Wednesday, October 6, 2010, 1:12 PM
SoW: Session 19: The Temple Between
Upon seeing the dragon, Toby immediately launched himself all out at the fearsome scaled monster. Striking it hard, he threw it off-balance and almost over the edge of the building. He also opened a gaping wound on it's side that gushed blood for quite a while before it slowed, but was lost amongst the other wounds as the rest of the Stormwardens gained the roof tops. Isla called down the storm upon the dragon, the massive lightning blasts knocking the dragon flat on it's belly as it scambled to keep from being knocked off to the ground below. The dragon finally recovered it's sense enough to attempt to retaliate. However, rather than calling upon it's draconic strength, it instead called forth eldritch energies from the Feywild to strike at the minds of the Stormwardens. Unfortunately for the dragon, the Stormwardens had well hardened their wills versus such weak attacks as the rattled dragon could muster.
Garrus, Matthius, and eventually Bale all made their way up to engage the dragon, Bale calling down a multitude of prayers of Moradin that smote the dragon mightly and left it ablaze. He also used a prayer that was typically used to pull people out of trouble to call Garrus to his side where he stood toe to claw with the dragon. Soon the dragon was bloodied, a multitude of wounds rending it's scaled hide and it attempted to take to the air. Falling backwards over the edge, it's wings snapped open with a leathery snap as it took to the air. However, it foolishly didn't flee as it hovered above, still trying to defeat the Stormwardens. It inflicted some damage, but only minor compared to the assault upon the dragon. Soon, the dragon had been knocked out of the sky and the Stormwardens were triumphant over their first dragon.
Throughout the day, there was fighting along the walls, but nothing major that called on the services of the Stormwardens. Kalad and Amyria shone forth on the battlements, leading by example to repel the invading forces.
On the second day, a message from Durkik called for the Stormwardens to help seal a breach in the walls. Rushing there, they passed Durkik and his guard where they were preparing some ritual. Closer, the sounds of fighting resounded from the Overlook forces trying to keep the invading forces from pushing their way into this portion of the city. However, it seems once the breach was made, some of the heavier forces of the army had quickly rushed there and the Overlook defenders were no match for these. Toby got the first look at the enemy, a group of trolls, similar to some they had seen in the Mountainroot Temple. There was one of the spitting trolls that served as a leader to the others, able to restart the regenerating abilities of an injured troll even if it had been hit with fire or acid. Also was one of the great brutish two-headed giant trolls. But perhaps the most dangerous were a pair of trolls that wielded great two-handed swords and had armor plates imbedded into their green skin. These were some of the results of Sarshan's experiments at Umbraforge. Upon seeing them, Toby took off down the street, planning on circling back around to the other side of the house that stood near the wall. Matthius followed him as the others moved in to engage. Toby found one of the war trolls off a little from the others and began his attack. Opening its side with a massive assault, the troll was rocked off it's feet. Matthius rushed in and attempted to land his own attacks, but not all connected as the armor of the troll was stronger than any other they had faced to date. On the other side, Isla, Garrus, and Bale engaged the other war troll, Garrus becoming a pillar of flame as he called upon the primal spirits. Isla bounced across the battlefield, laying down a flaming path. The trolls retaliated with great sweeping blows of their two-handed swords, the blades battering the heroes as much as they cut them as each blow from the war trolls knocked a Stormwarden to their knees. For a time it seemed as if the tables had turned for the Stormwardens were known for their tactics that kept their foes unbalanced. However, the Stormwardens prevailed as they laid low the war trolls, followed quickly by the spitting troll, and finally clean-up on the brutish two-headed troll. Durkik finished up his ritual and the broken stones of the walls flowed back into place, rebuilding the wall as if the breaching had been reversed.
The invading forces stood off some and launched various seige attacks, but no more serious action happened on that day.
On the third day, some new seige weapons had arrived for the enemy and these launched long range attacks that fell deep within the city. Some of these missiles had been set aflame and the fires threatened to spread wherever they hit. Squads of dwarves rushed about the city, doing their best to keep the fires under control. During this activity, the Stormwardens were called to rescue on of the Elder Council whose home had been hit by one of these long range attacks and his home was ablaze. Rushing there while complaining why the dwarves couldn't organize more efficient bucket lines and control the fires better, the heroes saw that the home had been hit very hard. Dwarves were working at controlling the fires, but they were unaware that anyone was actually inside. The Stormwardens rushed in and quickly assessed the situation, figuring the most likely places to for someone to attempt to find shelter from the flames while trapped within. One of the beams broke lose and fell towards the party, but Garrus used his great strength to deflect it away from the party as Toby and Matthius sprang nimbly through the rubble of the interior. Bale called forth Moradin's protection and the endurance of stone. The party very quickly located the Elder who had been knocked unconscious and got him out successfully. Bale revived the Elder once all were out and safe.
That night, a strike team of dwarves slipped down the walls and sabotaged the long range trebuchets that had been brought such a rain of destruction on the city.
Friday, October 1, 2010, 11:49 AM
Session 19: The Temple Between
The Stormwardens gathered together for the final clearing of the Mountainroot Temple. Bale had joined them, being informed of the group's current position by Ancestor Karros. Bale had been traveling with Amyria, the deva spirit that had been released from the platinum sword. It was very clear that she was a devout of Bahamut and seemed to have a strong connection to the Dragon God of Valor, something of a visionary or seer. It took her some time in Brindol to get her mind together after such a strange rebirth, but since that had happened, she wished to delay Bale no longer from rejoining his friends in the defense of Overlook. In fact, she wished to accompany him, feeling that great events were transpiring. Bale recommended her to Kalad, the dwarven paladin that was all that remained of the monks of the Sundered Chain, and he found a place for her amongst the forces that were being rapidly remobilized as the hammer was soon to fall.
Having joined up with the Stormwardens, they investigated the two passageways that led to the final portion of the temple. This area seemed to have been hit the worst by the ancient earthquake and a great rent had opened up like a gash along the ground. Toby and Matthius's sharp eyes spotted a pair of lurking dark skinned dwarves, some more of the fey dwarves they had fought before. Toby and Matthius dashed in, laying down a barrage of blows on the first dwarf. The second ran back for reinforcements as the other one attempted to fall back while fending off what blows he could. Through the open doorway, they could see large shapes moving about, preparing to attack the moment the heroes came through the door. Seeing a side route, Toby leapt down a small embankment and snuck around to the side. He also offered a bet to Matthius that he would be able to take down one of the large creatures they had spotted with just one shot. Matthius agreed, though later it was argued that an actual amount of gold was not wagered. Which was just as well for Matthius as Toby sprang up and shot one square through it's single eye for they were cyclops from the Feydark. However, they were more for their fearsome size and prodigious strength than their fighting skills. Toby conjured forth Percy and commanded it to shoot forth a great bolt of lightning that took down two more cyclops! One of the dwarves moved over and engaged the behir while the cyclops reached high overhead and smacked the ceiling with his axe. This caused the already unstable roof to shudder and several blocks fell from the ceiling.
The cyclops was quickly dealt with, but it seemed the fighting in here had triggered a slow collapse of the room as more blocks fell across the room, some smashing into a dwarf that had had enough and was attempting to flee. The hag, Hethralga, proved to be somewhat tougher than the last hag they had faced in the desert. Even so, she wasn't tough enough for the Stormwardens. Searching while dodging some randomly falling blocks from the ceiling, they found she had been carrying the Incunabulum Primeval. Having secured the secondary objectives of clearing the temple and recovering the ancient tome of dwarven secrets, they returned to the Caretaker. Assisting him with the ritual to resanctify the temple, Bale was enthused to be taking part. Later, they discussed how to get to Bordrin's Watch as it was evident that the forces of General Zithiruun were in the Vale and the stout fortress of Bordrin's Watch wasn't even going to factor into the coming fight. The Stormwardens decided to take on this task and with the directions from the Caretaker, they were able to quickly traverse the mountains at breakneck speed. Quickly explaining the situation to the garrison commander, orders were given for the majority of the forces to be ready to march within the hour. They had barely made it out of the mountains before nightfall and they made camp. The next day saw the Stormwardens riding into Overlook at the head of a large force of dwarves to bolster the cities defenses. High Ancestor Durkik and the Elders had obviously gotten their focus back and the preparations were proceeding quickly and in the right direction.
A request had also been left for the Stormwardens to join the Council of Elders as soon as possible. Entering the great chamber of the Council once more, the Elders invited the Stormwardens up onto the dias where a great map of Overlook had been laid. Plans were being made for the defense of the city and the opinion and ideas of the Stormwardens were asked. The group had several ideas, from funneling enemy forces into trapped lanes, to drawing on past battles for successful tactics. Once the plans had been made, orders were issued to get them implemented. Durkik gratefully thanked the Stormwardens for his rescue once more and again for the return of the Incunabulum Primeval. He also requested if there was a means for the group to be contacted rapidly and so deployed as a rapid response force against any enemy that was proving beyond the abilities of the dwarven defenders. Toby gave Durkik one of the pair of Sending Stones that were within the party's resources. After that... it was time to wait.
The city did not have to wait long. General Zithiruun had evidently reasoned that something had happened to his forces in the Mountainroot and that means of infiltrating the city were in vain. He had quickly marshalled what forces he could and sent then rushing towards the city. With the coming of the first day of battle, it was clear that the army standing against them was smaller than they had first feared it might be, likely due to the rushed nature of the assault. However, the forces were still formidable as there were many great trolls amongst the forces arrayed against them. These mighty warriors had carried seige engines in teams of twenty from their hidden construction sites at a forced march through the night, setting them up to lob massive stones against the hard walls of Overlook. Also amongst the enemy were seen several flying creatures such as harpies and kobolds with wings. There was concern that these creature would attempt to catch parts of the city on fire, bypassing the walls. But crossbowmen were stationed to keep a sharp eye out for any such incursions. The Battle of Overlook had been joined!
The call for the Stormwardens soon came up as Durkik asked them to check out reports of some greatly powerful flying creature that had entered the Nine Bells district and had been starting numerous fires, but remaining hidden except to rip small groups apart. Heading there, Toby and Mattius leapt to the top of a small building and saw... a Dragon! A green dragon was perched on a higher building, preparing a satchel of alchemist's fire or some other greatly flammable material.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010, 8:45 AM
Session 18: The Temple Between
After taking Durkik to Ancestor Karros and explaining what was going on, the Stormwardens headed to the Stone Anvil to sneak into the sepulchur. They had discussed with Durkik and Karros that in the morning when Durkik had recovered with Karros's help, they would get many trusted guards and devotees that they knew were not compromised and head to the Stone Anvil to clean house as it were. When the Stormwardens hopefully succeed in thwarting the take over of the Mountainroot Temple, they could be expected to be met by a secured Stone Anvil.
Sneaking into the Stone Anvil proved very easy for the group and they followed Durkik's directions to the secret entrance. Opening it up showed a large vaulted chamber, the final resting place for the former High Ancestors of the Stone Anvil. There was a central walkway that sloped on either side to lowered areas where the High Ancestors had been interred. Chandeliers hung from the ceiling, alight with magical fires as the group carefully proceeded. Two great statues of Moradin with ravens on their shoulders probably aluding to this as a place of the dead flanked a intricate web of glowing platinum filigree that showed a scene of Moradin working at his forge. There was a separate glow behind the filigree, backlighting it somewhat. As the group approached, the face of Moradin animated and issued a challenge:
"Who would step through the portal to the heart of Moradin’s worship must first prove he understands Moradin in his own heart. Think you carefully on Moradin’s precepts, his teachings, his actions, and his favored disciples. Then speak unto me a parable, a tale of Moradin, not that you have learned from his texts, but that you have created yourself. Let it show your understanding of his words and his ways, and you may pass."
Toby immediately launched into a tale of their adventure to the Sundered Chains Monastery and into the Nexus, describing the fight against the orcs, the great engineering feats of the dwarves and touching on several other aspects that related to dwarves. Isla added to the tale by talking of drinking beer, fighting, and women... while her part added nothing of substance, it still added some to the tale. Garrus told of a story of his people that illustrated how clan and family were paramount and that nothing should stand in the way of one doing their best to aid family. Matthius told of how he acquired the dragons on his arms and compared that favorably with aspects of the dwarves. During this time, the group had noticed that there were coils of chains that connected with thin strands of the filigree at various points in the ceiling. As the group built upon their stories and showed what they knew of Moradin and the dwarves, they saw that the filigree strands withdrew from the coiled chains, showing that they were making progress. Finally the group came together through their knowledge of history, religion, and athletics to reenact a scene from a crucial battle of the past that involved the dwarven heroes that had once worn the Gifts of Darsam. This provided enough of a demonstration that the filigree parted, revealing the portal that had been hidden behind it, leading to the Mountainroot Temple.
Stepping through the portal was like stepping through a door way except one moment they were in the Stone Anvil and the next they were in the Mountainroot Temple. The large chamber they entered into had doorways with arches over each at several points. In the center was a great raised platform, likely for some forgotten ritual purpose. However, the most eye-catching aspect were the great reliefs along the far wall that showed dwarven smiths working at the forge as Moradin looked on from beyond. Magical fires burned in the forges of the relief, illuminating the room... and it's interlopers. Perched on one of the reliefs and a second perched on one of the archways were harpies. Also, an abnormally short dwarf turned towards the party as they emerged from the portal. Matthius and Toby spotted a second dwarf lurking on the side of the room that had obviously suffered severe damage during the ancient earthquake that had caused the dwarves that used to come here to go their separate ways. Toby lept up and knocked the nearest harpy flat, though she clung stubbornly to the archway as he tried to kick her off. The dwarf charged in, attempting to land a mighty blow from his hammer, but totally whiffed. Garrus returned the attack, aided by Reniss and the oaken spirit as Toby sprang nimbly about the room and after the second harpy as Matthius took over pummling the first harpy. The harpies let out a Brutal Scream that thundered in the ears of the Stormwardens, but affected the dwarven allies of the harpies as much as they did the party. Garrus could tell there was something different about the dwarves and tried to figure out what he could about them, but realized they were not of the natural world. Isla confirmed that they were indeed dwarves of the Feywild known as Slystone dwarves. And the harpies were also of the fey. Garrus and the first slystone traded blows, but Garrus proved the stronger. Finally the harpies were pushed off their perches despite how hard they clung to them and the fight was over.
They could see through the other portals to various scenes. One was to open fields, another appeared to be to a ruined temple. A large central portal led to a staircase heading up. A small corridor led off towards one direction while a larger passage headed straight forward. Deciding to take the smaller passage, they came out in a small tea room. Matthius and Toby noted there was a hidden door on one side, though Matthius checked out the other doors first. He saw a large dining room with several tables running the length of the room. Toby peeked through the secret door and spotted two small gray skinned creatures. The twisted humanoid had grotesque, inhuman features and Toby took the advantage and fired off an attack that left it dazed. He then sprang into the room and stabbed at the other. The creature that Toby had attacked slashed at him with his short swords with blinding speed as the other shifted across the room away from Matthius who came dashing in. Garrus followed and suddenly the floor seemed to sprout jaws and bite at Garrus as he set off a daggerspring trap. Two harpies came out from inside the alcoves and began using their alluring song and brutal screams to try and drag the party onto traps. Garrus ended up setting off several more that chewed on him pretty badly as the quicklings dashed about and struck in a flurry of blows. Toby unleashed Percy who blasted at the quicklings. The harpies were fairly indiscriminate in how the songs affected their allies and one caught a quickling heavily, leaving it reeling from the thunderous screech. Eventually the group began to cut through the quicklings and Isla shoved one of the harpies onto a trap where it crushed the life out of the foul bird human. The other soon fell prey to the same tactic as the Stormwardens shoved the harpy about. Finding a few treasures left behind, the party searched the room. One thing that Matthius found was a set of platinum rimmed spectacles... Martrak's Lenses, one of the Gifts of Darsam. Now at last, all the party members had one piece of the set.
With the aid of the glasses, Matthius spotted a trapdoor. Going through the secret passage, the Stormwardens came out behind a large statue of Moradin into a vast room. With a ceiling some 100 feet above them, the party could make out a staircase leading to a raised area that appeared to have a glow emanating from it. A long staircase rose up from a walkway to a huge set of doors and in the middle of the room appeared to be a raised area. Toby and Matthius quietly climbed up the wall and got a look at the full room. From the far wall and the two side walls, staircases rose up to walkways that formed a great cross. The glow came from a great round crystalline platform that was as clear as glass. Visible below the crystal and in many places open to the air were a network of rooms that appeared to have at one time held displays. A central area rose up another 20 feet above the platform. Off to one side of the room were two small rooms, the only ones with solid roofs on them that appeared to be of more recent construction than the central area. However, the room was crawling with enemy. Two dragonborn issued orders to their trollish troops as a group of them along with a redspawn firebelcher prepared to set forth into the temple on some mission. A carved construct stood off to one side as normal humans wandered about.
Toby and Matthius listened closely to the dragonborn issuing orders. It seems that the group had once been larger and included the fey that had been encountered earlier. However, the fey were forces from Cachlain, the Stone-Skinned King and had an ulterior motive. The dragonborn and his troops were under the orders of General Zithiruun to take control of the Mountainroot Temple and open up the way from it into Overlook. The fey though seemed to be under orders to acquire a tome known as the Incunabulum Primeval and return with it. Once the fey had acquired the tome, they tried to leave the dragonborn and his troops behind, only to find that the portals had been closed. Fighting between the two groups broke out and the fey had retreated back into the temple. The dragonborn was about to send a large force of trolls with the firebelcher to deal with them. After sending them off, he reported via sending stone to the General that there had been no progress with the Caretaker whom they were torturing in order to gain control over the portals.
Toby slipped up behind one of the humans and took him out, dragging the body quickly and quietly in behind the stairs while no one was looking. Isla took on his form and clothes then went to investigate the offset buildings. Inside she found a room of horrors as the floor was so caked in blood that it crackled under her feet. A table containing various knives and vials of unknown liquids was set up beside a wooden bedframe to which was shackled someone who could only be the Caretaker. However, his appearance was startling as he was a being with living flame for hair! He was an azer, a race that were once dwarves who had been infused with primordial fire in ancient times. Isla attempted to aid him by pouring a healing potion down his throat. It did wake him up, but instead of a welcome of thanks, the azer looked up with no comprehension of his surroundings and began to scream in pain and agony. The tortures had driven him to the breaking point, but rather than give up the information on how to control the portals, he had resisted until insanity from the constant torture had ensued. The screaming brought the attention of everyone else in the room and one of the dragonborn started down the stairs to investigate. When he had nearly reached the base of it... Toby struck! Using a swift strike that became a bloodbath, Toby impaled the dragonborn in a vital area then leapt off and to face the troll that turned around at the sound of the dragonborn's gurgled scream. Matthius followed Toby and finished off the dragonborn before it had a chance to even react. The construct, which was identified as an eidolon by Isla, came to the top of the stairs and took a stance, seeming to become one with the glowing crystal floor. The weapons and claws of the various enemy in it's sight took on a silvery glow as radiant energy flowed from the eidolon. Garrus came rushing in to deal with the trolls, bursting into a form like a piece of living magma. His blow struck the troll with a burning cut that left the troll's ability to recover from wounds negated. However, a smaller troll with javelins took up a vantage point on the edge of the crystal platform and hurled a poisoned lance at Garrus. He then muttered some trollish chant and Garrus saw the wound in the troll begin to seal up even with the edges burnt. Toby began leaping from target to target as Isla worked to knock various enemy off the edge where the battle had been joined. The trolls proved to be reluctant to die as their trollish healing got them up a couple of times until alchemists fire or acid was poured over them. The eidolon was toppled into the open rooms as the second dragonborn was finished off. With no allies and no further orders, the eidolon ceased to fight, even though some of the party hit it a few more times.
After finding a few useful items with the slain enemies, the group checked out the Caretaker. His mind was gone and they thought to take him back to the Stone Anvil. Unfortunately, that is when they found their way out was blocked as though they could see through the portal, they could not enter it. Taking the Caretaker back to the room, they considered trying to heal him themselves. An assessment by Garrus concluded it might take some time. Meanwhile, a scroll of Remove Affliction was located. Though using the ritual still meant quite some time working on the Caretaker, it was still half the time it might have been otherwise. The Caretaker's eyes cleared as his mind was restored to him. He explained what he knew of the invaders, that they had tried to take control of the network of portals and that they had managed to subvert some of the constructs. He also was aware they had planned an attack on Overlook against the walls and from within, though that plan was thwarted by the Stormwardens. He did not know much else and so asked the party to give him a brief run down on events outside the temple. When the tale was done, he shook his head at the grave news. He said he would continue to keep the portals shut so that the remaining enemy could not escape. He asked the party to complete the routing of the enemy within the temple and then requested that they assist him in a ritual to reconsecrate the temple. Though time was short, he felt that to do so would bring Moradin's blessing on them in the trials to come. Though if the party did not wish to help, he could get assistance from Bordrin's Watch which was some miles away. The Stormwardens decided that once the rest of the temple was cleared, they would indeed help in the ritual.
Heading out the door through which the trolls had exited, the party found the two sides still engaged, though both sides had lost quite a few. The party fell upon the firebelcher which was amongst the trolls, leading many of the trolls to focus on the party. One troll went and assaulted a banshrae dartswarmer where it launched a flurry of darts from a vantage point. Two quicklings came and began to harry the troll as a slystone dwarf moved around the battle. Matthius got into the middle of the trolls and the great two-headed troll smashed Matthius repeatedly. Isla and Garrus flew into battle where she took on the appearance of an eladrin. Unfortunately, this had the opposite affect on the dwarf as he yelled about the eladrin coming after them and rushed to attack Isla rather than being glad of fey reinforcements. Finally the trolls had all been beaten down, one by the fey and the rest by the party before the fey and the party came into conflict. Isla rained down lightning bolts on the banshrae who nimbly dodged some and doggedly clung to his prominence. Garrus rushed up the slope and took a flying leap at the banshrae, attempting to bullrush it off it's rock. The banshrae nimbly deflected the attack, causing Garrus to fall in a heap at the base of the rock. Finally the banshrae was kicked off the rock and the group claimed victory once more.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 11:56 AM
Session 17 The Temple Between
After taking care of the dopplegangers and thugs, the group gathered up Haelyn's remains and took them to Lavinya. Lavinya was fairly distraught over the findings of the group and took a while to lay the body out and prepare it for a consecrated burial. The Stormwardens explained most of what they had found out and discussed their next course of action. Something that Toby and Isla came up with was to hold a grand party and hopefully attract members of a diverse group, especially clergy, merchants, and the guard. Though they had only been in town one full day, enough people knew about the parties of the Stormwardens and the heroes themselves, that quite a few of their target groups showed up. Of note amongst the clergy were acolytes or lesser priests of the Raven Queen, Avandra, and Moradin. There was also some guy they suspected was a cleric that stayed off on the side, though Isla got him to talking to her some. Clergy from Kord, Erathis, Bahamut, and Zehir were absent or at least not recognizable. Also, they found that Bram Ironfell's personal secretary came to their party and she was quite a font of information on him.
In talking to the clergy, the group learned that the head of the churches were behaving strangely. Kyrrist of Avandra and Matron Volorvyn of the Raven Queen were noted by their lesser clergy as being distant and withdrawn. While they would show up at the services, they would allow someone else to run the ceremonies for the most part. Garrus struck up a conversation with one of Moradin's faithful and found out that High Ancestor Durkik was indeed acting strangely, but not in a manner like the other heads of churches had. Instead, Durkik had pretty much out of the blue decided they needed to rebuild and resanctify the old temple of Moradin in the Nine Bells region of Overlook. To this end, he sent almost all the clergy, guards, and attendents up to the Nine Bells area to begin renovations. At the Stone Anvil, the great cathedral in the Stonehome section of Overlook, Durkik remained behind with a bare minimum of attendents and guards... barely enough to conduct proper ceremonies. When Garrus began pressing for more, the dwarf suggested he talk to Ancestor Karros who was in charge of the renovations. He'd be the one that could tell Garrus more as Karros was the next person down from Durkik in the church hierarchy.
Wanting to separate the general party goers from their targets of information, Toby and Isla had the plan to set up a VIP area and lure the objects of their investigation in so they might perhaps be able to talk more or might give something away. In talking with some of the guardsmen that came in while in their off-duty time, they found that Kalad, the dwarf they had rescued from the Shattered Chains Monastery, was extremely well liked amongst the guard. He had shown himself to be a great leader, humble, honest, pious, hard-working, and the guardsmen talked of him in glowing terms. Because of this, he had already risen to the rank of Guard Captain. As for Guard Captain Aerun, there was a less stellar tone. It seems he had been acting a little strangely himself, but with as much going on to prepare for the coming war, they figured it might be stress and not enough rest.
Isla managed to single out Bram's secretary and while Toby caused a bit of a scene that he had intended to be a distraction in another manner, the secretary let Isla in on a lot of secrets. For one, it seems that Bram had been working for Sarshan for quite some time, providing Sarshan a means of transporting whatever goods he wanted moved around via the Elsir Consoritium trade routes. It was kept very quiet and Sarshan paid well that Bram asked no questions of what was being transported. For Bram's part, he kept his nose out and raked in the money. However, once the Stormwardens had closed the connection from the Shadowfell to Overlook, Bram was out of the quite lucrative deal he had with Sarshan. Moreover, from what they could piece together, the route to the possible location of the Karak Lode had been discovered and Bram was considering working with Sarshan on opening it up. But with ties to Sarshan cut off and especially when it was found that Sarshan (inadvertendly through Modra) had been suppling weapons to the orcs, Bram wanted to keep the ties cut and find the Karak Lode for himself. And quite likely he was entirely honest about using the mine to help supply Overlook because as the secretary claimed, Bram may have been an unscrupulous businessman, but he was no traitor. Even so, the secretary didn't know where Bram was at this time. Just that he was no longer in the city. Whether he was legitimately off on a business trip or had taken the chance to get out of the city prior to it being attacked... that is unknown.
Day two of the investigation saw the Stormwardens heading to the old temple of Moradin in the Nine Bells region to talk to Ancestor Karros. The site was a bustle of activity as dwarves of the Hammerfist clan swarmed over it, renovating it as quickly as possible. The group also saw Megan Swiftblade, leader of the Free Riders, standing guard over the sight. Toby and Isla cracked up over seeing her reduced to simple guard duty over a construction site. They heckled her some as Garrus asked her about Ancestor Karros. She rather reluctantly went to get him, not liking her position any more than the Stormwardens would in her place. However, Megan was not the one they needed to worry about as the group was noticed by some of the Hammerfist and they were inclined to not like the Stormwardens due to their dealing with Bram Ironfell. A riot almost started, but Isla managed to calm the crowd down and point out how Bram had played them all at some point, establishing some common ground amongst them.
Ancestor Karros came out and got the crowd back to work. Leading the group a bit away to a spot where they could talk without much interuption, Karros was persuaded to tell them about High Ancestor Durkik. Karros, being next in charge after Durkik, admitted Durkik had been acting strangely for a few weeks. It was shortly afterwards that he suddenly decided that the old temple of Moradin in the Nine Bells region needed to be renovated and opened up so that the worship of Moradin was more accessible to people that might feel oppressed or unwelcome going into Stonehome to the Stone Anvil cathedral. Durkik was able to quickly arrange the support of many for this noble task and so the work began. He also sent the majority of the clergy and staff at the Stone Anvil up here so as to get it done as rapidly as possible, leaving just a skeleton crew of people at the Stone Anvil. While Karros agrees that it's a worthy cause, the timing is really bad what with the high chance of war coming soon. Everyone in the city is at least somewhat tense as it seems a storm is brewing and no one knows just when it will break against the city. Unfortunately, while Karros might grumble about the sudden renovation, it was not his place to speak out against the High Ancestor's firm decision. Though Karros had noted one other strange behavior of Durkik. A couple of times while Karros was at the Stone Anvil, he had noticed Durkik slipping out through a side door without any honor escort. While it wasn't unheard of, it was still unusual.
The group decided to stake out the Stone Anvil and managed to position themselves to cover the possible exits of the Cathedral. Eventually they saw Durkik come out. Slipping through the streets or across the rooftops, the Stormwardens trailed after Durkik. After traversing about half the city, they saw Durkik duck into an alley and shortly later another dwarf came out. After their long experience with dopplegangers and Isla's shapechanging abilities, they could see that while his appearance was difference, most of the clothing and his gait was the same. Peeking into the alley confirmed that Durkik was indeed a doppleganger as there was no exit visible in the alley. Continuing to follow their quarry, they eventually saw "Durkik" enter the Pig and Bucket tavern. Isla adopted a different appearance while Toby snuck into the tavern through an upper window. Inside they saw "Durkik" meet with the Guard Captain Aerun. Sliding in close enough to eavesdrop, they overheard "Durkik" report that he still hadn't found the entrance to a place called the Mountainroot Temple in the Stone Anvil, nor any other information about it. He had especially not found any information on defenses and how to disable them. He also mentioned that Durkik, evidently the real Durkik, hadn't revealed anything about the Mountainroot Temple either. Aerun listened carefully and it seemed as if it took longer than it usually would for a person responding to a conversation to answer. He instructed "Durkik" to continue the search through the Stone Anvil archives and hopefully they could find something. Aerun was also planning on going to where the real Durkik was being kept prisoner to continue the questioning and perhaps he would be able to get something out of him, though he was also doubtful of getting anything from the real Durkik. Aerun also let out that the General was planning on his attack very soon, within the next two weeks, regardless of whether the entrance to the Mountainroot Temple was found in the Stone Anvil.
With that, they parted and the group took to following Aerun. They tailed him to a warehouse in the Tradetown district where they decided to go up a set of exterior stairs to a door that led into the second story of the warehouse. Toby quickly undid the lock, but heard someone moving inside. The group readied themselves and sprang through the door. Aerun was standing there with a look of surprise as the group burst in. Toby nailed him with his crossbow before Isla knocked him to the ground with a blast and tried to throw him out the window of the office space they had entered. Aerun managed to cling to the heavy desk and not be blown out, but once he got to his feet wind seemed to be drawn to him that then burst from under his feet as he flew out the window and landed easily on one of the stacks of crates that filled the warehouse. He began to holler for the other people to come to his aid as Garrus leapt through the busted window and landed heavily beside Aerun. Several men with crossbows came running out from their positions on the catwalks and in the maze of crates, shooting somewhat wildly as they came. Isla blasted Aerun with a lightning bolt, the thunderous explosion hitting with enough force that the crate under Aerun busted as Garrus began to lay into him. Toby leapt and dashed across the crates and catwalks, seeming almost to fly through the air as he eliminated many of the thugs and engaged the figures that apparently were more dopplegangers. Aerun held aloft his sword and gestured at Garrus who felt as if a giant hand was gripping him, holding him in place. Then Aerun brought his sword down on the immobile goliath, slashing him deeply. Garrus broke free and finished off Aerun as the others rampaged through the other enemies. A second group came out from the far end of the warehouse, but they proved very ineffective and soon began to attempt to hide amongst the crates and then flee. None of them made it to the door.
The Stormwardens attempted to question Aerun, but he simply smiled at them. When asked if he was afraid to die, he simply told them "Not at all." He then looked closely at Isla who had been peering at him. He nodded at her, "You know don't you?" What Isla had realized was that Aerun had been possessed by some outside agent who proceeded to leave Aerun, leaving him dead. The group searched the warehouse and discovered a concealed shaft that led down into a secret chamber. A thick wooden door with a small barred window was visible and within it the battered and beaten form of the real Durkik. He looked up and weakly warned the Stormwardens that the door was trapped, but not to keep people out. But rather than to keep him from escaping. Toby spotted three tubes, all pointing at the chained Durkik. He realized that while he could easily unlock the door, if he opened it without disabling the traps, they would all shoot at Durkik who would not be able to move enough to hope to dodge any of them. Garrus managed to boost Durkik's hopes, but it was clear he was so beaten that Reniss would not be able to heal him any. As Toby got ready to go to work on the door, Durkik asked them that if anything happened to him, they get him to Ancestor Karros. Toby was very deft though. As he began working on the first tube, he found a link between it and the next one and was able to disable both at once. The third tube proved a little harder, but was still no match for Toby's skill.
Opening the door and freeing Durkik, he thanked them and was able to confirm some of what they already knew. That there was a doppleganger taking his place and others had been possessed by some sort of ritual that burned out the mind and left someone else controlling the body as one might a puppet. They didn't use the ritual on him because they wanted information on the Mountainroot Temple. Durkik though, barely knew anything about the Temple and told them nothing. What he did know had been passed down to him from the previous High Ancestor on his deathbed as it was part of the ancient history of the dwarves in this region. He related this tale to the Stormwardens.
When the dwarves had first thrown off the chains of slavery that the giants had kept them in, they constructed the Mountainroot Temple as a central place where everyone that worshipped Moradin could come. While it had a physical entrance, it also had portals that connected it with other major cathedrals of Moradin that the dwarves founded in other places throughout the region around the Elsir Vale. Also, there was a great portal to the Astral Sea itself through which angels and exarchs of Moradin would come to speak with the congregations at the Mountainroot. It was also a storehouse of many relics and ancient treasures of the faith. However, over time, the various cathedrals that had connections to the Mountainroot fell to infighting amongst each other. Whether it was just a natural occurance, Moradin's wrath, or some lingering curse of the giants, a great earthquake occured at the Mountainroot Temple. The priests evacuated, taking with them the majority of the relics and treasures and decided it was just as well that this had happened because now they could each go their separate way. Sometime later, a small group of priests reentered the Mountainroot Temple and one of their number stayed behind. Attuning himself to the magics of the Temple, he became the Caretaker.
Through Durkik's questioning, he learned that General Zithiruun had somehow found out about the Temple and it's network of portals. It was clear he intended to secure the Mountainroot and use it to bring troops up through a portal in the Stone Anvil that linked to the Mountainroot Temple and therefore flank the guardians of Overlook on their own walls. He might even be planning to use the portal to the Astral Plane to embark larger groups from there to any of the other locations that the Mountainroot still connected to. As best as Durkik was able to tell, Zithiruun was likely either close to getting into the Temple or had already secured it, but something was preventing him using it as he wanted. Likely the Caretaker had triggered some of the defenses, since that was the line of the majority of the questioning that Durkik had endured.
Durkik could tell the Stormwardens where the portal to the Mountainroot Temple was in the Stone Anvil, but how to actually open it... he did not know. He requested the party to go to the Mountainroot and prevent the General from gaining control over it and the portal network it connected with. Also, he had the additional request that they seek to find and retrieve the Incunabulum Primeval, a tome of great power for those that know how to use it. For this particular boon, he offered a sizeable reward and could guarantee the Stormwardens legal right to anything else they found in the Mountainroot Temple.
Friday, July 30, 2010, 12:14 PM
Just realized I hadn't been posting the more recent Scales of War sessions. So have caught up on that. Just be warned, several of them contain spoilers of the plot... like a blog of session activities wouldn't :P
Friday, July 30, 2010, 12:12 PM
16.3 The Temple Between
Reaching the shrine to Erathis in Tradetown, the group took a look about. The shrine itself was a tented area with a small altar within. Beyond the shrine was a scummy looking pool with a huge statue of Erathis standing in it, apparently a no longer functioning fountain. Within was a severe looking man, pacing back and forth and offering a perfunctory blessing when absolutely necessary. He gave a great sense of not wanting to be there, but being held by duty. The group watched as he rather half heartedly gave out the blessings of Erathis to the various people who came in. The group began poking about fairly brazenly. The priest got quite upset and asked them to leave.
The Stormwardens refused and starting grilling the priest about Haelyn and pretty quickly got an idea he wasn't telling them everything. The priest called them thieves, even though they hadn't taken anything, in a fairly ludicrious attempt to cause a scene that would call the city guards. A guard did come over and realized he was in way over his head getting between the heroes and a priest that wanted them out of his shrine. The heroes were being nosey, pests, and generally trespassing, something that might have gone better in a more stealthy manner. As Isla and Grovald argued and the guard tried to sooth things over and politely get the heroes to move on, an elderly lady talked to one of the other Stormwardens and told him some things about her suspicions and that they might have better luck coming back at night since no one comes near the place anymore at night.
Deciding that would be the better course since the arguments were going round and not getting anywhere, they left until night fell. Coming up, they saw that the area had been returned to it's rather abandoned looking state, even up to the doors being relocked after Toby had gone through the trouble to unlock them.
The area around the temple was deserted and the Stormwardens had some time to quietly investigate without any bothers. Climbing up on the statue of Erathis in the old fountain, Matthius spotted something off under a tree behind the statue. Climbing back down, the group determined it was a fairly recent grave. About the time of this discovery, Isla noticed people coming up the street. It was Grovald and a number of rough thugs. She thought of an idea to potentially create a lot of confusion and changed her shape into that of Grovald. Just as well that it was dark as the sight of Grovald in Isla's outfit would certainly have been disturbing.
As Grovald and his group came approaching openly, Toby stealthily dashed over to one of the houses and rounded the corner... only to come face to face with a doppleganger assassin. The alarm was raised and the fight was on! Matthius dashed into the shrine itself and hid behind the altar before the enemy spotted him. The thugs moved up, forming a line between the shack and the shrine trying to give Grovald some protection. A couple of them walked right past Matthius who rose up and beat them senseless. Toby blinded both dopplegangers that he had encountered as Garrus rushed in and cut one of the thugs down. He then came to his senses, realizing he had just killed a man inside Overlook and made sure to use non-lethal force afterwards. Besides, it gave them captives to question. The dopplegangers attempted to use their cloud the mind power and each managed to make themselves invisible to Toby and Matthius, but not both. Seeing that the Stormwardens were just rolling over them, the heavily injured doppleganger made a run for it and escaped... for now. Soon, all of the enemy had been brought down.
Starting with the thugs, the group revived them and began asking questions. From the thugs they learned that they had been hired by Grovald, but he was just one of many that were hiring some extra muscle here in Overlook. They didn't know who else had been wanting some extra hands and blades. The doppleganger yielded much of the same info, letting it be known he was part of an assassin's guild in the city. He also let drop a crack at Isla about her being a half-breed and she twice tried to blow his head off with a lightning bolt. Surprisingly, he ducked in time each time and quickly became more talkative... but had little extra info to tell them.
Before talking to Grovald, Isla took on the appearance of one of the others and faked being dead and drowned in the fountain as a means to help loosen Grovald's tongue. Using the stagnent pool, Garrus and Toby led the interrogation, ducking his head in or giving him a beating. Grovald admitted to having killed Haelyn and burying her behind the fountain. It was her grave the party had just discovered. He also said he had been hired to act as a priest of Erathis to cover for the death of Haelyn who had been getting overly nosey. He was actually from the temple of Zehir, which strangely enough had a partially hidden but known location in Overlook. He also let the group know that he was working not for Sarshan, but General Zithiruun. Kairon, the tiefling wizard that the Stormwardens had befriended in Brindol, was able to recall a small bit of lore he remembered about that name. It seems General Zithiruun was a noted githyanki general, a great military leader and hero to the githyanki. It was said he had been crippled and his mount slain in a battle against some mighty dragon (maybe a scourge dragon) or fiend and so fell from his place as one of the most esteemed of the githyanki, a very weakness intolerant race. It would seem that General Zithiruun, also known as the Broken General, has been the force behind Sarshan's activities towards Overlook and was now in the Elsir Vale getting ready to strike.
Another major piece of information that Grovald let spill was that the General had gone somewhere and had Grovald begin taking orders from Durkik, the High Ancestor of the Stone Anvil, seat of Moradin's worship in the dwarven city. The Stormwardens were shocked to hear that this went to the very highest levels of the leadership within Overlook. It also changed the game entirely as now there was a shadow element that had infiltrated the leadership of Overlook and was potentially subverting the preparations for when the General struck. And the party realized they couldn't let it be found out from Grovald what they knew and they also had to track down the doppleganger that escaped. They quickly dealt with Grovald and began combing the streets. Initially they tried looking for tracks, but on the cobblestoned streets, tracks were very hard to spot. Then they had a stroke of luck and found some old beggar that had been killed and his cloak taken. Figuring it was the trail of the doppleganger, they quickly set out after him and figured out very soon where he was heading. As it turns out, they arrived very close on his heels as he tried to warn some of his fellows about what happened.
Toby sprang forth, practically vaulting up the side of a building, leaped across the gap, and practically took the head off the doppleganger. Matthius attempted to follow, but his target was a bit more stubborn about being chucked off the building. Isla called down the lightning and blew a hole in the roof next to another as he narrowly dodged. Despite the misses, the party blew through the collection of dopplegangers and thugs.
They are now near the Nine Bells district. They found out what happened to Haelyn and a lot more. They know that a githyanki general has his eyes on Overlook and will be attacking soon. Durkik and possibly others in the Overlook leadership have been subverted and are now working for the General. Can they uncover the conspiracy and stop the General? Time will tell...
Friday, July 30, 2010, 12:11 PM
Session 16.2: The Temple Between
Overseeing the inspections of the gate and nearby repair operations was a blond haired dwarf that the party had seen before at the Council chambers. Guard Captain Aerun shouted orders when needed and generally kept things moving. Entering the city at last, the party split up some. Matthius went to the Elsir Consortium offices to check about Bram Ironfell. Garrus sought out Guard Captain Kalad to ask about the Wincked Fang sword. Toby and Isla... they sought out a good time.
Matthuis found out that Bram had left town, presumably on some business trip. The member of the Ironfell clan that Matthuis spoke to wasn't sure exactly where Bram had gone... and it seems no details had been left behind. Also, Bram had not spoken to any others in his clan of the finding of the Lost Karak Lode... The one Matthuis spoke with was surprised at the mine actually even existing as it was considered a myth, even amongst the clan. Certainly many suspicions were aroused.
Garrus meanwhile had a drink with Kalad and showed him the blade. He explained what he knew about it, and how it seemed to contain a great anger. Kalad could indeed sense the anger, though he wasn't sure if the sword actually contained the spirit of the smith or if it was simply the emotions of the smith had imbedded itself in the sword when he was killed with it. He also pointed out the smith's mark, indicating it was indeed a smith of the Hammerfist clan. Kalad warned Garrus that there would likely be trouble if it was found out by that clan and that a great many of them were working on rebuilding the temple of Moradin in the Nine Bells district. So, that might be a place to steer clear of. Even so, he suggested talking to the priests in the Nine Bells area. Temples to Avandra, Erathis, Bahamut, Kord, the Raven Queen, and even Zehir are still active in the district... though by active he is meaning someone is likely still there and the building hasn't fallen down yet. Most all the temples in the Nine Bells are barely functioning, congregations drawn from the poor and destitute in the area if there even are any congregations. The Nine Bells area is considered the poorest within the walls of Overlook. Only Shantytown outside the walls compares. Two temples, the ones to Ioun and Pelor, are completely abandoned except by squatters or perhaps theives as the party found when they fought the Lost Ones to rescue Alys. The temple to Moradin had also been abandoned, but was now suddenly being rebuilt under the order of High Ancestor Durkik Forgeheart.
Afterwards, Matthius and Garrus found Toby and Isla and related some of what they had found out. Toby also suggested talking to the priests of Avandra, something that surprised Garrus some as Toby had never before espoused a religious view. Toby looked around and spotted an acolyte of Avandra, possibly the only one at the temple, also there at the party and introduced Garrus to him. He was quite friendly enough, if a bit sloshed. He thought talking to the High Priest Kyrrist might help Garrus, though he also let out that Kyrrist had been very distant lately, practially making him run the temple by himself. And what sermons she delivered were almost by rote... not that any of the few that wandered in hoping for a handout with the sermon actually listened. He also brought up the name of Lavinya, a priest of Erathis, that had been hunting the party. Said she wanted to talk to them about something important.
The next day, their first full day back in Overlook, the Stormwardens headed out to the Nine Bells area to talk to Lavinya. Because, despite the warnings from Kyrion, all seemed well in Overlook and this seemed the most likely lead on something to do. Going into Nine Bells, the group could see the flurry of work on the temple of Moradin. Enough so, it was wondered if some men might have even been drawn from the walls to help in the rebuilding. Steering clear of the area, they found the temple of Erathis... a run down, almost in ruins building. Someone had made some attempts to keep it looking well, but it only served to emphasize those places that were muck encrusted and rotting. Entering they found a lone woman praying at the shrine. Looking up, she exclaimed joyfully that the Stormwardens had come at last.
She offered them water and some of what little food she had. As the group prompted her, she got right to the point... more or less. She seemed desparate, knowing something was wrong, but not being able to prove it or find out more. Her first and primary concern was for Haelyn, the elderly woman who served a small shrine to Erathis in Tradetown. Lavinya admitted to originally feeling jealous of Haelyn for drawing people away from the temple to some tented shrine, but eventually they became friends. But now, something had happened to Haelyn and there was some guy named Grovald running the shrine. He told her that Haelyn had called for him to come take over for her as she went on a spiritual retreat. Lavinya didn't trust that answer and snuck back there one night to see what she could find out. She found nothing except a letter she could only partially make out. However, that excerpt alarmed her and she went to the city guard. They brushed her off, telling her they'd check on her story and she shouldn't worry anymore about it. Of course, she did worry and spoke to the other priests that she was friends with or at least cordial to each other. All of them blew her off, some coldly. Even Durkik of the Stone Anvil. She was convinced something was going on and it was possible that what happened to Haelyn (if anything) was connected. The party agreed to get involved and set out to the Shrine of Erathis in Tradetown.
Friday, July 30, 2010, 12:10 PM
Session 16: The Temple Between
The Stormwardens had successfully stopped the ritual that would have made Fangren an exarch of Yeenoghu and had also released the spirit of Amyria from within the sword. The released spirit became a reborn deva, one who was somewhat confused so soon after her rebirth. While she knew her name, she barely recalled anything before that. Bale and Isla were left to try and help Amyria recover a bit and maybe sort out her mind further as the others proceeded towards the exit. They knew that the bounty hunter Thorn was waiting out there. However, he hadn't shown any clear signs of trying to go after the bounty on their heads so far. They figured he was likely the one that had set the traps and deadfalls on their way up here in an attempt to slow them down or injure them so they might be easier targets. Toby smeared dirt and blood over his face and staggered out in an attempt to feign injury and having been through several tough fights that had drained him. He could see Thorn standing on the edge of the cliff, apparently waiting for the group. However, he seemed as if he wanted to seen clearly and made no threatening gestures. He motioned for the group to come join him.
Sensing the shift in the mood, Toby stopped his feigning and headed for the cliff. He and Matthius scaled it with astonishing speed as Garrus followed more slowly, but very surefootedly. At the top, Thorn explained quite openly that yes, he had set the traps and had been after the bounty on their heads now that it had risen to 3000 gp each. However, he had changed his mind due to what he had found out from Kyrion, the shadar-kai weaponmaster that had been training the gnolls. From Kyrion, he found out what the gnolls were really up to and could see the Stormwardens had done a great deed for all in the Vale. And as much of a mercenary as Thorn was, even he drew the line at having a direct agent of the Beast of Butchery loose in the Vale. He had also found out that he might not be able to collect from Sarshan even if he had succeeded in taking down the party. Which he had become doubtful of after watching them in a couple of fights. As for what Kyrion had to say, he figured it was better for them to talk to him themselves rather than hear it second-hand.
Kyrion seemed fairly resigned to getting killed now that he had been captured. Mercy was not something the shadar-kai gave out and so didn't expect it in return. However, the party still got him to talk and what they heard made them decide to release Kyrion in the end. Some of the things they found out:
1. The gnolls were really just a distraction.
2. Kyrion had been sent to train them, but no more than that. He really disliked having to endure their filth and stench and general attitude that anyone not strong enough to strike them down was potentially food.
3. There was more than one army on the move. Multiple locations were being targeted.
4. Overlook in particular was targeted by armies orchestrated by Sarshan, but Sarshan was not directly in charge.
5. Sarshan had become more and more erratic in his actions and thoughts. Even prior to when the party first met him in Umbraforge.
6. It was potentially due to his work with a new weapon known as Blood Chaos. It seems that in addition to being a potential weapon in it's own right, it could also be used to change creatures such as the boar and the trolls in the Foundry there at Umbraforge. Though Umbraforge was wrecked, Sarshan continued the experimentation elsewhere... and even on himself.
7. The Wicked Fang had been forged by a dwarven smith, kidnapped with the help of Bram Ironfell, and later killed by Sarshan with the sword he had just forged. Kyrion felt that the dwarf's spirit or at least his anger had been trapped in the blade somehow. He also reasoned that while Bram was very mercenary and not above underhanded tactics to gain the upper hand over a long time rival clan, even he wouldn't have gone through with it if he had known the smith was going to be killed. Because even when you are mainly looking out for yourself, the ties of a clan are still strong in a dwarf.
Kyrion remembered Leena and like her, decided he had had enough of Sarshan. It would seem that Sarshan was losing his support among some of his better people, but was still dangerous. Maybe even more so now that he was becoming less predictable.
There was one more surprise in store for their discussion though. All of a sudden a Behir appeared in the middle of the camp! Garrus and Thorn both reached for weapons with a start of surprise. Kyrion tried to sink back into the tree where he was still tied. And Matthius... turned and looked at Toby with a raised eyebrow. Toby was rolling on the ground laughing. And thus was revealed the new "pet" of Toby. Matthius laid down the rule of Toby having to put it away while they were in a town.
Parting ways with Thorn and Kyrion, the party had potentially gained an ally. Or at least someone who was no longer an enemy. Gathering the rest of their party, they headed for Brindol to inform Sertanian of their success. They found him as usual in the Great Hall of Valor and introduced him to Amyria. Councilman Eoffram Troyas was also there, having been waiting on news of the party's latest triumph. The news they delivered was troubling to him, especially with Overlook being targeted and the gnolls sent to distract Brindol. Word of increased raids from lands beyond the Vale had been trickling in, though they were so scattered it was difficult to tell where they might be focused. The Stormwardens decided they would check on several villages on their way back to Overlook as that seemed where the hammer was going to fall and soon. Investigating various villages, they heard word themselves of some raids on stores, but it had gotten quiet again for a while now. No one was quite sure if they should pack up and if they did, where they could go for safety. It was hoped that the raids had stopped for good, but many felt this was more the quiet before the storm.
Reaching Overlook, the group saw that it was heavy with activity. The walls were being repaired and strengthened where needed. Defensive artillery pieces were being inspected and worn parts replaced. And a large queue of people were outside the main gate, slowly filtering into the city. The group joined the queue, where many welcomed them with smiles, handshakes, and some cheers. While the work was moving quickly, at the same time no one seemed in a panic or worry at the gates. As they told the Stormwardens, "Better safe than slaughtered."
Friday, July 30, 2010, 11:56 AM
Session 15: Den of the Destroyer
Deciding to not leave anyone at their back, the party went out the same way the shadar-kai weaponmaster had gone. Only partially surprisingly, he hadn't warned the other gnolls, perhaps finding it a good time to leave a rapidly sinking ship. One door had the sound of running water faintly behind it as well as the snarls and growls of gnolls and larger canines. Down the stairs, Toby spotted a group of gnolls arguing in their demonic tongue. Signaling to the group to prepare, he took the gnolls be surprise as he dashed in and slashed the gnoll heavily then jumped back out of the room. Then before the gnoll could react, Toby shot him with a bolt that exploded into arcs of lightning, dazing the gnoll. The gnolls tried to form a defensive rank in front of their leader so that he could hurl handfuls of axes at the party, but Toby, Garrus, and Isla used their powers to pull individual gnolls into their midst and isolate them... which proved to be very quickly fatal. The gnoll lasher tried to do the same, but couldn't manage to wrap his whip around anyone. Fairly quickly, the gnolls were finished off.
They had been standing in a crescent shaped room that contained several cells holding a few merchants and their guards. These were some of the missing people that they had been told of. The prisoners told the group about how the gnolls would take some of them every so often for some terrible ritual, presumably the ritual Fangren was conducting. The Stormwardens told the prisoners to stay put until it was determined the area was safe.
Heading into the room with the sounds of water and canines, they found a strange sight. Along the floor of the room were numerous channels, some that had water running swiftly through them. Every so often, the water would shift in it's courses. The source was a great waterfall plunging into a basin at one edge of the room. The thunderous roar of the water was missing though, having been magically muted. Within the room were three gnolls riding upon great hyenas. Garrus recognized their markings and knew them as Ruin-touched. They were a special cult of zealots that underwent extensive rituals to bring them closer to their dark god of Yeenoghu. With these rituals, they gained different powers, many of which the party got to witness first hand. The first hyena and rider were struck soundly and the hyena bowled over as the party got the jump on the gnolls. The gnoll dismounted swiftly and called upon the powers granted him by summoning a great flock of oily winged crows, ravens, and other carrion birds that milled about the party, scratching and pecking at them and blinding them inside the cloud of swirling birds. The next gnoll called upon the Beast of Butchery's connection with blood and the blood that had was flowing from the heaving side of the hyena surged out as the bloodwalker used the blood to power his teleporting ability to join the fight. The final rider and hyena were stuck behind the basin and rushed to join in.
Matthius got caught in the middle of the wild melee and between the bites of the hyena, the sword slashes of the bloodwalker, and the murderous flock, he went down. Isla struck the other bloodwalker and his mount with a great gale that knocked both all the way back to the back door, leaving her hovering in the air. Bale moved to guard Matthius and quickly got him up again, which was good as the beastcaller summoned up a mass of snakes, insects, and other subterranian creatures to boil up out of the cracks of the floor and bite and sting the party. The party focused on the beastcaller and he soon went down. The bloodwalkers used their abilities to teleport through spilled blood a few more times in an attempt to gain some tactical advantage, but the party soon finished beating them down.
The back door appeared to be barred shut and some warning written across it in Abyssal. It would seem there was something in there that even the gnolls didn't want to face and so the party decided to avoid it as well and focus on completing their quest. Heading back to the training room, they proceeded down the long cooridor. As they got closer, they could hear a deep, steady chant. They emerged into a vast circular room with three great braziers burning. By the bright glow of the fires, they could see a horde of twisted forms backed by two larger canine like beasts that were identified as some type of demon. On a raised altar, Fangren was chanting a continuing ritual that had summoned what appeared to be a great claw of his demon lord through what seemed like a swirling window. A stream of energy flowed from the hand and into Fangren as he sought to become an exarch.
The party exploded into action once Toby and Matthius were in position and they dashed through the minions to lay into Fangren and his two disciples right off. Knocking them about, they kept their distance from the claw of Yeenoghu, and keeping the gnolls away from getting closer as well. Garrus, Bale, and Isla came up quickly and with one blast from Isla, nearly all the abyssal wretches were destroyed. One of the crocattas harried Bale, but Garrus smacked it into the flaming brazier. It survived, but not for too much longer. The disciples that had been aiding Fangren did manage to get in a few lucky shots, but were soon torn asunder by the party. Fangren called upon all the powers he had available to him, but to no avail as he was pushed back towards the energy conduit. Garrus got caught briefly by the claw and dark fires engulfed him, but he soon broke free. Finally, Fangren was hurled at the window and his broken body seemed to slam up against something solid. It was like he was some fly that had been caught in a great web that held him there as his body burned with dark flames. Once Fangren and his lackeys had been destroyed and their ritual disrupted, Amyria spoke up once more and in a feeble voice led Bale in a ritual that closed off the flow of power from the Elemental Chaos. Bale then followed her instructions to create a brief flow of energy from the Astral Sea and as he did so, the platinum blade floated up and into the flow. A great light shone from it and it grew brighter and brighter until there was a finally blinding flash. As the party blinked to restore their sight, before them the sword had transformed into a woman of unearthly beauty. Her hair was a bright silver, her skin a slight blue, and strange bands and swirls of chalk white crossed over her face. Clad in a platinum colored scale armor, she held the longsword in one hand and a tome in the other. "I am Amyria."
Friday, March 12, 2010, 2:19 PM
Woot! Finally got a lot of the session notes up on the Heroes' Inc. group forums for many of the various ongoing campaigns my group has. Currently the Scales of War campaign will be put on hiatus as we return to the RISEN campaign tomorrow! And sometimes the Shadows Reborn campaign which has characters that are nearing 4 years old now.