Six Stalwart Heroes

Exploring the Temple

The fight with the alchemist goes well. The boggles are quickly dispatched and the alchemist is menaced by Hamon’s flaming sphere. As he flees past Kethalim, he’s slammed into a bookcase. The flaming sphere follows and that Royce topples the bookcase onto him. The alchemist is trapped with a pile of books that are starting to burn.

Hamon puts out the fire, and Carleces and Royce remove and restrain the alchemist. Toph pokes around for loot. Kethalim and Adai calm the hippogriff. It shows signs of experimentation but nothing major, some wounds on its wings and legs. Hamon gives it a potion of healing and Carleces lays on hands. Hamon breaks a large window with thunderwave and the hippogriff is set free to fly away, though not before Carleces puts a holy symbol around its neck.

Looking through the alchemists book we see many formulas and writing. In the margin of the current page, in red ink, is “arablast, at the lions head, beware of mirrors”. Some areas of the book are smudged – from erasures – but the missing text is lost to us.

Downstairs, we follow a passage to the side and find after passing alongside a garden, a door flanked by lion’s heads. We leave it for now and explore the rest of the floor.

We get in a big fight in a library with a cultist calling himself Brother Staltin, two shadowy figures, a number of lesser cultists, and a tiefling. Adai claims the tiefling as his own kill and the party defers to him. Next door to the library we find a room full of diseased people – humans, elves, halflings. Carleces talkes of incinerating them and Royce is OK with it, but Adai and Kethalim object strongly.

In looking at the book that Brother Staltin was reading, Adai finds descriptions of disease and demonology (as I recall?). He can cobble together a makeshift cure with the lab upstairs. But a long term cure to the plague would require exotic ingredients – a godly blessing, a griffin’s talon, a roc’s feather, other items.

At Adai’s request, Carleces gives a speech (backed by Royce) to calm the people. Kethalim, wary, watches from behind. Meanwhile Hamon and Adai mix up a temporary cure and the party as a whole administers it to the sick. We ask them to wait while we explore the temple. We find a small rectory, and in searching the library (of evil religious books) we find a statue of Corellon, some gold, and a few potions of healing.

Interrogating the alchemist reveals that he didn’t know about the plague; he was just following recipes. He knows that rocs roost to the north, but doesn’t know the difference between a griffin and a hippogriff. He was hired by Malbrae, who the doppelganger had mentioned – Malbrae is a gentleman tiefling from Fallcrest.

We take a rest with watches – one at the lion doors (the only unexplored area), the other by the sleeping room. During the first shift Carleces hears chanting from the lions head door. As Adai and Kethalim come on for second shift, we listen and discuss – they’re summoning a scion of Zuggtmoy. That sounds bad, so we head in despite Carleces wanting to wait to smite the scion after it’s summoned.

Saying the magic word , Arablast, a force wall disappears and the doors open. Inside is cold chilled room, on a side wall a central tapestry is flanked by mirrors. There’s spirit energy here – souls that have not moved on. A quick feel of the arcane energies reveals the mirrors are of the Abyss – looking in will drive you mad, breaking them will release great energies.

A plan is made to cover them with tapestries. Adai and Carleces are chosen as the strongest wills. The first goes OK, but on the second Carleces hears whispers and looks at the mirror. A voice says, “Yuu should not have come” and spirits emerge from the unveiled mirror. We fight the two ghosts, along with a zombie and a wight who come down stairs to join in. Hamon uses a thunderwave to shove Adai and a frozen Carleces into position to cover the mirror at the start.

After the fight we check out – behind the central tapestry are stairs down – cold air and chanting come up the shaft. Upstairs is a burial chamber where we find acrobat boots, a dagger infused with elemental chaos (thundering), and {and item for Hamon}.

Following the Tiefling

After some brief discussion and a rest to catch our breath, the party decides to see if we can follow the tiefling who accompanied the doppelganger at the start of the last combat. Through sharp eyes, wood craft, and interpretation of the map found on the cultists, we end up at an old temple – abandoned and fallen into decay. Whatever god or goddess this temple was dedicated to has long been forgotten.

Two guards stand outside the temple entrance. Toph and Kethalim silently circle the building, looking for other guards or entrances, but find neither. Reaching the end of their circuit, Kethalim hoots as a signal to the others. The guards start looking around, but Hamon quickly puts them into a magical sleep, and they are killed in their sleep.

Moving into the temple, we pass through a garden and hear the sounds of a sermon. Kicking in the door, we face a large pillared two story chamber. Decaying pews stand at one end, with a statue in the center. A fight begins with the cultists, an animated statue, and a wizard. But we eventually dispatch them, despite the pillars helping them by teleporting those nearby.

Toph loots the bodies. Adai finds an amulet of protection in a scum covered pool on the upper floor. Kethalim finds a ki focus behind a loose brick on the altar. Carleces feels a holy emanation from a door on the second floor. It was a sanctified area, which Carleces cleans up with Hamon. A wave of energy passes over the party, restoring some vigor (a daily power or 2 healing surges).

Checking the other upper floor door, we find a wizard’s lab and library. A chained hippogriff stands in the corner, while a human mutters to himself about boggles. Hearing us enter, he says, “Oh, my supplies have arrived! Wait, your not…” Fight breaks out!

Finishing the Ambush

The tiefling says stuff to the others, looses the drake, and turns to head back into the woods. (Unfortunately what was said isn’t in my notes. I’m pretty sure it indicated the doppelganger is Lady Kitania mentioned by the Shadowfell halflings in the catacombs.)

As a recap, we oppose two battered half-orcs, five cloaked figures (including one doppelganger), and a drake. The tiefling has left, but the doppelganger (I think?) was accompanied by an imp which turns invisible as it heads into the fight.

There’s a prolonged fight. Kethalim’s sharp eyes track the invisible imp and note which cloaked form is the doppelganger. Royce rallies the party and keeps us on our feet. Adai shifts to become more demonic and keeps the enemies confused with his magic. Hamon bathes a large portion of the battlefield in flame which avoids his allies. Carleces ties up one wing of the battle, preventing us from being surrounded. Toph moves from cover to cover, tossing out shuriken with deadly accuracy.

As the tide of battle turns, the doppelganger tries to flee but Kethalim races ahead to cut her off. Toph follows up and drops her with a well placed dagger. As the doppelganger falls, she says “Malbrae forgive me.” The imp turns invisible and also tries to flee, but it brought down by Hamon’s scorching bursts.

We check the bodies for useful or informative items. Carleces gets a holy symbol (of Protection) – it is tainted but could be cleansed. The half-orc’s chain mail turns out to be mithril and is given to Royce. The men in cloaks have a leaf tattooed on their inner wrists – the men of Avandra’s leaf perhaps. They also had a map of the nearby forest, though no particular areas are noted on it.

Adai places the blue dragon scales from the catacombs on top of the doppelganger’s body and drives his sword through them and her into the ground.

From Guards to Ambush

The rest of the party heads out to look for Adai who didn’t make it to the tavern to meet up. We come across a riot on the bridge but don’t see Adai immediately. Hamon subdues some guards with Sleep, then we see Adai getting hauled off. Some of the guards guarding him go back to the bridge to reinforce the sleeping guards.

Adai talks to the guard detaining him and persuades him that Adai’s not a bad guy. On being told his friends can testify to help him, the party come out to talk (sans Kethalim who has had trouble with the guards and doesn’t trust them). They also help the guards drive off the rioters.

Talking on the bridge with the guard captain. The guards are wary of us. Carleces rants about us being there to deal with the crappy state of governance in the town. Adai has had his masked removed and Toph is to be allowed to replace it. She tries to loosen Adai’s bindings but is seen and forced back by the guard captain. Royve ends up replacing Adai’s mask.

All are escorted to the guardhouse to continue the conversation – Kethalim lagging behind outside in the shadows. Adai claims the guards had him confused with some of the rioters. There’s brief discussion of inequitable distribution of supplies, but mostly the PCs don’t care about that. Carleces brings up the slavery angle and Avandra’s Leaf, but the Captain doesn’t know much about them – they weren’t invited by Lord Valmore. Lord Valmore remains reclusive, even to the guard captain. There’s some friction between the Captain and Carleces about the latter’s zeal and the Captain’s disapproving comments about zealotry.

There’s some oddity to the Captain’s ascent to power. He’s young and didn’t serve under the old guard captain, having been brought in from outside. No word on what happened to the previous captain; he was killed in the line of duty. The current Captain has been here about a month.

We’re offered a job protecting supply caravans from rioters on the way into town. Carleces continues to question the competence of Lord Valmore and his governance. The Captain wants Carleces off the wagon job and we decline to take the job. We are sent on our way and there’s some intra-party discussion about propriety and Pelor.

We rest for the night. People follow up their interests the next day. Carleces seeks advice from the Church of Erathis – they will call for aid from Lord Valmore. Kethalim goes exploring in the woods and finds the ruined bridge mentioned in “Lord Garrish’s” letter. Toph talks to Harlock about the slavers and Avandra’s Leaf – he’s seen the Leaf going south in the night. (Vor Rukoth is to the SE) Hamon goes drinking and talking to locals about the Leaf. Royce talks to the bartender who likes him – finds out the bridge is on the river to the SE (where Kethalim found it).

Royce, Carleces, and Adai team up to get samples of Lord Valmore’s writing (from the Church of Erathis). No sign of any change in the writing or seal recently, and it doesn’t look like the Lord Garrish letter, so less likelihood of doppelganger infiltration there.

We head to the bridge and set an ambush, some hiding under the bridge, others in nearby shrubs, and others in crude holes covered by a log. Half-orcs (one with a great axe, the other in chainmail with a glaive) approach from the southeast. They spot Hamon and move toward him. A couple attempts at distraction fail, but a thrown rock does get them to split up. Still the brute with the axe heads to Hamon so we attack. The fight is going well, the half-orcs are battered. Then from the woods to the SW 5 cloaked figures emerge along with a tiefling and a leashed drake. Kethalim can tell one of the cloaked figures is grey skinned, like a doppelganger.

Exploring Hamelin

At the tavern, the bartender points out a halfling who’s been watching us. Also, the bartender likes Royce. We go talk to the halfling.

The halfling, Harlock of the White Lantern Consortium, has been tracking half-orc slaver activity but lost the trail here. The locals deal with traders, but don’t like other outsiders. Carleces wants to go bang some heads, but is calmed down by others to do some investigation first. Mostly this is done via religious parable.

Royce and Hamon go to talk to the reclusive Lord, but are turned away. Toph tries to tail Harlock, but loses him. Kethalim asks around about druids or witch women but gets no leads. Carleces makes friends with the local church of Erathis but they know nothing about slavery (but +2 to future checks with them).

Adai asks about “inexpensive strenuous laborers” at seedy taverns. He gets no direct leads, but finds out the poor are upset about Avandra’s Leaf. They are a group who is supposed to be fixing the plague, and take people with them, but those people don’t come back and the plague continues.

We all meet up and go to the south edge of town to meet Harlock, as was prearranged. Dusk is approaching and rain is falling. In a natural amphitheater used for boxing & wrestling Harlock waits at one end. As we approach, noises to one side. Halfling says hi, twang of crossbow bolt. Halfling warned by Royce, hits the dirt and bolt hits fence nearby.

Fight with a dragon born, a dwarf, four humans. One human and the dwarf a captured. Kethalim chases down a ranger in the woods to finish him off.

Adai interrogates them with Harlock, while Carleces and Royce dig a pit to bury the dead. Harlock says the dwarf is from Turok Tol. They were hired by half-orcs to kill Harlock because he knew too much. They met the half-orcs outside Vor Rukoth. The human saying this upsets the dwarf, who has been quiet and refused to answer. the half-orcs are part of the Black Whips, most likely – slavers in Vor Rukoth. The dwarf is executed, the human is drug to town for a trial.

Meet with Harlock again. He feels Avandra’s Leaf is connected to the slavery, but can’t prove it. The townsfolk at getting restless at the lack of food from the lord and may get violent. We discuss among ourselves.

Current plots: slavery, doppelgänger, disease, Lord being secluded, possible peasant revolt, missive from Halrest for protection went missing. It’s pointed out the the Lord being a doppelgänger would explain a lot of this,but not everything. And the full moon should be two days from now.

To celebrate our actions, Adai and Hamon put on a performance in a nice tavern with storytelling and magic. Royce fires up the crowd. Some guards start exiting and Kethalim tries to tail one. He loses the guard and then almost gets caught, losing him by heading over rooftops. That guard heads to the guardhouse. Some guards start coming back, while others head toward the manor. Kethalim tells the group and we flee, splitting up and planning to meet in the north of town at a seedy tavern.

All make it there except Adai who can’t slip past the guards. He gets caught up in an ugly scene where townsfolk are attacking a wagon escorted by guards over a bridge. After Adai fails to arrive at the tavern, we go looking for him.

Onward, to Hamelin

The party recuperates in Halrest. most of the party head to the tavern to celebrate their victory, but Carleces and Kethalim remain behind to see to the burning of the diseased kobold bodies.

Kethalim heads into the woods to check out a noise and talks to a wolf for a bit near the charred remains for a few kobolds. This turns out to be an illusion cast by a barbarian wizard. He is escorted back to the party and we all talk. Hamon, the barbarian, has been following us – or rather trying to solve the same problems we are and showing up just a bit late. He’s made part of the party.

An elf comes into the tavern. She, Selune Widowleaf, talks to Kethalim about the kobolds – she doesn’t like that we killed them all, though she understands the necessity. Something is stirring up the Harken Woods, but for now the Guardians can handle it. Carleces joins the conversation and drives Selune off with his zealousness. Kethalim catches up to her and apologizes. He also gives her his spear to take back to the guardians for another to wield.

Everyone sets out for Hamelin. It’s about 2.5 days travel by road. The river comes near the road as we come to Hamelin. We notice the crops in the fields seem withered,Ethan’s diseased.

Off to the side of the road we hear growling near a farmhouse. The house is marked as quarantined and feral, possibly rabid, dogs emerge from behind it. We smite them, Hamon makes a big explosion.

Carleces goes into the plague house and talks to the sole resident. He makes threats and wants her to leave the house. No one else is there to witness or intervene.

We continue on to a tavern on the edge of town. Town is pretty spread out at this stage. We find the townsfolk don’t like or trust outsiders much. One is particularly belligerent and Royce beats him up a bit before throwing him out.

Adai has been studying the blue dragon scales. The contain arcane energy which is dissipating over time. They were taking in energy when people died (being on a gate to the Shadowfell). They have been tainted by a spell.

Leaving the Catacombs

A fight breaks out. And it is long and bloody. During the fight shadows occasionally appeared through a gate to the Shadowfell. Eventually Adai opted to spend time disabling the gate with his magic rather than attacking shadow-halflings. By the end some PCs are out of healing surges, but only our enemies lie dead on the ground.

We loot the remains of the bodies – both of the shadow-halflings burst into shadows and darkness when killed, but left their stuff behind. The goblin skeletons had little of value, but the halflings had some minor magiacl items, and Toph got a hand crossbow for when things are outside shuriken range.

We head back to the surface, weary, and it’s evening when we come out. A young girl meets us and tells us to come quick, the town is being attacked again. We head to a the hastily erected barricade and see torches approaching through the woods. Soon enough kobolds are visible, some evidently diseased and rotting.

There’s a brief attempt at negotiation which breaks down as Carleces leaps the barricade to attack. Though the heroes are battered, the kobolds prove to be no match for them and are cut down.

Catacombs of Halrest, Part 3

Having fought off the ankheg and searched the room, we take a rest then head out a narrow passage behind where the ankheg was eating.

Winding through the tunnel, we end up in a larger chamber with a large skull in the middle (as large as an ankheg’s head, but definitely not that type). Adai identifies it as the skull of a black dragon, though how it ended up here is a mystery. There’s speculation about a nearby blue dragon associated with the Blue Fang kobolds. Toph notices something shiny in the skull and carefully reaches in, retrieving a mithril bracelet (worth ~ 50 gp) and a bag of silver coins. She also ends up sticking her hand in something gross and gooey. After an failed attempt to move the skull, we hear strange scratching noises in a further tunnel.

Heading in to investigate we start heading down a sloping tunnel and are set upon by kruthiks tunneling out of the walls. We drive off the initial wave and finish them off as they try to regroup in a further chamber. That chamber has a variety of dead bodies on the floor. As the fight finishes, Kethalim notices a strange demon dog across a chasm that blocks the way to the ankheg trap from our first excursion. It howls and heads around the corner, out of sight.

We head back to the dragon skull to rest quick. We drag the skull with a rope and notice the ground is stirred up underneath. Something burrowing had been stashing the stuff in the skull. We hear noises from the tunnel down and set up a defensive position as the demon hounds (abyssal scavengers) come out. We quickly cut them down, then head back down the tunnel and off another passage from there.

The scouts hear a quiet conversation ahead – mentioned are a Lady Kitania, a ritual finishing soon, power fading. One speaker is a grey skinned halfling, the other is out of sight. A few animated skeletons are there as guard.

Adai goes in to talk, saying he’s been sent to check on their progress, relying on his tiefling origin to help his bluff that he’s evil. He notices that there’s a gateway to the Shadowfell here, perhaps not open yet. PAUL: Fill in the conversation highlights, please.

The conversation starts to head south as Royce is getting worried about it taking to long. They halfling draws a sword and we charge in. Roll initiative…

Catacombs of Halrest, Part 2

Having returned to town, the party opts to recover for the day and head back in the evening (extended rest).

During the extended rest, Kethalim talks to Meryl a bit, but she’s quiet about why she is living in Halrest among humans rather than with the elves of her tribe. In any case, storm claws are sold and healing potions are bought. And Kethalim gives a letter to the bartender at the local tavern to be passed on to merchants headed north toward Harkenwold.

In the evening the party heads back into the catacombs. This time the bats in the first cavern are more awake and the armored members of the party are clumsier and louder. A fight ensues, stirges are sickly dispatched with the firebat and a shadow hunter bat following soon, but the last shadow hunter bat proves hard to hit. eventually it flees deeper into the catacombs.

We follow the path to the four way intersection and start to the left. Kethalim and Toph are leading, and spot an ankheg eating some dog sized animal. The fleeing shadow bat lies dead beside it. We fight with the ankheg and are surprised by some oozes lurking nearby. Oozes that engulf are really annoying at times.

In the end, the ankheg has fled, the oozes are dead and we check out the room. The dead dog thing is recognized by Adai as some sort of demon creature, one that usually runs in packs. Oh boy!

Into the Catacombs of Halrest

The party descends from Balor’s Pass and returns to Halrest uneventfully. It’s evening when we return.

Once at Halrest, Leshanna departs from the group. She has decided to seek further magical study and not pursue the life of an adventurer for now.

While the rest of the party retires to the tavern, Royce seeks out the leader of the local guards again. He tells him that we have killed off the goblins in Balor’s Pass, but doesn’t tell him about the doppleganger or demonic signs or anything like that. The guardsman thanks “Captain Royce”, for his assistance in the matter of the goblins. Royce also asks about the catacombs we expect are under the graveyard. The guard captain doesn’t know much about them – there are no know catacombs, but there is said to be a lost tomb of a guard or hero of some kind.

When Royce heads to the tavern and reports his findings to the others, Carleces decides to head out to talk to the local clergy. He heads to the shrine of Avandra and speaks to the priest there. First Carleces feels compelled to confess his sins, as he may not be able to confess to a priest of Pelor for some time. After that they talk a bit. Carleces says he hasn’t seen Deego, the missing acolyte.

Carleces asks about the catacombs. The priest says they may contain the tomb of a lost warrior. Some 100 years ago he fought demons in the area and was not buried in the cemetary to protect the area from corruption. The location of his tomb is unknown and hidden.

We overnight in the town and in the morning head out to the graveyard. Following the goblin map from a statue to a tree to a mausoleum, we head into the mausoleum. Before we head in, a brief prayer is said for the resting spirits of the family. Inside we pull the torch sconce indicated on the map and a secret passage opens. Heading into the passage we head down. Old masonry gives way to natural caverns.

The tunnel winds through the rock, eventually encountering a split in the tunnel. One path leads into a cavern in which Toph and Kethalim spot a firebat on the ceiling and possibly other creatures amongst some stalagmites. The cavern is decided to be not relevant at present so we head down the other tunnel.

We come to a crossroads. There is some sign of recent digging and a pit in the middle. In an alcove to the right of the crossroads, Toph spots something shiny. She scrambles over there and some of the loose dirt gives way under her, dropping her down a shaft into a cavern below. An ankheg and her babies move in to attack her. Royce tosses down a rope to haul her out, but the insects are on her too quick. Eventually the whole party ends up in the cavern below fighting against two ankhegs and the babies. Kethalim ends up grabbed by an ankheg and dragged down a tunnel where a rage drake spots the two foes as they enter a large chamber with water and the drake enters the combat.

Eventually the monsters are all dispatched. As the group settles in to patch up wounds and catch their breath, they hear sobbing from the water chamber. With a sigh, the group picks up and heads into the chamber before fully rested. No monsters turn up, but a small pile of stone looks artificial and the sobbing is coming from behind it. After moving the stones, we discover a teenager has walled himself into an alcove and is dehydrated and emaciated.

This turns out to be Deego, the missing acolyte. When asked how we found him, we are a bit evasive on our exact quest at present, but Carleces sums it up as “by the Grace of Avandra.” Deego says he saw someone sneaking around the cemetery, followed him into the tunnels below, then got lost, fell in a hole and walled himself in to avoid the monsters.

As we check around for trouble in the water chamber before helping Deego to the surface we find some humanoid bones, some gold, and Adai notes that some of the bones have been dissolved a bit by acid, likely oozes rather than the ankheg spit we experienced earlier. This leads to a hasty withdrawal from the chamber.

We escort Deego up to the surface. On the way, we get Toph’s “shiny” which turns out to be an ivory statuette set with glass gems. Deego is escorted back to the shrine to Avandra.


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