Tomb of Abysthor

Preliminary Information on the Camp, the Desolation, the Army of Light, and Lord Bishu's Knights
Information is your friend!

The Camp

The Camp is a small town of approximately 400 souls that exists at the edge of civilization, on the very brink of the Desolation’s southern edge. The ancient trade road, now little used, runs directly through the Camp and on into the Desolation itself. The Camp gained its name from its origins as being little more than a stopover spot near a good well to prepare for a run across the Desolation or to recover from such a run. When a permanent settlement sprang up, it retained the name since its function really hadn’t changed. The locale consists mainly of stony, hard-packed soil that barely supports the few garden plots grown by the Camp’s inhabitants. The climate is arid and warm, getting hot in the dry depths of summer. When winter winds howl down from the north, however, without any foliage to serve as windbreaks, the temperature plummets to well below freezing and can remain there for weeks at a time. It is during these months that the population of the Camp diminishes as the folk abandon the inhospitable place or die of exposure. It is also during this season that dust storms are prone to sweep in off the Desolation dropping up to two feet of sediment and forcing everyone to stay under cover as much as possible. The rainy season occurs during the late fall, though rainfall is always sporadic at best. Only occasionally do the wadis of the Desolation fill with flash floods.

The Desolation

The Desolation is a vast expanse of wasted, war-torn fields. They felt the tramp of countless soldiers’ feet and drank the blood of humans and other creatures beyond imagining. Mighty engines of war and works of horrific magic slammed into the armies maneuvering across the countryside and left only death in their wake. So powerful was the magic involved, so pervasive the terrors unleashed that even now, centuries later, the lands remained indelibly marked by the legacy of battle. Where once verdant plains and fertile fields stood, there are now only ashes and boiling craters of ooze. The Desolation does not bear the characteristic fires and brimstone of what many would consider in the traditional sense, but it is often likened to the Abyss nonetheless. Smoking fumaroles and burning gas vents would actually enliven this land. Instead there is only the depressingly bleak landscape of gray fading into the haze of the horizon. The Desolation stretches roughly 70 miles east and west and 50 miles north to south. Its southern boundary, marked by the tiny refuge known as the Camp, gradually rises to the stony hills that mark the northern edge of the civilized kingdoms. To the north, the trade road passes another set of hills into the Realm of the Mammoth Lords before giving way to the Crown of the World and eventually the fabled lands of Tian Xia. East the Desolation gradually enters the ravaged land of the Worldwound before finally reaching Mendev, the Estrovian Forest, and the shores of the Lake of Mists and Veils. The western edge is the Desolation’s clearest demarcation as the sheer vertical cliffs of the Tusk Mountains march along parallel to the trade road, visible as a seemingly impassible wall of gray stone. The climate of the Desolation is universally dry. A few gully-washers hit in the late fall, but otherwise it remains bone dry. In fact, the ground stays so dry that there is an almost constant haze from whitish, powder-like dust that rises with the constant breezes. This haze lends to the overall gloominess and feeling of isolation and claustrophobia that is sometimes experienced on this otherwise wide-open plain. Occasional dust storms whip up and race south, usually petering out before reaching the Camp. These billowing white clouds are called bone storms because of the general opinion that the white dust is actually the powdered remains of the fallen soldiers’ bones trampled underfoot by the armies and then left to bake in the sun for centuries. Visiting necromancers have taken samples before and tend to concur that there is some truth to these tales. In the summer the temperatures rise as high as the 90s with an extremely low humidity, but in the winter, bitterly cold winds come down off the mountains to the northwest and create conditions well below freezing for weeks at a time. The Desolation is divided into four quadrants. These are clearly marked by the two roads that cross in the Desolation’s center. The landscape even tends to change somewhat, roughly corresponding to these artificial dividers. The four quadrants are called, going counter-clockwise from southeast to southwest, The Ashen Waste, The Chaos Rift, The Boiling Lands, and The Dead Fields. Further there is a fifth section of the Desolation that corresponds to no particular quadrant. This is composed of the roads themselves that bisect the Desolation and the ruined city around which all of these lands lie and is called the Crossroads. The Desolation is somber and depressing, first and foremost an abandoned battlefield. Thousands of beings died here, good and evil, extraplanar and mundane, celestial and abyssal. It is almost as if the lands retain a memory of that time of strife and countless horrors, with the wind seeming to sing a funeral dirge, low and constant.

The Army of Light and Lord Bishu’s Knights of Fifty-and-One

No description of the Desolation would be complete without an explanation of those who once fought here. No one knows for sure what all and how many fought from within the stained walls of Tsar, unless Orcus keeps such a tally somewhere on his own abysmal plane, but the forces arrayed against the Demon Prince are well-documented in the dusty archives of Lastwall. The impetus for the crusade came from an alliance formed by the patriarchs of the holy churches of Aroden and Iomedae and the kingdoms of Sarkoris and Lastwall in 3850 AR. Led by the aged Overking of Sarkoris, Graeltor, this alliance put all the civilized kingdoms behind it as well as almost all of the good and neutral faiths. To remove any suspicion of divisive religious zealotry or hidden agendas, the entire force was placed under the secular command of Graeltor’s most trusted advisor and strategist, the archmage Zelkor. Though the religious stamp was left off of the overall crusade, the troops certainly welcomed the addition of celestial allies when the battle was finally joined. Immediately below Zelkor were his own advisors and aides de camp, a who’s who of the greatest heroes, generals, and war captains of that day. They each commanded a section of the army and did much of the day-to-day planning and tactics while Zelkor, with their assistance, created and implemented the overall strategies and maneuvering of the Army of Light. The patriarchs Grennell of Aroden and Phestus of Iomedae stood high among the officers of the army, for it was they who originally petitioned the overking and led to the army’s muster. Strangely, equal to them in influence within the Army of Light was the church of Pharasma, goddess of birth, death, fate, and prophecy, and her high priestess Akbeth. Many within the Army of Light opposed the addition of this neutral faith to their ranks, but the followers of Pharasma despised the followers of Orcus as much as did the goodly faiths because of Orcus’ role as Lord of the Undead. Because the legions were under the secular control of Zelkor the patriarchs of the good churches were forced to grudgingly accept the services offered by Pharasma and her followers. It proved much to their benefit when the Battle of Tsar entered its most deadly stage as magical attacks and plagues rained down from the priests and wizards of Orcus. Then the powerful clerics and sorcerers of Pharasma were able to respond with attacks against the foe of a kind the goodly-aligned spell-casters were unable or unwilling to make. One other reason existed that Zelkor willingly allowed the seemingly incongruent followers of Pharasma to join in the crusade. That reason was Akbeth’s lover, the peerless archmage Agamemnon, who joined in the fight and served as a wild card on the battlefield that the followers of Orcus had neither expected nor prepared for. The patriarchs and matriarchs of other faiths held prominent positions as well over their crusader followers: Kirba of Sarenrae, Tondallah of Abadar, Virrikus of Desna, and Dawncry of Shelyn to name a few. Other commanders of the forces of light included the heroic paladin-lords Navarre and Bishu, the Justicars of Iomedae Alaric of Egede and Gerrant of Absalom, the knight commanders Saracek. Brandt Dracobane, Argos the aasimar-knight, and Carileus Grezell the incomparable swordsman, and the elven warrior-maiden Shelfaer. Augmenting these martial heroes were other personages of renown including the powerful cleric and wizard twins Plethor and Xillin, the wizardess Deserach, consort of Lord Navarre, the priest-mages of Pharasma Nemethiar and the elf Phalen, the sorceress Itara, and the mysterious wizard Me’Nak. Of the dwarves came King Kroma leading his doughty warriors from the Sky Citadel of Jormurdun. The elven lords Ulo and Tarrazal brought archers and spearmen from Kyonin. The storm giant Thraestos brought a troop of his brethren and lesser kin. Even Queen Tyrissta of Cheliax brought contingents of gnomish and halfling skirmishers. But the nonhuman forces were not limited to the mortal realms. From the heavenly planes, leading legions of celestial allies, were the empyreal angel Naphrathoth, the leonal agathian Lord Karask, the hound archon Amaleal, and the planetar general Nimrod. In all over 140,000 soldiers, wizards, clerics, and knights—human, elven, dwarven, giantish, gnomish, halfling, and celestial—stood on the fields before the stained walls of Tsar. Most controversial of all those allied with the Army of Light was the sorcerer Slavish. A powerful spell-caster—some said the equal of Zelkor or Agamemnon even—Slavish was also a devoted follower of Asmodeus. Slavish’s devil-liege was also lawfully aligned and therefore opposed to the demonic chaos of Orcus, but the forces of good were unwilling to admit him into their ranks. Allowing a follower of an Archduke of Hell, the opposite end of the evil spectrum from the demons of Orcus, was considered anathema to their cause by many of the goodly host. However, Zelkor’s judgment to admit him finally prevailed in light of what Slavish had to offer to the cause. For Slavish was not only a powerful sorcerer but also bore the sword Demonbane, an artifact so powerful it was said to be capable of slaying Orcus himself. In fact, it was forged by the hands of Asmodeus for that very purpose. With such a potent weapon in their midst, Zelkor felt the Army of Light could not afford to turn away the help offered by Slavish. Thus, the servant of an arch-devil was the last member admitted into the Army of Light before the march for Tsar. For more than a year, the Army of Light bivouacked on the plains surrounding the city of Tsar. While the battles raged around the city’s walls, these camps stood as veritable cities in their own right, only occasionally moving due to the depletion of resources or in response to counterattacks. The soldiers of this army lived, built, ate, and died, in these vast camp-cities as the war raged around them, and more than one burial mound and war monument was raised among them to commemorate some lost hero or valorous deed. Eventually the forces of Tsar retreated and the city was abandoned—a victory for the Army of Light, or so the historians say. Yet when the triumphant armies packed up and departed in pursuit of their foes, they left behind a necropolis of elaborate tombs and simple graves, as well as the scarred remains of one of the most horrific attacks in the war, spread out over hundreds of square miles.  What had been a victorious armed camp became a desolate, depleted plain, still haunted by its ghosts of victory.

Sister Sarah has located in the temple archives a set of orders issued by Zelkor during the Battle of Tsar that somehow survived and were transported back to Lastwall. These orders detail the assignment of the paladin lord Bishu and his company, the Fifty and One, adherents to the faith of Iomedae, to hold the city of Tsar and await relief from the Army of Light. Lord Bishu was always thought lost in the Dungeon of Graves like the rest of the Army of Light. The fact that he never returned and the possibility that he or some of his command may have survived for some time at Tsar holding to their duty has ignited the church hierarchy. What did Bishu accomplish during his time in the city? Do his bones, surely now sacred relics of the church, still rest there awaiting repatriation? Could he or any of his knights somehow by the grace of the gods have survived all the intervening span of years and man their posts still awaiting relief? The church cannot afford to send any of its own on a possibly foolhardy mission into unknown danger with only a small hope of success, but adventuring parties are often to known to undertake such assignments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Session 17
The end is only the beginning . . ..

<u>Session 17: Desnus 9, 4717 AR-Desnus 31, 4717 AR</u>

After a brief debate, you all decided to avoid the area to the north and instead explore the various side passages radiating from the grand cavern. The area to the west/southwest was dominated by another large cavern that showed signs of lots of traffic but was currently empty. There were two other exits from this cavern, both leading southwest. The first exit appeared to be a long tunnel that connected this level with the Darklands, so you quickly abandoned your exploration of it. The second exit led to a series of smaller galleries that were dominated by a variety of fungi. Here you also found a sinkhole and some stairs that led back down to Level 6 (the Behir lair).

Returning to the main gallery, you crossed over to the southern exit through a small pool of water. Once on the other side of the pool, you found yourselves in an immense cavern that extended out of sight in all directions. As you were exploring it, you were attacked by a strange creature that had disguised itself as a stalagmite. It had a huge mouth, 6 ropey tentacles, and one large central eye. This was a desperate fight as the creature immediately roped in Drebb, who learned to his horror that the tentacles oozed a substance that sapped his strength. Nearly helpless, he was swept into the thing’s toothy maw and bitten repeatedly. He was saved from certain death by the heroics of Drinna, Gambler, and Belflin. As you eventually beat the beast down and killed it, getting it to release Drebb in the process, you heard two more of the creatures approaching from the darkness. Grabbing Drebb’s body, you all retreated as Belflin laid down covering fire and set up a wall of flame using his alchemist’s fire (the creature had been particularly vulnerable to fire).

Atish was able to save Drebb from the brink of death and he used Sarenrae’s healing powers to restore the Dwarf’s strength. Drinna wanted to return and the sinkholes to the southwest so you all agreed. As you entered the southwestern gallery, you encountered a band of Troglodytes coming up from the Darklands. Any chance of negotiating a peaceful passage ended when you all could not understand their language and Atish spotted their shaman wearing a holy symbol of Rovagug. Despite the foul smell these creatures emitted, you all defeated them fairly easily but managed to take the chieftain alive. Belflin then used minor torture (which caused a brief argument with Atish) to learn from the chieftain that the black monolith lay through the passage to the east of the grand gallery. This was quite the accomplishment considering the language barrier, and even Atish was impressed.

The passage east ended in a small nondescript cave with no apparent exits. A thorough search of the room revealed that there was an illusory wall hiding a stairway leading down. Descending the stairs, the bizarre nature of the next level became apparent. The walls seemed to breathe, and the floor seemed to be covered in a fine, uniform, sandy material, each grain perfectly rounded and clear, as if made of little balls of glass. At the bottom of the stairs, you were greeted by a group of bipedal, frog-like humanoids along with a pair of saber-toothed frogs. Despite the fact that Drebb was entangled in some time of filthy slime emitted by the frogs, the fight was pretty easy. You determined that these beings were probably set here as guards.

The southern part of this L-shaped cavern was covered in brown mold, an underground hazard that absorbed heat from most living creatures. Belflin used magic to communicate with the mold and got it to retreat up the wall, allowing you all safe passage. Beyond the mold cavern there were passageways of the strange red-rock substance leading to the east and west. Heading west, the corridor branched off with another way south. Taking the southern branch, you came to an amazing site. The hallway ended, but in the center of the floor at the end of the hallway was a great mithral seal, fully 10 feet wide and inscribed with Celestial runes and wards against evil. Examining the seal, you all discovered a key-hole, but there was no other visible means of bypassing it.

Returning back to the main corridor, you headed east. Drinna and Gambler, who were scouting seemed to disappear into thin air, so the rest of you rushed to join your companions. Apparently, you all had gone through a teleportal and been deposited in a man-made maze. In the distance, you all heard the soft sounds of a harp playing. Following the sounds, you came across the occasional remnants of Orcus worshippers and the frog-like humanoids. Eventually, you came out into a central chamber where you found the source of the music.

Lounging upon a divan and playing a harp, surrounded by fine wine, bread, cheese, and exotic fruits, was a strange-looking creature. The upper body was that of a beautiful human female with blonde hair and blue eyes. Great eagle wings sprang from her shoulders, while her lower torso was that of a magnificent lion. She introduced herself as Pandora, guardian of Abysthor’s tomb. Atish identified her a Celestial Sphinx from the Upper Planes. You all assured her that you were not servants of Orcus and not in league with the frog-folk. She proceeded to explain where you were and what she was doing here.

In his final days, Abysthor had been guided by Iomedae to build his tomb here as a ward against the arrival of the Black Monolith. He then created this maze as a way to block outside access to this dread artifact. Pandora surmised that Abysthor had then failed to dismiss or destroy the artifact, as she was still here. Alas, even though she was convinced of your intent to finish the job Abysthor had started, she could not risk allowing you to pass unless you answered three riddles. Atish, Drinna, and Belflin answered her riddles and she gave you all a key to disable the teleporter and leave the maze, opening the way to the Monolith. She warned that the maze would disappear forever and expressed her hope that the party could succeed.

Following Pandora’s instructions, you all deactivated the teleportal and returned to the Prime Material plane. As promised, you found the way forward open. Proceeding, you all came a cavern and at last beheld the object of your quest. The room contained a vast sinkhole, fully 40 feet deep, with steep walls plummeting down into the darkness. Within this hole was a large stone monolith, composed of pure, black stone and covered with Abyssal glyphs. No means of opening or affecting the monolith were obvious, though the southwest side of the stone contained a 2-inch diameter hole. Drinna searched the floor of the sinkhole and found a chunk of the monolith that matched the indentation.

Setting the chunk into the indentation caused a shimmering black portal to appear, and you all stepped through. The inside of the monolith was 20 feet square (larger than its exterior dimensions), with a flat shelf resting about 4 feet off the floor. On this shelf were twelve pairs of holes into which one may place his or her hands. Atish immediately felt cut off from his connection to Sarenrae, and you all noticed a pile of bones and equipment, which you assumed was Abysthor. Before you could do much more than take in this initial scene, you all were attacked by Abysthor’s spirit, which had become corrupted. After defeating this dread wraith (which drained some of the life force from Drebb), you examined the remains and found Abysthor’s diary. Apparently, any being who was of good heart or adhered to the tenets of law and order could place his or her hands in the slots and willingly give their essence to destroy the artifact. On the other hand, chaotic and evil beings who sacrificed themselves in this way could provide enough power to open a gate to the Abyss. Abysthor’s sacrifice had not been quite enough life energy to accomplish the destruction of the artifact. Drinna, Belflin, Atish, and Drebb decided to finish the job. There was an explosion as they placed their hands in the holes and they awoke outside the burial halls. Gambler had dragged his companions to safety through the gate as the monolith imploded, causing levels 4-6 to collapse, burying the Earth’s Blood for all time. Drebb was very distraught over this development, but agreed it was sacrifice worth making to rid the multiverse of the Black Monolith.

The journey back to Vigil was uneventful. Sister Sarah was elated to see that the burial halls had been cleansed and the Black Monolith destroyed. She took the artifacts of Abysthor (his armor, mace, and holy symbol), which Gambler had managed to save, and placed them as relics in the temple. After a few days of rest, Sister Sarah summoned you and asked if you would like to undertake another mission for the Church of Iomedae. Atish used his magic to contact his superior back in Qadira and received permission to continue helping this allied faith.

Sister Sarah offered you all two missions. The first was to explore the Dungeon of Graves (Rappan Athuk) and destroy the remaining temple of Orcus in its depths. The second was to travel to the ruined city of Tsar and discover what had become of Sir Percival’s Knights of Fifty-and-One during that long-ago battle. Belflin opined that he had had enough of dungeons for a while and wanted to travel to Tsar. No one objected, so you all accepted this offer. Sister Sarah then introduce you to a strange female Gnome named Mag, who she said could supply you with arcane magical support in your quest. Each of you will be given a noble title and your choice of an estate in Lastwall or 10,000 Gp.

Your mission is several-fold. First you will travel to the small community that has sprung up near Tsar known as the Camp. Then you will explore the region around Tsar, a blasted terrain known collectively as the Desolation. You are to clear this region and prepare it for settlement. Then you are to enter Tsar and look for the remains of the Knights of Fifty-and-One, a group of knights serving Iomedae and Aroden who had been tasked with exploring the city after it was abandoned by the host of Orcus nearly a thousand years past. If remains can be found, they are to be returned to Vigil for proper consecration and burial. Sister Sarah will provide you with a list of rumors about the Camp and the Wastes, as well as a rough map of the region and a list of the members of Sir Bishu’s group.

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Session 16
Filth, Frogs, and Drow

<u>Session 16: Desnus 1, 4717 AR-Desnus 9, 4717 AR</u>

The return journey to the Burial Halls was mainly uneventful aside from two encounters with the now ubiquitous spiders of the forest. Aside from a very brief cold snap, the weather was mild and it seemed that the winter was finally behind you. Yon the 8th of the month, you descended back to the level where you had fought the strange vampire and proceeded to explore it further. Aside from a fiendish phasing giant spider that seriously wounded Belflin and a few magical traps, the level was empty. You did, however, find signs that an earlier group had spent significant time camped herein, although you could not surmise whether it was the Orcus priests, the petrified adventurers, or another group entirely.

You did find an exit that connected this level to the larger second level of the complex. Continuing your exploration of the second level, you ran into three oytughs who had taken up residence in a latrine area. After dispatching these odious beasts, the party then came to an area of magical darkness that hid a plate-mail clad zombie, which you all assumed had been set here as a guardian. Atish used the power of Sarenrae to penetrate the darkness, allowing the party to continue its exploration.

Eventually, you came to a cavern that contained a large, human-like head standing 8 feet tall. It had a blank stare and a closed mouth, giving you the distinct impression that it was on the verge of speaking one very powerful word. The statue radiated neither good nor evil, but it did radiate magic—a dim flicker, deep within and distant. The radiation of magic is due to the fact that the root of this statue reaches down into a pool of earth blood, and the power courses through the statue. Drinna and Drebb recognized this statue as an earth spirit connected to the Hungry Mountains. Dwarven lore posited that it spoke the word that made these mountains when Torag commanded it, and that it would one day speak the word that shall destroy them. It is said that a spirit such as this exists within every formation of earth that is a distinct entity: mountain ranges, gorges, hills, cliffs, and so on. Further, it is said that these spirits, if found, may be made to reveal the words that they can speak—words of great power.

Leaving the awe-inspiring earth spirit, you all eventually came to a small cavern that held a cask of wine and a cask of water as well as a sleeping bag in a backpack. The pack also contained 50 feet of rope, iron spikes, two small sacks, two vials of unholy water, and flint and steel in a tinderbox. This was obviously someone’s escape route and emergency equipment. Proceeding further, you came to a room that appeared to be someone’s study. It contained several tables, bookshelves and a desk. It also has a cask of both water and wine and a large barrel holding iron rations along with three chests. The tables held several neat stacks of parchment detailing the studies of a renegade Drow named Natasha who had come to these caverns to experiment on vermin. She detailed how there was a malign force further north on this level that was creating corrupted stirges. The notes also went into her competition with the strange vampire named Balcoth you had previously sought. Most importantly, however, the notes detailed how to reach level 5. According to Natasha, this level was filled with evil, sentient frog beings that worshipped a foul deity known as Tsathogga. The way to reach level 5 was through a pool of water in the northeastern sections of level 1. Atish also looted the book on the shelves, which contained information of Natasha’s patron Nocticula, the demon goddess of darkness, assassins, and revenge as well as information on the Drow and their abhorrent practice of fleshwarping.

You all decided to rest here and set up an ambush for Natasha. She never arrived, and it appeared that she caught wind of your presence and had fled back into the Darklands. Atish prayed to Sarenrae for magic to help you all breather water, and you proceeded to the pool. Swimming beneath the pool, you all had to fight six giant poisonous frogs before emerging into a cavern that contained stairs leading down. These stairs were guarded by 6 more of the giant frogs, which you all dispatched with ease.

Descending about 250 feet, the party came into a great cavern with a vaulted ceiling reaching 100 feet into the darkness above. In the north side of the cavern was a large, fetid lake smelling of swamp water and decay. The walls and floors of this area were slime and fungus covered, in part due to the heat and humidity associated with the entirety of this level and in part due to the cultivation of such things by the local inhabitants. Molds and mushrooms sprouted from every crack and crevice, while water dripped from the ceiling in thick, gooey droplets, occasionally dripping on those below. Pale green light emanated from a raised platform at the other end of the lake, creating vast areas of shadow, and allowing vision to a range of 200 feet. This area appeared to be heavily traveled. There was a passage to the south that was dark and is bisected by a pool of water. There was a small side passage to the east and a large gallery leading southwest that split into two larger passages. Taking a deep breath, you all prepared to explore this level, hoping the end of your quest was near.

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Session 15
Vampires from other realities tend to complicate things!

<u>Session 15: Gozran 1, 4717 AR-Gozran 30, 4717 AR</u>

Over the last couple of weeks in Vigil, Henri had researched more on Abytshor and the history of the burial complex. Aside from the basic history you already knew, the wizard uncovered the following facts:

The reason that the shrines and burial hall were built where they were is because this portion of the Hungry Mountains has always been known as a nexus of the planes.

The real source of power for the burial hall complex is a fountain of Earth’s Blood, which is guarded by powerful elemental spirits put in place by Torag.

Abysthor received visions from Iomedae that an evil artifact known as the Black Monolith had appeared deep in the burial halls and that he was to create his tomb to guard and prevent access to this artifact.

Henri also learned that Abysthor wielded a powerful mace and that his holy symbol was rumored to summon a Celestial avatar of Aroden in the form of a Griffon.

Armed with this new information, you all set out on the 1st. Your return journey to the burial complex was relatively uneventful. The weather was mild, but you had a cold day to remind you that winter had not yet lost its grip on the land. As you arrived in the woods on the 7th, you fought a pack of wolves led by a worg. They waited until you were engaged with several the ubiquitous spiders, but you drove off or killed all the beasts and vermin with ease.

On the 8th you all descended to the 4th level of the complex, using Henri’s magic to home in on the Black Monolith. You descended the great pit towards the Darklands, but were frustrated in your efforts when you could find no direct path to the Monolith through the solid rock.

You returned to the burial halls to rest and plot your next move and after consulting your map, found that there were two stairways leading up from the 6th level that you had not explored. On the 9th, you all explored the first set of stairs and came out onto what Drebb estimated was the second level of the complex. You were in a man-made portion of the dungeon, and the rooms and corridors were immaculately clean. There were a few minor magical traps, illusionary walls, and a trapped false door through which the party had to maneuver before you came to a portion of the level that opened back up into natural caverns. You fought and killed a Rust Monster before coming to a series of corridors that were shrouded in unnatural gloom.

Belflin and Drebb, along with light provided by Atish, helped you navigate this maze of corridors. The maze was guarded by a couple of the strange Chokers of the type you had encountered earlier in your explorations, but they were no match for your group. Finally, you all came out into a cavern that was decorated in strange runes on the floor. As Gambler attempted to disarm the runes, a strange being stepped into the room. He seemed human, but was oddly proportioned with a long face, long fingers, pointed ears, a pale complexion, red eyes, and long incisors. He spoke with an accent that none of you could identify. He demanded to know who you were and why you had entered his lair. He became intrigued when you revealed that you were searching for the Black Monolith and asked what your purpose was in seeking this artifact. You offered to team up with him, but any hopes of a peaceful resolution were dashed when Atish revealed that you all sought to destroy the evil object. The man detonated his glyphs remotely, plunging the room into supernatural darkness and severely wounding everyone in the party except for Gambler and Drinna with a Fireball and cloud of poisonous gas. Knowing you were outmatched, you all fled to consider your options.

After resting, you all decided to return to the strange wizard’s lair and take the offensive. Drinna and Atish suspected that the being was some type of Vampire, so you all buffed yourselves accordingly. The fight was short, but intense. Drebb, Drinna, Belflin, and Gambler forced the wizard to assume gaseous form and then Atish burned the foul creature from existence by channeling the power of Sarenrae through his light spell. Searching the complex, you all found a treasure trove that included some money, minor magical its, spell scrolls, and research on planar travel, all written in a strange form of Common. Apparently, the wizard, Balcoth by name, was a man from another plane who was trying to capture the power of the Black Monolith and had tracked it here as it journeyed through several different plans and realities.

Henri requested to return to Vigil so that he could study the scrolls. Drebb also now had money to enhance his axe and wanted the priests of Iomedae to imbue it with holy power. The return to Vigil was uneventful and you arrived back on the 18th. You spent the rest of the month resting, training, and researching.

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Session 14
It's amazing how easy you can achieve your goal when the wizard remembers he has Locat Object!

<u>Session 14: Pharast 10, 4717 AR-Pharast 31, 4717 AR</u>

You resumed your exploration and came to a long cavern that was filled with tell-tale Cave Fisher nodes high up on the walls. There were too many this time to use Henri’s flaming sphere as supplemented by Gambler the exterminator. Figuring that Koetter was too big for the vermin to pull him up into their lairs with their filaments, you all sent the wolf ahead to flush out the Cave Fishers where you all would then kill them with missile fire and magic. This worked to perfection, but the noise of battle drew a young Bulette. Gambler amused the group by diving down off the wall onto the Bulettes and riding it like a bucking bronco as he repeatedly stabbed it in vulnerable areas. When the dust settled, there were 18 dead Cave Fishers, a dead young Bulette, and a cleared passage.

Beyond the long cavern was an immense gallery with two western, one southern, and one eastern exit. This complex was about 200’ across and 60’ at its highest. There were several large columns made of fused stalactites and stalagmites, and in the western portion a pool of water was fed ever so slowly by water dripping from the ceiling. The southern section of the cavern was sectioned off by an immense natural rock formation. The walls and floor of the gallery were covered with fungus of various shapes and sizes, from mold to mushrooms, and there were two sections of churned up earth that indicated possible Bulette activity. At the entrance to the gallery you found two more statues, one of a dwarf with an axe at his feet in the process of shielding his eyes, and the other of a female half-elf dressed in an explorer’s outfit lying on her back with a look of terror on her face trying to scurry backward. Finally, there were several more statues inside the cavern—eight dire rats and a male human holding up a holy symbol of Iomedae and trying to avert his eyes.

Gambler was sent to scout the room, but as he neared the pool, his movement caused six human-sized purple mushrooms emit a piercing sound that lasted for about half a minute. As he retreated back to the party, two young Bulettes erupted from the sections of broken earth and charged the party. The fight was brief but vicious, with Gambler repeating his tactic against the Bulette from earlier, and no one was seriously wounded. The few wounds you all received were healed through the power of Sarenrae.

Taking the southern exit, you came upon another statue, this one of a male elf in wizard’s robes with a raised staff. This passageway branched, with a passageway heading west and a small cave to the east bisected by a natural rock formation. The cave contained two statues—an oytugh and a male human in an explorer’s outfit with a dagger and his back to the wall—and a southern exit.

You all decided to head back west and came to a long gallery where the floor was churned up from Bulette activity. As you sent Gambler to scout the gallery, you heard the sound of claws clicking on stone from behind you. Belflin wheeled around and let out an arrow while Atish uttered a prayer to Sarenrae that bolstered the party while hindering the actions of any enemies. Belflin’s arrow lsammed into an eight-legged reptilian creature whose eyes glowed with baleful green energy, but luckily, he was too far away to be affected by the creature’s gaze. Atish, Belflin, and Drinna were alert enough to retreat towards Gambler, but they watched in horror as a second creature emerged, with the two moving to engage Henri and Drebb, who had been slow to act. Your two companions were both bitten by the creatures, but Drebb swung wildly behind himself with his axe and connected the beast attacking him, cutting the thing in two, while Drinna and Atish took out beast on Henri with missile fire.

You barely had time to catch your breath, before a young Bulette, drawn by the commotion, burst from the earth in the gallery and attacked. Gambler was prepared, however, and leaped onto it with both daggers, where he was assisted by Drinna. Henri identified the reptilian creatures as Basilisks and also informed the party that the beasts’ blood could be used to return some of the petrified victims to their normal state. While Henri and Atish harvested enough blood to restore five petrified creatures, Gambler finished scouting the gallery, where he found only a petrified giant spider. Belflin, Drebb, and Drinna headed back to the Basilisks’ lair, which was just south of the eastern spur cave and collected about 25,000 gold pieces in coinage, gems, and jewelry as well as a magical scroll, belt, and ring. In addition, there were five more statues—a male Halfling in creep mode, with a dagger out and his cloak pulled tight around him, two charging male human warriors with swords and raised shields raised, a male human warrior with a mirror in one hand and a sword in the other, and an elf bowman in firing position.

You all decided to restore the priest of Iomedae first. After recovering from his initial terror and confusion, he revealed himself to be Anders, a priest in the service of the Golden Sword temple in Vigil. He had come to the complex about nine months ago with a band of hired adventurers and mercenaries, hoping to find the tomb of Abysthor and to clean out the complex. There had been no sign of the Orcus cult at that time, and the party had found its way to this level, where they were ambushed and scattered by the Basilisks, who had hunted them down one by one and petrified or eaten them. He made the difficult decision on which four of his comrades to restore with the remaining Basilisks blood you had harvested. He chose to restore Brelar, the elf wizard, caroltta, the half-elf ranger, Dalmar, the human sorcerer, and Eldon, a human fighter. The restored group gave you their thanks and set off to return to Vigil and report in on your progress. They hoped that someone in the city would be powerful enough to restore their remaining comrades.

Proceeding back to the fungi cave, you all headed down the eastern exit, which eventually brought you to a small cave with an iron-bound door installed in its eastern wall, which itself showed signs of being worked by intelligent beings. In front of the door was a statue of a priest of Orcus fleeing in terror. He had apparently made the mistake of looking over his shoulder and been caught in a Basilisk’s petrifying gaze. As Atish and Belflin debated the merits of destroying the statue, and thus permanently killing the priest, Drebb stepped forward and toppled it. Atish was mildly upset because he had wanted to possibly give the man a chance at redemption should he somehow be restored to flesh.

Gambler examined the door and found that there was a thin sheet of lead built into its core, but he failed to find the magical ward on the door, which released a cloud of noxious vapors when Drebb opened the portal after Gambler unlocked it. Atish dispelled the magical gas before it could unduly harm the party. Beyond was what appeared to be a wizard’s workshop, but it had been thoroughly looted in the recent past. Belflin found evidence that the looters had been a human male and an elven female on separate occasions. You all also noticed that this whole room and the exit door to the east were lined with lead.

The exit door was not trapped and beyond a corridor led to raised circular platform that contained a statue of a Vrock. As you all stepped forward to examine, the thing animated and attacked. This time, you all were more prepared for a demon, and after most of the party took out the creature’s dreaded mirror images, Belflin dispatched the foul beast back to the Abyss with consecutive bulls-eye shots from his bow. Koetter was severely wounded, however, in the brief skirmish, and Atish and Belflin tended his wounds.

Returning to the fungi cave, you all decided to check the southernmost western exit. Belflin detected the tracks of some of the psionic Chokers you all had encountered on the other levels, so you proceeded with caution. After about 40 feet, the passageway debouched into a long gallery with churned up earthen floors and northern and western exits. As you cautiously entered the room, three young Bulettes emerged from the disturbed earth and attacked. This was your toughest fight during this exploration yet, but you all triumphed thanks to Henri’s lightning bolts and magic missiles. Drebb and Drinna were nearly killed, but were kept up by Atish’s healing magic. The fight, however, drew eight Chokers from the northern passage, which were dispatched by a well-placed fireball, and five Stirges from the western exit, which were taken down by Belflin and Henri with missile fire, both mundane and magical.

The western exit was dead end with only a petrified Choker there, while the northern passage looped back to the east and connected with the northernmost western passage from the fungi cave. Along this passage, you found a small cave up on the walls that contained the lair of the Chokers. To your surprise, you found about 3,000 gold pieces worth of coinage and gems, along with a magical flaming long sword and a suit of magical full-plate mail.

Weary and frustrated, you all returned to Flail’s tomb to rest and discuss your options. You had thoroughly searched this level and come up with nothing. Belflin asked Henri to cast a spell that would home in on a specific object, in this case the Chalice of Elanir. The wizard’s divination indicated that this artifact was on the level above you. After resting, you all set out to return to level one and seek an entrance to level two, where Henri’s magic indicated you could find the Chalice. 

Going back up to level one, you found an exit to level two, but had to defeat another young Bulette before you could pass. Descending about 60 feet into the earth, you came to a large, vaulted cavern that smelled faintly of offal and decay. The ceiling was over 60 feet above the cavern floor. A passage led off to the south, and obvious on the northern wall was a ledge that bisected the room from the northwest to the southeast some 30 feet above the cave floor, with passages leading off from that opening in either direction. As you paused to get your bearings and decided where to go, you were attacked by five giant bats emerging from the southern passage. Henri took them out with a fireball before they could reach you.

Several of you then noticed that the southwestern corner of the wall was covered by an illusionary wall that concealed a narrow passage leading back west. Proceeding down the passage, you came to a bare room that was suffused with holy energy and no apparent exits. Searching revealed another illusory wall, beyond which was an anteroom of worked stone containing four white pillars graven with holy runes of Iomedae and Aroden. In the northeast wall was a silver basin filled with holy water, and archways led to two other chambers to the west and south respectively.

The western room was filled with eight standing stone sarcophagi that contained the corpses of valiant warriors who had fallen in the service of Aroden and Iomedae. Atish and Drinna recognized the names on the plaques as retainers of the great paladin Alaric, one of the last Justicars of Iomedae who had participated in the siege of Tsar. Choosing not to disturb this holy site, you all proceeded towards the southern chamber.

This room, too, was filled with eight standing stone sarcophagi that contained the corpses of eight more of Alaric’s retainers. In addition, at the far end of the tomb on a raised dais was the sarcophagus of Alaric. Behind the dais was a large holy symbol of Iomedae, while to the right and left side of the dais were small altars, both covered with a small silk cloth. On the altar to the left is what appeared to be a broken chunk of carved marble, while a silver chalice sat on the altar to the right. Detection magic revealed these to be the Chalice of Erlanir and a fragment of the Starstone, two of the holy relics you all had been commissioned to recover. Atish wrapped these items up and you all decided to return to Vigil to return these items, check in with Sister Sarah, and plan your next move.

The journey back took a week, and aside from thunderstorms on the day you set off the weather was mild as the spring season rapidly approached. Miraculously, you were not bothered by spiders exiting the woods, but you did have to fight a full-sized Bulette. You were also annoyed by some Stirges as you approached the city, but luckily no one was diseased.

You arrived back on the afternoon of Pharast 20. As you entered the temple complex, it looked no worse for wear from its battle with the demons, although you were sad to note the presence of six funeral pyres in the courtyard. Sister Sarah was delighted with your return of the artifacts and revealed that Brother Anders had been allowed to retain his position among the clergy, although he was on kitchen duty for nine months as punishment for his unauthorized expedition. She promised that once the other statues were recovered from level three that powerful members of the Vigil Wizard’s Academy could restore the stricken to full health.

You had arrived just in time for the Vernal Equinox and Planting Week. The remainder of the month was spent in rest and preparation for a return foray to search for Abysthor’s Tomb and the Black Monolith. You sold enough loot that everyone got over 12,000 gold pieces with which to upgrade your equipment or otherwise spend. Drebb received the magical belt, which boosted his strength, while Gambler received a ring that allowed him freedom of movement from effects that would restrain and slow his movement. Atish was allowed to keep the magical scroll, which contained incantations allowing him to communicate directly with Sarenrae as well a prayer that would help the party in combat and harm your enemies.

 

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Session 13
Are those Ogres wearing half-late mail?!

<u>Session 13: Pharast 1, 4717 AR-Pharast 9, 4717 AR</u>

Before you set off, Sister Sarah gave each of you a medallion of Iomedae that might help you bypass any traps left behind by the earlier worshippers. The journey to the burial halls took 7 days. Though winter weather lingered just a bit, aside from some fog and a couple of days of freezing temperatures, the journey was mostly uneventful. The only encounters you all had were with a Manticore (on Pharast 4) and some spiders on your approach setting up a camp in the forest on Pharast 7. The Manticore battle was slightly amusing, as it managed to grab Gambler, but Drinna, Belflin, and Henri made sure the creature did not snack on their small friend through an aerial barrage of their own. The spiders were more of a nuisance, as Belflin used his flaming arrows to take out their nest, forcing most of the creatures to flee.

As you all were breaking camp to await the arrival of the Vigil forces on the morning of Pharast 8, Atish received a magical message from Sister Sarah. The forces of Orcus had unleashed an assault on Vigil, keeping the main force from joining the party. She urged the party to attack the main Orcus Temple while most of the forces were away. Heeding here advice you all entered the Temple level through the warded door you had encountered earlier in the upper crypts.

Descending to the fourth level, you all found a series of empty rooms with clear signs that the occupants had left to participate in the attack on Vigil. Among the more interesting finds was an empty slave pen (at which Belflin detected the unmistakable musk of Ogres) and an entry to the Darklands that descended through a gaping abyss. Once you were convinced that there were no reinforcements in the outside areas, you all prepared to invade the main temple.

It was to be a two-pronged assault, with Henri, Belflin and Koeter, Atish, and Drebb coming through the front door, while Drinna and Gambler came in through the hidden door that you all had discovered. Like so many plans, however, this one did not survive the first moment of engagement. As the main party opened the front doors, Gambler discovered that the secret door was warded with powerful magic to prevent entry. Drinna rushed back to warn the party and change the plan, but she was too late.

Beyond the heavy brass portals, the temple chamber was split by a large crevasse, which opened onto darkness below. The portion of the temple beyond the crevasse sat some 20 feet above the portion of the room south of the crevasse. The ceiling of the temple was over 50 feet high. The crevasse is spanned by a thick bridge of solid black stone. A row of glowing braziers lined either side of the crevasse, filling the chamber with a hellish glow. Black candles of a most unholy aspect stood in long candleholders along either wall and flickered with a faint and evil light. The portion north of the crevasse was dominated by a gold-plated and jewel-encrusted statue of a seated Orcus, his wand upraised in one hand and the other hand outstretched with an open palm facing upward, on which were set the heart and entrails of many recent sacrifices. Before the statue and on the same raised platform was an altar of black stone, stained even deeper with the crimson blood of hundreds of previous sacrifices. Large bronze braziers, full of burning coals, stood to either side of the statue of the demon prince.

The High Priest of Orcus and 2 senior priests stood on the raised platform by the altar along with an 8-foot tall demon that was a twisted cross between a human and a vulture. Occupying the upper portion of the cavern were five acolytes and 2 lesser priests. All of the clergy were garbed in the black and white robes of Orcus and were equipped with master-crafted chain mail, heavy shields, and spiked heavy maces. Dominating the lower part of the chasm were ten Ogres in masterwork half-plate mail wielding masterwork great axes. As you all watched, the High Priest closed a magical portal through which you could see the last of the temple’s other priests entering Vigil near the Golden Sword. The screeching of the doors announced your entry and the High Priest turned and gave the usual monologue. He blamed your party for forcing an early invasion of Vigil and asked if you were all prepared to die and have your souls consumed by Orcus. Of course, you replied in the negative and the fight was on.

Against the advice of Belflin and Gambler to use the door as a choke point, Drebb charged into the midst of the Ogres. A well-placed Ice Storm spell by Henri slew the acolytes and damaged the rest of the senior clergy on the platform. The demon, which Henri identified as Vrock, flew into the midst of the main party while the remaining clerics buffed themselves with defensive spells and slowly advanced. Atish spent his time buffing the party, while Belflin, Koeter, Drinna, and Gambler engaged the demon. This was tough sledding, as most of your attacks bounced off of the Vrock (no one had weapons infused with the power of Good) and the creature also created a Mirror Image of itself as well as briefly stunned Koeter with its screech. In addition, the Vrock released a cloud of spores that burrowed into the skin of Gambler and Henri, but Henri’s knowledge of the beast paid off as he instructed Atish to Bless the party, which killed the spores. Gradually, Belflin’s arrow attacks, Koeter’s snapping jaws, and Henri’s Magic Missiles took the creature down, but Koeter was severely wounded.

Meanwhile, seeing that their attacks were not substantially damaging the demon, Drinna and Gambler dashed into the room to help Drebb take on the Ogres. They were helped out when Henri softened up the giants with a well-placed Fireball and a Flaming Sphere. Gambler and Drebb managed to overcome several foul enchantments cast at them by the advancing evil clerics, several times calling on heroic reserves of inner power.

As the Vrock died and the Ogres continued to fall before the axe of Drebb, the blades of Gambler, and the fists of Drinna, the High Priest unfurled the wings of his cloak and transformed into another Vrock. Gambler and Drinna finished the Ogres, while a severely wounded Drebb engaged the High Priest and lopped his head off. Belflin, Drinna, and Gambler then proceeded to mop up the last few priests.

After Atish healed those who were hurt, he determined that the gold and gems on the idol were cursed and that it was beyond his power to cleanse this place. He did receive another message from Sister Sarah that the Golden Sword forces had defeated the invasion. You all retreated and rested for the evening, hauling up the loot (mostly magical armor) from the dead bodies. After much discussion, you all decided to go ahead and continue trying to find the Fountain of Earth’s Blood, the Tomb of Abysthor, and the Black Monolith.

You all went back over your maps and decided to start exploring several ways down that you had found earlier on Level 2. You went to the southwest exit near the Shadow lair and descended stairs that brought you out into a gigantic cavern that was more 130 feet across at its widest and over 100 feet high. There were very few stalactites or stalagmites in this room, but there were spots of bat droppings on the floor in more than the usual concentrations that Belflin determined came from magical beasts and not regular bats.

At the rear of the cave, near the only visible exit heading south was a statue of a human male in chain mail holding a lantern and long sword, with a startled look on his face, facing the exit. Drebb determined that this was not a naturally manufactured statue, and you all suspected that it was a petrified adventurer, which was confirmed by Henri. As you examined the statue, 9 bats with fifteen foot wingspans, oversized ears, and squat, upturned snouts filled with rows of needle-like teeth, swept into the room from the exit to attack. Henri identified them as Mobats, predatory magical beasts that stunned their prey into submission with loud shrieks. Atish nullified this potential tactic with a well-placed Silence spell, Belflin, Drebb, and Drinna downed one with missile fire, and Henri destroyed them with a Fireball before they could engage the party.

Continuing your explorations, you all came upon two caverns where the floor was disturbed by the tell-tale burrowing patterns of Bulettes. You all quickly exited these chambers before you attracted any of the land sharks and came upon a long corridor where you spotted 5 burrows at 20’ heights along the walls. Henri identified these as the lairs of subterranean vermin known as Cave Fishers, which would wait and drop sticky filaments to entrap those who passed by, who would then be reeled in and consumed by the beasts. Henri then summoned a Flaming Sphere and sent it into the burrows to burn the vermin out. Gambler then climbed the walls and used stealth to finish off the severely wounded creatures.

At the end of the long hall, you all came out into a small cavern. Set into the northern worked face of this cavern were two large brass portals, flanked by two large white marble obelisks. The brass doors were worked with celestial figures and the images of Aroden and Iomedae. The obelisks were inlaid with gold and silver runes and glyphs holy to Aroden and Iomedae. The portals and the obelisks had not been defiled. The obelisks and doors radiated strong abjuration magic, and Atish determined that they were enchanted with a Forbiddance spell that only allowed Lawful Good characters bearing holy symbols of either Aroden and Iomedae to pass without suffering damage. The doors themselves have no handle, lock or hinges. Atish took his medallion of Iomedae and placed it upon the doors and asked Iomedae’s blessing to open the doors.

Beyond, on a stone slab at the north end of a man-made room lay the body of Flail the Great, a famous priest of Aroden, who was killed on a holy quest. On either side of the corpse was a small altar covered with a square of pure silk on top of which is an everburning candle. The three other caskets in the room held his followers. Two tapestries depicted Flail teaching another great warrior named Bannor to be a Paladin, and Flail and Bannor together battling hordes of demons.

Beyond this room was another chamber filled with fourteen stone sarcophagi containing the corpses of valiant warriors who had fallen in the service of Aroden and Iomedae. Henri and Atish recognizes the names of these as lesser knights of legend, the most notable being Eric the Bold. Each corpse wore a suit of masterwork chain mail and bore a masterwork heavy steel shield and a master-crafted long sword sharpened to a keen edge. Each also wore a circlet of silver worth 50 Gp. The sarcophagus containing Eric the Bold also held his magical lance. A small rat tunnel, dug by dire rats, opened into this room from the cavern to the south. Atish suggested that you all plug the rat holes, which the party did, and he also admonished Gambler to take nothing. You all agreed with Atish to reseal this room and leave it for the clergy of the Golden Sword in Vigil to dispose of as they saw fit. This was also a good resting spot, so you all camped here for the evening before continuing your exploration of the complex.

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“The Battle of Tsar, the Army of Light, and Rappan Athuk”
An essay based upon the earlier works of William Webb and Gregorius Vaughn

“The Battle of Tsar, the Army of Light, and Rappan Athuk,” as excerpted from A History of Orcus on Golarion by Strebor Retlaw, Professor and Gregorius Vaughn Chair of Ancient History at the University of Oppara

“Tsar the Evil, Temple-City of Orcus, the Black Gates of the Pit: all this and more has this vast center of evil been aptly named. However, known to few is the original name of this bastion of wickedness—St. Harul’s Hold, shrine of a sainted patriarch of the Three Gods. Who these deities were and what their relevance may have been has been lost to obscurity, but it was their followers who first broke ground for a small fortified chapel on the edge of the Tusk Mountains just north of modern Ustalav. In the ages since, memory of these humble beginnings was lost to mortal man, and over time the name of the hold’s name was shortened to just St. Harul’s. A thousand years ago agents of Orcus began infiltrating the order at St. Harul’s and the small settlement that had sprung up around it, appearing first as mendicant monks seeking freedom from religious persecution. Why they chose to corrupt this obscure shrine none would know, but because of its obscurity no one suspected the foul influence slowly growing in the community. Subtly the corruption took hold first as town leaders—secretly in league with Orcus—increased trade to the city and began the establishment and upkeep of a north-south trade road. Then as the town prospered and grew in wealth from the plans of these leaders, the agents of Orcus gained greater political power and influence in the development of the hold and the shrine. These corrupt leaders were able to use their pull to get their own petitioners accepted as acolytes of the shrine to slowly and systematically continue their corruption from within. Within decades the last true clerics of the Three Gods had packed up and left St. Harul’s (now shortened to Tsarul’s or just Tsar among the citizenry) leaving it in the hands of politically powerful clerics who had no true faith in those benign deities. Some, in fact, truly worshipped Orcus in secret. Within a century the small shrine and settlement had grown into a full temple-city dedicated to the vile demon prince. Led by the terrible Grand Cornu, highest disciple of Orcus on the mortal planes, and now called simply Tsar (for which the goodly churches were duly thankful, fearing the shame that would have been theirs had the name of one of their saints been used in conjunction with such a festering boil of evil), this fortified city placed a stranglehold on the lucrative trade between the great southern kingdom and the exotic northern lands. The city grew fat and rich on its prohibitive tariffs.  Men and creatures of evil mien came from all over, attracted to this growing center of organized Orcus worship in the world. A road was cut through the tribal lands of Sarkoris to the east, which linked Tsar to the port city of Egede on the western coast of the Lake of Mists and Veils in hopes of further expanding Tsar’s sphere of influence.

It was at this time, about nine centuries ago, that the churches of Aroden and Iomedae could stand this affront no longer and called for a Crusade to eradicate the evil city of Tsar. The impetus for this crusade came from an alliance formed by the patriarchs of the holy churches of Aroden and Iomedae and the kingdoms of Sarkoris and Lastwall in 3850 AR [the current year is 4717 AR]. Led by the aged Overking of Sarkoris, this alliance put all the civilized kingdoms of Avistan behind it as well as almost all of the good faiths. To remove any suspicion of divisive religious zealotry or hidden agendas, the entire force was placed under the secular command of Graeltor’s most trusted advisor and strategist, the archmage Zelkor. Though the religious stamp was left off of the overall crusade, the troops certainly welcomed the addition of celestial allies when the battle was finally joined. Immediately below Zelkor were his own advisors and aides de camp, a who’s who of the greatest heroes, generals, and war captains of that day. They each commanded a section of the army and did much of the day-to-day planning and tactics while Zelkor, with their assistance, created and implemented the overall strategies and maneuvering of the Army of Light. The patriarchs Grennell of Aroden and Phestus of Iomedae stood high among the officers of the army, for it was they who originally petitioned the Overking and led to the army’s muster. Strangely, equal to them in influence within the Army of Light was the church of Pharasma, goddess of birth, death, fate, and prophecy, and her high priestess Akbeth. Many within the Army of Light opposed the addition of this neutral faith to their ranks, but the followers of Pharasma despised the followers of Orcus as much as did the goodly faiths because of Orcus’ role as Lord of the Undead. Because the legions were under the secular control of Zelkor the patriarchs of the good churches were forced to grudgingly accept the services offered by Pharasma and her followers. It proved much to their benefit when the Battle of Tsar entered its most deadly stage as magical attacks and plagues rained down from the priests and wizards of Orcus. Then the powerful clerics and sorcerers of Pharasma were able to respond with attacks against the foe of a kind the goodly-aligned spell-casters were unable or unwilling to make. One other reason existed that Zelkor willingly allowed the seemingly incongruent followers of Pharasma to join in the crusade. That reason was Akbeth’s lover, the peerless archmage Agamemnon, who joined in the fight and served as a wild card on the battlefield that the followers of Orcus had neither expected nor prepared for. The patriarchs and matriarchs of other faiths held prominent positions as well over their crusader followers: Kirba of Sarenrae, Tondallah of Abadar, Virrikus of Desna, and Dawncry of Shelyn to name a few. Other commanders of the forces of light included the heroic paladin-lords Navarre and Bishu, the Justicars of Iomedae Alaric of Egede and Gerrant of Absalom, the knight commanders Saracek, Brandt Dracobane, Argos the aasimar-knight, and Carileus Grezell the incomparable swordsman, and the elven warrior-maiden Shelfaer. Augmenting these martial heroes were other personages of renown including the powerful cleric and wizard twins Plethor and Xillin, the wizardess Deserach, consort of Lord Navarre, the priest-mages of Pharasma Nemethiar and the elf Phalen, the sorceress Itara, and the mysterious wizard Me’Nak. Of the dwarves came King Kroma leading his doughty warriors from the Sky Citadel of Jormurdun. The elven lords Ulo and Tarrazal brought archers and spearmen from Kyonin. The storm giant Thraestos brought a troop of his brethren and lesser kin. Even Queen Tyrissta of Cheliax brought contingents of gnomish and halfling skirmishers. But the non-human forces were not limited to the mortal realms. From the heavenly planes, leading legions of celestial allies, were the empyreal angel Naphrathoth, the leonal agathian Lord Karask, the hound archon Amaleal, and the planetar general Nimrod. In all over 140,000 soldiers, wizards, clerics, and knights—human, elven, dwarven, giant, gnome, halfling, and celestial—stood on the fields before the stained walls of Tsar. Most controversial of all those allied with the Army of Light was the sorcerer Slavish. A powerful spell-caster—some said the equal of Zelkor or Agamemnon even—Slavish was also a devoted follower of Asmodeus. Slavish’s devil-liege was also lawfully aligned and therefore opposed to the demonic chaos of Orcus, but the forces of good were unwilling to admit him into their ranks. Allowing a follower of an Archduke of Hell, the opposite end of the evil spectrum from the demons of Orcus, was considered anathema to their cause by many of the goodly host. However, Zelkor’s judgment to admit him finally prevailed in light of what Slavish had to offer to the cause. For Slavish was not only a powerful sorcerer but also bore the sword Demonbane, an artifact so powerful it was said to be capable of slaying Orcus himself. In fact, it was forged by the hands of Asmodeus for that very purpose. With such a potent weapon in their midst, Zelkor felt the Army of Light could not afford to turn away the help offered by Slavish. Thus, the servant of an arch-devil was the last member admitted into the Army of Light before the march for Tsar.

This Army of Light, as it was called, gathered out on the Plain of Tsar for a horrific year-long siege that resulted in the creation of an ecological wasteland that became known as the Desolation. After a year of exhaustive battle where it seemed the Army of Light grew no closer to victory, the tide of war suddenly changed. In a single night, the precincts of the city emptied of defenders. This was accomplished by powerful magic unleashed by the reigning Grand Cornu of Orcus himself in conjunction with his entire hierarchy of priests. A dimensional gate was opened within the city through which the entire populace of the city marched only to reappear several miles to the south beyond the encircling Army of Light. The exertion necessary for this harnessing of magic drained the very life from the Grand Cornu but enabled his entire force to escape the siege intact. The Army of Light quickly scrambled to pursue the fleeing disciples of Orcus. Suspicious of some sort of ploy, Zelkor left a company of veteran knights under the command of the paladin-lord, Bishu, to enter and secure the abandoned city. Then Zelkor led his crusader army in pursuit of the fleeing army of Orcus. Both armies disappeared into the distant Estrovian Forest far to the east, and neither ever emerged. It wasn’t until a century later that adventurers discovered the Dungeon of Graves and the ultimate fate of the Army Light, seemingly led into a trap and destroyed to a man.

Bishu and his knights likewise followed their last orders and thundered through the now-open Black Gates of Tsar. Meeting no organized resistance, they swept up through the terraces of the city to the Plateau of the Demon Prince where they entered the very Citadel of Orcus. Not long after that, the entire citadel disappeared from the city, ripped from the mortal plane by powerful magic set to activate at a preordained time, taking the knights inside with it. Decades later when a single knight did emerge somehow from the lost citadel he rode his broken nag out into the Desolation, which he continued to roam and haunt until the present day. Now the city remains empty save for the scavengers and creatures that have wandered in over the years to lair among the crumbling buildings and broken streets. Occasionally even these new denizens run afoul of ancient guardians left behind by the disciples of Orcus that continue to follow their last orders in defense of the temple-city. What defenses could still remain among the desolate ruins? Why did the seemingly victorious followers of Orcus never return to reclaim their sacred city? Why did the Citadel of Orcus suddenly disappear after the city and been abandoned, and what other latent magic may remain waiting some preordained time to unleash its insidious influence? All of these secrets lie sleeping within the Temple-City of Orcus.

The evil cult, however, had not been destroyed. The surviving priests and their followers instead settled on a hill near the Estrovian Forest, a sylvan woodland on the western shores of the Lake of Mist and Veils in Mendev. There they found a vast underground complex of caverns and mazes, carving out a volcanic intrusion beneath the hill. The priests of Orcus had found

the perfect lair to continue their vile rituals. For many centuries, they carried on in secret, hidden from the light and from the knowledge of men. About a century ago, their underground delving completed, the evil priests erected a hideous mausoleum and a sunken graveyard atop the hill. It is believed that these graves are in fact the final resting place of the Army of Light, which had been destroyed to a man. Soon after the mausoleum was erected the peaceful creatures of the wood began to disappear. Though many rangers and druids investigated these happenings, the cause of the creatures’ disappearance was not immediately determined. A powerful group of adventurers, led by Bofred, a high priest of Aroden, investigated the evil happenings and found the sunken graveyard leading to a labyrinthine complex. Bofred and his companions found great hordes of evil creatures in the complex. Though some of his companions returned from their expedition, telling tales of fantastic treasure and ferocious monsters, Bofred was never seen again—lost in the catacombs beneath the cursed mausoleum.

For the last one hundred and eleven years, ranks of adventurers have ventured to the newfound dungeon called Rappan Athuk, or more simply “The Dungeon of Graves.” Many fell prey to bandits and monsters in the surrounding wilderness. Rumors suggest that of those who survived to reach the mausoleum and sunken graveyard, most were slain by guardians of green stone or perished on the very first level. Those rare few who return from deeper treks speak of horrible undead and creatures that cannot be slain. All who have explored Rappan Athuk offer this one universal piece of advice: 'Don’t go down the Well.'”

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Session 12
Clean Rat Bites Thoroughly!

<u>Session 12: Calistril 1, 4717 AR-Calistril 28, 4717 AR</u>

Continuing your exploration of the lowest level of the complex over the next few days, you all ran into multitudes of dire rats, including some Wererat leaders, and strange aberrations known as Chokers. These latter were hunched-over bipedal creatures about the size of a Halfling that had long, pliable arms (similar to tentacles) that ended in five wide, spiny claws. This particular breed of Choker had also developed powers that allowed its members to stun foes with a psychic blast. You all stumbled on a whole nest of these abominations, including babies. You did not let tender feelings get in the way of exterminating the wretched beasts to the last, though. Belflin was exposed to Filth Fever from a rat bite, but Atish diagnosed the disease and used the power of Sarenrae to heal the ranger. You all also stumbled upon exits up to the Temple of Orcus on Level 4, which was guarded by a group of cultists and their bloody skeleton guards, and stairs up to Level 5. The battle with the Orcus priests and their undead minions was rather easy.

After some debate, you all decided to ascend back to the surface and explore some more of the surrounding wilderness before returning to Vigil to consult with the clergy of Temple of Golden Sword therein. From the 3rd to the 21st, you all explored much of the region and eventually made your way back to Vigil. The major events during this period were the weather, with the party getting lost a few times due to severe snowstorms, and the fact that Henri had contracted lycanthropy unbeknownst to the rest of you. Luckily, you had some wolfsbane and Atish and Gambler were able to distill a potent brew that cured Henri without killing him.

Once back in Vigil, you all were summoned to see the High Priest Brother Aedelbert. He was disturbed that the researches of Henri and Atish along with your recent discoveries of a substantial temple to Orcus in the burial complex had proven the task of retaking the borderlands was one requiring a large military force. He wanted to dismiss you from service, but you all convinced him to let you search Level 5 to see if you could find the Earth’s Blood source as well as the Black Monolith while the Temple mounted an assault on the Orcus temple. After that, Aedelbert wanted to employ your services to either investigate rumors that the forces of Orcus were stirring in the fallen city of Tsar or take the fight to the last known bastion of Orcus worship in Rappan Athuk, the Dungeon of Graves. It was rumored that an avatar of the dread Prince of the Undead dwelled in the deepest recesses of that complex. You all then spent the rest of the month resting and preparing for your exploration of Level 5. Henri had progressed in power enough that he could now construct magical items of wondrous power, and his first order of business was to craft a set of goggles for Gambler that allowed him to see in darkness as well as helped him detect fine details when searching for traps.

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Session 11
What was that thing?

<u>Session 11: Abadius 6, 4717 AR-Abadius 31, 4717 AR</u>

You all spent a week resting and training and plotting your next move. You all asked the temple of Iomedae for help, and Sister Sara said she would begin gathering forces to purge the worshippers of Orcus from the holy grounds. Meanwhile, you all were to continue on your mission and thoroughly explore the complex in preparation for a more sustained assault.

The party left town on Abadius 12, which was the holiday of Longnight. This was the first full moon of the year and people traditionally stayed up all night to greet the dawn in celebration of the year just past and wishes for a good year to come. The normal two-day journey to the foothills turned into three days thanks to a snowstorm. Shortly before entering the foothills, you all encountered a troll, which you took down without incident.

The snow and cold continued to hinder the party’s progress, but you all eventually came to the remnants of the Black hand orc camp on the 19th. There you found another group of adventurers had set up quarters and invited you all to join them. Atish was immediately suspicious and when you all declined the offer, the group lifted an illusion that revealed a half-orc barbarian worshipper of Rovagug served by three bloodthirsty gnomes. Atish attacked, as Rovagug, the “Rough Beast,” was a mortal enemy of Sarenrae. The fight was fairly easy, although Drebb was almost overcome by the foul magic of one of the gnomes. The two youngest gnomes offered to surrender, saying they had just been following the half-orc because of the older gnome sorcerer. They promised to leave the area and not return in exchange for their lives.

Over the next five days, the weather cleared, although it was still bitterly cold. This allowed you to circumnavigate the forest and look for alternate entranced to the burial complex. Finding none you all plunged into a serious exploration of the forest on the 25th. The next week was spent reconnoitering the forest, where you all eventually found several alternate entrances to the burial complex. Before this though, you all were plagued by the strange spiders that called this wood home. They were more nuisance than real danger, and in all you killed three dozen of the vermin. You all also encountered a band of voracious frogs from the nearby lake, but these were no challenge. Your career almost ended when you entered a forest cave and came face-to-face with a creature straight out of nightmare. The cave was inhabited by a pulsing mass of floating, sickly greyish-green flesh, roughly 8 feet in diameter that was covered with staring eyes and hungry mouths. The orb seems to fly in starts and fits, but it turned out to be a ruse, for the creature was nimble for its bulk. Much to your horror the creature was extremely intelligent. None of your attacks could hurt the thing and when Drebb, Drinna, and Henri fell prey to the confusing susurrus of voices coming from the thing, you all decided to flee. In his confusion, however, Drebb nearly killed Drinna with a blow from his axe, and Gambler was severely wounded by the creature’s magic attacks. Luckily the creature decided not to pursue you into the forest. You all vowed to have the clergy of Iomedae in Vigil seal this cave with powerful magic when you all returned to the city.

After resting from this near-death experience, you all decided to begin exploring the alternate entrances you had found. The first led deep underground (more than 400 feet) to a huge cavern that was inhabited by a slithering, multi-legged blue reptile that had a fearsome head crowned with two large, curling horns and was known to breathe electricity. A well-planned ambush took out the creature, and you all found some minor treasures in the creature’s lair. This was how you closed out the month of Abadius.

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Session 10
Ghouls, Shadows, and Priests of Orcus! Oh, my!

<u>Session 10: Kuthona 20, 4716 AR-Abadius 5, 4717 AR</u>

As you all made your way back into the burial complex, you noticed that some of the runes over the archway entrance appeared to have been restored. Gambler took his time and defaced the runes so that they did not go off. Henri and Corian informed the party that a powerful curse would have been put on the first character to enter if the rune had been activated. You all then decided to finish exploring the very top level. Beyond the main crypt and the fountain of bones were several other crypts that included mostly giant rats, which you all handled with a minimum of effort and resources. You all also sealed up several rat tunnels and were attacked a wandering ghoul, which Gambler, Belflin, and Drinna took down. Gambler was wounded, but luckily did not contract Ghoul Fever.

There were, however, two areas of note on the upper level aside from more crypts. The first was a small side room that held four sarcophagi of ancient priests of Aroden. This room appeared to be under an aura of purity and had not been desecrated. This aura was quickly apparent to Atish, Drebb, Belflin, and Corian, in stark contrast to the rest of the level. There was a half-hearted debate about looting the sarcophagi, but Atish and Belflin held the day in this matter. You all determined that this would be a good place to rest within the complex as needed.

The second area almost spelled the doom of the party. At the end of one the crypt passages, a glowing red, pulsing light could be seen. The party sent Gambler ahead to investigate. As he approached within 60 feet of the end of the hall, he observed the source of the evil, red pulsing glow: a large red rune of Orcus inscribed on the end of the hallway. As he was bathed in the evil red light, he felt compelled to search the end of the corridor for a secret door that would lead down to a temple of Orcus. There, he would pledge his soul to the service of the Demon Lord of the Undead. At this same time a force of darkness shot from the symbol and engulfed Drebb. With a heroic effort of will, Drebb forced the darkness from possessing his soul. The darkness then coalesced into a semi-corporeal demon that tried to destroy the party. The only effective weapons that you had was Drebb’s magical axe, which flared silver light as it hit the demon, Corian’s spells, which somehow managed to penetrate the demon’s magic resistance, and the radiant light from Sarenrae as produced by Atish. Henri was overcome by the demon’s powerful fear aura and fled, but not before he noticed the Gambler was acting strangely and put up a wall of wind to delay the Halfling from his appointed task. Drebb and Corian dropped the demon after a few blows and it fled back to the Abyss from which it came.

With the demon banished, Belflin and Drinna noticed what was happening to Gambler, but as they proceeded down the corridor, they too fell under the sway of the evil enchantment. In desperation, Atish called upon Sarenrae to help him dispel the evil magic, and she sent a heroic surge of power to augment his attempt, which shattered the rune and brought his companions back to their senses.

After this, you all decided to descend to the lower level the safer way (past the pit trap). Once on the lower level, you all returned west from the iron door and the pool to a much larger cavern with a 30’ ceiling, where passages led off in several directions. The far southwestern side of the cavern appeared to ends in a ledge 10’ off the main floor, where the cavern continued back into darkness. Immediately to your right was a 10-foot deep depression containing loose earth that blocked access to a lower passage beyond. Next to the depression was a corridor with stairs leading down to the northeast. Finally, at the western end of the cavern, there was a passage blocked with a boulder.

You checked the boulder passage first after Drebb pushed the obstacle out of the way. Beyond was a corridor that led northwest to some stairs going down. Rather than go down the stairs you all then climbed the ledge back in the main cavern. At the back of this ledge there was a “t” intersection with passages leading west, south, and east and there was an additional passageway that headed west. Going down the first western passage, you came to a room that was clearly worked and contained four rotten wooden coffins. As Drinna approached the room to back up Gambler, the debris exploded outward, revealing four humanoid skeletons clad in chain shirts, with light steel shields and scimitars. Atish easily burned these away with Sarenrae’s light. It seemed as if these were recent bodies animated and left here as a trap. Amidst the detritus, you all found a smattering of silver and copper coinage.

Proceeding to the intersection, you all sent Gambler to explore the western passage. It became very narrow and Gambler was attacked by a swarm of rats. He fled back to the party, allowing Drinna, Drebb, Belflin and the casters to dispatch the vermin. The eastern passage led to a dead end, and proceeding south the passage opened up to reveal a strangely-shaped cavern with a 10’ deep depression at the far southern end that led to an obviously man-made alcove. A wooden door was set in the far man-made wall, and the alcove was filled with what appear to be wooden coffins, though they have rotted and decayed. The small passage to the west contains stairs down. Again, you all decided to finish exploring the level you were on before proceeding to a lower level.

As you explored the coffins and the door, evil shadows attacked the party. Gambler was hit before anyone could react and you all watched horrified as the rogue was drained of all his strength. Only a heroic effort of will on his part allowed him to retain just enough strength to avoid becoming a shadow himself. After banishing the shadows (Drinna, Belflin, Drebb, and Corian brought them down before Atish could bring Sarenrae’s power to bear), you all gathered your fallen friend and retreated to the safe crypt on the entry level. There you spent two days while Atish used the healing powers of Sarenrae to restore Gambler to full strength.

On 23 Kuthona, you all re-entered the lower level and traced your path back to the man-made crypts inhabited by the shadows. Beyond the door was another area containing two coffins with a smattering of treasure. Most notable were potions that could cure light wounds or delay the effects of poison and a scroll with two arcane spells on it. One summoned a small ice storm, while the other conjured magical webbing (similar to what you had already seen Corian do). Also, there was a small golden statue of an exquisite Kellid woman. At Belflin’s request, Drebb and Henri examined it and determined that it was of recent craftsmanship and came from the kingdom of Mendev to the north and east of your current location.

Moving on, you all back-tracked to the room that contained the pool of water and was choked with stalactites and stalagmites. As Gambler scouted the room, he was attacked by strange creatures that dropped from the ceiling. They looked like a hideous unfolding octopus, with thin, hook-lined tentacles connected by a fleshy web. Though fearsome-looking they were rather easy to dispatch and you all made it across the cavern to the northern exit. This exit led to a dead end and a bronze door with a silver lock. Beyond the door were stairs leading down. These stairs switched back and took you down three more levels, with another door off of a landing that you presumed led to level 3, although there appeared to be no door that connected the stairs to level 3. Bypassing the door to level two, you all descended all the way to level 4.

There the stairs emerged into a man-made corridor with three doors along its length before it opened into a chamber that gave off a fain reddish light. The three doors each opened into small living quarters for a pair of priests of Orcus, judging by the possessions you found. One of the rooms was occupied, but astute use of a silence spell and ambush tactics prevented the two inhabitants from raising a general alarm.

Proceeding to the end of the corridor, you came to a small room containing a number of hooks on which hung ceremonial robes and other ceremonial items, such as daggers and incense burners. A tapestry depicting Orcus accepting sacrifices adorned the west and north wall and a low, brass brazier filled with glowing coals shed evil light throughout. There was one exit to the south, and you all could hear the voices of several humans from that direction. You all then decided to set up an ambush.

Belflin attracted the attention of the other room by putting a flaming arrow into the tapestry and shouting. He retreated and as 4 priests of Orcus in chain mail, with shields and morningstars came charging around the corner, Henri dumped a fireball on them. They survived, but refused to charge down the hall, where Gambler, Drebb, and Drinna were waiting behind the living quarter doors. Belflin used his arrows, but the priests were well-protected with defensive magic. Most of their malign spells cast at the archer and Atish were ineffective, although Belflin was temporarily paralyzed by one spell until Atish dispelled it. Finally, Drinna and Drebb broke the stalemate by breaking cover and charging. Unfortunately, they had to run through a patch of grease that Corian had summoned and Drebb could not make it falling flat on his face. Once Drinna cleared the grease with a mighty leap, the priest moved into a position where Gambler could engage. At that point, the battle ended in pretty short order, as Gambler used poison in his attacks.

Once the priests were felled, you all examined the small antechamber and discovered that the fireball had incinerated three other humanoid bodies. Further searching discovered that the tapestries had hidden a secret door. There was a magical trap that Gambler failed to disarm, but he danced deftly out of the way of the resulting explosion. Opening the door revealed an awesome yet terrifying sight—a large temple chamber split by a large crevasse. The portion of the temple beyond the crevasse was some 20 feet above the portion of the room south of the crevasse, where you had entered. The ceiling of the temple was over 50 feet high and the crevasse was spanned by a thick bridge of solid black stone. A row of glowing braziers lined either side of the crevasse, filling the chamber with a hellish glow. Black candles of a most unholy aspect stood in long candleholders along either wall and flickered with a faint and evil light. Obscene censers issued foul smoke. The portion north of the crevasse was dominated by a gold-plated and jewel-encrusted statue of a seated Orcus, his wand upraised in one hand and the other hand outstretched with an open palm facing upward, on which was set the heart and entrails of many sacrifices. Before the statue and on the same raised platform was an altar of black stone, stained even deeper with the crimson blood of hundreds of sacrifices. A large bronze brazier, full of burning coals, stood to either side of the statue of the demon prince. The room was occupied by three priests on the raised platform, two ogres in half-plate mail at the southern end of the crevasse, and seven lesser priests of Orcus attended by four zombies, and bloody skeletons in the southern portion of the room. One of the priests on the platform noticed your entrance and welcomed you to your doom.

Facing these overwhelming odds, you all fled, although Belflin did so reluctantly as he wanted badly to kill the ogres. Gambler jammed both the secret door and the door with the silver lock at the top of the stairs to delay pursuit. As you fled through the Forest of the Faithful, you were attacked on to separate occasions by giant spiders, but quickly took them out.

Once you reached your camp and were confident that there was no immediate pursuit, you all decided to return to Vigil for rest and to plot your next move. Due to bad weather (heavy snowfall) it took you all eleven days to get back to town. Along the way, you all were attacked by stirges and two manticores in separate incidents. Now that Atish could use his magic to nullify the effects of blood loss, the stirges were more of a nuisance than anything else and the manticores were put down after a moderately tough fight. This was how you rang in the new year—battered, bruised, and harassed on the road. Such is the adventuring life!

As you all reached Vigil on the late afternoon of Oathday, Abadius 5. You all noticed that Corian had come down with Filth Fever, no doubt from a rat bite. Luckily, he could go the Temple of Iomedae for a cure. This, however, was the final straw for the erstwhile mage. He announced that he was parting ways with you all. He had accumulated enough treasure to fund his studies and felt that the adventuring life was simply too dangerous. You all wished him well and it was an amicable departure as you all made you way to your quarters at the temple.

 

 

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