Night's Dark Terror

15th Nytdain, Yarthmont AC 1000 - ???

The party followed the tunnel they were in until they reached an area of magical darkness. Roger threw a torch into the black, but the darkness remained. He then tossed a stick with Continual Light in it and the darkness fizzled. The light spell was canceled as well, though. The torchlight showed the tunnel taking a turn to the left.

Just past the curve, the tunnel ended into the bottom of a shallow “pit.” Above was another tunnel intersecting the opening. Roger investigated, spotting the back of another “secret door” on one side of the hole and more tunnel beyond. He also heard a scraping noise down the passageway.

The party began to clamber up on the side opposite the noise. The Traldar were still below when an oozing horror slid into view.

Kartoeba

Wulfirth and the Traldars fled in a panic, but our heroes remained to fight.

Roger sunk two arrows into the creature and Martin cast Magic Missile upon it. Ollimarus hurled his hammer and struck, but to his horror, the weapon did not return to his hand. It had sunk into the ooze that made the creature’s body! Pavel cast a sling stone at the beast and Nightly cast Striking on Trollcutter, which Roger was now wielding, to enhance its power.

The thing lashed out with its tentacles, catching Nightly and Ollimarus and attempting to draw them closer. Nightly cast Cause Wounds on the pseudopod, burning it, but it did not release her. The cleric’s prodigious strength was enough for her to hold her own against the beast’s pull, though. Ollimarus drew a hand axe, but failed to free himself as well, being drawn closer and tumbling into the lower passage. Martin used his Fireball, placed behind the monster to avoid striking his companions.

Roger struck at the tentacle on Nightly, severing it. The beast slithered up onto the ceiling and began to cross the pit from above! Pavel was struck with a tentacle, but raced toward the creature and attacked with his flail! Martin cast Web, partially trapping the tentacles.

The creature was unable to advance, thanks to the webs, but acidic slime dripping from its mouth was fast dissolving the strands. It pulled Pavel off his feet and Ollimarus out of the pit toward it maw. The acid seared them both but they managed to avoid being swallowed.

When Roger struck with his sword and Nightly with her hammer, the thing shuddered and fell limp. The dissolved webs broke and it dropped to the floor, oozing slime everywhere.

The party used what healing magic they had on the injured and Ollimarus retrieved his hammer. The leather wrappings were dissolved, but the dwarf-forged steel was still sound.

As the body melted away, strange purple smoke with electrical sparks came off the body. As if blown by an unfelt wind, the vapor streamed toward the door and through the cracks. The group decided they were unwilling to investigate such strangeness and went after their hirelings. They found the three men-at-arms farther back down the tunnel they’d come from, cautiously returning with fear in their eyes.

Reunited, the group explored the tunnels some more, eventually coming to a pile of rubble with slivers of daylight visible through the cracks. Some heavy lifting later, the party came out into the valley, below the hill and about 200 yards from the temple. They piled the rocks back up to discourage pursuit and trudged back toward the temple.

At the walls, one of the Traldar sentries was surprised to see them approach from without and frantically called to them that something was amiss in the temple.

Inside the compound, Guri told them weird sounds and lights started coming from inside not long ago. They had thought it was the party dealing with something within, but seeing them outside now put the lie to that.

Roger clambered up to the crack in the dome and looked in. Much was in shadow, but he could see Hutaakan figures moving about and see flashes of purple light. When he told those below what he saw, Guri and the Traldar threw open the doors and attacked! Pavel cast Silence on one warrior after telling him to head for the priests.

The party was torn about what to do, but in the end, they went to the Traldars’ aid.

Inside, two Hutaakan priests on the dais were chanting, one holding a scepter bathed in purple light. The altar was now an archway, raised up out of the floor, the top having been the only part visible before. Several jackal-faced warriors fought the Trals.

Roger fired his arrows, Nightly Silenced one of the priests, and Martin used his Wand of Device Negation on the glowing scepter of the other priest. Pavel used Hold Person but only caught one warrior in its effect.

The battle saw several Hutaakans and Trals fall, including Guri. The priest with the negated scepter realized he was inside a Silence effect and moved until he could hear again, then he screamed a command. A ring on his finger flashed and the temple statues shuddered into life!

Roger fired two more arrows, killing the priest. The scepter fell and the globe shattered, sending coruscating energy everywhere. The statues went berserk, stomping around hitting anything that moved.

Suddenly a blast of purple light from the archway shook the temple. Everything went red and the party found themselves thousands of feet in the air, plummeting toward a grassy hill. A moment later, they were no longer falling, but standing in a stone circle on a hill. Several Hutaakans and a Traldar the only other survivors of the fight appeared as well. Nightly tried to get answers out of one Hutaakan warrior, but all he knew that “all this” wasn’t supposed to happen. That the priests had been trying to summon “The Heroes of the Past.”

By this time Roger had killed the other Hutaakans. He then shot the one Nightly was speaking with, leaving none alive.

Taking stock of their situation, the only surviving Tral –Rokko– had no idea what had happened and was near to panic. Martin Levitated and Roger climbed atop a menhir. Looking around, they saw forests and hills and a large body of water. There was also a city of some sort near the water.

Strangest of all, though, was the sun. It was red….

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12th Gromdain - 15th Nytdain, Yarthmont AC 1000

The party returned to the temple the next morning and investigated the western side of the above ground portions. The first contained another room with a silver bowl and hutaakan frescoes (like to the east). they battled skeletons and zombies again, but when Pavel attempted to turn them, a strange purple light flashed around the undead and they were unaffected! When Nitely tried after Pavel, some of the creatures did flee through a stone door, which swung slowly shut on balanced hinges.

When Ollimarus opened the door, a flash of light dazzled the eyes of Roger, Pavel, Ollimarus, and Nitely. The thief and dwarf managed to shut their eyes against it, but the clerics were struck blind!

Beyond the door was a room full of shelves full of books and papers. Oh, and undead that were returning to the fight!

undeadies

With Martin guiding Pavel and Roger guiding Nitely, the clerics were able to turn the bulk of the creatures again, and the rest of the group finished them off. While searching the papers, they also waited to see if the pair’s vision would improve. The papers seemed to mostly contain temple records written in the Hutaakan script that Roger had started to piece together back at Xitaqa. The clerics’ vision was still gone after the better part of an hour. Several spells were tried to no effect as well. Finally, they led the clerics back out of the building and waited for the morning. The two each prayed for Cure Blindness, cast it on one another, and their vision was restored to normal.

Returning to the temple, the group investigated a room off the library and found it to be quarters for someone, but the roof was badly damaged and threatened to collapse. A hasty search revealed some robes in a cabinet.

The group decided to investigate the flame-ringed pit again. Hanging from the cage above, Ollimarus lowered a knotted rope in an effort to gauge its depth, but the rope played out at 100’ without touching bottom. Martin dropped a Fireball down the pit and saw flames roar for a moment in what looked like a larger chamber below the shaft.

Moving on, they went up on the dais near the altar and opened one of the side doors. Inside was some sort of robing/cloakroom and three ghoulish creatures which leapt at them. One paralyzed the dwarf, and Pavel’s attempt to turn them caused the same weird purple light to appear. Nitely followed up with her own attempt to turn the ghouls and two fled , crawling through a crack in the wall. The third was cut down as it tried to flee. A quick search revealed it wore a similar purple stone to the one found on the wight in the lakeside village (which Roger was currently wearing). The opposite door revealed a similar cloakroom, but no undead.

Retreating out the structure again, the party rested and Pavel cast Detect Evil on some of the items the PCs had found. His suspicions were confirmed: the brooches carried an tainted aura. Roger reluctantly removed his and hid it. The other was left behind as well.

Refreshed after a night’s sleep, the party re-entered once again, this time heading down to the secret door they had discovered after defeating the mummy.

The door led to a series of winding tunnels and, eventually, a door. Beyond the door was a room that ended in bars overlooking a slope down to a lower chamber with was a glow coming from the middle. One of the continual light stones that was dropped down the pit had landed there. Using a broken arrow with continual light cast on it tied to a grappling hook, the party threw the light out into the room over and over to see the size of it. Some blackened stone bore mute evidence of Martin’s earlier fireball spell.

The bars proved quite sturdy, so the party retreated to the hall, where they discovered a trap door leading down into another tunnel. These tunnels wound around extensively. At one point they ended at the back side of a secret door that let into the cavern at the bottom of the pit.
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After following more tunnels, the group spied a hutaakan statue at the end of one corridor. Martin moved up to check behind the figure when an ochre jelly oozed out of its mouth and attacked the mage! Its corrosive nature burning into his skin.

Martin, thinking quickly, quaffed a potion of gaseous form , floating harmlessly out of the slime’s reach. Nitely and Roger coordinated there attack to try and ignite the ooze, but only managed to singe it. The jelly closed with Pavel and set to work on dissolving the cleric’s legs.

Ollimarus, remembering an item he had been carrying for some time, pulled out a small vial of deadly poison. He stepped up and poured it on the thing’s “skin”, watching it soak into the slime. The jelly convulsed and began to crystallize, then it literally shattered into pieces and died.

Taking advantage of his vaporous state, Martin scouted ahead looking for secret doors by trying to seep through cracks in the wall. Eventually, the potion wore off and he was whole again. The party continued its exploration of the winding tunnels more mundanely.

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10th Soladain - 11th Lunadain, Yarthmont AC1000

In the interest of laziness, I am posting Pavel’s post from his blog chronicling last session

Our group left the scene of the battle, and allowed the Traldarans to escort us back to one of their encampments. Like their lowland brethren, the Traldarans are a stiff-necked lot, coarse, bad-tempered, and unreceptive to wisdom, more likely persuaded by displays of power than reason and insight. They do not know of any way out of the Lost Valley, and hope to achieve secure freedom by eliminating their Hutakaan overlords. That campaign began three seasons ago and they have had considerable success, including the take-over of the Hutakaan temple about a month ago.
The Hutakaans have tried several times to re-capture their temple. And, various evil undead things have been coming out of it. So our group proposaed and the Traldarans agreed that we should go inside, find out what’s there and destroy it.
The temple was a large stone rectangular building with a dome roof and, according to the Traldarans, an extensive network of underground chambers, most of which they had not explored. Roger climbed up on the roof and, peering through a hole in the dome, confirmed that the main Temple room was safe to enter. The Traldarans opened the main doors and our group entered, accompanied by two of the Traldarans. The most notable feature in the Temple room was a pit surrounded by blue flame and with a person-sized cage hanging over it. Roger climbed on top of the cage so that he could peer into the pit. Darkness.
Leaving the Temple room, we immediately encountered a large group of re-animated skeletons and walking corpses. Pavel and Nitely, calling on Halav, Petra, Zirchev introduced the formerly benighted Traldarans to their powerful and benevolent gods and obliterated the undead horrors.
Beneath the temple, our group discovered a Hutakaan crypt containing still more of the restless dead. Not just skeletons and zombies. But also “fast zombies” whose mere touch will kill most mortals, and who gave the stalwart Olimarus a little cold taste of death. And, in a disgusting pantomime of life above, a long-dead, jackal-headed Hutakaan despot, his mummified remains most unnaturally preserved and animated with evil, lorded over the other undead. Like the flesh-and-blood Hutakaans, this mummy was something of a coward. Late to join the battle, it was destroyed by Martin’s magic fire, by Olimarus’s hammer, and by Roger’s well-timed shot with a vial of holy water.
Hutaakmummy
In searching the crypt, we claimed the mummy’s crown and scepter, and found a narrow unworked tunnel descending still lower into the earth. Eager to share news of our success with the Traldarans, we resealed the secret tunnel and returned to the surface.

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7th Moldain - 10th Soladain, Yarthmont, AC 1000

The party descended inside the walls and spied two large stone jackal-headed figures flanking the gates in the archway. Giving them a wide berth, the group set off down the road into the valley.

Add003 monster manual084 hell houndIt wasn’t long before they spotted a ruined village of stone buildings up ahead. Cautiously investigating the structures, they found them to be long-abandoned. A shrine of some sort stood on a hill nearby. As they approached, three huge black mastiffs burst out of the archway, their eyes glowing red and flame flickering from their jaws. Hell Hounds!

One beast badly singed Pavel before the group managed to slay them all. Roger and Martin Shrinebusied themselves skinning them, reasoning that their pelts might be valuable. After healing himself a bit, Pavel looked around inside the shrine and found a loose flagstone. Underneath it was a cavity that appeared to have once hidden something, but was now empty. Frustrated by the idea of missed treasure, the party pressed on toward the west, which seemed to be the direction in which most of the valley lay.

The group spied many ancient pieces of architecture, including large arches built over the road, more shrine-like buildings, and abandoned villages. Many of the structures had carvings on their sides. Most were geometric patterns similar to those they had seen in Xitaqa. Others showed jackal-headed creatures. In some cases, the faces of the jackal-men were chipped off. Pavel felt this was right and proper, and chipped off some himself.

It was late in the afternoon when a piercing scream cut through the air, suddenly cut off. They couldn’t determine its source, however. As night fell, the party camped in an abandoned shrine. During Pavel’s watch, the cleric spied shuffling figures in the distance. It was too dark for details, so he threw one of his continual light stones toward them. It was still too far away for the light to reach, though. Roger commented on the light when he awoke, but Pavel kept his own counsel about its origin. The next morning, the trek west continued.

FountLater that day, the party came across yet another empty village. This one also had a fountain. The basin was dry and it had a broken statue of a mermaid in the center. Martin spied a patch of wet ground nearby. It turned out to be some sort of slimy mucus. In the middle of the ooze was a soaked and torn scrap of fabric.

The second day in the valley was drawing to a close when the group came to the edge of a lake. Another shrine stood not far from the water’s edge. Roger threw a light stone into the arched entranceway and undead skeletons poured out! The clerics’ turning ability and Ollimarus’s hammer made short work of the foul creatures, though.

As there seemed to be no other immediate threat, the party camped at the shrine for the night. So far, they had not seen a living soul.

1729 fullThe next morning, the valley remained eerily quiet. Roger scanned the coast of the lake with his spyglass for signs of life. He spotted what appeared to be another village a few miles away along the north side of the lake.

As the party hiked over to investigate, Martin spied large animal tracks of a curious sort in the mud by the water. They were over a foot across, and looked like a heavy tread with claws or toes spaced around the foot.
Lizprint

Nearing the ruins, the party found another small shrine on the hill, a dry fountain (this one with a fish statue), and a handful of broken down buildings. As the group neared the village, zombies and skeletons began to pour out of the shadowy doorways!
Skeletonwarriors

Pavel and Nitely Turned most of them, but they kept retreating into the buildings, and once out of sight from the holy symbols would resume their attack. Ollimarus’s hammer wreaked havoc and Roger’s arrows flew. At one point, an evil wight burst from one hut, lunging at Roger. Martin blasted it with three unerring magic missiles, leaving it wounded but still dangerous. The clerics’ holy power caused it to flee again, followed shortly by the dwarf’s flying hammer, which crushed its skull.

After the battle, the group found a brooch with a purple gem on the wight. They also discovered a stash of copper coins with an old sword bundled up with them. Leaving the coins (except for Wolfirth, who took a few handfuls), the group looped back around the eastern side of the lake and rejoined the road west.

Not long after they reached the road, Martin spied someone sitting among some rocks in the distance. The group immediately set off to investigate. Growing closer, they spotted more figures lying on the ground. They were squat, hairless humans, and quite dead. The one sitting had blood staining his jerkin and another had arrows sticking out of his back.

LiztralAs the group investigated the scene, they heard the sound of riders. Several more of the bald men, riding horse-sized lizards, charged up, glaring at the party. Roger tried to assure them they were not responsible for the carnage, but his words fell on deaf ears and the strange men attacked.

The mounted warriors tried to make a good account of themselves, but the party was too powerful for them. Martin put several men and their mounts to sleep right away. As the melee continued, Roger spotted several jackal-headed men in leather armor approaching. There were also jackal archers on a nearby hill, firing at the bald men! One jackal-headed warrior shouted, “We’re here to help!”

With this strange turn of events, most of the mounted men were dispatched, but a couple were saved for questioning.

HutaakanThe jackal warrior put up his weapon and cautiously approached. He explained that his people were the Hutaaka, and had held this valley for centuries. Long ago, they had lived in the wider world, in the lands now known as Karameikos. It had been they –the Hutaaka– who had taught the ancient Trals the arts of smithing and advanced agriculture. A trade arrangement grew between the peoples where the Trals provided slaves and food to the Hutaaka, who in exchange taught the humans and sold them worked goods. All this seemed to offend Pavel’s sensibilities, as it contradicted Traladaran theology and history as he knew it.

When the beast man army came to invade, the Hutaakans warned the humans, then fled to their redoubts. Later, they retreated to their hidden ancestral home: this valley. Recently, the Tral slaves had rebelled and now the valley was split by factionalism.

All Roger seemed to care about was that the Hutaakans had enslaved men. He immediately drew an arrow and shot the jackal-headed warrior. The remaining few were cut down as well. The group then told the Trals –the bald men– to take them to their leader.

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6th Tserdain - 7th Moldain, Yarthmont AC1000

The storm blew out by morning and the party left the caves. They continued to follow the road until they reached another ravine with a bridge. This bridge, however, was broken. The party decided to work their way around the ravine (a journey of several miles over rough terrain). As they went along, Ollimarus spotted what looked like a cave down below on the far side of the gorge. When the party reach the other side, Roger climbed down to investigate. He tried to approach quietly, but some loose rocks rattled off a boulder and echoed across the ravine floor. There was a snort and a huge lizard skittered out of the cave and charged the thief.

Roger ran away as fast as he could over the rocky ground and threw Dust of Disappearance over himself before changing course. The ruse worked and the lizard lost track of him quickly.

Tuatara sphenodon punctatus southland museum invercargill new zeeland 10112010 ts3

Martin use his Fireball spell on the beast from above and badly singed it, causing it to flee back to the cave. Roger fired with his bow, confident in his invisibility.

Martin then cast Levitation on himself and –with Ollimarus lashed to him– stepped off the bridge. The pair floated down to the ravine floor.

The three adventurers made short work of the lizard in its lair, but found little of interest. By the time the group was together again on the road it was time to rest.

The next morning, Martin was feverish. He had caught some sort of illness from searching the lizard’s refuse. Fortunately, Pavel was able to magically cure him.

The group pressed on and after a few hours, reach the end of the road. Another gap with a fallen bridge was before them, but on the other side was a pair of massive stone gates. Presumably the entrance to the lost valley.

The cliff sides were sheer, and even Roger was hesitant to climb them. The party rigged ropes and started lowering people down to the ravine floor. When Nightlie was being lowered, Wolfirth –who was taking the lead on holding the line– slipped and stumbled forward. The line paid out freely and Nightlie plummeted. Martin, Roger, and Wolfirth managed to grab the line, but only in time to slow her fall slightly. She hit the ground hard and it took all her healing magic for the day to get her back on her feet.

It was at this point that Martin decided to use the Levitation spell to lower the rest of the group magically.

The Foamfire came out of the slopes beyond the bridge, and moved upstream a bit to find a decent fording. Once across, Wolfirth demanded his 10 gold piece bonus for helping them find the source. Martin paid him and the group looked for a place to spend the night.

As the slept against the far cliff face. Two rust monsters came out of the rocks and lumbered toward Pavel, who was on watch. Though his magical chain armor withstood the corrosive tentacles, it was still damaged by the attacks. He fled, throwing gold pieces on the ground to distract the beasts and called out to wake the group.

Roger seized Nightlie’s magic shield and ran away from the monsters, trying to protect her most valuable item. Martin fired Magic Missiles at one creature while Pavel cast Continual Light one the other’s eyes. With one creature blinded and the other wounded, the pair of monsters fled into the rocks, the blinded one casting crazy shadows from its eyes.

The next morning, Martin levitated everyone up to the gates and on top of the walls above them. Beyond, they could see an overgrown road leading off into a rocky valley.

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3rd Soladain - 5th Gromdain, Yarthmont, AC1000

The clerics healed Ollimarus a bit, then the group started up the road again, but there was little sign of shelter. Returning to the bridge, Roger scanned the gorge with his spyglass. Luckily, he spotted a cave on the north face of the cliffs. Some rigging of ropes and clambering over rocks later, and the party was in what appeared to be the chimera’s lair. They pushed old bones aside to make room to rest, and in the process uncovered and moldering backpack with a goodly number of coins in it.

The next morning, some ogres were spotted hunting on the other side of the gorge, but the party stayed out of sight and let them pass. The dwarf was still recovering from his wounds, so the group decided to rest a second day, confident that no predators would invade a chimera’s lair.

On the morning of the 5th, the party clambered back out of the cave and returned to the road. Feeling a bit trapped between the cliffs above and below, Roger suggested that they return to the ridgeline above the path and follow the road from the high ground.

It was past midday when their journey was interrupted by the sight of huge stone giant on top of a hillock hefting a boulder in one hand and holding an enormous stone club in the other. He seemed uncertain about whether to attack, waiting to see what the group would do. He was flanked by two grizzly bears who stood waiting like trained hounds. As no one in the group knew the language of giants, Pavel decided to cast Speak with Animals so her could talk to the bears. Unfortunately, the giant so the spellcaster begin his incantation and feared a magical attack. He hurled the boulder, striking the cleric and the battle was joined!

Grizzly

The fight was over fairly quickly, and the party emerged battered but victorious. The giant lay dead, one of the bears had been blinded by a Light spell then dispatched, the other had fled after being hit several times. Rumors of giants’ treasure lured the group to attempt tracking it back to its lair.

Stone giant with rock

After some searching, the party found a shaft in the mountaintop that seemed to lead down into a rocky cave. Inside, they found one tunnel that led to a cavern where a second giant tended a fire! The group managed to kill it, but was knocked about a fair bit again. Ollimarus’ dwarven hammer had devastated both of the stone giants. The cavern held no treasure, frustrating Roger and Martin particularly. Investigating the second tunnel revealed the wounded bear’s den. It fought but was near death already. Buried in the den was the giants’ loot, and the party brought it back up to the main cave to investigate. As it was late in the afternoon, they decided to camp there, hoping no more giants might show up in the night. As darkness fell, clouds rolled in and there was a distant rumble of thunder. The party was grateful for the shelter and the cache of firewood, as it looked like the weather was taking a turn for the worse.

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3rd Soladain, Yarthmont AC1000

As the group descended to the ravine floor, Roger scanned the area with his spyglass. Several hundred yards to the south (downriver), he spied a group of a dozen or so gnolls ranging along the side of the stream. As the party debated tactics for an ambush, the gnolls retreat back around the bend, to be joined a few minutes later by several dozen more, with ogres in tow! Soon what appeared to be over a hundred of the hyena men with several ogres were on their trail. The decision changed from fight to flight.

Roger used the last of his Dust of Disappearance to turn every except Martin invisible, who used a spell to do so. The tapestry was left behind as it was too bulky to run with. Roger threw bear scat on their tracks to try to confuse the scent, and then the group hustled northward. Periodically, Roger fell back to check on their pursuit. Although the gnolls were slower than the party, they seemed to have picked up the trail. Since no one knew exactly how long the dust would hide them, they kept moving as quickly as possible.

By midday, the group reached the foot of the cataract known as Foamfire Falls. The water thundered down from over three hundred feet above them into a swirling pool. The stream flowed out of the pool swiftly over broken rocks. The characters could see a bridge spanning the top of the falls above them. On the far side, set in the base of the cliff, was what appeared to be the linteled entrance to a cave or tunnel.

Waterfall near keldur

The party carefully worked its way across the slippery rocks, securing one another with rope. Pavel, with his typical clumsiness, nearly feel in, but only received a slight dunking.

By the time everyone was across, the gnolls had come into view. Most were on the far side of the water now, but a few dozen were on the same bank as the characters and had two ogres with them. The mist in the air had washed away most of the magic dust, so the group (except for Martin) was now at least partially visible. The gnolls advanced to within about fifty yards and halted, chanting and gesturing violently. Not waiting until they had finished whatever ritual they were performing, the group slipped into the tunnel, with Ollimarus in the lead.

Tunnelentr
The tunnel spiraled upward and came out at the bridge over the falls. Covering the center of the span was a squat gatehouse with bronze double doors. Lying in front of the doors were the skeletal remain of three gnolls.

Ollimarus studied the doors and pushed them open. Inside was a small windowless room with two large steel statues. The statues turned and faced him a moment, then attacked, pummeling him with enormous metal fists.

Iron rune sentinel

The fight was brutal, and the dwarf nearly died. Martin used a Fireball spell and wounded the automatons, Ollimarus’ hammer pummeled them, and Nightlie battered them with her warhammer. In the end the things were destroyed. The group crossed the bridge, and Roger set a trap at the gatehouse to discourage pursuit from the gnolls.

Across the river, a road was cut into the cliff face and followed the water upstream. The party set off down the road.

After a couple of hours, they reached a point where another gorge joined the one they were following. A large stone bridge spanned the gap, stretching over 200 feet. The stonework was crumbling in places and looked unsafe, but Ollimarus was willing to check it out. He set aside some of his gear (including his shield and hammer) and carefully worked his way out onto the bridge.

Despite bits falling off the bridge as they watched, the group tied lifelines and began to send folks across a bit at a time. When Martin was on the far side, and the dwarf was about halfway, a chimera appeared flying out of the sky and swooping at Ollimarus!
Chimera

The beast tore into the dwarf, battering and clawing him. The clerics, Pavel and Nightlie, deftly blinded two of the three heads with Light spells (the dragon and goat). Then Nightlie tied Ollimarus’ shield and hammer to the rope he was secured by, letting him pull his gear to him. The dragon head breathed fire, but the blindness caused it to literally “miss fire” and the dwarf was unsinged.

Ollimarus fell back and Martin blasted it with a Fireball from Golthar’s Wand, burning another precious charge. The beast fell and tumbled into the gorge below. With that, the rest of the party crossed the bridge and left the scene of the battle behind. It was still a few hours until dark and thus far there had been no sign of shelter along the narrow road.

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22nd Moldain Flaurmont- 2nd Loshdain, Yarthmont, AC1000

(Sorry about the posting delay. I’m going to cover the next bits quickly, but let me know if I make any egregious errors.)

For two weeks the party remained in Kelvin as Martin recovered his strength. Finally, they prepared to leave the town, hoping to follow the tapestry map north. They made good time to Rifflian, stopping at the elven trading town for the evening.

While Ollimarus was imbibing at a pub, Martin entered at took a separate table unseen by the dwarf. A bit later, some men entered the taproom then suspiciously turned around and left. Martin noticed, but Ollimarus was turned to call for another tankard and did not see them.

Martin followed, casting Invisibility on himself. He tracked them back to seedy inn and as they checked on their horses, the mage overheard part of conversation where the men planned to ambush the dwarf since they’d been told “There’s supposed to be a dwarf with them.” Martin sabotaged the men’s saddles and quickly returned to warn Ollimarus.

The dwarf had left his heavy armaments at the inn, so he “rented” a cudgel from the barkeep and he set off with Martin back to regroup with the other characters. The ambush was sprung near an alley, but Martin’s Sleep spell made short work of it. All the men bore the Iron Ring’s brand on their arms. The two characters dispatched the underlings and Martin Charmed the leader.

Back at the inn, they trussed up the unconscious prisoner and the party concocted an elaborate ruse to fool the ruffian into thinking that Martin and Roger worked for the Ring as well so they could pump him for information. When they woke him up, the playacting, coupled with the Charm spell, made the man tell them everything. The Iron Ring wanted the tapestry and had sent groups out in different directions to find them. His team was sent by a man named Darius, who was camped somewhere in the moors outside Kelvin.

Once he felt there was no more to be learned, Roger signaled Nightlie to cast a Silence spell, and killed the man. The group wrapped him in a blanket and Martin turned the body invisible, allowing the brawny Nightlie to carry the body out of the building unseen. The party later dumped it in an alley before leaving town. They decided to return to Kelvin and try to wipe out the slaver camp to prevent further interference.

The road back to Kelvin was uneventful, but attempts to enlist the city watch’s help was futile. A day or so was spent scouting the moors near town for an encampment, but other than some giant boars that were frightened off by Martin’s Fireball spell, nothing of note was found. In the end, the group decided to strike out for Threshold via Highforge and deal with the Iron Ring if they came across them.

At Highforge, the gnomes and dwarves welcomed Ollimarus back home, but were leery of the strangers. Roger had hoped to gather more information about Hutaaka (or trade for magic weapons), but little of either was forthcoming.

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The next day, the party reached the outskirts of Threshold. Pavel grumbled at Baron Sherlane’s reputation as a Patriarch in the Church of Karameikos. The party was cautious, because the thug back in Rifflian had told them that the Ring had a sergeant of the Threshold Watch in their pocket.

THe group decided upon an elaborate ruse where Martin would disguise the dwarf as Golthar (via Phantasmal Force), since Ollimarus was how the slavers had identified the group in Rifflian. The hope was the sight of Golthar might throw any Iron Ring members off the scent.

Unfortunately, all didn’t go as planned at the gate, where a sergeant and the guards requested that any weapon besides a dagger, club, or staff be surrendered at the gate house. The ensuing discussion caused Martin to break concentration and the dwarf suddenly appeared in Golthar’s place. Since wizardly magic is forbidden in Threshold, the guards were obviously upset, but the sergeant was insouciant since –technically– the party had not yet entered the town.

The group turned around and left, finding accommodations in the lakeside fishing village, which had no such rules about weapons. At a dingy wharf-side inn, the barkeep was kindly disposed toward the party’s coin. When asked about ruins, etc. in the mountains, he found Mishka, an doddering crone carrying a bedraggled cat who told stories for food and drink. Amidst her nonsense, and after a few ales, she did mention a tale about a valley beyond the Foamfire Falls.

Crazycatlady

The barkeep send an errand boy to town the next day to ask about any guides willing to lead the party. Wolfirth, a taciturn man who claimed to have seen the falls Mishka had spoken of, offered to lead the group. He warned them that the road would soon become too rocky for mounts, so the Martin and Pavel led the horses and mules into town and found stabling there, paying ahead for up to month.

The party set out the next morning and reached the Foamfire (a tributary of the Shutturga, west of the lake) by afternoon, they made their way into the mountains before stopping for the night. The path was rough, but not impassable. Some stretches even appeared to have been roads once, with ancient overgrown cobbles visible in places. The next day, they continued northward.

On the trail, they spotted a thin line of smoke ahead, just then half a dozen gnolls came out of the underbrush. The fight was over quickly, and none of the gnolls escaped. Roger scouted ahead and found that the smoke came from clearing with a smoldering fire, flapping crows, and a charnel reek. Not a good sign.

The crows flew up and the party found a grisly sight: burnt and cracked human bones in a fire, broken spears, and the torn remains of bedrolls. The bones were human, but notably missing their heads. Paw tracks led both up and down the trail, but since the party had already met some gnolls to the south, they pressed on to the north.

Not far from the site of the massacre, the mist came rolling into the valley. Visibility was low and the party advanced cautiously. After a time, they spied weird shapes standing in the fog and heard an eerie wail. The shapes turned out to be the remains of dead gnolls in various states of decay, staked out in concentric circles on a low hill. Once the the party reached the hill, ghouls burst out of the ground and tried to attack, but Nightlie turned them and they fled underground once more.

As the party tried to cross the morbid landscape, several live gnolls rushed out of the fog at them. The fighting was fierce and during the melee, the wailing sound returned in the form of an ancient female gnoll shaman who cast Blight upon the party and attempted Hold Person on Martin. The heroes still managed to saly the gnolls and their shaman, but could hear the sound of more gnolls approaching from the south, and in greater numbers. The party wisely beat a hasty exit to the north.

The group came out of the worst of the fog farther upstream and saw that the sun was nearly set. Looking for shelter, Roger found a small cave entrance partway up the steep side of a mountain. The hole turned out to be occupied by a large bear. Pavel cast Speak with Animals and, through offerings of dried meat and a Cure Light Wounds spell applied to a wounded leg, managed to negotiate the party sharing the bear’s den for the night. The group was cramped, as the beast did not allow them into the back half of the chamber, but Roger felt relatively confident the bear’s scent would confuse any gnolls tracking the party. A slightly uncomfortable night passed, but without incident. As the sun rose, the group was ready to move on (and the bear wasn’t sorry to see them go).

Grizzly

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6th Gromdain - 8th Moldain Flaurmont, AC 1000

The group broke camp early in the morning and headed downriver toward Kelvin. Stephan mentioned the possibility of turning east to Sukiskyn, but the party was eager to get their spoils to town. By the end of the afternoon, the party was still a ways off from the town, but nearing the former werewolf lair they’d cleared out at Loshad’s request. Since it was a defensible place to spend the night, they carefully scouted it out for hostile creatures before entering the canyon. Apart from a nasty surprise in the form of several large rats that had made a lair in one of the side caves, the party was able to rest out of the burgeoning rain for the night.

The next day, the air was colder and the rain harder. The party pressed on toward Kelvin. They were still several miles away when Stephan, riding in the rear, shouted a warning. A huge wyvern was diving at him and his mount! Stephan was flung aside as the creature’s stinger plunged into the horse’s flank, killing it instantly.

Roger fired his bow, and both clerics unsuccessfully attempted to blind the monster with Light spells. Martin, however, drew the wand he’d taken from the mage at Xitaqa and unleashed a fireball at the wyvern. The creature shrieked as it was scorched. Maddened with pain, it dove at the mage, clamped its jaws onto him, and stung him with its tail. Martin fell from the saddle. The rest of the party managed to down the beast, but Martin was dead.

Roger and Ollimarus beheaded then partially skinned the beast, and took its stinger. They hoped to make armor of the hide and possibly sell the the other parts.

Slinging the resultant trophies to the horse, they hurried to town, reaching Kelvin that afternoon. Pavel went to the main temple of the Traladaran church and spoke to Father Karl, a city priest he’d met before. Father Karl agreed to speak to the high priest about the possibility of restoring Martin to life and asked the party to return in the morning. Martin’s body was left in the safe-keeping of the temple mortuary.

The next morning, the group returned to the temple. Father Karl informed them that a high priest would consent to performing the powerful and draining ritual, the suggested donation for which would be five thousand gold pieces. If successful, Martin would need time to rest and recover his strength, though. Money was exchanged and that afternoon: the venerable high priest, Bishop Balahov, appeared in his finery and proceeded with the rites.

Several minutes of chanting and acolytes waving censers later, Martin’s body convulsed as it suddenly drew breath. Martin the Ineluctable lived again!

The mage was grateful, but almost helpless with fatigue. Nitely cast her own Cure spells to help restore Martin’s strength somewhat, but he was still far from recovered. The party decided to remain in Kelvin for a time, letting Martin recuperate while he read through Golthar’s spellbook and the group sold off some loot, as well as explored the possibility of finding magical items for sale.

They also found a mage willing to attempt an Identify spell on some of the items they’d found. Alas, the spells proved mostly useless. But the pink jade ring was determined to allow control of certain magical statues. The group figured it must be for the pink statues they saw at Xitaqa. Through trial and error, Roger found that the other ring Golthar had been wearing was a Ring of Protection and proposed to keep it, but Martin was not convinced the ring shouldn’t be used by himself. Pavel put on the silver medallion and claimed he felt wiser, but no one was quite sure what the exact effects really were.

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1st Moldain Flaumont - 5th Lunadain, AC1000

After leaving the ogre lair, the party made good time upriver. Before long then spotted the escarpment across some grassland, about a mile northwest from the riverbank. As they headed toward it, they could just make out some sort of manmade structure on top of the bluff.

About halfway to their goal, Roger heard the sounds of hooves and a group of eight men on horses charged from around a hillock. The party quickly dispatched them and searched the dead. The men bore the manacle brands on their arms that the PCs had seen before. Gathering up the horses, the party hastily disguised themselves to look like the patrol. To explain the presence of the extra horses, they loosely bound Fyodor to appear as if he were a prisoner, and led him on a rope.

The group had nearly reached the cliff and could see ravines cut into the face which led into the side of the escarpment. When they were perhaps fifty yards away, there were hoots and shrieks as a pack of rock apes came charging up, throwing rocks and generally raising a lot of noise. The fight was over quickly, but the party decided to turn aside and make a wide circle toward the read of the escarpment.

They rode southwest for a few hours, then turned north. The ground was less flat and more rolling after a while. It was early afternoon when a bellow from ahead alerted them to a cantankerous hill giant in their path. The giant was easily twelve feet tall and demanded meat in crude Common. Martin rode forward a bit and offered the giant one of the horses they had taken from the dead patrol, but the giant was spoiling for a fight and demanded all the horses, throwing a boulder the size of a pig at Martin! Fortunately for the wizard, the rock missed him, and battle was joined.

The giant lay about him with a tree trunk cudgel, and Fyodor charged him with his spear. The party managed to slay the brute quickly and find its lair (just on the other side of the hill). In the cave was a rotted sack of food and another with a mix of coins, some quite old. The maxim about ogres and shiny coins seemed to hold true for giants as well! The group decided to press on to get closer to the the ruins before dark. By nightfall, the party was still a couple miles away, so they made camp on the plains.

It was after midnight when the sound of panicking horses alerted the party that something was drawing near. Six huge trolls came lumbering out of the dark and attacked the animals, causing them to start pulling their pickets and trying to flee. The characters jumped to defend themselves and the beasts.

The fight was brutal. The trolls ravenous and powerful. Fyodor attacked with his blade [i]Trollcutter[/i], but was lacking his armor since he had been off watch, resting. Martin managed to ensnare three of the trolls in a [i]Web[/i] spell. Roger and Cromartie fired arrows at them, but all the wounds kept closing and the trolls kept fighting. Roger lit the web on fire and the trolls inside shrieked in pain.

By now the horses that had not been slain had bolted. The three trolls in the web were dead from the flames and the party was holding its own against the remaining three.

Then Fyodor fell.

The three trolls surrounded him. He scored several hits, but was literally torn apart. With the loss of their best melee fighter, the party had no choice but to retreat. They fell back, leaving the trolls their prizes of horse and man-flesh.

After giving the trolls a few minutes to gorge, Cromartie crept forward and harried them with arrows to make them charge, then he retreated, still peppering them with arrows, drawing them off. The last the group saw of him, Cromartie was perhaps a hundred yards ahead of the trolls, leading them toward the rising sun, still firing arrows every so often to keep their attention fixed on him.

THe rest of the group set about recovering what mounts and gear they could. Roger found part of Fyodor’s skull and wrapped it up to take with, in case a priest could work some resurrection magic.
Broken skull
Of Fyodor’s gear, only the magic shield from the goblin lair, and Trollcutter survived. Roger took these with him as well.

It was day now, the party decided to retreat to the giant’s lair and lick their wounds while preparing their next move.

Upon arriving outside the cave, the party smelled woodsmoke. Someone (or something) was inside the lair. A cautious approach and hail were made. It turned out that two fighting men, a traladaran peltast (known as Spearhunter) and a dwarf warrior named Ollimarus, got separated from a caravan they had been guarding and had found the cave last night. Deciding neither group meant the other any harm, the exchanged news and the party invited the two warriors to join them, having lost both of their fighters.

During the night, giant flies came circling the rotting head of the hill giant that was staked out nearby, and some harassed the party, but the disgusting insects were driven off.

The party worked it way in a wide circle past where the trolls had attacked them and continued around to approach Xitaqa from the north. As they approached, Pavel sought beasts or birds to use his Speak with Animals spell on, in order to gather news. When he spotted shapes flying from the area of the ruins, his hopes were dashed when the group saw they were giant bats diving to attack. The bats were no match for the characters, though and soon they were all dead.

The group was now quite close to the ruins and could see it was some sort of tower, with part of the top crumbled or broken. The ravines they had seen from the escarpment side seemed to wind through the ground below them, like tunnels open to the sky.

A cautious descent into a nearby ravine revealed that there were carved stone edifices with doorways periodically along the walls. They were very ancient, but a few had doors in the frames. As a few of them investigated this, the sound of approaching feet was heard around the bend in the ravine. Roger crept forward and spied a goblin patrol with several baboons on leashes approaching.

The ensuing fight was over quickly. Martin’s Sleep spell once again used to great effect. Pavel healed and woke one wounded baboon, then used his spell on it to ask about the ruins. He tried to enlist the creatures in the party’s cause, but the beast wanted none of it and had little useful information to give. It scampered off quickly and left the party by itself again.

By now the day was getting old and the shadows long. The group moved along the ravines, which wound around and joined up with others. Roger climbed out occasionally and got his bearings on the tower. The edifices led into what looked like ancient dwelling cut into the sides of the passages. Most were empty, some held goblin beddings, a few had some goblins inside, which the party quickly dispatched. One dwelling had a tribe of baboons, but rather than fight them, the character quickly shut the door and left the beasts in peace. The simians did not pursue.

One of the last structures they looked in turned out to be an improvised stable, with a fine warhorse tethered inside. There was room for more mounts, so the party stabled their own beasts there for the time being, reasoning it was the last place anyone would expect to find a stranger’s horse.

Around the corner, the group found a open space with large bronze doors at the base of the tower facing in. There was also a structure partially sticking out of a wall by the tower with a heavy stone door that looked like it was part of the tower complex as well.

The party decided to forgo the bronze doors and check the stone one first. Ollimarus opened it up, revealing a cobwebbed and dusty room full of shelves, covered in scrolls and tomes. As he stepped in, he cautiously checked above the doorway. Thus he saw the gigantic black widow spider that dropped on him from atop a shelf! He blocked its bite with his shield and slashed with his axe. Spearhunter stabbed at it from behind the squat dwarf as well. The creature was badly hurt and retreated up into the webs. The party shut the door and considered the situation.

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Martin wished to see some of the papers inside, so they decided to quickly open the door and let him scan the shelves right next to the entrance. Ollimarus readied his crossbow and spied the arachnid up near the ceiling in the webs. He fired and it dropped behind the bookcase with a thud.

The party explored the rest of the room, Martin nearly being killed by a SECOND giant spider. After it was dead, he discovered an exquisite ebony writing set on a web covered desk that was crawling with tiny, immature spiders. He managed to sweep the bugs off and grab the set.

The documents were old and crumbling, written in a strange language. Martin found one set of three leather bound books that had survived the ages slightly better than the loose parchments.

The party cleared a path through the webs to a set of low stairs going up to a door. Beyond it was a large octagonal room with a few doors leading out, a low fountain basin in the center, tapestries hanging on two walls, and a jackal-headed statue in one corner.

A low growl came from behind a tapestry and out burst a hug white wolf and a hobgoblin warrior. The other curtain revealed a second white wolf. Martin’s Sleep spell dropped one wolf, but the warrior and the other kept charging. The wolf let loose an icy blast of breath on Pavel and Ollimarus.
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The fight was bloody, but the hobgoblin and wolf finally fell. The sleeping wolf was also dispatched. Martin discovered gold ingots hidden under the rubbish in the dried out fountain. More hobgoblins lay behind one door, which led to the main entrance foyer (with the bronze doors). Another jackal-headed statue was there too.

One of the other doors in the fountain room led downward, the other way had a spiral stairway going up. The party carefully worked their way to to the top of the steps, passing a landing, to reach a closed door. The sounds of angry voices could be heard behind the door.

The room contained a bizarre invisibility effect that covered most of the room, the prisoner Stephan, an evil wizard who left almost immediately, and an angry (invisibile) minotaur. The party managed to get past and pull Stephan (who was bound to a chair) out of the room, getting to the opposite stairway (where the wizard had been seen fleeing). Pavel had taken some hits from the monster in the process, but when everyone was clear of the room, they spiked the door shut and went up the steps after the wizard.
Minotaur

Bypassing a strange painting gallery with two statues of jackal-headed men, the group headed for the top floor. In the mage’s chambers, he blasted Ollimarus with a wand of fire. Roger managed to lasso both the mage and the dwarf as they fought, pinning the wizard’s arm, but not his wand hand, which he used to blast the dwarf again and ignite the rope. One of Spearhunter’s javelins struck home before the mage was freed. Fortunately for the dwarf, his axe hand was unpinned and he slashed upward at the wizard’s face, cutting open his throat. The mage collapsed in a bloody spray.

The room contained much treasure, including a silver needle and golden thread that seemed to be connected with the Sukiskyn Tapestry, according to Stephan’s story. Roger explored the room and the rooftop and declared the room safe enough to rest in (it now being nearly midnight). Nightly and Pavel healed those who were wounded and checked Stephan’s health. Then the party blocked the door and settled in for the remainder of the night.

The following morning, the party left the wizard’s quarters and descended tot he gallery once more. The gallery’s paintings were quite old and depicted portraits of more jackal-headed humanoids in fine robes. Some of the pictures had spy holes in them and hid secret doors to a concealed corridor which circled the room. Roger carefully tossed a rope around one statue and dragged it partway toward the door. Even though they were only four feet tall, they appeared to be solid pink jade. Each easily weighted over three hundred pounds. The group decided the statues would be too difficult to transport and left them there.

Before re-entering the room with the invisibility, Martin cast an illusion of the wizard to order the creature to back off as the party passed. Sounds of confused snorting followed, but the beast did not attack.

The phantasm of Golthar the wizard led the group down the steps to the room where they’d fought the ice wolves and the hobgoblin. There was still one door they had not explored: the one leading down.

The stairs led to an underground chamber, divided by alcoved walls. The room appeared to be a crypt, but no sign of remains were to be seen. As the group started to explore, Roger and Ollimarus started around a corner and were suddenly flanked by a pair of attacking gelatinous cubes! Roger backpedaled from the nigh-transparent ooze, but the dwarf was caught leaning and the corrosive slime burned into his arm, secreting paralyzing toxins into his system.

Ollimarus was engulfed by one cube as Roger retreated. Nightly managed to evade the other cube and cast Resist Fire on Ollimarus before the party peppered the cube with oil and flame. Martin using the wand he had taken from the mage. Pavel circled the room to attack from behind, but was also engulfed by the cube. The cube without a victim was destroyed first, followed shortly by its counterpart, freeing the dwarf just before he suffocated.

Ollmarus’s gear was mostly demolished. His backpack and nearly all its contents were in tatters. His shield was corroded beyond use, but his axes and mail had withstood the acid. Pavel was not so badly hurt, having only been in contact with the corrosive and toxic slime for a short time. Nightly used her healing magic to free them from the effects of the poison and healed the wounded as much as possible.

At this point, the party decided to use the rest of the daylight to get out of the ruins and Stephan to safety. They quickly left the tower and headed for their mounts. Taking the warhorse as an extra mount (so Stephan could ride), the galloped through the ravines toward the river. Once in the open, the headed back to the dead hill giant’s lair. Finding it empty, the picketed the horses and caught their breath.

When Stephan was asleep. Pavel took the needle and thread they’d found and set it to the tapestry Fyodor and Roger had “brought along” from Sukiskyn. The needle moved on its own, stitching the glowing thread through th efabric. It pulled together parts of the tapestry making it into a coherent map. Then it outlined a path from from an area the resembled Xitaqa’s location to a location in the northern mountains. The thread around the destination pulsed and glowed for several seconds.

Among the wizard’s treasure had been a scroll case holding a page written in the same ancient language they’d seen in the spider-infested library. Roger looked over the books that Martin had taken and compared it to the letter. He was able to piece together what it said.

I Baistqet, high priestess, do command your return to Hutaaka. The starts have changed and our power wanes. Strange creatures harry us from the mountains and our people grow restless. We are stretched too thin. Bring the treasures of the temples and the people of the lowlands to feed the one. The sacred tapestries and your silver needles show the path.

After completing the rough translation, Roger spent the rest of the evening appraising some of the treasure they’d found. By his estimates, if they could get the loot back to civilization, they’d see a tidy profit indeed.

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