Tomb of Abysthor

Session 16
Filth, Frogs, and Drow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Session 15
Vampires from other realities tend to complicate things!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Session 12
Clean Rat Bites Thoroughly!

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

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

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

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

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Session 11
What was that thing?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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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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