Outcasts and Refugees

Session 16
Putting the "Manners" back in "Manor House".

Ok, this is the long neglected story of session 16. So, no fancy fiction format, I’m just gonna write what happened.
The guards all jumped the party, at the seedy dive bar in Murann(the town, not the family. I mean, the town named after the family.) and the party promptly handed their asses back to them, in neat little gift bags of holding. Then I think there was a lot of talking and planning. Eventually the party sent Strogg and Skurg into the house, to sneak around and search for any sign of the Athkat family’s missing scroll. Meanwhile, Aedric Swordson and Dvallin Durin posed as sellswords (“posed” is used loosely here.) escorting Rivyet Murann to her Aunt Lidyat for a bounty.
Needless to say, Lidyat wanted Rivyet out of the picture, so all hell broke loose and their was a big fight, which Strogg and Skurg ran back to help finish. The party won and Rivyet took her Aunt’s cool, aberrant-looking, magic rod. I think that’s all.

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Session 15
Good thing we bought horses.

That next day’s travel was probably the most difficult that the group had faced together. Sleep deprivation made the constant guard a tricky task. But the well traveled road was merciful, and the caravan made up for their interrupted night with a long rest.
Over the next few days, the group pushed their horses to the peak of their stride and then just past it. A week passed on the road to Baldur’s Gate, but on the morning of the ninth day, Varn Gargengrim awoke to declare that they would reach Baldur’s gate by mid-day.
Sure as he promised, the group cleared a low hill to see the walls of the great city, and the sprawl of merchants and citizens that flooded out into the surrounding plains.
Some provisions were purchased, possibly out of elation, from the merchants that lined the road leading into the city. The dwarves treaded forward the whole time, eager to meet with their contacts and seal the deal of their long trip. But on their trek into the huge city, Varn hopped off of his post at the side of the wagon. He walked over to Dvallin and kept pace with the horses steps.
“I can’t tell you how much I admire the path you’ve taken in your life.”
He went on to explain his admiration for his fellow dwarve’s heavy quest in life, to which Dvallin replied with humble acceptance. In the end, Varn let loose the clasps that held his fur cloak to his person. He folded it twice over his forearm and then extended it up to the cleric.
“I do believe that it will serve you better than it would if I held onto it.”
Dvallin was confused. He knew that the cloak was the kind of thing that grew to define the dwarf’s personality.
“Go on” Varn urged,“I want you to have it. I want the realms to have it.”
The Cleric nodded, as his kobold squire knudged him, and he took the cloak with a deep consideration to it’s power, and what was facing him in the times to come.
After being paid by the Gargengrimm clan, the party made one collective stop: Vernon’s Press & Ink. Where a kindly man, about the age of Strogg, greeted them with a friendly welcome. Dvallin expressed his interest into the local Bullywug population and was met with the reply,
“It’s grown quite civil actually.”
Dvallin, slid a pouch of coins across the counter. The man opened it and counted the coin, with his fingers in the pouch the whole time.
“Actually, It gotten slightly more aggresive, AS OF LATE.” the man peered at all of them with an inviting stare. “It’ll cost ye’ 20 gold more, stranger.” He whispered.
Dvallin didn’t hesitate to collect the payment from his party.
“All’s well then?” He asked.
“Indeed, wait here a momment.” the printer replied.
Soon they had their “official documents” and the party decided to split up and meet at an agreed upon inn at dusk. Dvallin and Aedric set off to the temple district of Twin Songs, to do some detective work. Rivyet decided to do the only thing she enjoys more than causing severe psychological trauma to her enemies, shopping. Strogg decided to shop for some needed supplies as well, equiped with just a few gold and a case of fine whiskey.
In Twin Songs, a trip to the temples of Kelemnvor and Correlon, by Dvallin, proved to give no new major information, but allowed him to establish a line of communication with like-minded folk throughout the temples. Aedric enjoyed a stop to the temple of Tempus, where he prayed, was blessed, and imbibed some ale over great battle stories, all in time to join Dvallin in visiting Correlon’s temple.
Rivyet returned to the inn at dusk, having found nothing of particular interest to buy. Strogg was there, chatting with the bartender, who bought all but one of his remaining bottles of whiskey. Strogg had “negotiated” his way about town, picking up some barding for his mule, Chester, and selling the whiskey at a handsome profit. Dvallin and Aedric returned and shared the outcome of their scholarly efforts in Twin Songs.
It was then that Strogg recalled an isolated keep that he’d heard about, between Baldur’s Gate and the cities of Amn, off the beaten path. A place called Candlekeep, that was said to be a small city that served as a library to all things past and present in Faerun.
This seemed like a worthwhile stop on their trip, so the party rested and set out on the road south, the next morning.
On the fifth day, after leaving Baldur’s Gate, they reached Candlekeep. An ancient Ritual Tome from the catacombs of Spellgard payed for the group’s room and board while Dvallin and Rivyet set to days of painstaking research. Aedric and Strogg went about, enjoying the strange city of scholars as guests, and helping out where they could. Three days there, left Dvallin and Rivyet satisfied that they had learned all they could about the Nai Rutha, the Zinovief family, and other still questionable parts of Lady Saharel’s prophecies. So the next morning, hoof hit road again, as they set off towards Amn, with Athkatla being the first scheduled stop. Rivet was sure that she could obtain a peaceful audience with Lady Guanaphel Athkat.
This proved harder than she’d anticipated. The heat was on, and security at the manor house of the Athkats was thick. It was decided that some quality deception would be needed to speak with the Athkat matriarch. Keen disguises were crafted and several fine desserts were purchased. Combined with Stroggs’ silver tongue at the manor house gates, the two (Rivyet and Strogg) rushed the platter of pastries straight to Lady Guanaphel’s chambers, with everyone convinced that these tiny cakes MUST be delivered before they grew chill. Lady Guanaphel recognized Rivyet immediately and pulled the two “bakers” into her room.
Rivyet discussed the details of the stolen magical scroll, and how recklessly the evidence of a Murann’s involvement was left for their best minds to deduce the family’s involvement. All the while, Strogg stuffed cake after cake in his mouth.
Rivyet agreed to find the magical scroll, in the interest of ending this quarrel between the two merchant houses. They would use her cousin Niren as a messenger, and the password of “hot cakes” would be used for everyone’s security. With that, they were shooed out a window, and made haste back to the safety of their friends, who were deciding if they should storm into the house and rescue them.
Much to their relief, they were not forced on such a suicide mission. Instead, they had a different suicide mission to complete, which quelled their relief. Rivyet needed to go home, to Murann, and try to recover what information she could from her family.
So the party traveled quickly on their steeds, three days, to Murann. In the evening, they arrived at the outlaying orchard that Rivyet and her cousin, Niren, used as a meeting point.
Niren frolicked up, before dusk, and was more delighted than anyone could imagine, to see his cousin. He let his happiness out, shamelessly, as the warlock explained the situation. But the 19 year old boy seemed more interested in playing “footy monster” (much to the group’s confusion) than adventuring in the recent events. His curious ways lead to a simple talk between himself and his cousin, where she withdrew the limited information that he could offer. Mostly, that there were correspondence with creatures that lay within the Muranndir Woods, to and from the house Murann. A most unsettling scenario.
The party finally let Niren leave, on a most unsettling note, about the family’s closeness. But still they decided to go into town. They picked out the roughest, out of the way tavern to grab a drink and settle their curiosities, where Rivyet planned on dying her hair as a disguise. But, before they could even finish their pints, trouble lingered.
A few words and interesting commands drew the attention of the party. Swiftly, several denizens of the tavern moved towards their weapons, trying to conceal their moves. But it did not surpass what the group had learned on the road, or had already been trained to be aware of. Finishing the last drink that they would have that night, the party saw two armored men pick halberds up, leaned against the corner of the walls. Then, a voice from the other end of small watering hole called out:
“For Lady Murann, SEIZE THEM!!!!”

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Session 14
A futile attempt to avoid walking...

With the bounty of their quests sold and the entirety of the dwarf’s share blown on large, blunt objects, our heroes set to the task of finding passage from Loudwater to Baldur’s Gate. They knew that traveling downriver was the fastest way to reach the Sea of Swords, and from there Baldur’s Gate would be a short jaunt compared to the road (provided that the Sword Coast’s reputation for piracy took a brief vacation that week). While Dvallin and his reptilian squire saw to the acquisition of his warhammer, freshly emblazoned with Kelemvor’s symbol, Aedric and Rivyet took to the docks in search of passage.

The docks of Loudwater stank of fish and opportunity as the humans surveyed the scene in search for the saltiest sea dog they could find. Though neither of them knew much of sailing, let alone the best way to select a vessel, the “jack of all trades” nature of their humanity won the day along with a little luck courtesy of Kal Gargengrim. The bristly dwarven merchant whom Aedric had worked for on his journey northward happened to be on the docks that morning, and despite many blows to the head Aedric’s keen eyes and sharp mind spotted and identified the tradesman swiftly. While the hungry eyes of many sailors who knew not with whom they were flirting found their way to Rivyet, Kal and Aedric talked business. The dwarf explained that he and his caravan had made their way to Loudwater as a stop on the southern half of their journey, bringing the monastery’s whiskey south to Baldur’s Gate and the fine payoff therein. Aedric, seeking to capitalize on this fine coincidence, suggested that the two groups throw in together and make their way southward. Much to his disappointment, however, Aedric’s nautical naiveté had shrouded the fact that none of these riverboats could take to the Sea of Swords. All headed downriver were bound for Daggerford. Furthermore, it was revealed that Daggerford was not but a flyspeck on the end of the Grayflow River and likely contained no seaworthy vessels either. Still, river travel was faster than the road and it seemed like joining forces with the Gargengrims was the wisest course of action. While this seemed like an agreeable plan to all involved, the dwarves had yet to secure a ship for their whiskey let alone four more travelers and a warhorse of no small stature. By this time Dvallin and Skurg had returned from the smithy ready to lend a hand in the acquisition of a ship. While the Kal and his lot took to one end of the docks, Dvallin plied his religious clout and odd charm on the other end. This led the cleric to the first mate of a ship that, after a bit of questioning, seemed to be associated with a vessel that could accommodate them. Promising swift pay, protection, and the healing ways of a cleric, Dvallin managed to convince the first mate to speak with his captain about the terms of passage. A short while later, both he and the Gargengrims emerged with offers almost simultaneously. Though the ship Dvallin had found offered passage for 10 gold less, the dwarf decided that the company of allies was worth at least 10 gold. The rest of the group agreed and before long the adventurers were aboard the ship and taking an audience with the captain, an amicable though forgettable fellow whose exact name eluded the pages of history on the group’s relatively uneventful journey downriver.

Upon arrival in Daggerford the heroes of Spellgard still held out hope for a seaworthy vessel that could expedite their trip to Baldur’s Gate and begin investigating the bloodshed that the lady spoke of. A word with Kal as the ship was being unloaded, however, put the final nail in the coffin of that plan. Despite Rivyet’s urgent desire to learn the fate of her homeland, it was decided that the four would secure two additional mounts and ride with the Gargengrims, providing protection for them and the whiskey at a rate that would be determined once the clan was united again at the inn. On top of that, Kal offered to pay for their stay in Daggerford that evening while preparations were made for the journey. As a ritual of drink and relaxation was cast by the group of adventurers, a sly human by the name of Strogg slithered into their company.

The Eel was an eerily honest thief, readily admitting that a local lord of Waterdeep had not taken too kindly to his ethos of larcenous socialism. The talk of wealth redistribution combined with this fellow’s shifty demeanor instantly set the hairs on the back of Rivyet’s neck on end as the stigma of class warfare stared at her from across the table. It seemed this fellow was interested in traveling southward, and offered to lend his services to the caravan for the low price of some wholesale whiskey. While this seemed like a good deal to our heroes, the final decision would have to be made by the elder Gargengrim, Varn, whose fur-cloaked presence had just made itself known. Aedric represented the group in common while Dvallin supplemented his kind words in Dwarven. This came in no small amount of handy as Rivyet raised the possibility of The Eel simply making off with the whiskey. While the ire of the dwarves initially set on The Eel himself, the Gargengrims eventually decided it was Rivyet who was the troublemaker of the lot and tensions ran high for a few moments. However, once Dvallin had convinced his countrymen that the warlock’s attitude was naught but the manifestation of classism, their worries were assuaged. It was agreed that the group would provide healing and protection along the road to Baldur’s Gate to the tune of 15 gold apiece (with Dvallin securing a cool 25 in a stunningly fortunate act of dwarven nepotism). The Eel would work for whiskey, an offer that was satisfying enough to the Gargengrims to grant him membership on their caravan. Once business was finished, the call to drink was made, and merriment and a good night’s rest were had by all.

The next day the group acquired their horses while The Eel took an old mule off the hands of the stablemen in an act that seemed to suggest that this fellow had a soft spot for underdogs. The group took to the road and things went rather smoothly until a suspiciously placed pothole took out the caravan’s wagon wheel in a most Oregon Trail-esque event of misfortune. Upon closer inspection, it seemed the wheel could be fixed but that the pothole was no mere divot in the road. Dvallin’s keen eyes detected something a little too deliberate to be written off as bad luck. Still, night was falling and there was little that could be done before the next day. Luckily (or perhaps even more suspiciously), the caravan had broken down next to a henge that had clearly housed many travellers before them. It was decided that repairs would be started and the group would rest in shifts (albeit in armor). Dvallin and Skurg took first watch while the rest of the group and half the dwarves slept. Dvallin was expecting a trap, and kept an eye on the woods and an ear to the wind, ready to be set upon at any moment. His paranoia was justified, as a short while later found him face to face with a pair of goblins. The alarm was sounded and the prayers of Kelemvor were set upon his foes with a haste that took the would-be ambushers by surprise. With weapons clanging off his armor and his friends soon to be roused, the dwarf sought himself quite clever and the battle easily won…and that’s when the bugbear showed up.

It soon became apparent that this ambush was meant not for a mere group of merchants but for a well-armed and experienced group of adventurers. Dvallin isolated the bugbear on the forest-side of the wagon and instructed his squire to protect the female dwarf who had fallen asleep working on the repairs. The rest of the group awoke and readied their arms, with Rivyet taking to Mykat as quickly as she could. The attackers were soon joined by their human compatriots from the opposite side of the woods and the battle took on a tense air as The Eel struggled to fend off one of the new attackers. Despite this, the tactics that the group had honed at Spellgard proved to be too much for their goblinoid and human foes. The cleric wore down the bugbear from the other side of the wagon before blinding him and setting his fur aflame with holy fire. Aedric’s sword found the flesh of goblins to its liking and drank deep from their viscera. The Eel took a series of savage blows but dealt several of his own, and Rivyet let loose an onslaught of curses and mind destroying words that eventually felled the bugbear. With their beastly juggernaut no more, the would-be ambushers quickly dwindled until only one human remained. The flat of Aedric’s sword found the back of his head and the next thing he knew, he was tied to the henge and at the mercy of two slayers of the undead. A brief inspection of the bodies had found the symbol of Bane attached to the bugbear, while the human spoke only of his devotion to Shar. When pressed for information, he asked for a set of wax spheres buried within the rest of his gear. However, the dwarf saw through these worm-tongued words as swiftly as they left the human’s lying mouth. With his plans for a quick death foiled, the group’s captive refused to cooperative any further. As the rest of the party found ways to occupy themselves, Dvallin showed the tight-lipped servant of mistress night the true meaning of the term “Unaligned”, but still no new information could be gained. Deciding that a missed opportunity was better to leave at this camp than a loose end, the human was dispatched as the group assembled their gear and made ready to take to the road once more. The lady had spoken of Shar and Bane’s involvement in their destiny, but none of them expected their servants to be upon them this quickly (let alone in alliance with one another). Truly greater machinations were at work, but to what end our heroes did not yet know…

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Session 13
Hugs may die, but Trolls may not. a.k.a. "The Open Road"

The party awoke the next morning, with their sights set on Amn. The trouble in Rivyet’s homeland superseded the immediate interest of other missions, and offered a valuable bargaining chip in what may come to pass.
It was upon their gathering in front of the monastery that Darcaryn, the ranger, approached them. She held a heavy head and told them, " Dearest comrades, I thank all of you for the security of our group as we sought our truths from the lady. I have decided to lay down my terror axe of Theradin at the final resting place of my love and tribe. But first I have some searching to do, both of the soul, and for the vile creatures that have destroyed my peace of mind. I may find work on the trade route through the North and seek some solace. Then , it is to be decided by fate. I have truly enjoyed your company."
She looked toward Aedric, admirably. “Warrior! good luck as you find your family legacy and secrets. Bonds were found between us at the greatest of odds. I hope to back you in warfare someday again.”
Aedric nodded, and the tiefling’s gaze met the dwarf’s awkward eyes, “Dvallin, your healing ways helped my survival and for that I thank you. You are a wise dwarf. Your humble and brave spirit will stay with me through the realms.”
Dvallin silently admired the respects payed to him, and finally, the ranger addressed the cold shouldered human in red, “Rivyet, I hope you find a resolve with your warring family and fulfill your destiny with these brave lads aside you.”
The ranger bowed her head, turned, and headed off the road, aimed northward. But there was no time to mourn the loss. Every hour of daylight was precious, as the days grew colder. So, the remaining adventurer’s were off. The plan; the city of Loudwater, where they could reappropriate their wealth and acquire passage, by land or sea, towards Amn.
The group made safe travel for two days, but upon entering the marshland, known as “the Smear”, things took a different turn.
The group spotted a large chest, half buried in a semi-shallow pool, along the path. Irresistible, the group laid a plan, in which the kobold, Skurg, would swim out and attach a rope to the chest, while the rest of them stood watch and attached the rope to Mykat’s saddle, Rivyet’s horse.
While Skurg attached the rope, Dvallin detected a rustling in the nearby brush that did not correspond with the faint wind. He alerted the group, just as a large, hulking figure emerged from the brush. A troll.
Overwhelmed, the group stood in confusion as the beast rushed toward the nearest intruder, Aedric, and slashed at him with it’s mighty claws.
Aedric was too quick though, and held his ground, blocking the attack with his shield.
The fight was on! Rivyet sent distracting blasts of arcane energy at the beast, while Skurg swam back to shore and assaulted the it with javelins. Dvallin uttered dwarven chants to seal the monster with a disadvantage from the gods. Aedric stood in the troll’s face and went sword against claw, until the beast finally reached out and grabbed the warrior, containing his threat.
It was about this time that Dvallin noticed a winged creature circling overhead. He also noticed that this troll was much skinnier and desperate in it’s actions, than those he’d read about, that normally travel in packs.
Then the rushing sound of air took form in their ears, along with a loud “Skreeeeeeeee!”.
A griffon, the winged creature overhead, swooped down and attacked the troll with it’s mighty claws. A third, impartial, party had joined the fray. As hungry as the beast it was attacking, clearly going for the biggest feedbag.
It allowed the party to drop the troll, as the griffon dug it’s beak in to feast on the monster’s flesh. They backed away, only to see the troll rise back to life and wrestle with the griffon. The party attacked again, downing the troll a second time. And the griffon dug in again.
This scenario repeated it’self several times before Dvallin recalled the details of the troll’s nature. Only fire or acid could truly slay the beast.
So with much reluctance, the party ran off the path, in retreat. Aedric even tried to speak to the griffon, to calm him, but the creature showed only temporary signs of obedience. So they all left the scene.
An hour wasted getting back on the road, the group found the next days journey safe and easy. The next day they passed the town of Lhork, which they passed, at Allendi‘s suggestion.
Loudwater was within reach, and the party managed to make it in the early evening. They were questioned by the wall’s guard, but their virtue was let pass and directed to a hot meal and bed.
They arrived at the Green Tankard Tavern and took a seat, after Dvallin convinced the dragonborn door-man that Skurg was not a threat nor vermin. Food and drink were ordered, and soon Dvallin would sit to count the groups earnings and divide it equally.
He did so quickly. So quickly that his hands couldn’t keep up with him, and he spilled a bit of coin, alerting the ladies at the adjacent table. An auburn haired human, with an eye patch, appeared to be the leader of this group. A half-elf, halfling, and another dark haired human made up the rest of her party.
The group rudely dismissed her at first, but after all treasure was collected and divided, a new comradery was developed, as Skurg learned the definition of “drunk”.
The talk of travel led to the inquisition of certain papers. An Amnian Writ of Passage, to which the woman, who introduced herself as “Barda the Bold”, knew much about. She offered the suggestion of a certain shop in Baldur’s Gate. “Vernon’s Press & Ink”, where one could mention their interest in “Bullywugs” and pass a sack of gold, for such papers. They may not pass the high inspection, but “they would keep the guard off yer arse, with the right disposition”.
With that bit of information, Barda and her party dismissed themselves, as they didn’t seem interested in running into the Knights in Silver, that were on their way to the city.
The party retired to their rooms, and awoke the next day. They sold their items of interest, aquired new items from the apothecary, and made many bargains with one another.
One such bargain was over a certain warhammer.
In the smithy of Loudwater, Dvallin wasd searching to finally arm himself. Trusting in Aedric to train his body to wield a weapon, he searched the displays of weapons. He brushed his hands across the hammers and axes on display. One seemed to tingle as he passed it, and on his completion of the inspection, it seemed that this one was meant to be.
It was, however, out of his price range. The smithy spoke highly of his tastes and of the weapon’s power. Dvallin knew it had to be his.
Skurg immediately threw in all his share of the gold from Spellgard, at his master’s disposal, but it still wasn’t enough.
Rivyet and Aedric conversed and decided to loan Dvallin the rest of the money.
The one request the dwarf had from the kind and proud smithy was, “can you cast this symbol upon the hammer’s head?”
“Aye”, the smithy responded. “Come back in two hours. You’ll have your weapon”.

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Session 12
Free spirits and a single question

“There’s no way but up” they all thought. But then it occurred to them that their bodies were tired and their minds exhausted. It was agreed upon that they would secure the floor below, where Aedric and Darcaryn had formerly been prisoners, and rest there. Some scouts came in the night, but made no real attempt to break the pitons laid in the doors keeping them out. Many hours later, well rested, the party woke with battle on their minds.
Thoran and the rest of his soldiers would likely be waiting above, and to enter the fray blindly could end their quest in seconds. It was on that thought that Dvallin looked to his squire, Skurg the kobold. He had slinked his way through the ramparts, the catacombs, and the basement of the tower, without gaining any unwanted attention.
“Good squire”, Dvallin said, “could you take a peep ahead, with utmost discretion? Return here and tell us what you see ahead?”
Without so much as a hiss, Skurg stealthily climbed the stairs and returned moments later with news that he knew none of the party wanted to hear. Ettercaps and Dark-Ones in high numbers, all staging for an assault from the stairs and protecting their master, Thoran.
The party knew now that cautious steps would not serve them, at least not past a few feet of the next landing. So they readied their attack and headed silently up the stairs.
Aedric split to the left, and Darcaryn to the right, attacking the first creature in sight. Darcaryn laid heavy blows to the Dark Creeper, but would soon find herself flanked by even more. Aedric laid sword to axe, but found himself weakened in spirit, as the fight ran on.
Dvallin and Skurg entered the room, distorting the enemy’s defensive abilities and sending javelins aloft.
Rivyet charged past, hoping to target the creatures in the rear of the chamber with her psychic assaults, from a better distance. She soon found that the huge stone column in the center of the room was too great of a hindrance, and she was soon flanked by two of the vile creatures. Left with only one resort for survival, she caught eyes with Skurg, who suddenly found himself between dagger and axe, while Rivyet was safely in the space he had occupied a split second before.
Dvallin selflessly found an opening to move into and protect his squire, taking the brunt of a great axe. Darcaryn was experiencing a similar problem, while dealing deadly blows, but still feeling the sting of painful dagger blows from either side of her. Dvallin, never forgetting an ally in need, used his holy magic to mend her wounds and keep her axes swinging.
Aedric huffed and puffed to keep his focus on the ettercap that he had sworn his challenge to. But with each swing of a weapon, the other would deflect it, in a constant cycle of combat.
Thoran had shifted to the side of the room near Aedric, with his ettercap guards at his side. He called out insults, fueled by mad rage, at the group. Then, finally, he charged forth with his sword trailing in black mist.
Almost simultaneously, Aedric found an opening in the ettercaps defenses, and slashed with the damned sword and pushed his opponent backward with the force of his shield. Now, several of them were grouped between the central column and the southern wall. Rivyet saw an opportunity.
“Visseahr Neth-brahnah muthu-DAHR” she spoke, and a large column of darkness appeared. It blocked the vision of those on the outside of it, and as rivyet knew, did the same to those within the zone. All present heard the screams of Thoran and the other creatures in the zone. The faint smell of animal urine brushed the noses of those nearby.
Within the zone, hellish spirits and tentacled phantoms circled about, attacking every soul unfortunate enough to be within their reach, through the vacuum of darkness.
Needless to say, it wasn’t but a few seconds before Thoran flad from the zone, blind as a bat, for the moment.
Magical and melee attacks had been relentlessly thrown at the force of mercenaries and their leader. The gnome arcanists (barely worth mentioning) were smart enough to leave, but at this moment, the rest of them wished they’d have joined them.
The zone of darkness remained up, aligned with the central column, but through some sort of divine seeing, Dvallin had no care for what mortal men saw. He bellowed a near-silent prayer to Kelemnvor and all anyone could see was a searing ray of light shoot into the central column of the room. But, at that moment, everyone heard it. The roasting of mortal flesh, the screams of agony upon facing the souls release, Thoran’s voice calling it all out and then falling silent. The smack of leather and wet flesh meeting the stone floor.
Rivyet called off her spell of the darkness zone, to reveal more of the room. Some of Thoran’s servants fought on to their immediate death, some fled the tower’s walls, but when all was said and done, Thoran lay dead on the floor with nothing but the spiders on the tower’s spire to pick his bones.
It was but a few seconds after the party examined his body, and his fancy enchanted boots, that the air around them swirled violently. It all swept upward, from out of nowhere. In the gusts, the insubstantial form of a white robed woman manifested.
Knowing all, seeing everything, the woman spoke of the groups honesty. Offering them the chance to do as so many has aspired, ask one question, receive one answer, on the condition that they would scatter the pillars of alibaster across the ruins of Spellgard.
The group accepted and all were offered the opportunity to ask one question, which was met with a truthful and personal answer, but cloaked in riddle, as prophecy often is.
In the end, the air stilled as the lady vanished, and the group set about fulfilling their promise of hiding the alibaster pillars. Half a days work later, they returned to the monastery, only to find a greater surprise. A dead body of an elf.
Allendi engaged Dvallin in dealing with the last rites of the deceased. Upon searching his belongings, they found an unusual item. A parchment, written in elven, that they paid handsomely for a fellow seeker and grifter to translate. The Elven Parchment, and the now-dead elf, had spoken of something called the “Nai-Rutha”. “Command Anger”, in common, appeared to be a powerful sword, from the best they could gather. The parchment’s text was dated nearly 100 years ago, though the paper itself appeared to be no more than a year or two worn.
Mystery led to more mystery as the group compared this new secret to the secrets revealed by the answers of Lady Saharel. Each man (and woman) had their own information to decode and weigh. All of them helped each other, with the knowledge they had of the realms.
Aedric may prove to be the 100 year old lost heir to the kingdom of Impiltur.
Dvallin reasoned that the Thayan rebellion needs to unite many kingdoms to succeed, with him being their messenger.
Rivyet learned of many family mysteries still unsolved, but that her family is currently momments away from war with the powerful Athkat’s. Her attention is drawn to Amn once again.
Darcaryn learned focus. And has much to think on. Where her place is in this world and among her new companions.
The party sleeps this night, and looks to the road, but where it leads is anyone’s guess.

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Session 11
Alabaster pillars and giant spiders

After defeating the Oni, the adventurers took time to examine the ring of alabaster pillars along with the plinths and markings in the room. They were clearly part of Thoran’s devious plan to entrap lady Saharel through ritual. Although there was no way to destroy the enchanted pilliars, they did remove them and scatter them, throwing many down the stairs to delay Thoran in case he tries to attempt the ritual with the team still in pursuit. The adventurers were able to destroy the plinths and erase the symbols as best they could.

Before ascending the stairs in pursuit of Thoran, the group asked the wizards, Darcarynn, and Aedric what they knew about the level. Giant spiders likely awaited the group. They ascended the stairs in the usual fighting order with Aedric taking point.

The spiders were gathered in an opening beyond two rooms at the opposite end of the stairs. The bastards could jump far and were upon the fighters instantly. Dvallin was webbed and bitten but took the attack stalwartly, with his new squire, Skirg, assisting his escape from the webbing. Aedric was bitten but resisted the beast’s poison and it felt a bite back as his poisoned armor packed its own punch. His sweeping blows cleaved beasts who dared to cluster too closely near him. Darcarynn used her two-handed ax attacks. Rivyet hung back near the stairs, destroying the creatures’ feeble minds with her biting stare. The wizards flung magic missiles. All together they raged an onslaught till the beasts lay dead.

With the enemy dispatched, the adventurers were able to more closely examine the hall. The two rooms’ doors contained indents that seemed to fit the alabaster tiles the team had been gathering perfectly. Dvallin arranged the tiles to form a pattern on the door and they locked into place. A “click” was heard as the door unlocked. Inside the room were many treasures, including an enchanted ax which Dvallin awarded squire Skirg for his bravery. Darcarynn scored some enchanted leather armor.

The other room contained nothing. The exploring done and many enemies defeated, the wizards decided to part ways with the adventurers. They claimed it was because they trusted the adventurers ability to defeat Tornan on their own. Though suspecting a bit of cowardice, the adventured thanked the wizards for their gracious efforts thus far.

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Session 10
The ritual imprisonment trend, in relation to Spellgard.

After recuperating, the party discussed long and hard the floor above them. Aedric and Darcaryn knew what beast waited there, as did Pelegro, the wizard, and his allies. But only the fighter and ranger had actually come face to face with his deception and brute force. Pelegro and Rivyet offered up their knowledge on the beast and the tactical possibilities of the situation. After much debate, it was decided that Aedric and Dvallin would take point and hold the stairs for everyone to make their way into the room.
Unfortunately, the Oni known as Hector was too quick, and Rivyet found herself the target of his charge, with the wizards and skurg still in the stairwell.
Aedric tried to force the Oni back, as the wizards sent several barrages of magic missiles at the beast. But soon the monster let out a deep breath across the area in front of him. Instantly the adventurers, all but Darcaryn, felt themselves slowed and tired. The ranger ran around the stairwell toward the opposite side of the Oni. She maneuvered across land and air, slashing with the axes as well as she could, then went full circle to try and revive her companions who has collapsed. Her first attempt was on the cleric Dvallin. A success, as she blocked the Oni’s huge morningstar and allowed the dwarf to regain his footing. Soon the rest of the party was back on their feet and the wizards had gained an advantageous position in the chamber.
The melee experts and the cleric fought hard to maintain a flank on the monster, to keep him confused and vulnerable. The strategy paid off, as Darcarynn laid her magical axes into him and drew his last breaths.
On those last passages of air, the Oni looked at her in defeat and said, “If I must die… Do… one thing…. Kill the bastard that held me here…..”
The party reflected on this thought, and took some time to examine the plinths and pillars of alibaster that stood in the room. They knew this was the key to Thoran’s binding ritual. One that could hold Lady Saharel indefinitely, and grant the Shadar-Kai infinite use of her gift of prophecy. Also, in their examination were revealed some small flat tiles of alibaster, that seemed to match a seal on a door in one of the lower levels. The group had to put a great deal of thought into what step to take next.

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Session 9
Companions unite: the end in sight....

Having just reunited with their party, elation and confusion washed over the group of adventurers as kobolds roasted meat on spits and wizards pondered the meaning of the word treachery. A quick exchange of words was all the group had time for before a hoard of feasting ettercaps would be upon them. It was quickly decided that with their ranks swelled and their resolve strengthened, they would stand their ground against the arachnoid onslaught. Though the kitchen was small, cramped, and swimming with kobolds, the dwarf suggested that the group remain within in order to bottleneck their assailants in the stairwell and eliminate them one at a time.

Dvallin took up a position behind a table just around the corner from the stairwell while Darcaryn and Aedric held the line up front. Kobolds filled whatever gaps remained and the casters kept a safe distance at the back of the room. No sooner had the group taken up their positions before the first wave descended, a small contingent of ettercaps accompanied by several hooded humanoids that the warriors identified as dark creepers. The first volley of blows were effective, but soon the door behind Darcaryn swung open and she found herself pinned between the stairwell and a fresh batch of ettercaps who had rushed to join their companions. Surrounded and hopelessly out-armed (both literally and figuratively), the ranger was almost out before the fight had truly begun. Dvallin, expecting his enemies to encroach upon the room more than they had, was unable to see his companions and provide the healing Darcaryn so desperately needed. Luckily for her, it wasn’t long before the wizards unleashed a coordinated lightning attack of sith-like proportions, giving her just enough time to maneuver her way past her freshly scorched enemies and the throngs of reptilian henchmen beyond. At the same time, the dwarf took up a more advantageous position to better attend to his comrades and keep track of his enemies. With the ranger finally in sight, Dvallin was able to speak Kelemvor’s words of healing and bring Darcaryn back into the fight. With their position more thoroughly secured, the group laid waste to the hoard of feasting fiends that seemed to be ever present in the stairwell. Though many kobolds fell, the constant onslaught of javelins, blades, and various forms of arcane awesomeness made quick work of their enemies.

When the torrent of arachnoids finally stopped, and the bodies of ettercaps were stacked dwarf-high, the adventurers regrouped and decided to take to Thoran’s chambers above. As they made their way through the blood-soaked anteroom at the base of the stairs, an all too sobering reality set in: no matter how they took to the staircase, the group would soon find themselves bottlenecked in exactly the same manner as their now-slain foes. The more armored amongst the group decided to take the lead and ascended the stairs in an order of least to most magical, trailed by the stalwart kobolds that remained.

Upon reaching the top of the stair, Aedric spotted a contingent of ettercaps and dark creepers just a few yards beyond him. Seizing the moment and opening up the stairwell for his companions, the brash human rush in, sword drawn, ready to unleash anywhere from 4-5 hells. No sooner was he upon his foes, however, then Thoran’s most fearsome creeper weaseled her way around the fray and flanked him mercilessly. The dwarf, his thoughts occupied by roasting meats and dead zombies, had not the reaction time to aid his companion before he was summarily bloodied. Rivyet, being quicker of mind and more present than the Cleric, rushed in next and flung open the door to Thoran’s chambers. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the room contained not salvation but the gruesome visage of Thoran himself. He drew a sword from which dark flames licked the air, ready to sear whatever foe was unfortunate enough to be within his reach. Rivyet suffered the fate of all casters who find themselves in melee, and things looked dire from the get go. A pair of ettercaps closed in from the hallways beyond Thoran’s chambers, leaving Darcaryn just enough time to emerge from the stairwell before it was blocked off by enemies. With the cleric’s healing prayers just out of reach, the rest of the adventuring party soon found themselves closer to Kelemvor’s judgment than they had been in some time. Just as Aedric’s blood began to soak his armor and it seemed that the stalwart adventurers might meet their end, Rivyet invoked a pack with the feywild that until now had been a mere thought in her mind. She had never tried it before, but if there was ever a time for risks, this was it. Giving her psyche over to a place where time and space are but playthings of greater forces, she soon found herself surrounded not by the many arms of her foes, but by the stone walls of the stairwell and the spears of her allies. Where Rivyet once stood, Dvallin now dwelled, gazing up at the surprised but intimidating visage of Thoran himself. The trick had worked, and a wry smile crept over the dwarf’s face as he tapped his holy symbol and brought his allies the healing respite they so desperately needed.

Swords fell upon the two melee combatants at the head of the fray, but with each blow that was struck Kelemvor bound their wounds and cursed their enemies. Slowy but surely Aedric was able to push through his many-armed adversaries and get his back to the wall. Finally in a tactical position in which he could not be flanked, the tattered human from Luskan began working his way back down the hall, cutting down all who stood in his way. Thoran and his dark creeper lieutenant tried to cut down the source of Kelemvor’s mercy, but found the dwarf’s enchanted armor and seemingly endless tolerance for pain to be a greater challenge than the warlock’s martial prowess. With their cleric in an optimal position, their warriors no longer flanked, and their enemies even divided, the Raiders of Spellgard could finally carve an opening for their casters and spearmen to ascend the stair and take up positions on the other side of the room. Their spells replenished and their resolve strong, Rivyet, Pellegro, and his young comrade laid waste to Thoran’s personal guard while kobold spearmen did their best to prove they could wield more than just a kitchen knife.

As his guards fell and his enemies continued to gain more ground, Thoran found himself in an increasingly dire situation. Knowing it wouldn’t be long before the group’s combined firepower was focused squarely on him, the dark master fled up the stairwell to the Oni’s chamber. As the last of Thoran’s minions joined their companions upon the blood-soaked floor of his chambers, the adventurers banded together once more to assess their options. A handful of paces above them, Thoran and his enslaved demon lay waiting, surrounded by the alabaster pillars that our heroes had sought since they first crossed paths. Dare they ascend the spiral stair and face their destiny?

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Session 8
Of Arcane Interlopers and Courageous Kobolds

As the last clatter of their companion’s battle dwindled beyond the broken door, Dvallin and Rivyet were afforded a few moments to recuperate and assess their options. With two members of their party out of commission, the odds were not in the spellcasters’ favor. Feeling somewhat responsible for not providing a voice of reason amidst the torrent of foolish martial bravado that his comrades unleashed, Dvallin wished to stay. More importantly, however, a possibility remained that undead still roamed these ramparts and Kelemvor’s servant could not ignore that fact. Rivyet, being a bit more practical saw little point in risking their lives for a legend that may not even exist (especially in the face of ever increasing resistance). However, she was also aware that they likely couldn’t make it out of these catacombs alive without the fighter and ranger to take point in battle. Though the ettercaps took their companions deeper into the ruins, there still remained a large contingent of wererats at their backs.

The pair agreed to press on, with Dvallin taking the brunt of any melee attacks and allowing the warlock to unleash psychic horror unperturbed. Returning to the scene of the battle, the two followed the blood-soaked tracks of their party through the unexplored room from where the ettercaps first emerged. Ready for an onslaught of webbing and venom, the two were surprised to find nothing in the way of guards or resistance. All that remained was the continuing trail of blood leading towards a foreboding staircase.

Meanwhile, bearing both the bruises the gave each other and many new ones, the two headstrong warriors awoke in a small but relatively well appointed makeshift cell. Apparently their lives were worth more than their equipment, though that was nowhere to be found. Beings of some kind could be heard in the distance beyond the locked door, but nowhere close. Aedric’s keen eyes were able to make out the wooden bar which held fast their cell door. All it would take was something small enough to fit through the space in the door frame and lift the bar, and they would be free. A frantic assessment of the room ensued, but a table and iron-framed mattress were all that were available to the would-be rogues. The table legs were too large, but the strong, thin bars of the bed frame were a possibility. Drawing on their combined strength, the fighter and ranger mangled the frame but did not manage to free a bar before their racket was noticed by their captors. A guard shuffled to the door, and for a moment the unarmed pair stood breathless. However the guard seemed less convinced of their escape than annoyed by the cacophony they created. A few more hushed wrenches to the frame, and an iron bar was procured. Carefully the fighter balanced the wooden bar on his make-shift lockpick. One false move meant all elements of surprise would be forfeit. Luckily for the two bloodied prisoners, Aedric’s nerves won out and the wooden bar was carefully placed to the ground. Knowing that neither of them would survive without some sort of melee weapon, the two quietly dismantled the table and lashed a rope to the underside, fashioning a crude shield for Aedric and yielding a pair of clubs for the ranger. Though his sword still remained at large, Aedric paired his shield with the iron bar, and the two carefully crept from their confines into the circular top floor of the tower.

From several floors below, Dvallin and Rivyet did their best to make their presence unknown (no easy feat with the dwarf’s clattering enchanted armor punctuating every footstep). Luckily for them, the first group they came across were loud and drunken enough to let a paladin of Glittergold pass unnoticed. Several ettercaps and a fancily dressed gnome circled a barrel of spirits and carried on with little concern for the stairwell. However, the mirth within their drunken hearts was soon replaced with unspeakable horror as the floor went black about them and the nightmarish hellscape of creatures brought darkness to their eyes and tentacles to their flesh (courtesy of the pact betwixt Rivyet and Haddar). Figuring the be-robed gnome to be some sort of spellcaster and therefore the most unwieldy target, Dvallin charged into the room and pointed his finger to where he knew the tiny arcanist stood amidst the demonic chaos. A ray of light as thin as a needle but bright as a desert sun cut through the darkness, guided by the Kelemvor’s bony hand, and struck the gnome at center mass sending him to be judged in the world beyond. The ettercaps, confused as they were intoxicated, managed to stumble out of the engulfing blackness and make for the heroes. The pair laid waste to all but one of the ettercaps. That one met his end not by the words of a caster but by the point of a spear thrown by none other than the kobold that had been following them with Gollum-like tenacity for quite some time. The kobold identified himself as Skerg, and told the pair that their bravery against both the wererats and the unknown horrors of the catacombs had given him the courage to follow them. Being particularly impressed with Dvallin’s heroics, Skerg handed the dwarf a bit of parchment bearing the title which the kobold hoped to earn in the eyes of the dwarf: Squire. Mutually impressed with the gumption of this tiny reptilian warrior, Dvallin agreed to let Skerg join them in their quest to rescue their companions and see their journey to the end. Both heroes agreed that if the kobold had managed to follow them this far undetected, he should take the lead that the two might stay further back and retain some small measure of stealth.

While their friends continued upward having gained a new ally, Aedric and Darcaryn put their differences aside and made their way into the top of the tower, ready to take their captors unaware. Though they had naught but their smallclothes to armor them, this allowed them to proceed forward undetected and get the drop on one of their jailors. A short search of the tower’s apex revealed a room full of training gnomes whose defeat necessitated only the human’s strong words and the pair’s frighteningly savage appearance. Their efforts in intimidation were justly rewarded, as this chamber contained not only a king’s ransom in gnome piss, but their weapons and armor as well. Taking a brief pause only to suit up and catch their breath, the two proceeded to make their way downward only to find a cadre of arachnoid creatures ranging from humanoid to…not so much. Though they now had their weapons in hand, the silken treachery of their foes overtook them once again, pinning Aedric to the wall and blocking Darcaryn from making her way down the staircase from which they had emerged. Rather than using this as an opportunity to knock each others’ teeth out, however, the ranger cut Aedric loose and the two retreated back the way they came and took to the the spiral staircase whose existence meant more than just their continued survival.

Having slaked their thirst for the blood of arachnoid people, Skerg, Dvallin, and Rivyet proceeded further up the tower, eventually coming to a crimson curtain which the warlock noticed glimmered with arcane energy. Seeing no other threat and unable to discern what manner of trap this might represent, Dvallin passed through the barrier only to emerge naked as the day Moradin made him on the other side. Skerg, upon passing through, was similarly disarmed and disrobed. Deciding that it would be better to shed her belongings and know where they were, Rivyet stripped down in an epic act of fanservice and proceeded through the barrier naked but unchanged. Just as the awkwardness of the moment was about to really sink in, a pair of human wizards emerged from the room adjacent to the adventurers and proceeded to both impede and ridicule them simultaneously. Though they seemed to have no animosity towards the group, they seemed to be well paid for their arcane guard duties and would not let the heroes pass at first. However, between the dwarf’s steely resolved to see all undead obliterated and Rivyet’s charms (both arcane and mammary), the group managed to convince the wizards that they were in fact not after whatever they were protecting. Furthermore, Rivyet highlighted just how thoroughly their talents were wasted playing watchmen for their master Thorin. Realizing that greater fortune awaited them with treachery than with blind obedience, the wizards returned the magically stolen equipment to the dwarf and kobold, leaving Rivyet the only one naked for a short while longer.

Meanwhile, Aedric and Darcaryn’s retreat and subsequent descent yielded not the freedom they sought, but an suspiciously out of place old man amidst a setting that rang true with the Analects our heroes had taken in what seemed like ages ago. Further inquiry revealed this being to not be an old man, but an Oni both great and terrible. As the creature grew to epic proportions, further flight down the staircase seemed the only viable option. Before the pair departed, though, the human left a parting gift for the great demon in the form of a vicious head wound that left the creature stunned for just long enough for them to make their escape. However, it seemed that the descent down the spiral stair wouldn’t provide the sanctuary they were after. Though the two had managed to evade the Oni’s claws, they had traded them for a feasting table full of ettercaps whose meal had just gotten underway. The first course had been finished, and it would seem that Aedric and Darcaryn were to be the second.

Just below them, however, an arcane alliance of ever expanding membership had just made their way into a kitchen full of busy kobolds being overseen by yet another dangerously overqualified wizard. This time, however, our heroes knew what to expect and managed to convince the arcane task-master to set aside his duties as lead chef and join his companions in taking what was truly theirs from Thorin. No sooner had the prospect of battle left the room and a shank of animal entered Dvallin’s mouth, though, Aedric and Darcaryn exploded from above with no small amount of hell at their backs. Stunned faces gave way to excited grins as the party had been reunited at last. Their joy would be short-lived however, as the full force of their captors gathered just a few dozen paces above them….

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Session 7
Let's get ready to RUUUUMMMMMB- Oh shit. :/

After defeating the vampire priest, Barthus, the group made their way through the more hospitable looking area of the catacombs. Finally arriving at a smaller room with a low ceiling, it stank of mildew and was littered with bones and worn weapons and armor. Slowly they descended the short length of stairs, toward the stairs and door on the southern wall. But suddenly one of the flagstones on the floor depressed and water began to rush into the room through newly opened grates along the ceiling. If that wasn’t bad enough, several of the piles of bones and armor began to rise and form full humanoid forms and advance of the group. The skeletal guards were brought down with relative ease, but the water quickly flooding the room proved to be a much more difficult matter.
They searched and searched, troubleshooting the many possibilities, but found that this trap was outside of their skill set. With the dwarf seconds away from being completely submerged under the roaring flood, the fighter and ranger bashed at the locked door with all of their might. Just as it seemed that their bodies would spend eternity in this watery tomb, the doors cracked and burst open, sending a wave of water down the long hallway before them.
The group marched onward and was soon met with a fork in the hall, with a set of doors a few feet down either side. Choosing to go straight ahead, they opened the doors to see a large room, cluttered with crates and barrels, and several large spiders accompanying a strange humanoid with four arms and insect like features.
The fighter rushed in at one of the spiders, while the other two leaped across the room, surrounding him. It was then that Rivyet, the Warlock, and Darcaryn, the Ranger, revealed their hidden arachnophobia. They tried to aid the fighter but retreated as they did, leaving him to escape through his own might. The ranger ran as fast as she could, around the corner of the hallway, presumably toward the other door. Finally Aedric, the fighter, got free of the group, and Dvallin, the dwarf, helped him hold shut the door.
Reconvening in the hallway, a horrible argument broke out between the fighter and the ranger. Finally the ranger challenged the fighter to lose their weapons and settle their dispute through fisticuffs. The fighter smiled and dropped both shield and sword. The ranger threw missed blow after missed blow, each one followed with a direct hit from the fighter. The sound of tenderizing meat and cracking bone echoed in the hall, as Rivyet and Dvallin looked on in horror. Finally, the fighter grabbed the ranger by her leather collar and dragged her to her feet. He stared at her blood soaked, swollen, disfigured face with a look of pure contempt.
“You will do exactly what I tell you, when I tell you, until we escape this vile place. I don’t care where you go or what you do after that, but until then, your ass is mine!”
The Ranger, horrified by her defeat, slowly lowered her head and nodded in agreement.
Just then the doors to the west hallway burst open! Five more of the hideous insect-like humanoids rushed into the hall, waving greataxes. They took the team by surprise and maintained a position that cut off Rivyet and Dvallin from Aedric and Darcaryn. After a few blows were delivered, the dwarf and the warlock had no choice but to flee down the long tunnel, back the way they came. Aedric and Darcaryn stood their ground, trying admirably to get the most advantageous positions, but were soon dropped by the overwhelming brutes.
Light faded from the eyes of the combatants as they lost consciousness. From the other side of a wooden door, where water had just stopped pouring, the dwarf and the warlock listened as the heavy sound of their comrades’ bodies hit the stone floor. There were some clicks and chitters, as though of conversation from the beasts, and soon those sounds faded as well.

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