<u>Session 3: Arodus 22 to Rova 11, 4716 AR</u>
Natalia decided to retire from adventuring, as her encounters with the stirges had brought home the reality of the adventurer’s life. Galdar also announced that Abadar had finally revealed the reasons for him to accompany Corian to Crimmor—to establish a temple to Abadar in the lawless town. Fortunately for the rest of you, you were able to recruit a replacement for Galdar. An exotic priest named Atish from lands to the far south had appeared in town over the past few days claiming to be on a mission for the sun goddess Sarenrae. After welcoming Atish into the group and mulling over your options, you all decided to investigate the reports of ghosts on Lake Crimmormere causing all of the fish to disappear.
It was sunny day as you set out and Belflin recommended that you all traverse the western shores of the lake and circle back around to the northeast, where the bulk of the ghost sightings had been. On the way, you were ambushed by a trio of pony-sized spiders indigenous to the area. Belflin and Atish were caught in webs and one of the nasty creatures managed to bite Corian before you all dispatched them thanks mainly to Drebb and Drinna, although Belflin was able to impale the last spider with a bow shot as it fled.
Late that afternoon, you came to an area that contained a small grove of trees alongside a babbling brook. Drinna and Belflin noticed that the pool was filled with humanoid bones. Upon investigation, Belflin spotted a cave entrance about 20 feet up the hillside, and even more ominous was the presence of two human bodies in chain mail hanging upside down from one of the trees. Atish wanted to pull the bodies down and give them a proper burial, so Drinna climbed the slope. All of the activity roused the inhabitant of the cave, which Belflin identified as a troll. The troll informed the party that there were no ghosts here, just some mysterious “fish-people.” He then demanded that the party pay 100 gold crowns for trying to steal his water, but you all refused and attacked. In the course of the battle, the troll inflicted wounds on Drinna that should have killed her, but her miraculous meditative powers acquired as a monk allowed her to cling to life. In the meantime, Drebb, Belflin, and Corian were able to bring the beast down bolstered by Atish’s blessings from Sarenrae. The key was Corian’s use of a magical scroll to spray the creature with acid, which prevented it from regenerating while Dreb lopped off its head.
Atish used his powers to heal Drinna and Dreb (who had received some minor wounds) and you all decided to stay the night in the cave. Amidst the litter of the cave were quite a bit of coinage from past victims as well as gold ring set with a pearl. There were also some more bodies, which Atish interred with appropriate rituals.
The next day brought rain and as you all reached the northeast shore of the lake and began searching it for signs of the ghost, you spotted two hunchbacked, green-skinned humanoids with wide, frog-like heads and a fish-like mouth filled with teeth watching you. As soon as they noticed that their observation was spotted, they fled into the lake. Dreb speculated that perhaps these unknown creatures were responsible for the declining fish population. Belflin found a nice cave to shelter in and you all settled in for the night.
Your rest was interrupted, however, by an onslaught of the strange fish creatures. Ten of the creatures snuck up on Dreb as he was on watch and rushed into the cave. Atish was overwhelmed in the initial assault and soon Corian and Drinna were beaten into submission as well, although Drinna managed to get in a punch before she went down. Dreb and Belflin managed to put up a valiant prevent and prevent the fish folk from carrying their unconscious companions away. Dreb was finally overwhelmed, leaving Belflin in a desperate battle. He was able to mount Atish’s war horse, Seekeks, and drive the last of the creatures off. Having survived this harrowing kidnapping attempt, you all had to spend the next two days recovering, healing up, and planning your next move.
The rain had finally subsided by the time you resumed your exploration of the northeastern portions of the lakeshore. Drinna’s keen eyes spotted an underwater cave about a half-mile out on the lake, which you all surmised was where the fish-folk had their lair. You all came up with a brilliant plan to use Drinna as bait (posing as s simple pilgrim) to draw the kidnappers out, while the rest of you set up an ambush. The plan worked to perfection. This time the fish-folk marauders were accompanied by their leader, and the bulk of them fled once their leader and three of their fellows had been taken out by the ambush. The leader had a nice magical trident as well as some magical bracers. After spending the next two days completing your exploration of the shore, you all were convinced that there was no ghost and that these bizarre fish-folk were the source of Crimmor’s problems.
You arrived back in town on Arodus 28 and reported your findings to Flendon, the lumber magnate. He thanked you for the information and paid you a nice reward for your efforts. He decided to round up some of the local militia to seal the cave and end the fish-folk threat. You all also turned over the head of leader to Kentus, head of the local temple to Desna, to see if he could identify it. He reported that they were hybrid race called Skum that had been created from ancient Azlanti slaves by foul creatures known as the Aboleth. The Aboleth had been driven deep into the Darklands by the events of Earthfall 10,000 years ago, but their slaves, including the Skum, had been left to roam free, where they plagued many coastal communities to this day. Corian remembered that the crazed druid Yandarral had mentioned being in alliance with creatures that were the last remnants of the old Azlanti and speculated that these had been the creatures.
As you all rested the next few days, Atish traded the trident for a magical crossbow and Belflin used some of his money and the ring to upgrade his bow. Drinna kept the bracers, which enhanced her defensive prowess. The militia force returned the last day of the month to report success. There had been a vicious battle with the few remaining Skum, but they were routed and the tunnel sealed. In gratitude to the party for allowing the town to end the solution to its fish depopulation, Flendon offered some treasures that had been found in the Skum lair. Atish received a ring that had the ability to arrest his fall from virtually any height as well as a magical scroll that allowed him to generate a beam of searing light to devastate his foes, Corian received a wand that he could use to make people invisible for a brief time, Belflin received a masterwork glaive, and Drinna received a magical elixir that could provide her protection from electrical attacks for a brief period of time.
Drinna asked the party to accompany her to her home, the Standing Stone monastery, which lay a little over a day’s journey north and east of Crimmor, so you all set out on Rova 1. As you all settled in for the night, you were hailed by an elderly elf named Herl who was dressed in trappings of a ranger (excellently-crafted studded leather armor, buckler, hand axe, and long bow). He was friendly enough, but seemed to be hiding something. He was able to tell the party that there was a Druids’ Circle in the region that focused on worship of the moon. Over the course of the conversation, he revealed that he knew much about the party, including their role in the demise of Yandaral. He indicated that Nathaniel’s band had spoken poorly of them in Fairhill so that they should not expect the warmest welcome there. He finally got around to making a request. He was the self-appointed guardian of the blind seeress Gethrame, who had been cast out of Fairhill and cursed with blindness by the priestess of Erastil, Shandril, ninety years ago. She had been gifted with a staff that restored some of her sight by the wizard Eralion, but this staff had recently been stolen by a band of wererats led by a coven of witches. These thieves were too many for him to take out by himself, and in addition he was getting frail in his old age and did not want to leave Gethrame alone for an extended period. He played upon the good will of the party, but for those of a more mercenary bent (such as Drebb), he claimed that the Wererats had accumulated many treasures, which the party was welcome to keep. After much debate, you all agreed to help. Gethrame’s cave and the Wererat lair were both near Eralion’s tower. Herl thanked you and departed the next morning, saying he would await the return of the staff at Gethrame’s cave.
As you all continued on your way the morning of Rova 2, about 2 hours from the monastery, Drinna and Atish spotted a creature swooping towards you. It had a humanoid head, the body of a lion, dragon-like wings, and a spiked tail. It was 10 feet long and looked to weigh about 1000 pounds. Atish identified it as a Manticore. These creatures were likely magical creations that over time established themselves as a naturally occurring species. They were known as fierce predators who constantly sought fresh meat, especially human meat. Drinna and Corian ran for cover in a nearby small patch of undergrowth, but Atish, Belflin, and Drebb were caught in the open. Belflin nearly went down under a barrage of spikes before he was able to dive for cover behind his horse, kept alive by Atish’s healing energies. Drebb charged forward, but his horse was cut down by the deadly spikes. Corian then used his wand to turn the various party members invisible, and when the creature made a move to pick up Drebb’s horse and flee, Belflin, Drebb, and Drinna struck the creature and killed it.
Dragging your wounded selves to the monastery, you received a warm welcome from the Abbess Kayla. You were able to relax and heal over the next week. Atish enjoyed the monastery’s vintage wines, Drinna caught up with her former associates, and Drebb received a divine vision from Torag. In this vision, he was shown a sacred site to Torag that contained fabled Earth’s Blood but was in danger. This site was supposedly in the region and could be accessed through an abandoned temple complex dedicated to some other deities.
On your way to Fairhill (a journey of just over 2 days), you all shared a fire and some wine with grateful villagers from Crimmor your first night on the road. The next day you came upon a way station maintained by the Knights of Ozem out of the country of Lastwall. The way station was occupied by a patrol of six Knights, led by Sir Erlinar. They were looking to round up local help to drive out a dozen Gnolls that had taken over another way station further to the east. Belflin was incredulous that the knights needed help. He did not want to help them, but when you all were reminded of your poor reputation in Fairhill, and at the urging of Drinna and Atish, who wanted to help, you all agreed. You then proceeded on to Fairhill, arriving in town on the late morning of Rova 11. You all took rooms at the “Drunken Cockatrice,” the inn recommended by Erlinar.
The village of Fairhill rests on the largest of several gently sloping hills about 10 miles from the Tradeway. Four-hundred and twenty souls inhabit the village and surrounding farmland. The village is governed by Arlen, the village magistrate. The town has a general alignment of neutral good, though individuals of all moral codes live here under the protection and goodwill provided by the temple of Erastil. Though numerous other shrines are present (Abadar, Iomedae, Desnah, Gozreh, and Gorum), Erastil is the patron deity of Fairhill and her temple is the most prominent. Thus, the true “leader” of Fairhill, according to rumors, however, is Shandril, the priestess of the Temple of Erastil. Rumors also conflict on exactly what type of relationship she has with Arlen. Fairhill is a peaceful town and has not had any real troubles with bandits or monsters. That is, until recently… For the past several weeks, orcs have appeared of the outer farms and roads of Fairhill. A village family was raped and mutilated on the road leading from the village to the Tradeway a week before the players arrive. Rumors of a vampire in an old ruined keep are running rampant, and the peace that the villagers once enjoyed is seemingly at an end.