Pathfinder Greycloak Campaign

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

View
Episode 1

Episode 1: 1/12/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger/1
Haroldur, human cleric/1
Sigmund Gorn, dwarf fighter/1
Nineve Floret, human knight/1
Sarek, human wizard/1

First, some background. My associates and I are Keepers of the Grey Covenant, or Greycloaks, for the church of Wee Jas. Essentially, we are one of the tools the church uses to fight unlawful necromancy. We are custodians of the deceased, and also an investigative team that can be sent in to handle any threats to the church or its tenets. We are based in the Tower Macabre, the grand church of Wee Jas in Istivin, the capitol city of Caledon.

We were assigned to oversee the funeral of Lord Ondore, a minor noble and slumlord, quietly infamous for his oppressive dealings with the local poor. A knife found its way into his back, and now his family wants to have him raised. For that, they have to come to Wee Jas, so here we are.

The open-casket ceremony was… interesting. Nineve and Haroldur totally botched the service in front of a large crowd of nobility and the well-to-do. In their defense, there really wasn’t much flattering to say about the late Lord Ondore, and I doubt many of the mourners present were terribly interested in anything except whether he would be raised and how much they stood to inherit if he wasn’t.

In the middle of a particularly uncomfortable speech by Nineve, interlopers led by a man calling himself “The Hawk” crashed the ceremony. Some form of violent outburst was not entirely unexpected, but this group seemed to be reasonably well organized and prepared. Shouting things like “An end to Lord Ondore’s injustice!” and “Vile Lord Ondore will pay for his crimes, even in death!” (humans can be so excitable), a group of miscreants deployed smoke sticks as they moved through the now panicking crowd towards the casket. Meanwhile, the leader of the band bravely hurled haughty insults at us from the relative safety of a nearby rooftop, peppering us with arrows all the while. As we all rushed to meet the coming threat, The Hawk deployed – get this – actual hawks to dive-bomb the casket with alchemist’s fire. This stately funeral was swiftly turning into a cheesy roadside circus. Unfortunately, one of the hawks managed to catch Lord Ondore’s body on fire, so I broke off my attack and rushed to put it out. Just as the flames were extinguished, one of the ground-attack crew produced another vial of alchemist’s fire and with a lucky shot managed to ignite the corpse again. Out of water and patience, I slammed the casket closed and hoped the flames would extinguish themselves. Nineve, Sigmund, Haroldur and Sarek managed to turn the battle in our favor while I was putting out fires, and the remaining brigands beat a hasty retreat. The funeral (such that it was) was over, but the corpse of Lord Ondore was badly burned.

Naturally, the Cabal is not pleased with the condition of Lord Ondore’s body, but it can be salvaged, and at least it wasn’t stolen or completely destroyed. However, if he is raised, his “dashing good looks” certainly won’t be coming back with him!

A few days pass and we are summoned for another mission. Alastor Land, a Seeker, has been missing for 4 days. (Seekers, like Greycloaks, are another of Wee Jas’s tools. They are tasked with research and investigation for the church, however, their role is primarily academic.) We will travel by coach to Diamond Lake, a large mining town in the vicinity. From there, the Greymere Convent will provide us with their ship, The Harkness, to ferry us across the lake to the hamlet of Kolbenborg, where Alastor was conducting his research. There have been rumors of orc and goblin activity in the mountains near Kolbenborg, so we should be on our guard.

We did some research on Alastor Land and his mission before setting out: Alastor moved to Kolbenburg to follow up on another Seeker’s research. Several years ago, a seeker named Ulavant led a band of Seekers into an ancient site he believed to be from the Age of the Imperium in search of relics. They too vanished suddenly. The Imperium was a great empire that spanned the multiverse ages ago. Ruled by enigmatic beings called Spell Weavers, they linked their vast empire together through a strange amalgam of magic and science. The empire stood for millennia, holding whole worlds under its sway until centuries ago, when the Spell Weavers suddenly vanished. Their immeasurable empire collapsed in an instant of terrible destruction and chaos. However, relics from this time are occasionally found, and such relics have served to greatly advance our understanding of magic… Sounds like Alastor Land may have gotten in over his head.

The 3 day journey to Diamond Lake was pleasant. When we arrived in town, however, we found the Greymere Convent abandoned and in disarray. To make matters worse, the Harkness, which is moored at the pier, has been commandeered by a band of ruffians in the employ of Balabar Smenk, a local mine manager.

Further inspection of the Greymere Convent revealed obvious signs of violence. We discovered 3 discarded holy symbols of the church, some dubious-looking dark stains (blood, perhaps?), and someone had taken a greataxe to most of the furniture. This convent hadn’t just fallen by the wayside and slowly dissipated – it had been raided.

Armed with this knowledge, we set about discovering who had done such a thing. In short order we found the man in town to talk to was Lazare, a sage, mine owner, and renowned chessmaster. He claims to be able to answer any question – for a price. We visited Lazare in the afternoon at his nicely appointed chess parlor and found him to be well-mannered and courteous. We chatted for a bit and learned that he too has a beef with Balabar Smenk. We explained about the Harkness and our mission to get to Kolbenborg. At length, we paid his (rather steep) 20 gp fee and asked our question: Who was behind the attack on the Greymere Convent? He told us to come back in a day for our answer.

We spent the next day cleaning the Convent and putting things back in order. At the appointed time, we returned to Lazare’s for our answer. He told us that it was Kullen, Balabar Smenk’s right-hand man, who had led the attack on Greymere. We thanked him for his time and trouble, and immediately set out to report our findings to the local authorities.

We arrived at the Sheriff’s office, and, to our horror, found it to be in a terrible state. Papers were in disarray, and two lazy guards were drinking wine and playing cards (!) at the desk. The sheriff himself was sleeping off a hangover in his office. Nineve, who became rather impatient at this point, may not have made the best impression as she slammed her shield down on the card game and demanded attention. Fortunately, Haroldur managed to smooth things over before too many hackles were raised, and we reported that there had been an attack on the Greymere Convent (which was old news) and that we suspected Kullen (and therefore Balabar) was behind it. They seemed completely indifferent to these allegations of desecration and slaughter! I’m not even sure they filed a report. Realizing these people were useless and we were getting nowhere, we returned in a huff to the Greymere Convent.

As we were tidying things up, I noticed that some of the graves in the graveyard looked to have been recently disturbed. Quickly and carefully, we exhumed one of the disturbed graves to find our fears confirmed – the interred corpse was gone! We decided then that we needed to guard the graveyard at night and attempt to apprehend the culprits. I put the “grave” back in order and, in the gathering dusk, we settled down to wait.

We didn’t have to wait long. Between dusk and dark, we noticed a light bobbing into the graveyard in the distance. Soon, it split into two lights which moved off in opposite directions. Sarek and I headed for one light and Nineve, Haroldur and Sigmund took the other one. We were able to get fairly close before we were spotted by our quarry. Sarek cast a sleep spell and 2 of our 4 graverobbers instantly fell into a deep slumber. The other two sprang to attack, but I handled them easily. I glanced over at the other scuffle and saw that Haroldur and the fighters had their situation well in hand, so I tied up the sleeping survivors. The last graverobber in Haroldur’s group escaped, sprinting off into the night. In all that armor, catching him was out of the question. As Nineve shook her fist at the fleeing ne’er-do-well in frustration, he darted behind a crypt, let out a blood-curdling scream, and fell silent.

We figured he’d gotten his just desserts. After all, he was just a superstitious commoner, cavorting around in a graveyard at night. He probably got frightened by his own shadow and passed out cold! We tended to the fallen (all dead) and I was just re-checking my knots on the sleeping survivors when the real source of the fleeing brigand’s terror became known. Ghouls had sneaked up on us!

Our group was separated, Haroldur, Nineve, and Sigmund being quite a distance still from myself and Sarek. I could hear Haroldur rebuking the foul abberations and the sounds of clean-up – I mean, battle, as I sprang to slay our undead attackers. I cut one down in short order, but meanwhile the other ghoul decided to take his chances with a softer target. I turned my back on him for one second, and the next thing I knew, Sarek was paralyzed! I always forget about that! Cursing my carelessness, I called for backup as I finished off my opponent and rushed to save the helpless mage. The others showed up just in time. Haroldur rebuked the ghoul, who stopped gnawing on Sarek and stood there, awestruck, while the rest of us cut it down.

With the battle in the graveyard finally over, we took the still-sleeping prisoners and their incriminating gear (shovels, lanterns, bodybags) inside and I ran to town to fetch the sheriff. I had a tough time convincing the lazy sots in the sheriff’s office to get up and actually do their jobs. In the end, I had to drag them out of the office by their collars and threaten to wake the sheriff at home to get them to come along!

I arrived at Greymere with the useless deputies in tow. The prisoners had awoken, and were putting up a fuss and whining to be let go. We reported the events of the evening to the disinterested law enforcement officials, and handed over the graverobbers. We were assured that for such a serious crime, they would definitely spend “at least one night” in the lock-up. Talk about justice…

We finished putting things in the graveyard in order and went back to our rooms at the Able Carter Inn for the night. Sarek sent a message to the Ruby Temple relating the events so far:

“Diamond Lake church was found abandoned and in disarray.
Harkness taken by thugs.
Balabar Smenk believed to be responsible for razing.
Bodies stolen from graveyard.
Advise.”

The next morning, we received a reply:
“Please determine more hard information.
Four replacements to be sent in three days.
Your target is in Kolbenborg.
Diamond Lake is a secondary concern.”

Accordingly, we decided to see about securing passage across Diamond Lake. With the Harkness seemingly inaccessible, we needed to find another vessel to take us to Kolbenborg. At the docks, just down the pier from where the Harkness was moored, we found a shabby but suitable-looking vessel being tended by an ancient, spindly-looking man. Ignoring the heckling calls of the thugs on the Harkness, we entered into negotiations. The old man would take us across, but was afraid to cross the lake on his own, for some reason. Because of the ambiguity of our mission, we had originally intended to book one-way passage to Kolbenborg, take care of our business, and arrange the return trip later with a ship on the other side of the lake. However, the skinny little man flatly refused to return to Diamond Lake alone. We offered to arrange for his lodging once we reached Kolbenborg, but he was hesitant to commit to being away from Diamond Lake for an unspecified period of time, and was very concerned about becoming “stuck” on the wrong side of the lake. We told him to think about our offer, and we would give him a day or so to make up his mind.

As we walked back up the pier past the Harkness, the heckling grew more intense, and at last, Haroldur could stand it no longer. He wheeled around and informed the brigands that it was exactly this sort of attitude that had cost them our business, and we’d be paying that other ship to take us across the lake… for a whole gold piece! (One gold! Can you imagine? These country bumpkins had probably never seen so much money in their whole lives! Doubtless they’d sell their own mothers for such a paltry sum!)

At seeing the color of our coin, the thugs’ attitudes changed immediately. They were falling over themselves to allow them to take us across the lake, claiming to be a much better, stronger crew (which was almost certainly true) and asserting that the Harkness was a better, faster and more seaworthy (or maybe “lake-worthy”?) vessel.

However, the damage had been done, and Haroldur rudely informed them that they had missed their opportunity for fame and fortune. Our noses in the air, we began to leave, when one of the brigands shouted, “Let’s get ‘em and just take their bloody gold!”. Burly thugs rushed down the docks at us, and the battle was joined. Sailors on the deck of the Harkness fired crossbows and threw marlin pikes at us as the ones on the dock attacked us with belaying pins. At first, I tried to merely subdue my opponents, hitting with the flat of my blade, but when one thug lunged past me to strike at Haroldur with murderous intent, I sliced him open from stem to stern. The first casualty seemed to enrage the thugs even more, and they attacked with renewed viciousness.

Nineve and Sigmund boldly cut a path of blood through the surging mob, as Haroldur and Sarek traded fire with the brigands on the deck. For my part, I reproached myself for being so rash as to kill that first ignorant thug – death by my longsword, Aernin, Rite of Law, was too good for him – and I resolved to take a different approach. I shoved the body off the dock into the water, in disgust. To my surprise, within seconds, huge, man-eating gar surfaced from the depths and devoured the corpse! This gave me an idea. The thugs that managed to rush past Nineve and Sigmund’s deadly gauntlet were met by me, as I slammed into them and threw them off the docks and into the water. Those who couldn’t swim fast enough learned a final lesson about survival of the fittest.

However, a few did manage to swim to safety, and began to climb up onto the pier. Also, a few of the thugs on the ship leaped off the prow onto the docks (some missed and ended up in the water with the gars). The push of sailors running up the docks through Nineve and Sigmund had thinned, and it seemed the remaining thugs were bypassing the fighters and closing in on our unprotected flank – Sarek and Haroldur. Sigmund and I moved to defend the casters, and we left the indomitable Nineve to deal with the remaining threats running up the dock from the ship. In my haste, I sustained a grievous wound, but Haroldur healed me, and I returned the favor by neatly dispatching his attacker. Meanwhile, Sigmund was bravely battling two thugs, but one managed to slip past him and struck Sarek down! Sigmund and Haroldur finished off the remaining brigands and stabilized Sarek, and the melee at the quayside was finally over.

~Ashe

View
Episode 2

Episode 2: 2/2/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger/1
Haroldur, human cleric/1
Sigmund Gorn, dwarf fighter/1
Nineve Floret, human knight/1
Sarek, human wizard/1

After the fight at the docks, we headed back to the inn for some much-needed rest and refreshment. During the evening, I spent some time in the bar gathering some information on our destination, Kolbenborg. News wasn’t hard to come by. Apparently, it had recently been sacked by goblins, and Diamond Lake has been choked with its refugees. Of course, I’d noticed a lot of destitute-looking people around the city, but I just assumed they were displaced fishermen or miners who’d fallen on hard times. At any rate, it seems the reports of goblin and orc activity we’d heard about back in Istivin were accurate.

The next day, we received another sending from the Ruby Temple:
Retake Harkness.
Acolytes should reach Diamond Lake in 3 days.
Remain in Diamond Lake until then.
Locate the missing bodies from the graveyard.

Seems simple enough. As we were eating breakfast, a messenger arrived, bidding us meet with Lazare at our earliest convenience, so we finished our simple but tasty fare and headed over to his place. As always, he greeted us cordially and invited us to his private meeting room in the back. Earlier, we had offered to help him in his struggle against Balabar Smenk, but we made it clear that any assistance we could provide would have to be on the up-and-up. After some consideration, he’d thought of a way we could help him.

Lazare came to Diamond Lake and bought the mine from Balabar Smenk. Lazare made a down payment, and agreed to pay the remainder of the sum in monthly installments out of the mine’s profits. However, Lazare’s miners keep getting bought off or chased off the job – by Smenk’s men! Lazare suspects Smenk plans to thusly bankrupt him, which would force Lazare to turn the mine back over to Smenk, who would also get to keep all of the money Lazare has given him so far. It was a pretty clever scheme, actually, but of course Lazare was very frustrated by the whole situation.

He asked us to recruit miners for him. We could find them in the town or outlying areas, or we could buy them out from Smenk, whichever we preferred. He also wanted us to find a way to keep the miners actually working in the mine, and prevent them from being bought off or chased off. In return, we asked him to look into Smenk’s possession of the Harkness’s title. We’re sure he obtained it illegally, but without proof, there’s nothing we can do to get it back. Thus agreed, we left Lazare’s and set about the tasks at hand.

Sarek, Nineve and Haroldur paid a visit to the Church of St. Cuthbert (of all places!) as it seemed to be the congregating place for a majority of the itinerants. Like any sane Greycloak, I refuse to deal with Cuthbertites as a matter of course, unless strictly necessary. The animosity that church shows towards our organization is not easily forgotten. Instead, Sigmund and I went to speak to the local garrison commander.

At St. Cuthbert’s, Sarek and the others indeed found a great deal of refugees and poor folk, which were being herded between menial tasks by low-level acolytes. In the center of the commotion was the priest, a stocky, barrel-chested man stripped to the waist and flogging himself (and others) with a lash while bellowing Cuthbertine dogma. While representatives of the churches of St. Cuthbert and Wee Jas don’t normally cooperate, this priest seemed rather fixated on the “labor” aspect of Cuthbert, and was pleased to have a new task at which to set some of his flock. He agreed to recruit some healthy workers and have them report for duty tomorrow, provided they understand they are to return to his church in the evenings.

Meanwhile, at the garrison, Sigmund and I met with Toliver Trask, the garrison commander. He seemed very busy and generally frustrated about his garrison being undermanned. He agreed to ask if any of the guards would be interested in freelance guard work for Lazare’s miners – in their off-time, of course. I asked him why he hadn’t sent any men to Kolbenberg, and he launched into a rant about being spread too thin and how his hands were being tied by bureaucrats in the capitol who kept denying his requests for more recruits… I decided I might not have caught him at the best time…

We all met back up in town, and decided to spread out and tackle some more tasks. While we had secured unskilled labor and guards for Lazare, we had yet to find him some actual miners. I nosed around a bit and found a hangout popular with Smenk’s miners. Sigmund accompanied me to do a little recruiting.

The bar was dark and noisy, and a large group of about 40 miners were raucously drinking away their earnings. I strode up to the largest table and had their attention in no time. Deep in their cups, many of the miners took my offer of employment as an offer of a different sort, but a flash of gold coin and a stern look from Sigmund kept them mostly under control. At length, I made the details of the wage and signing bonus clear to them, and informed them that, unfortunately, there were only 12 managerial positions available, so interested parties should arrive at Lazare’s mine tomorrow morning early for interviews. Mission accomplished, Sigmund and I headed back to the Able Carter Inn.

In the meantime, Sarek, Nineve, and Haroldur were looking for information about where the stolen corpses were ending up. They went to the jail, and fortunately, the 2 grave robbers we’d apprehended earlier were still there. Sarek bails them out and charms one of them, who tells them everything they need to know. Unfortunately, the other grave robber escaped, but Sarek’s new best friend tells him where the escapee lives. According to the charmed grave robber, Morovin, one of Kullen’s lieutenants, is the one who gets the bodies from the grave robbing crews. Morovin is noted for being extremely rude, wearing a flashy red cape, and hanging out at the Emporium. Having gleaned all the useful information from the knave, Nineve moved to restrain him. She missed and he took off running, but Sarek eventually caught up with him thanks to his superior stamina. They beat him unconscious and eventually managed to tie a noose and hang him in the Greymere Convent’s graveyard for his crimes.

The next morning, we met Lazare outside his mine, and found our efforts have paid off. Guards, experienced miners, and laborers were all there, ready to begin work. Lazare couldn’t have been happier. After ensuring that everything was satisfactory, we headed over to the Emporium to have a word with Morovin.

The Emporium is a combination freak show, tavern, gambling house, and brothel. Nearly any sort of illicit entertainment can be found within its walls, but despite its reputation, the Emporium’s proprietress is known not to tolerate any brawls or violence in her establishment. Sarek charmed the bartender and learned that Morovin was upstairs sleeping off a hangover in room 5. We bluffed our way past the half-orc guard and climbed the steps to the rooms. Nineve and I knocked on Morovin’s door and tried to bluff our way in by claiming to be a present from his friend (the late grave robber). Unfortunately, he called our bluff, and when he flung the door open, we had a fight on our hands. Luckily, we subdued him quickly and managed to sneak him out the kitchen in the back.

We took him to the Greymere Convent and I tied him up. Once he regained consciousness, the others interrogated him. I find interrogations rather unpleasant, so while that was happening, I went out to bury the grave robber that was hanged earlier. Unfortunately, I find his body has been removed – and probably consumed, judging by the tracks of about 5 ghouls in the vicinity of the gnawed-off noose.

The interrogation reveals that the bodies are ultimately going to Filge, a necromancer who recently moved into the Observatory outside of town. Morovin is then hung for his crimes. We decided to inter him immediately, as leaving him hanging there would likely violate my strict “no ghoul-feeding” policy. We were just finishing the process when we were set upon by ghouls once again!

They managed to sneak up fairly close to us while we were performing the funerary rites, and they were almost on top of us before we noticed them. The ghouls rushed in and paralyzed Nineve immediately. Haroldur managed to rebuke one ghoul, but we’re forced to fight the other four. Fortunately, between Sarek, Sigmund and I, we manage to dispatch them all without much trouble. After the scuffle, we return to the inn for the evening. I tried to dig up some information on Filge the neighborhood necromancer, but it seems he’s quite the shut-in as no one knows anything about him except that he lives in the observatory. We decide to pay Filge a visit in the morning.

On the morning of the next day, the acolytes finally arrive from Hookhill, and they brought with them a care package from the Cabal! We received:

4 scrolls of CLW
5 potions of CLW
2 MW longswords
1 MW Dwarven Waraxe
1 MW crossbow
20 MW bolts
20 MW arrows
2 vials of antitoxin
2 vials of acid
2 vials of alchemist’s fire
2 scrolls of Sending
1 scroll of Ray of Enfeeblement
1 scroll of Shield of Faith
1 scroll of Divine Favor
3 vials of holy water
and new clothes for everyone

It’s always nice to know the Cabal is looking out for us. We get kitted up and head out to raid the observatory.

About five minutes’ walk outside Diamond Lake, on a bluff overlooking an abandoned mine, we found a crumbling old observatory. We entered through a side door and heard scratchings and cries for help from emanating from a tool shed attached to the main building. We opened the door expecting starving prisoners… and were met with a 2 ghoul ambush instead! We make short work of them and continue into the main building. The next room was in total disarray, making it very hard to navigate. At the far end, skeleton archers were set up to fire on intruders from behind a makeshift barricade – it seems Filge doesn’t want company. After dealing with that little unpleasantness, we move through a few empty rooms before reaching something interesting.

We smelled it before we saw it, really. The stench of rotting flesh wafted through the open door. In the room beyond, ten chairs surrounded an oblong dining table. Plates of fresh food and bottles of wine were laid out at all the places except the head of the table, which was unoccupied and had clean plates and utensils set. The other nine chairs were occupied by awkwardly seated humanoid figures in various states of decay. They looked as if they were in the middle of a feast. Out of curiosity, I went up to a corpse and touched it, hoping to gain some insight into how the person died, but was startled by a grotesque pantomime. Apparently, I had somehow “activated” the zombies, and they started acting out a formal dinner party! One zombie turned directly to me and said, “Once again, milord has provided a delicious meal. It is an honor to dine in your august presence.” Then, the other diners chimed in with similar sycophantic comments. “The Guild of Wizardry was wrong to turn you out”, a male elf corpse remarked. “You ought to show them like you showed me!” The tattered remains of what must have been a young woman spoke up next. “I shouldn’t have ever doubted you, Filge”, it said earnestly. “I always loved you when we were together – now I’ll love you forever!”...Oh my.

At this point, I decided it was safe to assume that we were dealing with someone who was even more unhinged than the average power-hungry, corpse-reanimating necromancer. Having had our fill of this “dinner theater”, we left and made our way upstairs.

The second floor is just a single massive bedchamber. We found it to be finely appointed, with some rather interesting touches. Dominating the room was a statue of a thin human man with outstretched angelic wings and a beatific expression on his idealized face. Large letters on the base of the statue read “FILGE”. Near the center of the room stood what I thought was a statue of a halfling, but on closer examination, we realized it was actually a mummified goblin! The goblin was dressed in an expensive-looking suit and tophat, and he held out a silver platter. On the platter was the freshly-preserved, severed head of a middle-aged woman. Also, two hideously deformed severed heads (practice makes perfect?) were sitting on a nearby desk. When we approached the desk, the hideous severed heads opened their eyes and started shrieking… they were varghouilles! Luckily, Sigmund and Nineve put them down before they became a problem. When we approached the head on the platter, she yelled loudly “Filge! Someone’s come to visit!”. We figured our cover was pretty much blown, so we moved on to the top floor of the observatory.

The top floor is obviously the lab. There is a sunken operating theater and stairs leading up to a catwalk that wraps around the room. Four huge glass vats were standing near the corners of the operating theater, and each contained a large, murky shape. Filge, flanked by a skeletal body guard, sneers at our arrival and shouts “Arise, my beautiful monstrosities!”. Then he high-tails it to the top of the catwalk. Sarek and I concentrate our fire on Filge while Haroldur, Sigmund, and Nineve focus on the newest threat – a zombie has burst from one of the tanks, and it seems to be able to spray acid or something. Filge calls forth his acid-zombies from the tanks one by one, and then starts slinging some spells. Nineve, Haroldur and Sigmund eventually defeat the acid zombies, but Sigmund and Haroldur seem worse for the wear. Nineve tries to charge Filge, but is blocked by the skeletal bodyguard and has to fight her way through. Before Nineve can reach Filge, our peppering-him-at-range pays off, and Sarek finally takes him down with a crossbow bolt to the chest.

Feeling pretty confident, we tie up his unconscious form and are getting ready to toss the place for damning evidence when out of nowhere, a very torn-up looking Justice Archon planeshifts in and starts attacking us! We are naturally quite surprised, but he seems to think we’ve met many times before, and isn’t really in the mood for chitchat. He calls us all out by name and not-so-patiently explains that he must punish us for releasing the Titan of Chaos. We’re all pretty sure we’d remember doing something like that, but he won’t have any of our excuses. Nineve calls him out and he responds by sundering her sword and beating her down! At this point, we realize we have no choice but to fight, he falls to our onslaught, slumping lifelessly to the floor before fading away in a flare of light and drifting, glowing feathers, leaving his staff and some tattered white vestments behind.

With that threat removed, we turned our attention back to Filge, only to find that he has escaped! It looked like he used a crossbow bolt to cut the ropes… wizards can be so clever sometimes! I remembered when I was tying him up that Filge had a black circle tattooed on the back of his left hand. I make a note of it, since it might help us find him later. We rummage through the observatory for clues and find some notes on necromancy and alchemy (Necralchemy!), and some letters to Filge from someone in Istivin that include the message “Thanks for the recent shipment of bodies. Signed, W”.

We also find a scroll of animate dead,
4 vials of liquid (blue, red, yellow and zebra!) and various surgical notes and records.
Full looting of the observatory yields an additional:
1110 gp
60 pp
100 sp
various goods: tourmaline, jet amulet, zircon bracelet, silver ewer, marble platter, ornate wooden box
various magical items: scroll of Create Food/Water, scroll of Prot. from Energy, scroll of Speak with Dead, scroll of Detect Magic, wand of CLW, wand of Ray of Enfeeblement,
wand of Read Magic,
wand of Mage Armor,
a potion
1 sleep arrow
MW heavy steel shield

We take the stuff back to town, and swing by Lazare’s. We’re shocked to see Kullen, Smenk’s right-hand-man there. He just sits there glaring at us until Balabar himself comes in, amidst a press of people and much ado. He lets us know he wants to talk. However, Nineve is feeling feisty and is in no mood to negotiate with the evil, dishonorable Balabar and his number 1 thug. We tried to calm her down, but she’d really whipped herself up into a frenzy. She’s actually being quite rude, so I was a little relieved when Balabar gave a slight nod, and Kullen knocked her out with one punch. I find it much easier to engage in civil negotiations when there’s not a madwoman screeching insults during the proceedings.

With that out of the way, we sit down to business. Basically, Smenk finds our presence in Diamond Lake inconvenient and wants us gone. We negotiate that we’ll leave if he gives us back the Harkness and keeps the Greymere Convent under his protection. He even offers to make a sizable donation to the church. Of course, I don’t really trust him, but he did hand over the deed to the Harkness, and truthfully, the goings-on in Diamond Lake are not our concern. With the Harkness in our possession, we can finally proceed to Kolbenborg and look for Alastar Land! We shake on the deal with Smenk and he leaves with his entourage.

A few minutes later, Lazare comes in, livid over reports that Balabar was in his establishment. We tell him about the deal we struck, and say our goodbyes. Lazare says he’s in our debt – the mine is running smoothly and they just found a large vein of silver! We congratulate him and part ways.

We still had quite a mess to clean up, so we recruited the newly-arrived acolytes to help us transport all the bodies from the observatory back to the Greymere Convent and put them to rest. While everyone is working on that, I swing by the garrison commander’s office one more time in the hopes that I can catch him in a better mood. I’m in luck, and I manage to convince him to send 6 of his men with us to Kolbenberg! We spend all night interring the bodies with the acolytes. In the morning, we all seem to have learned from our experiences, and it has made us stronger. I spent some extra time during my nightly trance pouring over those anatomical notes from Filge’s observatory, and I seem to have gained a new perspective on combat from them.

After congratulating each other for our spiritual growth, Sarek sent this message to the Temple:

Harkness retaken.
Acolytes arrived.
Cleared graveyard of ghouls.
Punished grave robbers.
Observatory contained missing bodies, who were zombies.
Rogue necromancer Filge escaped.
Properly interred bodies.

To which they replied:

Good work.
Please proceed to Kolbenberg.
Alistair’s report is now 2 weeks overdue.
Pity about the necromancer…

A pity indeed! At any rate, we clean up, pack up, and head out. Fortunately, one of the soldiers from the garrison was a sailor before he joined, so he’s confident he can get us safely across the lake. We set out.

~Ashe

View
Episode 3

Episode 3: 2/23/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-1
Haroldur, human cleric/2
Sigmund Gorn, dwarf fighter/2
Nineve Floret, human knight/2
Sarek, human wizard/2

We are about to set sail when Nineve is suddenly seized with the urge to buy a warhorse. She does her last-minute shopping, and we are finally underway. It takes the better part of the day to sail across the lake, but the journey passes uneventfully.

However, as we near the Kolbenborg shore, we notice that the boathouse appears to be on fire. As we get closer we can see the cause of the blaze – goblins! We disembark and they immediately open fire on us. We wade into the fray. About halfway through the battle, a shaved dwarf, who has obviously been fighting goblins inside the burning boathouse, emerges and joins us in the fight against the goblins (or, more likely, we’re joining him). He fights bravely and after the immediate goblin threat has been eliminated, we learn his name is Tamclar.

Before much more information can be exchanged, he asks for our assistance and leads us through the burning boathouse to a very ill dwarven woman and a tiny dwarf infant. We rescue the dwarves from the burning building and move them to the safety of the Harkness. Tamclar explains that they are his wife and child. He has been shaving his head and beard as sacrifice in hopes of finding favor with the dwarven gods in seeking a cure for his very ill wife. Haroldur and I examine her and determine she is afflicted with Red Ache, but there’s not much we can do for her.

We ask Tamclar about Alastar, and he’s heard of him. However, he and his family fled to the boathouse when the goblins first attacked, and they haven’t been in town or heard from any townsfolk since they went into hiding. His family will be relatively safe on the Harkness with the 6 soldiers guarding it, so he offers to take us to Alastar’s house in town and help us in our search for him.

Alastar’s house is a smoking ruin, but we search it and find an arcane scroll of light, and some variety of magical oil… No clues, however. The streets of the small town seem quiet, but we’re cautious just in case. Adjacent to Alastar’s house is a barn, and I sneak in to scout it out. Inside the barn, I find 2 goblins in the hay loft and a large spider on the ground floor. After taking a moment to confer with the party, I climb into the hay loft from the outside of the building and silently coup de grace the sleeping goblins. I also get one arrow off at the spider before he spots me and (thanks to his incredible speed and agility) is on me before my companions can open the barn door. The spider’s fangs sink into my flesh and poison me, so as the rest of the party bursts through the door, I jump back out of the hay loft. Nineve shoots the spider right in the eye with her bow, and Sigmund finishes it off with his ranseur while I drink some antitoxin.

Moments later, goblin archers in the neighboring building attack, but Sarek spots them, and with his keen reflexes snipes them both before anyone else can so much as lift a finger! 2 more goblins appear in the window, and 4 of them rush out and charge the mounted Nineve, only to be cut down by Sigmund’s ancestral hatred for all goblinkind. Nineve cuts down a goblin, and her horse brains another. The last goblin tries to run off and just ends up dying tired after Nineve and her horse chase them down. Sarek takes out another goblin in the window, but before he can finish off the last one, he somehow manages to knock himself out while reloading his crossbow… Sigmund charges upstairs for the last goblin, who sees him coming and promptly leaps out the window. Sigmund follows right behind him, however, landing on the poor goblin and killing it instantly. I enter the house and unlock a padlocked door on the ground level which is full of captive townsfolk. None of the townsfolk know where Alastar is, but they think there are more villagers being held in the northern part of town – perhaps he’s with them.

While I’m chatting up the villagers, Nineve finds some strange icky yellow orc zombies around a mutilated corpse. Nineve and her horse tear into the zombies, but they’re clearly not normal undead. After they are defeated, Sarek and I examine the corpses and determine that they are in fact plant creatures known as yellow musk creeper zombies…

Once the excitement dies down, we start to hear rhythmic chanting from the meeting hall at the center of town. I sneak in to investigate. I find 7 goblins chanting crazily, while a leader shaman attempts to raise 3 corpses. However, I am spotted, so I lob a smoke stick in through the window to hopefully cover my escape. Goblins pour out of the meeting hall as the rest of the party moves in to meet the threat. Since most of the goblins are on the outside now, I jump through the smoky window into the meeting hall, just a the shaman finishes raising the first zombie. I try to tumble up to the shaman, but I trip and the zombie slams into me. Then, the shaman engulfs me in a fan of flame, and I’m suddenly alone and in very bad shape. I cut into the shaman, wounding him severely, and then tumble out the window to relative safety.

Meanwhile, the goblin mob outside has grabbed 2 of their number and poured potions down their throats, turning them into fanatics. The fanatics totter around the battlefield in seemingly random directions, haphazardly swinging huge spiked balls on chains. It looks quite dangerous, but I don’t have time to notice much because the zombies are climbing out the window of the meeting hall after me! Haroldur comes to my rescue and heals me enough so that I can finish off the zombies and the shaman with little difficulty.

When all is said and done, we find: a wand of animate dead with 12 charges a scroll of lightning bolt a pouch of clear quartz crystals a MW small steel shield and a scroll of identify (which we used on the wand)

~Ashe

View
Episode 4

Episode 4: 4/26/08

(We have just converted to the Pathfinder rules set, which is put out by Paizo, because like most other D&D gamers, we think 4th edition is totally lame.)

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-1
Haroldur, human cleric/2
Nineve Floret, human knight/2
Sarek, human wizard/2

After the excitement dies down a bit, we hear goblins yelling to each other from the north side of town. Since we were heading that way anyway, I go out to do a little recon. I find 3 goblins holding a human female hostage. I also notice 3 goblin archers peeking through the windows of the 2nd story of the inn – an inn we’d have to pass in order to get to the goblins with the hostage. This is obviously a planned ambush. I return to report my findings, and Nineve is confident that the ambush poses no real threat, so we decide to attack. As Nineve rides out into the street, the goblin leader yells in broken common that we must surrender to him or he’ll kill the hostage. We’re not particularly concerned about a random female commoner, so Nineve charges forward. The goblin finishes off the hostage just as Nineve and her horse close the distance and slam into him. Haroldur and Tamclar rush (relatively speaking) down the street into the fray, while I, still unseen, try to snipe a goblin sniper. Unfortunately, I’m too far away to do any serious harm, so I run forward and hop into the inn building through a broken 1st floor window. Tamclar, still trundling bravely onward, is getting peppered with arrows from the goblin snipers when a pair of goblins riding an enormous spider lunges toward him from an adjacent burnt ruin. He slams into the spider with his hammer, and Haroldur is right behind him, channeling the dread power of Wee Jas into the spider and making it bleed. (Nice trick!)

Tamclar finishes off the spider and faces down the goblin riders, while Nineve finishes off the leader and starts chasing down his fleeing lackeys. Meanwhile, Sarek strides calmly into the inn, unnoticed in all the commotion, walks up behind a goblin sniper, and using a death touch granted to him by Wee Jas, suddenly turns the sniper into a lifeless husk. (Wow!) We clear out the remaining goblins and I find a cache of human prisoners, which includes Alastar’s retarded stable boy, Jimmy.

Jimmy was quite skittish at first, but with some gentle coaxing I find that Alastar’s been missing for about a week, or a month, he’s not sure. However, his assistant Brolan was captured in the goblin attacks, and has most likely been hauled off to the mines. We wrap up with the villagers, and head off to the goblin mines, with Tamclar leading the way.

As we approach the mines, we notice the entrance is blocked by greenery which Tamclar says is new. We walk up to the mine entrance and we’re attacked by plant zombies and a yellow musk creeper (that we mistook for harmless greenery earlier)! During the fight, Nineve is hit by a cloud of spores & compelled to stand in the plant! Fortunately, Sarek and I finished off the creeper before it has a chance to eat her brain. We mop up the rest of the plant zombies, and enter the mines. Tamclar knows these mines like the back of his hand, so he attempts to guide us through carefully, so as to avoid any more confrontations with zombifying plants.

Unfortunately, Sarek stumbles at just the wrong moment and we are surrounded by musk zombies and their parent creeper. Haroldur walks right up to the creeper, as if inviting the spores-to-the-face that he then receives. The plant almost kills him trying to dig out his brains while he stands there, completely transfixed. Luckily, we dispatch it just in time. Haroldur now has the intelligence of Jimmy the stable boy, and is barely capable of speech. As such, he insists we press on despite the fact that Sarek has been out of spells for several hours.

We continue on, but Nineve’s incessant stomping attracts another group of creeper zombies. We mop ‘em up and veto Haroldur’s “chop ‘till we drop” agenda. Tamclar finds us a nice, secluded area to rest up in. After the break (elves NEVER nap!), I’m feeling much less poisoned, and Haroldur seems to be regaining his wits, albeit rather slowly… The next morning, we’re all feeling stronger from our experiences!

We quickly find the point where the miners first encountered the goblin menace, and find ourselves in the middle of a goblin and zombie creeper patrol. We dispatch them and take a goblin hostage to lead us to the captive villagers. As the goblin leads us down the passage, I notice a black crow flitting just ahead of us. When I aim my bow at it (because crows don’t hang out in caves!), it squawks “Treasure!” and flits down the corridor. We eventually come to a large cavern with an underground lake and some really cute, fat purple creatures that I recognize as ferocious, deadly cave squiggs!

True to their bloodthirsty reputation, they attack viciously, severely wounding myself and Nineve. We defeat them, but their gnashing death throes tear chunks of flesh from my body, rendering me unconscious. Fortunately, I fall next to Haroldur, who heals me immediately. As I’m getting up, I spot a goblin scout spying on us from a nearby ledge. In a flash, I draw my bow and kill the scout… I think everyone else just thinks I’m paranoid. It’s not my fault they have crappy perception….Speaking of which, the goblin captive has capitalized on our moment of distraction and made his escape. By the time we notice he’s missing, he’s long gone.

Just as things are settling down, that crow appears on Sarek’s shoulder, squawking again about treasure. Suddenly, the crow disappears and up ahead on the sandy shore of the underground lake, an imp appears, rolling around and laughing maniacally, promising treasure. The imp vanishes as quickly as he had appeared, but we can hear him giggling to himself down the hallway. We follow the winding passages to a goblin dining area and another squigg. I snipe two of the goblins before they have a chance to react, then the rest of the team mops up the survivors. In the midst of the gore, the imp appears again, reveling in the bloodshed, and he and Sarek share a special, evil moment. Then, the imp vanishes again and continues muttering off down the hallway.

We proceed to a recently abandoned common area, with hastily discarded food and cards scattered about. I use my Improved Sift ability to replay the immediately preceding events. I see the goblins lounging around, carousing, when a red-robed goblin with a staff bursts into the room and barks at the others to quit screwing around and get ready to defend against the intruders. She storms out of the room, and the goblins scatter like quail. Thus forewarned, we manage to avoid being surprised during the planned ambush. Sarek makes quick work of the fight by successfully casting Tasha’s Hideous Laughter on the red-robed leader. That imp appears again, and is positively giddy. His name is apparently Hezzrak, and it seems the red-robed goblin leader was his master or something. I didn’t really have time to listen to the story, as he was sitting there expostulating right in the middle of the skirmish.

We kill about half of the goblins, and the remaining ones, realizing that they’ve lost the advantage, suddenly become very helpful. They are easily convinced to lead us to the captive humans.

We are brought to a cavern with a barred gate corralling about 30 dirty, half-staved villagers. We ask if Brolan is among them, and a tall, bookish-looking middle aged man with huge, round, cracked spectacles steps forward, blinking. I have Haroldur mend his glasses as we discuss Alastar, the goblins, and our options. Brolan tells us that he hasn’t seen Alastar in several weeks, but he managed to salvage most of his employer’s notes before the goblin attack. The goblins confiscated everything, of course, but Brolan is relatively certain he can lead us to the cavern where they are kept. The villagers beg to be released, and express a great deal of fear regarding the “thousands of goblins!”.

We quickly decide that Tamclar will lead the villagers out of the caves, and can make preparations to collapse the cavern entrance from the mines once we’re out. We part ways and Hezzrak appears, emerging from Haroldur’s pack, proudly claiming it as his own. He winks out of sight and flits down the corridor, singing to himself.

Brolan accompanies us as we continue down the passage and come to a large door standing ajar. Hezzrak is lounging in front of it, eating something slimy. He indicates the treasure is through the door, then disappears.

We pass through the doors and find ourselves in a chamber lined with 6 sarcophagi. Haroldur discovers that the center of the room is trapped (spikes!). When we enter, 4 of the skeletons emerge and attack us. We fight bravely, but the skeletal guardians prove to be formidable foes. Haroldur gains control of one of them, evidently called “One-Eye”(by Hezzrak), and it joins our entourage. Eventually, we manage to slay the other 3 skeletal guardians. Hezzrak jabbers throughout the combat, talking to the skeletons and calling them by name. He gives me 2 to 1 odds on the skeletons, a bet I take for 10gp (he totally owes me!). When the first guardian falls, he seems upset, yelling “Slim! Noooooo!” He flies over and cradles the skull, sobbing until he becomes bored with it and tosses it discompassionately over his shoulder. As we focus our attacks on the next guardian, Hezzrak brags that we’ll never beat Champ, he always wins… when they play chess?!? (Aren’t skeletons unintelligent undead? I decide at this point that the little guy is seriously unhinged.) Indeed, Champ proves to be a challenge, but we at last manage to take him down. At this, Hezzrak flies over and screams “Checkmate, bitch!” over and over, and kicks Champ’s skull across the room. The guardian he calls Bonehead falls shortly thereafter, but Hazarak hardly notices…

From all the goblins and creepers, we’ve found some loot:

a silver whistle engraved with tiny spiders a teak bowl (10 gp) earrings (50 gp) scroll (D) Bull’s Strength MW heavy steel shield ornate wooden box (75 gp) MW breastplate jade idol (100 gp) 2 scrolls (D) Lesser Restoration potion – Shield of Faith +3 a small chest containing 150 sp scroll (A) Light bag of onyx (50 gp total) wand of CLW tiger eye turquoise (25 gp) scroll (D) Silence a pouch containing 30 pp MW studded leather armor climber’s kit crystal of screening, Least

Of course, there’s no time to divvy loot now…

~Ashe

View
Episode 5

Episode 5: 5/3/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

After the battle, the bones of the skeletal guardians are sucked up through the metal gate at the end of the room, like iron filings. I ask Hezzrak where the treasure is, and he says it’s upstairs, where the bones went. Downstairs is apparently water. As I’m picking the lock to the metal gate, Hezzrak explains his past. He was a wizard’s familiar, once, and these ruins were the wizard’s tower. One of the wizard’s experiments went wrong, causing a huge earthquake that killed him and sealed Hezzrak in the tower. Being immortal, he was stuck here for about 300 years with no company save the guardians, until the goblins came along. Communicating telepathically, he brokered a deal with them, whereby he’d serve the goblin leader for one year if they would tunnel him out. Since his rescue, the goblin leader had been trying to make him her familiar, without success. Hezzrak is eternally grateful for relieving him of his contract with the goblins. I ask him if he is interested in becoming someone else’s familiar, and he launches into a foul-mouthed tirade about how he’ll NEVER be anyone’s familiar ever again…. It seems to be a touchy subject with him…

We continue on up the stairs and come to a room with a bridge over water. At the end of the bridge, the skeletal guardian’s bones are reforming into a single bizzare, skeletal monster, the likes of which we’ve never seen. Nineve charges forward (of course) and the bridge crumbles underneath her. She doesn’t react in time, and is plunged into the water and buried underneath an avalanche of rubble. From there, everyone moves forward cautiously, except for me. I leap gracefully over the chasm, throwing in a few flips for good measure. Hezzrak flies over and oogles the monster while I nimbly dodge a spray of bone shards it flings in my direction. With my hands full and the rest of the party held up by the bridge obstacle, I ask Hezzrak if he’d mind flying behind the monster and trying to actually help… He flies onto one of the monstrosity’s heads and covers the eye sockets, but it doesn’t appear to notice. I hack at the monster a few times, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much. Nineve finally climbs back up out of the water and jumps the gap, but the monster slams into her and knocks her off the ledge and back into the water! The monster slams into me, too, but I manage to cling to the edge of the bridge and maneuver around to the far side of the monster, just as Nineve and One-Eye scrabble up the rubble and join the fray. Nineve and One-Eye get a face full of bone shards as I hack the monster in the back, Hezzrak clinging to one of it’s skulls all the while. Haroldur and Sarek wisely stay on the other side of the collapsed bridge and pepper the monster with spells, occasionally yelling advice. At length, Nineve finishes the monster off with a vial of holy water.

With that epic battle behind us, we take stock and continue on. The next room has been mostly caved in. I squeeze past the rubble blocking the entrance to scout ahead while the rest of the group starts clearing a larger path. As I step into the room, I notice a pool in the center. I approach it, and a large skeletal dragon erupts from the pool in a fountain of water. I notice the dragon is definitely worse for the wear – it’s missing an arm and it’s tail, but I’m sufficiently taken aback that I turn around and scramble back through the crack. Hezzrak mutters something about “Snapper” – he’d forgotten about him… I help the others clear the rubble, and Haroldur sends One-Eye in. Nineve is close behind. Snapper unleashes its full fury on Nineve and One-Eye, and then I (reluctantly) run in to help. It’s a rough and brutal fight in which Nineve goes down, but we narrowly prevail. After the climactic battle, we elect to rest, despite Hezzrak’s insistence that we continue to “entertain” him….

After resting, we find Hezzrak’s promised loot:
4 everburning torches
black journal of historical interest
scroll (A) Resist Energy
set of granite dice (25gp)
scroll (A) Identify
bronze spectacles (10 gp)
potion – Protection from Good
scroll (A) Invisibility
wand – Detect Magic
lg. zircon paperweight (70 gp)
broad brimmed velvet hat (50 gp)
Dust of Disappearance
scroll (A) Baleful Transposition
green dragonhide gloves (300 gp)
Belt of Healing
embroidered linen blanket (10 gp)
obsidian chips (20 gp)
MW breastplate
gold bracelet (80 gp)
MW leather armor
MW lt. steel shield
marble relieve of dwarf wrestlers (gay! 100 gp)
lg. golden pearl (200 gp)
Soul Void Orb
really ugly earrings (50 gp)
mahogany bust of a scholar (75 gp)
scroll (A) Sending
potion – CSW
carved bone and ivory statuette (100 gp)
mithril circlet engraved with Elvish poetry (350 gp)
Audra crystal
jade cameo pendant (250 gp)
potion – Fly

We divide all the loot we’ve accumulated and we each get 6 pp, 646 gp, and 1830 sp… if we want it.

Brolan encourages us to move on to the cavern with the confiscated notes. We leave Hezzrak’s keep and move through the goblin warrens, avoiding wandering patrols. At length, we come to a huge cavern. We’re on a cliff about 25 feet above the main cavern floor. Below, hundreds of goblins are tending an incredibly huge, unbelievably massive yellow musk creeper. 3 goblin guards stand up on our cliff, blocking our path to the next cavern. We decide stealth is our only option, and try to take them out as quietly as possible. Our plan almost fails, as my companions are not exactly the sniping sort, but we manage to eliminate the goblin guards without alerting the rest of the horde.

We continue on to a precarious log bridge, and Haroldur nearly plummets to his certain doom, but somehow regains his balance and manages to continue the clifftop escape. Next, we come to a 15 foot cliff. I climb up and lower a rope for the party. Everyone makes it up fine except for Haroldur, who finally manages it after several false starts. At the top of the cliff, an ogre zombie is waiting for us, just around the corner. We get stuck in and are surprised to hear the sounds of shrieking goblin-imp combat in the chamber ahead. It would seem Hezzrak is “helping”... We hack through the zombie and move on to the goblins Hezzrak has started for us. The last goblin surrenders, but Hezzrak ices him, cackling evilly.

Brolan explains that these caves should contain Alastor’s notes, and on closer inspection, we notice the area is littered with the debris of ages. Everything that could have conceivably been carried off in a thousand goblin raids clutters these caverns in haphazard stacks. However, the sounds of our recent combat have undoubtedly drawn some attention, so we should hurry and try to find those notes as quickly as possible. Hezzrak, Sarak and I search while Nineve and Haroldur keep watch. We find:

Alastor’s notes (Lucky!)
wand of Magic Missile
wand of Resurgence
troll gut rope
deck of interesting looking cards
scroll (A) Bull’s Strength
potion – Bear’s Endurance
+1 shortsword
vial of silversheen

Hezzrak finds the silversheen and cackles with glee. The goblins finally hear us and begin to give chase. The rest of the party begins their escape, but Hezzrak and I stay behind for one last loot grab. I find a jewel-hilted longsword (+1 mithral Elvencraft) and Hezzrak grabs a Dwarven beer stein (an Everfull Mug).

We join the chase just in front of the massive goblin horde. I sprint ahead, soon outpacing the heavily armored cleric and knight, traipsing gingerly across rope bridges and scrambling up rocky cliffs like they’re not there. I emerge first from the caverns, to find Tamklar and his team of dwarves preparing to collapse the mine. I explain that all the goblins ever born in a 500 mile radius are right on our heels. Also, we found the yellow musk creeper god, and I think we made it angry…

Tamklar explains taht I can help them collapse the caverns more quickly, so I set to it. Sarek comes dashing out of the caverns a moment later, with his robes hiked up around his knobbly wizard-knees. A score of goblins is right on his tail. Hezzrak pops into existence and casts Suggestion on the first goblin to appear, causing it to dance. Then Sarek webs the passage he’d just emerged from, trapping the first of the goblin menace. More goblins pour into the side passages, and Sarek draws a scroll and Lightning Bolts a line of them. Nineve comes up behind a band of goblins, with more on her heels. Just then, the dwarves collapse the caves and boulders start falling all around us. Haroldur runs out just in time, and we all rush out, blinking into the sunlight, as the thundering crash of the mountain collapsing onto the goblin horde rings in our ears.

Back in Kolbenberg, we’re local heroes. We rest up and heal our wounds and assess the goblin treasure we made off with. Also, I provide care to Tamklar’s wife – I think I can help her get through the worst of the Red Ache now, though her condition has deteriorated since I saw her last. Brolan, Sarek and I pour through Alastor’s jumbled, dirty notes and manage to determine that he was on the trail of Ulavant (which we knew) and was headed to a plave called the Whispering Cairn (which we didn’t). Sarek and I don’t know where the Whispering Carin is, but we’ve heard of the Cairn Hills outside of Diamond Lake – it might be a good place to start our search.

Sarek sends the Cabal an update:
“Following Ulevant to Cairn Hills.
Need info on Whispering Carin.
Request additional material support.
Kolbenberg is sacked, in desperate need of supplies, guards, priests, rebuilding.”

They reply:
“We cannot offer aid to Kolbenberg.
They must live or die on their own.
Ask a local about Whipering Cairn.
What support is required? >2000gp.”

Wise of them to put a gp limit on that, with Haroldur around….

As we are investigating the deck of cards we found, the image of a woman appears to us and introduces herself as Zolara. She was once a powerful fate-spinner, and has bound her spirit to her Harrow cards, that she may continue to use her influence even in death. She has fortold our coming and has been waiting for us for many years. She explains that as long as she travels with us, she can foreshadow events and subtly manipulate our futures.

“Allow me to demonstrate”, she says, and she does a Harrow reading.

The Choosing:
Ashe – The Survivor
Sarek – The Sickness
Haroldur – The Teamster
Nineve – The Brass Dwarf

The Spread:

The Waxworks -The Trumpet -—The Cricket
The Lost ---The Fiend --—The Betrayal
The Hidden Truth —The Crows ---The Eclipse

~Ashe

  • The Harrow deck is also from Paizo’s Pathfinder stuff. We’re trying it out as a storytelling mechanic – hopefully it’ll be cool. Basically it consists of 56 cards, one each for each abilty and each alignment. The spread tells the past, present and future for the party, occasionally revealing hidden information, or hinting at things to come. The choosing indicates an ability that will be pivotal in upcomming events (the next adventure), and each character has a card that grants a certain bonus in an encounter in the next adventure.
View
Episode 6

Episode 6: 5/10/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

Zolara interprets our Harrow reading:

“Expect to find a hidden place of despair in a location you have previously cleansed. A great many have suffered and been lost there. In the near future, there will be a journey, which will go smoothly. At the end of the journey, betrayal and a great test await you.”

Tamklar and his family accompany us to Diamond Lake, along with Brolan, of course, and the trip passes uneventfully. The crew isn’t happy about Hezzrak’s presence, but they don’t put up too much of a fuss. We arrive in Diamond Lake in the early morning, and the soldiers crewing for us return to the barracks. We make our way to the Grey Convent, and find it much improved. Yril, Aodra and Tares, the new acolytes, greet us, and we compliment them on their diligent work. Yril tells us that the townsfolk are afraid of body-snatching rumors circulating in the poor quarter (which in Diamond Lake is more like the poor three-quarters). Fearing the worst, they went to the observatory and found it infested with more zombies, but it was much more than they could handle by themselves. I swear that we will stop the zombie apocalypse, and we head off to visit our friend Lazare. Brolan agrees to stay at the Grey Convent for the time being.

On the way to Lazare’s, Kullen and some of his thugs approach us and ask our business. We explain we’ve finished our investigation in Kolbenberg and are merely passing back through Diamond Lake. We promise to mind our own business and be out of Smenk’s hair as soon as possible. Thus assured, Kullen and his boys saunter off, but keep a wary eye on us.

We visit Lazare, who greets us warmly, as usual. We tell him of our adventures in Kolbenberg, which takes until the better part of midday, and eventually get around to asking him about the Whispering Cairn. He agrees to consult his extensive library and do a bit of research, for the usual fee. We can return tomorrow to find out what he’s turned up.

The rest of the day is spent buying and selling. Haroldur barters with the church of Heironeus (the turncoat!) to turn his admittedly cool-looking ancient armor into +1 full plate. I get a cleric (NOT a Heironeus pig-cleric!) to cast Make Whole on Zasolomel’s mantle, and it looks much better now (and functions as +1 mithral chain! FTW!).

I have the opportunity to ask Tamklar what he’s doing with us. Scratching at his slowly regrowing stubble, he tells me that for weeks he prayed to Moradin for deliverance and his wife’s recovery, but his pleas fell upon deaf ears. In his opinion, it was Wee Jas who heard his prayers and answered them, and he’s willing to follow her (and subsequently us) from now on. Dwarves can be so single-minded! Why is everything always a life-debt with them?!? I play devil’s advocate and present the idea that perhaps Moradin works in mysterious ways (which neither of us is really buying). Ultimately I tell him that neither we nor Wee Jas demand or expect his allegiance – the Lady is never jealous for converts, as all come to know her eventually. That’s one of the advantages of being a death Goddess, I suppose. However, if he’s made up his mind (and he assures me he has), I offer to make accommodations for him and his family while they travel with us. He seems relieved. I remember that Tamklar is a professional miner, so I introduce him to Lazare. In no time, the two of them are eagerly discussing the progress on Lazare’s mine… they seem to be getting along swimmingly. It occurs to me that pairing Tamklar’s expertise and dwarven sensibility with Lazare’s business sense might create some SERIOUS problems for Balabar Smenk, and I smile inwardly. At any rate, Lazare insists that Tamklar and his family lodge with him and enjoy his hospitality, so I eventually make my exit…

The next day, we head off to the observatory to deal with the undead menace. On the road near the observatory, we find 3 ghouls stuffing a body down a well! Hezzrak shrieks loudly, waring them of our approach (gee, thanks). We exterminate them with extreme prejudice and collapse the well where they came from, since it appears the residents of the nearby farmhouse will no longer be needing it… During the battle, Haroldur acquires a zombie aid to replace One-Eye, who bravely (and mindlessly) sacrificed himself for the greater good in the battle with Snapper, the skeletal dragon. We figure collapsing the well counts as “burial”, so we say some rites and move on.

We proceed to the observatory and find it is indeed infested with zombies. As the battle is joined, Nineve receives a vision of the Brass Dwarf, and is immune to paralysis for this encounter! Overconfident, Nineve charges past the zombies and into a ghast ambush! Inexplicably, Sarek runs after her, begging her not to kill it! Soon, the rest of us are surrounded by zombies. Just as we’re getting stuck in, a wrackspawn emerges from the top of the observatory, joining the fray. The undead remains of a person who died from torture, their sole aim is to inflict their dying agony upon the living! Fortunately, Sarek manages to gain mental control of the tormented creature. The battle is pitched and Nineve’s horse is slain, but we eventually prevail, and an eerie silence falls on the area like a thick fog as we inter the bodies. Nineve insists on burying what’s left of her horse… it’s not much.

We rally and enter the observatory, where we are suddenly assaulted by a horrible, eldrich stench. Hezzrak scouts ahead for us and returns to inform us that the smell is caused by a bunch of maggots. He then begins extolling the epicurean virtues of maggots… Before we have time to retch at his description, the maggots surge down the hall, swarming over us and eating our sweet, tender flesh! Haroldur reacts quickly, unleashing waves of negative energy and vanquishing the swarm.

We press on and discover another maggot swarm emerging from a trap door. Haroldur again detonates the swarm with waves of negative energy.

The trapdoor leads down to a stone basement. Shelves of recently used, grimy, rusty surgical equipment line the walls. Groans and shrieks emanate from behind barred wooden doors to the wretched cells that line the chamber. Suddenly, a Necrosis Carnax, a hideous amalgam of flesh and iron bands lurches towards us from an operating table as we approach. A vision of the Survivor appears to me at the beginning of the fight, and I feel my fortitude enhanced! The Necrosis Carnax emits a wail of despair, and is joined by zombies from the cells deeper in the basement as we dive into combat. I leap onto a table and lay about with my new +1 shortsword, Anir, Hand of Dusk. Soon, I am surrounded by the zombie horde. Sarek wrests mental control of a zombie just as another wrackspawn erupts from a cell and into the fight. We narrowly prevail, and afterwards, we make the rather uncharacteristic decision to retreat back to town for a wand of healing, as we’re all quite worse for the wear.

While we’re shopping, Tares runs into us and inquires about our expedition. He chats nervously with us and I glare at him for making small talk while I’m picking up dropped pieces of my liver. At last we acquire the wand, heal up, and head back out to the observatory.

In one of the basement’s cells, we find a badly mutilated but still living captive. We heal it a little, but despite our efforts it is still unable to communicate. I ask Hezzrak to telepathically communicate with it to determine who committed such atrocities. However, the captive’s mind is completely shattered from the torments. Hezzrak begs us to let him keep it as a pet, and that’s enough to convince me – I promptly coup de grace the captive, putting it out of its misery.

Further investigation of the cells reveals a hidden door, thanks to my superior elf senses. We go inside and discover an entirely new horrible, disgusting odor. This day has been an olfactory tour-de-force, it seems. The room is filled with an acidic-smelling, slightly volatile, probably flammable vapor. 3 acid zombies, like the ones Filge the narcissistic necromancer kept as “pets”, guard the chamber. As we’re taking in the scene, the vaporous form of a hundred shifiting faces coalesces and addresses us – a quell. It seems to have mistaken us for its apprentice. When he realizes that we’re not the Wee Jasians he’s looking for, insults are exchanged and the battle is swiftly joined.

The quell takes a shine to Sarek, and assaults his mind with dark whisperings, dazing him. Simultaneously, Sarek receives a vision of the Sickness, and feels suddenly stronger and more healthy…

The quell’s undying hatred for all things divine severs Haroldur’s connection to Wee Jas! The fight is dire, and the quell seems to focus on the cleric. It takes him down and starts eating his brain, but Sarek’s wand of magic missiles and Nineve’s might finally take it down. Just then, we notice Hezzrak has an evil gleam in his eye, and his finger glowing with a pent-up Scorching Ray…. We leap from the chamber just in time to avoid obliteration as fire is introduced to the volatile vapor with explosive results. The chamber blows up behind us. In the settling dust, we hear the tower creaking unstably, so we beat a hasty retreat outside as the observatory collapses around us.

Just outside the observatory, on what I’d previously dubbed the “Zombie Lawn”, Tares the acolyte confronts us, accompanied by 3 warriors. He explains that he can’t let us live now that we have destroyed the fountain of knowledge from which he so greedily drank. Steel is drawn, and the battle is joined.

Hezzrak makes a Suggestion to one of the guards that he dance until he can’t dance anymore… the deadly cha-cha begins. The bard-guard provides his own accompaniment, singing the greatest dance hits of all time – a strange yet amusing aural backdrop for the present circumstances.

Haroldur receives a vision of the Teamster and feels charged up and ready to go. Just as we’re getting our groove on, a rogue emerges from the trees and attacks Nineve! I declare a rogue fight, and run over to show her how it’s really done.

This fight is a rollicking good time, and we eventually beat Tares into submission. We capture him and will take him to be prosecuted at the Ruby Temple in the capitol for his illegal, unsanctioned practice of necromancy. (Also: insubordination, assaulting a superior officer of the church, and general sniveling.) The singing, dancing warrior surrenders to us, swearing off fighting forever as he explains that he suddenly feels a calling to be a bard. We let him go – after all, he was pretty good…

We clean up, interring the bodies and saying the rites. Even though we treat the collapsed observatory as a mass grave, the ground is still littered with fresh burial sites when we are finally finished.

Sarek sends an update to the Cabal:

Tares was under control of a quell, practicing unsanctioned necromancy.
We have him captured, a little worse for wear.
Please advise.

They reply:

Will send Legionnaires with your supplies to escort him to the Cabal for trial.
Good Work.

We return to town victorious, and stop in to see what Lazare has turned up. He says it was a bit hard to find, but the Whispering Cairn is the site of a very old burial tomb from before the Age of the Imperium, and it has been thoroughly looted. Always prepared, he provides us with a map before we can even ask. Uncharacteristically, Lazare is unfriendly towards Hezzrak and refuses to play chess with him. Hezzrak gets really irritated, but they seem to have some sort of wizard stare-off, and the imp backs down and leaves in a huff. I’m intrigued and want to ask Lazare what that little scene was all about, but I decide against bringing it up.

We return to the Convent to explain to Yril and Aodra about Tares – they’re understandably shocked. Upon examining Tares’s things, we dicover the rest of Filge’s missing notes, along with Tares’s progress in that vein. Apparently, both were “learning” from the quell, with Tares picking up where Filge left off.

3 days later, Diamond Lake is abuzz as the Legionnaires arrive to deliver our goods and take Tares into custody. We also hand over the notes and other evidence we found among Tares’s things. We receive:

4 grey and red Cloaks of Protection +1
a Heward’s Handy Haversack
2 scrolls of sending
8 potions of CMW
2 new changes of clothes (each)
20 MW crossbow bolts
20 MW arrows

After the Legionnaires depart and things settle down, we prepare to head off to the Whispering Cairn. Zolara again appears and offers us another reading:

The Choosing:
Ashe – The Hidden Truth
Sarek – The Snakebite
Haroldur – The Wanderer
Nineve – The Rakshasa

The Spread:

The Betrayal ---The Mute Hag -—-The Queen Mother
The Hidden Truth --The Bear --——The Uprising
The Inquisitor---The Rakshasa —The Lost

~Ashe

View
Episode 7

Episode 7: 5/24/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/1-2
Haroldur, human cleric/3
Nineve Floret, human knight/3
Sarek, human wizard/3

Zolara interprets our Harrow reading:

“Ancient secrets influence events that have brought you to this point, but hidden danger threatens as well. Strange runes guide your path. Unshakable loyalty binds inseparable companions. Someone you seek still lives, but is pinned beneath an 8-pointed star, and is held by another will entirely. Fire first and darkness after. A group, once coherent, is now lost in madness and forever waiting in the dark to share their curse.”

In Diamond Lake, Brolan and Lazare become research buddies, as both are interested in the Whispering Cairn stuff. Lazare hands over his findings, along with Brolan and Sarek’s interpretation of Alastor’s notes:

The cairns are reputed to be the final resting places of ancient warriors known as the Storm Kings who ruled a great empire long before the Imperium. The Whispering Cairn itself is and intricate grave that is thousands of years old.

All of the known Cairns share a similar architecture: wide, tall corridors constructed from strange white stone blocks of massive size leading to a central tomb chamber. These cairns have long ago been throughly looted, and whatever defenses were once in place have been defeated. However, local legends persist, insisting that unexplored chambers with undiscovered treasures from a bygone era remain hidden within the cairns, awaiting someone clever or brave enough to claim them.

The Whispering Cairn itself is one of the larger tombs, known locally for the eerie sounds that whisper within the entrance and corridor of the cairn. It has gained a sinister reputation around Diamond Lake, with many claiming that it is haunted or filled with still active, deadly traps. The last recorded expedition to the Whispering Cairn was some 60 years ago, lead by Ulavant.

Alastor had been studying Ulavant’s notes for several years during his retirement in Kolbenburg, and learned several things of great interest. Through his research, Ulavant had come to believe that the Storm Kings had gone to great lengths to hide the tombs of their fallen warriors. Most warriors were interred in tombs with several false burial chambers and dead ends to mislead would-be tomb robbers. The truly important tombs of their greatest warriors were concealed so well that none have ever been found. Ulavant believed that some of the more prominent Storm King tombs were linked to these important tombs, providing the only means of access. Ulavant theorized that the true burial chamber within the lesser tomb also contained whatever method the Storm Kings used to link the tombs together, most likely some variety of portal.

Moreover, Ulavant had come to be convinced that the tomb known locally as the Whispering Cairn was one of these lesser tombs linked to a greater burial site. The prospect of locating one of these greater tombs, un-plundered for countless years became an obsession for both Ulavant and Alastor.

Lazare asks us to please pass along any additional information we find on our expedition to the Cairn. I agree to take judicious notes.

Haroldur shops around and acquires a butler’s outfit for his new thrall, whom he fusses over and calls “Jeeves”. I purchase 3 horses for the party, and food. We make preparations to head out, but Nineve seems to have contracted ghoul fever. Haroldur does what he can for her.

On the way out of town, Hezzrak tells us not to trust Lazare, and that he threatened to eat him! I ask dryly if that was a telepathic threat. Hezzrak says he’s surprised I didn’t hear Lazare, because he sure did… I tell Hezzrak that I bet he hears a lot of things that I don’t.

We hit bad weather on the way, but eventually make it to the Whispering Cairn without incident, even though we are now deep in ogre country. Nineve is clearly ill with ghoul fever, but insists we press on. It’s been drizzling all day and we arrive at the Cairn just before nightfall. I find a secluded copse to tether our horses, and we move into the cave-like entrance of the Cairn. Once inside, I realize this is a mistake, as we are clearly in the ogre’s lair. With nowhere else to go, we continue into the Cairn, scaling the makeshift barrier of logs and detritus that blocks the passage.

From farther down the corridor we can hear angry, inarticulate roaring. It sounds as if the creature is chained in some way. Since it isn’t an immediate threat, I spend a few minutes to look around while the rest of my companions struggle to surmount the pile of logs. I find a green leather quiver and 4 usable arrows among the refuse littering the floor, clearly the work of my people. Just as Nineve makes it over the logs, the wailing creature breaks free and comes barreling around the corner.

A degenerate ogre stands before us, it’s milky blind eyes rolling in their sockets as python-thick arms shake with rage. Nineve and I rush in to meet the new threat. The rest of the party joins in as they scramble over the obstacle. At the beginning of combats, the Hidden Truth appears to me, and I am granted extra insight about our foe. The only insight I need, however, is the fact that this particular degenerate ogre is suddenly, inexplicably seized with a fit of allergies, and we beat it down quickly. At the end of combats, Haroldur receives the vision of the Wanderer, and finds value others may have overlooked. This time, he finds a magic buckler.

Soon, a pair of ogres enter the Cairn and lumber into view. Hezzrak suggests the larger ogre is the star of the metropolitan ballet. Thus distracted, we defeat his companion easily. However, the would-be ballerina proves more challenging. Just before he knocks me out, he impales Nineve on his massive bailing hook! Fortunately, we pull through. Just as we’re healing up, Haroldur gets shot in the back – it’s Zasalamel!

He again begins listing off crimes we don’t recognize, except “consorting with devils”, which Hezzrak takes exception to. In response, Hezzrak blasts a Scorching Ray into Zasalamel’s chest. Jeeves the butler ghoul is utterly destroyed, much to Haroldur’s dismay. At length, Sarek exploits a loophole in the fabric of the multiverse and banishes the Justice Archon with a darkbolt, blasting him into the past (or is it the future?). Haroldur carefully retrieves the butler outfit.

We turn our attentions back to the degenerate ogre. We find he was chained to a mysterious stone object. Upon closer inspection, we determine it was part of a transportation apparatus, and is covered with mysterious ancient runes. I take rubbings of the runes to show Lazare, Brolan, and the Cabal later. Sarek is fairly certain the base of the sculpture bears the name “Zosiel”.

Moving on, we find ogre-vandalized mosaics and bas-reliefs surrounding a marble dais. Haroldur cleans them off with a Create Water. While Haroldur is washing the walls, I search the disgusting ogre bedchamber opposite the marble dais area. I find:

a marble index finger from a statue
an elven armband
a lantern with violet glass panes
9gp
15sp
assorted ancient clockwork pieces

Once the mosaic is clean, I make a detailed sketch of it for posterity.

Continuing down the stairs, we enter a large central chamber with several passageways branching off from it radially. The passageways are distinguished by different colored lanterns. In the blue lantern hallway, we find a skeleton. I determine he died from falling damage.

The center of the room contains a sarcophagus. The marble finger i found earlier clearly was at one time attached to the sculpture. It is wearing an ornamented disc around its neck, and I take a rubbing of it. Then, we carefully open the lid of the sarcophagus. A blast of wind knocks us back and coalesces into a whirlwind humanoid shape, which of course attacks us. Nineve lands the killing blow, to Hezzrak’s infinite frustration, and the creature dissipates.

Closer inspection of the sarcophagus reveals that it appears to rotate. We rotate it one position (to the yellow passageway), and an elevator appears! We enter it after some ridiculous “safety” debate with Head-Injury Nineve, and take a ride down to a new chamber. More carvings cover the walls. At the end of the hallway, a faint light flickers. As we advance towards the light, we smell the odor of burning flesh. Soon, we notice the source of light – a burning corpse which rises from its resting place and advances on us menacingly.

Nineve receives the vision of the Rakshasa, and feels more resilient and willful. With the distance closed, we notice the foe is actually a smoldering body bearing the 8-pointed star of the Seekers of Wee Jas. The body appears to be being controlled by a flaming effigy. Haroldur separates the effigy from its victim, and Hezzrak finally lands the killing blow, after several misses.

We heal up the charred (but living) body and find that he’s Alastor Land! After a brief explanation, we take him with us.

The next room contains a brown mold, which Sarek dispatches. Hezzrak is perched atop one of several clockwork horrors, which appear to be inactive. In the center of the room is a large gray fixture with fountains on either side – one flowing with water and the other an orange sludge, which I determine to be nutritive. I take a vial of it for further analysis. Suddenly, the clockwork horrors spring to life, startling Hezzrak.

They start making high-pitched whirring noises, and then unleash a barrage of electrical attacks! The horrific beetle-like robots attack with deadly accuracy, slinging darts, arcs of electricity, and buzzing circular saws. Ash falls under the weight of a particularly well-placed dart. Hezzrak rains corrosive acid on them from above as the rest of the party hacks away at their tough metal exteriors.

At length, they fall to our might. With the aid of the Wanderer, Haroldur finds a golden amulet and some magical oil. We are all feeling stronger from our experiences and decide to rest in this chamber before continuing on.

~Ashe

View
Episode 8

Episode 8: 7/19/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4

We rest and recuperate somewhat in the fountain room. Everyone but me decides to sample the nutritive orange goo, and in the morning they all seem to be feeling better than expected, although Nineve’s ghoul fever seems to be worsening. We go back to the sarcophagus chamber, and Alastor, in a rare moment of clarity, convinces us to explore the ruin more thoroughly before heading back to Diamond Lake. We rotate the sarcophagus towards the indigo hallway, which I discover is not actually another levitating platform to another area – it’s just a deadly trap! I disable it and find 2 pouches among the crushed bone fragments containing:

35 pp
a ruby (200 gp)

We rotate the sarcophagus again to the green hallway, and the depression lowered slightly and started glowing. We hear a low rumble and a faint skittering sound. Moments later, a living geyser of beetles erupts from the depression and swarms towards Nineve! Sarek vaporizes the beetle swarm immediately, but just as the smoke clears, 2 copper clockwork horrors climb out of the hole and attack Nineve, followed by the biggest bombardier beetle I’ve ever seen. Within seconds, an electrum horror also joins the fray! The battle is pitched, and sprays of acid fill the air, but finally, the last beetle goes down. Through the Wanderer, Haroldur finds a wand of invisibility lodged in a beetle’s carapace. After checking for traps, we head down the shaft.

The platform glides to a halt and we are in a small antechamber surrounded by disapproving-looking bas-reliefs. Suddenly, we are surrounded by yet more beetles! Haroldur detonates a wave of negative energy, and we quickly prevail against the vermin. Afterwards, Haroldur finds a glitterstone.

We inspect a small chamber to the right and discover the remains of 3 humans among a huge beetle nest, seemingly made of the dried orange goo. On them, we find:

3 CLW potions
a string of stone beads
a ring with a feather motif

Hezzrak is especially interested in the beetles, claiming their diet of nutritive orange goo makes them particularly delectable. He stuffs beetles into his mouth by the fistfull, smacking and crunching as he extols their virtues as a snack food. He pesters me for a sack so that he can take some “to go”... I find an empty pouch and toss it in his direction. He seems disappointed that it’s not big enough to hold all the beetles he wants, but I explain that we’ll very likely have to come back this way, so he can pick up more on the way out. Within seconds he has stuffed the pouch to overflowing with the writhing beetles, and is messily gorging himself. I try not to watch.

The next chamber contains a powerful-looking statue of a warrior, and several stone slabs. On one of the slabs, a humanoid figure lies in repose under a shroud. A large bombardier beetle appears to be sleeping at the foot of the statue. Upon entering the room, Sarek and Nineve suddenly decide that this is a good place for a quick rest, but Haroldur is immediately suspicious and thinks some sort of magical aura is present in the room. He doesn’t like the look of this room and wants us to leave immediately, but I insist we check on the shrouded figure. Closer examination reveals him to have been a seeker, long since dead, who has been carefully laid to rest. We leave him in peace and move on.

We pass some fully looted alcoves, where we stash what’s left of Alastor, and continue down some stairs. We come upon a low-ceilinged room filled with ankle-deep water and inactive clockwork horrors. As we pick our way through the room, I notice some of the horrors are starting to show flashing lights. We brace for impact. The horrors spring to life! Electricity arcs dangerously across the room, and Haroldur goes down!

As I look for a path through the constructs to him, I catch a glimpse of a mechanical humanoid pinned under a broken pillar, watching me. I fight my way over to it, and it seems to be beckoning for help. However, it is obviously pinned beneath the several ton weight of the fallen pillar. It starts making noises at me that sound like language, but I don’t understand any of it. It clutches at my leg, but I try to explain that I’ll try to help free it as soon as we’ve dealt with the clockwork horror threat. I clamor over the column and pour a healing potion down Haroldur’s (now conscious) throat.

Just as I move on to join Nineve’s attack, I hear Hezzrak fall. He must’ve eaten too many beetles right before battle! I rush to his aid, but just as I arrive, Sarek casts Baleful Transposition and Hezzrak suddenly blinks away and appears on the floor in front of the wizard. In his place is a copper clockwork horror (previously menacing Sarek), which I quickly dispatch.

Head-Injury Nineve accidentally brains herself with her own mace, while surrounded by clockwork horrors! Haroldur heals her just in time. The fight is long and brutal, but we eventually prevail. With the Wanderer, Haroldur finds a pair of Goggles of Foe Seeing.

With the immediate danger behind us, Nineve and I work together to free the mechanical construct. He cycles through several strange languages before he finally says “hello” in Elven. I respond and he seems pleased to have discovered that I speak “the slaves’ tongue”! We converse briefly and I try to get a handle on who he is and how long he’s been here. He tells me his name is 31E37, and he seems to be an Imperium relic, trapped down here for thousands of years! I don’t have time to give him a brief history of modern civilization, but I stress to him that elves are NOT a slave race, and if we ever were, it was so long ago that even our sages don’t remember it! 31E (as I’ve taken to calling him) wants to be taken to the nearest Imperium terminus. Sarek (who can speak to him in Draconic) and I explain to him that any Imperium terminus we find will be nothing more than a ruin. Understandably, the idea that the civilization that created him has been utter destroyed millenia ago is slow to sink in. We tell him we may not be able to get him to a terminus, but he should come with us anyway, since it’s better than being stuck down here. 31E is badly damaged, and his left arm and leg have been completely crushed and destroyed. Also, important sections of his memory seem to be damaged or missing. As I lift him to a standing position, he grabs a clockwork beetle from his crushed remains and attaches it to his torso. He says he knows it’s important, but he can’t remember why.

While Sarek and I are chatting up the construct, the rest of the party loots the bodies. They find an orange lantern like the ones in the sarcophagus room among the debris, along with:

an Imperium-era silver chalice with lapis inlay
a potion of Fox’s Cunning
a metal coffer containing gold bars worth 700gp
a fragment of a marble relief, obviously similar to the type covering the walls of this ruin
a pair of Brute Gauntlets
a pair of clockwork wings (31E says they’re not his)

We retrieve Alastor and go back to the fountain room to rest, with Nineve carrying the charred Seeker, and 31E leaning heavily on me like a crutch. Haroldur grumbles that we’re collecting a “circus of cripples”. I shoot him a nasty glance, but truthfully, he’s right.

We all (except the construct) partake of the nutritious orange goo, and in the morning everyone is feeling surprisingly fresh. Nineve even seems to be recovering from her ghoul fever. Alastor is still delirious with agony, so we elect to leave him in this room near the water and goo paste where he’ll be safe while we explore the rest of the cairn. I explain this to him as best I can and leave him a note to the same effect, in case he comes out of his delirium briefly while we’re gone and starts to panic.

We head back to the sarcophagus room and try to find a way deeper into the cairn. We determine the only way left to go is up. At Haroldur’s suggestion, I put on the ring with the feather motif we found earlier and climb up the chain that suspends the blue lantern. After a grueling 80-foot ascent, I find a narrow corridor leading off into the darkness. I lower my troll gut rope and haul everyone else up. It’s a good thing I’m feeling so much stronger these days.

We proceed cautiously down the corridor, which ends in a huge stone face twisted in a terrible scream that blocks the entire passage. A quick glance around reveals deep scratches in the walls leading to the ledge. Haroldur doesn’t like the looks of this at all, and we quickly decide the rest of the party should wait at the bottom while I disarm the face.

After everyone is safely down the shaft, I approach the face again, carefully looking for clues to disarm the inevitable trap. I venture slightly deeper and step on a large slab, identical to the others, and hear a “click”. The face’s eyes glow in a hypnotic pattern, flashing indigo, blue, yellow, and orange, and I am momentarily transfixed as a strong gust of wind starts blowing me backwards towards the ledge. I fervently hope this unidentified ring we found is really a Ring of Featherfall…

Fortunately, it is. I am blown off the ledge and float harmlessly down to the floor. It’s actually quite pleasant. After some brief discussion, we decide to light the unlight lanterns, which just happen to be the indigo, blue, yellow, and orange ones. Somewhere in the distance, my keen elven ears detect the faint strains of a “puzzle solved” sound…

After 10 minutes, the gusting trap finally stops. I climb back up the 80 foot chain and this time when I approach the face, it slides quietly into the floor, revealing blackness beyond. I turn around and head back to the ledge to lower the rope, when I just barely catch the faint sound of stealthily running footsteps coming up behind me. I turn around just in time to get a face full of ghoul! As the foul undead slams into me, I jump off the ledge and start to float down. In a moment, I break the grapple and send the ghoul plummeting to its (re?)death. As I finish my descent, Haroldur congratulates me on a ghoul well killed, and uses the Wanderer to discover a Gem of Life-Drinking on its dessicated body.

I tell the party that I think the way is now clear, and I begin what I hope will be my final ascent up the chain. Once at the top, I check for more ghouls and, finding none, haul up my companions. Everyone is pleased that I got them tickets to the gun show.

We continue down the corridor and pass the face without incident, but we leave 31E37 on the other side so he can let us back out if we run into a dead end.

Past the face, the corridor opens to a large, dimly lit chamber. A robed figure appears at the end of the room, seemingly delighted to have found a way out of this prison at last. However, we can all sense he’s hiding something from us. Immediately suspicious, Haroldur casts Silence on himself as we are all charged by ghouls. It’s an ambush!

The image of the Snakebite appears to Sarek, and he gains the ability to Sneak Attack temporarily! Unfortunately, I don’t have time to admire my little protege, as he is immediately attacked and paralyzed by a hidden ghoul! Moments later, Haroldur suffers the same fate.

In a brave and desperate attempt to save them, Nineve activates her Test of Mettle ability, and taunts all the ghouls into attacking her. They swarm her and she fights valiantly, but is soon paralyzed by their blows. I rush in to save her as Haroldur and then Sarek shake off their paralysis, and we narrowly manage to keep her alive as we pick the foul beasts off one by one.

Suddenly, the robed figure reappears, snatching Haroldur’s holy symbol from his neck, and declares that he is Ulavant! While he may have once been the revered Seeker known as Ulavant, his features are twisted and pallid – he has clearly become a ghast. Hezzrak Suggests that his “big brother” is coming, so Ulavant had better get a magic circle of protection up, stat! This buys us the time we need to finish off the last of the ghouls before he realizes he’s been duped.

Enraged, Ulavant seizes Nineve, paralyzing her easily, and threatens to kill her unless we free him. A look of brave resignation tinged with regret passes over her eyes as his fingers tighten around her throat. Without thinking, I instantly agree to his demands. He says he takes my word as a Keeper (oops) and releases Nineve, dropping her body to the floor. Haroldur immediately charges him. It’s an intense couple of seconds, but the rest of the party manages to take him down while I drag Nineve a safe distance from the threat. She recovers just in time to see him go down.

Standing over Ulavant’s ghastly corpse, we take a moment to collect ourselves and ponder the significance of our actions here. I think we’re going to need more than one Sending to explain this one…

~Ashe

View
Episode 9

Episode 8: 8/2/08

The Party:
Ashelia Raminas, elf ranger-rogue/2-2
Haroldur, human cleric/4
Nineve Floret, human knight/4
Sarek, human wizard/4

While we’re standing there, sharing a sombre moment over the incredibly foul-smelling ghoul corpse of Ulavant, we suddenly realize we haven’t contacted the Cabal since we captured Tares! We elect to inform them of our progress. Also… we’re standing in a room filled with dead Seekers-turned-Ghouls, whose remains, such that they are, need to be returned to the Ruby Temple for proper interment. None of us fancies the idea of riding overland for a week on a cart with the rotting corpses of a Seeker squad. We’re going to need a collection team. Sarek sends:

[insert sendings here]

Meanwhile, we divide the loot we’ve accumulated so far. Afterwards, I investigate the large door at the far end of the chamber, and find it to be impassably locked. There is a plate bearing an ornate rune on the center of the door that looks like it must be key to opening it. I take a rubbing of the plate, as well as the available text on the walls of the chamber. In particular, there is a repeating rune which appears to be a name of some sort. Sarek and I can’t quite translate it. I am sure to get a few very good examples of that.

I also find Ulavant’s belongings hidden near the door. Of interest is his journal. It is obvious he couldn’t translate the runes, either, but glancing through it, his story becomes clear. His team came here, convinced they would find a portal linking to another, more important, and completely undisturbed tomb. However, without a way to open this door, and with no one manning the entrance to this closed chamber, they were trapped. Hunger got to them, and they eventually degenerated into picking off unwary team members in the night and cannibalizing them. However, after a time even this plan gave out, and they gradually starved to death, only to rise as hungry undead as a result of their cannibalism. Through his madness, moments of lucid thought are evident – these pages depict a pious man in anguish over the horror of his situation. I shudder inwardly at his long, grim fate.

Anxious to turn my thoughts elsewhere, I head back to the entrance and, after several minutes of yelling, 31E finally hears me and opens the door. I show him the various rubbings, but he can’t read them, either. However, when I show him the rubbing of the plate on the locked door, he says it looks a lot like a metal plate he was sent here with. He produces it, and I compare the plate to the rubbing and determine they’re a match. It must be the key!

Back with the party, we decide to rest and formulate a plan. We stack the corpses of the Seekers on the pressure plate, keeping the door to the chamber open. Then, Sarek somehow convinces me to gather bombardier beetle corpses so he can raise them as zombies. This done, we return to the goo room and rest.

In the morning, Sarek and Nineve have clearly contracted ghoul fever. However, with their help, the much-improved Alastor and I finally decipher the name-rune: “Icosiel”. Then, we head back to the door. When 31E puts his metal plate on the depression in the door, the portal splits in half and opens into a large, spheroid chamber.

Floating warriors clad in ceramic armor approach us, and after some confusion, they lead us on a tour of the chamber, pausing in front of a series of animated reliefs which show us the story of Icosiel and the history of their race.

The first panel depicts the Storm King race living a peaceful, idyllic existence, until monstrous creatures of darkness and terror begin to encroach upon their perfect world.

In the second panel, Storm Kings clad for war (including Zosiel) are saluting Icosiel, who has become a respected warrior and a hero to his people.

The 3rd panel depicts a major battle, where a great Storm King warrior wields the Rod of Law against the leader of the Army of Chaos. However, this use of the Rod destroys both the Storm King warrior and his opponent, and shatters the Rod into seven pieces.

In the last panel, seven Storm King leaders are each receiving a fragment of the Rod of Law amidst much ceremony. Icosiel and others look on.

Above the inactive portal is another name-rune. I can’t read it, but I recognize the symbol from the story – this is the name of one of the Storm Kings who received a part of the Rod. If Ulavant’s theory was correct, perhaps this portal, when active, would lead to his tomb! However, it certainly isn’t doing anything (or leading anywhere) at the moment. I take a rubbing of the rune in hopes that we can somehow translate it later.

At length, we join the waiting wind-warriors at the center of the spherical room, on a platform. Stepping into the center, we are borne gently upward on a column of wind and light to a smaller chamber above. This is clearly Icosiel’s burial chamber. Reliefs depicting the high points of his illustrious life adorn the walls.

As I climb the short flight of stairs to his sarcophagus, Icosiel’s statue, depicting him lying in state on the lid, turns to me and instructs in Elven, “Say my name”. Baffled, I blurt out, “Icosiel”, and a pale blue light washes over the room. When it subsides, a seam has become clearly visible in the sarcophagus. After some discussion, we reverently lift the lid. Inside, we discover:

Icosiel’s silver diadem (Circlet of Wisdom +2)
2 curved black horns with red tips (demon horns)
a pewter box inscribed with writhing alien letter forms
Lightning Sword of Icosiel (broken, but still useable)
a matching +1 shortsword

The pewter box appears to be welded shut, and it’s scurrying scrawl makes us somehow uneasy. I ask Hezzrack if he can read it… he takes one look and flies backwards, refusing to look at it anymore. When pressed, the imp says that he can’t quite read the writing because “it’s so old”, but he just knows it’s very, very bad. It occurs to me that something that is too much for Hezzrack is probably extremely dangerous. Haroldur wants to leave the box here, but I convince him that since we’ve breeched the tomb, this place is no longer secure. We can’t have this thing falling into the wrong hands. We agree to take it back with us to the Ruby Temple. With a pensive glance around at my companions – the impulsive Nineve, headstrong Haroldur, sinister Sarek… I tuck the box in among my belongings for safe-keeping.

We return one last time to the goo chamber, and I take extra samples of it for analysis. We decide to head back to Diamond Lake. It takes some time, but we finally haul everything (including the bodies of Ulavant’s team) up to the Cairn entrance. Fortunately, I thought ahead and purchased a cart and 2 mules to help us transport the bodies back to Diamond Lake! On the way to the cart, Hezzrack warns us that people are coming…

A haggard group of wild-eyed humans bursts out of the underbrush! As soon as the “leader” opens his mouth, it’s clear they are completely insane. However, they seem to be fixated on 31E…

The battle is joined, but suddenly, some of the attackers morph into aberrations called “faceless stalkers”. Spells and swords fly, and during the vicious fight, Haroldur and I fall. Just as things are looking grim, Kullen the half-orc erupts from the bushes and attacks the leader of the lunatic band! He bisects the madman, and a hail of crossbow bolts from the bushes rain down upon the aberrations. With their assistance, the battle is won.

As they are looting the corpses (which happens immediately), Kullen explains that “the boss” wants us watched, but he didn’t say anything about watching us die. We thank him and his boys for their assistance. Surveying the mercenary crew, I decide I don’t want them to feel I owe them anything. I pay the thugs a platinum piece each – except for one bright soul who proudly insists he won’t work for less than 10 gold. I pay him in his preferred coinage. Kullen refuses my offer of payment, nodding to the loot he scavenged off the leader’s corpse. As he leaves, he tosses us the madman’s necklace, the:

Sihedron Medallion

Haroldur and Nineve do the rites and bury the corpses, while I examine the remains of the faceless stalkers – no bodies, just a smoking, greasy black spot on the earth! I kick some dirt and debris over the residue, repulsed by the unnaturalness of it.

Our return trip to Diamond Lake is uneventful. Along the way Hezzrack fashions a crown out of leaves and twigs and proclaims himself “King of the Cart”, a title no one contests.

Back in Diamond Lake, the poor quarter has developed into “Little Kolbenberg”, and people gossip about us and treat us like celebrities – apparently, we’ve become local heroes. We make our way to the Grey Convent and lodge there. Also, we advise 31E to lay low, as the townsfolk would certainly find him very conspicuous.

In the morning, Sarek and Nineve visit the church of St. Cuthbert for healing, as they are still suffering badly from their disease. They are pressed into hard labor, and return at sundown. Meanwhile, I visit with Lazare and pick up some new chess skills. Alastor and Brolan are reunited, and set immediately to their notes. At dusk, Haroldur gives a mediocre sermon at the convent, to a small crowd.

The next morning, Sarek and Nineve are late to work at St. Cuthbert’s, and no doubt pay for it with their hides. I decide to spend the day working at the Convent, and Haroldur leaves to drum up more people for his evening sermon. In town, a guard captain is erecting a makeshift gallows to execute four hobos he claims were “plotting to kill the mayor”! Haroldur investigates and concludes that the hobos are innocent and the guard captain is under some kind of magical compulsion. He starts bombastically preaching in their favor, sparking a public debate, and word of the commotion spreads through town like wildfire.

The rest of us converge on the source of the disturbance, and suddenly realize we haven’t seen Hezzrack in a while… It’s not a huge leap of logic to conclude that he must be behind this. Sarek starts provoking the invisible imp by calling him his “familiar”, which of course elicits the usual tirade. Before things get too out of hand, I announce to Hezzrack (who is still invisible) that i spent all day yesterday learning new chess moves from Lazare, and I’ll meet him back at the convent for a game, if he’s interested. After a brief moment of consideration, he says “Deal!”, and I lure him back to the convent while Haroldur, Sarek, and Nineve sort out the mess.

Hezzrack plays chess with me and 31E all day. In the evening, the party and I decide we need to have tighter control of Hezzrack’s antics. After a heated debate over what to do, we decide to draw up a contract with him. He agrees to all the terms, though I suspect he’s just vowing to be more subtle with his mischief. Devils will be devils.

The next day, Sarek and Nineve have recovered and are released from service to the church of St. Cuthbert. We visit Lazare, Alastor and Brolan, who have had time to compare notes. They tell us that they’re sure the Rod depicted in the story is in fact none other than the Rod of Law, also known as the Rod of Seven Parts. This artifact is reputed to be so powerful, that throughout history, wars have been fought and kingdoms sacrificed for just a fragment of it. They also confirm my suspicion that the portal we found likely leads to the tomb of a Storm King leader who received a fragment of the Rod… and it’s almost certainly completely undisturbed and may even contain the fragment! All this discussion seems to have jogged 31E’s memory, and he recalls that he was sent to the Cairn initially to find this fragment or clues leading to it. Of course, the scholars are very excited by all of this.

They also tell us that to repair 31E, we’ll probably need to find an artificer, but no one is sure of how we can replace his lost limbs, as he is quite advanced.

Through all of this, I get the impression that Lazare knows more than he’s letting on, but I don’t press him on it. After all, he’s in the business of being in the know, and I imagine he won’t share whatever that knowledge is on anyone else’s terms.

Later that day, the Legionnaires arrive to collect the bodies of the Seekers and escort us back to Istivin, the capitol. Alastor and Brolan accompany us, along with Tamclar and his family. As we’re packing to leave, Zolara appears to us and offers us a reading:

The Choosing:
Ashe – The Twin
Sarek – The Betrayal
Haroldur – The Empty Throne
Nineve – The Tyrant

The Spread:

The Winged Serpent --The Survivor --—- The Publican
The Empty Throne --The Rabbit Prince ----The Crows
The Desert ----The Courtesan ---The Sickness

~Ashe

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.