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Thread: Key of Destiny...after a fashion

  1. #21

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    Apparently I haven't updated this thread in a while. Oops. The party began Spectre of Sorrows last night. We're almost to the farthest point we've ever gotten while trying to get through the campaign. I look forward to actually succeeding

    Catching up...

    Session 18, in which the heroes gain new allies

    Session 19, in which the heroes find the Shroud of St. Ekaterina.

    Session 20, in which the heroes confront Keldor.

    Session 21, in which the party discovers ancient Deep Roads

    The Beast was slain. An confused Irina Kolyana stood at the back of the throne room, her mind free of Keldor's domination. She could remember only fragments, and asked the heroes to take her back home.

    By the time the party returned to Nabreus, it was night. A large bonfire burned in the centre of town, the last of the zombie corpses committed to flame. Richter and Ashlyn greeted the returning heroes. Ashlyn immediately knelt in reverence before Jack, sensing the holy aura of the Sword of Andraste. Richter was more dismissive of the possibility of the divine, instead suggesting that the Cabal might be interested in learning the weapon's secrets.

    Richter then explained to the heroes that while they were dealing with Keldor, he was busy finding a way off the island. It was unlikely that any ships would approach the island any time soon, and any that made the trip would likely require a lot of gold. Instead, he had discovered that, back in the days of Elvhenan, the dwarves had an outpost on the island. This outpost was connected to the mainland via the dwarven underground highway, the Deep Roads.

    After the Second War of the Archdaemons destroyed the dwarven kingdom, the highways were sealed and forgotten about. Richter couldn't even begin to guess what they might find underground, but it was their best chance at getting home. The heroes debated other options - overland flight, teleportation, but eventually agreed that the Deep Roads were the best option.

    They rested in town for the night, and then headed for the ruined outpost, and the Deep Roads beneath it. The air was stale, but Hasdrubal's life bubble ensured that environmental hazards would be of no concern. The dawn shard provided adequate light as they entered the depths of the dwarven highway.

    After walking for several hours, Entii stopped the group. They weren't alone down there. Skittering from behind rocks were a pack of sinspawn, humanoids that had been twisted and corrupted by the foul magics unleashed by the archdaemons. It had been centuries since they had seen light, and they could smell the wrath coming from the barbarian.

    The sinspawn were strong, but Hasdrubal's stoneskin spell offered enough protection for Jack and Entii to slay the creatures. With the monsters slain, the heroes continued on their journey. Occasionally they would hit sections of tunnel that had collapsed, but side caves allowed them to skirt around. While none of the surface races had been down here in centuries, the Deep Roads weren't empty.

    The heroes rested, secure in the extra-dimensional pocket of a rope trick. When they awoke, they continued on. They stumbled upon a group of ogres who had become trapped underground after a cave-in. Starving, and angry, the ogres attacked the heroes. Hasdrubal cast confusion on the ogres, and let the brutes kill each other.

    The heroes had crossed roughly forty miles of tunnel when they could hear approaching footsteps, and could see a light in the distance. In time, they were able to make out the standard carried by the approaching group - Blackcloaks. The two groups greeted each other warily. The Blackcloaks had recently discovered the Deep Roads beneath their fortress city of Darkhaven and were scouting them out. They were surprised to find adventurers wandering about.

    Jack introduced himself as "The Slayer of Keldor" and "Cleric of Damh". The Blackcloaks didn't react. The presence of a Cabal inquisitor may have helped the issue. The Dark Knights made note of the encounter, the heroes doing the same. Each group continued in opposite directions.

    As the heroes continued, they could tell they were starting to ascend. A roof collapse forced them to enter a large cave. Shining their light around, they couldn't see the ceiling above them. They did manage to catch a flash of light. There, one hundred yards away, was a group of winged orcs. The leader shouted out in anger that vengeance would be his. Hasdrubal cast repulsion, hoping to keep the half-dragon orcs at bay. Clearly Onyx wasn't the only dragon to reappear in the world.

    The leader of the orcs, unaffected by the spell, charged towards the wizard. Rather than attack Hasdrubal, the barbarian sundered the spell. Apparently trained at fighting spell casters, he was able to dispel the repulsion effect, allowing his comrades to enter the battle. The rest of the orcs surrounded the heroes, attacking. Once again, stoneskin saved their lives. Hasdrubal cast a suggestion, suggesting that the orcs should focus their attacks on anyone with red skin. His spell succeeded, and the orcs began attacking each other, dogfighting in the upper reaches of the cave.

    While the heroes considered their next move, they were interrupted by a horn blast. The calvary had arrived - and it was Blackcloaks. The Blackcloak commander looked between the human adventuring party and the half-dragons fighting above them. She gave the order to kill the dragons.

    Jack realized this would be the perfect opportunity to escape, and with both enemy groups distracted, the heroes quietly ducked into another tunnel. Moving as quickly as they could away from the combat, they were interrupted by two figures stepping out from the shadows.

    Dressed in simple clothing, and carrying little in the way of weaponry besides crude spears, the two young men appeared to be half-elven: too stocky to be full-blooded elves, yet bearing the distinctively pointed ears of an elven heritage. They were both coated with a dusting of grey powder, yet, despite this, the vivid red hue of their hair blazed brightly.

    One of the two stepped forward, holding out his hands as he spoke, “We mean you no harm. Please, you must come with us if you wish to get out of here alive. There are forces moving against you that you aren’t even aware of.”

    The other figure, looking around nervously, spoke up in a low voice, “We must hurry. It’s not safe here.”

    The heroes were wary, but if it meant a way out, they were inclined to follow. The two elves led them above ground, into a secret encampment nestled in the mountains. They were greeted warmly, offered milk and goat meat. After the long journey, it was the best tasting goat they had ever eaten.

    The elders of the village revealed that they were Phaëton, servants of the Phoenix, Arduinna. The elders also revealed that the heroes had a great destiny. The puzzle box retrieved by Ezarus from Keldor's library was a key - or more specifically, the tune it played as the puzzle was solved was a key. They would need to travel to the Dragon's Graveyard in distant Nordmaar. They would also require the Tears of Dierdre, gifts given to the elves after the First War of the Archdaemons, named for one of Brighid's exarchs, the beatified saint Deirdre. Together the tears were powerful tools of healing - but one had been corrupted by darkness and was now held beneath Darkhaven. The Phaëton begged the heroes to go to Darkhaven, retrieve the corrupted tear, and then take it to the city of Flotsam to learn how to purify it.

    Entii, new to all this talk of "destiny" asked a simple question: What if she said 'no'? The Phaëton elder seemed saddened, and spoke of a coming darkness. A possible Fourth War of the Archdaemons that would threaten all of the World. That was enough incentive to get the heroes to agree.

    End Session 21.

  2. #22

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    Session 22, in which the heroes infiltrate a Blackcloak fortress

    While the Destined camped with the Phaëton, Jack decided that the best course of action was to commune with Damh. Drinking as much alcohol as he could find, Jack found himself (or at least believed he found himself) before the Lucky Drunk. Jack asked his patron a simple question: should they pursue the quest the Phaëton’s had given them?

    Damh answered in the affirmative, and that was good enough for Jack. He’d go to Darkhaven, retrieve the corrupted Tear and save the world from evil.

    The Phaëton advised that the best way to reach Darkhaven (or at least the safest way) would be to follow a network of goblin tunnels that just happened to reach underneath Darkhaven. According to the fey, it would allow the Destined to sneak into the fortress without drawing too much attention.

    Entii liked this plan. Sneaking in and avoiding guards played to her strengths. The heroes entered the goblin tunnels, moving slowly. The tunnels were small, and armoured Jack was slow moving at the best of times. They emerged in a larger tunnel, but Hasdrubal warned that the tunnel wasn’t structurally sound and could collapse at any moment. Sure enough, the group had just passed through the tunnel when it collapsed behind them.

    Eventually they emerged in a cavern beneath Darkhaven. They could see a couple humanoid corpses, scattered like discarded children’s toys. The corpses appeared to have fallen from the pathway above. The heroes moved forward, but the corpses revealed that they were anything but. Rising as wights, the undead were quickly cut down by Entii’s dawn shard and Jack’s daemonblade. Searching the defeated wights, the heroes were surprised to find keys, presumably to the fortress above.

    Following the path up, the Destined reached a hidden door. Entii listened at the door, and could hear voices talking on the other side. Jack decided the he would quickly force the door open, allowing the two of them to make quick work of any Blackcloaks. He lowered his shoulder into the door - but it didn’t budge! He tried again, and this time it opened, but the two Blackcloaks had already reached for their weapons, and were reaching for a horn in order to sound the alarm.

    Jack moved to block one of the guards while Entii flanked the guard, making quick work with her blade. The second fell just as quickly. The Destined began searching the room for anything of note. They found no treasure, but Entii was able to find a secret passageway in the privy. An unusual place to hide a hallway. Sneaking through the passage, she emerged in a large, vaulted hallway. A long table on the western wall contained a logbook of prisoner transfers. Stairs led up. The group decided it was better to continue searching this floor before they headed up to another floor.

    Entii listened at one of the two doors out of the hallway, but heard nothing. She carefully opened the door, and moved into another hallway. She listened at each door she came across, opening any doors that were silent. She first found an “interrogation” room. “Torture” was a better descriptor. Dropped behind an iron maiden was another set of keys, though what the keys opened, Entii wasn’t sure.

    Her search through the halls found a room with a summoning circle, and an array of crystals and spell foci. Hasdrubal inspected the chamber, and pilfered a handful of arcane scrolls. They found a second research lab, a foul smelling chamber piled with various preserved body parts of tables, jars with embalming fluid, and worse. The entire group made sure to avoid that room.

    Entii’s search found the dormitories were Blackcloak acolytes were quietly studying, learning their black arts. She snuck in, carefully grabbing their horns, ensuring they’d be unable to alert to whole keep. The heroes split up, Entii and Hasdrubal readying themselves to attack one group of acolytes, while Jack and Kelsier attacked the other.
    When the Blackcloak acolytes revealed their spell casting prowess by using hold person on Entii, Hasdrubal responded by summoning a cloudkill. The acolytes quickly succumbed to the noxious vapours. The cloud drifted away from Hasdrubal, towards Jack, and what remained of the acolytes he was cutting down. Fortunately, the heroes were protected by Hasdrubal’s life bubble and needn’t worry about the rolling cloud.

    Finding another set of stairs up, the party split up again. Jack and Hasdrubal headed up to investigate, while Entii and Kelsier investigated the other side of this level. They found another torture chamber, as well as two prisoners. One was a Graycloak aspirant who had intended to spy on the Blackcloaks but had been captured. The other was a blacksmith who had crossed his masters. Kelsier gave them a choice: swear allegiance to him, and he would free them. Both prisoners readily agreed, glad to be out of the prison.

    Above them, Jack broke down the first door he could find. Within he found the commander of the Knights of the Lily, Sir Klavier Ettel. Sir Klavier demanded to know what was going on, and Jack answered with his blade. The two locked in combat, sword against glaive, before Hasdrubal interrupted with a dominate person. Immediately, Sir Klavier was Hasdrubal’s thrall. Jack demanded to know where the tear was, and the dominated Klavier explained that it was just down the hall.

    As the party reunited, Hasdrubal cast aura of the unremarkable on the group, allowing them to move around relatively unnoticed. The Destined prepared to head for the tear, but Jack wanted to look for more treasure first. He asked Klavier where the other officers were quartered. Conveniently, their quarters were just down the hall from Klavier’s. The heroes entered the quarters of the commander of the Knights of the Thorn, Sir Witmar Dagdel. Thanks to the aura spell, he thought nothing of the interruption. Hasdrubal cast kiss of unrequited love on the knight. Consumed with despair, Sir Witmar drove his own blade into his heart.

    Next door, the Knight of the Skull commander, Sir Goran Hedegast had his quarters. Again, the aura prevented him from finding it unusual that a group of adventurers was breaking into his room and searching for treasure. Rather than force him into romantic suicide, Hasdrubal cast a simple charm person, nicely asking Sir Goran to hand over his magical equipment.

    With Jack satisfied, the Destined were lead to the tear chamber by Sir Klavier. The cloister outside of the tear chamber was the site of an unhallowed spell. Hasdrubal realized that it had the potential to disrupt the enchantment spells he had cast. Entii listened at the chamber doors but heard nothing. The doors to the Chamber of the Tear were opened, revealing the dark temple within.

    The smell of death and decay was almost overpowering in this vaulted chamber. Shadowy reddish illumination was provided by four, large, coal-burning braziers, one in each corner. Hideous pillars made of polished black and red marble flanked both the entrance and an altar on the far wall. In front of the altar, resting on a wrought iron stand and glowing with a malevolent green light, was a gem the size of a child’s fist. The corrupted tear of Dierdre.

    Seeing no resistance, Entii headed for the tear. One of the shadows peeled itself off the wall, draining the rogue of her strength. She quickly grabbed the tear and tossed it to Kelsier. The shadow moved for the monk, but Hasdrubal cast undeath to death, a spell he had been waiting to use ever since the problems in Raven’s Loft. The arcane spell forced the shadow back into the gem.

    Knowing their aura could end at any moment, the Destined hurried back to the goblin tunnels. They knew their next destination: Flotsam.

    End Session 22.

  3. #23

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    Session 23, in which the heroes play with red tape.

    The Destined emerged from the goblin tunnels, exiting the mouth of a small cave overlooking a barren stretch of land. Grayish snow covered the ground, doing little to conceal the twisted, blackened husks of the trees that must have once covered this area.

    They had heard stories that the Black Prince had razed the area during the War of Liberation, part of his scorched earth policy. Clearly those stories were true. In the distance, they could make out battered walls and snow-covered buildings clustered at the edge of the Gwaedllyn. This must be the infamous town of Flotsam.

    Flotsam lived up to its name, the town created from detritus washing up on the shores of the Gwaedllyn after Godfall. The people in town were much of the same, outcasts ending up as just more flotsam.

    Rumour had it that Flotsam’s governor, Thoril Wolfswift, had been a Highmaster installed by the tuefelings during the War of Righteousness. That meant he had to be at least three hundred years old - far older than any half-orc was known to live.
    Wolfswift was also known for his bureaucracy. If the Destined hoped to meet with him and learn how to purify the corrupted tear, they’d have to navigate his maze of bureaucrats.

    Kelsier was glad to deal with city hall. Now that he had his own blacksmith, he hoped to set up a shop and put Ivor to work. Stopping by the merchant quarter to scope out the competition, and sell off some treasure, Kelsier headed to city hall with Hasdrubal. The two former merchants were more “talky” while Jack and Entii were more “stabby”.

    They learned they would need to meet with a subordinate. The subordinate would then refer them to an underclerk. The underclerk to a clerk, the clerk to a senior clerk, and finally the senior clerk to Lord Thoril himself.

    Kelsier randomly chose a subordinate, and settled into the office of Endess Umeur. Umeur scoffed at the sight of Hasdrubal. Kelsier got the impression that the subordinate didn’t trust magic-users, and Hasdrubal clearly looked the part of the mage. While Kelsier then met with Endess, Hasdrubal tried his luck with another subordinate.

    After an hour, Jack and Entii got bored with waiting, and decided that they were going to march up to the front doors of Wolfswift’s manor. They were on a quest from the gods to save the world - why would anyone stand in their way?

    Seeing Nessian warhounds patrolling the grounds, the two began to reconsider their initial plan, and headed back to city hall to gather the rest of the group.

    Hasdrubal decided he had had enough of bureaucrats, and planned to use aura of the unremarkable to bypass the entire process upon which Flotsam was built. With the aura in place, they marched straight up to Lord Thoril’s throne.

    Normally, the lord would have been quite annoyed by adventurers bypassing the maze of bureaucracy, while impressed by their tenacity. Instead, enchanted by the spell, as far as Wolfswift could tell, the Destined had done everything by the book, and they were greeted warmly.

    Meeting Lord Thoril at last, the heroes could easily tell that the rumours of his longevity were true. In fact, the aged half-orc looked like a drooling, white raisin. He spoke in murmurs, his majordomo repeating everything.

    The Destined explained their mission. The Chamberlain informed the heroes that while Wolfswift had one of the largest libraries on the continents, and was one of the foremost experts on rejuvenation magic, he would be unable to aid them unless they ventured into nearby ruins and confronted a group of bandits who had stolen a set of dragon eggs.

    Jack was annoyed at the prospect of needing to run an errand, particularly with the fate of the world at stake. Wolfswift’s Chamberlain explained that the bandits were hiding in the nearby ruins of Micah, remnants of an elven city destroyed by the archdaemon Zazikel.

    Hasdrubal summoned phantom steeds to expedite the journey to the ruins. Entering the ruins, they came across a torn carapace, and a dead goblin. Venturing deeper into the ruins, they entered a spectral garden - truly an unusual sight. Not knowing what dangers lurked before them, Hasdrubal cast cloudkill, sending the noxious vapours forward, deeper in the Micahn ruins.

    Kelsier and Entii scouted ahead of the cloud, protected by a life bubble, when a spectral treant appeared before them, moaning. The frightful moan sent Kelsier running in the opposite direction, but Entii stood her ground, alerting her (remaining) companions. Sword of Andraste in hand, Jack’s skill with the holy blade drove off the spectre.

    The heroes moved further ahead, entering the ruins of Micah’s market district. A large chasm bisected the area. Kelsier effortlessly bounded across the void. Entii was also able to leap across. Jack was another matter. Weighed down by armour, he climbed the 30 ft down the chasm, intending to climb out the other side.

    To Jack’s surprise, the pit wasn’t empty - but was home to three mustard jellies!

    End Session 23.

  4. #24

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    Session 24, in which the Destined search for the missing dragon eggs

    Jack sheathed his sword. Experience had taught him that creatures such as ochre jellies and black puddings were notorious for splitting in two when cut with a blade. Instead, fisticuffs would be the order of the day.

    The acidic secretions of the jelly burned Jack's fists, but he ignored the pain. The jelly was otherwise unable to hurt the sell-sword, its pseudopods bouncing harmlessly off his armour.

    Kelsier and Entii leapt down to assist their companion. Unaware that some oozes were known to be unharmed by cutting or stabbing, Entii thrust her rapier into one of the creatures. The acid burned her, but the ooze seemed hurt by the attack.

    While the jelly had no luck assaulting Jack, one was able to wrap its pseudopods around Kelsier, constricting around the monk, burning him with its acid touch.

    Hasdrubal floated above the battlefield, courtesy of his overland flight spell, and cast a protective communal resist elements spell. Now protected against acid, the tide of battle quickly turned, and the jellies were quickly slain.

    Kelsier effortlessly climbed up the cavern wall, taking a few moments to laugh at Jack's difficultly climbing.

    The Destined began to cross a ruined highway when they came across a group of scouts. Instead of the bandits they were expecting, these creatures were something else. They were aberrations, dripping slime, almost looking like anthropomorphic insects.

    Entii charged forward, cutting into one of the creatures before it could act. She found herself quickly surrounded, half the scouts attacking her, the other half moving to attack the rest of the group.

    Jack and Kelsier shouted for Hasdrubal to aid Entii with his spells. The wizard floated over towards the rogue. Using a selective metamagic rod, he crafted a glitterdust around Entii, blinding the disir scouts. Her enemies blinded, Entii struck true with her rapier. The creatures seemed able to smell her, but she was quick enough on her feet to keep out of their reach.

    The disir attacking Jack and Kelsier were quickly slain by the heroes, the two moving forward to aid Entii. The scouts were unable to withstand the assault, and fell. Inspecting the creatures, the heroes could tell that one of them was involved in the battle with the goblin earlier.

    The roadway continued deeper in the ruins. There, at the base of the ruined pillars of Micah, was a disir nest. A larger disir, one the heroes assumed must have been a queen, instructed her guards to kill the intruders.

    Hasdrubal cut the guards off with a stinking cloud, throwing a glitterdust in for good measure. The disir soldiers spread out, vomiting from the noxious vapours of the cloud. One soldier was able to fight off the fumes, but fell victim to one of Hasdrubal's create pit spells.

    With most of the guards disabled by the stinking cloud, the rest of the Destined had no problem cutting them down. Jack and Entii moved into position on either side of the disir queen, slaying her before she was able to fight back.

    Victorious, they took a moment to catch their breath, seeing that the ruins extended deeper.

    End Session 24.

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