Chaos In The Aftermath

A Door To Danger

The group approaches a large set of double doors at the top of a wide staircase. Over the doors hangs an ornate crest carved deeply into the rock; it’s meaning is not immediately apparent. Upon each of the two large, heavy oaken doors are a row of three iron tumblers, solid knobs of metal topped with an ornately engraved arrow. Around each of the six tumblers are a series of four symbols of unknown design. The group suddenly realizes that they may have just slain their best bet for gaining entrance to the Scepter Tower.

The group studies the doors, the crest, and the room itself hoping to discover how Thoran was apparently able to get through the doors himself. Their knowledge of religion helps them to recognize that the crest above the door appears to belong to the ancient red dragon Ashardalon. His followers were far more prevalent in the days of old Netheril, though they have now become nearly forgotten. Eventually this fact leads them to the conclusion that the script on the doors may in fact be long lost draconic and that the password discovered by Thoran may have been the draconic word for fortress. After a comprehend language ritual, the group is able to adjust the knobs and unlock the door mechanism.

The party reaches the first level of the Scepter Tower and discovers a magically locked room. They conclude that the runic lock may be keyed by the various pieces of alabaster they have been finding recently but it also seems that they have not yet collected all the necessary pieces.

The group proceeds up to the next level of the tower. A wide antechamber opens at the top of the stairs. Its worn carpet was once burgundy and gold, and the walls bear tattered tapestries showing the floating enclave cities of ancient Netheril. Along the east side of the antechamber, a shimmering curtain of translucent light hangs, filling the air from floor to ceiling. A wide corridor visible through the curtain leads to another set of stairs. Double doors are visible in the corridor’s north and south walls. The party approaches the shimmering curtain cautiously. They feel that there is no malevolence to it, but they decide to be careful. Baldur begins by throwing a coin through the light, which lands without event on the other side. Ujaii decides to test its effects on organic matter and throws part of her lunch down the hall, again with no reaction from the shimmering light. While now out a chicken leg, the group feels better that the curtain may merely be an ancient Netherse decoration. Baldur slowly puts his arm through and though he feels a slight tingling sensation on his skin he suffers no ill effects. While Ujaii and Meriele discuss what their next test if any should be, Baldur goes ahead and steps through the curtain. From the other side, he interrupts to state that, “See everything is fine.” Ujaii and Meriele erupt in a fit of laughter and finger pointing. Baldur looks down to discover that he is now completely naked. Panicked he runs back through the curtain but his clothing does not reappear, he is merely met with more snickering. Suddenly two human mages burst through the door behind Baldur and chaos ensues.

One of the mages takes several substantial hits from Ujaii and Meriele. Baldur is left without his sword or armor and feeling helpless. However, the group remembers that inanimate objects by themselves seemed to make it through the magical plane without any problem. Meriele unsheathes her eladrin longsword as Baldur charges back through the curtain at the nearest mage; Meriele simultaneously tosses the sword through the air. The toss is clean and the sword arrives at Baldur hilt down; he snatches the sword from the air above his head and brings it down on the mage in one clean, smooth motion. The mage attempts to protect himself with his staff but it is split asunder under the power of Baldur’s swing and Baldur buries the sword deep in the mage’s shoulder. He quickly turns aside as Ujaii follows-up with a devastating arcane blast that finishes off the mage and slams his bloody corpse into the far eastern wall.

The remaining mage retreats and asks for quarter. The group listens to his pleas and decides to spare him should he assist them in their endeavors, as the mage appears to be merely a mercenary and bears no loyalty to Thoran. After looting the area and allowing the mage Tevinwerd to retain his share of Thoran’s payments, the group proceeds up the eastern staircase. At the top of the stairs the group is spotted by a large group of dark creepers and ettercaps… Tevinwerd’s assistance may be essential for their survival, they just hope his loyalty doesn’t falter too quickly…

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Into the Tower

The group awakens after a much needed rest, recovered from their battle with the vampire Barthus. They gather up their things and set off still deeper into the Catacombs of Spellgard. The party soon comes upon a chamber that appears to be the ancient funerary chapel of Spellgard. They notice that this is the first room they have found in the catacombs with its own light source, four bronze braziers burning in the corners of the room. The group realizes that whatever is burning in those braziers is highly caustic, and as they enter the room they begin to feel faint and light-headed. They make a quick check for any dangers, noting a gruesome sight of five corpses hanging from the rafters with nooses tight around their necks. Meriele and Ujaii decide to make a quick run for the far door to avoid the stench of the braziers; however, Baldur stops to consider cutting down the bodies from their suspensions. Suddenly, the eyes snap open and the five corpses animate into shrieking, screeching vampires. The battle is joined but as the party begins to gain the upper hand on their ambushers, a corpse vampire rises from behind a set of pews and attacks.

After making quick work of the Barthus’ vampire spawn, the group turns their attention to their next nemesis. The vampire shifts rapidly around the room keeping the group off balance. The vampire corpse closes in and grabs Baldur by his armor and pulls him in close, biting deeply into his neck. The vampire becomes reinvigorated and Baldur becomes weakened, almost too faint to stand under the weight of his armor. The emanations from the braziers complicate the battle, as the group has to fight hard to maintain their composure, but they finally get the better of the corpse vampire and he collapses into a heap. Before departing the room for a short rest, the group endures the brazier vapors for a few moments more to search the vampire corpses for mad loot. After Ujaii makes a quick joke about finding another alabaster pillar, Baldur pulls two carefully cut pieces of alabaster from the pocket of one of the spawn. The group hangs onto the two stone pieces in case they may come in handy later.

The group leaves the room and takes a short rest before continuing on. The group soon comes upon another room. Baldur begins to move into the room but is quickly grabbed from behind by Meriele who points out several slightly raised tiles on the stone floor. The group determines that many of the stones in the floor are trapped and notes what appear to be drains in the floor and ceiling. The group briefly discusses purposely triggering the trap for fun or disarming it for good measure, only to decide to carefully navigate the room, leaving the trap as it lays.

The group is soon making their way down a series of dark, damp passageways. The passage sometimes splits but leads only to collapsed rumble and a dead end. The group continues on and begins to notice the air becoming less damp, signs of mold and moisture on the walls decrease. The group emerges from the passageway and into a series of storerooms they believe to lie beneath the ancient Scepter Tower. Moving through a series of old storage rooms the group discovers a large cask. Baldur decides to take a closer look and opens the spigot to determine the cask’s contents. Although it appears to be very stale ale, Baldur feels the drive to determine that fact conclusively, while Meriele and Ujaii shake their heads in disbelief. After determining the the ale is in fact quite old and quite stale, Baldur leads the group onward.

Soon the party comes to a well lit hall guarded by a group of gnomes, who appear to be guarding a large set of double doors, which perhaps lead into the Scepter Tower proper. The group engages the gnomes in battle and makes quick work of the small pointy eared creatures. Upon their corpses, they find 3 more pieces of carefully carved alabaster.

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Descent Through Darkness
Ciphers and Vampires in the Shadows

The party resumes their delve into the depths of the Spellgard Catacombs. Once again the group proceeds carefully checking for traps and hidden dangers. They proceed through several empty rooms, finding the ancient resting place of Spellgard warriors past. In a nearby room, the group uncovers an alabaster pillar that appears to be one of the pillars being searched for by Thoran’s minions. The pillar proves too large and heavy for the party to move so they decide to cover it with rubble from the room in the hopes of delaying its location.

Continuing on, the party heads south and comes to a large room crossed by several deep canals. As the party steps into the room, a burst of arcane energy shoots forth, the door behind them slamming shut and the sound of running water emanating from the edges of the room. Water soon begins pooling around the group’s feet as they search for a way out. In the center of the room they find a well preserved marble column with inscriptions around the cap. The group feels a slight trace of arcane energy emanating from the pillar and surmises that the column may have originated the arcane surge and that the inscriptions could be key to their escape. The group works feverishly to decipher the message while the water in the room continues to rise. As the water reaches their chests, the group completes their work, “If you wish to live, find the key where the dead repose and use it where they wish to go.” With the water still rising, the group begins checking burial nooks along the walls for some sort of key. By the blessing of the gods, the group stumbles upon a possible key in their second alcove, a stone worked in the shape of a skull with three square holes for the mouth and nose. Baldur has a hunch that the dead wish to go to heaven and the group begins checking the ceiling. They quickly find a cobweb covered hole directly above the marble column.

Meriele quickly mounts the column but still can not reach the recess. Ujaii soon joins her and attempts to boost her up. They both fall hard from the pillar and splash into the water. They come up gasping for air and quickly remount the pillar to try again. The party worries for Baldur whose heavy plate is causing him difficulty in keeping his head above the rapidly rising waters. On their second attempt, Ujaii is able to boost Meriele up to reach the hole in which she finds three square pegs matching those of the key. Sliding the key into the hole, she is unsure of the direction to turn the key, would one hold their savior and the other their demise? Ujaii promptly suggests turning right, as left is more probably the direction of evil. Upon turning the key, a dull grinding begins to echo from the ceiling, followed by a series of clicks and then silence, only the sound of still running water can be heard as the group waits. Suddenly, the door begins to rise and the the water level begins to drop. The group sighs with relief and revels in their survival.

In order to reach the room’s southern door, the group needs to leap across the final canal crossing the room. The group uses their rope as a safety device, tying themselves off with one another. Being worried for Baldur’s ability to leap across decked in heavy plate, Meriele and Ujaii opt to go first. Meriele misses her jump but manages to catch the edge by her finger tips. Initially slipping and losing a handhold, Meriele manages to recover and hoist herself onto the far slab. Ujaii follows also jumping just short but catching on by her fingertips. With two of the group now across, Baldur starts his run, the sound of his plate clanging and echoing loudly in the chamber, and leaps across…. He lands cleanly on the far side. After some friendly chiding about the ease of the jump, Baldur and the others continue on their way.

Coming to another fork in their path the group decides to head east. Upon reaching the end of the tunnel, they find a large chamber which appears to have once served as Spellgard’s mortuary. The group can see several stone tables carved with blood groves and columns holding up the high vaulted ceiling; however, they cannot see the full extent of the room. As they begin to head in, a dry cackle sounds from the far end of the chamber.

After several seconds, soft footfalls begin to slowly grow closer. A deep but clear voice echoes from the darkness, “There was once a time when I had to leave these catacombs to find my food, but alas no longer, it seems to come to me. And such good timing on your parts. The remains of my last meal sit in that urn before you and then just as I thought I needed to venture out for a snack, in you delectable treats wander. While rats, halflings, and creepers make for a hearty meal, they really aren’t that tasty, oh but you will be a dish well worth the effort… oh come now don’t look so…. so frightened, just relax and Barthus will make your end quick for the glory of Bane. Struggling will only delay the inevitable.”

A pale bearded figure in blackened leather armor strolls calmly from the shadows. A holy symbol of Bane hangs around his neck, and a vicious-looking longsword is clutched in his hand. He stops in front of the party, effusing icy calm; his black eyes watching the group coldly. His body stiffens and then moves gracefully into a relaxed fighting stance as he raises the sword; a malicious smile spreads across his face as he laughs once again… the battle begins.

After Barthus misses his initial attack, Baldur counters with a vicious blow. Guessing correctly that Barthus will be a formidable adversary. He makes an additional attack and causes heavy damage which Barthus calmly ignores. The group has a chance to gain the advantage early in the fight as Barthus misses several key attacks. As the party pushes forward into the room, they notice a large wooden chandelier hanging from the center of the ceiling. Baldur charges Barthus and manages to push him back under the chandelier and Meriele follows with a Magic Missile to break the chandelier free from its support; the chandelier comes crashing down directly on Barthus knocking him prone. After some early, disheartening missed attacks, Ujaii regains her aim and begins dealing heavy damage to the surprised Barthus . The vile vampire recovers and retreats further into the room, and then eerily scales a nearby wall, putting himself out of reach of Baldur’s punishing radiant attacks. Barthus realizes that he may have underestimated his quarry. He finally connects with a dominating gaze and begins to attack the party more forcefully. Barthus also manages to stun Baldur following up with a vicious bite to his unarmored neck, reviving a large portion of his vitality. The fight wears on for some time as the group slowly wears down the vampire priest. Finally, a crushing blow is landed by Ujaii and Barthus staggers back. After catching his balance, Barthus begins to knowingly cackle but the cackle quickly degenerates into a bloody cough. He hobbles back another step or two and turns to mist; the mist moves quickly for the rear of the room but suddenly Barthus is corporeal again and collapses prone on the ground, gasping for air. “I may have underestimated the will of my meal for tonight… just a bit further to safety.” Seeing the helpless enemy, Baldur charges forward and moves to strike off the vampire’s head, but drained and bloody he misses badly, sending his sword sparking off the stone floor. Ujaii quickly follows up with a blast of dark eldritch energy to finish off Barthus before he can make an escape. She then prompts Baldur decapitate the disciple of Bane, just to be sure. The group leans wearily on their swords and staffs; nearly spent from the long battle the group decides to rest for the night, before venturing further into the black depths of the catacombs.

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The Darkness of the Catacombs
Convenient Prayers

After parting ways with Borlem, the party was left in the final room of the ramparts staring at a crumbling tunnel into the darkness of the Spellgard Catacombs. After finding a set of trapped stones in the floor and walls filled with arrow slits, the party sent Meriele in to do the dirty work of attempting to disable the traps. After some poking and prying, Meriele successfully disabled the trap and the group headed into the catacombs.

The catacombs prove to be a dark and dank place; with no light and numerous waterways running throughout the group proceeds cautiously. Once more the wizard casts a light spell on Baldur’s armor and he serves as the group’s beacon. They move slowly and stay close together so as to not get lost in the overwhelming blackness. The party explores the first chamber, which appears to be a burial chamber for servants of ancient Spellgard. During their exploration they are attacked by Shadowhunter Bats and a deformed humanoid skeleton. The bats focus mainly on the flaming form of Ujaii and bedevil her with constant flyby attacks. Ujaii vows vengeance and eventually incinerates several of the bats before the group turns their focus to the skeleton.

After the battle and a quick check of the area, Baldur heads through the spiked iron gate, only to discover the hard way that it was trapped. He is impaled and held pinned behind the door. Meriele attempts to make amends with Baldur for missing detection of the trap by examining the trap mechanism and finding a way to release him. With Baldur free and his wounds mended the group continues through the Catacombs.

In the next room, Baldur, still oozing from his recent impalement wants to explore a metal grate guarding the canals running under the room. Even after noticing the splashing of some rather large rats he seems determined to pry back the gate and jump in for a swim. Ujaii and Meriele finally convince Baldur that maybe he should skip the swim in rat infested, murky waters for now. The group proceeds carefully again and is able to detect a false floor trap which Meriele successfully disarms.

Next, the group arrives in what they determine to be the Arcanist’s vault. Meriele and Ujaii decide to inspect the individual vaults once they have determined the chamber itself is safe. Baldur objects to disturbing the vaults, claiming he will take no part in violating the private tombs. Baldur kneels to prey to Bahamut for guidance in front of one of the chambers. Ujaii gives Baldur a swift kick and sends his heavily armored frame crashing through the door. Agitated, Baldur returns to his prayers. Ujaii and Meriele combine to discover a trapped ritual book in the first chamber. Meriele manages to deactivate the trap by altering the arcane runes and finds a useful ritual within. Meriele and Ujaii continue on, finding and disarming more ritual books with only one mishap, leaving Meriele with a face full of burnt embers and slightly singed hands. The group saves the final larger vault for last. Inside they find additional treasure, whereupon Baldur suddenly appears in the doorway claiming that Bahamut gave him allowance to take anything useful to his quest from the vaults. Baldur is delighted while the rest of the group remains wary that such divine guidance came only moments before discovering a holy Symbol of Shielding. The group collects its take and moves on leaving the dead wizards to their darkness.

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Into the Ramparts
Wererats? What the heck are wererats?

The adventurers take Brother Allendi’s advice and set off in search of Kal Clewsoro’s camp, hoping that he has more knowledge of the strange happenings amidst the ruins. The group locates the camp and is met by a pair of guards. The noise the party makes trying to coerce the guards into allowing them entry attracts the attention of Kal Clewsoro himself. Clewsoro is short with the group and urges them to leave lest they start a fight; he has money to make and no time for their interests or those of the monks. While trying to convince Clewsoro to divulge anything he may have seen among the ruins, the party spots a Dark Creeper chained to a stake at the outskirts of the camp. Clewsoro tells them the creature and its plight are none of their business, but seeing an opening Ujai makes a strategic play on Clewsoro’s business sense and convinces Clewsoro to entertain their questions for a moment longer. The group finally chides Clewsoro into allowing them into the camp to speak to the prisoner, but Clewsoro posts a guard to watch their every move and only allow them only near the prisoner.

The group approaches the prisoner and upon a closer inspection finally realizes the dark creatures seen amongst the ruins must be Dark Creepers, beings rumored to live among the Shadar-kai in the Underdark, much the way as halflings are often found in human populations in Faerun. The creature wants nothing to do with the band unless they mean to free him. Baldur initially wishes to free the creature in exchange for information, believing that it is not just for Clewsoro to keep the creature chained up even if it was caught stealing. However, some urging from Ujai changes Baldur’s mind and he agrees to intimidate the creature, offering death now but perhaps a chance for freedom if he provides useful information. A masterful bluff on Baldur’s part has the creature spilling his guts and the group soon learns that the creature’s master, Thorin, has them searching the ruins for alabaster pillars as part of an unknown binding ritual. He also indicates that Thorin initially gained entrance to the Scepter Tower from the Ramparts to the north. Baldur again defends the creature and wishes to free it even under the watch of Clewsoro’s guards. Ujai again disarms the situation and convinces Baldur to leave the shadowy and guileful creature behind.

The group departs the camp and heads north to a section of the ramparts that are still intact. After some external scouting the group heads in through an unlocked door in a portion of guard-tower that looks recently repaired. Carefully moving inside they manage to sneak up on and corner a preoccupied (thanks to a well place ghost sound from Meriele) halfling who introduces himself as Malcolm Darano. He tells them he is a seeker of the lady and treasure in the ruins and that he is just looking around. The party has noticed what appears to be an alarm rope and they keep Malcolm cut off from it and cornered. While they do not attempt to intimidate or harm the halfling they are cautious and wary. The group continues their questioning as Malcolm becomes more edgy and skittish. Finally, he screams, “To hell with this,” and begins a frightening transformation. The party is taken aback and stands, mouths agape, at the sight of a wererat. The wererat lunges at the group but is shortly defeated, leaving the group wondering what just happened. Never having seen a wererat before the party is surprised that tales of such were-animals are true.

Baldur follows a hunch and leads the group to the top of the guard tower rather than across the rampart walls. The hunch pays off and the group finds a long lost room filled with mostly rotting and degenerated armor and supplies; however, buried amid the scrap they find several sets of magical armor which they quickly liberate from the musty room.

After some additional exploration, the group makes its way across the length of the ramparts following the alarm rope they spotted earlier. They carefully approach the door at the end of a long hallway and determine that the room on the other side is well occupied. The group bursts through the door in full battle form hoping to startle and intimidate but suddenly realizing they are heavily outnumbered. However, instead of being attacked, another halfling yells to the guards to stand their ground. Both parties stand facing each other weapons drawn in complete silence. The party breaks the quiet by slowly leaning in to whisper to each other while keeping their eyes fixed upon their adversaries. Meriele and Ujai want to drop some fiery arcane hammer on their asses while Baldur thinks that something is amiss and perhaps diplomacy may be better met. Going with Baldur’s approach, but still expecting a fight, the group attempts to speak with the halfling. They quickly learn that he too is a wererat and that Malcolm was his brother. The group manages to intimidate Borlem Darano without letting him know that they slaughtered his brother mere minutes ago. The halfling bends to their intimidation, knowing that they must have bested his defensed to get to him and agrees to escort them to a passage into the catacombs of Spellgard. He also tells them that Thorin had come through that way but knows not what came of him after entering the catacombs… tombs which Borlem forbid his brothers to explore after many of them never came back. Borlem escorts the group to a room leading to the catacombs but warns them that he will be prepared for their return and if they do come back his way it will be as enemies and not friends.

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Arrival at Spellgard
Stupid Magical Tower

The group awakens from a nights sleep at the base of the Storm Horns and begins their remaining trek to the Fallen Lands. After a half a days walk the group is waylaid by a pack of wolves. The ferocious animals, hungry for a meal gang up on Meriele in hopes of an easy takedown. The adventurers pull together and easily defeat the wolf pack. After fixing up their light wounds they continue on their trek. The harsh and desolate plains of ancient Netheril take their toll on the group over the remainder of the journey. Initially the group’s endurance holds up well and they easily find food and water along the way. Baldur celebrates the seemingly easy journey by singing songs of joy and happiness as they walk. However, the group soon happens upon harder times and the songs fade to dirges as the group tires and slows. However, just as the day seems its bleakest, the group finds a lightly worn road and spots a tower on the horizon that must be the remains of Spellgard.

The party’s spirits return and they approach the ruins of Spellgard with new-found hope. As they approach they can see the vast piles of Spellgard rubble and the impressive Scepter Tower still intact and looming overhead. The group spots the Monastery of the Precipice and heads inside after deciding it looks safe enough.

The group is greeted by Brother Allendi and cordially invited for a drink of the Brothers’ own ale. Brother Allendi asks the group various questions regarding their motivations for visiting the ruins and the monastery. After the group convinces him their intentions are noble and they seek no harm against the Brothers or their patrons, Brother Allendi offers to answer any questions they may have and shows them around the monastery. Allendi also provides them with a rough map of the ruins and shows them a wall scroll holding some of the writings of Kuryon. The group decides the scroll may contain clues for winning an audience with The Lady and they transcribe a copy for themselves.

Baldur leads the group in conversation with other guests of the monastery though Meriele and Ujai seem tired and ready for a good nights rest in an actual bed. The group talks with Thurr Gargengrim, a dwarf trader who values the monks’ ale and whiskey; Sister Cherra, a one time seeker of the Lady who failed to find her lost brother and who now helps Brother Allendi and the monks; and Millek the Thrush, a young halfling recently arrived in Spellgard. Millek seems more willing to try to con the group out of their gold than to share any useful information. She nearly talks Baldur into a game of cards but is finally dissuaded by a more pragmatic Ujai who begins a path of intimidation which Baldur takes up wholeheartedly in the end. Under duress, the halfling does tell the group that she has seen some movement in the battlement of the Scepter Tower though no one has ever supposedly been able to gain entrance. She also notes that she has seen several dark hooded beings skulking around the ruins recently, gathering near ruined columns. The adventurers decide to rest for the night and set out and explore the Scepter Tower in the morning.

Wight

In the morning, the group eats a hardy breakfast and then heads out for the Tower. The group sees that there is only entrance and as they approach, a sudden flurry of arrows rains down upon them. They see several dark figures on the tower’s battlement, seemingly readying another round of arrows. The adventurers determine they are too far away to battle their attackers so they make a break for the lone tower door. They reach the large, heavy, wooden, reinforced door as more arrows rain down upon them. The arcane energy of the tower feels even more powerful now that they are in close proximity. Baldur decides to knock on the door and pretend to be one of the dark soldiers. A voice answers from inside but is more scared to open the door without direct orders from someone named “Thoran” than they are of Baldur shouting through a heavy magically reinforced door. Ujai and Meriele attempt various magical means of entry to no avail. Ujai finally unleashes a wave of elemental and arcane fury that does not even seem to scorch the massive door. The adventurers decide to retreat as they continue to take heavy damage from the falling arrows. Upon their retreat they here shouts of triumph from the battlements; they return to the monastery crestfallen.

They converse further with Brother Allendi and the Thurr. They discover that no one is aware that the Tower is now occupied, and Allendi is highly perplexed as the tower has remained empty and impenetrable for so many years. Others have, however, heard rumors of the dark figures and Brother Allendi tells them that the monks have tried to find out more about the dark beings to no avail. He suggests they may yet try the camp of a man named Kal Clewsoro. He is leery of all visitors and not very cooperative but Allendi hopes the party may have better luck with him than the monks have had.

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Encounter with the Undead
Why don't they just stay dead?

The party continues on to find the last two captives. They soon stumble upon a scrying pool and after cautiously determining its nature, use it to determine that one of the remaining captives is nearby. The group moves into a darkened room, the only light provided by the magical glow from Meriele’s light spell cast on Baldur’s armor. As the group moves closer, they can see a young boy at the far end of the room. The boy realizes the group is comprised of rescuers and not captors and happily rises to great them. The boy might be dirty and tired but he seems to have weathered his captivity better than some of the other prisoners. He is especially happy to see that Jalissa is safe. Suddenly the boy interrupts the discussion and leaps to grab Baldur’s arm and full awareness: “Oh no they should be back soon, so stupid, I should have been paying attention.”

As Thurann finishes his sentence, a savage snarl is heard from the back of the room. In the darkness the party can barely make out Adronsius, who was hovering near the back of the group. Around his neck appears to be a pallid arm ending in a hand with vicious black claws. In the split second it takes them to make out the struggle the stench of death overtakes the group. Adronsius screams… “Arghh… you filthy beast, I ‘ll rip…”

But before the words can be completed, the ghoul bites into Adronsius’ neck and with a spurt of blood the dwarf goes limp and collapses. The other prisoners retreat into the dark corners of the room as the ghoul looks up from Adronsius’ limp figure and snarls. The battle with the undead does not go well. Baldur takes repeated punishment from two ghouls and is repeatedly immobilized. Meriele and Ujai manage to return the rest of the undead to the dead, but one remaining ghoul continues to harass Baldur. Nearing death, Baldur manages to recover and slash viciously at the ghoul. The ghoul, near death now itself, takes a final devasting bolt of crackling arcane energy from Ujai, once again covering Baldur in chunks of charred, bloody tissue.

As the battle ends, Adronsius begins stirring as the immobilizing effects of the ghouls bite begin to wear off. The boy suggests that these were the only guards he had ever seen in the area and introduces himself to the adventurers as Thurann, son of the captain of the guard. The group grows quiet as they come to understand the words’ meaning. Baldur decides to break the news of his father’s death to the boy. The boy is noticeable shaken by the news but manages to regain his composure. He requests that if possible they bring his father’s body back to Fallcrest so that he and his mother can give him a proper burial. Baldur readily agrees and Adronsius requests the honor of carrying the corpse, partially in hopes of finally feeling of some use to the group. After a few emotional moments, the boy tells Baldur that he knows where the final prisoner is being held.

Wight

The group discusses whether or not to head straight for the final prisoner or to continue searching for the remaining relics as well. In the end the group decides to continue deeper into the catacombs in hopes of recovering the stolen items before heading back toward the exit and the final prisoner.

A few rooms further in, the group finds the wight that the prisoners were meant to be sacrificed to. These undead go down much easier than those in the last battle, bringing a sigh of relief to the party. Baldur finds further delight in not needing to clean more fleshy remnants from his armor. After a quick inspection of the room, Meriele finds a Staff of Ruin and some additional gold. The group continues on and locates the last of the stolen artifacts. The group returns to reclaim Kartenix’s body and take a brief rest before continuing on for the final prisoner.

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The Big Bad
Big, but maybe not so bad?

The group continues down into the catacombs. Baldur finds a magical sword but unable to identify its capabilities he decides to play it safe and temporarily sheaths the sword. The heroes soon find Jalissa who clings dreamily to the arm of her heroic rescuer, Baldur. While the rest of the group tries not to gag, Jallisa happily uses her arcane knowledge to identify Baldur’s magical sword, a Medic’s Longsword. Baldur heads off into the catacombs in hopes of finding some goblins to break-in his new weapon.

Sinruth

Baldur gets his wish and maybe more when he stumbles upon Sinruth, the supposed leader of the new Red Hand of Doom. Sinruth fights with reckless abandon and screams in furious rage, but his fury gets the better of him and he suffers several critical misses. The group manages to slowly wear away at Sinruth’s defenses while Meriele uses the terrain to their advantage and knocks Sinruth into icy cold Menhirs positioned around the room. Sinruth finally regains his senses and unleashes several punishing attacks upon Baldur. He is able to trip up Baldur several times with his spiked chain and viciously stomp him while down. Baldur recovers but not before Sinruth’s chain raps him up again, this time yanking him feverishly into his spiked shield. But just as Baldur’s legs begin to weaken beneath him, Ujai and Meriele unleash a torrent of magic that fells the goblin chieftain. The group exhales a sigh of relief as Sinruth’s body slumps noisily to the ground.

In Sinruth’s lair, the group finds two of the artifacts stolen from Fallcrest and a worrisome note on the chieftain’s corpse. The note instructs Sinruth to attack Fallcrest and sow chaos and discord. It suggests that he may take prisoners to appease the wraiths inhabiting the catacombs of Rivenroar. The note also suggests that there may be other factions of the Red Hand returning and that bigger plans beyond the raid on Fallcrest are in the works. The note is signed simply, “The Emissary.”

The party decides to sleep for the night and recover their strength, before continuing their rescue efforts. However, they feel some renewed urgency as the note suggests that hungry wraiths may be awaiting a feast of the remaining captives.

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Deeper and Deeper
Greasy, greasy goblin guts

The party continues its delve into the Rivenroar catacombs. The group finds the body of one of the prisoners, Kartenix, captain of the Rivenroar guard. It appears the guards may have tired of his resistance and permanently ended his struggles; the ettercaps webbed his corpse to the wall. Before moving on, Baldur insists on cutting the body down and also considers bringing it along, but the rest of the group convinces him that perhaps it would be better to leave it for the time being.

As the group continues on, they manage to approach a hobgoblin and a drake without attracting their immediate attention. A successful use of ghost sound by the party wizard results in the group getting the drop on the guards and making quick work of them. In the next room, the party makes good tactical use of a balcony and a spiral iron staircase to make quick work of a group of direrats and goblins. Meriele and Ujai rain fiery arcane destruction upon their enemies while Baldur mostly hurls insults as he can barely manage to get his crossbow loaded. A final enemy lies in wait in the dark corners of the room once the group descends the staircase. Baldur is finely able to gets his hands dirty… really dirty. Baldur’s Divine Challenge keeps the goblin soldier focused while Ujai unleashes a devastating barrage that finishes with a critical hit on a nearly dead foe. The goblin explodes in a viscous arcane blast of dark crackling energy, covering Baldur in meaty goblin goodness.

The group finds Mirtala tied to an altar and suffering from filth fever. They manage to release her and cure her disease but Mirtala initially refuses to speak, being in a deep state of shock from her ordeal. The group tries to coax her back from her trance-like state with kind words and encouragement, but is only successful once Ujai decides to convince Miratala she can be trusted as the two had met before in Fallcrest. Baldur protests and wants no part in the lie, but is convinced it was for the best once Mirtala regains her senses. With an ever growing group in tow, the party sets off to find the last several prisoners.

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Into the Catacombs
The party sets out for Rivenroar Castle. Their day’s long journey across the countryside is mostly uneventful; the party manages to combine use of the rough map provided by Morrik and their own tracking skills to follow the goblin tracks to the ancient castle. Outside the castle, clear and conspicuous tracks lead down into a series of catacombs which serve as the burial chambers for the once powerful inhabitants of Castle Rivenroar. The group descends cautiously but finds a group of goblins and hobgoblins defending the catacomb entrance. After this and a short series of further fights, the group finds two captives, the dwarf Adronsius and the castellan of the Hall of Valor in Fallcrest, Sertanian. Along the way Ujai excitedly finds a Rod of Reaving and proceeds to punish her enemies with newfound joy.

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