Kensing

Ancient History Pt. 1 Aug-Dec 2003
In which the origins of the campaign are revealed

In the city of Arness, in the county of Nent, Count Alron Tarris stood before the motley crew who had responded to his call. He needed people to go and wipe out a horde of kobolds that had infested the nearby iron mine, killing the workers, and that meant using adventurers. They stood in a line before him in the courtyard outside the city hall: Crag Hack, a giant of a half-orc, bristling with muscles and weaponry with a particularly large and mean looking glaive standing beside him. Despite his intimidating appearance, he was polite and proper to anyone he talked to, sometimes even chatty. Jervais, a particularly short and stout man wearing fully plated armor bearing the holy symbols of Heironeous. He seemed reluctant to show his face, keeping his visor down as much as possible. Famish, a lanky man wearing colorful robes, with a faraway dreamy look in his eyes. He seemed very amused by anything and everything he saw. The last in the row was Smoth Harkshire, who was known to Tarris, though he seemed to be trying to hide his identity. A very young boy of about 16, he was wearing very plain working clothes, very different from the nicer clothes of nobility he was used to seeing him in. He had a very determined look on his face, as though he was preparing himself for Tarris to tell him to leave.

The group, after introductions and getting their marching orders, headed north for about 3 days. They located the mine and the small encampment around it – completely empty. The investigated inside, killing kobolds as they went. As they went along, they discovered something disturbing – The kobolds seemed to be acting under specific orders from some higher organization. They were under orders to find some specific artifact called the ‘desecrorb’. Further progress in the mine revealed a shaft that had broken into some kind of underground temple. Investigating further, they were attacked by several kobold zombies, which guarded what could only be described as the desecrorb. It emanated an evil aura, which made everyone uneasy about touching it. Jervais decided that it needed to be studied and dealt with, so he packed it away inside layers of cloth and stuffed it down deep in his pack.

The party encountered no real resistance on trying to leave, until they reached the mouth of the cave, whereupon they were attacked by a small green dragon, who seemed to be waiting for them. They barely managed to overcome it. (did it zombify?)

While travelling back to Arness, they discovered at least one property of the desecrorb – any creatures they killed while the desecrorb was near would be immediately raised as a mindless zombie. The zombies would take no action to harm or hinder them, and they could figure out no real way to command them to do anything.

Once they returned to Arness, they reported the elimination of the kobolds to the Governor. They split for a while to take care of personal business, and when they returned, they all had some news for each other. Jervais felt it his solemn duty to eliminate the danger of the desecrorb, and he thought that the Temple of Heironeous in Nent to the south would be a good starting place for information. Crag Hack seemed to be searching for his brother who had travelled to this area secretly, and figured Nent would be a good place to search. Smoth revealed that his father, a local minor noble, had mysteriously left while they were gone, riding south in the middle of the night, sword bared. Famish, a happy go lucky soul, decided to follow along for no particular reason.

The group trekked southward, along the way dealing with orc raids from the nearby territory of Argan, which was encroaching upon Nent. In a small hamlet on the way, they helped rescue some children who had been taken hostage by the orcs, and were rewarded with some masterwork weapons from a grateful father. A dagger with a cursive engraving of ‘Lily’, and a sword with another flower engraving. They also tracked down and killed an orc leader, Gradak Skullface a large beastly warrior who would surely have done major damage to a lot of the party, except for Famish’s very disturbing Hideous Laughter, which rendered him helpless while the group stabbed him.

Once the group reached Nent, they meandered around for a bit, taking in the sights. Smoth had taken an interest in the arcane arts after observing Famish, so he sought out a local wizarding master known as Ashaurok, who he just barely managed to keep from offending enough to take him on as a student. Jervais spent time in the temple of Heironeus trying to read up on the desecrorb. The group noticed a group of mercenaries who were given a wide berth walking around, and set about to inquire how to gain that same status. Famish was turned away at the door of their base, and managed to offend them mightily, earning a nice beating for himself. However, the group later returned to kill all the people there.

Crag was searching for his brother, who he heard had gotten involved in some kind of criminal organization, so he followed some leads among the city’s unsavory element. The group was following up on one lead, and were ambushed by a group of halfling snipers. They barely managed to survive, and found an odd occurence on one of the bodies. Magical detection found something inside of the man’s hand, but they could not figure out exactly what it was. So, Smoth proceeded to chop off the hand, store it in a solution in a jar, and decided to figure out exactly what was going on with this strange hand.

However, it was not long before disaster arose, and in the middle of the night, undead suddenly began invading the city. Everyone awoke from their sleep and began fighting the skeletons and zombies in the streets. The party fought their way down to the docks, which the undead seemed to be coming from, and arrived there just in time to see a series of black ships sailing out of hte harbor. Smoth looked at the back of the ships, and standing on the deck facing back, he saw his father looking out on the carnage, wearing a suit of black armor with some distinctive skull symbols.

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Ancient History Pt. 2 Jan-June 2004
Exploring underwater ruins, and a journey to a new city

Everyone was a little shook up after the undead invasion, and everyone re-examined their priorities. Crag decided that he would be better off searching for his half-brother on his own, and set off to pave his own path. Jervais, who had been eager to find and join the Red Lion Elite (the elite king’s guard) decided to stop adventuring and devote his time to study of the Desecrorb. Smoth intensified his magical study. He spent time in the nearby forest communing with nature, and after several hours, re-joined the remaining group with a small ferret companion, who he dubbed Qianto. Famish decided that what his life was lacking was an even greater store of randomness and flashy colors, so he set about to research and find or build a rod of many colors.

While traipsing about the city, they even discovered some new blood to bring with them – a halfling barbarian named Shin, and a drow wizard named Solist. Shin had been carried to the island against his will, sold as a slave in the black market. He had broken free, and was adamant about not being captured again. The group aided him in a fight against something, so he claimed he was blood bonded and would help protect them. Solist was in the city to do research of some kind – he had a very strange amulet he wore which seemed to have some kind of connection, and he wanted to know more about it.

They even got to talk to the governor of the city, Duke Harcourt. After helping fight back the undead invasion, they were allowed to come to the palace for official thanks from his lordship. Smoth discovered that he had actually known his father Derrick, had fought alongside him in the Red Lions. Smoth asked about his memories of their service together (to subtly find out about anything that might have sparked his current behavior), and was told about a certain event that happened in Wessen.

However, Ashaurok had assignments for her new student, and sent him off to a submerged ancient temple out in the bay a ways from the coast of Nent. She did not have a familiar, strange for a wizard as experienced and powerful as herself, but in the previous weeks she had felt a strange connection with some creature there. She knew that it was her future familiar, and wanted Smoth to go collect it. Everyone was up for exploring ancient temples and taking valuable treasure, so they went.

Using scrolls of water breathing, they descended down. The temple contained mostly air, so they were able to function normally after entering. The first room contained 3 statues of men with diferent animal’s heads being consumed by sharks, as well as a painting on the ceiling of ‘The Storm Queen’, an angry scaly female, raising a horrible storm. The Storm Queen, whose temple it seemed to be, was apparently an evil nature goddess. The party puzzled over the levers, but eventually figured out their trick and made their way through the temple. They fought off sharks and other underwater animals, as well as different varieties of lizards, but ultimately found their goal – there was a group of small creatures that looked like halflings with black fins (actually a water mephit). They seemed to be kept there for sacrifices to the Storm Queen. The group rescued them all, as well as bringing a certain one back to Ashaurok. They also nabbed some very interesting tridents from a series of statues in one of the halls, and Smoth took a very interesting dagger from one of the priests. It was constructed out of a large sharktooth, with smaller teeth forming the hilt guard. When holding it, he could feel a sort of hate and disdain for humans – pretty disconcerting, since he was one himself.

Plans were hatched to travel westward, to the city of Mensington. Famish wanted to do research at the library in the temple of Boccob there, as there was none in Nent. He had heard that he could find information there on the fabled Rod of Many Colors, which occupied most of his thoughts. Smoth had been given another task by Ashaurok, to kill the familiar of a wizard called Fuegis who lives in Mensington. They had been rivals for a long time, and Fuegis had killed Ashaurok’s old familiar after catching it trying to steal a ring from him. He had sent the familiar’s ashes back to her, along with the ring, claiming that it was unimportant. Now Ashaurok wanted revenge, and for Smoth to kill his familiar Flammon, and leave the ring on its corpse.

Shin was very determined to NOT get on a boat again, since he had arrived on the island in the hull of a slaver ship, did we cross on a ship or not? But ultimately, they arrived in Mensington. There were several things that struck them about the city. To go inside, you first had to be tested by the guards for arcane magical ability. Anyone who tested positive was classified as Arcane, and had to wear a large red A. Anyone who tested negatively had to wear a drab lowercase m, for mundane. Mundanes were considered second class citizens here, with open discrimination against them. Among the four of them who made the trip, Smoth, Famish, Solist, and Shin, only Shin had no magical abilities, but he seemed to take it in stride. He wasn’t too concerned about what a city full of weirdos thought of him.

While exploring the city, they were in for a large surprise. There were troops moving around in the city, seemingly separate from the regular guard force, or even regular military. These special troops were wearing the exact same type of armor worn by the commanders on the ships of the undead invasion; black and with distinctive skull images on them. Smoth was left with no choice but to think his father now worked for Baron Edwards, the governor of the city, and another who vied for the Red Lion throne.

Famish and Solist set about to find the Library of Boccob, but were denied access to go inside. They only allowed members inside, of which there were different levels of membership. Most of them involved very large sums of cash, but they did seem to have special cases for those without such money. Famish agreed to take on a task involving hunting basilisks and collecting their eyes, while Solist agreed to investigate the strange happenings with the sewers. While in the sewers the party stumbled across an entrance to a demiplane where multiple sewers in the world drain into. While there they discovered a crazy gnome scientist experimenting on two captured people, a human Kensai with a flaming adamantine sword named Roland, who had been a member of the Red Lion guard, and an Anthropomorphic-Bat creature named Findail the Destroyer, a druid. The party rescued these two adventurers, and in gratitude they both joined the party to offer their assistance.

They completed those missions I wasn’t there for the basilisk mission someone should fill it in, and were granted access. .

History had a way of catching up to Smoth and Famish, who were targeted for an attack by a group of Banderans. Apparently the mercenary band stretched across the island, and had not forgotten their run-in in Nent. All of the original group was being targeted, and they thought about finding Crag and warning him. Jervais was still in the temple of Heironeus in Nent, so he seemed to be safe enough.

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Ancient History Pt. 3 July-Dec 2004
Several disasters

They also investigated a demi-plane, a portal to which had been created in the church of Boccob again, I wasn’t here for this…anybody remember this?

Not really sure about the details of this – Finn was on some solo mission or something, when he got the note from Crag

Also we did the thing about infiltrating the thieves guild, I REALLY don’t remember that much

The group had by now performed several helpful deeds for the temple of Boccob, and were regulars in their library. The head of the library, Father Johannsen, considered them close enough allies to ask for their help with a sensitive task. He needed them to do some spying on a low-level librarian who he thought was a spy ? was it a spy? for who? However, the whole secrecy aspect was flubbed, and they ended up fighting in the corridors of the library, as well as exposing Johannsen as the one who asked them to do it. Famish in particular was responsible for a lot of the problems, and he apologized profusely before sulking for the rest of the day in his room. At this point, everyone decided it was probably a good time to leave Mensington.

Who is Ormun? I see the name in some emails, but I have no idea who that is – apparently we wanted to teleport him to the underwater temple? or something?

The group left Mensington and headed north to a small logging community called Crenshaw. While wandering about in the woods, they discovered that the loggers were being attacked from something in the woods. While investigating, Smoth encountered a Unicorn, which asked for his help in getting the loggers to stop cutting down so many trees. He was willing to help, and tried to come to a peaceful agreement with the loggers. However, due to some kind of misunderstanding, Shin attacked the Unicorn without realizing it, of course earning its undying enmity.

Moving on to the next town, there was some kind of poisoning or something. Fixing it entailed traveling into some kind of small dungeon, first through a sort of sluice showing dwarven carvings on the inside, with a very dangerous pit at the bottom of it, and then a few rooms past it. However, after that was a gigantic spiral staircase, which went down several hundred floors, and eventually into a giant cavern. The party fought their way past several drow to get down there. what we did down here I don’t really remember, other than that we found that coin with the skeletal hand which seemed to be causing the poisoning…and we could scry on it to see another coin in a giant pile of treasure.

They then traveled on to Wessen, this being the place that Smoth had heard his father had some kind of bad experience in before he was born. There they found some kind of haunted castle. They met with a cleric of Pelor(?), a dwarf named Daganar Brownstone. They also discovered that a lot of soldiers were staying in town, and garrisoning themselves in the local temple of Farlanghen(spelling, pfah). Roland was very upset about this as it offended his sense of good soldiering and decency, and Famish was very upset about this as he felt a great kinship with Farlanghn even if he was not a devout worshipper. They both set about in various ways to expel them. However, before fully dealing with them, they were attacked by shadows, seemingly from the haunted castle, and the ‘Shadowmaster’ who seemed to live within.

What happened in the castle – still need to find detailed account – it involves Smoth and maybe more people having their bodies taken over, Smoth’s father killing some people, and Smoth now wants to find the head of the long dead Count Arcanor, and return it so he can have his eternal rest.

After returning from the Castle, Roland made good on his word to get rid of the soldiers from the temple and people’s houses. Though it actually ended up being Fin to faced him in single combat (I think? the emails seem to imply it), due to Liam’s insults. (Liam being the captain of the soldiers there.) A new barracks was built for the soldiers, and all was well.

However, it seemed that the group got too complacent in their victories, for as soon as they set out from the town, they were attacked in the night by a pack of dire wolves, and Solist and Shin were slain after they were overwhelmed. They managed to beat them back before any more deaths. Famish had a single teleport scroll he kept in reserve, and he used it to teleport some of them to Nent in order to allow them to get reincarnated. Fin could cast the spell, but did not have all the necessary oils and potions on hand. The spell worked successfully, though Solist was brought back as a half-orc and Shin as a dwarf, which neither of them appreciated. However, this left Solist, Fin, Famish, and Shin in Nent, while Smoth and Roland were still over 100 miles away near Rockham. (Along with James, roland’s follower, and Thon, Fin’s gorilla animal companion).

While traveling, the sub-group discovered that Duke Harcourt and Baron Edwards had apparently started open warfare, they had to ease their travels farther east and ford a river with the stupid wagon that smoth always brought along in order to avoid fighting.

They arrived in Nent, I think. Who knows.

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Ancient History Pt. 4 Jan-June 2005
Smoth turns emo. Other stuff too, but who cares.

Starting status:

Party Members: Smoth, Famish, Fin, Roland, Shin, Solist.

copied directly from an email: The party found a small log cabin that had some hill giants hanging around it. On investigation, they found a young ranger waiting in the woods nearby observing the giants. He asked them to help him find his mentor, a druid, who was dragged away by some more giants. They recaptured the log cabin, found out where the other giants were heading, then cut them off at the pass. It was a pretty well executed ambush and they handily slaughtered the giants, while only heavily scorching their captive.

So, the druid has offered a small reward (which was not detailed last time, but I think Finn will be very interested) and noted that the giants in the Slaghorn Mts. (nearby to the east) have become much more troublesome lately.

The group headed back to Arness in order to find out the truth in the rumors of Smoth’s family being stripped of their titles due to his father’s being named as a criminal. They were in fact completely true. When they arrived, Smoth found that his family estate lay in ruins after a mob had destroyed it, and his mother was basically being held in the nearby temple of heironeous for her own protection. They quietly left the town, Smoth not wanting to bear seeing his destroyed home, and not knowing how to face his mother.

From there they headed north to Kensor. There are a lot of refugees trying to gain entrance to the city, which results in long lines as they are all approved by the gate guards. While standing in line, someone in the party is asked to smuggle in a small white pearl looking item, which is extremely cold to the touch. Ever the entrepreneurs, they agreed to for a fee.

Apparently Roland got killed at some point around here? Also we went here to meet someone at the request of Dagenar Brownstone, don’t know who?

Inside the city they decided not to hand over the white pearl thing, and instead fought and defeated the smuggler they were supposed to deliver it to, and instead turned him in for the bounty. They also encountered an extremely annoying bard named Tamradin. He seemed to want to become some sort of Agent for the group, bringing fights to them or something.

Also while there, Roland took on a new cohort Galen, and helped him finish his trials in the temple of St. Cuthbert. Various other regular stuff happened there.

They then headed northward to Vennar, in order to try to find Krag, who had sent them a message (I believe he sent us a message…or we found out from those assassins). Along the way, as they headed into Baron Oglethorpe’s territory, they discovered that the Baron was using brigades of monsters as a form of army, along with other more traditional mercenaries. The monsters were harassing the populace and treating them about as well as an invading army does, so the party was attacking them and taking them out when they could. They made plans to attack one manor house along the way which seemed to house a decent amount of trolls, which seemed to be some of the commanders. However, after putting their plan into motion, they realized they were outnumbered and overpowered, especially with the several medusa which were living in the house. The entire party was eventually turned to stone.

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Smoth's Quest
Tracing Smoth's route through his father's sordid past.

Summary

Derek Harkshire was a one-time Red Lion who then settled down as a minor noble in Arness. About a year ago, he vanished in the night after receiving a cryptic letter. All he took with him was his sword and his armor.

Since then he has been spotted in the company of undead and evil soldiers in the service of Baron Edwards.

Worst of all, Derek is accused of murdering Count Alron Tarris. For this, Duke Harcourt has stripped House Harkshire of all lands and titles and proclaimed all Harkshire’s to be enemies of Nent.

The Letter and Derek’s disappearance

Oh so long ago, when the party first met in Arness, Smoth was living with his parents in their manor house. One day, the family butler, Mendes, came to Smoth very distraught. According to Mendes, Derek had received a cryptic letter late in the night. It said (paraphrasing…so long ago…):

Derek, a promise was made a long time ago and now it must be honored. You know where to find me.

Derek gathered his sword, armor, and horse. Then, in a solemn ceremony, he drew his sword from its scabbard and swore that the blade would be bared until his work was complete. Mendes was confused, but sensed the gravity of the situation. At that, Derek told Mendes to burn the letter and speak of it to no one. Then, Derek rode off into the night.

Rather than destroying the letter, Mendes took it to Smoth, asking of the significance. He also gave to Smoth Derek’s scabbard, a gift from the King for Derek’s service as a Red Lion. Unable to puzzle out the meaning of the letter, Smoth only knew that his father had ridden south, so he decided to follow.

Nent and the attack

A week or so later, when the party was resting in Nent, it was attacked in the night. Swarms of undead were coming off ships in the harbor and killing citizens in the streets. The party managed to fight their way to the docks, cutting through zombies and skeletons along the way.

At the docks, they faced several soldiers clad in matte black armor, with helms painted as skulls. As they fought, more soldiers on a nearby galleon rained arrows down onto the party. At the stern of the ship stood a man in gleaming armor with a sword in his hands. When it was clear that the party would overwhelm the soldiers on the shore, he called out for the ship to undock and leave. Even over the clamor of battle, Smoth was able to identify his father’s voice. The ship left the dock and sailed out into the night. However, Smoth was able to learn that the soldiers were members of Baron Edwards’ elite squadron, the Body of Death.

Mensington and the Body of Death

While in Mensington, the party learned that the Body of Death is an elite squadron of soldiers answering directly to Baron Edwards. They are recruited and trained in isolation in his keep on the cliff overlooking Mensington. Not much is known, except that the training is brutal and many do not survive.

The Haunted Keep

Some time later, the party found itself investigating a haunted keep. Shadows had been terrorizing a nearby town, and the party was tasked with finding the source and eliminating it.

Near the keep, the party came upon a group of non-hostile ghosts. They were drawn to Smoth, somehow recognizing him. They managed to communicate to him that if he were able to destroy a nearby marauding shadow, they would speak with him.

Inside the castle, the party found several shadows and a headless ghost. They destroyed the shadow, but the ghost seemed impervious. At one point, it jumped into Smoth’s body, and using Smoth’s sword, attempted to cut his own head off. Disaster was narrowly averted, and Smoth managed to force the ghost out. However, when they were connected, Smoth saw some of the ghost’s last memories of life. He saw his father’s young face, as he drew back his sword, then swung it at Smoth/ghost’s neck. As his severed head bounced along the floor, he glimpsed 2 other figures: one in a deep cloak, and a sneering man in full plate with a religious symbol on it. Then everything went black.

After escaping the castle and the ghost, they met again with the ghosts outside. One of them jumped into Smoth’s body, allowing Smoth to view his final memories. This time, Smoth was with a small army besieging the castle, led by Derek Harskshire. In the night, the army was attacked by shadows. As the men fell, they rose immediately as shadows, turning on their former companions. Soon enough, Derek ordered his men to kill anyone who came close to falling to the shadows. In mere minutes, the battle was over and the survivors laid on the ground, sapped of their strength by the shadows.

The same to figures from the other ghost’s vision came out of the castle and approached Smoth/ghost and Derek. The cloaked figure spoke to Derek, obviously recognizing him. He had specifically spared him, and offered him his life in exchange for service. Derek refused immediately. At that point, the figure mentioned Derek’s pregnant wife.

“If you will not serve, then I will take your wife and unborn child. She will be my wife, and he shall be raised as my son. You shall not die here, but shall serve me eternally in a state of undeath.”

At this, Derek’s composure broke, and through tears, he agreed to the figure’s demands. The sneering man in armor stepped forward, brandished a holy symbol, and restored some of Derek’s strength. Derek and the cloaked figure headed towards the castle, and the last thing that Smoth/ghost heard was, “First Derek, I have a gift for you…”

At that, evil sneering cleric turned towards Smoth/ghost and said (in a Spanish accent), “Yes, I see you there. I know you’re alive. You too shall serve my master.” At that, he pulled out a black onyx gem and roughly shoved it into Smoth/ghost’s mouth. However, before he could cast the spell, Smoth/ghost was able to summon the strength to draw a dagger and stab himself through the throat.

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The Underground Lake
Following the Desecrorb

Ok, here we go. If anybody has changes, remembers things differently, just make comments and whatnot.

When last we saw our heroes, they had descended the giant staircase down underground near Vassar, in pursuit of the desecrorb. They had fought the contingent of drow at the bottom of the stair, and beaten them, along with a dragon (color?).

When they finished fighting, they scouted around the town, which was made entirely of stone. They found a house converted into a stable for the giant bats which the drow rode, which also held a small halfling-like creature, which was in a prostrate position, and did not move, even when called to. Smoth did not trust this small, silent creature, and so snuck up and sapped it into insensibility. When they examined him, they found that he carried no weapons, and also had his tongue cut out. They decided to leave him there. In another large house, they found two more halflingish servants, in the same positions. Solist tried communicating with them in undercommon, and managed to convince one to write down some answers to his questions on a piece of parchment. They were able to find that the desecrorb had left town with the ‘mistress’. Solist tried to convince them that the drow were gone, and that the servants were free, and after some coaxing, they seemed to believe him.

While searching for an out of the way place to rest, the group discovered a barn full of crates, which seemed to be the spoils of the drow raiding parties. Smoth was never one to pass up an opportunity, and so confiscated a bolt of green silk from an open crate.

The party rested the night and then set out along the path sent on by their servant informant. It was 8 hours of drudgery and mind numbing boredom from the landscape, along with the maddening silence which accompanies underground travel. While they slept, Smoth had more dreams, in which his mentor Ashaurak seemed to be calling out to him. They set out the next day using magical horses summoned by Solist, and eventually came across a lake, with a pair of docks stretching out from the path. There was a boat sitting by one of the docks, which had no sail, mast, or oars. They were hesitant to just jump in, so Smoth went ahead and searched the area. He found nothing worrisome, except for the lone contents of the boat, a smallish chest. He thought it was trap free, but was proven wrong as a small dart shot out and pierced his skull between the eyes. However, he was easily healed of this wound, and the chest was opened to reveal what looked like sea charts – however, they were written in undercommon, and even Solist could not make head or tail of the writings.

They waited to decide what to do, without knowing the layout of the lake, it would be foolhardy to set off into this giant unknown, but they did not want to turn back after coming this far. Shun fired off lighted arrows to try to gauge the size of the lake, but it revealed nothing – it stretched out far beyond what they could discern. However, after several hours, Solist was able to discern the charts, and figure out where they were. It turned out that the lake was massive, extending under large portions of the island. He was even able to figure out the location of another staircase labeled ‘Mensington’, which was surely the orb’s destination. The party decided to set off in this direction. The magical till and rudder of the boat enabled it to travel, and they were on their way. After 2 days of travel, Fin heard voices while flying above the boat. He scouted ahead and found a group of drow fixing their boat on a small island. The group figured that this probably was the ‘mistress’ with the orb, and so devised a plan of attack. Smoth would swim forward in one direction with the smoking bottle, a stone of daylight, and the newly acquired goggles to see through the fog, Fin would fly in from another angle to fire off spells from afar, and on the side would come Solist and Shun in the boat. Their plan worked up until the point where the drow Mistress cast a spell to allow her to walk on water, and then raced up to the boat, where she cast Slay Living on Solist, who was unable to resist the powerful magic. Eventually they overcame her, but were left with the body of their dead comrade.

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Blasting Kobolds and Dodging Acid

Our heroes were in a long tunnel type area that extended to a door. They had were tired of the acid traps and were ready to put this to an end. Solist shot a fireball precisely into the door slot and the screams were silent within due time.

The warriors went deeper into the dungeon and into a room with Smoth leading the way. As Smoth marched into the room, a portcullis swiftly came down behind him. While Smoth was calculating what had just happened two digesters revealed themselves and moved in Smoth’s direction. One digester spat acid at Smoth while the other moved into a position to flank him. Smoth tumbled away and tossed off an Ice knife, slowing down one of the monsters. With remarkable ease, Smoth was able to completely evade blast after blast of deadly acid.

While Smoth dealt with the digesters, Fin summoned a Dire Wolf into the room and had the wolf trip the other un-slowed digester. The digester swiftly got up and attacked Smoth with his burning acid. His luck finally expended, Smoth went down as the acid burned threw his skin, nearly killing him in a single blow.

Meanwhile, Solist and Shun attacked from outside the portcullis. Solist casted a fireball, while Shun fired an arow. Following the outside assualt, Solist cast levitate on the portcullis in order to gain entry to the room for the rest of the party.

As the portcullis moved up, Shun charged in and slashed his halberd at a digester. Following Shun’s attack, Fin summoned a unicorn to heal Smoth. While taking another attack Shun is also spat at by a digester.

Smoth slowly got up after being healed. Regaining his composure, he firee a magic missile which brought down one of the beasts. While Smoth basked in the glory of killing a digester, Finn healed Shun who was badly burned by acid.

Shun, now fully healed, attacked the remaining digester with his halberd, while Smoth flanked the beast with a Shocking Grasp. Managing to execute a sneak attack, Smoth discharged a burst of electricity directly into the digester’s hip joint, causing the monster excrutiating pain. Shun finally silenced the digester for good with a strong swipe to the Digester’s forehead with his halberd.

Surrounded by carnage and the stench of digested flesh, the party rested for a moment and tried to decide what to do next.

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Devils and Giants
A party member is lost

We last left our heros having recovered Ashaurok’s spare spellbook. With her backup book returned to her Ashaurok was able to teleport the entire party to her tower to attempt to recover her main spellbook. Of course her tower was watched and the fearless heros had to protect her as she attempted to solve the puzzle that guarded her spellbook. It was an ingenious device made out to look like artwork of some ships on the wall, but the ships had to be arranged in a specific order to unlock. To make this even tougher the puzzle changed itself every time, so Ashaurok always has to solve it again. While she is solving the puzzle the battle rages on, a tough fight in which Ashaurok and Solist almost die. Barely surviving the encounter, the party teleports out, returning to Ashaurok’s safehouse, in a small village a couple days journey away.

Once again safe the party decides to help clean out the cave in which Ashaurok had hidden her backup spellbook. It took a few days, and on the final day of cleaning and repairing the cave to be a place for the townsfolk to retreat to if they are in trouble, devils teleport in seemingly without warning, although Solist had gotten a strong sense of danger from his magic amulet just moments before. In a brutal fight the party is victorious, only barely avoiding having townsfolk killed in the fight. The next night Solist wakes in the middle of the night, shouts for the party to get ready, and casts a protective spell right before the wall of the inn is blown off. Once more devils have come for the heros, and again they have caught them almost totally unaware. The leader of the devils casts a magic rope at Solist, which entangles him grappling him and dragging him to her. There she removes Solist’s magic amulet before vanishing while the other devils kept Findail, Shun, and Smoth busy fighting for their lives.

His amulet gone, Solist is a broken man. He rarely talks and is constantly staring at the ground in a distracted silence, a glazed look covering his unfocused eyes. Only when repeatedly and rigorously addressed does he return to the active world for brief moments before once again staring at the ground. Sadly he is no longer in a condition to adventure. The party has no choice but to leave him with Ashaurok under her care. With Solist safe, the party decides to head north to discover what Killingsworth is like,the only contender for the throne that the party has no idea about. While traveling there the group notices a ravaged countryside. Stopping in one of the villages our heros find out giants from the east have been terrorizing the populace because Killingsworth recalled all his troops at the request of his wife. With this troubling news the party heads to Istivin to speak with Killingsworth and offer their services to stop the giants.

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Arriving in Istivin
Strange things in the city

The party arrived at Istivin, and with minor incident found their way into town. They meandered around the square for a bit, noticing that there was a large brownish stain near the center of the square, which seemed to be avoided by the populace at large. Other than that, the city seemed to be a large bustling city, though teeming with guards.

While looking around, debating which shops to look at, and who to talk to to get an audience with the duke, they were interrupted by the sound of stone cracking. The base of a large statue of Pelor was breaking, and the stone piece was falling into the square, and looked like it would fall directly on a small girl. While the party was still getting their bearings, a nearby bard quickly cast some grease on the statue to try to redirect its fall, but it didn’t do much good, it still headed towards the girl. However, Shun was able to make a mad dash to the girl and shove her out of the way before the statue hit the ground.

However, as soon as the statue touched ground, it immediately seemed to change. Its eyes, which before had been just stone, now were a blue fire. It stood up of its own accord, and started laying waste to everyone around it. Shun still tried to protect the girl, turning his body into a shield around her. Blow after blow fell upon his back, as everyone else, along with the town guards, tried to find a way to stop the rampaging golem. After hitting it with an array of spells and weaponry, it collapsed into a pile of rubble, leaving behind two blue fiery gems.

After it was defeated, a priest came out of the temple, and was shocked at the state of affairs. He invited everyone inside, including the bard, whose name was Klandarian. While going inside, they noticed that the people of the town had returned to their normal business, with no real interest in the matter of the giant rampaging statue. Inside, the priest thanked them for their help in fighting the statue, and assured them that he was not the cause of it. He described to them the state of the city: Duke Killingsworth had disappeared 10-11 months ago, very shortly after he made known his intent to seek the crown. After this, his wife had taken over running the city, but strange events had started occurring since then. There were random deaths at night, along with strange creatures roaming the streets killing anyone out at night.

Smoth and Klandarian immediately took a disliking to each other, and exchanged some rude words. They left the temple in order to offer their services to the duchess. The priest offered to give them lodging in one of the nicer inns for the night. Klandarian opted to spend his time that afternoon auditioning for various taverns, and trying to make money performing. Eventually, they all stayed that night in the swank hotel.

That night, while sleeping, a loud boom was heard. Another building down the street from the hotel had caught fire. As the group piled out of their hotel room, they saw guards standing dazed in the street, while some figure flew around up above, cackling. Findail created a huge updraft, which put out the fire and blew back the flying figure. The figure ordered the guards to attack, and most of the party then spent their time trying to placate the suddenly vicious guards. Fin managed to polymorph the villain into a frog, which then tried to run (it still being able to fly, and now blinking thanks to a previous spell). However, Fin and Smoth were able to combine to track it down, using Fin’s flight and eyes in eagle form, along with both of them detecting magic to sense it.

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Istivin's Dungeon
Devils galore beneath Istivin's castle

With the capture of the sorcerer turned frog and the guards who wreaked havoc the night before, the party met up with the captain of the city guard, Captain Belaine. With the help of the captain they subdued the guards safely and restrained the sorcerer with cuffs designed to create spell failures.

The party re-entered Istivin’s dungeons, looking for the missing Duke Killingsworth. Their previous incursion had been a bit of a stalemate, as the devils they encountered could teleport at will, making it nearly impossible to ever deal the final killing blow.

Upon entering the torture chamber, they again confronted the Vrock they had fought before. Teleporting into their midst, surrounded by mirror images, he attacked Shun with a fury.

Thinking quickly, Smoth uncorked the eversmoking bottle, filling the chamber with thick obscuring smoke. Both Smoth and Shun were wearing their goggles of fireyes, so the smoke was no problem. Finn quickly cast fireyes on himself, leaving only the Vrock unable to see.

Flailing about, unable to see, the Vrock was quickly out-classed. It made one last-ditch attempt to telekinetically throw Findail into a pool of acid, but failed. Heavily wounded and lying on the ground, the Vrock made a tactical retreat and teleported deeper into the dungeon.

After healing themselves and letting the smoke dissipate, the party pushed further on, only to encounter the same Vrock, this time supported by several Babau demons. Luckily, the passageways were narrow, and by cornering the demons, the heroes were able to dispatch them back to the Abyss.

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