Tomb of Abysthor

Session 33
Ancient Tombs and Oozes

<u>Session 33: Kuthona 22, 4717 AR-Kuthona 31, 4717 AR</u>

The mild weather turned brutally cold as winter officially arrived. The gargoyle lair consisted of several interlinked caverns. Therein you all found a variety of treasures including good from the lost Vigil caravan. In addition, you found the remains of the caravan leader, which Atish collected for a proper burial. At the back of the cave, you found an underground river leading to the lair of what appeared to be an aquatic demon served by five skum. During the course of the fight, Atish detected that the demon was actually an illusion. Once the skum were dispatched and the illusion dispelled, you all caught sight of an aboleth that fled into the depths of the river, sealing a tunnel into the Darklands behind it with an explosion.

After resting the evening, you continued your exploration of the box canyon. The canyon finally ended at the base of a cliff, where a structure of white marble was embedded within the rift wall, partially exposed. A heavy marble slab blocked its doorway. Situated in a semicircle around the structure were a ring of free-standing, fluted marble column, all of which showed signs of cracking and weathering; many were little more than broken stumps of shattered stone. A pall of despair seems to hang over the entire area within ring of columns, and the whole area was suffused by a dim light. The exposed building was flat-roofed and 15 feet high, with the only visible entrance through the marble slab that blocks the doorway. As Belflin approached the ring of stones, five shadow demons surged forward to attack. Their efforts were thwarted when Atish summoned the light of Sarenrae to dispel the unnatural darkness and then created a magic circle against evil beings. After dispatching the demons, you all were now free to explore the tomb.

Rex was able to move the marble slab, allowing entry into the building. The chamber inside was quiet and peaceful. Stucco walls still held cracked murals—images showing the life of a pious man in white robes tending to the sick, giving to the poor, and helping the needy. Stone benches lined the walls with shallow stone dishes resting on the floor between them for offerings of alms. Whatever violence deposited this structure at the base of the rift did not do so without leaving its mark. The floor was slightly canted and great cracks mar the walls and ceiling, though they are otherwise intact. In the center of the 15-foot high room was a small flask made of iron, set with silver runes and stoppered with a brass cork. There were two visible exits from the room.

When Mags picked up the flask to examine it, the stopper popped out, releasing some type of winged evil outsider with a bow, a rope, and a long sword. A fierce fight ensued, but you all got the best of the creature. Rex claimed the magical bow as a prize. moving on to the first exit, you came to another room that appeared to have been warped by its burial in the rift. The walls and ceiling canted away from the door at a 45-degree angle, but the tan stone of the floor remained perfectly level. In the center of the far wall was a cracked basin that once appeared to be part of a fountain, though it had long since gone dry. Atish determined that this room was originally intended to serve as a place of rest and refreshment for visiting pilgrims. You all noticed that the tan floor here was different than the previous floors in of the tomb, which were composed of marble under a tan layer of gritty dirt. The floor then animated and attacked. It appeared to be a variety of black pudding that you al were able to take down without much trouble.

After determining that there was nothing else in the pilgrims’ chamber, you all went to the next exit from the main entry. This room once served as the waiting room between the contemplation chamber and the altar where pilgrims could pay homage to the lost Justicar interred here. It was featureless save for the five inhabitants: 7’ tall, hunched goat-headed humanoids covered in mangy gray hides that only partly cover their gaunt but muscled frame, each wielding halberds. Atish and Mags determined that these were Schir demons placed here as guardians, and they were ultimately no match for the party.

Beyond the Schir chamber was another room whose walls were white stucco, cracked with age and past upheavals of the earth. Murals, now peeling badly, still showed the valorous deeds of a knight clad in shining silver armor and wielding a brilliant sword. As they continue around the room’s perimeter, they showed him defeating all manner of enemies, including rank upon rank of enemy soldiers in some vast conflict of long ago. The murals meet at the center of the back wall where they show the shining knight, mortally wounded, surrounded by many shadowy, evil-looking opponents, the largest of whom bears a massive black spear—the knight’s blood on its tip. Before this final mural stands a great block of the finest marble forming an altar. Blue velvet cushions, faded and dusty with age, rest on the floor directly before the altar. Crouched atop the altar is a hideous, vulture-headed, winged demon glaring at you all. The battle with the Vrock demon was fairly difficult, especially with its annoying use of mirrored images, but you finally killed the foul beast.

Atish confirmed that the altar was dedicated to Aroden, and hidden beneath it was a secret door with an iron ladder leading 30 feet down to another complex of rooms. Rex moved the altar to provide access to the tunnel and you all proceeded downward. A feeling of immense despair filled the vaulting subterranean chamber. White stucco covered the walls and domed ceiling, which unlike elsewhere, showed no signs of cracking or peeling. The murals painted here were still as vivid as if they were done yesterday. All along the walls were painted rows of kneeling robed pilgrims, heads bowed with reverence or despair, all facing the far end of the room. The 20-foot dome above was painted like a cerulean sky with wispy white clouds. Gathered among these clouds were numerous angels and celestial beings, all weeping and likewise facing the room’s far end reverently. Near the room’s far end was a pedestal holding a massive spear point still attached to part of a broken shaft. The point itself was of a dark metal pitted with corrosion and stained with long-dried blood and foul ichors. Next to this wicked-looking weapon on the pedestal was a large blacksmith’s hammer forged of cold iron and heavily scarred with a network of fine cracks in its head. Between these two was a cloven skull. Beyond the pedestal rested a crystal bier. Upon it was the beatific form of a handsome knight—the one depicted in the murals—lying in repose with a peaceful expression as if merely sleeping. Shining plate armor covered the knight from neck to feet, marred only by a large gash in the breastplate. Clasped in his gauntleted hands upon his breast was a bastard sword that glowed with light like a torch.

As you entered to explore the chamber, a ghostly figure of the being on the bier appeared and spoke the following:

“I am Gerrant of the Holy Order of the Justicars of Aroden. Look upon my mortal remains and weep, for I was laid low by betrayal most foul. I swept through the hordes of Orcus beside my boon companion Alaric, and none could stand before us on the field of battle. Demons quailed at our approach. Where united we could not fall, in division the Demon Prince created our undoing. Alaric was called away to defend his home at the holy city of Absalom from barbaric invasion instigated by Orcus. I alone remained of the Justicars to fight for our cause. A captain of the Army of Light, whose name has been stricken from memory by the gods for his betrayal, led his company into an ambush knowing that I would come to help them at their call. I arrived to find it all an elaborate trap. The captain’s company consisted of only the walking dead, previously slain through treachery and raised again to lure me to my peril. The company of undeath turned on me as did their attackers, a swarm of demons. But last came the linchpin in the ambush, a foul cloud giant of demonic blood wielding a spear forged of darkness. I smote the captain and called upon the power of Aroden to rout the demons and undead, but the fiend-giant used my distraction to pierce my chest and lay me low. The weapon he used to slay my body has trapped my spirit here with my body for all these long centuries. Before my allies could figure a way to separate my soul from its mortal coil so that I could travel to the Boneyard for final judgment, Orcus’ foul servants ripped this land apart, burying my tomb in the Chaos Rift and severing the site’s connection to Holy Aroden that had protected me from undeath. This betrayal and my fate weigh heavy on my soul, and I cannot rest easy. The treacherous captain has been dealt with, and the fiend-giant was slain by my vengeful allies, his wicked spear destroyed. Even the hammer that forged the instrument of my demise was claimed from the field of battle. All that remains is the anvil upon which the spear was formed. The existence of that is all that anchors me here to this place. Any who would recover the anvil from the ruins of the city and return with it here would be forever called my friend. I know not where it lies; only that it still exists within the precincts of the temple-city. Despoil not my tomb and return with the item I seek so that I may rest, and I will grant you a boon of inestimable worth.”

With these words, the spirit then disappeared. Upon examination, the corpse was perfectly preserved by a powerful magic. It wore full-plate mail armor that was once magical but has been irreparably damaged by the huge gash in its breastplate that shows signs of acidic corrosion around its edges. The sword clasped in its hands was a holy bastard sword made of brilliant energy. Hidden beneath the suit of armor were an amulet marking Gerrant’s family house and a silver holy symbol of Aroden. The spear on the pedestal was huge-sized and forged of adamantite, pitted and corroded. A palpable feeling of evil hung over it, though its enchantment appeared to have broken when the weapon itself was destroyed. The hammer was cold iron but was so badly damaged in the creation of the giant’s spear that its head will fracture into a thousand pieces if ever struck against anything. The skull was that of a cloud giant, the wound obviously fatal.

After resting in the tomb, you all then left the box canyon and continued deeper into the section of the rift that lay the deepest beneath the ground at almost 2,500 feet. The broken ground rose gradually around it to around 2,000 feet, though even that portion lies in a narrow canyon between two high points so that the bottom here is almost perpetually in shadow. A chill breeze seems to perpetually blow through this portion making a constant susurrus that provoked you all to continually glance over your shoulders as if expecting to find someone standing behind you. This lowest point of the rift held the rift’s most horrible secret. It appeared that tens of thousands of members of the Army of Light were killed when the magic was unleashed that formed the Chaos Rift. The bulk of this heavenly host of angels, archons, and celestials was thus destroyed in one fell blow, thousands of souls of light forever lost to their homes in paradise. Such was the might of the magical devastation that these corpses were buried nearly a half mile under the earth. Yet so hardy was the stuff of their substance that they remained largely intact and soon became exposed again as erosion took its toll on the rift walls. The angelic skeletons extend hundreds of feet back into the bedrock here. Much to your horror, a gargantuan ooze of some sort was feeding on the remnants up the side of the cliffs. When it sensed your presence, it surged down with otherworldly quickness and attacked.

When it became apparent that this creature would overwhelm you all, Mags used her magic to take the party onto the Plane of Shadow, allowing you to quickly escape back to town. Once there, you spent the rest of the month recovering and preparing for another foray back into the Chaos Rift.

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Session 32
Lost Caravans and Lots 'O Gargoyles

<u>Session 32: Neth 26, 4717 AR-Kuthona 21, 4717 AR</u>

The five days after leaving the troll hut were spent mapping the fringes of the Chaos Rift. During this time, you encountered 2 groups of gargoyles (one of mutants, one of the spitting type), a Nabasu demon, and a black pudding, all of which you dispatched with relative ease. In addition, you found a spring of fresh water that you marked on your map for future reference.

Kuthona 1 found you back at the remnants of the old main road. From here it was a week’s journey back to the camp. On the second day of the trek, you sent another batch of 10 mutant gargoyles back to their make. Then late that afternoon you encountered something truly bizarre. Seemingly out of nowhere, you found yourselves in the midst of a convoy of zombie pack handlers. They carried tattered rucksacks and litters loaded with cracked and broken chests and baggage, with some holding broken halters that dragged upon the ground as if leading nonexistent pack animals. Adding to the strangeness of this scene were the sounds. The zombies themselves were stone silent, but clearly audible were the clip-clop of many hooves and the creaking of wagon wheels intermixed with the grunts of heavily laden beasts of burden and the occasional shouted command. It sounded as though dozens of travelers were driving by; Atish even recognized the distinct trumpets of a few elephants. This phenomenon detected as both magical and evil. Mags attempted to dispel the magic, but she was overwhelmed by the power of this disturbance, which disappeared after 2 minutes. The packs and luggage of the zombies contained only dust, as if their contents moldered and disintegrated long ago. Gambler recalled hearing about this strange phenomenon from more than one inhabitant of the Camp. There was much speculation as to the origin of this strange caravan and its mysterious invisible members. Some say it is all that remains of a group of priests who attempted to break out of Tsar during the battle and escape long ago. Others say it is the cursed fate of the very first caravan to attempt to cross the haunted Desolation centuries ago after the city had been abandoned. Whatever the reason, it seems to roam the roads around Tsar seemingly randomly always disappearing without providing a clue as to its origin or purpose.

The next day, you came across a grim scene that answered one mystery that had been bothering you since the first day you came to the Camp 4 months earlier. The stench of death and the buzz of flies filled the air on the road ahead. Shattered wagons and the mummified remains of slaughtered draft animals lie strewn like toys. The desiccated corpses of men and ogres were likewise tossed about like rag dolls. The ogres and humans did not appear to have died in battle with one another. Rather by the positioning of their corpses they seem to have fought side-by-side. All bore similar marks of tooth, claw, and acid damage. The 23 men and 8 ogres appeared to have been dead for a few months and had become mummified in the Desolations harsh environment; the bodies had been picked at by scavengers quite a bit. Many pieces of mundane equipment and weapons lay around, but nothing of masterwork or better quality remained, and the wagons’ crates had all been broken open and rifled, with anything of particular value having been removed. A ragged banner flapped in the wind, and the insignia on the remaining armor revealed these to be remains of the Vigil caravan and the mercenaries they hired from the Camp known as the Pounders. It appeared as if they were destroyed by an ambush of gargoyles. Atish performed a mass cremation ceremony for the humans.

The next two days were uneventful aside from some acid rain and a bonestorm, both of which you avoided through Mags’ magic. On Kuthona 6, you came to a wide chasm cutting across the road here. It extended out of sight to the west and expands into a massive canyon to the east where the Chaos Rift began. Here it was about 30 feet wide and had steep rocky sides descending into the depths below. The wooden pylons that once flanked the entrance to a wooden bridge still stood on this edge of the chasm and on the far side, but the bridge itself extended out only a few feet before ending in a jagged, charred, broken edge. The broken remains of the bridge lay shattered and burned at the bottom of the rift. The chasm is 30 feet across and 20 feet deep with a dry, stony floor. As Belflin attempted to jump across on Koeter, a massive five-headed reptilian beast rose up from the depths. Much to your horror, it’s five heads breathed fire upon the party, and it seemed to heal its wounds as fast as you all inflicted them. Finally, Rex began lopping off its heads, and Drinna sealed the stumps with her acid, enabling you to slay the beast.

The last day of your trek along the road was uneventful, and you arrived back in the Camp on the afternoon of Kuthona 7. You then spent a week resting and crafting equipment for your next foray back into the Chaos Rift. Atish was pleased at how the settlement was coming along, and he assigned Drebb and a recently arrived contingent of knights from Vigil to start building a wall. It was decided that this would become a new outpost for Lastwall and in consultation with Sister Sarah, who was leading the knights from Vigil, you all decided to name the settlement Lichbane. Sarah also brought news to Rex that his mother had arrived safely in Qadira. On the 12th, Peter mysteriously disappeared. The only thing out of the ordinary is that a traveler had been passing through town, a female Tien monk. Locals told Gambler that her name was Lin and the she lived on the northern fringes of the Desolation and would visit the Camp twice a year for supplies and gossip. Mags tried to scry on the samurai, but found her efforts blocked. Although you all were uneasy about the disappearance of Peter, there was no evidence to suggest foul play, and you all assumed that he had left for his own reasons.

On the 15th you set out for the Chaos Rift. Now that the roads had been explored, the return journey to the southern edges of the rift only took 3 uneventful days. You descended into the rift on the 18th and after fighting off a pack of Vukodlaks, you found a spring of fresh water, which you marked on your map. The following day, you were surprised by a bout of acid rain, but Mags used her Rope Trick spell to avoid the hazard. On the 20th, you all slew a Chaos Beast with missile fire and magic, as thankfully you spotted it at range and it moved slowly. You all also fought five Wyverns, much to the delight of Gambler, who milked them for venom to make a super potent poison.

As you descended deeper towards the bottom of the rift on the 21st, you found another spring of fresh water. Then that afternoon you came across a box canyon inhabited by the gargoyles that had been plaguing the region. Using Gambler’s stealth and Atish and Mags’ area of effect spells, you all drew out the tribe from its caverns and whittle down their numbers enough for Belflin, Rex, and Drinna to finish the rest off in melee. There were close to 30 of the creatures that lay dead on the canyon floor once the dust settled, while the party took minimal damage. You all decided to rest for the night before entering the caves from which the beasts had come.  

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Session 31
Mutant Gargoyles, Demons, Wyverns, and Trolls, oh my!

<u>Session 31: Neth 18, 4717 AR-Neth 25, 4717 AR</u>

You all spent the next week continuing to circle the Chaos Rift. On the 18th you all encountered another mutated variety of gargoyle. This time the beasts could spit acid, but you dispatched the eight that attacked you. The 19th saw another attack by babau demons, but again you drove the demons off with minimal effort. You began to cross terrain that had been broken by the terrible magic unleashed centuries ago, but Belflin was able to safely guide the party through the rough ground.

On the 20th, you fought off attacks of the non-acid spitting mutated gargoyles and a pack of vukodlaks before camping for the night. The 21st was uneventful aside from an attack by four wyverns, which you all easily survived. Again, you encountered some rough terrain, but this was no problem with Belflin in the lead.

As you trudged along on the 22nd, you were assaulted by some of the spitting gargoyles. After taking out these beasts, your journey continued uneventfully until the afternoon. You encountered a lanky fiend whose mouth was filled with sharp fangs, while great bat-like wings stretched from its scaly hide. This was a tough fight, but you prevailed. Mags then informed you all that you had just fought a nabasu demon. These fiends are birthed directly into the Material Plane from the Abyss, where they feed on innocent souls to mature. Only when finally sated can a nabasu return to the Abyss. Rumor holds that even then the nabasu’s lifecycle does not change, and that further developments await them as they continue to grow. These vile demons form from the souls of evil gluttons, particularly from cannibals, blood-drinkers, and those who prefer the tang of undead flesh. The next day, you all had to weather two bonestorms, but this was not a problem thanks to Mag’s magic.

The 24th saw an attack by several more of the standard mutated gargoyles, which you all successfully fought off. Early on the 25th, you encountered one of the most bizarre beasts you had ever seen. Approaching across the blasted heath was a horrid mass of barbed tentacles, glaring eyes, and gnashing teeth, twisting upon itself and reshaping into new forms. Drinna rushed to engage this creature and when she was exposed to its essence, she began to shift and change herself! Through sheer willpower and fortitude she resisted this transmutation, while magic and ranged attacks sent it back to the outer planes of chaos from whence it came.

Later that afternoon, you all were finally approaching the northern rim of Chaos Rift when you came across something to break the monotony. A platform of rough-hewn logs dangled precariously over the edge of the canyon. Heavy support struts sunk into the bedrock secured it in place. Hanging beneath the platform was wooden deck suspended by ropes at its four corners. These ropes came together ten feet above this deck and combined into one heavy rope which ran upward through a pulley on the platform above and finally to a massive winch. It appeared to be some sort of crude lift, though it looked like it would take a lot of brute strength to operate it. Next to the platform on the brink of the cliff was a large log cabin. Dried clay filled the cracks in the walls and the gaps in the ill-fitting shingles of its roof. Beside the front door hung a tarnished bell. Below it was a sign painted in crude black letters that read (in Giant): “KLOSED TIL NITEFALL.”

Scouting the area, you all detected the tracks of two rock trolls. Belflin was all for a direct assault to kill these creatures, but Atish and Drinna convinced him to stand down. Gamble snuck inside and confirmed the presence of the trolls. They were lairing in a cavern that was covered by the shell of the wooden hut. You all set up ambush positions and waited for nightfall. When the trolls emerged, you all took them out quickly. After looting the lair, you all used the shack as you shelter for the night.

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Session 30
Will the real Peter please stand up?

<u>Session 30: Neth 10, 4717 AR-Neth 17, 4717 AR</u>

You all set out for the Chaos Rift on 10 Neth. You encountered a Chimera and 15 Vukodlaks the but easily dispatched them. On the 11th, you came to the Crossroads. Recalling the rumors that a spirit granting wishes haunted the Crossroads at midnight, you all set up and waited to see what would appear.

Just the like the Midnight Peddler, a cloaked figure appeared from out of nowhere at the appointed time, although he did not have a cart. Unlike the Peddler, this figure radiated an aura of menace. Peter boldly strode forward and greeted the being. He introduced himself as the Dweller at the Crossroads and asked Peter what his greatest desire was. The bard responded lots of money. Peter and the Dweller instantly disappeared.

Mags determined that powerful wish and teleportation magic had been at work here. The rest of the party rested for the night, allowing Mags to prepare a Scrying spell to determine where Peter was. Her magic revealed that he was in a chamber where guttering torches with blue flames mounted in brackets gave the room a mysterious cyan aura. Set into the far wall was a circle of nine large gems. Four of them gleamed with a brownish luster; the other four were a dull gray. Stacked around the room were chests and bowls overflowing with coins and gems, rolls of fine textiles, and racks holding exquisite weapons, armor and garments. In the center of the room stood an ornate pedestal carved from a single elephant’s tusk. Bands of writing in bas-relief wrap around the podium, and atop it sits some sort of green ornament or model. Standing motionless before the pedestal were Peter and another cloaked figure, both surrounded by a nimbus of amber light. The other figure appeared to be a male half-elf of Drow descent wearing leather armor that seemed to be cloaked in shadow. He was armed with a finely-crafted rapier and a silvered dagger. The bas-relief writing on the pedestal was in Common and read, “Woe to you who would invade Belishan the Bloodmage’s vault. Enjoy my hospitality and ponder awhile upon your folly before I slake my thirst upon your soul.”

Guessing that this was a location somewhere in Tsar, you all decided to return to the Camp and decide what to do about this situation. Aside from some acid rain showers and another band of Vukodlaks, the journey back was uneventful, and you arrived back in the Camp on the afternoon of the 13th. The next morning, Atish used magic to commune with Sarenrae and determined that rescuing Peter was not essential to cleansing Tsar, but that it would not necessarily be a distraction either. The party was split on whether or not to mount an immediate rescue operation, but reluctantly decided against it. You all felt you were not powerful enough for the city and that magic was being used to preserve Peter.

That night a knight bearing a katana, a naginata, and eastern style armor entered the Sip of Blood. He rode a magnificent charger and bore the holy symbol of Iomedae. What amazed you is the resemblance that he bore to your missing bard. He claimed that his name was Peter and that Iomedae had directed him to come join your quest to cleanse the city of Tsar. Naturally, you all were suspicious. Peter the Samurai was adamant that he had no living relatives, although he had a sister who had died when he was young. He claimed to come from the River Kingdoms, where he had trained in the Order of the Blue Rose and served in the recent War of the River Kingdoms. There he had received his visions from Iomedae to join you all in Vigil, but had arrived there after you left and was directed to the Camp by your allies there. After much debate, you accepted his offer.

You all returned to the Crossroads, arriving on the afternoon of the 16th. The journey there was uneventful acid aside from more acid raid storms. The party debated on whether or not to stay at the Crossroads and confront the Dweller, but decided against it. The next day, you all pushed into the Chaos Rift.

The northeastern quadrant of the Desolation is dominated by a huge rift scarring the land. This huge canyon is obviously not a natural formation and is, in fact, the result of a massive expenditure of chaotic magic in order to destroy what was the original encampment of the Army of Light. A half mile deep at some points, the shelter provided by the rift in the otherwise barren Desolation serves as home to a myriad of creatures. For here the inhabitants are protected from the horrible bone storms, and here can be found the Desolation’s most valuable commodity, a few hidden pools of potable water deep in the rift’s shadowy recesses. When the magic was unleashed from the defenders of Tsar that tore the ground asunder, those that survived the cataclysmic devastation relocated their camp to the south into what is now the Ashen Waste. Behind they left many of their dead, no small number entombed within the ground by the massive upheaval that occurred. If the winds of the Ashen Waste howl like the spirits of the dead, the gusts that blow over the Chaos Rift play a funeral dirge as they travel across the lip and through the many fissures that comprise the great crevasse. The surrounding ground is flat and unbroken save for boulder piles (falling debris from the chasm’s creation) until one reaches the edge of the vast, magically created canyon. It is barren, but not nearly as desert-like as the Ashen Waste. The floor of the rift itself is tortured and broken by the powerful forces that bent and ripped reality to create such devastation. Many caves dot the walls of the canyon, and clearly visible on these crumbling cliff faces are the striations of the various layers of earth and stone now exposed to the air, though in many places these layers of stratification are out of order from the natural sequence—such was the chaos and upheaval caused by the catastrophic event.

Your plan was to circle the rift before descending into its depths. The first day of your exploration saw more acid rain, along with attacks by mutated gargoyles and a band of babau demons. Peter the Samurai turned out to be a fine addition as you defeated your foes and weathered the acid rain. You all camped for the night and prepared to resume your exploration the next day.

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Session 29
RIP Bartrom!

<u>Session 29: Lamashan 23, 4717 AR-Neth 9, 4717 AR</u>

On the 24th, you came to a region where the rolling hills were strangely devoid of the bony remains you had seen elsewhere in the Dead Fields. Instead a fine white powder coated the terrain, smoothed into an even surface. Around noon, a faint grating rumble came to your ears and began to grow louder. Topping a hill about 50 feet away was a bizarre construct that appeared to be part armored troop carrier, part assault platform, and part troop-smashing battle ram. It flew the flag of the Army of Light, practically unrecognizable after all these years in the wastes. Mags and Atish determined that this was a construct built to disrupt troop formations and leave a swath of destruction in its wake, crushing into powder anything that happened to get in the way. It seemed to be following its last orders to destroy anything that did not bear the symbol of the Army of Light. As it lurched forward, Mags created an illusion to make you all appear to be warriors from that long-ago army, and you all got past the machine without incident.

The monotony of the wastes was broken up on the 28th by an acid storm, which you all avoided when Peter created his own magical tiny hut. He had learned this trick by watching Mags. On the 29th, you all were assaulted by eight babau demons, who displayed extreme cunning and intelligence in their tactics. Rex was outraged and saddened when Bartrom was killed during this attack.

As you camped for the night on the 30th, you were attacked by eight ghasts burrowing up from beneath and five more babau demons. Rex never got a chance to respond as the demons on his sleeping form. He resisted death from the first wounds with a heroic effort of will, before succumbing to a second savage attack. Before his soul could completely flee the material plane, Atish prayed to Sarenrae for a breath of life to restore his fallen comrade. In the meantime, the rest of the party rallied and slew the attackers.

Mags determined that the party was being scried by something or someone that was sending these bands of assassins. You all were also getting very close to Tsar, and rather than risk continued attacks, you all decided to return to town and let Mags, Atish, and Peter come up with defenses against scrying and the hostile elements of the Desolation.

The journey back to the Camp was interrupted by an attack of ghouls and vukodlaks on Neth 1, but you easily dispatched this threat. You arrived back in the Camp on Neth 2 and spent a week recuperating and planning your defenses and next moves.

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Session 28
The Dead Fields, Redux

<u>Session 28: Lamashan 7, 4717 AR-Lamashan 22, 4717 AR</u>

After spending a week resting, training, and crafting magic items, the whole group (minus Dreb) set out to continue exploring the Dead Fields. Your 2-day journey up the main road to where you had last been was uneventful aside from an acid rain storm, which you rode out inside Mag’s magical hut.

You entered the Dead Fields on Lamashan 17. That day you encountered 9 skeletons and a berserk clay golem, all of which you dispatched with little trouble. Rex took a wound from the golem, however, which was cursed and would not heal properly. That night, a pack of vukodlaks passed by your campsite, fooled by Mag’s illusionary terrain.

On the 18th, you came across a disturbing sight. A single leathery wing rose high into the air like a malignant sail. Ahead was the ponderous bulk of a massive dragon, lying on its side, its scales a dull, charcoal gray. It lay on the ground completely still. One wing extended skyward, locked into its current position, while its other wing was curled beneath its bulk at an awkward angle. Its skull-like head stared vacantly ahead into eternity. The carrion stench floating on the breeze was horrifying. Mags determined that this was corpse of an old black dragon, dead for six days. Despite its obvious condition, there was no clue as to what killed this magnificent predator other than the trail of dried blood and bile around its lips and on the ground near its maw. Puzzled as to what a black dragon would be doing in a desert, you all approached to investigate, only to have a swarm of rot grubs burst forth and attack the party. They were burned away by Atish and Mags, but not before Rex and Atish were afflicted. Atish used his surgical skills and magic to cure himself and the barbarian. Continuing on, you all camped for the night, where you were attacked by 10 wights and 12 ghouls. This was a fairly easy fight, and the rest of the night passed uneventfully.

Atish used his magic to lift the curse on Rex, which allowed the barbarian to begin healing from his earlier golem wounds. The 19th saw you all attacked by a trio of the half-fiend worgs that roamed this region. Once again, Belflin was badly wounded, adding to his growing hatred of the beasts.

The 20th saw a major encounter. You came across a savaged pack of half-fiend worgs, with vultures circling above waiting for the one remaining wounded worg to die. Upon closer examination, you all saw that the vultures were actually vrock demons. Belflin put an arrow in the worg, killing it, hoping to lure the vrocks into an ambush. Unfortunately, the demons detected the ruse and teleported into your midst. Mags banished one with her magic, but in the ensuing fight with the other two, Belflin was mortally wounded, only surviving through a heroic force of will. There was a bone storm that night, which you all weathered in the magical hut.

There was another bone storm on the 21st that caused you to use the hut before you camped, and as luck would have it that night you all had to survive an acid rain shower without the benefit of the hut. Fortunately, you all were in the Tusk Mountain foothills and Belflin was able to find suitable shelter. Turning north on the 22nd and continuing to skirt the Tusk Mountains you all encountered a pack of 12 Vukodlaks, which you dispatched with ease. That night, your camp was attacked by 4 wraiths and 24 skeletons, but you all survived unscathed. The next day you would be turning east and headed back into the heart of the Dead Fields.

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Session 27
Into the Dead Fields!

<u>Session 27: Rova 22, 4717 AR-Lamashan 6, 4717 AR</u>

Proving that this truly was a cursed land, with the turning of the calendar officially to autumn, the sweltering heat that engulfed the Desolation switched off to a milder temperature. Belflin guessed that the heat would return with the spring equinox, but that gave you 6 months without having to worry about protecting yourselves against the heat. Thankful for this reprieve, you all set out on the 23rd of Rova to start your exploration of the quadrant of the Desolation known as the Dead Fields. Peter and Gambler decided to remain at the camp for this foray.

The Dead Fields once served as the bread basket for the temple-city and its outlying holdings. Great fertile fields of grains stretched for miles across the land. No region of the Desolation, however, saw a deployment of troops in greater numbers or more bloodshed by the conventional means of claw and sword than did the Dead Fields. What were once rolling fields of grain and crops and occasional copses of trees became a hotly contested no-man’s land of the dead. Countless charges and marches crushed the vegetation underfoot. The battle lines shifted and moved back and forth as the fortunes of war changed. The ground was so hotly contested and so perilous that eventually corpses created a virtual carpet for miles. In many places the bodies stacked high, unclaimed by either side in their fervor to continually press the battle. Today the Dead Fields exist as a hardened plain of bare rock, thin soil, and brittle bones. While not as arid as the Ashen Waste, it is still susceptible to the occasional bone storm when the winds are just right. The entire brown expanse is dotted with gleaming white patches where bones and bone fragments protrude from the hard earth, and every step in this region produces a crunch as these remains are reduced to powder and white flakes underfoot. Amidst the many dead are the skeletal remnants of many siege weapons. Rolling towers, covered rams, armored battle wagons, and crude breastworks dot the plains and hills, all in extremely poor repair. The mass of abandoned bodies produced several incidents of plague that swept through both sides of the conflict during the war, and to this day spontaneously generated undead still arise and stumble through the nights with alarming frequency. Despite its name, the Dead Fields are never truly at rest.

The first week was spent trekking across the southernmost boundaries of the Dead Fields all the way to the Tusk Mountains. You survived several attacks of restless skeletons drawn from beneath the thin crust of land to your presence. You also encountered several packs of the accursed Vukodlaks and roving bands of Mobats that seemed to be scouting, fleeing from combat. Among the natural hazards you all endured were an acid rain storm and one of the dreaded bone storms.

On the 30th of Rova, as you swung back in an easterly direction after reaching the base of the Tusk Mountains, a small mound rose from the plain. It appeared to be somewhat fortified at the top, and a stair had been cut in the side on the south face. Just west of the mound was a large excavated pit surrounded by fresh piles of dirt. Between the excavation and mound was what appeared to be a pile of debris. Several dwarves labored in the excavation with pick and shovel, while more stood as sentries atop the mound, crossbows at the ready.

The dwarves all bore bandages and signs of recent injury. Their leader was a ruddy-cheeked dwarf with a blonde beard forked and tucked into his ornate belt, who wore fine but travel-worn apparel. He approached in a friendly manner and introduced himself as Thane Fenris’s. His second-in-command was an older cleric of Torag who wore threadbare mendicant clothing, though his weapons and armor were in excellent condition. Fenris claimed that he was the patriarch of the Brightaxe clan from Five Kings Mountains who had received visions of Torag of where to search for the gear of their king, Kroma. He had participated in the battle of Tsar and been lost, bringing much shame upon the clan. They hoped that by recovering his relics, they could recover clan Brightaxe’s honor.

Atish sensed that Fenris was not telling the whole story, but he let it go for the moment and you all accepted the hospitality of the dwarves. As you all approached the camp, there was a commotion at the dig site and a huge dinosaur skeleton came to life and began thrashing the dwarves in the pit. Drinna and Rex rushed up and finally toppled the creature, but not before the monk was severely wounded. Atish, meanwhile, used his healing magic to save a wounded dwarf.

This act of compassion caused Fenris to open up. He revealed that the dwarven company was actually seeking to recover the body of King Kroma as well as his royal regalia, but they feared that Kroma had become cursed when he died in this blighted land. Their dig site had been plagued by hordes of undead attackers over the past few weeks. Fenris asked if the party could help them, and you all agreed.

A few hours after sunset, the fortified hilltop position was assaulted by two waves of undead, mostly skeletons with some wights, ghasts, and vampire spawn. The ghasts proved especially problematic as so many in a small area made their stench particularly hard to resist. Atish and Gorrack blasted the skeletons with the power of Torag and Sarenrae, while Belflin, Rex, and Drinna took care of the other undead abominations.

During the course of the second wave, Mags spotted movement on the fringes of the horde. She alerted the rest of the party, and you all were horrified to see that whatever fell power was sending the hordes was also animating the bodies of earlier dwarven victims, turning them into zombies. You also discovered more vampire spawn and wights, which you all dispatched along with the zombies.

As this fight wound down, the perpetrator of this vile desecration showed himself. It was none other than Kroma himself, who had been turned into a lich by Orcus! He gave a great magical shout that bursts the ear drums of nearly everyone and left many stunned or paralyzed and also scoured the hilltop with black flames summoned from the Abyss. Drinna managed to overcome the debilitating effects of the Kroma’s magic and pounded the fiend back to the Abyss.

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Session 26
The Party Gets Stoned and Slimed!

<u>Session 26: Rova 12, 4717 AR-Rova 21, 4717 AR</u>

The 12th saw you all trudging through the wastes, where you encountered two babau demons, which you dispatched with no problems. On the 13th you all had to deal with the elements, weathering two brief periods of acid rain and a bone storm. The next day, you all entered an area that was filled with treacherous patches of quicksand, but Belflin guided you through. In addition, you all waited out two more acid rain storms before you encountered another of those strange creatures known as a mihstu. That night, Mags’s shelter and masking magic allowed you all to remain hidden as a ghoul pack scampered past.

After dispatching a pack of vukodlaks, you came to the first area of interest remaining on your map late on the afternoon of the 15th. A barren dirt mound rose from the ashen plain here. From patches visible here and there it was evident that it was constructed of the actual brown soil that lies beneath the dust layer of this area. Weathering and erosion have taken their toll on what was once probably a very regular, man-made construction. Now it is pitted and scarred with erosion but still rises to an impressive 40-foot height. Atop this promontory, you saw a few large bats staring down at you with a sense of malevolent intelligence. Visible at the southwest corner of the mound was a recent excavation leading into a 5-foot high tunnel. Belflin recognized the bats as mobats and scattered them with several arrow shots, which caused them to fly off squawking to the northwest. Drinna and Gambler entered the tunnel to scout, but ran into a basilisk. The creature managed to petrify the monk and the halfling before Mags slew it with her illusion magic. Belflin managed to milk enough blood from the slain creature to restore Drinna and Gambler back to their normal state.

Going further into the tunnel, you came to a burial complex. Argos identified this complex as the burial mound of the infamous Kellid warlord Tark who led his barbarian horde to assist in the attack on Tsar. This was not done out of any great loyalty or allegiance to the good deities or even the civilized realms. Rather this merely illustrated that an entity as vile as Orcus attracts enemies of all kinds. Few within the Army of Light were comfortable with the presence of the barbaric and uncouth warriors of Tark, nor even the vicious warlord himself. However, before long all were thankful for the presence of these peerless warriors and their savagery in battle. Mere weeks after the Army of Light had encamped on the plain outside Tsar, when only the beginning skirmishes of the epic battle to come were being fought, it was Tark and his band that turned the fate of battle in favor of the cause of Good. Orcus had long anticipated just such an attack, though he had perhaps underestimated the attackers’ strength and resolve. To prepare for such an event he had allied his disciples with many foul races of the Darklands. These loathsome aberrations and creatures of all kinds had delved a tunnel beneath the plain so that it could arise far from the walls in the very midst of any besiegers should the need arise. When the Army of Light was dug in, these foul allies from the lightless deeps completed their tunnel, opening it in the unsuspecting camp in the darkest watches of a moonless night and pouring out in a braying, gibbering horde of terror. The tunnel opened in the camp of Tark. The Darklands horrors never had a chance. The warriors of Tark, hardened berserkers all, were accustomed to sleeping in their light armor with weapons at hand. Their senses, sharpened through a lifetime of constant battle and feuding, detected the work of the tunnelers just before it opened among them. The barbarians were horribly outnumbered and the bloody battle raged for an hour before the nearby encampments of troops could rally and organize to join in the battle. By the time they had arrived Tark and all of his warriors were dead, lying on heaps of bodies that were once their attackers, but the backbone of the surprise attack had been broken. In the face of fresh troops, the few surviving creatures fled screaming back into the Darklands. Their defeat was so sound that their alliance with the disciples of Orcus was forever broken, divesting the defenders of Tsar of a full quarter of their forces. Realizing the enormity of what had occurred and the disaster that had been so narrowly averted, the generals and war captains of the Army of Light reverently recovered all of the barbarians’ bodies, including that of Tark himself surrounded by the corpses of 2 aboleths, 6 margoyles, a drider, 10 skum, and 28 morlocks. Gathering them together they raised a barrow mound there over the spot where they fell and esteemed it as sanctified ground in honor of the valiant heroes interred therein.

You all, however, sensed a necromantic taint in the tomb and suspected that the power of Orcus had perhaps corrupted the spirits of Tark and his warriors, creating a new force of undead to plague the region. Drinna, Atish, Argos, and Rex were all for exploring the tomb further, along with Gambler and Peter (who were more concerned with the possible treasure of course), while Mags and Belflin were a bit more reluctant. Bolstering your initial suspicions was the presence of two grimslakes, Abyssal scavengers drawn to areas of intense necromantic energy. These creatures were large maggot-like beings with a fanged maw and many pincers at the end of their grubby legs. You took them out without much trouble, but you found an entrance to the Darklands from which they had wandered. Peter wanted to explore this tunnel, but the rest of the group convinced him otherwise.

You all eventually came to a large chamber that had been dug out of the mound here. It appeared to have been enlarged at some point, and large gashes like claw marks still marred the walls. Several complete skeletons in reclining positions were visible in the dirt that comprised the walls of the chamber. A very narrow passage led out through the east wall. You were startled to see that Atish’s nimbus of light projected the shadow of a massive bear on the far wall, poised as if to strike, where there otherwise seemed to be no source for this strange phenomenon. Unsurprisingly, the shadow animated and attacked, but was blasted away by Atish. He confirmed that animals were usually not inflicted with the necromantic taint to become undead shadows.

Proceeding cautiously down the eastern passage, you found it was filled with burial niches and an old slime trail was on the floor. Peter sent a summoned creature to the end of the hall and confirmed that there appeared to be several undead in a room at the end. Belflin, Drinna, and Gambler scouted the hall, but were attacked by a powerful ooze that flowed from the cracks of the wall. Its normal power had been enhanced by the foul necromantic energy that corrupted the whole complex. Belflin almost died, but was saved by the inspiring music of Peter. Unfortunately, Argos was slain and dissolved by the ooze as he rushed in to help Belflin. Once Belflin was pulled from the slime, Mags sealed off the passage with a makeshift wall of stone using her magic.

Belflin was shaken by his near-death experience and refused to re-enter the complex. Atish, Rex, and Argos insisted that you all remove the wall, defeat the ooze, and proceed on to confront the undead in the burial chamber. Once you rested, the party (minus Belflin), returned to the tomb. Once Mags dropped her magical wall, Drinna engaged the ooze and destroyed it, allowing you all to proceed back to the main chamber.

Once there, you confronted Tark, his warriors, and his two favorite hunting hounds, which had been turned into wights. Atish used a flame strike and channeled energy to weaken the opponents, while Rex and Drinna finished them off. You looted the tomb, and once Atish consecrated the complex, you rested for the evening again before resuming your exploration.

On the 17th, you all ran into a pack of ghasts and ghouls, most of which were dispatched by a shadowy fireball from Mags. Late that afternoon, you all reached the final place of interest marked on your crude map of the wastes. Through the haze of dust ahead you spied a lone figure standing on the plain. It appeared to be a warrior in chain mail with no visible weapon. He did not appear to take notice of you and made no moves. Gambler, Drinna, and Rex approached the man, but as they got within 30 feet of the figure a wave of fear swept over them. At the same time, a sand pit dropped out from under Gambler, revealing a large star-fish shaped creature with a tooth-filled maw. Rex and Drinna resisted the fear effect and rushed to help Gambler, quickly taking out the beast. Atish ascertained that the figure was a phantom of someone who had died in so much fear that it left a psychic residue. The beast apparently had been drawn to the phantom and used it as a perfect trap.

After resting, you all then resumed your exploration of the Ashen Wastes. Within two days you all were back at the main road. One quarter of the Desolation has been mapped and explored! You all then made your way back to the Camp, arriving on the afternoon of the 21st.

 

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Session 25
Roaming the Ashen Wastes

<u>Session 25: Rova 5, 4717 AR-Rova 11, 4717 AR</u>

After resting and restocking, the party set out to finish mapping the Ashen Wastes. Atish decided that the Camp was stable enough that he could leave town and rejoin the exploration. Argos also decided that he would join you all. Drebb was appointed as captain of the guard and put in charge of defending the town while you all were away.

The 5th was spent making your way towards the region marked out by a huge sinkhole. On your way there, however, you all encountered a roving band of ghouls and ghasts. You dispatched these foul creatures with little problem. Shortly thereafter you encountered two enormous spiders the size of ogres. These creatures, however, had been infected with the demonic taint of the desolation and proved a tougher match than you all initially thought. As you were finishing this battle you were assaulted by the dark knight you had encountered previously in the wastes. This time, he was aided by the escaped man-spider sorcerer that had been haunting Argos’s tomb. This was a tough fight, as the sorcerer was using a projected image of himself. Once Drinna, Rex, Belflin, and Argos had downed the knight, the sorcerer fled, much to the frustration of Belflin. Argos recognized the knight as Sir Martimus, a member of the Fifty and One. Atish informed the group that he had become a deathknight and that the only way to permanently lay his soul to rest was to destroy his armor. Drinna destroyed the armor with her acid, while Atish and Argos gathered Martimus’s bones and lance for a proper burial. The party then changed course heading for the nearby sacred graveyard you all had discovered previously, pushing on to reach it before you camped.

While Argos buried Sir Martimus, Atish used some magical scrolls to heal Rex and Mags of diseases they had picked up. Mags had been infected with Ghoul Fever, while Rex had contracted Demon Plague. After Atish consecrated Martimus’s grave, you all spent the rest of the day resting and recuperating.

The 7th of Rova saw you back into the wastes. You encountered a band of roaming dust mephitis who had come to the region to scrounge for “shinies.” Atish and Peter struck up a friendly dialogue with the creatures, who warned you that the area you were headed towards was the home of the broodmother to the demonic spiders you had encountered earlier. Later that day, Belflin chased away five vukodlaks that attacked, and that night Mags’s magical tiny hut saved you all from an acid rain storm.

The next day, after using Mags’s magic to shelter from a bone storm, you came to the broodmother’s lair. The sinkhole dropped down into the remnants of an ancient dwarven complex. As you all descended into the lair, you drew the foul broodmother out into the open and slew her. Searching the complex, you found some treasure. You then rested for the evening.

Day five of the current sojourn brought another battle with a pack of the vukodlaks and another acid rain storm, both of which you all easily dealt with. On the 10th, you all were attacked by a babau demon, which teleported in and threw Rex from his hippogriff before Mags banished it back to the Abyss with her magic. That night, Atish, Rex, and Belflin dispatched two wraiths that had penetrated Mags’s illusions and attacked the camp.

Finally, on the 11th, you all defeated yet another pack of vukodlaks and a strange mist creature from the Plane of Elemental Air before settling in for another evening. Your crude map showed that you had probably another week or see of exploration of the Ashen Wastes and that there were two other areas of notable interest ahead.

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Session 24
Recovering an Aasimar Hero

<u>Session 24: Rova 4, 4717 AR-Rova 14, 4717 AR</u>

On the morning of the 4th, Rex and Peter arrived on Rex’s hippogriff Bartom. Peter and Gambler wanted to loot the graveyard, but Belflin and Drinna were against this idea. Peter finally came around to Drinna’s argument that it would be unwise to defile the only safe haven you had found in this whole region so far. Peter also informed the party that there was a massive earth elemental guarding this area and that it would probably attack anyone who defiled the graves. Just to be sure Mags used magic to search for the supposed crown that was buried here and found nothing.

You all decided then to return to the Camp, exploring some of the unmapped regions of the Ashen Wastes along the way. It was a 4-day journey back through uncharted territory. Mags’s shelter protected the party from a bone storm on the second night. On day three of the journey, one of the screaming ghosts attacked Rex while he was flying point. He resisted its attempt to possess him and then landed, allowing Drinna to rush forth and polish it off. On the fourth day, you all successfully fought off two waves of ghouls, killing eleven of the creatures.

You arrived back at the Camp on the 9th to find that Atish and Sammar were already putting things in order under the new regime. You spent a couple of days resting and restocking equipment before setting back out to map the Ashen Wastes. After three days of travel and exploration you came to a tomb. Nothing had happened aside from a Vrock flying overhead on your second night out, but it was apparently fooled by Mags’s illusion magic that covered the campsite.

The edifice rising before you from the ashen plain was constructed of some dense gray stone that Belflin determined was native to the region. A buttress emerged from the center of each of its four walls reinforcing its squat structure and making it look impregnable to any assault. On either side of each buttress was a large statue in bas-relief of an armored knight, hands crossed at his waist and resting on the pommel of a down-turned sword. His bare head was bowed with eyes closed as if asleep or grieving—or perhaps dead. Each statue was subtly different in its details, but each appeared to depict the same individual. The gray walls and statues were stained darker by centuries of weathering. Atop the entire building was a dome built of the same gray stone. The look of impregnability was belied there by a large crack that had formed at the apex and runs partially down one side of the dome, probably from the years exposed to the harsh conditions of the Desolation. There was no visible entrance.

Rex flew to the dome and found that the 1-inch-wide crack had broken all the way through into an open space below in several places, but the crack was not straight so it was impossible to peek through and look inside. Peter then used his armor to go Ethereal and mapped out the interior of the building, finding that the northwestern knight contained a secret door. Mags then stone shaped an entrance allowing you all entry.

The entry gave way into a small featureless chamber that was little more than a widening in the stone passageway. The ceiling was 10 feet high and there was no light source. A stuffiness lingered in this area, which had not felt a current of fresh air in centuries. Peter cast light on Rex’s sword and when you all entered, four dark-skinned dwarven warriors with flaming hair appeared in a cloud of smoke and brimstone in the party’s midst. They were heavily armored with mail and shield, and wielded hammers and spears. One of these creatures ran further back into the tomb to another room where a glass globe sat on a pedestal. Inside the globe was a spinning vortex of red mist, like a small tornado fixed in place. Forms were faintly visible in the mist, but who or what they were is unclear. Peter managed to suppress the cloud with his magic for a few seconds while Drinna ran up to stop the creature from breaking the globe. Koeter, Belflin, and Rex meanwhile tore into the other three creatures. Peter identified these beings as Azer, inhabitants of the elemental plane of fire that were normally not evil. Peter tried to reason with them, but they responded that you all were intruders and must be destroyed.

Despite Drinna’s bets efforts, the fourth Azer managed to break the globe, unleashing a column of smoke from which emerged four bulbous creatures consisting of many tangled legs, a bulging body of puffed flesh, and a mouth filled with sharp fangs. Mags identified these as Rasts, verminous hunters from the elemental plane of fire. Drinna retreated while Mags cast her black tentacles to entrap the creatures. The trapped creatures were easy to kill off. Once the dust settled, you all proceeded to the next room.

This chamber was roughly square with a pair of bronze double doors in the south wall. Each door bore the image of a starburst containing a warrior angel. In the east and north walls were shallow alcoves each of which held a small statuette—approximately waist high—of a maiden, head bowed in weeping. In the center of the chamber was a short pedestal with the smashed remnants of the glass globe. Mags identified the starburst symbol on the door to be that of the aasimar hero, Argos, who disappeared from legends around the time of the Battle of Tsar. None of the legends alluded that he was killed in the battle, though. The doors were firmly locked and Rex tried to batter his way through, setting off a magical trap that shot scorching rays, damaging Mags and Peter. Peter then dispelled the magic, allowing Rex to force the doors.

Motes of dust floated in this next chamber, disturbed by a slight air current from above. A high dome arched overhead, its underside marred by a large crack running from the apex down the southern portion. The air current seemed to enter through this. Chunks of stone had fallen away from the dome along this fault line leaving debris strewn across the floor. At some time in the past one such chunk tumbled directly onto a marble table sitting in the center of the room. Pieces of rubble still rested on this table along with shards of glass and bits of twisted metal where something that once stood upon the table has been smashed to bits. Standing sarcophagi covered in gold leaf rest against the east and west walls of the chamber.

As you all moved in to inspect the room, you all were assaulted by a human decked out as a spellcaster. He had been invisible and unleashed a spell of confusion that affected Mags. As the rest of you moved in, the figure shifted into a half-human, half-spider form and scuttled up the wall from where it dropped a dense acidic fog in the room. Before Mags succumbed to her muddled thoughts, she imbued Koeter with the power to climb like a spider. He then used his scent to track the creature, climbing above the fog to attack it. Koeter emerged to find that that the creature had created mirror images of itself, frustrating the wolf’s attempts to take it down. Belflin got in a lucky bow shot finally, knocking the creature to the ground, but before Rex and Drinna could pounce it climbed back into the top of the chamber. When Mags took advantage of a lucid moment to dispel the fog and Koeter moved in for the kill, the creature took gaseous form and escaped through the crack.

While Peter, Mags, and Drinna searched the room and rested, Belflin and Rex, with their animal companions sought to hunt down the spider abomination, but to no avail. The room contained a sack of the creature’s treasure, which included a magical hand axe and some magical incense that would enhance the spells of a divine spellcaster. The axe went to Rex, while Belflin set aside the incense for Atish.

After resting, Peter determined that there were secret compartments behind the sarcophagi as well as at the far end of the room. Peter located the hidden lock release on the eastern secret door and Rex opened it. The secret door opened onto a musty chamber with stale air but strangely free of dust. A marble slab dominated the center of the room upon which lay a supine form draped in a gauzy, white shroud. The man’s face was visible and was achingly beautiful with flawless alabaster skin, flowing blond hair, and an inner radiance of peace. Against the wall behind this magnificent, perfectly preserved corpse was an armor stand and weapons rack. Adorning these was a beautifully crafted suit of golden chain mail, a mithral shield, and an assortment of weapons of the finest quality. The silence was disturbed by a sudden intake of breath, and the figure on the slab stirred. Peter identified this being as an aasimar, who introduced himself as Argos. He was stunned that 100 years had passed. He claimed to have been left here by the Army of Light to awaken 50 years ago as a final safeguard against the evil of Tsar. He also claimed that he had twenty companions who had been placed in suspended animation in the secret chamber on the other side of the main room.

The other sarcophagi secret door contained only an ooze left as a trap for unwary tomb robbers, but Argos informed you of this, so you did not open that door. When he used his holy symbol of Sarenrae to open the other burial chamber, you all were horrified when eight ghasts spilled out and attacked. It was a quick battle, but Mags was seriously wounded and paralyzed for a few moments. Argos surmised that whatever had caused his spell to fail had worked on his warriors, but they were trapped in that chamber and unable to escape without his key. Obviously, the ghasts were the remnants of those warriors who had resorted to cannibalism and then been transformed into undead scavengers by the foul magics of the Desolation. Argos allowed Rex to arm himself with a masterwork shield, sword, and throwing axe before resealing his former comrades in their tomb with the rest of their gear.

You all then decided to head back to the Camp and plot your next move. Argos wanted to travel east and find out what happened to the Army of Light, but after he heard your story of how the army had perished at Rappan Athuk, Argos pledged his service to your party to scour the Desolation and then enter Tsar and find the missing Fifty and One. You all reached The Camp without incident early on the morning of the 14th.

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