Tomb of Abysthor

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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Session 9
Wight Flight!

<u>Session 9: Kuthona 13-Kuthona 19, 4716 AR</u>

As you broke camp on the morning of the 13th, you all were approached by a traveler. He was a half-elf of middle age with long white hair and dressed in an explorer’s outfit. He introduced himself as Henri, an archeologist by trade and an explorer of ancient ruins as a hobby. Henri explained that he was on the trail of a mysterious artifact known as the Black Monolith, an artifact that traveled throughout the different planes of existence and served as a portal to different planes. For reasons that scholars had not yet figured out, this artifact was rumored to have landed in Golarion somewhere in the Hungry Mountains. Henri had uncovered clues that the Black Monolith was now in the Valley of the Shrines. He had arrived in Vigil and heard of your exploits and set out to find you. You all were generally open to have another seasoned adventurer on board, especially as Henri claimed to have some prowess at commanding arcane magic.

With your new member in tow, the party arrived on the late afternoon of the 15th at the edge of the Forest of the Faithful, which was rumored to house the Burial Halls of the old shrines to Iomedae and Aroden. After resting for the night, you all searched around and found a path at the eastern edge of the forest flanked by two weathered white marble obelisks bearing the symbols of Iomedae and Aroden, similar to the ones flanking the pass into the valley. As you proceeded along the overgrown and little-used path, you were attacked twice by giant spiders over the first two hours, but you handled these creatures fairly easily. By midday on the 16th, you had arrived at the entrance to the Burial Halls, which were set in the middle of a massive hill that rose majestically from the surrounding forest. You all then decided to rest and prepare spells before entering the Burial Halls the next morning.

The entrance to the burial halls was flanked by what were once two white marble monoliths worked with silver-inlayed glyphs and holy symbols of Aroden and Iomedae. Those monoliths still stood but were desecrated and blackened by fire. The top had been knocked off each of the monoliths, and the inlaid symbols had been rudely chipped away. The entranceway itself was made of white marble had also been defiled and now bore evil symbols connected to Orcus written in charcoal or blood. The archway opens to a small room beyond with a hallway leading north. As you all entered the complex, you triggered a pair of magical runes. Drinna was singed by an explosion, while the whole party had to deal with several demonic snakes summoned by the evil magic. Corian was slightly wounded by the creatures but avoided being poisoned.

After dispatching the beasts, you all found yourselves in a room must have once been an antechamber to the burial halls. A pair of strange stone protrusions, which in ages past must have been basins for holy water, flanked the inside of the archway, but smashed and desecrated. Tattered shreds of ancient tapestries depicting Aroden and Iomedae hung on the walls and more filth and foul symbols of evil covered the walls. Gambler determined that none of them were trapped.

Proceeding north from the antechamber, you all came to a side passage that led yet to another defiled room containing the remnants of a cot and wooden table, filth, and vile runes of evil. Leaving the side passage, Gambler found a secret door in the western wall of the main corridor that was not so well-constructed. Gambler determined that several of the runes on the surface of the door appear to overlap the outline of the secret door and that opening the secret door would most likely violate the integrity of the symbols. He managed to disarm one of the runes, but the other summoned some more fiendish snakes, which you all quickly dispatched. Beyond the secret door was a passage that curved to the north. On the south wall, just inside the door, was a small metal lever set in the “up” position. Gambler discovered a covered pit in floor just beyond the secret door. After some debate you all finally decided to see if pushing the lever down would deactivate the trap, and it did. Proceeding across the disarmed pit, you all came to stairs leading down and decided to explore the rest of this level before descending further.

The main corridor finally opened into a great hall that contained over twenty empty stone sarcophagi. It appeared that this was once the main burial room. The holy symbols within the room were desecrated and defiled, and in the center of the room was an abomination to behold—a fountain of what once was white marble, now stained crimson, filled with blood and bones. A glowing red rune had been rudely carved into the once-pure fountain base. Gouts of blood bubble a spurted grotesquely from the top of the fountain, spattering the floor around the font with red ichor. The pall of evil hung heavily here.

Much to your horror, skeletal hands grabbed the sides and some of the type of bloody skeletons that you all had encountered earlier at the shrines emerged to attack you as you entered. Also, the symbol flared to even greater life. Bathed in the demonic red light of the symbol, Belflin, Corian, Drebb, and Atish were overcome with intense wracking pain. Also, Atish noted a malign influence permeated the room, affecting Belflin, Drebb, and Atish even further and enveloping Gambler as well. Luckily for you all, the skeletons succumbed rather easily to the cleansing power of Sarenrae as channeled by Atish. As Gambler desperately tried to disarm the rune, more skeletons kept clambering out of the fountain. Finally, after a couple of minutes, the fountain stopped disgorging skeletons (after 20 had appeared), allowing Gambler to nullify the rune. Henri impressed the party with his ability to throw fireballs, causing Corian to become jealous.

You all were concerned as the wracking pains did not stop once the symbol was deactivated, but you all decided to push on. There were four rooms up small stairs from the main room to the east and west that each contained four sarcophagi, slightly more elaborate than those in the main burial hall. These sarcophagi were currently empty, their contents apparently pillaged and piled in the Font of Bones.

To the north of the main burial chamber were stairs leading down to two more recessed crypts that were larger than the side crypts to the east and west. Each contained eight sarcophagi, slightly more elaborate than those in the main burial hall. These sarcophagi were currently empty, their contents apparently pillaged and piled in the Font of Bones. There were stairs leading down to the north from each of these greater crypts.

The pain had finally subsided and after much discussion, you all decided that you would explore the steps leading down that you had found beyond the secret door. The stairs descended about 50 feet and open into a small cavern (roughly 30’x30’). A large iron door covered with the evil runes of Orcus was set into the cave wall on the far side of the cavern. Unlike the level above, this level appeared to be natural caverns with minimal man-made working. Aside from the door, there were no runes on the walls. The only other features of the room were some empty torch sconces, and a small pool of dark water that filled the eastern part of the room. Drinna spotted a pair of giant frogs lurking in the pool. Even though they did not appear to be hostile, you all decided not to take any chances and killed them.

At this point, you all decided to retreat and rest overnight before returning for another foray. Belflin managed to cook up some fine frog legs for dinner. Despite the fact that winter had arrived with a vengeance (temperatures plunging into the teens), the night passed uneventfully and you all returned to the lower level the morning of the 18th.

Gambler was able to successfully pick the lock on the door. Beyond was a short passage that ended in a “T” intersection, which was also the base of a large sinkhole that opened up onto the hill about 200’ feet overhead. Proceeding west, the tight passage opened into a much larger cavern (about 60’x60’) with a 30’ high ceiling and passages leading off in several directions. The far southwestern side of the cavern apparently ended in a ledge, leading to darkness. About 30’ to the right of the passage from which you entered was a 10-foot depression containing loose earth, blocking access to a passage beyond. Strangely, the cavern lacked stalactites and stalagmites. As you explored the cavern you discovered two more passages that had been hidden from your entry point view. To the north of the ledge, there was a small boulder blocking a small passage heading west, while to the north of rubble-filled depression was a small passage with chiseled stairs leading down.

You all decided to see what lay to the east of the sinkhole intersection before exploring the western cavern. As you proceeded east, there was a great whistling, and the party is affected by fierce blasts of wind. Belflin and Henri surmised that there was another sinkhole up ahead creating a suction effect. After about 60 feet, the corridor continued south and east or there was a side passage to the north.

Heading north, you all heard the dripping of the water, and after about 50 feet came out into a large, irregularly-shaped cavern about 60 feet long north to south and anywhere from 10 to 50 feet wide in spots. There was a small passage exiting to the north, while the eastern part of the room was dominated by a pool of water. This cavern was crammed with stalagmites and stalactites, and water dripping from the stalactites into the pool was what you had heard earlier. Overall this cavern was very wet, with a thin patina of water covering the whole cavern, and very cramped.

You all decided to return to the whistling corridor and proceed south and east. After about 100 feet, you all came to a large cave divided by a big rock column that split the cave into north and south passages. Each of these passages was further divided by two small rock piles in each (four total) that looked as if they had been deliberately constructed. Proceeding down the southern passage, as you were between the two rock piles, Belflin heard an Ogre trying to swing around and ambush you all. Thanks to Belflin’s keen ears, you all were not surprised, but it was still a tough fight, as you all were not able to tactically position yourselves due to the confined space. You finally dropped the Ogre (which had flown into a rage) through missile fire and magic (Henri dumped a flaming sphere on the beast’s head), but Belflin was seriously wounded.

After Atish healed Belflin, you found that the two corridors converged on the other side of the column into a room that was filled with the stink and garbage of the Ogre. Before exploring his cave, however, you all had found a side passage along the southern corridor and decided to explore that.

Heading southwest about 120 feet, you all came into 60’x30’ cavern that was empty save for four half-burned-out torches lying on the floor and a broken holy water vial near the northern wall. Belflin determined that someone had camped in this room within the past few months. The passage continued out of the room to the east, and soon, you all came to the second sinkhole that you had guessed was around somewhere.

Past the sinkhole, the passage opened into a cave (roughly 80’x30’) that was empty and deathly still. The south wall had obviously been worked and there was a wooden door with iron bands in the center of it. Two discarded long swords lie on the floor, one of which is heavily notched. The door was not locked, but required forcing, as the wood of the door had expanded due to the dampness of the dungeon. Beyond was a worked room of carved stone that contained six stone sarcophagi. As you entered the sarcophagi burst open, revealing six human skeletons in chain mail with a scimitar and light steel shield. Atish quickly blasted the things from existence.

In the southwest corner of the room there was a shadowed passage leading back west. Even strong light provided no more than flickering illumination, effectively negating normal light sources to 10 feet of illumination. As Henri prepared to cast a spell that would bring the light of day to bear upon the situation, there was an evil chuckle and a wave of magical fear emanated from the darkness. Belflin, Corian, and Drebb immediately fled, while Atish, Drinna, Gambler, and Henri were shaken with dread. Emerging from the darkness was a walking corpse, its flesh rotting and putrid, revealing its bones in places. The eyes of this foul being glowed with red light. It wore a breastplate emblazoned with the ram’s head symbol of Orcus and wielded a finely-crafted great sword. In its raspy, icy voice it asked if you were ready to come to the Master. Henri responded with a fireball that damaged the creature somewhat. You all then watched in horror as the thing stepped between Drinna and Gambler and cut deeply into Henri with his sword. Dark energy crackled along the length of the sword as Henri’s life essence flowed into the creature, leaving the mage barely clinging to life and revitalizing the creature. Gambler tried to weaken the creature with a shot to its kidneys, but despite taking heavy damage, the creature shrugged off what should have been a debilitating blow. Atish channeled the power of Sarenrae, but the abomination shrugged off most of this damage. Drinna then walloped it with her fist, augmented by the acid that flowed from her magic sash, but still the creature would not go down. It sidestepped Gambler as the symbol on its breastplate pulsed and sent another wave of fear throughout the room. This time Henri succumbed to the fear and began fleeing at his top speed. The creature then swung its sword at Gambler, who deftly dodged out of the way while punching another small hole in the thing. As the being spun away from gambler, however, he backed right into another haymaker from Drinna, who watched in grim satisfaction as the acid from her blow ate away at the dread life force animating the creature. With a scream of rage, the creature exploded into ash, leaving behind only its breastplate and sword.

About this time, Belflin, Corian, and Drebb came stumbling into the room, having recovered from their fright. Belflin immediately chased down Henri and brought him back to be healed by Atish. The evil darkness had lifted with the death of the creature, which Henri and Atish identified as a Wight. Beyond was a room containing a dais of black stone carved in a demonic likeness Orcus and spattered with blood, along with a stone sarcophagus in which the Wight had rested. Inside the sarcophagus were 21,476 copper pieces, 1,612 silver pieces, 222 gold pieces, 50 platinum pieces, four chrysoberyl gems, three golden statues of Orcus, a magical buckler, and 20 magical arrows. Atish insisted on destroying the breastplate, turning it over to Drebb who went tom work on it with his hammer. There was a heated argument as Atish and Belflin wanted to destroy the statues as well, while Henri, Drebb, and Gambler argued for simply melting them down and keeping the gold. When Corian and Drinna sided with those who wanted to melt them down for the gold, Atish and Belflin grudgingly gave in.

You all then returned to search the Ogre’s lair and found another considerable stash of treasure.  All told, there were roughly 1,300 gold pieces worth of coins, a variety of jewelry items, and numerous weapons, armor, and adventuring gear. Gambler found a magical ring that would help his jumping ability, while Belflin took a magical trident that was especially effective against Boggards, a race of evil anthropomorphic frog humanoids. You all then retreated to rest a few days and see if Henri’s life essence would return. Fortunately, Henri turned out to be very hearty indeed, and after some rest was able to shake off the debilitating effects of the Wight attack.

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Session 8
Ability Damage Sucks!

<u>Session 8: Neth 14-Kuthona 12, 4716 AR</u>

Gambler returned from his scouting mission and reported that a mid-level priest named Sartorius from the Golden Key (temple of Abadar) had met with and hired the Miscreants to kill the party out in the wilderness. He had reported this to Sister Sara, who was looking into the conflicting stories coming from Abadar’s temple. You all then bribed some of the city watch to delay Nathaniel’s group when they left the city to follow you so that you all could set up an ambush. You all set up at the pass into the Valley of the Shrines on Neth 16. The next day, the Miscreants rode into your ambush.

Jarra the sorceress went down immediately under a hail of arrows of and sling stones from Belflin and Gambler. Corian cast a Web spell that trapped Gariela, Korungra, and Lasha, while Koeter, Drinna, and Drebb closed to melee with Dakral and Nathan. Atish buffed the party and stripped Nathan’s magic that shielded him from the fire damage of Belflin’s arrows. Lasha and Korungra escaped the webbing and fled, while Nathan was knocked unconscious by a poisoned bullet (which also put out his eye) from Gambler and Drebb finished him off. Dakral seriously wounded Koeter but fell before the combined assault of Drebb, Drinna, and the wolf. Gariela surrendered and the fight was over.

Atish, Gambler, and Belflin tracked down the half-orc Korungra. He claimed to know nothing about why Sartorius wanted you all dead. He also stated that he had no intentions of attacking the party any further and simply wanted his life so that he could leave the area. Despite the fact that he was a priest of Norgorber (god of greed, murder, poison, and secrets), Atish convinced Gambler and Belflin to let Korungra go free. Gambler then returned to camp, where Drebb, Corian, and Drinna were guarding Gariela. Atish and Belflin pushed on to track Lasha, but she had too much of a head start and night was falling, so they let her go and returned to camp. Gariela gave the same story as Korungra and agreed to rehabilitate herself by traveling to either the Riverlands or Varisia and taking up an honest career as an itinerant bard. Atish, against the objections of Drebb and Gambler, agreed to let her go as well. Among Nathaniel’s effects was a bounty letter signed by Abadar with a fake seal of Abadar on it.

It was an uneventful journey back to town, and you all arrived late on the afternoon of Neth 20. The next day you all met with Sister Sara to discuss developments. She was pleased that Nathaniel’s band would no longer be an issue. She also reported that Sartorius had been a plant by the followers of Orcus and had fled before he could be confronted. You all made a forgery of the bounty he had given Nathaniel and also acquired a small comb that you all kept for purposes of scrying at a later date.

After spending another day resting and shopping, you all set out for the Valley of the Shrines. Along the way, Belflin scrounged up some Blue Whinnis fungus for Gambler to make some doses of poison that would knock opponents unconscious. You all reached the valley on 25 Neth and began your exploration in earnest on the 26th.

The northeast of the valley was dominated by a lake that was fouled with filth and pollution from an underground source. Belflin was disturbed by this unnatural situation, and you all posited that there was perhaps a hidden entrance to some burial tombs. Before exploring the lake, however, you all decided to investigate the two shrines that stood on its shores.

A shrine to Iomedae sat to the west of a shrine to Aroden. Both shrines faced towards the center of the lake and shared a same layout—a stone slab foundation with a large central room, ringed by mighty pillars supporting a gently sloping inverted V-shaped stone roof, though their roofs are now mostly collapsed and many of the pillars are crumbled and broken. The front of each shrine was once worked with bas relief images of their respective deities as well as with priests and warriors of legend, but were now defaced with crude Abyssal runes and filth.

You all entered the shrine of Aroden first. There the statue of the seated Aroden the Lawgiver had been beheaded, though the head was nowhere to be seen. The rod of kingship he once held in his right hand was destroyed and the chalice of peace once held in his left hand was now a broken and unrecognizable lump of stone. There was also a defiled altar, and the standing pillars and the interior rooms of both shrines were covered with evil writings and smears of humanoid feces and blood. The small interior fonts for holy water were also chipped and broken. As you all took in this sorry scene, six figures emerged from behind the statue. These were skeletons that seemed to be covered in fresh blood, leaving bloody footprints as they advanced. You all were able to dispatch these foul undead rather easily, but to your horror the bones began to knit back together. Atish blasted the bloody bones and incinerated them with the cleansing fire of Sarenrae. Searching the temple, Drinna triggered a magical rune trap but nimbly danced out of harm’s way. The status hid a secret door that was guarded by a riddle. Atish figured out the way to open the door by solving the riddle (he had to cast a Command spell). Beneath the statue was a series of 4 chambers (with some more warded secret doors) containing meditation chambers and a cache of magical scroll, potions, and scholarly works on religion.

You all then entered the shrine of Iomedae, where you found much the same scene as in Aroden’s shrine. Inside this shrine, the statue of the Lady of Paladins had been beheaded, with the head laying on its side next to the base of the statue. It had been chipped away so that its features were unrecognizable and was covered with evil runes. The blade of her upraised sword was broken off at the hilt, while the shield of truth she bears was defaced with a symbol of Orcus. There were six more bloody skeletons here that you all dispatched with ease. This time Gambler triggered a rune trap, but managed to escape unscathed. The status hid a secret door that was guarded by a riddle. Atish figured out the way to open the door by solving the riddle (he had to utter the three virtues of Iomedae—Honor, Courage, and Justice). Beneath the statue was a series of 4 chambers (with some more warded secret doors) containing barracks chambers and a cache of magical scroll, potions, and scholarly works on religion. In addition, you all found the armor and sword of the famous Justicar Karith.

It took you all two days to thoroughly explore the shrines and pack up various items to return to the temple of Iomedae in Vigil. Atish determined that cleansing the shrines and re-consecrating them would be a job of many days and for more powerful priests than himself. You all hit the road on Neth 30. As you were a couple of hours outside the city, you were attacked by a pair of Wyverns. Atish was severely poisoned, but managed to survive thanks to Belflin’s expertise in healing. Once back in Vigil, you all delivered the relics to Sister Sara. She promised to send a contingent of priests from the temple to reclaim the shrines once you all had cleared out the region. After selling the loot you had found and resting a little, you all set out to try and find the burial halls on Kuthona 4.

The weather turned bad, with a snowstorm sweeping through the region. Belflin was able to guide you to the shelter of the shrines. On Kuthona 10, you all began searching the lake shore but found nothing. Belflin suggested that perhaps the canyon where the river went underground might provide the entrance you were looking for, so on the 11th, you all back-tracked and entered the tunnel, leaving Koeter to guard the horses. It was a treacherous journey and Atish would have fallen in the river and drowned if not for his magical ring that allowed him to float like feather. You all were then subsequently attacked by stirges, with Gambler, Belflin, and Atish suffering some blood loss. A while later, you were attacked by a band of Goblin raiders riding worgs, but you all dispatched them rather easily. After 8 hours, you were disappointed when the tunnel emerged back on the surface. Wet, weary, and wounded you all returned to your horses and rested for a day, with Atish healing your wounds. Luckily, no one who was wounded by the stirges showed signs of being diseased.

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Session 7
More Orcs Than You Can Shake a Stick At!

<u>Session 7: Lamashan 24 to Neth 13, 4716 AR</u>

You all arrived back at the dragon’s lair on Lamashan 27 only to find that Nathaniel’s band had passed through and picked the carcass clean, leaving you all a taunting note in the process. This only inflamed the general need for revenge against the Miscreants. Gambler kept the dagger so that he could kill Nathaniel with it.

Over the next week, you all continued exploring the various hills and dells of the region, finding nothing of much note. Overall the weather cooled noticeably as you moved into the month of Neth, although there was a brief heat wave for one day.

On the 3rd, you all came upon an orc encampment. After scouting, you found that it belonged to the orcs of the Black Hand that you had previously encountered. There looked to be about 60 of the creatures in addition to about 10 leaders and there were no women or children, which led you to assume that this was a war camp. You all decided to ambush a patrol of the creatures and this went very well as none of the 20 orcs or 3 leaders escaped to warn the main camp. You all then settled in for the night to plan your assault.

About midnight, you were attacked by another band of orcs who had somehow tracked you down. This battle was a little more trouble, but again you all prevailed over 20 orcs and 3 of their leaders. As dawn broke, the season’s first snowflakes began to drift to the ground. After a couple of hours to recover, you all decided to strike at the camp before the remaining orcs went on alert.

Alas, you were caught in an ambush of your own. The orcs, with their main chieftain fought to the death. This was a much tougher fight, but you all won the day. Drinna pulled on her inner reserves of strength to avoid death as she fell to several orc blades. Drebb was severely wounded, but managed to lop off the head of the chieftain. Atish buffed the party through the power of Sarenrae, while Belflin picked off ambushers with his bow. Corian harassed and slowed the ambushers with his spells (particularly with magical webs and bolts of arcane energy), and Gamble snuck through the troops, hitting many with well-timed strikes from the shadows. His highlight was when he knocked an orc squad commander off a cliff.

After resting and recovering over the next day and waiting out the snowfall, you all decided to return to Vigil to report in and consult with the Church of Iomedae concerning what to do about Nathaniel and his band. The only encounter you had was with a manticore, which you easily dispatched. You arrived back in Vigil on 9th.

Sister Sara was pleased at your progress and reported that there was a rumor that the Church of Abadar had hired the Miscreants for a similar mission as you were undertaking for Iomedae.  If this were the case, then there was nothing you could do unless they attacked you first. After checking around, she reported that this rumor appeared to be false and gave you the go-ahead to treat them as bandits should you encounter them in the wilderness. As you all re-equipped and prepared for your next wilderness foray, Gambler set off on a scouting mission.

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Session 6
Right up the Dragon's Cloaca!

<u>Session 6: Rova 29 to Lamashan 23, 4716 AR</u>

You all finally confronted Zalatha and the rest of Grenish’s thugs at the Drunken Cockatrice. Zalatha agreed to leave Fairhill and bother Lannet or the party no further if you all paid 5000 Gp in compensation for the gem that Lannet had stolen from Grenish. Gambler, Belflin, Drinna, and Drebb all contributed to the cause, with Drebb paying most of it. Gambler then disowned Lannet and told him they were finished. You then left for Vigil. The 5-day journey was uneventful and you arrived in Vigil on Lamashan 4. After taking a room at the Six Candles inn, you all proceeded to visit Church of the Golden Sword, the local temple of Iomedae. There you met with Sister Sara, one of the ranking clergy, and related your story of meeting Tancred. While somewhat skeptical of your story, she did admit that the temple was looking to hire adventurers to clear the Valley of the Shrines to the northeast of the city.

In ages past, two vast temples to Aroden and Iomedae were erected in Vigil at the founding of that great city that still stands today. The priestly followers of these noble gods erected smaller duplicates of the twin temples in a small, secluded valley to the north of the city, adjacent to a lake of crystalline clarity. This valley became known as the Valley of the Shrines. In the nearby hills they also carved burial halls to house their fallen heroes and worshipers. For years the worship of Aroden and Iomedae thrived, producing heroes and paladins of legend, some of whom are entombed in the burial halls.

The death of Aroden just over seven centuries ago, however, changed everything. Unable to maintain the four temples between Vigil and the complex in the Valley of the Shrines, the priests of Iomedae sealed the northern shrines in the valley and focused their worship to one temple in the city. Abandoned, the burial halls still remained sacred places, and small groups of pilgrims continued to make treks to the sealed temples to pay respect to their fallen predecessors and to peer into the crystalline lake.

As the years passed, the shrines in the northern valley increasingly fell to disuse and ruin. Only a handful of devoted priests, led by the last high priest of Aroden, Abysthor, were left to continue the elaborate rituals of Aroden in the shrines. In his final years, Abysthor spent many hours in the main temple of Iomedae in Vigil, trying in vain for communion with his dead deity. Twenty years after Aroden’s death, Abysthor declared that he had received a great vision and traveled alone—aged and infirm—to the Valley of the Shrines, claiming he would return soon and that the glory of Aroden would be restored. Abysthor never returned. Some said he had gone there to die and had done so alone because no other priest could cast the spells necessary to consecrate him properly. Many groups of priests followed after him, though none could brave the corruption that had infested the burial halls since they had been abandoned. Abysthor’s failed quest was taken as a sign that Aroden had died permanently, and the priests of Iomedae gave up the shrines as a lost cause.

The area since that time has become a frontier area, haunted by Orcs and Gnolls as well as creatures such as dragons and giants. Both the nation of Lastwall and Ustalav have claimed this area, but its proximity to Gallowspire has prevented either nation from pressing these claims. With the closing of the Worldwound, however, the Churches of Iomedae and Abadar have decided to claim the haunted frontier as part of Lastwall. Thus, the clergy of these two faiths in Vigil have put out the call for seasoned adventurers to map the territory and recover the shrines and accompanying burial halls. You agreed to accept this commission. As such the party has been contracted to do the following:

  • Explore and clear the fifty-square-mile region of the Valley of the Shrines to the north and east of Vigil.
  • Recover the shrines of Aroden and Iomedae.
  • Retrieve the and the
  • Find Abysthor’s tomb and cleanse the burial halls.

You get to keep any loot they find (aside from holy relics) and will be knighted and given lands in Lastwall. You were also given 10,000 Gp each worth of gear to help them in carrying out their quest. Sister Sara was able to supply you with the following rumors about the region gleaned from travelers and patrols of the Knights of Ozem:

  • A group of Orcs known as the Orcs of the Black Hand have taken up residence in the past decade and now guard the pass into the Valley of the Shrines.
  • The burial halls are located northwest of the Valley and are in a small woodland that is overrun with spiders. Rumors also suggest that there is a far more insidious evil that lairs in this small forest.
  • The Bloody Axe Gnolls are reported to have a village somewhere across the Path River.
  • A young red dragon has been seen recently in the hills west of the pass.
  • There are rumors of a vicious, one-eyed giant troll that frequents the region.
  • There are rumored to be several entrances to the Darklands in this region.
  • The Stone of Absalom and Chalice of Elanir are said to be entombed with Alaric, a mighty paladin of Iomedae.
  • One of the most notable features of the burial halls was the Font of Ancients, which was known in its day for creating powerful holy water.
  • Rumors speak of the presence of a group of demon-worshippers who have moved into the burial halls in the last decade.

Gambler and Drebb chose fire resistant armor as their equipment, while Drinna chose an enchanted body wrap that would enhance her unarmed strikes with acid. Belflin chose a suit of magical hide armor, while Atish and Corian chose magical wands. You all then set out along a small tributary of the Path River into the region.

Your first four days of exploration were uneventful as you traveled through an area of rolling hills that would be perfect for farming once the region was settled. On Lamashan 10, you all crossed a small tributary and headed into the foothills of the Hungry Mountains. The next day you all encountered a series of three farmsteads that had recently been looted and sacked by orcs. These farms were at the foot of a path that led through the foothills. As you buried the bodies and investigated, a group of ten orcs with a leader returned to the scene of the massacre. Corian caught most of the group in magical webs, while Drebb and Drinna took out the leader. Two orcs managed to escape the vengeful blades, arrows, and bolts of the group, but Belflin was able to hunt them down before they could escape to warn their colleagues. That night you were attacked by another band of orcs, this time with two leaders, but again the judicious use of magical webs and superior tactical positioning made for a short and successful fight.

The next three days you spent in hill country. You discovered a smaller river tributary that ran into a narrow canyon channel, falling through a crevasse into an underground passage. A cave opening allowed you to traverse the course of the river to the northeast if you so desired, where a set of ancient stone stairs carved from the surrounding rock rand next to and slightly above the water level. You decided not to use the path at this time.

On Lamashan 14, you came to an abandoned mine. Corian identified it as a played out copper mine. Searching the area, Belflin spotted red dragon tracks, but before you could retreat, the best emerged from the mine entrance. It attempted to start a dialogue, but Belflin insulted it, so it attacked. A fierce fight ensued. Drebb fell to the dragon’s fiery breath and only the intervention of Torag saved him from certain death. Drinna also barely avoided incineration in the flames, but she was severely wounded. The fight ended when Gamble snuck up behind the dragon and stabbed him in the cloaca. You all took the head and scales of the red dragon. Inside the cave, you found that the dragon had collapsed most of the mine tunnels, but there was a small hoard of treasure. Atish took a magical morningstar and a scroll with a spell that would imbue normal weapons with magic for a short time. Corian acquired a cloak that would force attackers to ignore him in combat once activated. You all rested and decided to return to Vigil to re-equip, rest, and report on your progress to this point.

It was a 2-day journey back to the city, and shortly before you arrived on Lamashan 16, you were attacked by a griffon, which you easily dispatched. When you entered the city, you were accosted by Nathaniel, but Gambler drove him off with a well-placed sling bullet to the head. You sold the dragon and griffon heads to the temple of Iomedae and the dragon scales to a local smith. Gambler got you all a commission on further dragon body parts with a local apothecary. You then spent the rest of the week resting and preparing for a return trip to the frontier.

 

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Session 5
Orcus and Wererat Eye Surprise

<u>Session 5: Rova 21 to Rova 28, 4716 AR</u>

Before the evening festivities began, several of you took part in the traditional Swallowtail festival competitions. Belflin lost a close archery contest to Lauriel, the Elven lieutenant of the town guard. Meanwhile, Drinna took out Karth, the local priest of Gorum, in a wrestling match, and Atish performed a sword dance in the talent competition. He easily bested the boastful tall tales of the Dwarven adventurer Burl.

Just before midnight, you all were drawn outside by the shouts of battle and the guttural voices of Orcs. You all watched stunned as a group of Orcish raiders set fire to the main temple of Erastil and fled town. Shandril, Arlen, and Baran tasked the party with tracking down the raiders and returning stolen property from the temple, including the holy relic the Crucible of Erastil. To aid you in this endeavor, Baran assigned Lauriel along with the sergeants Jerinor and Hathol.

Belflin took the lead and determined that the marauders were heading towards Eralion’s Keep. After fording the river and entering the forest, you all determined that the Orcs had split off from the main road and taken a short cut on a little-used trail. In addition, you all recovered some loot that the Orcs had dropped. Lauriel argued that you all should continue along the main road, fearing an Orcish ambush. The rest of the party overrode her and decided to pursue them along the hidden trail. As you all debated, Drinna spotted a Halfling that was stealthily following the party. He turned out to be Gambler’s cousin from town, Lannet. No one was really happy to see him, but at this point you all had no choice but to allow him to accompany you. Lauriel sent Jerinor to the edge of the forest with your horses while you all continued after the Orcs.

Two hours later, you caught up with the Orcs and carried, not allowing any of the Orcs to escape and recovering the Crucible. You took one prisoner, from whom you learned that the Orcs were led by someone named Tavik. Once you had gotten this information, Drinna executed the Orc as a war captive. Lauriel wanted everyone to return to town, but Atish and Belflin argued that you all should continue on to the keep while you had the element of surprise. Hathol and Lauriel agreed to take the Crucible back to Fairhill and send the militia as reinforcements while you all and Lannet continued on.

Following the secret path, you all came to a clearing dominated by a ruined keep. Belflin and Gambler scouted and found 3 watchtowers, a bell tower occupied by a single Orc sentry, and a 20 foot tall wall filled with 3 earthen palisades where it had crumbled. Each of these palisades was manned by 2 Orcs. You all cooked up a plan to slay the bell tower sentry, sound an alert and draw the Orcs out of the main gates into an ambush.

Gambler successfully slew the sentry and found that the bell had been removed and a siege ballista put in its place. He sounded the alarm horn, but the Orcs did not go through the main gates. They were led by a chieftain wielding a wicked looking double axe, a half-orc in scale mail with a heavy mace, and an Ogre wielding a great club. Gambler barely escaped when the chieftain sent another Orc into the bell tower to investigate the alarm. Gambler managed to disable the ballista but was severely wounded by the Orc’s great axe.

Drinna approached the gates and found out why the Orcs were not emerging—the gates were rusted shut. So you all decided on “Plan B.” Belflin and the two Halflings circled around to the east to snipe at the palisade guards, while Drinna and Drebb, supported by Atish and Corian, took the main force from behind. It was a war of attrition. Belflin and Gambler eventually took out the Orc chieftain and the Ogre, while Corian picked off many of the regular Orcs with magic missiles. Atish engaged the half-orc in a duel of divine magic as the half-orc turned out to be a cleric of some dark deity. As Belflin brought the evil cleric down with an arrow, his body disappeared in a flash of magic.

After resting a few hours, you all were relieved to see Lauriel show up with militia troops who returned with your horses. After seeing that all was secure, the militia returned to Fairhill, allowing you all to explore the keep. One tower was filled with strange spiders that you all dispatched with relative ease, while another tower was filled with Green Slime. The last tower was the main Orc barracks, but Corian discovered a secret trap door in the floor to a lower level.

The dark, musty chamber beneath the orcs’ den contained a swath of destruction. Broken pieces of once fine furniture lay strewn about, and shredded tapestries lay scattered as if by the wind. The whole area smelled of orc and ogre. A single trap door is set in the center of the floor, and the area around it was strangely free of debris, as if someone cleared all the trash away from it purposefully. The trap door was nailed shut with silvery nails, and a number of what appear to be silver pieces were wedged into the cracks, forming a nearly complete silver square around the perimeter of the door itself. Several runes were etched into the door. Atish informed the rest of you that silver was a common ward against undead. He also determined that the trap door was sealed with a magical lock. Upon closer inspection, the inscription on the trap door was a 5-horned goat head, which was identical to that etched on Corian’s amulet. Corian proceeded to touch his amulet to the inscription, breaking the lock on the portal.

A faint gust of stale air rushed out as the door seal was broken. The room below appeared to be some sort of laboratory, with candles, tubes, and various pieces of glassware strewn about on a series of tables. Corian cast a Light spell on a torch and dropped it the room, but the light seemed somehow dimmer here and created dancing shadows against the walls. There was a trap door in the center of the room along with a locked door on the east side of the room. As you all entered the room, Corian was attacked by an undead Shadow. Before Drebb was able to dispatch it in a blaze of silvery fire by striking it with his magical axe, the evil creature drained Corian of most of his physical strength. Despite his physical weakness, the sorcerer insisted that you all continue exploring the complex.

The eastern door led to a small chamber that has not been disturbed for a long time. It contained a bed, a brazier with incense and other creature comforts of a mage. On a bedside table you all found Eralion’s journal and spellbook.

The trap door in the outer room opened onto what appears to be some kind of crypt. Six small stone sarcophagi lined the walls at regular intervals, and on a raised dais of blackest stone, in the very center of the room, rested an ornately carved stone coffin covered with runes and symbols. A withered corpse lay on the stone coffin, one arm drooped over the edge grasping a staff. Shards of a once-ornate flask lay on the ground in front of the coffin. Belflin fired an arrow into the withered corpse, causing it to rise as an undead Wight. The creature yanked Belflin into the room as the other sarcophagi burst open revealing zombies. Before disaster struck, Atish channeled the power of Sarenrae and disintegrated the Wight while severely crippling the zombies. Belflin and Drinna then finished off the zombies.

Once the Wight was destroyed, the obsidian patina on Corian’s amulet crumbled to dust revealing a silver holy symbol of Abadar underneath. In addition, an angel in the service of Iomedae, Tancred, and a spirit in the service of Abadar, Merema, appeared to the party to thank them for stopping a grave evil. Tavik, it turns out, had been in the service of Orcus and sought to find the remains of Eralion and complete his transition into a Lich. This was part of a broader scheme to bring the Prince of Undeath back to Golarion, from whence he had been banished millennia ago. These divine servitors offered each of you some divine power on the condition that you all help the temples of Iomedae and Abadar in Vigil find and cleanse two abandoned shrines to Aroden and Iomedae that had been defiled by Orcus worshippers. Tancred also revealed to Drebb that this was where the fountain of Earth’s Blood revealed to him by Torag was located. Each of you decided to take the boon, which also subjected you to a powerful Quest spell to follow through with this mission.

You all proceeded to loot the tower and its lower levels. You found plenty of copper, silver, and gold coinage along with gems and jewelry as well as some valuable rugs that would bring a pretty penny once they were cleaned up. The biggest find was Eralion’s staff, which could bring forth daylight 3 times a day as well as arrest the wielder’s fall from a great height once a day. Finally there was a pair of magical bracers that added to the wearer’s defense. Drinna claimed both of these items.

Returning to the bell tower’s lower floor, you all found a shrine to Abadar that had been defiled by a foul magical candle. After breaking the candle, Atish cleansed the shrine and prepared it be rededicated to Abadar. You also found a small amount of additional coinage that had been left behind by Tavik. It was at this time that Lannet revealed that he had followed the party to the keep because he needed help. His past had caught up with him, and a crime lord from Caliphas, Grenish, had finally tracked him down for the theft of a magical gem. The issue was that Lannet had sold the gem already to a traveling wizard who had subsequently disappeared in the Stirge Woods. You all agreed to reluctantly help Lannet out. Drinna was interested because the people Grenish had sent to retrieve the gem were the same ones who had assaulted her back in Caliphas in a case of mistaken identity.

Before returning to town, you all decided to track down the old lady Gethrame and Herl and go talk to the Wererats about returning Gethrame’s staff. You met a hostile reception at Gethrame’s cave from Herl, who insisted that you all go and retrieve the staff. After resting you all set out to find the Wererat lair.

The territory surrounding the Wererat lair was polluted and Belflin discovered that that the region was under a curse. Approaching the lair, you all were attacked by a corrupted tree spirit. As soon as you finished this battle the Wererats emerged to parley with you. Their leader, the witch Glaatha, claimed that you had been duped by Herl. She revealed that Eralion had created his staff by slaying her husband and many of her kinfolk and used Wererat eyes to empower its magic. She showed you the staff, which was covered in desiccated eyes as proof. Glaatha claimed that all the Wererats wanted was to be left in peace, although she admitted that they preyed on the occasional travelers of the region. Drinna, Belflin, and Atish could not let this last admission go unpunished, so you all attacked. It was a disastrous battle, with Drinna and Drebb severely wounded as you all were outnumbered by Glaatha, her four apprentices, and twelve Wererate thugs. Drebb barely survived a magical attack that forced him to face his greatest fear, although his hair was now turned white. Even with the help of Lannet and the timely arrival of Herl, you all were forced to retreat, although you did manage to kill Glaatha. Drinna was bitten during the battle, and Atish determined that she had been exposed to lycanthropy.

Bedraggled and beaten down by your defeat at the Wererat lair, you all arrived back in Fairhill. Your spirits were soon lifted as you were hailed as champions. Arlen allowed you all the use of the noble’s manor anytime you were in town. Shandril was not powerful enough to cure Drinna with spells, but she was able to mix a brew of wolfsbane, which Belflin acquired with the help of Herl and Atish. Drinna survived downing this nasty concoction and was cured of her affliction. Over the next four days, you all rested and recovered. Atish helped Shandril come tor terms with her guilt over what she had done to Gethrame so long ago, while the local representatives of Abadar and Iomedae, Liam and Michael, took Sir Erlinars’ contingent of the Knights of Ozem to claim Eralion’s keep as a new outpost for the Knights in the region. On a sad note, Herl came by to report that Gethrame had finally died. After burying her, he stated that he was leaving the region, and he thanked you for your efforts. Belflin spent some time near the Wererat’s lair and discovered that with the death of Glaatha, the Wererats had moved on and the curse on the land was lifted. While at the lair he encountered Illarda, a female elf Druid who headed up the local Druid’s circle. She informed him that Glaatha had cursed the land in retaliation for Eralion’s creation of Gethrame’s staff, and that with Glaatha’s death, the curse had been lifted. The remaining Wererats, with no reason to remain in the area after Glaatha’s death, had fled back into Ustalav. Illarda thanked Belflin for his service in lifting the curse and removing the Wererat menace and rewarded him with a wolf animal companion. Drebb received two potions of healing as his reward from the town. The most amusing part of your rest period came from Lannet, who his within the manor house to avoid Grenish’s thugs, but you all knew that you would have to deal with this issue before you could set off for Vigil.

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Session 4
Beauty and the Beast

<u>Session 4: Rova 12 to Rova 21, 4716 AR</u>

Upon your arrival at the Drunken Cockatrice, you encountered a Halfling adventurer named Gambler Gamjorn. He offered his talents to the party, and needing someone with stealth and the ability to disarm traps, you accepted his offer. The next morning, you all joined Sir Erlinar and his knights to journey to the ruined way station that had been taken over by Gnolls. You arrived in the vicinity of the way station early on the 14th. Gambler, Drinna, and Belflin scouted the area in the rain and discovered that there were a dozen Gnolls, with the leader and five of his warriors set up in the woods nearby for an ambush of travelers. Returning to your main group and consulting with Erlinar, you all decided on the following plan—your group would use invisibility to sneak up on the Gnolls in the woods and take them out, causing the remainder to come rushing from the compound, where they would be run down by the knights. The plan worked perfectly, although Drinna was severely wounded. You were allowed to keep 1,000 gold crowns that you found in the way station, presumably payment from someone to the Gnolls. The leader had magical leather armor and a shield while the rest of the Gnolls had a variety of agate gems that you all took. Belflin downed a couple of deer for a feast and the party spent the night with Sir Erlinar and his troops in celebration.

The next day, you bid the knights farewell as they stayed to repair the way station. The sun was a welcome sight as you set out back to Fairhill. Shortly after midday, you all encountered a group of seven Orc raiders. This turned out to be tough fight as the Orcs fought with a ferocity you had never seen before, continuing to fight on despite wounds that would have felled most other creatures. Drebb was knocked unconscious before you all took out the Orc leader and 4 of his minions before the remaining two fled.

You arrived back in Fairhill on the 17th and spent the next few days recuperating and shopping. You received a chilly welcome from most townsfolk and realized that Nathaniel had done a good job of ruining your reputation when he last passed through the village. While in town you heard a rumor that the local smith’s daughter and two local workers had been missing for a couple of weeks, ever since they set out in search of the lair of a 2-headed giant. Corian surmised that this might be an Ettin, and Drinna and Atish insisted that the party hunt down this menace to the local townsfolk.

On the 18th, you all set out on the trail of the would-be adventurers, following them north along the Graywash, a tributary of the Path River. Belflin found signs that the group had passed on into the hills, and eventually you all came upon a stony path that led to a ruined watch tower on the top of a hill. You heard a beautiful female voice singing a rowdy drinking song accompanied by someone playing a harp very badly. Using Corian’s wand to become invisible, Gambler snuck up to the tower and confirmed that a young human woman chained to a rock was singing, while a 2-headed giant with a finely-crafted helmet squashed onto one of its heads played the harp. You all decided to draw the Ettin out and ambush him. He accommodated by telling his captive that he was going hunting after she sang another song for him, this one a rousing battle march. Using magic and missile fire you all slew the Ettin and proceeded to free the female, who turned out to be Arialle, the smith’s daughter.

She reported that the Ettin had attacked and killed her two companions, Ian and Rory McGregor, but had kept her alive because he was captivated by her harp-playing and singing. She also reported that after taking her back to his lair, the Ettin had dug around his lair and found the helmet. Once he put it on, his two heads essentially took on different personalities, one becoming almost benign, while the other remained crude and base. Corian detected strong magic and identified it as a helmet that would allow the wearer to read the thoughts of those nearby. You all were suspicious of the helmet and decided to take it back to a priest of Iomedae in Fairhill. In addition the Ettin had acquired a sizable amount of coinage from its local depredations.

You all returned to Fairhil on the morning of the autumnal equinox. This was also the beginning of Harvest Week and the day of the Swallowtail Festival, a seasonal holiday celebrated by followers of Erastil and Desna. Atish returned the remains of the McGregor brother to their family for proper burial. You all also met Shandril, an elderly, severe-looking Elven woman who was priestess of Erastil. She warned you to stay away from Eralion’s tower, saying that no good would come from unearthing memories of the dead wizard. She suggested that if you were looking to help the town, you could hunt down a Manticore that had been plaguing the area. She did offer each of the party members a gift for their service in eliminating the Gnolls and the Ettin. Belflin received a magical bow that imbued its arrows with the power of flame, Drinna was gifted with a magical ring that would protect her from cold attacks, Atish took a wand that would cure serious wounds, Drebb received a magical axe that could injure incorporeal spirits, Gambler received a magical rapier made of cold iron, and Corian received a magical ring that enhanced his spells. Meanwhile, the rest of you met Michael of Iomedae, who ran the shrine to this goddess. He was able to identify the helmet as an artifact from ancient Thassilonia that had specifically come from the realm of the Runelord of Envy. He suspected that it might be cursed and offered to give to Sir Erlinar when he passed this way upon his return to Vigil. The knight could then take it to the main Temple of Iomedae in that city to dispose of it. With your business concluded, you all settled in for a day of contests and athletic events and are now in the Drunken Cockatrice taking the celebration into the evening.

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Session 3
When is a ghost not a ghost? When it's Skum!

<u>Session 3: Arodus 22 to Rova 11, 4716 AR</u>

Natalia decided to retire from adventuring, as her encounters with the stirges had brought home the reality of the adventurer’s life. Galdar also announced that Abadar had finally revealed the reasons for him to accompany Corian to Crimmor—to establish a temple to Abadar in the lawless town. Fortunately for the rest of you, you were able to recruit a replacement for Galdar. An exotic priest named Atish from lands to the far south had appeared in town over the past few days claiming to be on a mission for the sun goddess Sarenrae. After welcoming Atish into the group and mulling over your options, you all decided to investigate the reports of ghosts on Lake Crimmormere causing all of the fish to disappear.

It was sunny day as you set out and Belflin recommended that you all traverse the western shores of the lake and circle back around to the northeast, where the bulk of the ghost sightings had been. On the way, you were ambushed by a trio of pony-sized spiders indigenous to the area. Belflin and Atish were caught in webs and one of the nasty creatures managed to bite Corian before you all dispatched them thanks mainly to Drebb and Drinna, although Belflin was able to impale the last spider with a bow shot as it fled.

Late that afternoon, you came to an area that contained a small grove of trees alongside a babbling brook. Drinna and Belflin noticed that the pool was filled with humanoid bones. Upon investigation, Belflin spotted a cave entrance about 20 feet up the hillside, and even more ominous was the presence of two human bodies in chain mail hanging upside down from one of the trees. Atish wanted to pull the bodies down and give them a proper burial, so Drinna climbed the slope. All of the activity roused the inhabitant of the cave, which Belflin identified as a troll. The troll informed the party that there were no ghosts here, just some mysterious “fish-people.” He then demanded that the party pay 100 gold crowns for trying to steal his water, but you all refused and attacked. In the course of the battle, the troll inflicted wounds on Drinna that should have killed her, but her miraculous meditative powers acquired as a monk allowed her to cling to life. In the meantime, Drebb, Belflin, and Corian were able to bring the beast down bolstered by Atish’s blessings from Sarenrae. The key was Corian’s use of a magical scroll to spray the creature with acid, which prevented it from regenerating while Dreb lopped off its head.

Atish used his powers to heal Drinna and Dreb (who had received some minor wounds) and you all decided to stay the night in the cave. Amidst the litter of the cave were quite a bit of coinage from past victims as well as gold ring set with a pearl. There were also some more bodies, which Atish interred with appropriate rituals.

The next day brought rain and as you all reached the northeast shore of the lake and began searching it for signs of the ghost, you spotted two hunchbacked, green-skinned humanoids with wide, frog-like heads and a fish-like mouth filled with teeth watching you. As soon as they noticed that their observation was spotted, they fled into the lake. Dreb speculated that perhaps these unknown creatures were responsible for the declining fish population. Belflin found a nice cave to shelter in and you all settled in for the night.

Your rest was interrupted, however, by an onslaught of the strange fish creatures. Ten of the creatures snuck up on Dreb as he was on watch and rushed into the cave. Atish was overwhelmed in the initial assault and soon Corian and Drinna were beaten into submission as well, although Drinna managed to get in a punch before she went down. Dreb and Belflin managed to put up a valiant prevent and prevent the fish folk from carrying their unconscious companions away. Dreb was finally overwhelmed, leaving Belflin in a desperate battle. He was able to mount Atish’s war horse, Seekeks, and drive the last of the creatures off. Having survived this harrowing kidnapping attempt, you all had to spend the next two days recovering, healing up, and planning your next move.

The rain had finally subsided by the time you resumed your exploration of the northeastern portions of the lakeshore. Drinna’s keen eyes spotted an underwater cave about a half-mile out on the lake, which you all surmised was where the fish-folk had their lair. You all came up with a brilliant plan to use Drinna as bait (posing as s simple pilgrim) to draw the kidnappers out, while the rest of you set up an ambush. The plan worked to perfection. This time the fish-folk marauders were accompanied by their leader, and the bulk of them fled once their leader and three of their fellows had been taken out by the ambush. The leader had a nice magical trident as well as some magical bracers. After spending the next two days completing your exploration of the shore, you all were convinced that there was no ghost and that these bizarre fish-folk were the source of Crimmor’s problems.

You arrived back in town on Arodus 28 and reported your findings to Flendon, the lumber magnate. He thanked you for the information and paid you a nice reward for your efforts. He decided to round up some of the local militia to seal the cave and end the fish-folk threat. You all also turned over the head of leader to Kentus, head of the local temple to Desna, to see if he could identify it. He reported that they were hybrid race called Skum that had been created from ancient Azlanti slaves by foul creatures known as the Aboleth. The Aboleth had been driven deep into the Darklands by the events of Earthfall 10,000 years ago, but their slaves, including the Skum, had been left to roam free, where they plagued many coastal communities to this day. Corian remembered that the crazed druid Yandarral had mentioned being in alliance with creatures that were the last remnants of the old Azlanti and speculated that these had been the creatures.

As you all rested the next few days, Atish traded the trident for a magical crossbow and Belflin used some of his money and the ring to upgrade his bow. Drinna kept the bracers, which enhanced her defensive prowess. The militia force returned the last day of the month to report success. There had been a vicious battle with the few remaining Skum, but they were routed and the tunnel sealed. In gratitude to the party for allowing the town to end the solution to its fish depopulation, Flendon offered some treasures that had been found in the Skum lair. Atish received a ring that had the ability to arrest his fall from virtually any height as well as a magical scroll that allowed him to generate a beam of searing light to devastate his foes, Corian received a wand that he could use to make people invisible for a brief time, Belflin received a masterwork glaive, and Drinna received a magical elixir that could provide her protection from electrical attacks for a brief period of time.

Drinna asked the party to accompany her to her home, the Standing Stone monastery, which lay a little over a day’s journey north and east of Crimmor, so you all set out on Rova 1. As you all settled in for the night, you were hailed by an elderly elf named Herl who was dressed in trappings of a ranger (excellently-crafted studded leather armor, buckler, hand axe, and long bow). He was friendly enough, but seemed to be hiding something. He was able to tell the party that there was a Druids’ Circle in the region that focused on worship of the moon. Over the course of the conversation, he revealed that he knew much about the party, including their role in the demise of Yandaral. He indicated that Nathaniel’s band had spoken poorly of them in Fairhill so that they should not expect the warmest welcome there. He finally got around to making a request. He was the self-appointed guardian of the blind seeress Gethrame, who had been cast out of Fairhill and cursed with blindness by the priestess of Erastil, Shandril, ninety years ago. She had been gifted with a staff that restored some of her sight by the wizard Eralion, but this staff had recently been stolen by a band of wererats led by a coven of witches. These thieves were too many for him to take out by himself, and in addition he was getting frail in his old age and did not want to leave Gethrame alone for an extended period. He played upon the good will of the party, but for those of a more mercenary bent (such as Drebb), he claimed that the Wererats had accumulated many treasures, which the party was welcome to keep. After much debate, you all agreed to help. Gethrame’s cave and the Wererat lair were both near Eralion’s tower. Herl thanked you and departed the next morning, saying he would await the return of the staff at Gethrame’s cave.

As you all continued on your way the morning of Rova 2, about 2 hours from the monastery, Drinna and Atish spotted a creature swooping towards you. It had a humanoid head, the body of a lion, dragon-like wings, and a spiked tail. It was 10 feet long and looked to weigh about 1000 pounds. Atish identified it as a Manticore. These creatures were likely magical creations that over time established themselves as a naturally occurring species. They were known as fierce predators who constantly sought fresh meat, especially human meat. Drinna and Corian ran for cover in a nearby small patch of undergrowth, but Atish, Belflin, and Drebb were caught in the open. Belflin nearly went down under a barrage of spikes before he was able to dive for cover behind his horse, kept alive by Atish’s healing energies. Drebb charged forward, but his horse was cut down by the deadly spikes. Corian then used his wand to turn the various party members invisible, and when the creature made a move to pick up Drebb’s horse and flee, Belflin, Drebb, and Drinna struck the creature and killed it.

Dragging your wounded selves to the monastery, you received a warm welcome from the Abbess Kayla. You were able to relax and heal over the next week. Atish enjoyed the monastery’s vintage wines, Drinna caught up with her former associates, and Drebb received a divine vision from Torag. In this vision, he was shown a sacred site to Torag that contained fabled Earth’s Blood but was in danger. This site was supposedly in the region and could be accessed through an abandoned temple complex dedicated to some other deities.

On your way to Fairhill (a journey of just over 2 days), you all shared a fire and some wine with grateful villagers from Crimmor your first night on the road. The next day you came upon a way station maintained by the Knights of Ozem out of the country of Lastwall. The way station was occupied by a patrol of six Knights, led by Sir Erlinar. They were looking to round up local help to drive out a dozen Gnolls that had taken over another way station further to the east. Belflin was incredulous that the knights needed help. He did not want to help them, but when you all were reminded of your poor reputation in Fairhill, and at the urging of Drinna and Atish, who wanted to help, you all agreed. You then proceeded on to Fairhill, arriving in town on the late morning of Rova 11. You all took rooms at the “Drunken Cockatrice,” the inn recommended by Erlinar.

The village of Fairhill rests on the largest of several gently sloping hills about 10 miles from the Tradeway. Four-hundred and twenty souls inhabit the village and surrounding farmland. The village is governed by Arlen, the village magistrate. The town has a general alignment of neutral good, though individuals of all moral codes live here under the protection and goodwill provided by the temple of Erastil. Though numerous other shrines are present (Abadar, Iomedae, Desnah, Gozreh, and Gorum), Erastil is the patron deity of Fairhill and her temple is the most prominent. Thus, the true “leader” of Fairhill, according to rumors, however, is Shandril, the priestess of the Temple of Erastil. Rumors also conflict on exactly what type of relationship she has with Arlen. Fairhill is a peaceful town and has not had any real troubles with bandits or monsters. That is, until recently… For the past several weeks, orcs have appeared of the outer farms and roads of Fairhill. A village family was raped and mutilated on the road leading from the village to the Tradeway a week before the players arrive. Rumors of a vampire in an old ruined keep are running rampant, and the peace that the villagers once enjoyed is seemingly at an end.

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