilization with the rewards for helping Etzio. Ignomine heard only the faintest of echoes saying that he could receive no guidance before the presence retreated.

Troubled, Ignomine left the cloister to find a Temple attendant waiting for him with Artas. The attendant escorted them to one of the priest’s offices, where its occupant explained a task for him. It seemed that some of the Orc tribes north of Shivar, tribes that had been accepting expressions of peace and civilization, had suddenly cut off contact and become violent. The priest asked Ignomine to go as a representative of Abadar to find out what had happened and report back, if he was able. He also warned that the last priests they had sent up there had been attacked.

Ignomine and Artas collected his ward Godfrey and set out on the northern road. It was clearly inferior to one of the Great Causeways, terminating in a dirt road only a few hundred yards outside the city walls. Ignomine, still troubled by his newfound possession of a slave, made it clear that Godfrey was free to leave his service at any time as a free man, and that he was free to express himself in any way he saw fit; essentially, that his continued presence with Ignomine would be taken as an assent to accompany them. After Godfrey said he understood, and seeing Artas approve of the gesture, Ignomine offered him his former liege’s arms and tower shield. It would be dangerous on the road, and Godfrey did not appear to have experienced the rough life of an adventurer from his former master. In addition, the valuable items would give him a chance at a new life if he chose to leave Ignomine’s service. Shocked, Godfrey could only stutter his thanks and his wonder at such a gift.

Some distance outside the city, Artas noticed a creature lying in wait alongside the path, hidden by tall grass. Try as they might, neither Ignomine nor Godfrey could detect the creature, so Artas stepped forward and roared a challenge to it. Provoked, the creature attacked, revealing itself to be a monstrous beast seemingly crossed between a bull, a goat, and a lion, all scraggly long hair and hooves with sharp horns growing out of its head. It charged and gored Artas. Taking advantage of its distraction, Ignomine stepped to its side, drawing on the power of his cloak to make sure his strike hit true, and poured the power of his muscles and his god into the blow… and missed.

The beast continued to maul Artas while Ignomine slashed at it with his blade and Artas’ spellcasting made the wounds weep blood. Godfrey stood back, keeping lookout for further aggressors. With a final mighty blow the beast was slain, and the battered warriors decided to set up camp to tend to their wounds.

They found a small clearing in the grass and set up camp. With fewer party members the watch was more difficult to arrange. Artas’ went quietly enough, but during Ignomine’s watch another of the massive beasts managed to sneak up on him and attack, but thankfully his armor turned the attack. With Artas out of his armor and still injured Ignomine had to take the brunt of the attacks, barely managing to keep standing after enduring attack after goring attack. With a final burst of strength he poured his might into a felling blow that separated the beast’s head from its neck. Exhausted, they sat down to recuperate.

It wasn’t long after that they heard voices approaching. Ignomine understood them speaking the Orcish tongue, and called out a warning to them as they approached. “Your beast is dead, and I warn that you will as well if you attack.” They continued to approach, and Ignomine could see an aura of evil about them. When they finally appeared, Ignomine again ordered them to stand down. Rather than allow them to approach further, Ignomine summoned his deity’s bond to make his sword light with fire, and Artas made an intimidating display that gave them pause. Determined, the orcs moved to attack. Artas cursed the closest orc to bleed from his wounds and Ignomine charged and dropped him in a single blow. The second, armed with a spear, tried to position himself to advantage but was stymied by the tall grass. He too soon fell to Ignomine’s blazing sword, falling in shock to the massive amount of damage he sustained with the blow. The two of them stripped the orc of his weapons and manacled the orc before he regained consciousness.

After he woke up, the orc refused to talk or answer who his chief was, giving only a spit of disgust and a slur at Ignomine’s parentage for an answer. Though it pained Ignomine to do so, he acted the brute and backhanded the orc for his insolence. Augmented by his deity’s power the blow knocked the orc unconscious, after which Ignomine healed him and brought him back to consciousness. This continued for a few more times before the orc finally capitulated. He revealed his chief was called Ragnar and was leading a War Party. The war party had attacked the orc tribes that had made peace with the humans, ordering them to join them or be killed. He also revealed (after further aggressive persuasion) that some other humans were providing the tribes with the fine equipment they had been using, including masterwork hide armor and some fine weapons. With that, Ignomine freed the prisoner and allowed him to flee west.

Now comes the time to decide if the party will accept Etzio’s quest, or try to find out more about the people funding and organizing all of the wild humanoid tribes.

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Session 10 Recap

The Prelude

We returned to the party fighting skeletal champions deep in the bowels of the Crypt of Sorrows, the mausoleum within the Temple of Alion in Shivar, where Artas was still blinded but had escaped behind the cover of fellow party members. Ignomine, still enlarged thanks to Vyktor’s magic, blocked the hallway while the party (minus Drael, who was upstairs and currently unaware of the party’s peril) regrouped. Vyktor handed his mace to Polycarp as Ignomine smashed the skeleton that had blinded Artas. With the affliction removed, Polycarp able to join the fray, and the timely arrival of Drael, the party was able to clear up the rest of the combatants in short order.

Following the residue of evil energy left by the dagger led them down a hallway where the trail suddenly ended. Vyktor and Drael recognized the signs of a teleportation circle, but could not be certain where it led or whether it was safe to return. Ignomine volunteered to check, but the party pointed out that he was pretty much the worst choice because he was the only one that

  1. couldn’t detect magic (like the location of a circle of teleportation back)
  2. couldn’t identify magic even if he could detect it, and
  3. had a deadline that would seriously hurt him if he didn’t make it back to Fort Vigilance by the end of the day.

Polycarp went instead.

After a minute of tense waiting, Polycarp returned with blood on his arms and screaming loudly about the horrible things on the other side before jumping back through the portal. Ignomine followed quickly to save his compatriot, only to find it had all been a ruse. Vyktor, Drael, and Artas, who had not been duped by Polycarp’s antics, followed closely behind. An abashed and annoyed Ignomine picked up the trail of the dagger as the effects of the enlarge person spell and his bonded weapon dissipated and Drael summoned mounts to aid in their search.

Polycarp made frequent reminders of the foolishness of their search and the risk they were taking if Ignomine couldn’t get back in time, but they pushed on. As they followed the trail they saw bits of rotted and decayed flesh, as if it had simply putrefied and fallen by the wayside. A chance discovery of an eyeball revealed it was the same color as High Priest Thorn’s, a macabre hint as to his fate.

The party soon realized that they were in the forests south of Freeport and that the trail was heading straight to the cottage they had been at previously… the cottage over the complex where they had found the dagger. Pushing their time to the limit, they arrived at the cottage to find the trail terminating at the collapsed entrance to the underground complex and a splatter of gore and bone at its base. They surmised that this was all that remained of Thorn after he had dashed himself against the rocks trying to get back to the dagger’s place of origin. Drael deftly used Mage Hand to dig through the remains and extract the dangerous artifact dagger even as Polycarp railed against the stupidity of finding it and carrying it. With their task completed, the party made their way back home, back through the portal, and back to Shivar in short order.

The party decided to make an appearance at the office of the Magistrate of Shivar Lord Chandler Thorton to deal with his ultimatum, even though they were an hour late. Polycarp ducked away to remain (semi-) off his radar, as was his custom. The Magistrate’s lieutenant with the fuzzy eyebrows, Reks Christanti, commented on their tardiness, but sent them up all the same. The Magistrate made a similar observation, but the party deflected his comments by pointing out they had been busy slaying undead and protecting the city from them, which he accepted. Lord Thorton also commented on their presence at the ball hosted by the Merchant Guild’s leader, Quint Strain, and questioned how they were able to get tickets. They decided honesty was the best policy and admitted they were given by Ayda Magnus, and that she was a member of the Free Shivar movement. During their perfunctory visit the party made clear that they had no intention of disrupting the status quo, while the Magistrate made it clear that he wanted to know who led the Free Shivar movement and didn’t want the party creating problems that upset the delicate balance of the city, including taking revenge on certain butchers of the bay. Though the implication was that the party would be responsible for finding the Free Shivar leaders, no commitment was made and the group was free to leave and presumably free to remain in the city. They didn’t stick around to clarify the issue. On the way out, Reks revealed that General Wolf was staying at an inn called the Pig Snout, and that Shivar Guard patrols were stretched thin and might not be in the area should there be a “disturbance.” With that ominous implication the party left the keep.

At last the time had come for Ignomine’s judgment at Fort Vigilance, and with the warning that Quint Strain had given he wasn’t optimistic about his chances. Polycarp once again bailed to avoid being targeted for his ransom, as did Artas. The rest of the party made their way to the fort. The first sign things were not going to go their way was how they were greeted by four armed Kharlin guards when they reached the fort; the second was when another four appeared to escort Ignomine to Commander Emmit Blackwood, though some fast talking by Vyktor convinced the guards to allow the party to accompany them to his office; the third was when the Commander didn’t speak until Lieutenant Klaus Aimes arrived in his office in a clearly combative mood.

Lt. Aimes repeated his report that there was no evidence of Goblin activity south of Shivar, and Ignomine and his companions insisted that they had. Aimes immediately called out the half-orc for insulting his honor, even as Ignomine made several diplomatic gestures like supposing that they had been subjected to an illusion, or that Commander Blackwood should visit the site himself under the Paladin’s sworn protection from harm. Klaus even insulted his deity, before the Commander revealed he too was a follower of Abadar. Aimes’ temporary embarassment and Ignomine’s gestures of conciliation were not enough, however, and the Lieutenant insisted on having revenge for having his honor impugned. He invoked the rite of Juris Macto

The Preparations

According to the rules of the rite, the challenged has the right to determine the weapons while the challenger responds with the time and the place. Ignomine made an appeal to Lt. Aimes’ honor to allow him to recover, having already exhausted himself fighting in the Crypt, but to no avail. Ignomine chose any available weapons, while Klaus chose the Fort Vigilance training grounds in one hour.

The party scrambled to prepare. With Artas and Polycarp inaccessible, Vkytor focused on protective spells while Drael provided various magical items. Vyktor proved he was a true follower of the Goddess of Luck when he revealed he had not prepared any spells for just such an eventuality, giving him access to his liege’s full repertoire of magical abilities. He also sent his thrush familiar off to spy on the competition, giving them a crucial advantage when they saw Klaus was planning on using a flaming weapon dosed with poison, and that he would be an incredibly fast opponent.

In the end, Vyktor bestowed upon Ignomine the following boons:

  • Darkness on his holy symbol, which would make him difficult to see and hit even in the bright daylight
  • The Strength of the Bull, to improve his combat prowess
  • The Endurance of the Bear, to aid his fortitude in battle
  • The Splendor of the Eagle, which would improve his protection
  • Enlarge Person, to gain him the advantage of reach and intimidation
  • Magic Vestments, that would provide magical protection from attacks
  • Protection from Chaos, on the off-chance Aimes was a servant of the chaotic
  • Resistance to Fire, to deflect his enemy’s weapon energy
  • Blur, to make the paladin harder to hit

Drael provided Ignomine with an incredibly valuable Necklace of Fireballs, with each of its three beads equal to a casting of the spell, a Tanglefoot Bag, a cloak of the hedge wizard that would guide his first attack, and offered his ability to turn Ignomine invisible.

Incredibly touched by their generosity and friendship, Ignomine said a quick prayer of thanks to Abadar for the support of his companions and his ability to call on their aid for strength, then faced his opponent.

The Duel

The battle took place in a large cleared area on the training grounds a hundred feet square, with the duelists separated by sixty feet. If Aimes was intimidated by the massive size and glow of magic surrounding Ignomine, he didn’t show it. Ignomine registered his regrets at being forced to participate, to which Aimes responded with a curse and a spit. Commander Blackwood identified the combatants, confirmed there was no resolving the grievance, and commenced the fight.

Aimes proved faster than the massive half-orc, and closed the sixty feet of distance faster than could be believed if Ignomine hadn’t been forewarned by Vytor and his thrush. He unleashed a massive assault that broke through Ignomine’s defenses, and he could feel the cuts in his skin burn with poison. The protection of his hardy heritage and his god held firm, though, and he survived the onslaught. Aimes also managed to attack from some distance away, though the half-orc’s enlargement negated that benefit.

Ignomine responded with a massive counterattack, but despite the significant power behind his blows he was only barely able to defeat the protective aura surrounding the Kharlin officer. The addition of Artas’ Arelan Steel blade would have been incredibly handy at this juncture for it could cut through the strongest defenses, but unfortunately he was off with Polycarp doing who-knows-what. As a final measure, the half-orc pulled out his holy symbol that had been enchanted with Darkness, dimming the light around him and making it hard for the human to see.

Lt. Klaus continued to hammer at Ignomine, and though he was able to land more and more frequent blows, their power was diminished by the rejuvenation provided by his Lay on Hands. Conversely, Ignomine had a harder time hitting, but each one he landed on Aimes was devastating in power, even with the protection his artificially toughened skin provided.

Still, it was clear who was on the losing side of the exchange, and Ignomine began retreating hoping to waste some of the officer’s energy. Klaus was still too fast for it to be very effective, and in a particularly brutal attack managed to find a gap in Ignomine’s armor and plunge his sword deep into his side. Desperate, the half-orc backed as far away as he could and hurled the entire necklace of fireball beads at him.

Aimes clearly did not expect the attack, and had only a moment to register the item thrown at his feet before he erupted into a flash of fire and smoke. He emerged with half his armor and shield charred black and with every bit of exposed hair singed away. His momentary staggering gave Ignomine a chance to catch his breath and recuperate.

The tide of the battle had turned, and Ignomine was quick to press his advantage. He charged the Kharlin officer, choosing to take the brunt of his attacks rather than give his opponent quarter. Closing the distance, the lieutenant could no longer use his lunging attacks to dance away and get a momentary respite. The combination of the darkness and blurring made Ignomine incredibly difficult to hit, even with Aimes’ multiple thrusts and counters, and the flames on his blade could not penetrate the protective shield around the half-orc.

The End

With no way to get far enough away to drink another potion, Aimes went for an all-out attack. The blow landed and proved devastating, but Ignomine managed to survive. Guided by Vyktor’s prayers to Calistria and Drael’s support, Ignomine used the blow to get in under Lt. Aimes’ guard and protection of his tower shield and smash down upon him with the force of a falling mountainside; Lieutenant Klaus Aimes, officer of the Kharlin guard, toppled like a felled tree.

The half-orc paused a moment to reflect on the life taken and to pray to Abadar in thanks for his support and the support of his friends (proof in his mind that working together was superior to individual wealth and riches), and in repentance for not being able to find another way. Commander Blackwood spoke with Aimes’ servant Godfrey to collect his effects, and invited the party up to his office. As they made their way up, Vyktor’s thrush delivered a much-appreciated respite to salve Ignomine’s wounds.

In his office, Blackwood shared a drink of his rare brandy and explained his inability to send troops to the goblin encampment, even with the recently-proven veracity of the party’s report. He told them that, should they choose, he would appreciate a more detailed report and more evidence that he could pass on to Kharlin in order to convince them to move troops from the west in order to defend Shivar. Then, there was one last matter to discuss…

Godfrey entered, carrying Lt. Aimes’ sword. He kneeled at Ignomine’s feet and proffered the sword to him. Commander Blackwood explained that, as the victor, Ignomine had gained all of Aimes’ possessions… including his slave, Godfrey. The half-orc was severely conflicted about this turn of events, but when asked Godfrey made it clear that he did not want to be freed and that he did not want to be sent away. However, it was clear that Polycarp and probably Artas would not be keen on his presence given their experience of slavery. A conundrum indeed.

With that, the party left the fort to meet up with Artas and Polycarp and plan their next move. Once there, they were surprised to learn that the Butcher of the Bay, General Avandth Wolf, had been assassinated.

The Butcher of the Bay

Meanwhile Artis and Polycarp made their way back to the Spiked Guantlet. On their way they attempted to inquire passers by as to some one who may help in the removal of the Stain upon Polycarps soul and learned of a sea captain who may know of a powerfull contact outside the city whom may have the capacity to aid them. Upon returning to the Spiked Guantlet they learned of the Duel to take place at Fort Vigilance, and not having time to make it back to the fort resided to remain at the pub and place wagers on the outcome. Polycarp wagered a modest sum of recently aquired gold that Ignomine would kill the Kharlin officer, the longest oddes offered. Artis wagered 50gp of his own gold that Ifnominy would win, but not necessarily kill his opponent.

Their bets placed, Polycarp noticed Adya nearby and went to speak with her. She looked rather excitable about the duel, not for its outcome or bets but for the wonderful distraction it was providing. She expressed a desire to go after General Wolf, the butcher of the bay, and Polycarp shared with her his knowledge of a lack of shivar guard support in the area of the Pig Snout, the up scale Inn the Butcher was staying at.

Polycarp, on a whim, suggested the two of them seize the opportunity and go now. With just a moments hesitation she agreed, and led Polycarp out rhe back. Polycarp for his part snuck away wi the out Artis noticing, not wanting to have to explain his intentions.

Outside Adya lead Polycarp up to the roof of the Spiked Gauntlet, scaling the side of the building with ease. Once up top Polycarp noticed a long rope tied off on the roof and going up at a slope to tall tower a couple blocks away. Adya quickly mounted the rope and began to scale the line with practiced ease. Polycarp followed her lead and made it up to the tower only shortly after she. With that Adya produced a leather strap, with which she slide down another rope leading to a shrubbery one the outskirts of a market square. They had traveled several blocks of busy, densely packed city in a fraction of the time.

The two then blended with the crowed and headed towards the Pig Snout. Reaching the outer wall of the estate, the two tumbled discreetly through the gate guards without notice with almost supernatural skill. Circling around to the back of the building away from prying eyes, the two scaled the side of the impressively large building all the way to the flat roof. Once their Ayda attempted to pick the lock of a roof access door with no success. Luckily Polycarp was able to manage the lock with ease, and the too entered the fancy lodging. Ducking into a service closet Adya and Polycarp disguised themselves as service workers and began to search the top floor for Wolf’s room. A hall with only a single door, posted at which was a Kharlin solder, gave away the Generals quarters. Adya used her feminen wiles to lure the guard away, and Polycarp was able to enter the unlocked door with ease. By seemingly inconceivable levels of luck the entry room was empty of the Wolfs additional guard, and Polycarp found the room to be devoid of activity. Evidence of a heavy meal and enjoyment of brandy was at hand, and the General was found sleeping deeply in his lavish four post bed.

Polycarp was easily able to dispatch the defenseless man by slitting his throat as he slept. Not long after Adya joined him, ransacking the room apparently looking for something but coming up empty. Hastily she mark the corpse with the symbol for the Free Shivar Movement, and the two left discreetly.

Polycarp returned to the SPiked Gauntlet without issue, claiming to Artis that he had been their the whole time when he inquired. By then word had come that Ignominy had been victories, slaying the Kharlin Officer in the duel. Polycarp took a large portion of his winnings, and gave it freely to a young child he saw on the street. Unbeknownst to him, this simple and profound gesture would have a life altering effect on the youths life, and he had wither intentionally or not had just made a profoundly positive effect on the world in which he lived. As such he received a blessing for suhc kindness and generosity in the form of a divine rose which drifted from the sky, following the cry of a dove,to rest in his hand. Consumed the rose freed Polycarp from the mark on his soul and extended to him the protection usually gained by worshiping a Good aligned deity.

The next day the party went to collect Aimes’ effects and to get a chance to Speak with Dead and found the Fort in a flurry of activity and closed to most outsiders. Luckily word seemed to have been made to allow them in, and the gates were opened. With the assassination of the General it appeared that Kharlin had sent the forces they needed, teleporting them in via a designated square and greatly augmenting the city’s strength in Shivar – it appeared that delicate balance had been thrown awry. The party went to the dungeons where the lieutenant’s body was kept, and Vyktor’s ritual revealed that Aimes knew his report was false and had done it at the behest of Quint Strain.

With that, the party had to decide what their next move would be and what the fallout of all this would be. Returning back to the city the Shivar Guard they met inquired as to what was going on at the Fort, obviously nervous about the closing of the Causeway. Not long after re-entering the city the group was approach by a familiar face, Edegener whom they had met on the road south of Shivar. Edegener had heard about the duel and insinuated know of some of the parties other feats as of late, and expressed interest in extending a job offer to the party. He gave little details save for that the job envloved retrieving some object from the area north of the Northern Fortifications, otherwise known as the Frozen Wastes, and would be quite dangerous. He told the party his employeer would be able to offer more details as to the nature of the job and possible compensation, and offered the group a magical gem. By Activating the gem outside of the city walls the party would be teleported to the location of Edegener’s employer. Ed assured the group that activating the gem a second time would return them to wherever it is they teleported from, and left the party to make their own decision, making his own way towards the gates of Fort Vigilance.

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Session 9 Recap
Party Time! Excellent!

The four party members going to the soiree, Artas, Drael, Ignomine, and Vyktor, stood about awkwardly at first trying to decide what it was they were there for and what they were trying to accomplish. With Artas and Vyktor stuck against the walls pretending to be guards, Drael and Ignomine decided to go after the host of the party and the leader of the Shivar Merchant’s Guild, Quint Strain.

They found Quint talking with two lovely young ladies, revealed to be his daughter Alexandria and cousin to the leader of Ceres, Jezebel Cirrus. Drael successfully dissembled about mercantile matters (which was enough to bore Jezebel into leaving momentarily) and asked Alexandria to dance, leaving Ignomine free to talk frankly with guild leader.

Quint led him and Artas, still in the guise of a guard, to his office, where Ignomine apologized for their flimsy pretense. He had noticed that Quint seemed extremely skeptical of their cover stories as merchants from Troy and did what he could to repair the damage. He needn’t have bothered, as Quint revealed he already knew all about the party members. Quint acted surprised when Ignomine revealed their observation of the Goblins making an encampment to the south, but the party saw through his act as an attempt to see what they knew.

With that, Artas stepped forward (which surprised the other guard at the very least) to say why they were reluctant to give that information without knowing what Quint’s motivations were. Both Artas and Ignomine got the impression that Quint was far more than he seemed, despite his protestations of being just a “simple merchant,” and with that the audience was effectively over.

Next they talked to the Magistrate of Shivar, who was clearly surprised to see them there given his earlier threats. He gave them an ultimatum: either be in his office by noon the next day (presumably to swear allegiance to his side) or get out of the city. Talking with such high-profile people also brought the attention of a textile merchant from Partha, Ikkus Malar, and conversation during the actual dinner brought them into contact with Carver Storm, a shipwright and trader with Mareata, and Ashton Grimm a weapons merchant also from Partha that had contacts with Arelan Steel artifact traders.

As they were leaving the party, Alexandria took Ignomine aside and warned him that the report of Lieutenant Klaus, the scout sent by Commander Emmit Blackwood would likely not be in his favor. Troubled, the party discussed their next moves as they rode back to the Spiked Gauntlet in Ayda Magnus’ carriage.

Once there, the Gauntlet’s barkeep warned them that Aramil had been making a lot of noise in the room and that they’d be liable for any damages. Hurrying to the room, they discovered that the lock appeared jimmied and then relocked. Inside they found a gruesome scene: broken furniture, blood spattered everywhere, and Timmy’s bloodied corpse. Gouged into the wolf’s body was the symbol of the Kharlin Blades.

The party now had to deal with

  1. a deadline to leave or pledge themselves to Shivar and the Magistrate
  2. a magical compulsion for Ignomine to show up at Fort Vigilance where he would almost certainly be facing death
  3. the kidnapping and possible death of their friend and ally Aramil
  4. the collection of the magical dagger left at the Temple of Alion

… so, of course, the party decided to pursue the most pressing matter – collecting the dagger. At the temple, they found two of the Shivar Guard talking with a blind temple acolyte apparently making a statement. It seemed that the High Priest Thorn had disappeared along with his friend the previous night. As they waited in the priest’s chambers, Ignomine detected the lingering aura of the dagger and its passage into the crypts. Curiously, though, the door to the crypt was locked. Sensing that this might be a matter of urgency, Polycarp unlocked the crypt door and the party descended into the catacombs.

There they found large stone rooms with wrapped bodies, as you might expect for a mausoleum. The trail of the dagger led them to a side crypt, where a hidden alcove trapped with poison gas held a scroll of Raise dead at the cost of some of Artas’ health, and the intersection of several crypts showed a nearly-obscured symbol of Siddus, presumably revealing the temple’s original deity. The trail backtracked and appeared to pass right through a dead end, indicating a secret passage to a hidden sub-level.

In this level they found a trail of blood leading to the body of what the party presumed to be Thorn’s friend. Further on, they were ambushed by two of the corpses wrapped in linens. A furious fight followed where Artas’ armor served him well protecting him from attack and Ignomine’s now-flaming sword and divine protection saving him from the mummies’ corrupting influence. Polycarp and Vyktor mostly held back away from the melee, shooting from range and buffing their allies respectively, but had the presence of mind to notice shambling footsteps coming from behind them and up the stairs. Thorn’s friend had reanimated, and was making its way toward them! The zombie still retained some memory of its past life, because it cast spells that trapped the enlarged Ignomine in a pit and Artas in a web. Polycarp avoided trouble, and Vyktor turned invisible to avoid notice. With these advantages the party was able to make short work of the mummies before Vyktor finished off the zombie with a well-placed grease spell on the stairs.

They discovered an ancient and neglected altar to Siddus and a doorway that led to another undead, a ghostly wraith. It ambushed Ignomine as he pushed through the doorway, then passed through the wall to attack Artas. Luckily, Artas had a Shield up whose force protected him from the incorporeal spirit (which was more than could be said for the plate armor). The party dispatched the malevolent spirit and successfully avoided a trap of Raise Dead, only to get ambushed by a squad of skeleton champions. Artas was blinded and severely wounded, left far ahead of the party and with an uncertain fate…

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Session 8 Recap

Justin’s Recap

As the party dealt with the implications of being discovered in an alleyway with the body of an unconscious Kharlin guard, the woman responsible told them to meet her at the Spiked Gauntlet after she had spoken with her handler. Ignomine, unwilling to leave the helpless guard (and thankful that his wanted compatriots wouldn’t have to go to Fort Vigilance) elected to remain behind to guard him until Dante regained consciousness. It wasn’t until everyone had left that Ignomine realized he didn’t know where the Spiked Gauntlet was, which was something of a predicament.

Luckily, discussions with the woman were concluded quickly and Artas Menethar came along to give Ignomine the location. With that safely out of the way and Artas moving to Fort Justice, Ignomine proceeded onward to Vigilance in the company of Drake. There, Drake was informed to take the half-orc and his information to a particular officer of the fort.
The soldier took Ignomine to a courtyard busy with the hustle and bustle of the fort’s operations, and the officer in question seemed preoccupied. After seeing several other important-seeming people jump in front of them, Ignomine asked the soldier what the protocol was only to be surprised by his ramrod-stiff stance at attention. When asked whether he should just walk up and assert his presence like the other soldiers apparently were, the guard began sweating in anxiety and glancing nervously at the apparently very important officer. Ignomine contented himself for another half-hour of waiting before finally striding up to make his case, much to the distress of the guard.

The man revealed himself to be the Captain of Fort Vigilance, the nobleman and officer in charge of the entire complex. Ignomine made his apologies, but made it clear the urgency of his message warranted the intrusion. He informed the captain of the massing Goblins and their construction in the forests outside Shivar. The captain seemed skeptical but unsurprised at this intelligence, given that one of his officers had been telling him of the rumors of such an event but assuring him that it was just the populace overreacting to a typical raid.

Seeing as this meant either his officer or Ignomine were lying to him, the Captain offered Ignomine a deal: he would scout the area in question and deal justice to whomever was wrong. To enforce this, Ignomine would have a geas placed upon him to return to the trial in two days’ time. The half-orc agreed, accepted the magical compulsion, and went on his way to meet his companions.

Meanwhile, most of the party headed to Fort Justice to warn them as well. Exiting the city of Shivar, however, required passing the Magistrate’s Tower where a long line had formed from those waiting to be searched. Polycarp elected to avoid the hassle and climbed into the tower. His actions were eventually noticed, and the guards gave chase. He swiftly outran them, but was stymied by his attempts to climb the wall back out and was spotted once again. Heavily wounded, he raced up the stairs to the wall-top, dashed past a surprised guard, and leapt onto a nearby roof and escaped into the safety of the shadows.

That business concluded, the party reconvened at the Spiked Gauntlet. The woman identified herself as Ayda Magnus, member of the Free Shivar movement. She explained the reason for the movement, their resistance to the Arelan Compromise, and why they chafed under the rule of the other Great Cities. As invitation to join their cause she requests that the party meet with her handler.

Some time later after they had retired for the night, the party are summoned to the common room by a disgruntled-looking barmaid. The cause of her distress is revealed when the common room is shown to be completely empty of patrons save for a solitary nobleman and a guard retinue. It takes little effort to identify him as the Magistrate of Shivar, Lord Chandler Thorton. Around a mouthful of steak “acquired” from the customers’ hasty exit and a bottle of extremely expensive wine (paid for by the party), the Magistrate made it clear that the Free Shivar movement were hostile and malicious terrorists that were going to get a lot of people killed if they got their way, and that a legion of very powerful and very wealthy forces would look unkindly on the party if they allied themselves with the Movement. After a few more thinly-veiled threats, the possibility of acting as informants was broached. The party remained noncommittal, and after reaffirming his threats the Magistrate and his large contingent of guards withdrew.

The party then set about taking care of a few errands and the opportunity that a Great City like Shivar can provide. Drael visited the workplace of some ladies of the night and made more contacts for his spy network. Ignomine and Artas went to the temple of Abadar, which gave Ignomine a chance to marvel at one of the great works of the ancient Arelans and a chance to get the tainted sword and dagger they acquired cleansed. Though the acolytes of Abadar weren’t able to help them, they did direct them to the Temple of Alion, where Artas was also able to ask about gods owing debts and talk obliquely about some of the other strange things that had happened to him. The cleric can offer little help, but does cleanse the sword and reimburses them for it. The dagger, however, requires a more involved ritual and would take time to cure, so he requested they return tomorrow.

That taken care of, the party meets with Ayda’s handler. He reveals that he has acquired tickets to an important ball where many Shivar, Ceres, and Kharlin nobles will be attending, and requests the party help in infiltrating it. Drael and Ignomine are selected as the most polished members of the party, while Artas and Vyktor are chosen to be their “bodyguards.” As an act of prudence, the theurge went with the paladin while the fighter accompanied the sorcerer. Suitable garments were acquired for the swanky party, and carriages bought by the handler are provided. Just as the party are underway, the necessity of subterfuge makes Ignomine wonder aloud if someone else wouldn’t have been better a better choice for representative given the fact that he cannot lie. Without time to change the plan, the party arrives at the dinner…


These are notes that I will use to write up a full session recap later. It’s been a while so things are a bit hazy, I will likely get stuff wrong.

-The woman tells us she needs to speak with her handler and will meet us at the inn.
-Escorting the guard back to fort Vigiliance. Iggy meets Steve and the Captain, gets a gaes to return.
-Attempting to get to Fort Justice, stopping at the Magistrates tower instead.
-Polycarp breaking into the tower, confronting the guards almost getting killed being chased out of the tower, failing at climbing the wall, finally succeeding and running past a last guard.
-Returning to the spiked gauntlet, speaking with the woman. She explains the Free Shivar movement and invites us to meet her handler.
-The magistrate comes in asks us a bunch of questions and threatens us. We offer to be his informants against the free shivar and the Kharlin army.
-Dreal goes to a brothel and expands his spy network
-Go to the temple of Abbadar. Iggy does some worshipping. Artas asks about Alion owing a debt.
-Going to the temple of Aloin to ask about debts. They don’t know how thats possible. The cleric cleanses the sword and pays us for it. He is unsure about the dagger and asks you to leave it with him and return tomorrow.
-We meet with the handler, he offers us tickets to a party. We accept for some reason.

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Session 7 Recap
Deal with the Devil

Andy’s Recap

The group continued in the dungeon where Polycarp and Aramil open a door and go into a dark room. The door closes behind them when a Voice Tells them to leave. Polycarp and Aramil agree to do so. After Aramil leaves Polycarp retracts his agreement to ask the voice questions. Irritated with Polycarp not leaving It creates a black dragon image behind the rest of the group in the main room. After a few seconds of figuring out what to do the dragon disappears and in its place is a Fallen Angel and a bearded devil. The Fallen angel threatens the group to leave, but was a little frightened by the group as they had successfully killed many of her minions. After a few words were spoken (mostly between the Fallen Angel, Polycarp and Ignomine) the Angel agreed to give the group 1 hr in the dungeon before completing her orders to destroy the dungeon.

Vyktor, Ignomine, and Artas find a destroyed sophisticated machine, looted parts for it possibly for a weapon or other cause. Meanwhile Drael (who is now a straight sorcerer), Polycarp, and Aramil started searching the next area on the dungeon. Quickly the group was together and continued down the corridors. They seems to find rooms that we hatcheries of some kind. Drael, Vyktor, and Aramil we off searching in the main room since they determined there was nothing to see. Artas, Poplycarp, andIgnomine went into the last room to find creatures a stirring. A screech pierced through the dungeon as the fight began. Drael, Vyktor, and Aramil came running when they heard a screeching sound but the monsters were no match for Artas, Polycarp, and Ignomine and were killed before they arrived. Inside they found 4 dragon eggs. Upon attempting to remove one of the eggs the other 3 broke. Given time was short they put what they quickly opened one more door to find some insignificant monsters that attacked to no avail. the group went topside where upon they saw the fallen Angel waiting for them. Inside Drael had found some items that he and the others could use. One item was a greatwsord that was given to Polycarp(More on this later).

It was late and the group choose to go to Freeport to rest for the evening. Drael Summoned 6 horses and they were off. In Freeport group goes in (Polycarp of course thru the back door) and start to look for a place to rest and get some supplies. Meanwhile Polycarp trades the new greatsword for information. Drael was off trying to gather information from as many sources as possible. Polycarp informs the other members of the groups that he had traded the greatsword for information. Ignomine did not want the sword given away as it was of great value and if in the wrong hands would be deadly. He and the others go to get the sword back. Drael continues to fail at gathering information but continues on his course. Polycarp sneaks into the back of the building while the others go requesting the sword back. After strong words and intimidation from the group they agree to buy it back with information. Meanwhile, Poplycarp has snuck into the back of the building, determining he could not find the sword, gathers alcohol, pours it onto the back side of the building and lights it on fire. Drael finally in a burlesque house was able to get a little bit of information from a fellow follower of Calistria. The group rest for the night.

The next morning the group decides to go to Shivar. they buy horses and are off. It is a 10 day trip by horseback. Everything is going fine until day 4 where they meet a man looting corpses. After a brief discussion they determine he is no threat and find tracks that indicate there may be people in need to the east who have been chased off by goblins. They go in pursuit. they find Jenet hiding in a ditch badly beat up. After a short conversation with her the group in torn between going east after the others or going back on there way north. At that moment they hear the sounds of goblins coming from the east and the south. they determine to head north bringing Jenet along. they travel until dark and make camp. Shortly before going to bed they are attacked. A mage, couple of fire skeletons, and Bugbears come in on them. Drael Summons 6 horses to act as a shield between them and the invaders. Polycarp is in a tree waiting for his chance to pounce on his prey. Aramil cast Entangle stopping all the creatures in there tracked except the burning skeleton who keep on walking. The 2 groups clash as lightning rains down striking the Bugbears. In the end the group survived with minor injuries and a bugbear to interrogate.

The next morning they interrogated the bugbear (gathering no more information) they killed him and where on there way north. At a certain point the heard noises. Polycarp investigated to find an army or goblins making heavy duty war machines. Polycarp tells that group and they continue north to Shivar. On the south side of Shivar the group comes meets some soldiers. They try to tell them that an army of goblins is about 1 days ride from hear and they may want to take care of the situation. The Guards decide it best to bring the group in. Knowing that Polycarp and Artas are wanted here Ignomine tries to convince the guards that it would be prudent of Polycarp and Artas to inform others of the danger while the rest of the group goes with the guards. As they are going through town trying to figure a way out of this out of nowhere the Guard is down. Aurora knocked him out from behind. Ignomine stays with the guard for good face while the others follow Aurora. After a brief discussion she agrees to meet that group at a bar.

Justin’s Recap

Having defeated the Bearded Devils in the previous session, the party set to exploring the dungeon and finding what treasures they could discover. Polycarp picked the lock of one of the secret doors, and with Drael providing light they explored the small room hidden behind it. The room contained a few mummified bodies in it, but the two were surprised by the door slamming shut and a voice ordering them to leave. Meanwhile, the rest of the party explored the main chamber unaware that two of their number might be confronting something dangerous.

Polycarp blew off the disembodied voice for locking the door and then ordering them to leave and left the room once it was reopened. The rest of the party moved closer to find out what had caused the door to slam, but the source of the voice had apparently escaped.Ignomine had detected an evil aura within the room, but a momentary distraction in the form of a black dragon appearing behind the group allowed it to escape. When the dragon did not detect as evil, Ignomine determined it was illusory and sought to find the evil aura. A quick scan of the room found it again, floating in apparently empty space about forty feet off the ground in the main chamber.

The creature then revealed itself to be a formerly beautiful woman with a bruised and scarred face and large, black wings stretched out to either side. Vyktor identified it as a Fallen Angel, a devil obviously in league with the Bearded Devils and Nightmares and presumably their leader. Indeed, once she revealed herself, the Devil that had barely escaped previously reappeared on the ground near her. She once again ordered the party to leave, and complained that they had already cost her far too many valuable soldiers.

The party was barely able to restrain themselves from attacking the evil presence, and Aramil’s taunts nearly provoked the Fallen Angel into attacking, but some stronger motivation prevented her. In the end, a deal was brokered allowing the party to explore the ruins for one hour before the entire complex would be destroyed. With the pact agreed to, the Angel decapitated the Devil and vanished, sending the party rushing to explore while there was still time.

First up, three of the party members explored the ruined frame of some large, 15-foot suit of armor. Artas had a vision of the device in action, using the launcher over its shoulder and the blades on its arms to mow down a large but unidentified horde, while Drael identified its construction as being of Arelan Steel, gold, and silver. A massive round block separate from the device was identified as the mechanism’s heart or power source. It and a few plates of each of the metals was removed, partly to prove the construct’s existence and partly because of its extravagant value.

Polycarp revealed and unlocked another secret door, which contained a number of Skeleton Champions. Ignomine volunteered to destroy them while the party raced to finish exploring the ruin. Another hallway was found with more rooms branching off before terminating in a glowing green doorway. The first two doorways were locked, and Artas’ attempts at using his universal key (his Arelan Steel greatsword) resulting in something skittering around inside the first room. The second door was also locked, but as Polycarp was indisposed at the moment it was passed up. That left the end of the hallway coated in glowing, green, vaguely evil goo.

Ignomine tied himself off with rope and handed the end to Artas, then slowly walked down the hallway. His feet crunched through the waxy coating and revealed more ooze, but otherwise seemed unharmed. At the doorway he had to force it open by brute strength, revealing an entire room coated with the stuff. Satisfied it wasn’t dangerous (and finding nothing of value at first) they turned to the other rooms.

Polycarp was now available to disable the locks. The first room was only a small closet, but the second contained three large structures incubating some kind of creature and a row of large eggs, all coated and buried under a layer of the waxy goop. The party debated about what to do when one of the structures erupted with a terrifying shriek, and the other two split open to reveal strange crab-like and obviously hostile creatures.

Polycarp leapt into action first, shooting one of the newly-emerged creatures with a well-placed bowshot. Ignomine then charged in with a furious assault that killed one outright. Artas dealt another one a mighty blow, but was subject to its attack. He avoided its fangs but was wrapped up in its ten-legged grip, his mighty frame the only thing allowing him to shrug off its venom. Polycarp finished off another, and Ignomine charged in to free Artas. Completely oblivious to his teammates’ danger, Drael was having a successful time in the main chamber searching the bodies of the undead smashed by the Devils for their loot, finding among other things a powerful evil sword and a headband that augmented his sorcerous powers.

With the Keepers dispatched, as the creatures of the Wax Forests and denizens of the Croach are called, the party turned its attention to the strange eggs coated in the layer of goo. Aramil had heard the cries of his allies and appeared just as the battle was ending, but his expertise proved useful in identifying them as dragon eggs. Four of them, in fact: one blue, one bronze, and two green. Taking advantage of Polycarp’s skill, the group prised the Bronze egg free, but disturbing the coating shattered the remaining eggs. Aramil gathered up the pieces of shell, thinking they may be useful later.

With that, and with only minutes to spare, the party fled the dungeon. Ignomine paid his respects to this lost temple of civilization and felt a fleeting memory of regret, labeling this the veins of a lost empire. The enormous statues of Arela’s pantheon, including Sidus, Rovagug, Calistria, Asmodeus, Abadar, and others collapsed into a heap of rubble at the hands of the Fallen Angel.

The party spent the night at the abandoned house, then made their way to Freeport. Drael expedited the journey with conjured mounts, turning a day’s journey into the work of a few hours. In Freeport the party rested and refreshed themselves and resupplied before continuing on to Shivar. At least, that was the plan…

Polycarp was in possession of the evil sword that Drael had found. Polycarp had no real use for it, but what he did want was information. Seeking information on the agent that had knocked him unconscious and impersonated him earlier, he bartered the sword with some street toughs that claimed to know something. They told him that the Free Shivar movement had used similar tactics in the past. With that, they parted ways.

Now that the sword was no longer in his possession, Polycarp immediately realized he had to have it. He tailed the toughs back to their base, a warehouse in town, and infiltrated the building through the back. After assessing the situation he returned to the group and revealed his actions. Ignomine and Artas were not about to let an evil weapon remain in the hands of a street gang (something Polycarp undoubtedly realized) and set off to reclaim it, along with Aramil and Polycarp.

At the door of the warehouse (and suddenly sans Polycarp) the three confronted the toughs. Polycarp once more snuck into the back and tried to find the sword. Failing that, he set fire to the warehouse and absconded. After some tense negotiation and intimidation, the leader of the gang came out. A hooded figure that revealed himself as an elf, he returned the sword for some information and warned the party about ever coming around there again.

That settled, the party set off for Shivar. Halfway there, they discovered a merchant train that had been raided and ransacked, apparently assaulted by goblins. A mysterious figure was looting one of the wagons, tossing aside merchant and goblin bodies alike. Polycarp’s attempts at arrowpoint intimidation seemed to have no effect, and a direct hit seemed completely ineffective.

Ignoring the stranger’s irreverent comments, the party decided to follow the tracks apparently left by the caravan survivors in the hopes of possibly saving them (or at least a reward). Superb tracking by Aramil revealed the presence of Content Not Found: Jenet, wounded in the attack, hiding in the bushes. Jenet explained that she had been slowing down her compatriots Aurora and Gordimar and had gone to ground rather than risking all their lives. With that, the party decided to continue on towards Shivar rather than risk further delays (and their lives) for the bounty hunters. Just outside of Shivar they discovered an even more alarming sight: hundreds of goblins, members of multiple different bands and tribes, clear-cutting the forest and constructing multiple large devices for some unknown purpose.

Once in Shivar, they encountered a patrol of Ignomine guards and alerted them to the goblin camp’s presence. They were dismissive, but Ignomine and Ignomine insisted on warning the city. The guard captain finally agreed and sent a guard to escort them to Fort Vigilance. As Ignomine and Polycarp still had bounties on their heads, some fast talking attempted to allow them to split off under the guise of going to Fort Justice. Before that was necessary, though, the guard was knocked unconscious by a female that gestured the party towards private conversation. Ignomine remained behind to tend to the guard while the rest of the party left to speak with the assailant.

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Session 6 Recap
LOOK AT THE BONES!

We return to our fearless heroes to find them standing at the top of a long dark stairway with a rather unfriendly Bone Servant charging up at them. As usual, Aramil does the first thing that comes to his head, without considering the consequences, and places the Crown of Bones on his head. Luckily, for the party, Aramils impulsiveness saves their collective asses and the Bone Servant stops and is under Aramils control.

Never satisfied with narrowly cheating death once in an hour, the party makes its way down the stairs to find another door similar to one at the top of the stairs. Aramil commands the Bone Servant to open the door. With judicious use of the light spell on the Bone servant, the party peers int vast chamber that is quite obviously filled to bursting with skeletons of all sorts. Dodging a hail of arrows, the party moves back into the stairwell as a pair of large skeletal champions sqeeze into the stairwell. During the ensuing skirmish, Artas discovers he has a negative energy spell which he use to heal the skeletons. The skeletons leave their new friend alone but are dispatched by the rest of the party.

Sending the Bone Servant in to the chamber to do some reconnaissance, the party discovers that the chamber beyond the door is filled with a horde of over 200 skeletons of various sizes. Ignomine, uneasy with the idea od leaving such a horde of undead untouch, urges the group to use the bottleneck of the stairwell to wage a war of attrition on the skeletons. Aramil and Drael are interested in any treasure that may be down there, while Artas beleives there may be answers to his past. Polycarp is less enthusiastic and beleives it is a fools errand wrapped in a deathwish.

Regrouping up in the forsaken altar, the party has a chat with their skeleton friend and learn some interesting facts. It seems that the horde is dedicated in service of The Queen who was around a long time ago and will return again. Furthermore, she wants “everything” although the creature was a bit vague on what she wanted to do with everything. Finally, the party is able to surmise that the horde they saw is only a small part of a much larger undead army that is lying in wait in the tunnels beneath the continent. Based on this new revelation, the party decides to return to town to seek assistance and resupply.

As the party returns to Freeport, the local constabulary inquires about their magic dealings. Drael pipes up and bluffs the guard with a story about a generous benefactor Art Vandelay. The guards are skeptical, but too apathetic to investigate further. Meanwhile, Polycarp climbs the fence and slips unto the city unnoticed, likely whispering to himself “Suckers!” The party avails itself of the local economy and Ignomine and Artas have a bit of a bro out as Ignomine spots him some cash for a fancy set of armor spikes. Aramil, however, has a less enjoyable time as he is accosted by the parties old friend Jenet, who is understandably upset at having lost the 300g that was paid to her. Always cool under pressure, Aramil attempts to bluff his way out and fails miserably, so instead of taking 300g from him Jenet takes all of his gold.

Aramil returns to the party and explains the situation and as they stand around arguing about what to do, the city guards confront them accompanied by Jenet, Gordimar and Aurora. The guards question the group about their interaction with Jenet. Artas explains that the last time he saw Jenet, he had paid her what was due but that it was possible their companion Polycarp stole from her. Luckily, Polycarp had made himself scarce and the guards had no one to pin the theft on. Aramil explained that Jenet had just stolen from him. Gordimar explained to the guards that Artas has a large bounty on his head. Again, the apathy of the guards wins the day and they return Aramils gold (minus the 300g) and tell the Bounty Hunters that this isn’t Kharlin and to beat it.

Wanting to relax after the run in with the fuzz, the group goes to a tavern for a drink. Artas regales the party tales of his mysterious past and then beings to tell Ignomine of how the group met. By this point Polycarp rejoined the party and was very interested in telling stories. Thinking he was just in one of his sarcastic moods, the Artas continued his tales. Suddenly, Polycarp jumps out of his seat, excuses himself, and runs out of the room. Minutes later, Polycarp returns with news that he had been jumped in an alley and was given a note and a gem. It was obvious then that whoever impersonated Polycarp was looking for information, information they clearly got. The party is visibly shaken by this, but there is not much they can do.

Ignomine and Drael then seek out the local temple trying to get information and recruit help for their cause. Ignomine sends a letter to Toradan Honorforge asking about hypothetical undead armies in hypothetical tunnels. Later, back at the in several Paladins return with word from Toradan as well as Rufus. They ask about Rufus’ tablet, which the party admits to finding, as well as the letter. Ignomine informs them that it was simply a hypothetical situation that he wanted answers on.

After resting and recuperating, the party returns to cottage once again, hoping to deal with the undead horde themselves. When they arrive, however, they find a pair of Nightmares standing outside the cottage. After some deliberation, they party decides to bring the pain. They devise a cunning plan involving buffing the tanks to draw fire from the squishies. This plan is rendered obsolete by Polycarps impatience. Ignomine and Artas spend the majority of the battle closing the distance to the targets as Polycarp, Aramil, Dreal and Vyktor bombard the every loving shit out of the Nightmares from afar. Despite never landing a blow, Ignomine is sickened but not deterred. He and Artas decide to go down the ruins loud and stupid like, in order not to waste their buffs.

The pair, shielded, warded, blessed and enlarged, charge down the stairs past a massacre of bones and into the chamber beyond. The party finds a pair of bearded devils mopping up the last of the skeletons. Ignomine rushes headlong into battle and rains down all the fury afforded by his god and smites the tits right off the first bearded dragon. Artas also strikes a mighty blow, but still feels a bit of power envy next to the holy wrath of Ignomine. As the rest of the party makes its way into the chamber, Aramil decideds to offer air support by way of wildshape. In the heights of the chamber the parties Imp friend returns and attacks Aramil. From around a corner, Polycarp thinks “Ain’t nobody got time for this shit” and one shots the infernal creature with an arrow through the taint.

Seeing its partner smote to dust, summons another devil in an obvious “take him not me” gesture. By this time Vyktor has stepped up and applies some of his signature glitterdust rendering the devils blind. The summon devil drops like a sack of bricks and then it is only the last devil left. Vyktor again steps up to the plate and summons some celestial eagles to harry the devil. At this point the devil pulls his “Fuck this” maneuver and teleports out to the top of the stairs. Vyktor sends his eagles to give chase and they delay him long enough for Polycarps bleed effects to drain him some more, but he eventually escapes. The party spends the next several minutes mopping up some Lemuirs that the devils had left laying around.

Never ones to slow down, the party opens one of the doors along the back wall of the room.

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