<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.