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Brother of Venom
(1/3/04 7:11 am)
Session Thirty-Two (Part 2/4)
The Third Battle of the Main Gate
A short, but difficult trek up the mountain side leads to a switchback and then the closed doors of the main gate. Kale, leading the way, looks over his shoulder at his companions. “Did we leave the door closed last time?”

Aldoroc shrugs as a brief discussion ensues. “Dunno, Kale. Let me open them, though.” The burly fighter steps forward and wrenches open the massive doors. “I don’t see anything in here. Kale, lend me one of those light coin thingies, and I’ll go check things out.”

The ranger passes over a coin as asked, and Aldoroc walks brazenly into the intersection of the two hallways. From the northern hallway, an unarmed gnoll is walking with a small, grayish dog with long tentacles. Before Aldoroc can react, the rust monster charges him and hits his magical shield with a tentacle. With a cry of anguish, the creature drains the magical energy from the powerful shield and then absorbs its metallic components, reducing everything except for the straps to a sprinkling of reddish brown rust.

Aldoroc appears really frightened for the first time. Even as he was killed by the skeletal howler in the Earth Temple, he had never truly felt fear. Knowing that your opponent likes to eat your equipment is Aldoroc’s real fear. He dares not draw out his holy battleaxe and instead backs away.

As the remaining heroes enter the hallway to help the warrior, two more rust monsters enter the intersection, coupled with gnolls, and a number of guards take up archer positions behind them. One of the rust monsters takes a swipe at Kale’s chain shirt of invulnerability, but the ranger barely dodges out of the way. Aramil, Verilia, and Summer block further pursuit of their armored companions as the main double doors opposite the entrance opens up and Marlgran and Rusty appear.

Shangor, feeling almost as frightened as Aldoroc, stands at the rear of the party protecting his dwarven plate. Instead of moving forward, he drops a stone spikes spell in the eastern hallway, slowing down the ettin and his rust monster. Aramil polymorphs into a gold dragon wyrmling and claws ferociously at the creatures, injuring them almost as badly as Summer and Verilia, who has wildshaped into a brown bear. Sylvan launches spells from right behind their ranks, pummeling the ettin and some of the rust monsters with magic missiles and a slow spell.

The rest of the combat is quick and bloody once the rust monsters no longer have targets. Marlgran is given no quarter. Two of the human guards are revived and sent on their way, stripped of weapons and equipment. Aldoroc, Kale, and Shangor all breathe a heavy sigh of relief. Shangor says a quick prayer to Moradin and touches his plate mail reverently.

Brother of Venom
(1/3/04 7:14 am)
Session Thirty-Two (Part 3/4)
The Return to the Northern Bridge Complex
After gathering what little loot they find, the heroes continue to the north on their return journey to the Northern Bridge Complex. It has only been a few days, but they need to check up Kadiss and his troops after finding that elven head in the chamber pot. First, they must pass through the Earth Temple, but Aramil notices that the drum is missing. Indeed, some of the big altar room appears cleaned up. Aldoroc shrugs and leads them past it though and to the right, avoiding the rooms with the master dire ape.

Just outside the Earth Temple altar room, Sylvan and Aramil are attacked at the rear of the group. A troglodyte appears out of nowhere and stabs Aramil in the side with a short sword. A xorn appears on the other side of the two mages and attacks Sylvan, biting him something fierce.

The tight quarters in the passageway keep Aldoroc and Shangor from helping, so they remain at the front of the party on the lookout for additional foes. Riding Summer, Verilia has no room to maneuver, particularly when Kale tumbles underneath the tigers legs and takes on the xorn in hand-to-maw combat.

Aramil tries to communicate with the troglodyte, but its stench nearly doubles him over. This creature is particularly foul, even for a troglodyte. “Why are you…cough, cough…”

The troglodyte chuckles evilly. It speaks a very guttural and rough voice, like uncut granite rubbing together. “Pathetic elf. You have destroyed the remnants of my temple, but you have not dealt with me, its strongest member. I, Reokallitan, will reclaim the power of the Earth Temple and rebuild it from your soulless bodies.”

Verilia casts call lightning and tries to target cleric, but he evades the bolt. “Blasted rogues! Filthy troglodytes! You’ll all die if I have anything to say about it!”

Her next bolt hits the xorn, which subsequently slides back into the rock and pops up behind Shangor. After a quick beating from the powerful duo, it escapes again to reappear behind Reokallitan. The troglodyte meanwhile evades a fireball from Aramil. Aramil nonchalantly shrugs and then casts magic missile and says, in draconic, “Dodge this.” A couple more spells from Aramil and Sylvan, a failed evasion from another lightning bolt ends the troglodyte’s threat. The xorn lasts little longer, particularly as Kale unloads a few arrows into it at point blank range.

Verilia says, "I hope that's the last of the troglodytes."

They quickly loot the smelly reptilian humanoid, tossing aside most of its equipment. Expecting the air bridge to be the site of a massacre, they are pleasantly surprised to find it still inhabited by their guards. Kadiss welcomes them ‘home’ and offers to have one of the guards cook them some lunch. Kadiss then tells them that one of the elves walked down the bridge and entered the Outer Fane, for no apparent reason. The door opened automatically or by someone on the other side and he was welcome into the embrace of a tall, dark, and shadowed humanoid figure.

Brother of Venom
(1/3/04 7:16 am)
Session Thirty-Two (Part 4/4)
Three days ago…

Ghorinthe stands up from the table, swaying slightly, and lifts his mug to his lips. After one last swallow, he belches loudly and proclaims, “I’m taking a leak.”

The other two elves chuckle, but quickly get back to the dice game. Ghorinthe sways slightly as he walks to the latrine down the hallway near the three-headed beast. He passes the human guards, nodding politely, and looks out of the double doors. The full moon shines down on the Stalagos and illuminates an open door at the other end of the bridge.

This is unusual, the alcohol-impaired elf thinks to himself. The ale befuddles his senses so he squints towards the door to the Outer Fane. He has never been into the center of the crater and has only heard stories about it, never even from firsthand knowledge. His curiosity piqued, Ghorinthe treads cautiously past the sleeping chimera to stand on the bridge and get a closer look.

A tall humanoid figures steps into view, hooded and still heavily shadowed. A moment later he disappears and a mist coalesces in front of the guard into the same humanoid shape. The tall figure pulls down his hood, revealing a very handsome and pale human face. His brown hair and beard are trimmed neatly and close. His sharp eyes almost gleam a bright red over his high, regal cheek bones. Heavy armor drapes over his powerful frame and a greatsword hums quietly at his side, shedding an almost imperceptible violet radiance.

When the figure smiles, Ghorinthe can no longer look away. Impossibly sharp and protruding stark white fangs glisten in the moonlight as the guard’s will is lost within the vampire’s mind. Ghorinthe’s arms drop to his sides as the automaton meanders along the bridge towards the Outer Fane, accompanied by the tall figure. Halfway there the figure transforms into mist and swirls through the doorway. The guard follows, not even allowed the dignity to scream when the torturing starts.

Crimson Coil Cultist
(1/8/04 4:23 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Two (Part 4/4)
I just spent the better part of the day (and night) reading your log from beginning to end, I2K. I totally loved the sports reporting themed log. That was so cool!! And there were so many ideas here (and some ideas inspired by your log) that I can't keep track of them all. The best was the way the Worship Day was handled, and the Astral Lab at the Silver Consortium. I smacked myself on the head, thinking "That makes total sense! Why didn't I think of that?"

The way Krystaf developed from a random encounter to a vital part of the adventure was ingenious as well. Plus, what a great time to introduce Fragarach. Now, they have someone who can tell them that the vampire is really Thrommel.

Both you and your entire gaming group deserve huge kudos!!!! Yours is one of the most interesting logs to read and I have no doubt that is due in no small part to your players. I have only one complaint and it's that Sylvan lost his Fatespinner Prestige Class. It really seemed to add something to his personality that isn't as prevalent anymore.

Now, I gotta remember to keep reading the new updates so I don't get behind again.

Zag:rollin ig

Brother of Venom
(1/8/04 6:51 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Two (Part 4/4)
Wow, thanks Zagig! I'll pass on the praise to my players!

About Fragarach, alas, they gave it to the Emperor (there was a regime change IMC in the last 10 years, new family, seeing as how Thrommel was the last Prince). I have dropped Thrommel's name so often though that they will recognize the importance of not having Fragarach on hand when the moment arrives.

Sylvan still follows the idea of Fate, even without the PrC. I try to include as much dialog as I can remember, but I forget sometimes. Other times, I just try to finish it up. I'm still way behind though. :(

Crimson Coil Cultist
(1/8/04 4:30 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Two (Part 4/4)
...but I forget sometimes.

Yeah, I forget that you're a few weeks behind the actual game. To tell you the truth, I'm impressed that you can remember this stuff weeks later. Heck, when we were going, I had trouble remembering details the _next day_!!!

Zag:rollin ig

Brother of Venom
(1/9/04 8:45 am)
Session Thirty-Three (Part 1/3)
The Return to the Water Temple
After a quiet night in the Northern Bridge Complex, the heroes prepare for the journey clockwise around the crater ridge mines. Despite the presence of Kadiss and the guards, they still feel the need to maintain their own watch, with Kale and Aldoroc sharing Oamarthis’s bed.

Crossing the sea hag’s pool takes a few minutes, but they make their way to the passage near the main Water Temple area, from where they heard calls for sanctuary during the previous battle. The curved hallway leads to a large chamber with a small pool in it, maybe five feet in diameter, blocking a dark passageway sloping down and out of sight. Verilia and Aramil step into the chamber first and are not surprised when a humanoid face pokes up out of the water, just that it’s attached to a snakelike body.

Beautiful, even if non-humanoid and tinged with greenish scales, she speaks in the common tongue. “Welcome back. I am happy that you have survived your battle with the Water Temple.”

Verilia responds, “Thanks, I think.”

The water naga looks at the halfling druid questioningly, “So, have you come to kill me now, too?”

Verilia thinks about the question for a moment, and then shakes her head. “That is not our plan, but should you pose a threat, we will not be merciful. What is your name?”

Sylvan interjects, “And tell us your connection with Kelashein and the Water Temple. As a water naga, I’m sure there was some…relationship.”

The water naga regards the adventurers as they enter her chamber, fully armed and prepared for battle. Aramil readies a false life before entering. “Very well. My name is Zeityan. It is true that I was associated with the Water Temple, but quite honestly I have more pressing concerns than its plight. I have no desire to maintain that association and I am happy to be done with it. The destruction of the kuo-toa and, indeed, the rest of the humanoids concerns me naught. I am more concerned with the rulers of the Outer Fane, the real rulers.” Gathering steam, the naga continues, “Two sorceresses by the names of Mhunaath and Yklah commonly take the form of nagas using polymorph spells. They control the inhabitants of the Outer Fane and deserve death, preferably a painful one.” She gazes intently at the heroes, studying each in turn. “If you promise to kill them, I will tell you all I know about the Temple of All Consumption.”

Aramil says, “We will kill them, of that you can be sure. But, they will have to wait until we clear out the mines. We cannot leave such a dangerous force behind us. Tell us what you know, however, and we will spare you.”

Zeityan appears both upset and mollified by this answer. “Well, I understand your concern, and I suppose I cannot encourage you to enter the Outer Fane immediately.” The heroes shake their heads. The naga then tells the heroes what she knows about the Doomdreamers and how they destroyed the dwarven clan who initially inhabited the mines. “One more thing,” she says, looking directly at the dwarven cleric of Moradin, “have you been to the old dwarven temple? You haven’t found it? Well, it should be well hidden, and very well protected. It is on the south west edge, between the Air Temple and the Fire Bridge. The Doomdreamers never thought it important and no one in the mines was ever strong enough to defile it. You may find additional answers about the plight of your ancestors from there.”

The naga bids the heroes farewell and good luck in the Outer Fane. She also informs them that the passageway behind her leads into the Underdark, like many other passages in the mines, and it would only lead the group astray, away from their purpose here in the Temple of All Consumption.

The adventurers head back into the Water Temple intending to find and kill the corrupted monitor, once and for all. Before entering the chamber, Verilia summons a large air elemental. The spellcasters prepare additional protective and contingency spells. Even Kale drinks a potion of blur. Shangor casts water walk on everyone, and Aldoroc is first to the platform.

A huge water elemental lifts out of the water, stretching ten to twelve feet in the air, and pummels the fighter ferociously and he moves past. Urlurg swims up behind him, fluidly stepping onto the platform and strikes Aldoroc on the back of the neck, stunning him momentarily and injuring him greatly.

Verilia and Summer move into position, attacking the monitor to little avail. The air elemental swoops down the water elemental, provoking an attack from the larger creature. Aramil envelops the water elemental with a fireball, this time hurting it. Apparently, it has no innate resistance and what protection it had before was given from Kelashein’s wand of resist energy. Sylvan drops a magic missile into Urlurg and Kale pulls out his magical longbow, firing a few arrows at the water elemental, thinking that he probably would be unable to hit the monk.

Shangor places a particularly strong flame strike near Aldoroc, damaging the water elemental. Verilia steps back and follows it up with another. Unfortunately, the air elemental is largely ineffectual. The water elemental, in turn, continues pounding on the hapless fighter, still stunned from the monk’s previous attack. Before Aldoroc can recover, Urlurg stuns him again, all the while regenerating the damage he has suffered at the hands, and claws, of Aldoroc’s allies.

This deadly dance ends abruptly when the water elemental decides to put its power into the attack, rather than into the accuracy of the strike. Two solid hits send Aldoroc slumping into a limp heap on the platform. The water elemental soon follows, however, as it gets hit by another fireball from Aramil, and a flame strike from Verilia. Kale steps up to the monk to engage him in melee combat, activating the flaming short sword he took from Virith’s corpse. Sylvan continues a barrage of magic missiles and even uses dispel magic, but the monk has no active spells.

Urlurg flees again, and quite quickly, to the east. The heroes pursue this time, Sylvan flying ahead first. Aramil follows, polymorphed once again into the shape of a gold dragon wyrmling. Verilia also joins the chase wildshaped as a shark and she summons a celestial sea cat to aid in the underwater hunt.

Shangor pulls out the second and last scroll of true resurrection, and casts it on the body of Aldoroc, though technically no body is needed. A brilliant white flash of divine energy fills the large cavern. A low hum emanates from the corpse and after a few seconds Aldoroc sucks in a big breath, and expels it slowly. His first words, “Where’s my axe?”

After almost half a minute of chasing, Urlurg has regenerated quite a bit, but once cornered, he runs again. Shangor attempts to seal off the chamber, apparently a cave that served as a barracks for the kuo-toan warriors. His wall of stone does not reach the ceiling, however, and only serves to block in the sea cat. Urlurg deftly moves past the dwarf, enlarged from his righteous might, climbs over the wall, and drops to the other side between Verilia, Summer, Kale, and Aramil.

The corrupted monitor manages to tumble, even underwater, out of harm’s way, and make it to the platform. It appears that he is heading for one of the pools or for the brass horns still located on the altar. His impressive effort is to no avail as the combined attacks, and spells, from the heroes finish him once and for all. A quick check from Aramil ensures that the monk cannot regenerate from death.

Brother of Venom
(1/9/04 8:49 am)
Session Thirty-Three (Part 2/3)
The Return of Victor
Pushing the hood of his dark cloak away from his face, Varachan frowns at the crystal ball. They are too careless, undisciplined. They will falter before ever reaching the Outer Fane. They are powerful, however, and have no need of my help…yet. Fortunately, Aldoroc resisted the…

The fallen priest’s musings are interrupted suddenly by the appearance of Victor. The acrid, purplish smoke dissipates quickly after the half-elf’s untimely arrival in Varachan’s bedchamber. Seemingly unperturbed by his travel, the assassin bows towards the High Priest. “Good evening, unholy Master. My apologies, I thought the refuge stick would bring me straight to Lord Hedrack.”

Varachan stands up from his padded leather chair. His magical armor barely hinders his movements as the cleric strides over to the assassin and backhands him across the face with a gauntleted fist. “Idiot. You are not paid to think. You were paid to kill the human fighter and I witnessed your failure myself.” Varachan gestures at the crystal ball, its violet glow slowly diminishing. “You are fortunate that Lord Hedrack required me to provide the refuge stick, as you would otherwise have to find your own way back from Khorasan.” He drapes a purple velvet cover over the crystal ball. “It would have been a deadly journey, of that I’m certain.”

Victor recoils from the strike, licking the blood from his lips. The cunning assassin has no trouble holding the urge to retaliate against Varachan. The second in command to the Outer Fane does reach such a position without holding a substantial amount of power. The half-elf recalls when the evil priest had flayed alive a former assassin, a goblin archer named Gez, for failing on an important mission in the remote town of Hommlet.

The High Priest says, “Now, imbecile, tell me that you have at least secured some of the fighter’s blood, and hopefully a personal object of his.”

Victor holds out his rapier, still covered in blood, hilt-first to the priest. “I have a sample on my blade, my Lord. And, here is a holy symbol to…Heironeous, I believe.” He lowers his eyes, and then nervously mumbles, “My Lord Varachan, if there is a way that you could…not mention my failure to Lord Hedrack. I would be in your debt.”

The priest considers the request. “Very well. Leave your blade and the holy symbol here and return in an hour to pick up the weapon. Bring me a thousand gold pieces and the head from one of the bugbears near the Water Door. To prove your devotion, of course. Should Hedrack ask, we never had this conversation.”

The assassin quickly exits the room, making the not-so-peaceful journey clockwise around the Outer Fane in order to avoid the Grinder. Varachan pulls out a piece of cloth and wipes off the rapier. He then places the cloth and the holy symbol into his chest, locking it tightly. Only three more refuge sticks, I wonder how many more Hedrack will make me use. It’s a good thing he is unaware of the arrows. He smiles inwardly, painfully unaware.

Victor contemplates his current predicament. With an almost detached mentality, he reviews the encounter in his mind, trying to decipher whether Varachan bought the ruse. Victor fears very little, and Varachan, though powerful, does not worry him. Even Chymon does not worry him. Hedrack, however, does. And, maybe Lord Thrommel. Lord Hedrack is the one thing that truly strikes fear into his cold, black heart. The Master of the Outer Fane is the baseline by which evil should be defined, he thinks to himself.

After passing by the Greater Temple and anointing himself with the black tears of Tharizdun, which allow one past the golems, Victor moves more slowly and cautiously. He casts invisibility in an attempt to get to his room without meeting the Master. He hides in the shadows while walking past the open doorway, but a voice drifts out from the room, almost a whisper and yet loud enough to seemingly carry right to the assassin’s ears.

“Ah, Victor, there you are. I’ve been awaiting your report.” The voice speaks with a commanding tone, one that cannot be ignored. As Victor turns and approaches the room, other sounds are audible, grotesque sounds. A shiver runs down his spine, his mind refusing to contemplate the origin of those sounds and, more importantly, the disgusting smells now noticeable from the room.

He steps hesitantly forward, keeping his eyes down and trying not to see the naked humanoids in the room, strapped to the wall, lying down on the divan, or standing in wooden boxes. “Yes, my Lord.”

Hedrack stands up from amongst the cushions, pushing aside the voluptuous red-haired elven maiden and dropping the bloodied dagger point down into one of the black satin pillows. “Victor, I’m aware of your progress, or lack thereof, and let me assure you that continued failure is frowned upon.” The High Priest then turns to the maiden, who has touched his thigh, gently admonishing her, “Not now, honey, I have to tend to some business.”

Hedrack is the quintessential warrior. He is tall, broad-shouldered, muscular, and incredibly handsome. His sun-darkened skin glistens in the lamplight, as if smeared with oil. His impressive physical appearance and agility belie his superior intelligence and vast wisdom. Indeed, the mighty Hedrack is the perfect leader, and general of armies. He is one to be feared, even by the great Doomdreamers of the Inner Fane. Indeed, the Triad.

He gazes sternly at Victor. A muscle in his neck involuntarily twitches, and a puff of violet smoke issues from one of the boxes. The human male standing in the box grimaces silently in pain, and grips the scalding hot metal bar above his head even more firmly. “I understand that the human fighter still lives. That is unfortunate.” Hedrack walks behind the maiden, playfully gripping a handful of her hair. “You will try again. This time, obtain the dwarf’s holy symbol and, perhaps, part of his beard.” Suddenly, the High Priest crushes his knee into the back of the maiden’s head. She looks dazed, and blood seeps out of the corner of her mouth. His voice continues serenely, “Failure in this simple mission would be most regrettable.” Before Victor can even react, Hedrack casts destruction, pointing his finger at the maiden. A thin white beam shoots from his finger and strikes the girl between the shoulder blades. Her eye focus momentarily, and accusingly, on Victor, and her blood-curdling shriek fills the room. A near inaudible concussion sounds as the poor girl implodes, showering the room in ashes. A silver banglet from her wrist drops to the pillow, remarkably encircling the dagger with a thin metallic clink.

Hedrack’s voice never wavers, and he seems totally unperturbed by the unholy carnage in his bedchamber. He waves the assassin away and considers a separate issue. What is Varachan hiding from me?

Brother of Venom
(1/9/04 8:51 am)
Session Thirty-Three (Part 3/3)
The Bugbear Caves
The short trek “home” to the Air Bridge is uneventful. Shangor heals most of the party’s injuries, and Kale uses a few charges from his newly purchased wand of cure light wounds. One of the guards prepares a satisfactory meal, and the heroes discuss the day’s events. Eventually, they decide to not pursue the real rulers of the Outer Fane, not just yet. First, they plan to eliminate the crater ridge mines in its entirety, leaving no stone unturned, and no enemy standing or capable of mounting a counter attack.

The heroes spend the night in careful watches, still separate from the guards, despite Kadiss’s assurances of their safety. Some few hours after midnight, Shangor is on watch. He stands relatively motionlessly in the center of the mess hall, keeping a sharp eye and ear towards the entrance. He never sees nor hears the assassin enter the room and only realizes the other dwarf’s presence when the rapier slides into his back, grating across his spinal column and paralyzing him.

The enemy dwarf steps around to his front, and grins evilly in his face. The assassin sheathes the rapier and draws a sharp-bladed dagger. He cuts off a lock of Shangor’s beard, and then grips the silver holy symbol to Moradin, a hammer and anvil, and pulls it free. He growls in common, “Lord Hedrack wants to say, ‘Hello’, and that if you pursue your quest against the Temple of All Consumption, you will be lucky to only die. Take it from me; it is not an idle threat.”

With that the assassin turns around, becoming invisible as he walks away. A few moments later, Shangor is able to move and alerts the party and the guards. A thorough search fails to uncover the intruder, however, and Shangor apologetically tells his companions what happened. They spend the remainder of the night restlessly and, in the morning, they head to Rastor. Rerrid gives a spare holy symbol to Shangor, who promises to purchase more spares the next time he visits Khorasan. Aramil comments offhand that now the Outer Fane has a much easier chance to scry both Aldoroc and Shangor.

Returning to Mount Stalagos, the heroes ignore the assassin’s dire warning, and continue their rampage. The exiting tunnels from the southeastern end of the Water Temple complex leads into some more abandoned mines. Or, maybe not so abandoned. A side chamber full of large iron ore bins also contains half a dozen man-sized monstrous scorpions, but these pose no threat to the heavily armored and incredibly agile Aldoroc. The one sting that hits is quickly tended by the cleric.

They take the leftmost passage, which leads around a bend and onto a bridge, overlooking a second passageway underneath, supposedly from one of the other exits. The ore cart tracks fill all the tunnels, and lead up to a couple of side chambers. The heroes hear some guttural voices coming from one of the side passages, so they approach cautiously.

As they round the corner, Kale almost bumps into a bugbear guard. He tries to persuade the guard to surrender, but the lack of a common language causes an eruption in hostilities. The bugbears are no match for the hardy adventurers, though, and fall quickly, despite having some obvious training in rogue combat skills. One bugbear flees through some tunnels to the east, and Verilia lets him go. Aldoroc pursues another bugbear through an odd chamber with a central pit filled with bones. He also hears the sounds of someone readying armor from an adjoining room blocked by a boulder.

Aldoroc squeezes past the boulder and into the room, provoking an attack from its lone occupant. The female bugbear in the room appears far stronger than the others, wears a chain shirt, and wields a beautifully crafted bastard sword, glowing faintly as it arcs through the air. Kale and Shangor also push past, Kale calling out for the bugbear leader to surrender.

Amazingly, she speaks the common tongue and replies, “Let me live? Like you let the others live? Chief Urolax is not scared of you!”

With that, she takes a mighty swing at Aldoroc, but not actually at his body, at his powerfully magical holy battleaxe. The two weapons collide with a resounding blow. Sparks fly from the battleaxe and it shudders in the human’s hands. His arms numb from the impact, he drops the weapon to the stone floor, broken. Shangor and Kale reflexively take a step back, shocked at the turn of events. Aldoroc, heedless of Urolax’s grin, draws a second magical battleaxe and cleaves the bugbear’s head from her shoulders.

Shangor looks down at the destroyed axe, “Oh lad! What a frightful thing!”

Kale sheathes his two magical weapons, thankful Chief Urolax didn’t destroy them instead. He turns away, letting Aldoroc have a moment to himself.

Aldoroc angrily kicks the bugbear’s head across the room, “Stupid, rotten bugbear whore! I paid a lot of money for that weapon!”

Aramil bends down to the battleaxe, “Uh, Aldoroc, it’s not entirely damaged. Unless I’m mistaken, Shangor…”

Shangor’s face brightens up as he interrupts, “Make whole! Aye, lad, praise be to St. Zans and St. Sherman, the greater protectors o’ arms and armor! The weapon is no so damaged as ye firs’ thought! I kin repair it on the morrow!”

Crimson Coil Cultist
(1/9/04 10:40 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Three (Part 3/3)
Zoinks! :)

Knowe Remorse 
Tolling Bell Cultist
(1/9/04 10:48 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Three (Part 3/3)
Great update.

Just curious, why didnt you have the assassin kill the cleric before he left with his holy symbol and piece of beard?

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten it.

Brother of Venom
(1/9/04 8:45 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Three (Part 3/3)
A few reasons. I personally didn't want to kill anyone at that moment. I was just trying to force their hand and get them into the Outer Fane. Second, the death of only one member would be a speed bump at best. Hedrack had ordered Victor to to paralyze him, humilate him, and hope that they would 'see' his power and 'flee'. Obviously, PC's don't do that, but I see no reason why Hedrack would think that. Indeed, he has held nearly absolute power for 15 years or so, and I view him as megalomaniacal (sp?).

I'm really trying to just do everything possible to make the party hate Hedrack (and everyone else in the OF) with a passion. That, to me, is the best way to eek some RP out of it. For example, one particularly good comment I made IG when the druid and her tiger were attacked by some low level human cannon fodder: "Get the tiger, Lord Hedrack wants a new rug!" Ooo, boy, my wife got red in the face and very upset. She loved it. ;)

I'm a little behind, but trust me when I say that Hedrack is now at the top of their hit list. You've heard of TPK, right? I had an HPK with Infinitus, the glabrezu planar ally.

Anyway, thanks for reading! :D

Knowe Remorse 
Tolling Bell Cultist
(1/10/04 1:33 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Three (Part 3/3)
One of the best villains I've ever done (not RttToEE) was a vampire, who served a really mean lich... and after killing one of the party members, and with a badly weakened party, they were forced to walk out (the area had a dimensional anchor type spell around it to prevent gates in and out of the immediate area).

Anyway, before the group could get out of the area, I had this lich's servant and few other vampires toy with the PC's, surrounding them in darkness, attacking them, not to kill... but divert their attention from something else.

When the short-lived combat was over, the vampires had mysteriously fled, and the darkness was lifted. The dead PC's body was gone.

Later on in the campaign, that PC's character would harrass the party as nothing less than a vampire! (I had the original PC roll up a new char.... True Resurrection was well beyond their means).

The hatred and anger displayed by this former PC turned NPC badguy was great. He blamed the party for his newfound neverending torment, for leaving him in that fortress of the undead, and the villains were hated just that much more as a result, as well as guilt for failing thier old comrade.

I read somewhere in this forum that someone had Hedrack turn one of his failed dead assassins into a vampire and throw them back at the party.... hehe would work well with party members too. The leader of the Temple of All Consumption is a bad guy... right? :evil

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of All Who Threaten it.

Edited by: Knowe Remorse  at: 1/10/04 1:37 am
Brother of Venom
(1/16/04 11:14 am)
Session Thirty-Four
Alas, Kale will be writing this session's log, and I have been waiting for it for a while. He wrote it up in an e-mail :eek and which subsequently and accidentally closed :x losing it permanently. Until he rewrites it I'll leave a couple of posts as filler. Look for session 35 in 4-5 hours (gray render, Naquent's commune, Shangor's commune, and the unfortunate scrying of Hedrack).

Brother of Venom
(1/16/04 11:17 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Four
Brief outline of 34 to keep you up to date:

Fight with Fesad and Steeran, wherein the bugbears are killed
Run into the north corpsebomb
Exploration of the northern cart track passages
The party finds one of the escaped bugbears and obtains information from him in exchange for his life
Fight with the darkmantles, then the slaughter of the darkmantles after the party catches up to them (they fled)
Exploration of the upper ledge in the big chamber
They retreat to go down the western passage and the winding cart track
Exploration of the lower level of the big chamber
Fight with the black pudding and the damaging of Aldoroc’s magical armor (though not enough to fully destroy it)

The party rests in Urolax’s chamber
A dwarf appears out of nowhere and attempts an assassination on Aramil
Aramil takes a rapier in the side, but resists the death attack
The party chases the assassin out of the room
Aldoroc and Aramil are ambushed out in the hall by a troglodyte and four fiendish dire lions
The fight is brutal, but in the end a half-elf assassin, the troglodyte, and three of the fiendish dire lions are dead; one of the lions was dismissed

The heroes think that there were two different assassins involved in the ambush setup, which worked beautifully. Those dire lions are REALLY nasty if they all get to pounce one individual.

Brother of Venom
(1/17/04 8:56 am)
Session Thirty-Five (Part 1/3)
The Communication with Tharizdun
Naquent steps into her private chambers, angrily slamming the door shut behind her. A wispy form materializes out of the cushions in the middle of the floor, preparing to attack the intruder, but halts upon seeing its mistress.

“One day I’ll kill that bastard!” She says.

The spectre backs away slightly, hoping not to be the object of her wrath, or even a convenient target. It knows better than to get out of sight, though, as that would surely incense the cleric.

Naquent, however, seems oblivious to her undead former lover’s dilemma, a person whom she never even knew his name, continuing a heated discussion with herself. “Hedrack gave the task to you, Varachan, not me!”

Despite her anger, Naquent understands the hierarchy of the Temple, loose as it is, and if the second in command wants to delegate tasks, then so be it. She can only obey, or face punishment. Varachan is very strong and will probably even surpass Hedrack one day. He is clearly on the path to becoming a Doomdreamer, possibly even one of the Triad. No, it would not be prudent to get on his bad side.

She yanks off her cloak, dropping it to the floor. The spectre immediately grabs a violet translucent rod from the stand by the bed and uses it to return the cloak to a peg on the wall. Naquent then kneels down by her private altar, lighting a cone of purple incense and putting it in a blackened silver censer. The acrid smoke billows out from the censer and soon fills the room with a violet haze.

Opening her prayer book to a middle page, Naquent recites a psalm to Tharizdun.

“O deceitful dark eye of Tharizdun, hear mine prayers and deliver unto me thy wisdom. For thou art the supreme God of destruction and chaos, and thy desirable knowledge is required in order to combat thine enemies. May thy hand, thine arm, and the unholy black light of thy countenance give me strength to annihilate those who opposeth thee.”

She then grips her ceremonial dagger and cuts a gash on her arm, letting blood flow freely onto the stone altar. The altar greedily soaks up the liquid, gaining power as she continues her spell. After ten minutes of casting, Naquent finishes the spell and communes with her god.

She asks, “Will the intruders attempt to breach the Outer Fane?” A dark eye lit only by the unholy violet miasma filling the room vibrates as it responds in a deep and resounding voice, heard only by the priestess. Yes.

“Will they breach the Outer Fane inside a week?” No.
“Will they breach the Outer Fane inside a month?” Yes.
“Will they enter through the Air Door?” Yes.
“Do they have the components to make a greater key?” Yes.
“Do they have the components to make a master key?” Yes.
“Are they aware of the nature of the Temple of All Consumption?” No.
“Will they continue attacking the Crater Ridge Mines?” Yes.
“Do they have outside help?” Yes.

She hesitates before asking the final question, not because she dreads the answer, but completing this particular spell is always extremely painful. “Is this outside help located in Rastor?” Yes.

Upon giving the answer to the last question, the eye darts through the priestess and silently disappears, dragging the vapor in the room with it like a vortex. Naquent involuntarily screams in agony as the eye takes with it a part of her soul. Although she no longer fears losing her soul because she has already forsaken it long ago in the service of the Dark Lord, the pain is nearly unbearable. She drops unconscious to the cushions, heedless of the blood still flowing from her arm.

Brother of Venom
(1/17/04 8:59 am)
Session Thirty-Five (Part 2/3)
The Communication with Moradin
Aldoroc grunts with the effort of dragging the bodies of the dire lions out into the main ore tunnel. He ignores the pain from his many wounds and points at the bloodied and scorched corpse of the assassin. “I’m glad we killed the bastard.”

Verilia wipes her claws on the fur of a dire lion and transforms back into her normal form. She crinkles her nose at the dead troglodyte and says, “I don’t care about the assassin, I’m just glad we killed another stinking troglodyte. I wonder how many more of these beasts we’ll have to kill.”

Aramil examines the body and comments, “This is a half-elf, not an elf. I wonder where the other assassin went.”

Shangor says, “Aye, lad. I’m also wonderin’ where the dwarven assassin be hidin’. It dinna pay ter have ‘em at our backs all the time.”

Aramil and Kale loot the bodies and the heroes rest in Urolax’s room for the remainder of the night. In the morning, Shangor prepares a make whole spell and repairs Aldoroc’s holy battleaxe and magical chain shirt, though Aldoroc now wears the elven chain from the assassin.

The dwarven cleric of Moradin then hauls the assassin’s corpse towards the tunnel exit that leads to an outcropping over the Stalagos to the west. He props it up and situates the head so that he can talk to it. He then pulls out his hammer and anvil silver holy symbol and casts speak with dead.

The corpse jerks upright suddenly, and the face stares straight head with unblinking and unfocused eyes. Knowing his spell has functioned, Shangor asks the first question. “What is your name?”

The cracked lips part and a voice issues from the unmoving mouth. Victor.

“Who is your master?” Lord Hedrack.
“Who has been scrying me and my party?” Several clerics.
“Who is the leader of the Outer Fane? Lord Hedrack.
“Why are the Doomdreamers here?” The Black Spike is here.

Having obtained an answer to his final question, Shangor groans with the effort of the spell, preparing to cast it again on the troglodyte. The troglodyte resists it, however. Verilia kicks the body and the heroes gather close as Sylvan teleports them in two separate groups to the capital city of Khorasan.

They purchase some more supplies and sell some of the loot they have recovered. Kale and Aldoroc make a point of visiting the Bronze Unicorn tavern for some fine wine. Sylvan and Aramil, on the other hand, visit Betham’s Books and do some research in the extensive library located there. Verilia takes time to do some work in the Druid Grove.

Shangor heads straight to the temple and to a private chapel room. He lights incense and a couple of lamps; soon, the whole room is filled with a light aroma reminiscent of stale beer. Shangor inhales deeply and sighs in pleasure. He draws a mug of ale from the keg by the altar and starts preparing the commune spell.

After ten full minutes of casting, Shangor asks the first question, “Are we strong enough to defeat the Outer Fane?” A guttural voice replies in dwarven, Yes.

“Are we strong enough to defeat the Outer Fane?” Yes.
“Are the Doomdreamers attempting to free Tharizdun?” Unclear.
“Is the Eye of Tulian in the crater ridge mines?” Yes.
“Does the Elder Elemental Eye exist?” Yes.
“Are the Doomdreamers in any way responsible for the attack on Khorasan?” Yes.
“Are any items in our possession cursed?” Yes.
“Is Prince Thrommel still alive?” No.
“Is the attention of the Doomdreamers focused somewhere in this crater?” No.
“Is there a dwarven temple in the crater ridge mines?” Yes.
“Are there any members of the Saltheart clan still within the crater ridge mines?” Yes.

Shangor wipes his brow with the strain of casting the powerful spell and with the pressure from having direct contact with an avatar of Moradin. He quickly rejoins his companions and informs them of his findings. Discussion ensues amongst the party about the meanings of the answers. In particular, they are confused about the connection between the Elder Elemental Eye and Tharizdun.

Kale decides to inform the High Priest in the cathedral to Heironeous about Fragarach. High Priest Granley recognizes it immediately, of course, and advises Kale to return it to the emperor. He does so, gathering his friends along the way. The emperor is ecstatic about regaining the artifact, despite its protests at likely being placed on a shelf.

The emperor Tayamitsu then grants all of the heroes apartments in the castle. Sylvan and Aramil are put in rooms near the wizard’s laboratory, second only to the Silver Consortium. It even has its own teleport and summoning circles. Verilia stays in the indoor grove, a large chamber in the western wing with high windows and a huge set of double doors and plenty of skylights. Kale and Aldoroc get luxurious apartments, fit for royalty. Kale is even gifted with a set of very expensive clothes, all in the crown’s colors. Shangor gets apartments almost near the dungeon, but with an amazing chapel dedicated to Moradin. The wall behind the altar is actually a passwall to a private study for priests.

Fragarach is given to Lord Justin, a paladin of Heironeous, who will be questing to rid the empire of the lich queen threat in the west. Almost all of the nation’s resources will be spent on the war with Fulchrine, so little can be spared for the heroes and their relatively less important quest. Indeed, there is little proof of the dire nature of the threat. The cultists and their powerful subordinates certainly constitute a threat, but no where near the same degree as the Queen Mother.

The heroes spend a few more days in Khorasan, basking in the luxury and safety of the castle. Their much needed rest comes to an inevitable halt as they teleport back to the bugbear caves. Verilia leads the group to the cave with the clear pool of water so that she can scry for the first time.

The druid takes the letter from Hedrack to Uskathoth out of her pack and kneels down adjacent to the natural, clear pool. Her tiger companion Summer lies down beside her. Verilia then casts scrying. Sweat beads on her face and Summer shifts nervously on the stone floor. After a full hour of concentration, she targets her spell and mutters the name of her search, “Hedrack.”

It fails. Verilia wearily stands up and says, “Well, that was expected.”

A chorus of groans erupt from her allies and Aldoroc says, “So, why did you do it?”

Verilia replies, “I had to try. There’s always a chance I could succeed in scrying him, but …”

A whisper interrupts her sentence, deep and calm, filled with a malevolence that is felt more than heard. “Do not scry me again. You have one more chance to leave the crater ridge mines and not bother us again. If you do not, I will kill you all. Hedrack Out.”

Sylvan immediately recognizes the effect of the message spell and, more importantly, the fact that Hedrack used greater scrying to communicate with them. “I don’t think we should do that again.”

Brother of Venom
(1/17/04 9:02 am)
Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
The Tattooed Giant
The adventurers travel over the ore tracks to the south towards the Earth Bridge Complex. They pass through the eastern rim of a large, split-level cavern, the ledge upon which the group walks almost seventy feet above the western side. They had visited this chamber before, traversing through the lower part in order to get to the room with the ooze. Beyond the chamber, the passageway widens into an area filled with an odd stench, a combination of sulfur and fur.

Leading the way, Aldoroc has little time to contemplate the discovery when two tentacles shoot out of the darkness and hit him in the shoulder, drawing deep wounds. Kale steps up and his continual flame overrides the magical darkness ahead of Aldoroc, revealing two large, emaciated cats with tentacles flailing from their backs. These cats have beady red eyes, glowing even in the magical torchlight. Their abnormally ridged backs undulate silently as the creatures move. The smell of sulfur permeates the air, providing further evidence of the creatures’ unnatural origins.

Aldoroc draws his battleaxe and swings it at one of the cats, but despite targeting perfectly, he misses. The creature is not where it appears to be! Sylvan quickly deduces the true nature of the monsters as displacer beasts.

Shangor engages one of the cats, getting hit by a barbed tentacle. Kale draws his longbow and fires a couple of arrows, but he fails to connect as well. Aramil and Sylvan both cast magic missile, guaranteeing injuring the cats for the first time. Verilia and Summer step into the fray, also failing to hit the beasts, their displacement abilities protecting them yet again.

The displacer beasts fight ferociously, but despite their supernatural talents they are no match for the hardened warriors. The battle lasts less than a minute. Aramil searches the room quickly, identifying it as a makeshift lair for the beasts and containing nothing of value.

The heroes continue the march forward down a long, curving hallway to the west and into the next intersection, one wide hall of worked stone heading south and to a set of double doors, and two natural passages to the north. A couple of torches flicker by the double doors to the south, exposing six human guards and a slathering troll. The guards immediately raise their bows and the greenish hued giant clicks his yellow fangs together, and then charges at Aldoroc.

Aramil reacts first, dropping a fireball at the end of the hall, roasting four of the guards. Sylvan backs up to the rear of the party near one of the northern exits, and casts haste, affecting all of his companions. Shangor grips the prayer bead at his neck and activates bless. Verilia calls lightning and drops a bolt on the troll while Summer, Kale, and Aldoroc rip the troll apart with their weapons.

The guards trade some arrows with Aramil and then flee before the golden dragon disciple can launch another fireball. Although the troll regenerates, Aldoroc slices it into submission. Before the body even hits the stone, however, a scream erupts from the rear when a huge monster, the grayish color of stone, nearly claws Sylvan’s head from his shoulders. Sylvan quickly stumbles away, getting raked again, and leans against the side wall in obvious agony from the serious wounds.

The new monster stands almost twelve feet tall, with a maw much larger in proportion to the rest of its body. Its thick arms end in claws the length of Aldoroc’s hands. The creature is dead gray and covered in runic symbols; some of them glow faintly in the dim torchlight. Kale recognizes the monster as a gray render, a powerful beast to be sure, but one that apparently has been modified, or improved, by magic.

Aldoroc strides in to help fight the monster, a worried frown showing on his face. Unfortunately, no one else in the group can take the same punishment, so he bravely steps forward. Aldoroc thinks to himself, O Heironeous, guide me in my actions and lead me to victory in this battle, or grant me a valorous death and steer my way to the celestial heavens.

The render suddenly reaches out with its mouth and grabs a hold of the human warrior, pulling him close and ripping him apart with its claws. Aldoroc attempts to pull out of its grasp, but to no avail, though his battleaxe remains clutched in his hand, useless in the close quarters combat.

Just as things turn sour for the heroes, it gets worse when a second troll comes out of a side door down the same hall with the double doors. This one appears angered, possibly at having been awakened, and immediately charges at Kale tearing a deep gash in the ranger’s forearm. The two guards also reappear and continue their missile fire at Shangor and Aramil.

Kale turns on the troll and fights it one-on-one. The guards are ignored while the remaining heroes fight the tattooed render. After a couple of arrows hit the tiger, however, Verilia sends her animal companion out of harm’s way and calls down a lightning bolt on the new troll. Shangor helps with the render by pummeling it fiercely with his holy warhammer. Sylvan and Aramil toss magic missiles into the beast.

Aldoroc struggles to free himself, but even his magically enhanced strength is no match for the render. The render nearly tears him to shreds, dropping the unconscious body on the ground, before it, too, is dropped by a new round of attacks from Shangor and even Verilia with her silvered scimitar. Shortly afterwards, Kale subdues the other troll and Shangor hits the first one again for good measure, watching it carefully as it continues to regenerate.

The guards flee again, closing the door behind them.

Cordo Crowfoot
Deathmantle Cultist
(1/17/04 4:47 pm)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
“Is Prince Thrommel still alive?” No.
Eh he he he. ;)

Crimson Coil Cultist
(1/18/04 5:53 am)
Re: Session Thirty-Five (Part 3/3)
I caught that one, too, and puzzled over it for a bit before deciding that that was the correct answer. Did you hesitate, or answer it with authority?

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