Cave Killers

Adventure Log Entry 2014-05-13
The Traitor is Revealed!

Game Date: Flamerule (July) 19, 1483 DR (Dale Reckoning), Year of the Tasked Weasel

Grimm visits Nimozaran at the Septarch Tower to see about joining the wizard’s guild, since he has been dabbling in secret for months now, trying to gain some wizardly knowledge and skill. He has managed to “master” two cantrips and find a familiar beast to train, but that’s about it.

Grimm also “worships” Moradin by drinking as much as he can at the local tavern. While there, a man named Delros talks to him and mentions there may be a problem with Ike Sargis, and many of the commanding officers are worried about him. He has spent less and less time at the Keep training the soldiers, and more and more time at the shrine of Bahamut at the Temple of Pelor, speaking with Grundelmar, the new dwarven priest of Pelor that arrived in town just a few months back.

Demnavani’s half-orc apprentice, Hurum, says in researching long distance communication, he has found information that there used to be a series of wizard towers all linked by portals, that could be activated by the wizards who created them. They passed the activation procedures down over the ages to their apprentices. They used these to travel instantaneously from city to city in this region before the Spellplague, after which the teleportation was not reliable for many decades.

Locations included Fallcrest, Winterhaven, Falmorel, Nenlast, Hammerfast, Kiris Dahn, and there are references to other locations that are unnamed.

At the moment, Nimozaran the Green and Horkin have scrying pools set up. Hurum says that Nimozaran has confirmed they can also contact Valthrun in Winterhaven, and Loremaster Geld Seekingstone (Male dwarf) in Hammerfast via scrying pools.

Amberly speaks with Alkirk and Treona about marrying Tyristys. Alkirk is all for it, believing that the political implications as well as having a powerful dragon help to rid his city of goblins will do wonders for his campaign. Treona thinks it is a bad idea, for many reasons, and implores Amberly at least think about it some more before committing.

Grimm approaches Ike that evening, and gets him to spill the beans (while very drunk): he’s lost his powers, because of something he did, and he’s distraught about it. Eventually he says the following:
- he was approached by someone a year ago, they were disguised and he didn’t know who they were, and they spoke to him about the need for a larger army, which he agrees with
- they said they had other influential friends among the council and advisors and well known citizens who also wanted this done
- they said they had a way, but he would not like it. they would stage attacks on the city from multiple sources at different times, to show that we needed more and better protection.
- they said they would have bandits attack, and they would get the goblinoids from Kiris Dahn to attack, and they would have an “evil” wizard send a zombie horde (small, only a few hundred) at the city.
- He was assured by this mysterious individual that he would know ahead of time when and where the attacks would take place, so he could minimize casualties, but then having multiple attacks like these would help him get support for building the army up.
- He asked Bahamut for guidance and was given a vision of a paladin of Bahamut (he couldn’t see the face of the person in the vision) leading a great army against a legion of undead, and then leading an army against the goblinoid tribes in Kiris Dahn. He assumed that meant he should go forward with the plan.
- After he agreed, he was asked to do some things: find/buy diamonds for the person; tell him when the richest caravans were leaving town so bandits or goblinoids could waylay them; try and prevent Alkirk from raising his army to take back Kiris Dahn.
- And then he found out Dreus was in on it. She was also approached by the figure, and helped make sure Alkirk did not raise his army to take back Kiris Dahn. At the behest of this mysterious figure, she even hired the mercenary group from Hammerfast to kill the dragon that was eating all the goblins and preventing them from fulfilling their potential as a serious threat to the valley.
- Over time his powers waned, just a little at first, and by the time they were gone, he hadn’t even noticed because he hadn’t been using any of them for months. Then one day he tried to heal someone during a training session and was unable to. He hasn’t told anyone what happened, Dreus is the only one who knows, as far as he knows.

While this was going on, Rurik was approached by the thieves’ guild, to work for Dreus. She wants him to follow a mysterious figure she is meeting with tonight, and find out who they are (she doesn’t know, and is tired of not knowing). Rurik witnesses a conversation between Dreus and this person, while he is hidden in Dreus’ home. The mysterious figure admits to letting the situation get out of hand, but she can still salvage it if she can just get hold of all the items; and there is one other possibility that she will not reveal.

After leaving, Rurik follows her, and the rest of the group follows Rurik at a distance. The figure goes down into the sewers and catacombs underneath the Temple of Erathis, where they found the small zombie horde hiding out recently. Using shape stone, they are able to get into her small lair hidden in the catacombs behind the city’s waterfall. Confronting her there, still disguised, she is speaking through a scrying pool to Kalarel, the evil priest that Amberly had seen in Andok Sur.

Upon attacking her, she disappears in a flash of light, as Kalarel yells through the scrying pool, “Treona, you useless bitch, what’s going on?”

It was Treona…

Confronting Alkirk immediately upon this revelation, the group goes with Alkirk, Ike and Dreus to wake up the rest of the council immediately. Everyone is assembled in the Keep at Ike’s insistance, and everyone is questioned. Various people admit to either having been contacted by this mysterious figure, or working for them. Every one of them thought they were doing something innocent, and that nobody would be harmed, and it wouldnt’ get bad or out of control, and it was all must meant to push the agenda of making the local army/watch/militia bigger and better.

The following people were approached by the figure, asked if they wanted to help her with the agenda of making the arm bigger, they said no, and were never approached by the person again:
Nimena Sandercot, owner of Sandercot Provisioners general store
Barstomun Strongbeard, Porters’ Guild leader
Irena Swiftwater, Swiftwater Boats

Armos Kamroth – approached, agreed to help develop the insurance business, earn money, funnel money to help grow army

Orest – helped Armos with insurance business, never contacted by mysterious person

Dreus Matrand – Approached by figure, agreed to help, thinking nobody would be hurt really, the attacks would just show that the army can’t be everywhere at once, and the fact they happened to be in the right place/right time was simple coincidence.

Nimozaran – approached, ignored figure as he doesn’t care for politics, and doesn’t want a bigger army, he wants more wizards. He says “I don’t care for politics, that’s why I quit this council. But, if it’s a giant zombie army out there, it’s obviously Kalarel; he’s always excelled at necromancy, and has always been a little crazy. If he’s actually raised as many undead as you say he has, he’s obviously been helped by a deity, or Treona has found a way to quickly and cheaply raise them. Kalarel studied here at the Septarch’s Tower when I was studying here.” Then he says he’s had enough, and leaves, after agreeing to contact Horkin and relay what’s happening to him.

Ressilmae says they actually did want the group to go and scout Andok Sur; nobody was told by the mysterious figure to send the group out there, the council thought of that by themselves and agreed it would be a good idea.

Markelhay says there will be further inquiries and investigations before he makes any major decisions on what to do with people. At the moment, the zombie army is the most important issue to deal with, and replacing the council at this point will hinder that. The council will reconvene first thing in the morning (it’s 3 am at the moment, everyone was roused from sleep).

Ike confirms the list Rurik found in his room was simply people who were anti-army that he was supposed to try and convince otherwise. The list was given to him by the mysterious figure.

Adventure Log Entry 2014-05-06

Game Date: Flamerule (July) 18, 1483 DR (Dale Reckoning), Year of the Tasked Weasel

Tyristys flew over Andok Sur to check it out, and informed the group about the demons there, that in the past were linked to the abyssal plague

Ressilmae – council wants them to scout/count undead at Andok Sur, will ask to see what help they can give the group

Tinuviel spoke again with Orest, asked questions about council members

Grimm met with Ike Sargis, who was nervous talking about bahamut’s power, worried when demons were brought up, and shocked when suggestion of council member being behind all this is brought up

Rurik – Searched Ike Sargis’ quarters, found a list: Sandercot, Porters, Swiftwater, Warden Markelhay, Kelson

Demnavani summoned fairy who is still pissed at him.

Group all had Tyristys speak with Sargis, first disguised as a paladin of Bahamut, then as a dragon. Sargis seemed on the up and up.

Adventure Log Entry 2014-04-29
Gathering Information in Fallcrest

Game Date: Flamerule (July) 17, 1483 DR (Dale Reckoning), Year of the Tasked Weasel

Bullet Point Summary:

Meeting with Tyristys, disguised as a male mercenary, he thanks group for telling him there is an army building to kill him. He says he is going to join the army and see what happens; Grimm asks what if they can detect dragons like he can? He replies that he allowed Grimm to detect him, since he knows the group already, and he feels confident he can stay hidden. Besides, he has other people to see in town while he’s here. He wants the group to meet him tomorrow morning at the eastern gate, he wants to go see Andok Sur himself.

Back to town

Demnavani (Nick not present tonight) goes to teach his apprentice for the day, and Tinuviel’s new apprentice as well (Sebastian, a male halfling, who is jittery and greedy and likes riddles and practical jokes).

Rurik follows Tyristys to army office, store, inn… hires thief to watch for him, and leaves Steve there too.

Grimm sees Dirina, talks about holy water

Tinuviel gets Nimozaran to scrye with Horkin in Scarvale Keep, he tells her the traitor they need to confirm is not the Lord Warden or his wife, but everyone else is suspect. He also says Adrin the priest of Pelor was killed trying to defend the dwarven village, and they have no way to create or purify food/water in the amount they need to survive. They have about three weeks of food left before they start starving. She should contact him again the following day at the same time (afternoon).

The whole group goes to see Wisara Osterman at the Silver Unicorn Inn. They speak with her for a few minutes.

TInuviel then goes to see Orest and they do over the pants stuff.

Rurik checks on Steve and hired thief… no sign of Tyristys coming down from upstairs of the inn he checked into (which was supposedly full). Steve lost most of his money to the thief playing cards.

Amberly speaks with Ressilmae, and Ressilmae agrees to get them an assignment from the City Council, so they can act more freely and with authority.

Grimm goes to speak with Ike Sargis, captain of the Keep. He is in a warroom already planning defense of the city. They speak for a bit, and come up with some ideas (balistas filled with holy water, releasing over undead while they fly through the air; signal system; temporary bridge on lower quay; guards stationed throughout city in case portals are used to teleport undead army into the city)

Adventure Log Entry 2014-04-22
In Which News is Reported and Gathered

Game Date: Flamerule (July) 15-16, 1483 DR (Dale Reckoning), Year of the Tasked Weasel

Learning about the mass amounts of undead and witnessing with our own eyes the evil that is being done at Andok Sur gives us a sense of haste on our journey back to Fallcrest to search for help. However, shortly before we can even see the city we are distracted by a large column of smoke rising to the side of the road. We all agree that this must be investigated and ride off (albeit, slowly, due to the lack of horses still; damn gnolls) in the direction of the smoke.

When we arrive at the point of origin, we see that the smoke is coming from a farm that is on fire. There are city guards running around frantically trying to put the fire out. Demnavani helpfully uses his sleet storm to put out almost the entirety of the fire, and we wait for the smoke to dissipate so we can start searching for clues. With everything else going on, we don’t think this fire is a coincidence.

The guards (including the head Inquisitor) come over to talk to us and thank us for helping put out the fire that would have otherwise taken them most of the day. We accept their thanks, and ask after the people who own this farm. They say that there is no one here and that they don’t know where they are. We ask some more questions, trying to discern the nature of the fire, where the people might have gone, who would have motive to destroy this farm, but we don’t learn much. The only thing that makes sense is that bandits came to pillage and plunder, but that would have left dead bodies, and there are none. Or slavers came to capture and sell the peasants. Either way, this is all awfully suspicious.

By now the smoke has mostly cleared, and we start scouring the farm for any indication of what took place. Grimm finds arrows around the gate of the barn and notices tracks leading towards the edge of the forest- the same general direction that leads back to Andok Sur.

Before we can even take a step to go after them, the Inquisitor stops us and says that this is an official matter of state and they don’t even know who we are or if they can trust us. Grimm says to send some of the city men with us, give us some horses, and let us be on our way before the bandits/slavers(/super-evil-mercenaries-who-don’t-care-if-they’re-contributing-to-the-end-of-the-living-world-as-we-know-it) get away. Sometimes it is really helpful to have a paladin of Morradin in your group, and saves a lot of time when it comes to “trust” issues. The Inquisitor points to five of the city guards and directs them to follow us and puts Grimm in charge of them. We also request the use of a couple of their horses so we can move more swiftly; this the Inquisitor grants as well.

Now a party of ten, we head into the forest, tracking footprints and wagon wheels.

I send my owl up a little way ahead of us, and soon, through her eyes, I spot a large group of bandits traveling with two wagons. In those wagons, there are somber-looking captives in peasant garb. The wagons are in the middle of this bandit-caravan, each being pulled by a horse. In the front of the caravan, there are a couple of bandits riding horses, but the rest are on foot. It is a sort of oblong procession, with bandits in front of, behind, and on the sides of the two wagons.

I report this back to our search party, and we start to formulate a plan of attack. Our main goal is to get the people in the wagons away, and safely, but we don’t want the bandits to get away either. Not just to be able to bring them to justice for what they did to the farm and for kidnapping those people, but because we don’t want them going off and reporting to a higher (and eviler) being about our interference; and speaking of that, we will need to question them on who they are working for.

This leaves us with semi-limited options, but we finally come up with the following satisfactory strategy: I am going to cast fly on myself, and get to the front of the caravan. We need to stop it from moving forward, and scare the horses so they are uncontrollable and everyone is confused for a short period of time. During this time, the rest of our party will move forward and flank both sides of the bandit-caravan, as well as behind and then we unleash justice (and by justice, I mean, a serious ass-kicking).

I fly to the front of the caravan as planned, and release a fireball, perfectly placed to hit about six of the bandits, three of their horses, yet miss the hostages completely. Some of these bandits fall down, completely burnt to a crisp. The rest are badly injured and trying to get the horse(s) that survived under control.

As this is happening, right on cue, our rescue mission has already begun to flank both sides of the bandits and Demnavani is bringing up the rear. I see Amberly and Rurik come up the left side of the caravan; Rurik shoots the horse pulling the second wagon with an arrow to the rear leg to stop it from being able to get too far and Amberly pulls off a new trick of using her hands to burn one of the bandits.

Grimm is on the edge of the right side of the caravan, and he slams his hammer into one of the bandits over there, while Demnavani takes this opportunity to notice that the bandits on the right side of the caravan are in a semi-straight line. He lightning bolts down the whole line of them, killing some of them, as well as a horse.

The city guards who came with us are fighting various bandits throughout the camp and I have (literally) a bird’s eye view of the combat. I see one of them get pulled off of his horse by two bandits and beaten to a pulp. I am unable to assist him because out of the corner of my eye I see another two bandits trying to escape the fight and bolt in opposite directions. One of them seems badly injured, but the other is gaining speed and seems able to get away if not taken care of immediately. I send one magic missile at the bandit who is clearly hobbling, and three at the one who is speeding off. Both of them go down.

I turn my head back to the fight and see that Amberly is beating up another bandit, and Rurik has his wits about him finally and is stabbing a bandit.

The fight continues in this manner for a little while longer, until finally there are only two living bandits left. One is captured and one is still attempting to escape. Demnavani shoots a ray of frost at the one trying to escape and it hits him. A layer of ice forms over the bandit and every step he takes is labored. We catch up to him and bring him back to the other captured bandit and tie them both up.

Grimm heals the wounded while we discuss what is to be done with the captured bandits. We attempt to question them but they refuse to say anything without being brought to the city and getting the word of the Lord there that they will not be executed for their crimes. We appear to not have a choice in the matter, especially considering the presence of the city guards. We agree to take them back to the city and have them questioned there.

We unlock the cages on the wagons that the peasants were being held in, and we find that a couple of them were killed, yet the bandits took the dead bodies. This is extremely odd and unnerving, and gives confirmation to the theory that these “bandits” are the same ones we saw working for the cultists in Andok Sur. We get the peasants back to the waiting city guard at the farm, and then we head back to Fallcrest with the Inquistor, his entourage, and the captured “bandits.”

As we near the city walls, we see that a large temporary camp ground has been erected near each gate of the city. We realize that this is for the same Midsummer Festival that was in Winterhaven when we were there. These camps seem to be comprised of travelers from all over, and there are four camps in total.

The camp near the North Gate looks mostly to be of Nens, northern barbarians, and villagers from Gray Downs/Winter River. The Eastern Gate holds the campground of the Hammerfast residents, Harkenwold residents, and even some from the Thunderspire. The South Gate includes some Harkenwold as well, but it also has a hodgepodge of anyone traveling from the southern valley or even farther. The Western Gate encompasses Winterhaven residents, people from Timbervale, lone hunters/trappers from the northwest, and a few refugees from Scarvale (though this is something we shall find out about once we enter the city).

The visitors from all of these places consist of, but are not limited to: mercenaries looking for work, guards for all of the traveling vendors and entertainers, farm people selling food, hunters selling meat, trappers selling furs, exotic vendors from outside the valley and even further beyond the region, lots of whores, camp followers, and as always, the homeless and vagabonds.

Because of the amount of strangers, and their strange backgrounds, 50 reserve City Watch have been called to active duty, along with the 200 regular City Watch and 200 soldiers from the army. It is clear that everyone in the town is on high alert, as they always are during this time when there are thousands of extra people milling about for the Midsummer Festival. But it seems like there is a something else, not just a feeling of tension for the regular mishaps, but a heaviness that is weighing down the spirits of the city. Maybe it has something to do with the increased amounts of mercenaries and guards, juxtaposing the lightheartedness of the festival. Maybe it is the obscene amount of posters littered across the city asking for volunteers to join in the slaughter of a dragon. Maybe it is the fact that we are walking into a festival after witnessing the horrendous evil and needless slaughter of humans who have been ripped from their families and their lives. Whatever it is, it makes me uncomfortable and uneasy.

Once we get back into the city and we’ve dropped off the captives with Lord Marklehay, we have some serious thinking and planning to do. We don’t know who we should tell about the crimes witnessed at Andok Sur. We’re also curious to see if the posters about the dragon-slaying are from the same people who approached us with the offer previously. At least that is something easily found out, so Rurik sends Bob to go report to the place requesting dragon-slayers and to come back and inform us who it is.

In the meantime, Grimm and Amberly decide to go visit Dirina Mornbrow at the Temple of Erathis. I figure visiting Orest is a good idea since he has been in town this whole time we have been away, so he might know if anything of interest has happened. The rest of the group is going back to the Kiris estate, where we will all convene later.

I arrive at Orest’s shop and he is happy to see me (per usual, but it’s totally obvious he is trying to trick me with something; I just need to figure out what it is). I ask if he has noticed anything out of the ordinary, aside from all the hubbub of the Midsummer Festival, but he says that it is just the usual craziness. (Which is why this is the perfect time for bad things to be happening. Any disappearances will go unnoticed until the festival is over). He asks if I’ll have dinner with him, but I don’t want to be away from the gang too long when all of this crazy stuff is happening, so I ask if he’d like to have dinner with me at the Kiris estate instead. He agrees to this and we part with the expectation of seeing each other later.

Grimm and Amberly show up at the Temple of Erathis and attempt to locate Dirina Mornbrow. There are an inordinate amount of people there packing things into a caravan. Finally Grimm and Amberly find Dirina and ask what is going on. She informs them that Scarvale has been overrun by thousands of undead, and that the dwarven town built just outside the caves has been decimated, as has the village to the west of the keep. Shocked and outraged, they ask if anyone made it through the attack, and Dirina informs them that the keep is still standing with survivors holed up inside. However, their food is only going to last a couple more weeks so this multitude of people are volunteers packing up donations and preparing to set out for assistance. Grimm asks how she found out about this and Dirina responds that three riders had escaped the valley to bring this news.

Grimm and Amberly exchange apprehensive looks; Dirina notices and her face is quizzical. With a big sigh, they tell her about Andok Sur and all of the evil witnessed there. Dirina’s face goes white and she looks like she might faint or scream or both. This can’t be a coincidence, and something must be done immediately.

Dirina gains her composure and says they must go see Lord Warden Farren Markelhay immediately and inform him of what they know. On the way, they pick up Ressilmae Starlight (the elf priest at Moonsong Temple, and a member of the City Council). When they reach Lord Markelhay, his wife Allende is with him and Grimm and Amberly relay the information about the undead army in the Old Hills to both of them.

Lord Markelhay says that he must call an emergency City Council meeting and thanks them for the notification. Grimm and Amberly ask if they should stay, but he dismisses them and says that he will follow up afterwards. They leave and head back to the Kiris estate.

Back at the Kiris estate, one by one, Bob returns from his mission of finding out who has been putting posters up requesting dragon-slayers, I return from Orest’s house, and Grimm and Amberly come back from their visits.

Kiris Alkirk and his advisor Treona are there and we recount our adventure to Andok Sur (again) and also share what happened on each of our encounters once we returned, and we find out that Bob has verified that the Severed Eye Orcs are responsible for the posters and they are definitely planning on killing the dragon Tyristys in Kiris Dahn.

Because of the dragon thing and the fact that Scarvale is overrun with undead, we need a way to communicate with people (beings) long-distance without having to travel there. Demnavani instructs his half-orc apprentice to start researching long distance communication spells and/or items that will assist with just such a thing.

As we sit down to dinner to continue to discussing the things that have been happening, a knock comes at the door. It is one of Orest’s assistants delivering flowers and a beautiful diamond necklace for me, along with the apologies that he has been called to an urgent Council meeting and will not be able to attend the dinner. I thank him and he leaves.

Back at the dinner table, Kiris has come to the decision that he wants to gather his loyal followers and join the Severed Eye Orcs in fighting their way through Kiris Dahn to Tyristys, and even if they decide not to kill the dragon after all he still wants to go. He clearly cannot see past his desire to have his city back.

After dinner, when Kiris and Treona have gone to bed, we quietly decide to have Amberly send a telepathic message to Tyristys, asking her to meet us the next morning outside the city in a secluded spot, making it urgent and impressing our dire need to avoid impending doom. We can only hope she shows up.

Adventure Log Entry 2014-04-15
Discovery of Andok Sur

Adventure Log Entry 2014-04-15

Game Date: Flamerule (July) 10-14, 1483 DR (Dale Reckoning), Year of the Tasked Weasel

After defeating the gnolls (woefully ignorant of our might and power) that so rudely interrupted our lovely picnic, we were down three horses and a decent amount of spells. This caused the consensus to take a short rest. Before this was done, however, we questioned the remaining gnoll, whom we had captured, about the area and implied that we had been sent in this direction in the first place to locate, basically, an evil hideaway. The gnoll gave us the approximate location of Andok Sur (reportedly a malevolent place). We deemed this truth since it coincided with the direction that Amberly’s sword has been pulling us for days now.

The gnoll insisted that he and his fellows did not go there, nor were they party to any insidious plots related to the place. I did not trust that he wouldn’t sell us out to a bidder who offered food or protection, or bring back more friends, so after he gave us this information, I slit his throat. We then took a short rest and after recovering health and spells, we valiantly carried on with our journey to discover the source of the dark and evil permeating the world around us.

Our journey around the gnoll domain leads us to the Ruins of Fastormel, a purportedly haunted old town that was left in ruins after the Bloodspear War. Clearly this is nonsense, but it has prevented the rebuilding of the town since the war. This turns out to be a fortunate situation for us, since we now have three locations in which to start our brand of inns. [Ideally we will find a way to link them all by teleportation, but for now we are settling for offering diverse experiences at each. For instance, the caves with the natural spring will clearly be our extended stay inn because of the quiet and luxury of being isolated and having large rooms. For more information on our Inn Enterprise, please see the addendum at the end of this journal.]

It is dusk when we arrive at the ruins and we decide to poke around and see if we can find a good place for shelter. Our poking is rewarded with the discovery of a tower near the town that has a suspicious mist hanging about it. We walk up to the base of the tower and see that there is a doorway but no door. Rurik confidently assures us that there are no traps (although most of us are still doubtful that Rurik, in fact, knows what a trap is), and walks into the tower. We all hold our breath but nothing seems to happen, so we follow suit.

Inside the tower there are two sets of stairs, one leading up and one leading down. After some contention of whether to first go up or to go down, I decide to send my owl up the levels of the tower to scout for potential clues. Most of the levels are quite ordinary, with many broken and smashed things, but with layers of dust indicating nothing has been here in quite some time. The fourth floor is our first suspect, having a singular closed door (what could be behind door number one…). However, the roof has a chair that has not been affected by the weathering of time; this seems odd because all of the other furniture is close to being completely deteriorated.

Demnavani uses detect magic in an attempt to isolate the area we should be concentrating on, and it appears that the emission is from behind door number one! (I hope we’ve won a flying carpet. Best way to travel, I hear). We make our way up there and the door is locked. (What kind of game show is this?) We shout for Rurik to pick the lock, and as he is getting ready to, a suggestion to check for traps arises.

Rurik brushes the suggestion aside, perhaps bolstered by his earlier success at correctly asserting there were no traps on the outside door, and starts to pick the lock. A stroke of luck inspires Rurik to look above the lock before fully turning the pick, revealing a series of symbols crudely drawn with what appears to be dried blood. Rurik wets his finger and smears the symbols and turns the pick completely. An absurdly loud and long creak issues from the door, that I am sure has reached all the way back to Fallcrest, as we enter the room.

There are windows letting dusty light into the room, with which we can see a lot of debris littering the floor. The remnants of smashed up jars, crumbled and torn books, ripped furniture, and broken windows make it hard to maneuver. Demnavani asserts that the magic pulse is coming from the center of the room. After clearing a space in the center of the room, all we see is stone. No marks or anything that seems to indicate a secret compartment. Conveniently having two dwarves who have sensitivities and powers over stone, we are able to determine that the floor we are standing on is thicker than the other levels, and there is an empty space between the top and bottom.

Grimm shapes the stone floor to open a hole in the center, and I stick my head in the hole and prestidigitate a flame in my palm to see in the extreme dark. What I see is this: three different “pockets”. One contains a bag, the second contains another bag, and a third contains a long slender box. The space is not big enough for anyone to crawl into, but I direct Grimm where to shape stone and he creates holes over each of the prizes (for what else can they be?).

We pull each of the items out respectively, and open the first bag. It contains alchemical contents that are rare and valuable. Or, they would have been, had they been preserved like the precious commodities that they are. Instead they have been left open to the elements and ravaged beyond value over time. This is not a great prize.

We open the second bag and it appears to be very old spellbooks with ancient writing we don’t recognize. Demnavani and I are immediately excited, under the impression that we will be receiving secrets of a lost age, but upon attempting to extract them, the pages crumble and tear and there is no getting them back. We begin to feel that we are being pranked. We are trepid in opening the third item because disappointment seems imminent, but we do anyway and are rewarded with a beautiful scepter (finally!). It is slender with sparkling jewels and runes engraved upon the shaft.

Before anyone can comment, however, Demnavani quickly scoops it up and claims ownership (typical Drow). The scepter does not seem to agree, for within seconds the temperature of the room drastically drops and a swirling wind pervades the area. It quickly feels as if we will be caught up in a mini-tornado but at that precise moment, the wind dies down completely (the cold remains), and a ghost appears in the center of the room. (Is this a bonus round?!)

The ghost is humanoid in form, seemingly male, but his features are very vague and it is not clear as to what race he once was. He croaks, “Put back my scepter and leave this place.” Not a chance, ghost. So I say, “what use have you of a scepter when you’re dead?” It might have been slightly sassier than that, but who can remember such details in the midst of being interrupted while looting others’ possessions?

In response, the ghost lifts a finger and points directly at my chest. I feel a piercing cold touch in my heart and know instinctively that this is not great. I concentrate on pushing back and succeed in throwing off the chill that has gripped me. Demnavani steps in attempting to take control of the situation lest I retaliate with more sass. He inquires of the ghost, “who are you and why do you want this scepter?” The ghost replies, “I am the Mage Lord Jericho and you are in the Mistborn Tower. Put my scepter back and leave or I will be forced to kill you.” Unless we want to fight a ghost (which we totally could and win, by the way), the only option left to us is to put back his scepter. But our curiosity has been piqued and we aren’t going to let this go so quickly.

Many more questions get asked before finally agreeing to put down the scepter, and we find out the following information: The ghost was, as he said, the Mage Lord Jericho and he lived and fought for this town as its mage in the Bloodspear Wars. He was a war mage, skilled in magical combat to defeat many enemies at once, and assisted in combating the orcs that attempted to overrun the place. That was many years ago, and he died during the war in this tower.

Recently, he said he felt his spirit being summoned by an evil presence and intuited that he would be used for evil deeds. To prevent this from happening, he used the remaining power in his scepter to detain himself in his tower. He said that that is the only thing keeping him from being compelled to join all of the other spirits who have been forced to follow the commands of this evil presence.

He did not know who was doing it, nor did he know why. He only knew the general direction the pull was coming from and that he wanted no part in it. The only other thing he mentioned was that “the portals have been opened.” He could elaborate no further.

After some discussion, we decide that the best thing, after all, would be to put his scepter back (worst game show ever) and let him stay detained in his tower until this evil has passed. To ensure that no one else tries to let him free, we remove the door to his room, and have Grimm shape the stone so that the entrance no longer exists. We do the same thing to the door at the bottom of the tower that leads in. All of this we do with the promise that once this evil has been removed, we will come back and set him free. (Well, probably. Unless we see something shiny on the way).

We now know slightly more information than we did before, but still not enough. We decide to continue to Andok Sur. We ride two and three to a mount, having only two horses still, and head south. Still unsure of how far this place is from where we are, we send Amberly out with flying and invisibility to scout ahead. She uses one of her magic stones to make her six inches tall as well, and our fairy scout sets out. Knowing that she only has an hour before our spells give out, she flies a half hour ahead, but the only thing she runs into is a patrol of gnolls. She reports this when she gets back, and we discuss what to do about the patrol.

Demnavani suggests that he and I cast fly on ourselves, find the patrol and both fireball at the same time, eliminating most of the threat and still leaving us with some captives to question. I think this is a great plan and we take off, with the rest of the group heading by foot in the direction we flew.

We locate the patrol, and motion to each other that we should fireball in 3, 2, 1. BLAST. Two large fireballs emit from our hands and instantly all but three gnolls are incinerated.

The remaining three are badly burnt, one is incapacitated and two are trying to run away. Demnavani stops the two running away with a web, and thinking quickly, I magic missile one of the gnolls and he falls dead. Demnavani uses a ray of frost on the other and hits him, freezing his left arm completely until it shatters and the gnoll is handicapped and slowed. We descend from the air, and as Demnavani heads for the frozen and webbed gnoll, I mercifully kill the third, who was clearly suffering.

Demnavani politely asks the gnoll if he could point us in the exact direction of Andok Sur. The gnoll seems offended and upset. He stammers, “wh…why? You killed my clan. We were just looking for food.” So. He wants to play hardball, huh? We explain that we couldn’t take any chances on being discovered or attacked, and that we need to know everything he can tell us about Andok Sur. He insists that he doesn’t know anything and that he and his clan were just out hunting. He said they do not go to Andok Sur, nor do they work for anyone there. It appears we have mistakenly killed these gnolls for information they do not have.

We did however, mention that just earlier we were disturbed in our picnicking by a pack of gnolls who not only attacked us, but stole three of our steeds. The gnoll’s retort was that “we must have been in their land.” As accurate as that may be, I feel less bad about killing the other gnolls. We inquire after this gnoll’s name, and he responds that it is “Lefty.” The irony is palpable.

We clearly aren’t going to get any more information from this guy, so we debate what should be done with him. We finally agree that we will not kill him (he also agrees with this decision), but we aren’t entirely sure if we should just let him go or leave him tied up. We decide to settle that question in the morning. We need to recover our health and spells, so we settle down for the night (after another long argument about whether or not to have a fire).

The night passes with no issues and in the morning we head in the direction of Andok Sur after tying the gnoll to a tree. This seems to us to be the safest and nicest plan, because he gets to live and we can be sure that we won’t immediately run to gather a force for revenge. After a while, we start to run into skeletons. They are easily dismantled but we notice something more in the distance and decide to stop. We clearly can’t just waltz right into this evil lair, so we again choose to send Amberly after making her invisible, with flying, and six inches tall. She is gone for about an hour, and this is what she sees:

Upon getting closer to what we had assumed was the location of Andok Sur, there are hundreds if not thousands of ghosts and undead. They are milling about, not interested in anything but the ground, it appears. Moving through them towards a point in the ground that looks uneven, Amberly comes to a long, semi-wide crack where the earth has been sundered apart (whether by natural or unnatural causes, it is not clear but I’m betting it’s the latter). She decides to fly down and check it out.

After flying a little ways down, she comes upon a cave-like opening and heads in. She is greeted with the astonishing site of an underground city, in ruins. And right at the heart of it lays a large and evil looking statue of the god Orcus (bingo!). There are more undead littering the city, but soon Amberly sees that there are some living among them, crowded into what appears to be a temple under the giant statue of Orcus. A lot of these living (at least 100) are wearing red robes. But there are some in cages on wagons, nearly a hundred prisoners, terrified and begging to be set free. There are also a group of 40 or 50 people who are dressed sort of like guards, with an imposing physical presence and expressions that brook no nonsense.

A couple of the men in red robes are handing over a large chest, and discussing something quietly with the band of guards. Getting closer, Amberly can hear the red-robes telling the guards that they “want double and in half the time.” One of the guards responds with, “that’s a tall order and not one I’m sure we can fulfill.” The red-robes say they’ll pay triple; the guard changes his tune and says, “it will be done.” And with that, the company of guards head out, but a different way than Amberly came in. It appears that it is now time for human sacrifice.

Not wanting to witness that, Amberly decides to follow the guards out in hopes that they will lead her to another way out/in for use later on. This they do, and she comes out just a little bit further away from where she first entered, and heads back to us.

We all feel a mix of accomplishment at finally locating the source of the evil, fear at what is being done to and with the living, concern for what can be done to stop it, and speechless at the amount of undead that they already have. The only thing we can do now is try to rally some assistance, so we head back to Fallcrest.


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