Slaughtergarde 4e

Down the River

The light skiff that Vintra has taken fits all of you comfortably along with some supplies that have been ordered by the town of Fallcrest.

“We will take the river downstream and should be at the village Narell by sundown if there are no complications. You may want to take your heavy armor off while on the boat. If you fall in the water or the boat gets turned over you’ll drown.“

Vintra is wearing leather armor and now carries a bandolier full of daggers. A short bow and quiver full of arrows are in a shallow trough near the aft of the boat.

Travel for most of the day is smooth along the Marrilach River. It is very obvious that Vintra has done this many times before as she navigates with ease. The calm of the river is a large contrast to the events of the past few weeks. As evening approaches, the sky thickens with storm clouds. A light rain begins to fall and flashes of lightning are seen off to the southeast. “The village should just be around the next bend. We will rest there for the night. The next part of the river is best navigated during the day.” It is not long after Vintra says when the waft of acrid smoke hits your nostrils. The faint light of fires burning in the distance is seen as you round the bend.

“No,” Vintra says in a hushed stunned voice. “Look, the docks of Narell are on fire and even some of the homes. What has happened?” You notice that she is now directing the boat toward a small rocky beach area just north of the village.

When the boat starts getting close enough that drowning would not be an issue, Grigori starts donning his armor.

Justinian prays to Melora for fortitude and discipline over his thoughts, begins to put on his chainmail, and readies himself to avenge the inhabitants of the burning town before them. As Just and Grig wrestle with their armor, Hap slips on a set of green glass goggles, giving him a bug-eyed appearance. Perching on the front of the raft like a rotund little gargoyle, he peers into the darkness. “Let’s approach from the forest. More cover, more room to operate, less sand in our shoes!”

Grigori says, “Vintra, I would suggest that you drop us off and take the boat to the center of the river. If there is trouble and we do not survive, you will still be able to sail down to the Shining Citadel and warn the Luminous Order.”

“Grigori, I have many friends in Narell, I will not take the boat back into the river until we know what is going on. Besides, I would not be able keep the boat from continuing to move down the river without help. The river gets a little more treacherous further downstream, I do not want to do traverse that in the middle of the night. And just so you know, I can handle myself.” She gives Grigori a quick wink and pats the many daggers strapped across her chest.

Up ahead from the woods comes some rustling and then bursting out of it is halfling with his hands bound. “Heelllppp!!!” he yells. Following from behind him come three reptilian creatures, all stand upright and are carrying weapons. Two carry javelins and the third a spear. They stop briefly at the sight of you and then begin to move forward with renewed purpose.

The bound halfling moved behind the cover of a rock. The rocky beach made movement difficult so Grigori moved through the feywild to quickly cut off the pursuers. Occupying the two lizardmen to the northeast Grigori felt comfortable in his new armor. It made him a little less steady and his attacks more awkward but the trade off for the protection was worth it in his mind.

In the following moments the initial pursuers received reinforcements. A magic using lizardman and a sniper harried the group but in the end the lizardmen were dispatched. The end came with Grigori moving quickly after the lizardman mage and finishing him off by taking his legs out from beneath him. If the creature had survived it was not going to get very far.

Vintra now recognizes the bound halfling and moves to unbind him. Ringsley, has tells the party that a large group of lizard-men and kobolds attacked the village. Some travelers tried to help the village fight them off but there were too many of them. One of the travelers died and when the halfling describes them Vintra recognizes them as the ones she sent to warn the Ethnari that the drow were coming to attack.

Ringsley explains that the travelers are now hiding in Kinna’s house and that a bunch of others are being held in the Trader’s Yard.

Searching the lizard-men during the rest has turned up an alchemical salve, an alchemical stick and 20 gp worth of small gems, shaped bone and coins. After the group has taken a quick rest and it begins to move south through the woods.

As the party approaches the northeast side of the village, the sound of hammer and pick against stone can be heard in this area along with cackling laughter.

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Relaying Information

“I will not let a ‘lil devil within the city limits of Sumberton,” Hennik states. “Not unless I get the go ‘head from the gatekeeper.”

“Very well,” Calha rolls her eyes, “I will escort these men to Castle Submerton and then return here. If the ‘lil devil shows up again, hold him and I will make a judgment.”

Before Calha leaves Justinian turns and says, “Yes, please don’t let his current appearance harm your judgment too much. He was cursed in that foul place and was made to look this way as a result. We are hoping that some of the Luminous Order or scholars can figure out how to reverse his appearance as it is most distressing to us as well as him.”

Gatekeeper Calha and couple of other militia men move you through the streets of Sumberton as night settles in. It is a short trip and once you are there Calha asks for Captain Donellgan. They briefly discuss a few things out of ear shot but then Calha and the other militia depart. Captain Donellgan moves up to you, “I am glad to see you have made it back to us. Though with the militia escorting you in here again I thought that perhaps our friendly priest had brought the wrath of Melora upon the gatesmen. Thankfully I see that is not the case. Anyway, I apologize for the tightened security that we have placed on the gates but it has been necessary. The Sumberton Militia is trying their best to flush out the Nighthand guild. Now that its leaders have been disposed of the militia is making every effort to chase out and keep out any other members.”

“Since you are here I know that Sir Tordell has instructions to meet with you at once. I will have one of my runners make a visit to Sir Tordell immediately. I know he will have many questions about what you have found.”

Justinian turns to Captain Donellgan as they wait for Tordell, “I fear the work of your militia has only just begun. You will want to hear the news we have for Harrak. It is very dire and worse than we could have imagined. I think it would be good if you could send a runner to the Scholars and the Cabal as well. I fear we will need all of their knowledge and aid if we are to survive what is about to befall us.”

Captain Donellgan does as Justinian suggests. Within a few hours Sir Falston Tordell, Naryalla of the Ebon Cabal, Chendra the White, Fenigan – Sage of the Azure Eye, and finally Hap (who is detained briefly until Naryalla goes to get him) show up at Sumberton Castle.

“You all have been summoned here because our fears about Slaughtergarde may be coming true,” Captain Donellgan stands at the head of a table in the large meeting hall. “The increased activity of gnolls on our borders, goblins in the interior of the vale, the dragons at Andrushel and now drow gathering to raid the Forest of Althaea, may be a coordinated effort by a great evil looking to make its return.”

“These three have done a great service by exploring and confirming what is taking place. Now we must hear them out and make the tough decisions that lay before us. Our enemies seek to spread our lines thin, we must figure out what our best course of action will be and where we need to shore up our defenses,” as much as Donellgan shows himself as a strong leader you can see his worry in the lines on his forehead.

“Friends,” Captain Donellgan directs his eyes at where Justinian, Hap and Grigori sit, “tells us the details of what you have found. The more we know the better we can focus our efforts in the right places to meet the threat to the vale.”

“We proceed to tell everyone at the table of our adventure. How we went to the cabin and found the secret passage into a portion of Slaughterguarde. We tell them about Mallik and his drow friend, the Oracle and what it told us, what we found out in the library, Kuthrakka, Goramnus, Goramnus’ sword, Palathane and his sword, the Screaming Sorcerer, the imp, the Sigil, the gate with creatures coming out, how only one more Obelisk needs to fall, and how the drow are going to attack the elves.”

Justinian also hands Fenigan the etching he made of the wall with the Stars on it. And mentions the relationship of Kuthrakka to Xu Tahn laa (as his lieutenant and the deceiver), and how he is poised to take over. We also mention the fact that under the Slaughterscar is believed to be the largest piece of the shattered mountain yet (compared to the Temple area and Laboratory area), and that the Shining Citadel is in grave danger if the gate is opened before it can be prevented.

Sir Tordell stands up when Justinian finishes relaying the tale of their adventure, “You must leave for the Shining Citadel first thing in the morning. I am certain Dragonlord Harrak needs to hear this directly from you. Grigori, you and your friends have done a great service to the valley. Make your way to the citadel and you will be officially ushered into the knighthood.” Captain Donellgan puts his hand up, “Before we can decide what to do we need to get a handle on how much time we have … “

Chendra, Fenigan and Naryalla are now in deep discussion over the etching that Justinian gave the sage.

“Around two weeks,” states Fenigan, “you have around two weeks before the stars have a similar alignment to what is on this etching. Though the precise timing cannot be known without the Tome of Forbidden Stars.”

“In that case our Luminous friends are far too short sighted,” starts Naryalla. “Surely what is going on in the Vaathwood and with the imminent raid on the Ethnari, we should focus on the Regalia of the Screaming Sorcerer. If the enemy were to reunite the regalia it could tip the scales in their favor.”

Sir Tordell looks to be growing furious.

Chendra stands and looks at Naryalla and Sir Tordell, “I disagree with the both of you. Justinian mentioned that the hero Parathane’s sword, Silversteel, may be still among the ruins of Castle Syrgref. What a find that would be! And in the right hands it would be a great weapon against any demon. Since there is time and if our adventurers have the inclination, the relic would count immeasurably in a battle against demons streaming out of the Slaughterscar or any foray that might go into the Slaughterscar.”

Fenigan, his elven eyes glancing slowly from Hap, to Justinian and then to Grigori calmly says “Even though my home may be in dire need of help, the sooner the gate is attacked and the demons prevented from gaining a foothold in this valley, the better off we will all be. My heart is with the Ethnari but my head knows that the overall safety of the valley is the greater concern.”

“Please, all of you sit,” demands Captain Donellgan. “I believe I will leave the choice of what to do to those who must do it. The only thing that I must insist is that you make your way to the Shining Citadel. Whether you go sooner rather than later is up to you but you will only have a short amount of time so choose wisely.”

Justinian attempts to put all of their arguments together into a timeline.

“So, the attack on the Ethnari by the Gnolls and Drow was to happen tomorrow. We did throw a few obstacles in their way (although minor) by killing the leader of the gnolls, and disrupting a few paths from the Drow territory into the vale – but we most likely did not by them much additional time.

While the sword would indeed be a boon, it pales in comparison to the need to alert the Order so that troops that are spread out can be informed, recalled, and placed in position for the assault. Getting word to Dragonlord Harrak as soon as possible is of the utmost urgency so that he can begin recalling his troops. Only then can they return in time to defend the vale from what may come forth from the Scar.”

(At this point he looks at Fennigan and Chendra) “Do we have any way of contacting the “Angelic Host”? I fear we may need their aid once more – especially if the Obelisks are no longer able to protect the Vale. Even if we manage to keep the one in Sumberton from falling, we have no way of knowing how to interpret the meaning of the Oracle. When it said, “Only one more Obelisk must fall…” did it mean this one in particular, or did it mean one more of the Major Obelisks? In which case it could be any of the few remaining that they will target now that the attack on Sumberton’s failed. Do any of you know of any significance the Obelisk in town here has over the others? Is it definitely this one the Oracle was implying?

Can any reinforcements be sent to the Ethnari if we travel south to the Citadel?

There is also the concern of the Surrinaks…. will they remain neutral under Ellistan and uninvolved, or will Mallik usurp the throne and lead them to war against us in alliance with the Drow? Hap, can you show them the list you discovered of the names of Surrinak collaborators with the Dark….?

Captain Donellgan nods with concern, “Let us decide quickly but carefully here. We stand at a crucial moment and I will ask something of all of you. Sir Tordell, the Luminous Order must call its knights from Kel’s Rise and have them converge on the Forest of Althaea. Make sure they give wide berth to the Surrinak lands. They must do their best to aid the elves against this Lanthurrae and the drow raiders. I will call the Crimson Guard back to Sumberton from Kel’s Rise and from Andrushel in order to make sure it is properly defended. Once they arrive the Crimson Guard that is currently here in Sumberton will march for the Shining Citadel. We will also send out a general call to arms throughout the vale. One quarter of those called will make for the Forest of Althaea, the rest will march for Fallcrest. Those in Fallcrest will be reserve forces for the Shining Citadel if the need arises.”

“I agree with Justinian, it would be wise to keep an eye on the Surrinaks as well,” Naryalla says knowingly. “I will gather a contingent of the Ebon Cabal and bring them Lukrimarr Keep. There we can watch over the Surrinaks and wait for any movement from their castle.”

Before Fenigan replies to Justinian, Sir Tordell interrupts, “The Luminous Order was founded with the help of the Angelic host. Dragonlord Harrak has brought your previous information with him to the Shining Citadel and now they are attempting to divine what is unfolding. If the angelic host is able to help they will. You should also know that the creature that you discovered in the Slaughtergarde Lab is a Maug. It was a soldier of the angelic host and for centuries it had guarded the very spot, a summoning chamber, that you found it in. Now it has been brought to the Shining Citadel where the knights hope to use its great skill in battle.”

Fenigan patiently waits for Sir Tordell to finish, “As far as the Obelisks go I am not certain which one the demonic oracle may have been referring too. The only significance of the one in Sumberton is that is one of the ten greater obelisks.”

“Maug? Angelic soldier inside the laboratory? I don’t recall meeting any… Wait—is this Maug creature large, and made of stone? Appearing as a Golem of sorts? We did encounter some large creature that patrolled a room that we did not venture into.”

“Mallik spoke of returning Kuthrakka to his “true form”. He also wears some sort of amulet that allows him to channel the words or Kuthrakka or another demon. I wonder if perhaps Mallik is little more than a vessel for Kuthrakka’s essence until he can be restored somehow. I wish we knew what “deal” the Host gave Kuthrakka in return for his betraying his lord.” Fennigan- do you or Chendra know of this “deal” that was cut with the Betrayer, and the form it took?

Inside the temple there were also some altars to a demon or god I am not familiar with – a snake god. Here are some of the icons we removed from the altars depicting the snake at varying stages of life. Lolth I am painfully aware of… but I do not know a snake god of the abyss…? Do you perhaps? Perhaps they or their servants play a role we should discover…. Chendra looks at the sketches, “Zehir. The demons must have been in league with the god Zehir. Snakes are his favored creations. Now that we have seen kruthiks (the reptile insect like things that tried to destroy the obelisk) I can only think that he was a part of their creation.” Fenigan looks over to Justinian, “I am afraid I know of no writing about the dealings the Angelic Host had with Kuthrakka. But it looks now as if he was spared in some way. Normally the demon would be let go to return to the abyss and barred from ever coming back to this plane but I can only guess that Kuthrakka did not make it, either by his own design or perhaps the Angelic Host never intended to keep their bargin …”

Naryalla continues Fenigan’s thought, “ … and if Mallik carries a phylactery and Kuthrakka wishes to be brought back to his true form then this can only mean that Kuthrakka wishes to open a gate and call forth a weaker demon. With the right ritual Kuthrakka can possess that demon and force his original form on it.”

“Captain, what of my people in the Vaathwood?” Grigori was showing a bit more emotion than usual. “How do we get word to them? I will go to the Citadel, Forest of Althaea, or wherever we decide, but not until I know my people will be warned.” Captain Donellgan makes sure that Grigori understands that they are not abandoning the Eladrin, “I have word that the Council of Seven and their loyal servant Hef Whitefoot have begun a cooperative relationship with the Eladrin. We will send word to them immediately so that they may warn your people in the Vaathwood. Anyone coming direclty from Sumberton would certainly be delayed.”

“So how does Xu Tahn Laa fit into all this? Because he certainly seemed to take an active part while we were there in the temple.” Hap shows them the tattoo that was part of his curse. “This allowed me entry to various areas, and the Oracle recognized it, and the library summoned a paper praising him when I asked about him. Could he not be in the Abyss, either?” “Xu tahn Laa was destroyed during the Battle of Slaughtergarde,” states Sir Tordell.”

Fenigan feels that much more information can be added to Sir Tordell’s basic statement, “Slaughtergarde was his creation so it is no surprise that much of the fortress still revolves around him. The demons and the forces contained within were supposed to be loyal to him. I believe much of what you are finding with the remaining pieces of Slaughtergarde are just remnants of what he created.”

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Warnings

The three of you are drained as you approach the city of bridges. It has taken you almost a full two days ride. Luckily, except for the ettercaps that attacked you in the Wyrmbane Grove, your ride has been uneventful.

The city is settling into dinner time and the smell of food wafting over you makes your stomachs crave a good meal. But you also know that you have to get to the right people as soon as possible. Dinner may just have to wait a little longer.

You notice as you approach one of the entrances to the city that the guard has been increased. Several militia men are heavily questioning the people in front of you.

A particularly rough around the edges dwarven militia man makes his way towards you. His right eye is squinting like he is trying to get a good look at you in the twilight, “Ey, off yor ‘orses … what ‘ave we got in the bags?”

Justinian, impatient as always, glares at the dwarf, “Guard, let us pass. We are on an urgent mission for Dragonlord Harrak and must speak with Sir Tordell immediately. The safety of the Vale is at stake!”

“I am a member of the Luminous Order”, Grigory holds up his shield so the guard can see. “I must pass to speak to my superiors. The city is in grave danger.”

“Eh, looks like I’ll be callin’ ya Gloom and Doom. Now down off those ‘orses. My orders come from the Crimson Guard and if ye needs reminding that would be the kingdoms soldiers. Ever since the incident at the obelisk in the center of town everyone and I mean everyone is subject to the once over as dey come in. Luminous Order, Priest of Melora and … what the ‘ell are you?!” the dwarf is now staring at Hap trying to get a better look at the halfling.

“Cursed. From fighting more of the creatures that attacked the Obelisk.” Grigori gets down off his horse and walks to the dwarf. “If you must search us, then I ask that you do it quickly.” Grigori gives a slight bow of respect to a fellow combatant and holds his arms out to his side to be searched.

“He got curse from touching one of the statues in—Grigori, whose bag did we put that foul object in?—Oh well… it’s in one of these. Just make sure you only touch it on the left side with your forefinger ONLY. Otherwise….. Oh well, Here are the bags.”

“Now wait just a secon’ there Doom, put down the bag, slowly … don’t take another step towards me with those bags.”

“Yah, I got cursed, what of it? I bet ya’ve felt worse yerself there, brother, the mornings after yer pay got spent in a local alehouse, eh? Don’t worry, I’ll seduce some Meloran priestess, and get this curse off in no time…”

“In the meantime, we were sent out on official business, by Dragonlord Harrak hisself, and Naryalla of the Ebon Cabal as well, and just between you’n’me, we were asked to investigate who’s trying to bust down our Obelisk, y’hear? I guarantee you they are waiting anxiously for our return, and we bear some really serious messages for them. Now reflect a moment on those two names, dear sir. I would think there might be some coin in it fer ya – if you could get us where we need to go, pronto. As in, we’ll praise your beard to them by your name, should we get there within the hour. And if you don’t get us to them pronto, well… while they rip us new bungholes, we may mention you by name. Mistress Naryalla didn’t strike me as the…shudders... never mind. Anyways, this here is what I call a win – lose proposition! Which is much better than a win – win proposition, cuz you don’t even have to think too hard to make the right choice!”

“What’ll it be?”

jangles his coin pouch

The dwarf has now backed up some. He was going to take a closer look at Grigori but Justinian has caused a distraction. Grigori gets the feeling that the dwarven guard was just being cautious when suggesting that the group get escorted to Sumberton Castle. The rest of the guards have moved along the people that were ahead of you and are now beginning to make their way over to see what is going on.

(Grigori was successful in his insight check.)

(Just a reminder that the Crimson Guard runs Sumberton Castle. This is where the meeting with Dragonlord Harrak, the Sage of the Azure Eye Fenigan, Naryalla and Captain Donellgan of the Crimson Guard happened.)

“Any troubles Hennik?” the question comes from one of the other guards.

“I think I ‘ave this under control,” Hennik looks at the pouch . “The little devil ‘ere, and I mean that in the physical sense, claims the Luminous Order and the Ebon Cabal are workin’ together. Har! That and they claim the whole vale is in great danger and they need to be let in now with several bags full of cursed items. What do you think Josen, does this warrant getting Gatekeeper Calha down here?”

(Hap was unsuccessful in his intimidate check)

“Look, I’m just doin’ what I’ve been asked to do,” Hennik says in normal tone of voice that the others cannot hear. “The city officials have been on edge lately. The obelisk, the break in at Scholar’s of Arken, and the raid on the Nighthand crews secret guildhouse. I see you are in a rush but I can’t just let you right in. If you are serious about rushing in and getting to the top officials, give me the coin and I’ll get Gatekeeper Calha here in a flash. She’ll be able to handle you and get you to the people you want to see and it’ll keep my hide intact. If you are telling the truth,” Hennik huffs a little laugh “and the Luminous Order and the Ebon Cabal are working together then it really has to be something serious. And if you are truly cursed, you lil’devil, then the first order of business might be to get uncursed. Ya can’t just go traipsing ‘bout the city lookin’ that way. You’re bound to cause a panic.”

(Sigh, you’d think Donellgan would’ve given us a gate pass or something… let’s hope this was important enough for him to mention us to the Gatekeeper!)

“Then do what you gotta do, and summon the Gatekeeper as fast as you can – these two men here need to get through, and lives depend on it. I’ll make it easier on ya, and I will not enter the city until your superiors wish it.” Hap leans over and hands the dwarf 10gp, then straightens and throws his cloak on, raising the hood over his face.

“Well that right there will get us on our toes,” Hennik turns to face the other guards. “Josen, get Calha immediately! We need to make sure ‘ese fine gentlemen get through the gate if they are telling the truth.”

Josen runs off quickly and soon returns with a strong looking human female. She wears a fine set of chainmail, carries a scimitar at her side and on her cloak is embroidered the stone bridge insignia of the Sumberton Militia.

“What is going on here Hennik? Josen tells me a halfling devil has showed up with a knight of the Luminous Order and a priest. And they claim the vale is doomed and will be cursed unless they can get to Castle Sumberton.”

“That’s not quite right … Josen, can you never relay anything correctly?” Hennik looks perturbed. These three … hey, where did the lil’devil go?”

“Have you been drinking the hard stuff again Hennik?” Calha jests.

“No, ma’am, there were three here and the lil’ one was a devil I swear!” Hennik flusters. The other guards agree that there were three of them though they cannot confirm that the halfling was a devil.

Gatekeeper Calha quickly looks over Grigori and Justinian and gives the order to search the equipment. Upon seeing a few of the pieces that you have brought back from the Slaughtergarde Temple, she takes a second look at the both of you.

“Yes, there was a third one. I believe I was given a report recently. An eladrin warrior, a priest of melora and a halfling sorcerer were the ones who saved a militia man and prevented the obelisk from collapsing. The question now is, where did the halfling go? Anyway, you will come with me. From the looks of it, what you carry in those bags needs to be brought to the Crimson Guard immediately.”

As a quiet aside to Justinain and Grigori, “My white foot is gettin’ itchy, I smell a trap. We can’t risk all of us being detained, or captured if this Gatekeeper ain’t on the level. I am gonna head down the river outside the gates, and find riverfolk. I’ll hire a few separate boats to carry a message south to the Ethnari. You try to spread the other warnings inside the city. If you get through and still trust Donellgan, have him leave word at the gates to let me in. Otherwise, I’m going to have the riverfolk smuggle me in. Try to rejoin each other each night at the Inn we last stayed at. If any of us get captured… we’ve got Harrak, Naryalla, Fenigan, and Donellgan – figger out who to trust, and get ‘em to help.”

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Part 15 - Google for Demons

Mallik was long gone, the group was almost certain of it. So they decided that it was time to tie up some loose ends within this section of Slaughtergarde.

Retracing their steps they went through a fiery demon arch and discovered a library of sorts. It had been heavily ransacked and most of the papers and scrolls scattered about the room were indecipherable. Justinian picked up several scrolls but couldn’t make heads or tails of them, the abyssal language was not something he readily wanted to study.

Hap grabbed Justinian’s arm so that he could take a look at the papers. His newfound ability to read abyssal was showing itself to be extremely useful.

As Hap read he found that this piece of paper referred to orders given to destroy a hero named Parathane. Parathane was the owner of a sword named Silversteel and he had used this sword to strike down several demons. The orders are noted as incomplete by a group known as the Darkhorn Sentinels. They claim that Parathane was killed deep under Castle Syrgref but the sword Silversteel was not destroyed and was not recovered.

Against the west wall a decidedly sinister and very large ornate chair beckoned to Hap. And he gladly took a seat. The site of him in the chair was almost comical. In fact he needed to stand up to properly to see the lectern in front of him. An idea crept into his head, not of his own choosing or intelligence but it was a feeling. He called out in the abyssal language, asking for information on the demonbane sword that the oracle talked about. A whirlwind kicked up in the room and papers began to fly everywhere. The paper that was in Justinians hands got caught up in the whirlwind and landed right on the lectern in front of Hap. They now knew where the sword was and the fear of it resurfacing according to the demonic oracle was real.

Hap realizing the potential knowledge at his fingertips began throwing out questions. “Where is the regalia of the Screaming Sorcerer?” In front of him landed a scroll that had an accounting of the whereabouts of the scepter and the emeralds of the screaming sorcerer. They had been split apart after his defeat. The emeralds were set within a crown and given to an elven paladin of the Ethnari. The scepter was taken by an eladrin grigori who turned it over to the head of his noble family. Its power however was corrupting and set kin versus kin. The eladrin of this house soon disappeared from both the material world and the feywild after they rebelled against the Vaathwood forest kingdom. No one knows exactly what happened to them. The only thing that remains of the rebel eladrin is the ruins of Kingspire.

Justinian practically spat out the name, “What about Kuthrakka?”

Hap intoned the name with abyssal words and felt repulsion. The repulsion was not his own, it had more of an external nature to it. The whirlwind that ripped through the room was more violent than the previous ones. The papers that landed in front of Hap were heavily damaged and some were completely unreadable. As he read through them Kuthrakka was a demon whose orders were to infiltrate and deceive. He was to weaken the unity of the valley before Xu-tahn Laa transported his mountain from the abyss to this plane. A success is noted in that some of the humans from the Surrinak family had joined Xu-tahn Laa’s cause. A final note on Kuthrakka states that the demon does not feel he is being rewarded enough.

When the Tomb of Forbidden Stars is asked for Hap receives some information that states the tome helps determine when the stars are in proper alignment for abyssal energies.

The Sigils that are used on the gates are a focus for the abyssal energies and allows them to open briefly at times to bridge the planes.

Goramnus was the arbiter, executioner and harvester of souls. He was a demon revered for his emotionless devotion to demonic judgment.

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Part 14 - A Divine Victory II

After moving through the Slaughtergarde Temple, defeating most of its denizens, the group sees that a number of evil characters are coming together under one roof so to speak. A group of drow, an army of gnolls, the insurgent Surrinaks and a demon named Kuthrakka are all linked together in what looks like a conspiracy to overrun the Valley of Obelisks. At the end of exploring the temple the party has defeated a fiendish spider and is now contemplating the meaning of some cryptic messages from a demonic oracle.

Grigori wipes the spider goop from his sword as he turns to face his companions. He addresses them his usual stoic militaristic tone. “I must speak to the Eladrin High Council at once. They must be made aware of what his happening with Vaathwood to properly defend themselves. There are too few Grigori left to defend our homeland alone. The council will need to make plans to compensate. The council may also know of this scepter the Oracle speaks of.”

Justinian – So… You guys think the demonbane sword and the sword of Gorumnus are one and the same? It might explain why the Imp wanted it….

Grigori – Maybe. We have to find the demonbane sword first! Hap daintily kicks aside a spider carcass with the edge of his toe, an uncharacteristic squeamish look on his face. “Well, let’s not forget the crown. I think we oughtta take a look at this gate over there – I wonder if that’s the “doorway to our home” that activates once the last obelisk falls. After all I need to know where to meet my army when it shows up, har har!”

Hap catches a glimpse of Justinian’s face and explodes, “I’m just kidding, sheesh! Jealous much? Here, I dub thee my first lieutenant, leader of the Melora’s Screaming Spider Squad. Say… guess we’ll have to find you some new squadmates!”

“And what the heck is a grigori, anyway? There more than one of ya?”

Continuing to sharpen his sword, Grigori answers in his stoic militaristic tone; “The Grigori were once one hundred strong. The Eladrin High Council realized that our peoples hold in the fey world was weakening and that we would be forced to return to the Vaathwood. After our departure from the Vaathwood, the forest was overrun by dark creatures. I wonder now if it was because of there search for this scepter. No matter, the High Council knew that re-taking our homeland would not be an easy task. One hundred of the strongest Eladrin maidens agreed to become impregnated by the Fey Spirit Shilvar’ri, the most powerful spirit of the fey world. They gave birth to the Grigori. We were trained to be the perfect soldiers for one purpose, to take back the Vaathwood. Outnumbered one hundred to one, my brethren and I took back the forest with superior tactics and skill. Only four of us remained. Today, two Grigori stand guard over the Eladrin High Council and two are out on missions given by the Council. Someday I will join my brothers and sisters with a glorious death in battle.”

Justinian – Are you sure the Fey Spirit wasn’t named “Hef”? because I’m sure I heard another version of this story (with the names being slightly different) told to me by Hef one night in a tavern about him and 100 Eladrin maidens, but I thought he was exaggerating at the time.

Grigori – Anger sweeps across Grigori’s face. “You heckle my heritage?! You’re tongue has gotten you into trouble before Cleric. Lessons you have obviously not learned from. One day your God will grow tiresome of your disrespect and no longer protect you. You will end up face down in blood soaked mud.”

A calming compassion radiates from Justinian’s eyes towards Grigori. “My friend, the greatest gift the goddess gives us is that of laughter and joy. By taking ourselves too seriously we become like Ellistan, and destroy ourselves from within like a cancer of our soul. Forgive my poor attempt at a little humor to ease the tension that this foul place has put upon us, but in a time of great danger and war such as we are facing, we are nothing without our ability to find light in the darkness. Your heritage is impressive and something I truly honor now that you have shared it with us. But note that even the mightiest armor is useless if a warrior such as yourself can be brought down by something so tiny as a passing jest of an ally.”

Grigori sees wisdom in Justinian’s words and nods in acceptance of his apology. “My tongue may have been too sharp, Justinian. But the only light that will pierce this darkness is the shimmer of a blade and the point of a spear. Laughter and Joy are fleeting, victory lasts forever.”

Hap – “Y’know what I hear also takes forever – satisfyin’ Eladrin women. That’s why I never believed that story about the 100 and all. Not only can Hef not count past his toes, but I’ll bet an ogre’s codpiece he woulda got bored after the first dozen or so. I bet he just heard that Silvari spirit thingie legend and got jealous ‘n decided to steal it.”

“Anyways, if I remember my geography, Sumberton ain’t a big detour from Vaathwood anyway, so it ain’t like we have to choose one or the other. Grig, surely you can agree we gotta update all the squabbling yahoos in Sumberton so they know to defend that damn obelisk better then they’ve done. Yer Vaathwood might be getting raided soon, but it will be in plenty more danger if some demon gate gets activated and the valley’s facing an invasion.”

Justinian – (On this—> “Make sure that the Demonbane sword stays entombed. If it sees the light of day the champion who carries it will be a piercing light against the new darkness.”)

I’m wondering if the Sword of Gorumnus that the imp wanted us to acquire from him so he could be freed with this same sword. It would make sense that the imp might use this sword to buy his freedom by offering it to whoever imprisoned him. Also… as there was a “betrayer” the first time around, perhaps it was with the use of this sword that the betrayal happened. I think it’s probably in that sarcophagus with the Death statue on top (guy with a scythe) in that lava guy room.

Justinian – (“Only one more obelisk must fall and then the doorway to our home beneath the mark left by the dread mountain will be free to regain its power.”)

I’m guessing that the mark is the Slaughterscar to the south. In which case there’s another section of this damnable mountain. Guh.

I think we should try to find a way to possibly block that tunnel leading to the drow area. (big fire? smoke them out? cave-in? and get back to the Luminous Order right away and report that an attack is imminent and they need to send their army to the Slaughterscar immediately. There are too many Obliesks for us to guard them all, so that seems a lost cause. Particularly with one being in the Surrinak’s castle.

Grigori thinks back to what he knows about the Screaming sorcerer and tells his companions the little bit of knowledge he can remember.


A long time ago the Screaming Sorcerer was a constant threat to the Vaathwood and the forest of Althaea. He was human but allied with the drow. He led drow raids against the Eladrin and Elves for nearly 100 years from the underdark. A group of adventurers that included a grigori and an elven paladin defeated the Screaming Sorcerer and freed a great clan of dwarves from his enslavement.


Justinian turns to Grigori, “Hey Grigori – the dwarves OWE you guys. I’m sure you can ‘call in a favor’ to stop those Drow from regaining the Screaming Sorcerer’s equipment!”

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Part 13 - A Divine Victory

When Justinian’s warhammer crashed against the fiendish spiders leg a sickening crunch could be heard. It was music to his ears and he knew his goddess was looking down on him with a smile. A divine glow washed over Justinian and he knew the next shot would be the one to bring this creature down. The spider lost its balance and was now unsteady with one useless leg. Quickly a killing blow was landed to the aberration as the warhammer made one last final strike where its stinger was attached. The warhammer hit it squarely, ripping it from the demonic creature. Stepping back Justinian nearly wretched as a horrid substance began spilling out from where the stinger once was.

Grigori had taken the brunt of the spiders attacks and he would not have had it any other way. The spots where the foul beast had landed its stinger still throbbed with some pain but he was managing it. The last wolf spider leaped at him and he let it impale itself on his sword. He flung it away in disgust and let its carcass land in a dark corner of the room.

Hap continued to torch the floor and remove the webs that had vexed them in combat. With a little luck this revealed a few items, a helm, boots and a pair of gloves. Hap quickly realized that since the boots and the gloves did not burn that there must be something special to them.

Grigori and Justinian now turned their gaze on the statue. Fine gems, armor, and silver bracers were at the altar just before the statue. Grigori reached for them but as soon as he touched one it turned to dust.

Then the oracle spoke, “Pay homage to Xu-tahn Laa for foresight, or face the future without knowledge.”

Quickly they all realized that some sort of offering should be laid on the altar in order to gain information. Hap looked through some things they had acquired and came up with some silver eating utensils worth about 50gp and placed them on the altar. A greenish glow passed over the utensils and Hap felt a strange sensation right where his newly acquired tattoo was.

Again the oracle spoke, “You have been honored by Xu-Tahn Laa, you are offered more in return for your loyalty.”

In quick succession three pieces of information were imparted to the companions.

“The Regalia of the Screaming Sorcerer will one day be reunited, but only after his scepter is retrieved from the depths of the Vaathwood and his Emerald Crown is taken back from the Ethnari.”

“Make sure that the Demonbane sword stays entombed. If it sees the light of day the champion who carries it will be a piercing light against the new darkness.”

“Only one more obelisk must fall and then the doorway to our home beneath the mark left by the dread mountain will be free to regain its power.”

Their minds raced.

The Emerald Crown was mentioned by Lanthurrae as she berated her attackers, “You fools! Whatever cause you fight for is lost! The drow raiders of Karkan-Amon will be here within the next day. You have no hope of stopping us. For the glory of Lloth, the Emerald Crown will return to the rightful heirs of Illsha’s Throne, and allied with Kuthrakka we will cover this valley in darkness!”

The drow were planning a raid on the Ethnari. Could that be specifically to get the Emerald Crown? And what about the scepter? This was the first they had heard of it but the fact that it was in the Vaathwood, Grigori’s home, and that Grigori had never heard of it before, made it a mystery.

The Demonbane Sword was a new revelation. Where was it entombed? The oracle prophesized it as a piercing light against the new darkness. Something evil does not want this sword to see the light of day again.

The obelisks were something they already knew about. Yet, the fact that only one more needs to fall puts the urgency of what is going on in perspective.

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Part 12 - Mallik and the Drow

The group has made it way through most of the Slaughtergarde Temple at this point. They have come across an imp requesting a magical sword it says it wants to use for its escape and Hap has had his skin turn red, has grown horns and can speak abyssal (he also has a demonic tattto). In addition he has contracted a curse from some foul baptismal waters. On a wall around the middle of the temple complex the party has uncovered a plot by drow raiders to attack the elven forest to the south. Further in the group ambushes gnolls who are from the same band that attacked Kel’s Rise six months ago.

Finally, Hap, Justinian and Grigori find themselves disabling a fiery arch and walking down a set of stairs to find Mallik talking to a drow in front of a demonic altar set in the corner of the room.

Lanthurrae looked over her shoulder towards the south passageway. The fiery arch had been disabled and she was slightly confused by this. Mallik walked out of the eastern corridor. “Still struggling with the final altar, Lanthurrae?” Mallik gave a charming crooked smile to her. “Yes,” she said rather emotionlessly. The goblin next to her was handing her some sort of component to possibly try next on the altar. “And is the sigil from the gate removed yet?” “I’m almost there. You can tell Hetfang that he should be ready to leave soon,” Mallik turned his gaze to the south as he heard the footfalls. Grigori and Justinian were now in view at the bottom of the stairs. Lanthurrae, her goblin servant and Mallik could all be seen near the northeast altar in the room. The other three corners of the room are occupied by a similar raised dais and an altar with a crone statue in various poses.

“WHAT? YOU?!” exclaims Mallik. “I told you we should have killed them while we were in Sumberton,” his hand begins to reach for the short sword at his side. The goblin next to Lanthurrae hisses loudly.

“That may have been so. But they served their purpose and now Ellistan is sufficiently paranoid. Mallik, quickly, get the sigil and take flight to the gnolls,” Lanthurrae forcefully points to the eastern corridor. “It seems these Luminous Order lackeys need to be dealt with now or the plans so carefully laid will be lost.”

When the fight is over, Lanthurrae has escaped down a deep passageway. Hap gave chase but the drow was too fast and her elven stride too long for Hap to keep up with. Mallik has fled down the east corridor. Justinian and Grigori tried desperately to deal with him but the lolthbound goblin and the multitude of spiders kept them occupied enough so they couldn’t give chase.

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Part 11 - Wyrmbane Grove

DragonLord Harrak's Offer

"Members of our order can't strike directly at the Surrinak holdings without possibly arousing other nobles against us. But if independent agents can prove something's rotten in Surrinak country we can safely become involved and clean it up. That's why we need you to infiltrate and expolre."

"If you find another part of Slaughtergarde, which I suspect you will, I implore you to destroy any evil or tainted objects you come across. If you find something you can't destroy yourselves, bring it to the Shining Citadel when you're done exploring the situation and the site. If worse comes to worst, on your return, tell me about objects you had to leave at the site. I'll make arrangements in such a case."

"For your work, the order is willing to pay you each 800 pieces of gold upon your return.

###########################################

You have left Sumberton traveling at first east along the road towards Dondurran before turning southeast towards the Wyrmbane Grove. Three riding horses have been gifted to you by the Crimson Guard and they have allowed you to make the trip swiftly.

A cool breeze is at your back and the thought of the ancient battle of Slaughtergarde is on your minds. You have discovered that at least one piece of the Slaughtergarde fortress had remained buried in the Stonemantle hills and now Dragonlord Harrak has asked you to infiltrate Surrinak lands and find out what is at the hunting lodge that the map leads to.

The rich farmland southeast of Sumberton finally gives way to the small forest known as Wyrmbane Grove and the steep outcropping of rock known as the Tanglethorn Mountains, easily one of the most striking sights in the valley.  The Surrinaks have their ancestral home here.  Castle Surrinak looms over some of the richest farmland in the valley and their house guard is law for many miles beyond their castle home.  Collectively they are one of the most powerful houses in these lands.

You have been warned by Dragonlord Harrak that trespassers are dealt with harshly and that the insular Surrinaks see most people as trespassers.

You ride along the border of the grove following the map to where you believe the hunting lodge trail begins.  Entering the grove turns the rich fall farmland into a dense gloomy dull forest.  The moss is thick on the forest floor and the trees are ancient and gnarled.  It is not long before the land begins to rise where the grove meets the foothills of the Tanglethorn Mountains

Somewhere in the distance through the trees you catch site of something behind you, just barely at the edge of your perception.  You are not clear what it is but you are almost certain that it is following you.  It is hard to tell through the trees and the fading light but from what you do see you think it is a group and not just a lone figure.

"You are unlawfully trespassing upon Surrinak lands. Throw down your weapons, you are accused of being assassins and spies and now you must face judgement. By orders of Lord Surrinak, all intruders to the Wyrmbane Grove will forfeit their lives." 

########################################### 

Hap's spell ripped through the remaining spider swarm just as Grigori was backing up to defend himself against another onslaught of vicious poisonous fangs. The drow with a cloak of spiders had nearly done them in.

Grigori took to one knee to catch his breath and saw his companions regroup themselves as well. The woodland now had an even more sinister feel than before.

Justinian still felt weak from the poisonous bites that he took from the swarm but he was strong enough to walk over and feel the crunch of a twitching spider under his boot. The spiders had been a very unpleasant surprise.

The noble had claimed to be a part of the Surrinaks and he stated that Lord Ellistan Surrinak had given him the authority to kill all trespassers. Dragonlord Harrak had mentioned that the Surrinaks deal harshly with trespassers but this was beyond normal bounds. This had the feel like the Surrinaks were trying to keep something hidden.

Searching his body did not reveal much except that he wore platemail and carried the Surrinak coat of arms.  The longsword he carried was well made but not exceptional. He also had 36sp and 20gp on him. 

The archers actually looked more like common woodsmen and hunters with their trappings of fur and leather. Though further investigation revealed strange tattoos on their forearms.

"What?" exclaimed Hap with scorn as he examined the tattoo, "Those ain't strange!  Pretty pedestrian if ya ask me… here, lookit this one, now this is strange, haha!"

Hap pulls his pants down partially to expose a butt cheek.  A colorful tattoo of a cartoonish dragon squats over a smoking crack, its eyes squeezed shut in concentration.  Shredded knight's armor and bloody bones lay at its feet.  The caption reads, "I CRAP BIGGER THAN YOU".

Hap limps over and joins Justinian in collecting squished crispy spider gunk (wiping his fingers periodically on Justinian's cloak when his back is turned), and wondering out loud if they could possibly find any unconscious spiders, and mebbe if you guys would be more careful where you're tromping around, we could sew enough of them back together to make a halfling-sized super-spider-cloak, etc. 

Hap eventually finds himself near the roasted dogs, inhales deeply and says, "Ay guys, I think I got a great idea for tonight's camp stew!"

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Part 10 - The Gifts

Each of the characters meets with their own benefactors. Each in turn is given a gift or reward for their service so far and for thier continued service. Each meeting was personal and it is up to the characters to decide how much they wish to reveal.

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Part 9 - Tordell and Naryalla

Sir Tordell walks over to Naryalla, "This is not a matter that the Ebon Cabal needs to concern itself with."

"As a concerned citizen of Sumberton I am curious about the state of the city and it looks as if … I should be concerned."

"Your kind …" Sir Tordell started and then was quickly cut off by Naryalla.

"My kind prevented a large loss of life at Andrushel … where was the Luminous Order when the dragons attacked? Who was the first one to bring attention to the fact that several of the obelisks had been attacked? It may be best that you allow the Ebon Cabal to help, sir, rather than spitting venom at our mere appearance."

Sir Tordell stood his ground and would not be flustered, "Your interference may be more trouble than it is worth. I do recall that the Ebon Cabal was more interested in the dead dragon than in helping the people at Andrushel. And you were nowhere to be found when the gnolls were attacking Kel's Rise. You are a selfish lot and I will not take you for anything else."

"Your words are so hurtful good knight," her words slithered with sarcasm. "The fact remains you may still need us … we have … knowledge and connections that could be useful in the future. The choice is yours, sir, either way the Ebon Cabal has a stake in what transpires in the valley."

 

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