Shadows of the Rift

Session Seventy-Two
The Prince's Suite

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11 Illumination 509 (Osandar)

The members of the Crimson Cord and their troupe gather their belongings and set out from the Cracked Cask, leaving Osandar and heading to the distant city of Asdari.

Over the course of the journey, Mõrvar begins spending much of his time with the guards. He seems to be asking them a lot about their opinions on racial prejudice, the justification of action against it, and the like. This singular activity causes some concern in his brother, who pulls him aside and asks him about it.

Mõrvar is apparently feeling out the guards for their feelings on a movement that he is intending to start. It is called the Brotherhood of the Outcast, and Mõrvar has an entire plan of forming this organization in order to strike back against those that would maltreat people based on their race or bloodline. Surm asks if Mõrvar thinks its a good idea to be recruiting among the guards, as they are under the leadership of Alasir according to their agreement. It could be seen as undermining. Mõrvar does not seem to be very concerned about that. He’s also concerned that Mõrvar seems to be forming a second group with which to be associated. Mõrvar attempts to assure him that it is more of a movement than a group, but Surm is unconvinced.

Rilka is also unconvinced of Mõrvar’s plan. Some of it involves doing “whatever it takes” to combat prejudice but Mõrvar refuses the answer the question as to whether his new movement sanctions illegal violence. He says that it depends, that it is not required but may be according to the situation and who is in charge. This answer is very unsatisfying to the rest of the group. Surm brings up the legal issues that Mõrvar could be opening himself up for and Rilka says, “If you let others dictate your anger you will never get over it.” She reiterates that you cannot make people be better people, you can only rely on faith and by living by example. Mõrvar attempts to appeal to their emotions, saying that he has been better off for having his “family,” but what about others that have not had his more positive experiences? They need a movement like his. The others remain unconvinced that he can control what other people think. Savaric largely abstains from the argument.

Later in the journey, the core members of the Cord are approached by Alasir. He says that he has noted, and participated, in the conversations Mõrvar has been generating among the troops. While having the conversations is fine—the guards are amenable to the conversations and that’s not a problem—he wonders if these conversations are leading to a change in the type of service he and his troupe are going to be providing. Up until now, they had been primarily guards and minor support. Alasir wants to know if the Cord intends on pursuing a moralistic crusade. This would be something new and he just wants to be prepared for the change in direction. Surm assures him that the Crimson Cord will NOT be pursuing a moralistic crusade. Alasir is mollified and moves on.

20 Illumination 509 (Kuskar Border)

The Cord comes to a ford in the Arahani River that marks the northern border of the nation of Kuskar. A squad of Kuskar troops, led by a man with a thick, twirlable mustache, He asks them about their business in Kuskar and Surm assures him that they are merely passing through. The squad leader speculates as to whether or not they are mercenaries in league with the Yulanians and Surm convinces him other wise. Satisfied, the squad escorts the troupe across the ford and into the small country. They also note that there a lot more troops at the border than there have been in the past. They move away from the soldiers and deeper into the countryside, moving ever southward toward Achera.

21 Illumination 509 (Jorani Mountains)

The troupe has now reached the southern border of Kuskar at the Jorani Mountains. There they meet the road that leads south into Achera that eventually leads to Asdari.

Once again, they are met by a squad of Kuskar soldiers at the border—but the situation is not nearly as charged as with the border to Yulania. Surm asks one of the soldiers about this and the man seems eager to talk. Apparently, the rumor is that Kuskar will soon go to war against Yulania. There have been border skirmishes for years, but it has been a long time since a full-on invasion was launched by the Voivode.

Once they move on from the border, Surm shares this information with the rest of the party. Mõrvar speculates as to how they can profit from a war between the two countries.

27 Illumination 509 (Zyend)

At sundown, the troupe reaches the gates of the city of Zyend. The Cord opts to set up an encampment outside of the city as opposed to trying to find lodging within.

29 Illumination 509 (Asdari)

This morning, the troupe arrives at the gates of the Acheran capital, Asdari. After paying their gate taxes (including negotiating the entry of Ghost as a piece of livestock), The troupe then makes their way through the metropolis to the what is referred to as “The Illuminated Quarter” to find Darice’s family.

Surm does some asking about and determines directions to the Hasani family home (to which Darice belongs). These directions lead them to a nice neighborhood and a modest, but well-maintained home. They decide that he, Mõrvar, and Mahgnus will go inside the house to meet with the family—the family may not welcome the sight of half-orcs, considering the circumstances.

There is a small gate leading up to the house itself. Surm pulls the bell string and rings the bell. An elderly woman dressed in clean, Acheran clothing comes tottering out and asking who they are. Surm indicates that they are the Crimson Cord come to see about Darice.

“Come in! Come in!” the woman says and leads them into the home. She seems friendly and glad to see them. She takes them into a sitting room and offers them water. She then leaves to fetch the family.

They are joined by a stern-faced Southron man, an older pretty woman who is probably his wife, and by Darice herself.

Darice is heavy with child, but nonetheless seems happy to see her saviors once again. She embraces them warmly. The man, her father Hasan, is more standoffish. Her mother, Kiran, smiles, but seems shy.

Speaking with the family, they discover that the local healers believe that Darice will give birth anytime between now and next two weeks. She has had some hard days, physically, but she is assured that this is typical of such a birth.

Surm secures an accommodation recommendation from Hasan, who suggests the Wand of Fire as a good place to stay. They agree to keep in communication about Darice and that, when the time comes, the Cord will come and fulfill their agreement. Hasan is visibly relieved.

Surm, Mõrvar, and Mahgnus rejoin the others and the troupe heads for the Wand of Fire.

The troupe makes their way through the narrow city streets to the city center. There, nestled beside a well-tended boulevard between the Palace of the Kargan and the Temple of Azumazran is a four-story tower with a sign out front declaring this to be “The Wand of Fire” in Acheran. The sign itself bears a large wand that is lit with arcane fire.

Surm dismisses the guards, telling that they are on leave until they are called back into duty after the birth of Darice’s child. They decide to find a place that is not quite so “spendy.” They find another, more modest, inn nearby called the Topaz Dagger. Alasir can send a runner if more communication is needed during their stay. Mahgnus pays the troops and they are sent on their way. Mahgnus opts to continue staying with the Cord at the Wand of Fire. He will go inform the wet-nurse that he had arranged for on his previous trek to Asdari that she should be on stand-by and then return to the inn.

Entering the Wand of Fire, the Cord finds themselves in an opulent courtyard with a fountain, mosaic tiles in the floors and walls weaving intricate patterns of color, and the entry of a very flamboyant host. The host wears deep purple robes and is nice jewelry on his fingers and neck. He welcomes them to the Wand of Fire and inquires as to their needs. The Cord asserts that they need rooms, a bath, laundry service, and a meal. As far as the number of rooms, Surm asks if the inn has any suites. “Of course!” the flamboyant man says, “in fact, I will take you to the Prince’s Suite!” and immediately has two servants help Mahgnus with the gear while he leads the Cord upstairs.

The suite is gorgeous. There is a parlor with a smaller version of the fountain they saw downstairs stationed in the center of the room. The Host shows them the four rooms available in the suite—two large bedrooms, opulently decorated and smelling of sweet jasmine, and two other smaller rooms with expensive rugs decorating the floors. The Host continues to inquire as to their needs and assures them that they will be met. A portable bed will be brought in for Mahgnus.

No mention of price is ever made.

Rilka inquires as to “spa services” and the Host assures her that those can be arranged as well. Would she like a male or female attendant? She opts for a female. Surm, Savaric, and Mõrvar also arrange for “full relaxation services” with female attendants. The Host makes no apologies for asking—“I make no assumptions. i make no judgments.” The baths are located in the basement level of the tower, they are informed. They are also provided with luxurious robes to use while their laundry is being taken care of.

While the others indulge in the relaxation treatments and baths, Mõrvar heads out into the city to find a trainer to enhance his combat prowess. He finds a female former guard of the Watch called Jamila Turari to perform the training—they will begin the next day.

He also goes to the Topaz Dagger to talk to Alasir. He puts forward the idea of the troops wearing uniform tabards while in service to the Cord. Alasir considers this and agrees that it would be helpful to the Cord for the troops to be visibly connected to the group.

Mõrvar finally makes his way back to the Wand of Fire and indulges in the various services ordered by the member of the group. He joins them for dinner in the “Entertainment Hall” but does not eat anything.

While he was out, Surm begins to make connections with some of the wealthy merchants that are availing themselves of the bath. He makes a distinct connection with a merchant in “objects arcane” by the name of Kalil.

At dinner, the gathered Cord and Mahgnus discuss their activities in the city as they wait for Darice to give birth. Mõrvar has some shopping he’d like to do, but he’ll be training, so Surm agrees to take care of that for him. Savaric indulges in exotic liquors at dinner such as elven absinthe and Kuskar barrel-aged brandy.

Mõrvar brings up the uniform question, bringing up his conversation with Alasir earlier in the day. This begins an extremely long argument between the members of the Cord that descends into the need for parliamentary procedure to come to any sort of consensus. Surm descends into defensive indifference while Rilka and Savaric seem disinclined to engage in the conversation, even when asked point-blank for an opinion. Savaric, in fact, actively abstains from their voting. Surm notices that despite his closed expression and professional demeanor, Mahgnus is looking on this conversation quietly appalled this his superiors seem to be so heatedly stymied by what should be a relatively simple decision.

Eventually, it is decided that the Cord will wear red sashes while the troops wear customized tabards. The subsequent question regarding the purchase of a customized flag for the troupe remains open. Savaric and Mahgnus volunteer to make the arrangements for the uniforms.

After dinner and drinks, the Cord return to their opulent Prince’s Suite and go to bed.

4 Ardor 509 (Asdari)

Over the next five days, the party conducts various bits of business in the city and in the inn.

Mõrvar attends training during the day and returns to the inn at night. Surm continues to make connections in the bath house after going shopping for some scrolls and components for his brother. His new friend, Kalil, informs him that he would like to hire Surm to broker some investment opportunities to Surm’s friends in Kalimsport. Kalil wishes to begin an operation in that city and would like to acquire more capital to do so. For each investor Surm is able to secure, he will be paid 100 gold pieces. Surm agrees and the two work out the details of the transactions involved. Rilka inquires as to the possibility of upgrading her magical tattoo, but discovers that the cost may be prohibitive. Savaric gets a job breaking horses on an estate just outside the city.

On this day, Surm decides to use their crystal ball to scry Angelet, the mother of the other half-orc orphan, in Kalimsport. They see Angelet, still clearly pregnant, secured to the headboard of her bed, bandages on her wrists. She looks emotionally dead and unresponsive. An older woman, dressed in a noble’s clothes, feeds her gruel. Angelet eats—but is clearly not all there.

They decide to send a pigeon post to Kalimsport from the Cord letting Angelet’s family know that they are in Asdari for an unknown amount of time but once they have the other child, they will arrive in Kalimsport post haste.

9 Ardor 509

The troupe is resting at the Wand of Fire when a courier comes with a simple message: “it is time.”

They all head to the Hasani home, with Mahgnus making a side trip to gather the wet-nurse. Once they regroup, only Surm, the nurse, and Mahgnus go inside the house. The birth has just occurred—they can hear the crying of a babe carry from down the hall. They go to the room and see that Darice is unconscious and the baby is being attended to by a priest of Azumazran. They are assured that Darice will recover, but it was a hard birth.

The wet-nurse and the priest exchange notes about the care of the baby while Surm speaks with Hasan. The two agree that it would be best to go ahead and take the babe now while Darice is unconscious. Hasan also mentions that it is Darice’s wish that the babe, a boy, keep the name she has given him: Cord.

The baby Cord is gathered up and Surm, Mahgnus, and the nurse head back to meet the others outside. Savaric insists that someone go back and tell the family about the intent to go to Yrda specifically, so that if they do decide to find the child some day, they are able to. This is done.

They return to the Wand of Fire to gather their things and settle their final bill: which comes to a substantial amount—nearly 450 gold pieces. They pay the Host (who never offered his name and was never asked) and make their way to the Topaz Dagger to gather up the troops. The troops are a little bleary-eyed after their extended leave, but make haste to depart. The entourage then leaves the city of Asdari to begin their trek to Kalimsport.

24 Ardor 509 (Kalimsport)

Along the way to Kalimsport, Surm continues to scry Angelet. Apparently, at some point between their last scrying and the birth of Cord, Angelet had given birth. He sees her no longer bound to her bed, but still there, looking dead-eyed, while the older, noble-dressed woman holds a baby. Another, younger woman, is in the room with them.

Over the days of the journey, Surm continues to scry (using the baby as a point of reference). He observes as the older woman—whom they remember as Angelet’s mother, Marin, cooing and singing to the baby. The babe is a girl, who they later discover has been named “Jewel.”

They arrive in the city of Kalimsport that morning without incident and make their way to the wealthy quarter of the city where Angelet’s family lives. Mahgnus breaks away to find the second wet-nurse he had secured. He will meet them at Angelet’s.

Surm, Mahgnus, and Mõrvar head inside and meet with Angelet’s mother, Marin. She feels that she is caught in a “devil’s bargain”—for she loves Jewel and would like to keep her, but knows that Jewel would have hard life in the social circles in which her family functions. Further, keeping Jewel would push Angelet further over the edge. She is caught between her love for her granddaughter and wanting to protect her daughter. She decides that it is best if Jewel goes with the Crimson Cord. They take the babe after telling Marin that Jewel can be found in the village of Yrda in Jossia should she want to connect with her again.

They rejoin the rest of the Cord, carrying Jewel. Mahgnus introduces the new wet-nurse, Fionna, to the party. She’s a talkative woman, very happy to be caring for a baby again—almost the opposite of the taciturn Pratha whom they picked up in Asdari.

At this point, the Cord splits up. Rilka and Savaric head out of the city toward Yrda with the troops and Mahgnus. Surm and Mõrvar stay behind in Kalimsport to take care of other business. They will rejoin via a Teleport spell in 22 days—about the amount of time it will take for the troops to arrive by cart in Yrda. Alasir leaves Tarben behind with Surm and Mõrvar to act as a guard.

The Cord say their farewells, pay the troops, and then the larger troupe makes their way out of the city, traveling north, toward Jossia.

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Session Seventy-One
Troubles in Osandar

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6 Illumination 509

After spending the previous ending discussing various issues regarding treasure distribution, shares, and the like, the Crimson Cord awake the next morning and begin gathering up their troupe to head toward Osandar, where they will separate with the clerics of Halor, as the Cord will head south toward Asdari while the clerics return north to Aldasar. Savaric will also break away at Osandar, intending to forego the trip to Asdari and head straight to Yrda with hopes of spending some “quality time” with Mirka and awaiting the return of Cord with the half-orc orphans.

Rilka notices that Savaric apparently didn’t sleep well—his eyes are red and he’s a bit irritable. But tempers are already high with the negotiations regarding shares—Surm is irritated at the amount of “debt” he has incurred by claiming valuable magical items for which he must contribute to the group’s funds. Another sticking point is whether or not the cost of spell components should come from group funds or not—or if spell components are found, should they be considered the property of the group. Suffice to say, many details are being ground out by the group.

The discussion regarding the treasure and the troupe’s bylaws continue as they make their way across the plains of Yulania toward the capital. It is a beautiful, spring day and perfect for traveling. By the time the sun sets, they have reached the road to Osandar. They pull their train of people off to the side and set up a camp.

7 Illumination 509

Once again, Savaric seems to have had a restless night. Rilka asks him about it. He admits that he’s been having a bad dream. He doesn’t remember much when he wakes up; only that he is underwater, and the area is diffused in a strange green light. He sees an enormous, alien eye—it’s deep, black pupil attempts to suck his very being into it, and he tries to resist—but cannot. He wakes up exhausted and with a feeling of deep dread.

The troupe packs up and starts heading down the road for another day of traveling.

In the afternoon, leaning against one of the sparse trees that dot the plains, Rilka and Surm spot a what appears to be a dead body propped up against the trunk. Rilka goes to check it out. She finds a body that is several days old with its hands cut off. Tacked to his jacket is a scrawled note. Rilka can’t read the note and takes it back to the group. The note is passed around and no one seems to know what language it is in. Surm and Mõrvar examine and come to the conclusion that it is Yulanian. They can make out the gist of the note, which is “No one steals from Ralthan’s Rocs.” Surm can even go so far as to tell that the phrasing indicates that the writer was probably from the east side of Osandar. No one seems to have heard of any group called “Ralthan’s Rocs.” The troupe moves on.

8 Illumination 509

Savaric wakes up tired again—not so much that he can’t function, but it is just something that is noticeable.

The troupe moves further down the road to Osandar. It’s an uneventful, warm spring day of traveling.

9 Illumination 509

Savaric is once again reporting a restless night. The troupe moves on.

That afternoon, the party comes across a small, makeshift shrine to Hathras. Shrugging, they move on toward the capital.

As the sun begins to set, they see the gates of Osandar looming in the distance. As they approach, they see the white-crescent-on blue flag of Yulania flying along with the blue-crescent-on-white banner of Osandar.

Approaching the gates, they are greeted by one of the Osandar city guards. “Welcome to Osandar! Will all of you be entering the city this evening?” she asks.

Surm seems irritated at everything and is put off by the friendly tone of the guard. She recites the various gate charges and then inquires about the wolf, Ghost. She asks if it is tame and she is told that Savaric can control it. The guard then states that they can bring the animal in, but it will be charged the tax as livestock and, if it gets into any trouble in the city, Savaric will be held directly responsible. “If it kills someone, you have killed someone,” she tells him. That’s just fine with the troupe and everyone files through the great wooden doors.

Rilka stops one of the merchants that is rolling up his business for the night and asks for a recommendation for an inn. She and Surm argue over whether they want a modest inn or a fancy inn (with Surm wanting the latter). Rilka asks the merchant for any recommendation he can give. He describes the various inns he knows of around the city, including some modest ones and a fancy one. He advises that they stay away from the Maiden and Staff near the lake—it caters to rough folk. Finally, they settle on the Cracked Cask, in the market district. Rilka thanks the man and they move on.

As they head toward city center, Prioress Drenham and her group of clerics of Halor break away. She and Surm have brief discussion and they make plans for the Cord to meet them at the temple of Halor with their share of the treasure. The Crimson Cord and their troupe of guards head to the Cracked Cask.

The Cracked Cask, marked by a well-painted sign depicting a barrel cracked in half like nut, is a modest affair with a lively common room. Rilka approaches the innkeep to make arrangements for the night. The innkeep, Taryon, is very happy to welcome them to his establishment and seems a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of people the group is bringing with them. Nevertheless, arrangements are made—with the Cord (including Ghost) staying in two suites while the guards will bunk in the common room. The innkeep summons Argon, his 14-year-old son, to help carry bags and haul supplies. Mahgnus goes with the boy to direct him properly regarding the Cord’s gear.

After the group cycles through hot baths (there are only 3 tubs in the inn) and settling in, they reconvene in the common room to discuss their next step. They need to find a late-night market to sell some of their less savory goods that they acquired from the Tomb. Surm is dressed in his Ornish finest. The others, in typical adventuring gear. He, Rilka, Mõrvar, Kortash, and Burask will go to sell the goods, with the half-orcs acting as “muscle.” Savaric will stay behind and guard their gear stowed in the suites. Surm also makes a point of paying the guards, as well as paying bonuses to Tarben and Sorcha for risking themselves in the Tomb of Secrets.

The patrons of the common room are being entertained by a halfling, who has taken to the corner stage with a fiddle and is doing quite well with a tune known as “The Loquacious Halfling,” an instrumental originally performed by a well-known Bard by the name of Azuredee Silverthistle.

After taking in a dinner of lamb stew and fresh bread, the five head out with their wares to find the black market.

They make some inquiries and find a man who says, “Oh, aye, I can tell you about that. Indeed I can.” He speaks in a low, conspiratorial manner to Surm. "You’ll be wanting to go to the Maiden and Staff. Find a man named Fordham. Yes. When you speak to him, mention that “the moonlight has parted the clouds.” He’ll set you up." Surm asks if he wants him to mention who sent him. The man says, “Sure. Tell him Cordall sent you.”

Surm doesn’t really want to go to the inn where he was told traded in rough folk, but they all head toward the lakeside district to do just that.

The Maiden and Staff is a bit of ramshackle inn, not well cared for. But there is lively music pouring out of the window. There is a sign over the door reading “Maiden and Staff” in Tradespeak and has a picture depicting a lascivious woman with low-cut bodice and high skirts gripping a quarterstaff. The door is guarded by a tall Northron man holding a club.

As they all approach, the Northron simply nods as they enter. Surm gets the impression that he’s there more to throw miscreants out than to give people trouble coming in. The common room is pretty full of unsavory-looking humans, half-orcs, and a couple of dwarves. Surm is entirely grossed out by the dirt in the room. They approach the bar, which is being tended by a half-orc woman. Surm inquires about seeing the man called Fordham. At first she seems wary, but Surm warms her up—perhaps too much so. She smiles at the sorcerer/bard and tucks a curly hair behind her ear. “Sure, sweetie. I’ll go get him. You lot go grab one of those tables.” As they turn to go, she reaches out and pinches Surm’s cheek, flirtatiously. Surm, flabbergasted, heads to the indicated table with the rest.

After a few moments, the half-orc returns with an older man dressed in clean, common clothes. He approaches the table and says. “I’m Fordham. Drusila says you have business with me. What do you need?”

After being invited to take a seat, the man sits down at the table. Surm explains that they were told he would be able to get them into a black market and, “as the moonlight has parted the clouds,” they have found they have need of one.

Fordham nods and says, “I can indeed. Follow me.”

He rises and leads them through an office door deeper into the inn. After turning down a hall, he takes them down a staircase into a basement. Rilka starts to get wary and places her hand near her falchion. But Fordham goes to a pallet of barrels and pulls on a rope ring. The pallet swings away easily on hidden wheels and reveals a secret door with another staircase heading down.

“Go down and follow the corridor. Take no turns and you will arrive at the market.”

The troupe head downstairs, with Mõrvar giving the innkeep a warning if there is some kind of trap down there. Fordham assures him that all he knows of is the market.

They follow Fordham’s directions and traverse the corridor. The air smells close and rank and there is an unknown dampness lining the stone floor. Surm is unhappy about the situation on all counts. However, they do eventually arrive at a large underground chamber filled with stalls and merchants hawking various wares. There are also numerous unsavory customers and several enforcers armed with clubs patrolling the area. There appears to be a tunnel on the other side of the chamber.

Looking about for someone selling or buying magical accouterments, they find a dwarf. His greasy hair is slick and parted in the middle. He’s got a gap-toothed grin and his long beard appears to be shaped by some sort of grease or pomade. Surm is appalled by his very presence.

“Aye, I’m can take some of these goods off yer hands, indeed. What are you offering?” he says when they ask if he’s buying.

Mõrvar makes the negotiations for the goods and the dwarf examines them with an obviously arcane eyepiece. He offers them the traditional one-half market price. As they are concluding the transaction, Mõrvar notices that the dwarf has made some sort of signal to one of the enforcers. Mõrvar threatens the dwarf, indicating that if they run into any trouble, he’ll come looking for him. The dwarf attempts to reassure him. “No trouble—your money spends just fine!”

They make their way to an armorer to sell off some darkly enchanted plate armor. As they make their way, Mõrvar warns them about the signal the dwarf made to the enforcer. The armor merchant is a mysterious figure—dressed in bulky hooded cloak which covers his shape and features. His hands are also gloved. His voice is clearly inhuman, but no one can place what this mysterious figure could be (though Surm proposes that he is a ghoul, like Cyrus that they had encountered in the underground kingdoms). Mõrvar once again performs the negotiations, Surm being too grossed-out by the place to want to bother. At first, Mõrvar attempts to slightly up-sell the armor—an attempt to which the armorer responds in his inhuman rasp, “Aren’t you adorable?” they finally settle on a fair price and the party starts to head out of the market the way they came.

As they move, one of the enforcers, the one that the dwarf signaled to, approaches them with a purpose. While the others hang back a bit, Surm surges forward to meet him.

“That exit is closed. You need to go that way,” he growls, indicating the opposite tunnel.

“But we came in through there,” Surm says.

Mõrvar attempts to intimidate the man with a long diatribe about how they meet any trouble that comes their way. But as he drones on, the enforcer raises his spiked club and attempts to strike him. The man’s hits clang off of Mõrvar’s armor and the two half-orc guards come forward to surround Surm and come to Mõrvar’s aid. Rilka and Surm three more enforcers coming out of the crowd toward them.

A general melee breaks out with Rilka, Mõrvar, Kortash, and Burask all fighting around Surm. At one point, Kortash accidentally stabs Mõrvar with his new magical trident. Then Surm can see seven more enforcers emerging from the other end of the room and coming toward them. He reaches out his hand and says, “The dead consume you!” Grasping undead hands rip up from the earth below and clutch most of the men in place. Only one manages to escape and continue toward the melee in progress. The grasped men scream in pain and fear.

The melee continues, and the half-orc twins continue to make a poor showing with Burask sticking the blade of his greataxe into the stone floor—he is unable to pull it out.

Surm continues to handle the incoming enforcers by casting another spell. Black tentacles suddenly spring up out of the ground and grasp the men again, crushing them in their grip. They cry out once again in pain.

There is now a general panic in the room as vendors gather what they can carry and start heading toward the exits—which are apparently illusionary walls to either side of the market room. Rilka is not fooled by them and calls them out to the rest of the group.

Two of the incoming enforcers escape from the black tentacles, but they both run toward the illusionary exits. The room is quickly emptying.

Finally, Mõrvar finishes off the last of the enforcers, cutting off both of the man’s legs with Deathblow and letting the body fall and bleed out. he calls out, “This is the dwarf’s fault!”

As the enforcers writhe and scream in the grip of Surm’s magic, and block the Cord’s preferred exit, Rilka calls on Surm to drop his spell. He lets it go a little longer—and the tentacles squeeze the rest of the life out of the enforcers. Somewhat surprised, but not displeased, Surm finally calls off the spell. He moves forward and places a visible arcane mark on the heads of each of the four dead enforcers—the Ulrich skull symbol. Then he finds some charcoal and paper and writes a note in Tradespeak—“I want the dwarf’s name and location—I’ll be back.” He stuffs this in one of the corpses’ shirt.

Kortash apologizes to Mõrvar for stabbing him while his brother retrieves his ask. Mõrvar is actually somewhat gracious, telling the half-orc that if he didn’t already trust him, he’d be dead. “We’re good.” he assures him.

Mõrvar attempts to decapitate the four enforcers Surm killed but Surm won’t let him. “I’ve already marked these my way. If you need to cut the head of something, do it to the others.” So Mõrvar decapitates the enforcers that died in the melee.

At this point, the market is empty save for them. Mõrvar detects magic and only detects the illusionary walls the magic on their persons. The hitch up their gear and make their way out of the remains of the market.

As they emerge from the secret passage into the basement of the Maiden and Staff. Fordham is waiting there, with a short sword in his hand—but he’s not brandishing it, only holding it. “What in blazes is going on? I’ve had seven people come running out of here!”

Mõrvar briefly explains the situation and asks if he knows anything about the dwarf. The older man furrows his brow. “Yeah, that sounds Binarek. He from the south side of the city. I don’t know where.”

“But you guys, you better get out of here. Out of town, even. This event isn’t going to sit well with the Hand of Talvor.”

“What is the Hand of Talvor?” Surm asks.

“They run a lot of the, well, underground activity in the city. Theft, extortion—the black market. They are not going to be pleased at the disruption of their business.”

The group decides to leave and head back to Cracked Cask. They only have another day in the city anyway.

At the Cracked Cask, the common room has closed for the night and the guards are sleeping in their bedrolls. Taryon is still happy help—even when the group asks for late-night baths. He sends Argon to help. They all have a hot, soothing bath (Rilka sharing hers with Kortash) and rest for the night.

10 Illumination 509

That morning, Surm informs Alasir of the danger involving the Hand of Talvor and cautions him to tell the guards to be alert as they go out on leave today. Alasir assures him it will be done.

The remainder of the party head out into the market district to make their sales and trades with the treasure looted from the Tomb of Secrets. They also take their promised shares to the clerics of Halor—for which Prioress Drenham offers her thanks.

While finishing up their business at the scriptorium, a well-dressed man flanked by soldiers wearing the livery of the country of Yulania waits patiently for their business to conclude. The shop keeper looks nervous, but completes his business with Surm and then greets the well-dressed man. The others, though somewhat curious (except for Mõrvar), leave the shopkeep to his new guest.

By sundown, all of their business is completed. The Crimson Cord heads back to the Cracked Cask, where the only guards unaccounted for are Halvor and Garth—though they were given leave, so no one is particularly concerned at this point.

As people settle in for the evening, Halvor comes stumbling into the common room. He looks a bit dazed and has a garish, purple puncture wound on his neck. “They took him. I don’t know what happened,” he gasps as he makes a beeline for Surm, Rilka, and Mõrvar. “We were heading to an apothecary to buy some tobacco when suddenly all of my muscles seized up and I fell flat on my face.” I saw dark boots come and drag Garth away. Then someone tucked this in my tunic."

He produces a scrawled note written in Tradespeak: “The bearer of the skull should come alone to the Maiden and Staff.”

Surm examines Halvor’s wound and determines that he had, indeed, been poisoned, but he was probably coming off of the last vestiges of its effect.

The group gathers to form a plan to get Garth back and make this rendezvous. They eventually decide to have Surm go alone to the inn, but with Mahgnus and Alfhild following behind to come running if the time comes. Meanwhile, Mõrvar will scry on Surm (who will lower his magical defenses to allow it) and will have a teleport scroll ready to take him, Sorcha, and Alasir with him directly to the inn.

Surm makes his way to the Maiden and Staff while Mahgnus and Alfhild follow, keeping their employer in sight. When Surm approaches the door, which is again guarded by the big Northron, he asks him in Jossian, “What can I expect in there?”

The big man says, also in Jossian, “Keep your hands visible and watch your step.”

“Can I expect any trouble from you?” Surm asks.

“Only if you give me any trouble,” the man says.

Nodding, and taking a deep breath, Surm walks inside.

There are about 15 patrons in all in the room—it is not near as lively as the previous night, though folks are playing cards and having mugs of ale. Surm spots Fordham and Drusila behind the bar and Fordham gives him a very covert apologetic shrug. At the far end of the room sits a well-dressed, but not ostentatious man with Garth sitting beside him. The man waves amiably at Surm, who approaches their table.

The man invites Surm to sit, and, after examining the chair for any unseemly stains, he does so. The man scrutinizes Surm for a moment. “I have heard of you. You are with the Crimson Cord, are you not?”

Surm affirms that he is.

“Yes, you did some work in Kalimsport, yes?”

Surm affirms that this is true.

“Yes, your reputation precedes you. It explains much.” Surm doesn’t know what he means by this.

“Let us get down to business. You are here about the dwarf,” the man says.

“I’m here for my man,” Surm corrects him.

“Ah, yes. Of course, a means to an end. So ugly, but I was afraid you would not accept my invitation any other way.”

“You could have just given me the information about the dwarf.”

“But that is what we will be negotiating, is it not?”

“What about Garth?” Surm looks him over and he appears not to have been beaten or harmed in any way. He does look scared—but probably because he realizes that it would be a bad idea to move right now.

“Oh, well. His part is done. He’s free to go,” the man says and waves Garth away. Garth looks to the man, to Surm, rises, and heads out of the inn. The big Northron stands aside and then retakes his position at the door. Surm thinks he’s there both to keep Surm in and to keep all others out.

“Now that that ugliness is done, let us deal,” the man says. “You want the dwarf. We need recompense for a ruined market. I think we can deal.”

“The market was the dwarf’s fault. He made a side deal with one of your enforcers to take our money after his dealing was done.”

“Ah, but surely all of our enforcers could not have been part of this dwarf’s conspiracy?”

“They were coming to attack us,” Surm says.

“As enforcers are want to do when there is a fight in the market,” the man counters. “Yet your Cord killed them all. This disrupts a very lucrative business for my…associates.”

Surm just shrugs.

The man ponders for a moment. “Still, we do not like the way this dwarf conducts business. And we have no need of trouble with your troupe. As I said, your reputation precedes you. So, I am prepared to give you the dwarf. In return, your Cord, your guards, your group, never returns to our markets.”

Surm nods. “I think that would be acceptable.”

The man smiles. “Good. Now, with whom am I dealing? I am Arnal Degarian.”

“Surm Ulrich.”

“Very good. Now, where do want the dwarf delivered?”

Surm blinks for a moment and ponders. Finally, he says. “You take care of the dwarf. We’ll keep our end of the bargain.”

Arnal raises an eyebrow. “Very well. We will handle Binarek. And you and yours will not enter our markets. We have an accord.” He reaches out his hand to shake with Surm.

Surm eyes the dangling hand distastefully, but finally shakes it. It’s dry and Arnal gives a firm handshake.

Surm rises and then cautiously makes his way out of the common room. The Northron nods at him as he lets him pass.

As he makes his way down the street, Surm is met by Mahgnus, Alfhild, and Garth. The four head back to the market district soon arrive back at the Cracked Cask, where they are met with smiles and cheers by the others.

With their business completed, the party heads to bed to rest up for their departure from Osandar tomorrow.

View
Session Seventy
Tomb Raiders

Mummy.jpg

4 Illumination 509

Having just finished dissipating the last of the spectres that had invaded the chamber, the party takes a moment to heal and for Savaric to search the room. Finding nothing of interest, the troupe decides to continue through the tomb in hopes of wrapping up their exploration soon.

Surm takes a few moments to unlock the door in the southern wall of the spectre chamber. They then continue down a corridor toward the next chamber indicated on the map. Approaching the door, Savaric finds no traps along the way. He checks the door, with Mõrvar behind him casting detect magic. Neither find anything of interest. Savaric creeps open the door and looks into the chamber. There is a large round table in the center of the room, around which are sitting 5 of the armored ghouls they had encountered before along with a sixth, robed ghoul seated at the north end of the table. All of the ghouls turn and look at Savaric, who shuts the door quickly and tells his friends, “Ghouls!”

The party then begins moving past Savaric and pouring into the room. Rilka makes her way around to position herself near the robed ghoul. As she moves, she passes through an uncomfortable aura of cowardice emanating from the armored ghouls she maneuvers around. Mõrvar moves in and begins engaging with one of the armored ghouls. The various priests of Halor make their way in, along with Surm. The armored ghouls move and attack, one with a greataxe against Mõrvar, the others leaving their weapons behind and attempting to bite their opponents. One successfully bites Sister Senna and another bites Brother Caric. Caric finds himself paralyzed by the unique powers of the ghoul, while Senna manages to fight off the paralysis. The robed ghoul points at Rilka, enacting a spell, and suddenly all of the air in her lungs is expelled, suffocating her.

Prioress Drenham seizes her holy symbol and, calling upon Halor’s light, enacts a burst of positive energy that fills half the room. Several of the other clerics follow suit. The ghouls all shriek in pain and anger as the holy light shines upon them. Mõrvar continues to engage with his ghoul while Rilka tries to take out the robed one, but with little effect. The robed ghoul casts another spell, shooting a lightning bolt into Rilka. She manages to deflect some of the effect, but not all.

The ghouls continue to try and bite their living prey, but aren’t having much luck. Mõrvar slices into another of the armored ghouls and slices him viciously across the upper and chest, spraying Senna with the undead creature’s ichorous blood. Savaric slits the throat of another armored ghoul. Surm casts a scorching ray at one of the ghouls, while Senna tries to hit one with a ray of searing light, only to miss. Finishing off another of the armored ghouls, Mõrvar leaps up onto the table to take on the robed one and cuts off the top of its head, flinging it across the room, felling the creature. Savaric finishes off the last one by stabbing Edgefrost through its head.

With six dead ghouls lying in pieces about the room, the party takes a moment to assess their wounds. Rilka recalls that ghouls can be carriers of a disease called “ghoul fever” and Prioress Drenham casts detect disease on the party. Senna, it appears, has contracted the disease. She attempts to remove it through a prayer, but fails. Surm keeps his distance from the diseased cleric and Senna is left shaken with the knowledge that she could, in the next few days, die and become a ghoul.

Searching the room and looting the bodies, they find that the armored ghouls all wear iron symbols of Modthras. These are collected by Surm, as well as the various magical items on the bodies of both the robed one and the armored ghouls.

Next to this chamber is a portcullis leading to a seemingly empty room. They open the door and Savaric goes inside to search. He finds a trap trigger that affects the southwest corner of the room. There is a door leading north, which Surm unlocks. They then head up another corridor until Savaric finds another trap in the corridor. As it will require them to jump over the affected area to avoid, the party opts to take another route. They backtrack to the round-table room and head north from there.

The next room is thoroughly searched by Savaric and determined to be empty. They open a portcullis to the east and follow a corridor to another large, empty room. Savaric searches it and finds a secret door in the eastern wall. He checks it for traps, finding it to be trap-free, and opens it to peer inside. He sees another chamber with a group of mummies waiting inside, alongside some sort of rectangular object wrapped in velvet at the opposite end of the room. He shuts the door and yells “Battle circle!” to his comrades.

The troupe forms the battle circle around the doorway and waits for the mummies to start emerging. When one does, the party springs into action, attacking the monster. Mõrvar finishes it off, slicing its ear off with his flaming Deathblow and felling it in the doorway. Surm throws a fireball into the room, causing a great deal of destruction amongst the mummies, but they remain standing—much to his consternation. Mõrvar performs a storm step spell, transforming into a small bolt of electrical energy that passes through the line of mummies, felling two of them and placing him on the other side of the last. Senna moves into the chamber channels the energy of Halor to help weaken the remaining mummies. Mõrvar finishes off the one in front of him, splitting its skull and spraying Senna with the gory remains. The last one is easily dispatched by the rest of the troupe.

Savaric searches the room, finding only the covered rectangular object. The objects does emit a strong magical aura that neither Surm nor Mõrvar can identify. Deciding to allow Surm to uncover the object, as he believes he has a good chance of resisting whatever effect it may have, they others slip into the previous room and wait. Surm carefully removes the velvet cover, revealing a 4’ by 4’ framed mirror. As he catches his reflection in the glass, he feels a magical force attempt to remove him from his current location, but he manages to fight it off. He quickly examines the aura of the device to determine what it might and, identifying it, has the sense to avert his eyes.

He determines that this is a “Mirror of Life Trapping,” a powerful magical device that contains 15 extradimensional “cells” into which victims can be sucked by gazing into the mirror. There is a command to activate/deactivate the device (and it is currently activated) as well as separate command words associated with each “cell” to allow the user to either free the prisoner or to communicate safely with them. Surm recovers the mirror with the velvet cloth and the party discusses the merits of destroying the mirror—which could free anyone—or anything—imprisoned within or taking it for study to get the command words needed. The Prioress stresses the need to find out if there are any living prisoners inside and to free them—but agrees that breaking the mirror could be risky, as they don’t know what (if anything) is trapped within. Finally, Surm decides to take it with them to study for the command words later.

The party continues through the mummy room, down a corridor into a larger, empty, chamber. Mõrvar’s detect magic discerns a magical aura on the door exiting to the west from this chamber—leading to the last unexplored room in this part of the tomb. Surm opts to attempt to dispel the magic on the door and, after three tries and encouragement from his brother, Mõrvar, he finally dispels the magic.

Savaric leads the way through the door and down a corridor. Rounding the corner, he sees that the arched doorway indicated on map opens into a chamber that, unlike the others, is not lit by the eerie green witchlight that the other chambers of the Tomb are provided. He approaches cautiously and peers into the darkness, depending on his darkvision to guide him. His sight penetrates the darkness—and he sees that the end room is empty save for a large shadow that hovers on the ceiling and is now approaching him.

Savaric moves back and switches places with Mõrvar, telling everyone that there is a large shadow approaching. Unlike the other shadows that the party has encountered, this one is of a degree larger and more menacing. It fills the corridor with its bulk. Mõrvar, wielding his flaming greatsword Deathblow, gamely attacks, yelling for the rest of the party to run. The rest of the party attempts to make their way out of the narrow corridor, pouring their way back into the previous room.

Rilka casts a spiritual weapon to attack the shadow in tandem with Mõrvar. It takes the form of a longsword and attacks, dealing a small amount of damage. Mõrvar is attacked by the creature, and screams in pain and anger as much of his vitality is drained away at the creature’s fell touch. Redoubling his efforts, he attacks the shadow creature, and in a heroic display of powerful swordsmanship, finishes off the incorporeal creature. He then drops to his knees, breathing heavy with his efforts and the injuries he’s sustained.

The clerics are unable to help Mõrvar very much—his injuries are too severe for the magic they have available. They can heal his physical wounds, but not restore his vitality—unless they are able to secure 100 gp of diamond dust with which to cast a restoration spell in the morning. Despondent at his weakened state, and felling defeated and useless, Mõrvar takes a place at the end of the line.

Savaric checks a small, nearby room for secret panels or traps and finds none. They party then decide to gather the loot from today’s kills and head back out to camp. When they get outside, they can see that the sun is setting for the day.

The clerics all apply their remaining healing spells to the party and Surm applies a bit of the ointment of restoration that they had discovered in their travels to Senna’s wound and manages to remove the disease from her system, for which she is thankful.

Surm and Rilka use two of the scroll of teleport that they had found to take Hekia back to Aldasar. They arrive on target in the home of Torvald the Halfling, the old friend of Hekia’s who sent them on this quest. After the prematurely aged Valeman recovers from his surprise, they explain that they were successful in their rescue and the Hekia will need a lot of gentle care. Torvald thanks them profusely and promises that Hekia will receive the care she needs. Surm makes sure that Torvald is aware that “the Crimson Cord is happy to serve.”

Rilka and Surm then head to the market district where they persuade a spell-component merchant who is closing up shop for the day to stay open for them. He sells them 500 gp worth of silver dust. Surm inquires about purchasing opal gems, but the merchant gives him a shrewd look and tells him to try a jeweler or the night market. Surm, a bit chagrined, excuses them and they make their way out. They find a secluded area and read the other teleport scroll—the pair is whisked away by magic from the Leilioran capital back to the campsite in the mountains east of Yulania.

After their return, the camp settles in for the night.

5 Illumination 509

This morning, Drenham takes some of the diamond dust acquired by Surm and Rilka and casts a restoration on Mõrvar, restoring his lost vitality. He once again takes up his position behind Savaric in the marching order, pleased to be of use again.

The Crimson Cord, along with their cleric companions, enter the Tomb of Secrets once again, hoping to clear it out today. They head to a large room near the entrance where they had fought spectres two days ago when they first arrived. The room is empty, but there is a door to the east that they have not examined. Savaric checks it for traps, finds none, but does determine that it is locked. Surm takes his time and jimmies the lock open. Savaric peers in and sees a group of 5 mummies gathered in the center of the room.

As the mummies gather to pass through the doorway, Surm casts a fireball into the room, incinerating most of the mummies—but they remain standing. Mõrvar uses his storm step once again to finish off several of the mummies and to position himself well within the room. Drenham casts a holy javelin into one of the remaining mummies, pinning him with a painful spear of holy light.

Nevertheless, Rilka, after moving into the room to take on the remaining mummies, has a wave of despair wash over her, causing her muscles to lock up in fear and freeze her place. The same thing happens to Aria, Prenella, and Sorcha.

Surm throws a scorching ray into one of the remaining mummies and it goes up in a violent conflagration, covering Rilka and Mõrvar in ashes. The remaining mummy is then bisected neatly by Mõrvar.

Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest.

They go back into the spectre room and head west, opening up a locked door and heading down a corridor to what they had been calling “the fountain room.” Savaric enters the room and they now see the fountain, an abstract crystalline sculpture depicting a swirling vortex, and a charred shield sitting the corner of the room. No magic is detected in the area. Mõrvar and Rilka recall that the swirling vortex is the symbol of The Nazul—an Acheran religious figure representing darkness and chaos. Finding nothing else of interest in the room, the party regroups and heads back to Kalthior’s inner sanctum.

Having already disarmed the trap leading to the staircase beneath the throne, they head down the spiral staircase to a large stone chamber beneath. There are racks with weapons lining the walls, a large stack of cubbies for scroll cases, two large chests, and stands holding various suits of armor. A lectern has a large book chained to its surface. Magic emanates from many of the weapons and armor, from the scrolls, and from within one of the chests.

Savaric searches the chests for traps and finds none. Surm takes his time to pick the locks and springs them both open, revealing their treasures inside. One chest if full of potions, oils, wands. The other has a great deal of gold and platinum coin, an assortment of gemstones, and a small velvet pouch. Surm examines the pouch and finds that it contains onyx gemstones—exactly what he was seeking from the spell component shop in Aldasar.

Surm and Mõrvar examine the magical items to determine their uses and abilities. They also unlock the book from the lectern—it is apparently Kalthior’s spellbook.

Having assessed all of the items in the room, they begin moving it out of the Tomb of Secrets and into their encampment.

There is a brief discussion amongst the Crimson Cord concerning the share of the treasure owed to the clerics of Halor. Rilka wants to give them half, but Savaric and Mõrvar balk at that. Mõrvar suggests asking the Prioress what she thinks is fair and going from there.

Surm approaches Drenham and broaches the matter. She says that while they did undertake this quest because it was the right thing to do, not for the sake of loot, she would still like to take some the treasure back to her temple. The clerics gave the aid and support that they were asked to and risked themselves in the process, and it would be fair to accept some sort of compensation. She suggests 20%. Rilka asks if that’s all they want and the Prioress says that that is all they ask for, but if their conscience directs to give more, then that is between them and their conscience; it is not for the sake of greed that the clerics quest. Rilka offers 30% and the Cord agree to pay the clerics this amount of the loot.

Now the troupe must discuss their next course of action. Do they part ways here? Travel with the clerics back to Aldasar? Travel with the clerics part of the way and then break off later? The next steps in the journey of the Crimson Cord is yet to be decided.

View
Session Sixty-Nine
Blades in the Darkness

4 Illumination 509

modthras.png

Having camped through the night, disturbed only by the screams of Hekia as she rides through her nightmares, the party wakes refreshed the next morning and begins planning their next approach for the Tomb of Secrets. Having the map of the Tomb prepared by the halfling, Torvald, at their disposal helps in this endeavor.

They decide to approach the next chamber, which they fear is occupied by another Nightshade, a huge undead creature of the plane of Shadow capable of summoning undead shadows themselves, from two directions. Mõrvar , Savaric, Thoras, Caric, Senna, and Aria will approach from the north in a direct assault. Mõrvar will be bearing an item with a daylight spell in order to dissipate the magical darkness surrounding the Nightshade. Savaric will take up a position to fire into the creature, as per usual, and the priests will set up to be able to lend healing support to Mõrvar.

From the south, approaching through the wall via a dimension door, will be Surm Ulrich, Prenella, Prioress Drenham, and Rilka. Drenham will have a Protection from Evil about her that will also encircle the others. She will also be prepared to cast a dismissal against the extraplanar Nightshade, sending it back to its home plane of existence. She will also support Rilka with a Shield Another spell, taking half of the damage inflicted upon the half-orc fighter-cleric. Rilka will take up a position to attack and Surm will support with his sorcery. This team will come in 6 seconds after Mõrvar enters the room.

Sorcha and Tarben will wait back in the room where they first encountered the nosferatu.

Once the plan is decided upon, the party enters the Tomb of Secrets once again.

Lit by the eldritch green glow of the witchlights, they walk through the chambers where they had already encountered various undead creatures, stepping through pools of gore and viscera, remnants of their past battles. Eventually, they come to the point where the teams must separate and Prioress Drenham says a prayer to Halor to shine his blessings down upon their endeavors. The two teams then move into position.

Sticking to the plan, Mõrvar runs down the corridor toward the darkened chamber, daylight lighting his path. Deathblow, his sentient greatsword, bellows a battle cry in his mind. When he arrives in the room, the magical darkness is dissipated and he sees via the darkvision spell he cast before beginning his approach. Crouched in the back of the large chamber is a huge, black, spider-like creature with 9 legs and a chitinous bulbous body. Its head has a multi-faceted eyes and huge mandibles that click in anticipation of the kill. Mõrvar moves into position and attacks. The others follow more slowly behind, failing to take their heavy armor into account.

Meanwhile, once he gives the “go” signal to Mõrvar, Surm counts down from six. Then he casts his dimension door and brings the other team with him inside. Because of the location of the creature, Rilka is slightly displaced, but not too far away, and is still able to attack the huge undead monstrosity.

Eventually, the rest of northern team makes it inside, but not before Mõrvar is grievously injured by a bite from this huge creature’s mandibles. As the jaws close around him, he feels supernatural cold run through him, as well as a warmth of venom coursing through his veins. He manages to fight off the effects of the venom, but he is in dire peril. Savaric is finding that arrows are not as effective against the creature as he would have thought. The Nightskitter, as this type of Nightshade is known, is also capable of filling the room with a burst of negative energy, damaging all of the party in the room. The clerics of Halor try repeatedly to dismiss the creature, but it manages to fight off the attempts through the force of its will and its resistance to magic. Mõrvar and Rilka continue to chop away at its chitinous armor as it bites Mõrvar again, bringing him closer to his mortality. The good priests channel their own energies to heal the party.

Finally, Prioress Drenham calls to Halor and lays her hands upon the creature crying “No!” and channels a burst of positive energy. The sunlight-tinged burst flies forth and burns through the Nightshade. It shrieks in pain and turns over on its back, its great legs curling up and twitching in death. Mõrvar decapitates the monster.

The clerics of Halor all join in joyful praise of Lord Sun. The rest of the party gather around Mõrvar and begin applying healing—which the clerics soon assist with.

Savaric searches the room and finds nothing of interest save a few strands of shadowy web lingering the corners of the room. Surm reaches out with his rapier and touches the web, which dissipates at the touch.

With Mõrvar sufficiently recovered, the party continues further into the Tomb.

Venturing forth, with Savaric looking for traps and Mõrvar detecting magical auras, they come across a couple of empty rooms before coming to a stuck door in front of what the map indicates is a small corner room. Savaric takes a crowbar and unsticks the door. As soon as it pops open, he finds himself face-to-face with a Mohrg—who wraps its long, slimy tongue round his round, orcish head. Savaric feels a slight tingling sensation, but nothing more as the tongue pulls itself away with a disgusting “smack.”

Savaric sidesteps out of the way and allows Mõrvar access to the creature. The Mohrg steps forward to face the Eldritch Knight and the two begin fighting. Rilka steps up to engage as well. Mõrvar can see a second Mohrg waiting behind the first.

Rilka, in a dazzling display of swordsmanship, manages to decapitate the Mohrg with a flourish of her falchion. It falls and the second steps forward to take its place. Soon thereafter, she runs her blade up into its guts, clearly visible beneath its skeletal rib cage. It falls with a gurgling moan. Mõrvar decapitates this one to be sure.

They continue down a brief hall, where Savaric finds magically-triggerable trap. According to the aura, it is an evocation of some sort, according to Mõrvar. Surm takes a look and confirms. They eventually, after a long discussion, decide to go around the trap and approach that room by another route. Savaric enters a long room that had been empty—and finds himself facing a lone ghoul. The ghoul seems equally as surprised to see him. Mõrvar easily slays the creature in a single strike. They head to a locked door and Surm takes his time and picks the lock. They make their way around to the room “guarded” by the trap—and discover that it is completely empty. They confirm the location of a secret door they identified on the map and then make their way to explore the final rooms in the northern portion of the Tomb.

Approaching those rooms, there is a trap marked on the map by the halfling. Savaric finds the trigger and marks it so that it can be avoided. they make their way into an open room covered in old bloodstains. As Savaric and Mõrvar search this room, they hear the sound of meaty feet flapping on stone and see ghouls starting to run into the room from an open archway. The two take position and the rest of the party joins them to meet them. They manage to kill five ghouls in the bottle neck and then make their way into the next room, where they see a large armored ghoul with his back to wall. Five more ghouls are lined up in front of him.

Mõrvar casts storm step and shoots into the foremost ghoul and into the armored ghoul, displacing himself into the back row, next to the armored ghoul. He can feel an aura emanating from the ghoul—an aura of cowardice. It shifts its masterwork greataxe in its hands in anticipation of the battle to come. The lightning of Mõrvar’s step obliterated the lesser ghoul that he stepped through to get here.

The ghoul with the axe attacks Mõrvar twice—one blow is deflected off of Mõrvar’s ominous armor and the other completely misses. Mõrvar swings Deathblow and engages with the ghoul as the rest of the party files into the room. The other ghouls close around Mõrvar and try to bite him—but they all fail to penetrate his defenses. One of clerics lets loose with a burst of positive energy from the Lord of the Sun—the power burns through the lesser ghouls and destroys them all—leaving only the large armored specimen engaging with Mõrvar. Soon, Mõrvar finishes him off and cuts off his head.

In searching him for magical items, he discovers a desecrated symbol to the god Modthras around his neck—a stylized black sun. Modthras is an old Midron god of Night and Darkness. The clerics of Halor rejoice in the felling of an adherent to such an abhorrent sect.

Savaric searches out the rooms and the surrounding hallways and finds nothing, thus concluding the search of the northern section of the Tomb.

They head to a large chamber in the southern portion of the Tomb that they had already explored and begin their new approach from there. In that room was a locked door to the north of the room. Surm begins picking that lock when a pair of ghostly hands emerged from beyond the door, reaching out to touch him. He jumps back out of the way with a cry of horror. The priests begin channeling and the others move into action as a more ghosts begin to move through the walls into their chamber, moaning with a frightful cacophony as they make their way inside. Most of the priests of Halor—as well as the two mercenary guards, are unnerved by the moaning and bolt, leaving the main party to deal with the ghosts. Rilka and Savaric are injured by the touch the creatures, whose touch withers them with the affects of age. However, Surm manages to take out three of the ghosts with his magic missiles while Mõrvar and Rilka take out one apiece with their efforts.

Eventually, the others return, sheepish at their supernatural terror.

Opening the door, the party finds another empty room.

Turning back the east, they unlock another door and Savaric begins to walk into a short corridor. As soon as he steps in to begin searching, however, he manages to set off a maximized fireball that fills the corridor and shoots into the room behind him, catching Rilka and Mõrvar as well. The fighters manage to take the brunt of the damage—though Prioress Drenham is still shielding Rilka from damage, saving her from some of the effects. Savaric deftly manages to avoid taking any damage from the trap. He moves into the next room and finds another empty chamber.

Returning to the larger southern chamber, they check out another of the adjacent doors—finding it to be stuck. Savaric starts working on it—and discovers a spectre behind it! Soon, they are joined by two more of the creatures emerging out of the walls. Savaric manages to send one to its final death and even Sister Aria finds glory in the name of Halor by vanquishing one of the hellish creatures.

The party takes a quick rest after the battle before pressing on, hoping to finish exploring this half of the Tomb before opening what they assume to be the treasure chamber of the necromancer.

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Session Sixty-Eight
The Death of Savaric

3 Illumination 509

neardeath.jpgThe party, and their assisting priests of Halor, are in a large chamber where they have just fought off a band of vicious Mohrgs—hideous skeletal undead with visible viscera and long, whip-like tongues that they use to paralyze their prey.

After healing up and searching the large room (finding nothing), they move on down the corridor. Savaric leads the way looking for traps, with Mõrvar looking for magic.

Searching the immediate area, they find two small, empty rooms, accessible via portcullises—the source of the Mohrg infestation. They apparently heard their movements in the large room and opened the doors and came running. They also made their way into another sizable room where Savaric finds a large pit trap in the center of the room. This danger is marked and avoided by the rest of the party.

In a further corridor, Savaric sets off a spear trap and damages himself. They make their way further and encounter a chamber full of mummies. These foes are soon vanquished, but not without various members of the band being disabled by crushing despair.

Recovering from this encounter, they make their way back south and head down another corridor. Mõrvar manages to detect a magical aura in the corner of the corridor. Surm determines that the nature of the aura is to cause great pain and inflict damage—it is a strong aura. After a debate as to whether or not Surm will dispel the magic or allow someone to bear the pain and be healed (saving the dispel for later), they opt for the later. Savaric volunteers to take on the magical aura.

He strides forward and suddenly cries out in great pain, his limbs contorting in magical agony, and collapses. Mõrvar quickly examines the body and determines that he is dead.

Meanwhile, Savaric awakens in a beautiful, verdant grove. The sound of water trickling down a peaceful stream fills his ears. The smells of flowers, trees, and rich earth fill his nostrils. Beyond him is a vast forest, with both deciduous and evergreen trees. And beyond that is a hill on which stands a huge wooden longhouse. He looks down and finds that he is dressed in simple, but clean, clothes.

A hand reaches down and a man offers to help him up. Savaric looks up to see a handsome man with long red-brown hair and beard dressed in green lacquered light armor. He has a quiver of arrows slung on his shoulder and an exquisite short sword at his side.

“Welcome, hunter,” the man says. His voice is deep, warm, and friendly.

After a brief conversation, in which Savaric determines that the longhouse he sees is the man’s hall, not much more about where he is, the man offers Savaric deal. The half-orc could remain in this realm, hunting, or he can return to where he was and perform a service for the man. Savaric tries to wheedle more information from the man about the nature of the deal and the realm, but the man only smiles and “that would be telling.” Savaric eventually agrees to return and perform the service. The man seems pleased and tells him to go north and find a shrine to Isranthr. There he will receive further instructions.

Then Savaric wakes up.

Mõrvar is freaking out about Savaric being dead. Surm and Rilka are dubious, asking the priests of Halor to apply healing to the body.

Savaric opens his eyes and slowly rises. Everyone is glad that the half-orc seems to be alright. He describes to the others what he saw and what was said when he was “gone.”

Rilka is in awe—she believes that Savaric has found himself in the presence of a god and was returned to the world of the living.

Surm is a more skeptical and feels that Savaric got the short end of the bargain.

Mõrvar is still freaking out how Savaric was dead and now he’s alive.

The Prioress of Halor offers no guidance—they have little knowledge of the ways of the Northron gods.

After applying some healing to Savaric to get him fully recovered, the party moves on, as the trap has not reset itself.

Down the corridor, they encounter two things: a cell containing what is obviously a zombified priestess of Halor and another chamber with a series of hanging cages containing the skeletal remains of prisoners that have been long abandoned. After a discussion with the priestly contingent of the party, they send the zombie to its final rest.

Continuing to make their way through the necromancer’s lair, they encounter a series of ghosts and a band of nosferatu, a primitive form of vampire. Savaric manages to slay one of the vampires in a single volley of arrows in a stunning display of archery. Eventually, after a tough battle, all of the creatures are slain. The last one is finished off by Mõrvar, just as it is about to drain the lifeforce from Prioress Drenham. She nods in thanks to the sorcerous warrior.

Traveling further through the corridors, they find a room that is clearly cloaked in supernatural darkness. Thinking that it may be another Nightshade creature, they retreat to the nosferatu chamber. As they plan their next move, a Shadow moves into the room behind Mõrvar and strikes, draining him of much of his strength. The party engages with the incorporeal creature and finally force it to dissipate.

The priests apply restorative spells to Mõrvar and the party retreats from the Tomb back to their encampment outside.

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Session Sixty-Seven
A Long Slog

3 Illumination 509

spooky-corridor.jpgThe party spends the morning planning their next moves within the Tomb of Secrets. After a night’s rest and preparations, including redistributing loot to those who can use it most, they are ready to give the necromancer’s lair another go. Hekkia is left behind with the guards and the priests of Halor, under the direction of Prioress Drenham, opt to assist the party in cleaning out the lair.

They enter the lair the way they came make their way to the entry chamber where they first encountered the armored ghoul and his cohort. With Savaric looking for traps and Mõrvar detecting magic, they search through the witch-lit corridors with the rest of the party following in their wake. They methodically make their way through each room of the lair, planning on cleaning our the entire complex.

Along the way, they encounter mummies, ghouls, ghoul commanders, and another band of Mohrgs. They also encounter a couple of magical traps along the way.

The party collects what treasure they can and continue, fighting their way through. Finally, they find themselves in a large chamber, the corpses of vanquished Mohrg surrounding them, planning their next line of attack on the Tomb of Secrets.

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Session Sixty-Six
A Cunning Plan

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2 Illumination 509

After defeating the spellcasting ghouls in the room, the party searches the rooms and the bodies they encountered them all. Though they find some magical objects on the bodies—including magical silken ceremonial armor on the spellcasters—they find little else of interest in the rooms.

Mõrvar brings up the possibility of using a dimensional door to pass through the walls of the rooms to shorten their route through the lair. After a lengthy discussion, the plan is nixed due to the fact that the spell won’t be able to transport everyone into the guardian’s lair, thus putting those that did travel at risk.

However, Mõrvar also speculates on the location of a possible secret door that, if actually there, would also shorten their route to the guardian chamber. Surm agrees that this would be a good idea, if the door is there. So this is the plan the party decides to pursue.

While the room where they fought with the ghoul warriors is being searched, Tarben, Sorcha, and Brother Caric take the loot back to the entry chamber of the lair.

In this chamber, Surm finds an illusionary wall is blocking a secret door. However, following the door where it leads would lead them away from their goal, so they decided not to pursue it.

They make their way further along their route, out of the ghoul rooms and down a corridor. Savaric searches along the way. They find their way into an empty room. They search this room out and find nothing really of interest. They move on to the next room.

This large room has several doors and a portcullis that leads toward the direction they wish to go. As he is searching the room, Savaric can hear snarls, growls, and movement from beyond the portcullis.

After a brief planning session, Savaric and Ilona agree to venture down the corridor that is blocked by the portcullis. They hit the lever and the gate opens noisily. Then Savaric, invisible thanks to Ilona, cautiously makes his way down the corridor. He finds himself at another portcullis. Beyond it he sees two hideous undead creatures, skeletal with entrails writhing in their bony guts that twine upward to form a long tongue that lolls out of the mouth of the creature. Six more are lounging about in the room beyond, making eight altogether. Savaric cautiously makes his way back to report.

After consulting those with religious knowledge, it is determined that the creatures are Mohrgs, undead that spawn from the corpses of dead serial killers. Their tongues can paralyze and if you are slain by a Mohrg, you quickly rise as a fast-moving zombie in service to that Mohrg.

After a long planning session, the party decides to send Surm and Prioress Drenham down the corridor to make the first strike against the Mohrg. Surm can entangle them in black tentacles while the Prioress can call holy fire down upon them. Surm can then encase them all (or as many as he can) in a fireball. The tentacles will make it harder for them to dodge the flames.

As Surm makes his way down, Prioress Drenham opts to cast her spell from the main room instead of the corridor, leaving Surm alone in the corridor. As he continues down the hall, he sees the Mohrgs straining against the portcullis—and then hears the distinctive sound of gears turning. The portcullis begins to rise.

He quickly casts his spell. Prioress Drenham casts hers as well. Mõrvar and Rilka ready themselves to enter the corridor and change places with Surm. The portcullis continues to rise and the Mohrgs begin to move forward, undeterred by the black tentacles. As the party repositions, the portcullis opens all the way and the Mohrgs begin to move. Rilka casts a burst of radiance into the room. Mõrvar casts scorching rays into the room. Then the fight begins.

While Mõrvar engages with the lead Mohrg, Surm casts fireball into the group behind them, catching the one Mõrvar is fighting in its outer rim. Mõrvar slays the lead Mohrg and another moves forward to take its place, filling the narrow corridor with Mohrgs. As the fight goes on, the Mohrgs prove to be resilient opponents, but are eventually falling to Deathblow and the barrage of spells. The tentacles finally manage to entangle them as well, impeding the creatures’ abilities to fight. Surm launches a lightning bolt from a wand at the line of Mohrgs, doing a great deal of harm to them.

Finally, between the spells, the tentacles, and the blades, the Mohrgs are all dispatched.

Moving into the next room, Savaric searches it out and does find another secret door, leading away from the direction the party wants to go. Where the party wants to go, is a locked door.

After Surm takes a go at the lock and fails, the party decides to break the door open. Mõrvar takes a crowbow and pries it open, revealing an expected short corridor with a dead end.

Savaric comes forward to search the area—this is where Mõrvar thinks a secret door should be. Sure enough—-Savaric finds one. It is free of traps and unlocked.

The party fortifies themselves with a battery of protective spells (prayer, bull’s strength, shield other, etc.). Then Rilka, followed by Mõrvar, enter the secret door.

Rilka finds herself in complete, impenetrable darkness. Even the light of her magic falchion is doused. She cannot even see with her Orcish darkvision. Suddenly, she feels a great deal of pain as something very large bites her. The bite sends cold and poison coursing through her veins. She cries out in alarm and pain, but manages to move forward to allow Mõrvar passage into the room. Prioress Drenham calls upon the light of Halor, casting daylight, to illuminate the area and dispel the magical darkness, allowing Rilka and Mõrvar to now see with the light of her falchion.

What they see is a hideous, huge, black, spiderlike creature surrounded in umbral webs of shadow.

The two warriors engage the creature poison continues to course through Rilka’s veins. It bites Mõrvar, but he manages to fight off the venom—for now. Eventually, after some very nasty bites, the two take down the Nightskitter.

Mõrvar cuts off its “head.”

Now the party can either wait to enter the Inner Sanctum of the necromancer or go now, while their protective magics are still in effect…

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Rage and Raven: To Slay a Dragon
New Friends and a New Quest

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15 Longday 508

The group is staying at The Topaz Dagger in Asdari after a fruitful expedition to the Monastery of Punari. Tavayne takes the companions over the more posh Wand of Fire inn for drinks.

When they enter the Wand of Fire, Tavayne is recognized by another man in the tavern. He is a handsome Acheran accompanied by a beautiful Acheran woman. The man is Ali Abidali, an adventurer whom Tavayne has encountered in his travels before. The woman is introduced as Amira, Ali’s traveling companion.

Tavayne invites Ali and Amira to come to his table for drinks. Ali and Amira graciously accept the invitation and are introduced to the rest of the group. Rhain, as usual, seems unimpressed and put-upon, though is fascinated by Amira’s beauty. Tag is eager to meet the new people and impress them. Lenoria is cautiously friendly while Regna is her usually sour self.

Throughout their stay in the common room, Tag ostentatiously “clumps” his new staff on the floor, hoping to get the attention of a wizard who will be impressed by his new find.

When asked what brings Ali to Asdari, he replies that he is on a quest and was doing research in the University here. When pressed, he gives them more details—obviously hoping to entice the group into helping him.

He has been hired by Samil Halimasi of the city of Qualera in the Jirran Freeholds. Samil is a wealthy merchant in that city and he has hired Ali to rescue his daughter, Azuna.

About a month ago, 15-year-old Azuna was kidnapped by kobolds on the docks of Qualera. Azuna was in the docks district, running an errand for her father. She was taking signed papers for to the captain of the Blue Gull to sign. As she made her way through the throng, she didn’t notice as she was being surrounded by heavily cloaked figures. When the opportunity struck, they closed in, herded the protesting girl out of the crowd, and toward their waiting boat.
Witnesses spotted reptilian features beneath the cloaks. A couple of dockhands tried to intervene but the figures breathed fire and burned them, driving them back. The Harbor Watch was notified and craft were dispatched to attempt to intercept the small boat before it left the harbor.

That’s when Moedrig made an appearance.

A huge, adult, red dragon swooped down from the skies above Qualera. The force of her wings sent the Harbor Watch ships bobbing in the waves. The dragon essentially covered the small craft’s escape and then flew off toward the west, toward the [[Et’tir Mountains]] in Tarsas.

Samil did not sit idle. As soon as he heard what had happened, he started putting wheels into motion to get his daughter back. He put out feelers among the local adventuring community to find some help. He used his local information network to try and figure out what happened. He even commissioned a small craft, The Crestrider, to cross the sea to the western shore of Tarsas and investigate Moedrig’s mountain. The craft never returned. Its charred remains were found on the beach, but no trace of the crew was inside.

He has hired Ali to bring Azuna back. He will pay him for his service. On top of that, if he manages to defeat this dragon, there is its hoard to think of.

He knew that he could not take on this task alone. Further, he thought that if he could find some magical tools to have at his disposal to help even the odds, that would be even better.

He found a band of these kobolds operating in Jirra and managed to subdue one long enough to get some information out of it. The kobolds, cultists devoted to “The Divine Moedrig,” are seeking virgins with Draconic bloodlines to sacrifice for some dark ritual culminating later in the year—possibly Growth of next year—but they may not be able wait that long and go ahead and do it in the month of Hearth. It depends on the will of Moedrig and the astrological signs at the time.

Next, he managed to secure some information from a bard he met in Kalimsport about the elves of Almathriel, who have fashioned a weapon against dragonkind to defend themselves against that particular threat. Perhaps if he could get a hold of that weapon, then he could even the odds considerably.

In his information gathering, he also came across the story of Lord Jalten Dragonsbane, a Boraelan baronet who is said to have slain a dragon with the help of a mystical greatsword. Lord Jalten settled in Sarra, in Borael, some 80 years ago. His heir, Farkus Dragonsbane, resides there now.

“The Cowards,” the dwarves who fled Moedrig’s mountain when the dragon came, have never forgotten their shame. Some say that they crafted a weapon with which to take their revenge on the fell dragon. “The Hammer of Vengeance” is a powerful artifact that could also be used to his advantage—if he can find this lost colony of dwarves.

Finally, the last potent weapon against the great dragon that he has gotten wind of is the True Name of the dragon. Used against her, it could turn the tide of battle—if it doesn’t burn the mind of its holder. This weapon can be found in Jossia, of all places. It is possessed by a woman called, alternately, the Witch of the Teeth, or Grundr’s Mother.

With these resources, and a band of adventurers to help, he thinks he just might be able to pull this off.

The group seems interested in Ali’s quest. There is potentially much glory—and much treasure—involved in such a quest. Ali offers them a share of what Samil is paying. After much discussion, they eventually decide to start with seeking out the weapon in Almathriel—after they settle up with the monk in Crownport. They also determine that the ritual must have to do with the astrological signs prevalent in months of Growth and Hearth—The Sorcerer and The Wheel, respectively. The Sorcerer is associated with “mutable fire,” while The Wheel is associated with “cardinal fire”—fitting for a ritual associated with a red dragon.

With Tavayne buying drinks, Tag orders baijiu all around, which most of the group respectfully declines. In the course of their conversation, Ali claims to be the greatest swordsman of all time. Tag decides to put this to the test and finds him a challenger to a duel. A half-elf by the name of Trevis takes him up on the challenge. The innkeep demands that they take the fight outside, so they all head out.

A circle is drawn and terms are decided upon—three touches. Tag discovers that Trevis is a duellist by trade. The two men face off and the bout begins—and is over in a heartbeat. Ali handily beats the half-elf before he even knew what hit him, touching him three times in a dazzling display of swordplay.

Trevis takes it in stride and shakes the Acheran’s hand afterwards and has a drink with him.

Eventually, everyone wanders back the Topaz Dagger to sleep off their baijiu.

21 Longday 508

After waiting six days for various magic accoutrements to be completed, the party finally leaves Asdari, with Ali and Amira in tow.

Late in the day, they pass through the city of Zyend. As they make their way to the Trickster and Wench, a modest inn, the street suddenly clears as a pair of creatures descend from the sky—harpies! Savaric shoots one down and the rest of the party manages to dispatch the other. In a matter of seconds, the threat is handled. A member of the watch appears and asks to escort them to the garrison house. There, they are given a reward of 150 gold.

22 Longday 508

The party leaves Zyend and trudges through a hot summer day along the road. Amira wilts in the heat, becoming fatigued.

23 Longday 508

As the troupe travels along the road, Amira and Rhain disturb some treacherous plants, bullhorn acacia, whose hollow stems are full of ants. Rhain manages to handle his ant problem, but Amira is stung repeatedly by hers before the swarm is finally dealt with.

26 Longday 508

The party finally arrives in Crownport in the afternoon. They take up rooms in Charon’s Faire, where Tavayne manages to secure work as a player. As per usual, Tag makes an ostentatious display of his staff—but this time it pays off. He manages to get he attention of a man named Koldrin Brevarrow. He offers to take the staff off his hands and indicates that he can be found at the University in Wolvington College. This gives Tag pause—as he is not sure he wants to part with his relic.

27 Longday 508

The party heads to the University to settle up with the monk, Braden Varrow. They head to the department of Artifacts and Antiquities, to the office of Mistress Londra Walera. She sends for her colleague, the monk. When he arrives, he is pleased that the party has not only returned with the manual but has also cleaned out the monastery. He pays them the agreed upon price happily.

After their arrangements are completed at the University, the party leaves Crownport for Almathriel.

29 Longday 508

The party skirts the city of Osandar.

30 Longday 508

The party happens upon what appears to be a battle site of some sort. The battle, Rhain determines, occurred some 12 days ago.

1 Starfall 508

The party finds a shrine to the god Hathras. Ali leaves some rations behind, while Tag leaves some flint and steel.

2 Starfall 508

That morning, the party skirts the city of Edeva and crosses the mountains into the elven lands. In the late afternoon, they enter the elven settlement of Orielle. Regna is not pleased to be there. They acquire rooms in an inn called The Silver Stag.

5 Starfall 508

After crossing an old-growth forest for a few days, the party arrives in the elven capital of Almathriel. Upon entry, they acquire rooms at the appropriately-named Red Dragon Inn. From the barkeep, they get the name of a sage, Phildreniel Stormwing.

The sage lives in a modest home in a nice part of the city. The sage agrees to see them and, after making their inquiries, they learn the following. An elven ranger and sorceress by the name of Sonina Mooncrest has been working on the weapon for over a hundred years. The weapon is nearly complete. She can be found at the Red Dragon Inn.

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Rage and Raven: Curse of Punari (Part Five)
Bragging Rights

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24 Ardor 508

After an uneventful night of camping, the party is ready to return to the cursed monastery. They journey down through rooms that they’ve already cleared out until they come to unfamiliar territory. Lenoria casts hide from undead on the party, after casting make whole on Rhain’s broken axe. Tag leads the way inside, looking for traps and items of interest. Along the way, he checks some stuck doors for traps, which Rhain takes his time to use his brawn to un-stick.

Arriving at an unfamiliar room, Tag enters followed by Regna. The room, like the one before it, is unadorned. Tag is brought up short by the sight of six gaunt humanoid creatures with long, sharp teeth, pointed ears, and long, pointed tongues. They have clawed hands and feet and their pallid flesh is stretched tight over their starved frames. The creatures, ghouls, are wearing tattered monk’s robes. Two of them hiss and start coming toward him, while the rest seem oblivious to their presence, thanks to Lenoria’s prayers.

Tag and Regna, blocking the doorway, take on the ghouls. In the course of combat, Regna is paralyzed by one of them. Tavayne begins playing his fiddle to inspire their courage.

Rhain starts cutting through adjacent rooms, trying to come up to the ghouls from the other side. He walks into a large room where murals depicting dreaming monks line the walls. Old straw mats are littered about the floor. And seven shambling figures are milling about the room, tattered monk’s robes hanging off of their rotted, zombie, bodies.

Meanwhile, Tag attempts to use his acrobatic skills to push his way through the ghoul to make room for more comrades to join them. He fails to find an opening, but follows up with an attack with his mace.

Rhain, depending on his hide from undead spell, passes through the zombies unscathed, and arrives at another room. Here, rotted straw mats litter the floor. Murals on the wall depict Shandor in various poses of meditation, as well as serene landscape scenes. He starts passing through that room to the room with the ghouls.

Tag continues to attack while Regna stands helpless as the ghouls rake her with their claws. Lenoria bestows on tag a bit of luck, while Rhain comes up from behind and slaughters one of the attacking ghouls.

Rhain then steps forward and attacks the other ghoul, obliterating the walking corpse. Lenoria casts healing on Regna.

The rest of the ghouls have now noticed the party and begin to close in. Rhain attacks while Tag utilizes his wand of magic missile. Regna continues to stand helpless.

Rhain and Tag continue engaging the ghouls. Regna finally shakes off the paralysis. She then belches fire at the nearest ghoul, burning it to cinders. Lenoria channels positive energy to heal her comrades.

Rhain then turns and disembowels the last ghoul, spraying thick, black ichor all over the room. He yells to Regna that there are zombies in the next room. Regna makes her way so that she can belch more fire. She puts herself into position in the large room and lets go with a belch of fire, engulfing two of the zombies. As the zombies begin to close in on her and her friends move into position, she attacks again. Tag flips into the room, turns, attacks on the flaming zombies, and puts it down. Regna belches forth more flame and injures two more zombies. Lenoria channels energy to harm further harm the undead shamblers. Rhain ambles up and finishes off one of the flaming undead.

Lenoria once again channels the energy of her goddess to attack the zombies. The zombies attack the party, doing minimal damage. Rhain steps up and slaughters another of the walking corpses. Tag manages to down another zombie. Regna, with a mighty blow, manages to fell the last zombie in the room.

The party takes a moment to recover, casting healing spells and remove disease on Regna, hoping to prevent her rising as a ghoul. They then follow the corridors to another room where they have not explored. Tag checks the door, finds nothing, and peers inside.

He sees what appears to be a kitchen. The center of the room is dominated by a large counter. Cabinets line the walls. There are kitchen implements littering the floor, rusted and useless. And, of course, there are the 4 skeletal occupants of the room…who don’t appear to have noticed him as of yet.

Lenoria casts weapon of awe on Rhain’s axe and the party opts to use her hide from undead again to avoid the skeletons. They move through the kitchen cautiously toward a door at the end of the room leading to more unexplored territory.

Along the way, Tag looks for traps and items of interest. They pass through a corridor and then through an empty room, finally arriving at another door. He cautiously opens it and sees that it is a room with murals on the walls depicting monks in combat with shadowy forms. In the center of the room is the wizened form of a mummy in tattered monk’s robes.

As the party lines up to enter the room, with Regna in the lead, the mummy spots her and starts to move in. As Rhain moves in, he is overwhelmed by despair and cannot move. Tag attempts to use his wand of magic missile, but cannot manage to make it function. Regna is on her own. Tavayne begins to play.

Regna attempts to trip the mummy up with a thunderstomp spell, but it maintains its footing. It moves in and strikes Regna, imparting its rotting disease on her. She returns with a magic missile of her own. Tag flips into the room and into position to surround the creature. Lenoria casts invisibility on herself and makes her way through and positions herself behind the mummy.

Rhain shakes off the despair and attacks the mummy, while Tag does the same. Regan attempts to aid Rhain and Lenoria casts a healing spell on Regna. Rhain attacks again and Tag aids him, causing a distraction. The rest of the party attempt to aid Rhain as well, but with little effect. The mummy strikes Rhain hard for his trouble, also imparting his rotting disease to the barbarian as well.

Rhain takes a mighty, two-handed swing with his greataxe—and wedges the head of his axe into the floor. Lenoria channels more energy to damage the mummy. Tag steps up and misses the mummy with his mace. Regna activates her magic boots to get some speed, but does not manage to hit the mummy.

The mummy, for its part, hits Rhain again, hard. Then he hits him again.

Rhain draws another axe and attacks. So do the others. The creature is eventually brought down. Tag searches the room, but finds nothing of interest. They move on, with Lenoria reapplying the hide from undead spell.

Moving down the corridor, they come across another door. Tag checks it, finds nothing and carefully opens it. Inside he sees a lone Wraith floating ominously in the center of the room. He quietly shuts the door.

They opt to take another route. Turning up, they go down a short corridor and find another door. Tag manages to disarm the trap on this one and then carefully opens the door. Inside he sees another gathering of ghouls. He shuts the door and the party regroups.

Rhain proposes a plan in which they lure the ghouls out to the larger room. Regna and the others are on-board with this plan, So Tag positions himself at the bend in the corridor with his crossbow, while Regna moves forward to burst in on the ghouls to draw their attention.

Regna makes her way and busts open the door, following up with a spell that fills the room with rocky debris, slowing the corpse-eaters down. She turns and runs down the corridor, with the ghouls hissing and clambering behind her.

Tag fires on the ghouls as Regna runs down the hall. One of the ghouls falls in the corridor. Regna takes up her new position in the ambush room. The ghouls continue to make their way down the corridor, slowed by the debris and having to climb over the body of their comrade.

Tag takes up his position in the ambush room and everyone waits. Eventually, the first ghoul enters and the party surrounds the interloper and attacks! Short work is made of the ghoul. As the ghouls begin to enter the room, Tag moves bodies out of the way to make room as the party slaughters the ghouls one-by-one. Eventually, no more of the creatures enter the room.

Tag makes his way back down the corridor into the ghouls’ room. There he finds a secret panel with a treasure chest inside. The chest is full of coin, gems, and other items. The door on the other side of the room leads into an area the group has already explored.

The party determines that the only rooms left are the one with the Wraith, the room behind that, and the kitchen where they left the skeletons. Tag is convinced the Wraith is guarding something interesting, so they move on to its chamber.

After a brief battle with the incorporeal, life-sucking fiend, they manage to bring it down, with Lenoria casting a holy javelin and finishing it off. They search the room and find nothing of interest—save for a portcullis leading to the last room (save the kitchen). Tag peers through the bars and sees something laying on the floor up against the back wall. There is no way he is leaving without knowing what that is.

They eventually find a panel with the portcullis mechanism inside and open the gate. Inside, they find an empty cell of a room, save for a ornately carved wooden staff. Regna examines the staff with her arcane powers and determines that it is a Staff of Charming. Tag recognizes that the staff most likely belonged to an adventurers by the name of Leyla Halasi, an Acheran wizard. She went missing some one hundred years ago. Convinced that they have a valuable artifact, the party takes the staff.

At this point, after assessing their various wounds and healing capabilities, the group debates on whether or not they just want to take their booty and leave or clear out the monastery. Rhain wants to take the money and leave, but he is out-voted. Everyone else wants to be able to say that they fully defeated the Monastery of Punari. So they head in to take on the skeletons in the kitchen. Rhain is convinced that they are risking their skins for nothing, but goes along.

They then move on to the kitchen occupied by four skeletal monks. They cautiously enter the room and engage with the skeletons, making quick work of the creatures, despite their efforts to stun the party with their Stunning Fist techniques. They find nothing of interest in the room.

Rhain mocks the party incessantly about the all the treasure they gained by risking their lives against those skeletons.

Satisfied that they have assailed all threats in the monastery, the group makes its way to the armory they discovered early in their exploration. They begin loading the various weapons onto their carts. Finally, that afternoon, they start making their way down the mountain pass away from the cursed monastery and back into the jungles of Achera, making their long way back to Asdari.

28 Ardor 508

After a couple of days of travel through the jungle, the party continues to slowly roll its way through the dense overgrowth. Later in the afternoon, Tag and Lenoria spot a structure overgrown with vines and foliage. Tag immediately wants to check it out. Rhain, exasperated, goes along. He just wants to get on to his payday.

The structure is not large and has an open arched doorway leading inside. The doorway is lined with etched hieroglyphs. Tag manages to decipher that they are both a welcome and a warning. Lenoria determines that this may be an ancient temple to Azunapath, though it is built in a fashion no longer used by that sect.

Tag heads inside, with the others following and Lenoria lighting his way. Inside the structure is are four support pillars and, in the center of the square building, a diamond-shaped pool of clear, blue water. Before the pool is a bronze stand with a round, shallow, top, seemingly designed to place something in. Tag examines the pool closely and determines that it is fed by an underground spring. Regna determines that the waters are, in fact, magical. He takes a drink of the water and, while cool and refreshing, it also makes him feel warm in his belly, a pleasant warmth. After they search out the structure and find nothing else, they move on.

30 Ardor 508

On this day, the party stumbles across the remains of a battle. Rhain is convinced that it is the site where they had previously encountered the dire apes. Tag wants to be sure and examines the signs. Sure enough, he comes to the same conclusion. After Rhain mocks Tag for a bit, they move on.

5 Longday 508

As the party continues their long slog through the jungle, Tag and Lenoria halt the party to point out a body that has been nailed to a tree by a spear. The body is rotting and the spear appears to be of orc-make. Vowing to be on their guard, the troupe continues forward toward Asdari.

9 Longday 508

On this day, as they are making camp for the evening, Lenoria finds a rusty spoon buried in the camp. Tag is fascinated, thinking that perhaps it is an artifact or relic of some sort. Rhain mocks them, calling back to the “treasures” not found in the kitchen back at the monastery and that now, at last, they have a kitchen utensil. Tag asks Lenoria for the spoon and she gladly gives it over to him. Tag is now convinced that he has “the Spoon of Punari.”

15 Longday 508

Finally, after nearly three weeks, the party emerges from the jungle and arrives at the gates of Asdari. They head into the city with their laden carts and find lodging at the Topaz Dagger, though Tag desperately wants to stay at the Wand of Fire. Tavayne proposes that they stay at the Topaz Dagger, but later go for drinks (on him) at the Wand of Fire.

They party spends the remainder of the day cashing in their found treasures and splitting their loot. they hit upon a new way to split their magic items, but first Tag gets to pick first, as it was promised last time. Rhain is against this, but he outvoted again. Tag, of course, picks the very expensive magic staff—which he can’t use very well. Rhain grouses the entire time about what the halfling managed to pull off—now he’s just going to sell off the expensive magic item for a haul of money that won’t be part of the general shares.

Eventually, the discussion comes (prompted by Tag) about including Tavayne in the cut—he was very helpful, after all. Rhain is against it—if he wanted a cut he should have negotiated beforehand. As the discussion becomes heated, with Tavayne carefully remaining neutral, Tag convinces Rhain to let “Lenoria’s goddess” decide. He’ll roll a die—if it comes up even, Tavayne gets a cut. If not, then they negotiate for next time.

Rhain, still in disbelief at the turns the conversation has taken, observes as Tag rolls the die. It comes up even—Tavayne gets a cut. The bard bows with a low flourish and thanks the party for their generosity.

The party then gets cleaned up and ready to head downstairs and then to the Wand of Fire.

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Session Sixty-Five
Ghoulish Encounters

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2 Illumination 509

The Crimson Cord, accompanied by two of their guards and a troupe of priests of Halor, continue to explore the Tomb of Secrets in hopes of rescuing the sorceress, Hekia Stormwing from the clutches of the necromancer, Kelthior.

After ensuring that the last chamber they encountered was free of spectres, the troupe decides to move on. Having examined the map provided to them by the halfling, Torvald, who was a former companion of Hekia, Surm determines the shortest route to the inner sanctum of the necromancer.

As they head out of the room on their chosen route, they are stymied by a wooden portcullis. It has no apparent mechanism to raise or lower. Savaric finds a hidden panel shielding a mechanism of some sort, but has no idea what it’s about. Mõrvar determines that is a mechanism associated with the portcullis, but no more. Surm says that it has nothing to do with the portcullis and that the group shouldn’t touch it because it’s probably a trap of some sort. He insists that Savaric should just lift or break the gate so that they can pass through, but Savaric refuses, opting, instead, to search the room for some means of using the mechanism: a rod, a key, whatever.

Mõrvar notes the hole in the top of the mechanism and decides that he’s going to try and manipulate the it. Everybody steps away from him and the panel. He places his multi-tool in the hole and turns It. A “click” is heard and the portcullis starts to raise. He manages to figure out how to secure the gate from shutting again. He looks at Surm and says wryly, “It has nothing to do with the portcullis.”

The troupe lines back up in marching order and heads down the corridor, with Savaric at the head looking for traps.

The corridor leads to a locked door. Surm is brought forward to pick the lock. It seems to give him a bit of trouble, but eventually, he manages to get it unlocked. He returns to his place in line. Savaric then bursts through the door to find that a large group of ghouls waiting for him.

The fight between the group and the ghouls doesn’t last too long, with Savaric and Mõrvar making a good showing. The group clambers into the chamber and then heads to the next door along their route—except for Savaric. He feels the need to the check an open archway on the opposite side of the room. He walks up and looks in—and spots another group of ghouls staring at him in anticipation!

Savaric backs away, hoping to leave some room for his compatriots to come to his aid. This allows the ghouls to come forward and surround him in the lower chamber. They all attack, and while he does take some damage, none of the ghouls manage to paralyze him or pass on their deadly disease.

The rest of the party manages to arrange themselves in a manner in which to help their friend by attacking the ghouls. Soon, the ghouls are sent to their final rest.

Savaric takes another look in the room where the ghouls came from and spots a charred shield lying in a corner, a fountain in the center of the room, and a strange, abstract statue of a swirling vortex at the back of the room. Mõrvar comes forward to detect magic on the finds before heading in detects none—however, he does note that the statue is a probably a representation of The Nazul, a force of chaos and destruction that works in opposition to the Acheran god, Azumazran. The rest clerics in the party start discussing what they know—or don’t know—about this evil being and Surm enlightens them with more information—including the fact that there is a “Vortex Grimoire” that details how to bring The Nazul to this world from its home plane.

After the theological discussion dies down, Savaric and Mõrvar both, but especially Savaric, are sore tempted to go and explore the statue room. The rest of the party talks them out of it and the troupe lines up and moves into through the next door on their route.

After traveling a brief corridor, they come to another locked door. Surm is brought forward again and spends some time working on the lock. He pops it open and heads back to his former place in line. Savaric opens the door and peers inside. Gasping, he notes that the room has five wraiths in it—and they all seem to notice him. They float down toward the doorway and start attacking.

Savaric manages to maneuver his way through the wraiths and into the room, allowing Mõrvar space to attack as well. Prioress Drenham assists with guidance spells along the way. Eventually, all of the wraiths are dispatched. Mõrvar and Savaric take a fair amount of damage, but neither succumb to the creatures’ life drain abilities.

Nothing useful is found in this room and the troupe moves further along on their chosen route. They follow a corridor down to an unlocked door, which leads to a large, empty, room. Here the troupe regroups a bit and performs some healing magics to recover from their previous encounters. The door that will take them further along their chosen route is also unlocked. Savaric opens the door and sees a strange sight.

There are a total of 6 ghouls in the room, but these are unlike most of the monstrous, feral ghouls he is used to fighting. Two, the ones facing him, are dressed in robes, headbands, and strange masks made up of pieces of human faces. The other four are wearing breastplates and wielding greataxes. One of the two robed ones facing him points at him and says in a strange, hissing voice, “Intruders!”

Savaric backs away and the rest of the party form a gauntlet for any incoming ghouls to run through. The first of the armored ghouls comes through, and is peppered with shots from Savaric, and attacked by Mõrvar and Rilka. It is quickly brought to its second death. Surm, in the meantime, uses sorcery to cause stones to spontaneously appear and fill the room with the robed ones; the stones and earth fall on the ghouls and cause the floor in their to be more treacherous. Two of the others run through, facing the gauntlet. All of the party members take an opportunity to attack the lead ghoul, while Rilka is skilled enough to get to attack both. Then, everyone is wracked in pain as negative energy bursts through the room, not once, but twice, each from the ghouls that just made it through the gauntlet. They also seem to emit an aura of cowardice about them, making everyone more vulnerable to fear.

The party attacks the ghouls in earnest and, fortunately, make short work of the two before they do more harm.

The last of the armored ghouls makes its way out and is attacked by Mõrvar, Rilka, Savaric, and a couple of the clerics. Rilka takes an especial interest in this one, making two critical hits in a row against, severing tendons and disemboweling it. Still he, fights on—though not for long, as the others all take a whack at him and bring him down.

Then, a single bolt of lightning comes zipping out of the room and striking Surm, though he manages to dodge some of the effect. “Oh, now it’s on,” he mutters as he prepares a return volley. He casts fireball into the room, hoping to hit both of the robed ones.

The troupe is now in a quandary—do they cross the difficult terrain of the dead ghouls and the falling stone that Surm set up in the other room to pursue their quarry or wait and see if these robed ghouls decided to walk their gauntlet?

Mõrvar uses his power to step all the way across the room, through the robed ghoul that attacked his brother, and arrive on the other side of him, shocking it along the way.

Surm cleverly uses a dimensional door spell to take himself and three of the others—Rilka, Brother Thoras, and Prioress Drenham, into the room and into position, instantly. The other robed ghoul manages to send a bolt of lightning into Thoras at point blank range. Unfortunately for it, it is in a position in which Savric can hit it with his bow. He fires and does a massive amount of damage to the creature with a single shot The creature is standing—but is not feeling at all well. Rilka and Mõrvar manage to dispatch their robed one, with help from magic missiles from Surm.

The final ghoul, turns to look at Rilka and casts a spell. She starts to cough and wheeze for a moment, but is otherwise okay—but she figures that the spell was meant to suffocate her.

Eventually, the final ghoul is brought down by the multiple attacks leveled at it.

The group now stands in the room, preparing to search the ghouls for loot, They note that the chamber is decorated with a mural on the ceiling depicting ghouls feasting on corpses.

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